Sunday, December 7, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
At any rate, my contribution to these soirees is always dessert and this year I'm pulling out the stops. I have to do something flourless since Caroline's mom is gluten free so my trusty Giada de Laurentis chocolate cake with almonds and amaretti will do nicely (this is from her Everyday Italian cookbook - I'm not normally a Food Network kind of gal but got this as a gift and the chocolate cake is worth owning the book for). Next is my beloved sweet potato bourbon cheesecake. I have to leave out the bourbon since we'll have a couple of people in recovery in attendance but it is spectacularly delicious even without it.
Of course there has to be pumpkin pie but I'm going to do an apple buttermilk pie as well. This pie is the evolution of a recipe that Big Daddy presented to me when we were first married. His version calls for canned apple pie filling and a sweetened condensed milk custard topped with oatmeal strusel. Oh honey, that baby was so sweet I thought my teeth were going to fall right out of my head! I've reworked the recipe to call for caramlized Honeycrisp apples and a buttermilk custard but kept the strusel because it is GOOD. Big Daddy says his version is better but that didn't seem to stop him from eating three pieces of the test pie I made over the weekend.
So that leaves one dessert left and I can't decide what it should be. Different factions are rooting for their favorites - Caroline wants Shaker lemon tart, the kids want Hershey bar cake and I'm leaning towards something chocolate like Claudia Fleming's cheesecake tart only with a chocolate cookie crust instead of graham crackers. Plus I'm in the mood to make a salted caramel sauce and that would be delishment on a chocolate something. Watch this space to see where I end up.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
So, instead of ciabatta, I ended up with something I can only describe as the type of bread you get at a neighborhood red sauce Italian restaurant - not necessarily bad, in fact it is pretty tasty, but definitely not what I intended when I started my poolish on Saturday.
My misfortune wasn't limited to the dough, either. I attempted to follow Reinhart's directions for baking on a stone with a steam pan in the oven but apparently my oven gets hotter on the bottom than his does because the bottom crust of the first loaf charred before the top got done. I ended up throwing that loaf out and using my trusty cast iron dutch oven to bake the remaining loaves.
Well, live and learn. Lessons for next time? Wetter is better so however much water was in the dough - I need to double it. Also, put the stone higher up in the oven and put the steam pan in the bottom.
Now, the question is what am I going to do with three loaves of Italian-ish bread? I guess Auntie M and Grandma will take one but nobody in this house will eat the other two so I may be standing on the street corner begging passers by to take a loaf off my hands. I don't suppose it would be the strangest thing most people in this town have seen...
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Don't worry, this isn't going to be one of those "Julie and Julia" things where I force myself to bake every recipe whether I think anyone in this house will eat it or not (we throw away too much food as it is). I can't see either of my children taking a fancy to cranberry nut bread or some of the other more exotic breads Reinhart gives techniques for. And, although I plan to make stollen for Christmas, I'm going to do it with dried fruits and candied ginger like I did last year, even if I do use the BBA's recipe.
So I guess the short answer is I'm going to do it my way (cue Frank Sinatra here, please).
Because I'm waiting for my order from King Arthur flour to bring me diastatic malt syrup, I won't be starting with bagels, so I think the first to go will be ciabatta, which is just fine with me. I'm all about crust, let me tell you, and ciabatta is pretty much two chewy crusts with a little bit of crumb in between, hard on the teeth but heaven otherwise. I'm heading downstairs right now to mix up my poolish to get started.
Whoo hoo! Another year, another adventure.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Anyway, I made oatmeal chocolate chip, cream cheese chocolate chip with dried cranberries, and the incredible Chocolate 6-Os, made originally for cousin K's 60th birthday. The thing that makes the oatmeal chocolate chip ones different is that I grind the oatmeal up before adding it to the dough. This way the kids don't realize they are eating oatmeal plus it makes the cookies thicker and chewier. Personally, I don't like crispy chocolate chip cookies so the oatmeal makes all the difference. The cream cheese based cookies are a new recipe I made for the first time this past Christmas. They are soft and delicious and I use mini chips along with the dried cranberries. Yum! Chocolate 6-Os are just a force of nature. Six kinds of chocolate as well as a ton of espresso make these babies high test. I can't let my kids eat them after 6:00 in the evening or they will be up all night.
Happily, when we left the family event, there was barely a crumb left. What can I say? Being the cookie lady makes me happy.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Put the butter into an 8x8 square baking pan and put in the oven until melted.
Mix the remaining ingredients together to make a soft dough.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead lightly then pat out to about 1/2 thickness.
Using a round cutter, cut 12 rounds. Coat the round in the melted butter and arrange in the pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until dark golden brown.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Mix the dry ingredients together and, using a cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until the mix resembles cornmeal.
Add the buttermilk to make a soft dough.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead lightly then pat dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness.
Cut with a round biscuit cutter and place on an ungreased cookie sheet or stoneware pan.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
Okay, it doesn't take much to turn me on. I know this.
The theme for March 1 is flatbreads but excludes pizza so I'd better get cracking on finding something to make. Maybe I'll get with Caroline and see about making the Moroccan flatbread her MIL made when she was here. It was SO good but I didn't get to watch her make it so I might need some education.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ cup wheat germ
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups bran cereal (like All Bran)
1 cup raisins, dried cherries, or dried cranberries
1 large egg
1½ cups buttermilk
¼ cup applesauce or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.
2. Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the dried fruit and toss to combine.
3. In another bowl, beat the egg, then add the buttermilk, oil or applesauce, and vanilla and mix. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well.
4. Let the batter stand for 15 minutes to moisten the cereal. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees while the batter is standing.
5. Divide the batter into the muffin cups and bake for about 20 minutes.
6. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
3 cups bread flour (I like King Arthur but just about any brand will do; I’ve also used regular unbleached all-purpose flour with great results)
1 teaspoons instant yeast (look for Rapid Rise or bread machine yeast; SAF is great)
2 teaspoons salt (I use Kosher – you might need a bit less if you’re using table salt)
1.5 cups room temp or slightly warmer water
Cast iron or ceramic Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid
1. Put the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl and mix together thoroughly.
2. Add the water and mix to get a rough, sticky dough (there may still be some flour clinging to the side of the bowl but most of it should be incorporated)
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for about 12-18 hours (can be a few less or a bit more but 24 hours is about the longest you want to let it go)
4. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a heavily floured board or counter and pat it out slightly 5. Fold the two sides of the dough in like folding a letter, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes
6. After 15 minutes, fold the other two sides in to make a sort of square then pull it to make a round loaf. Place the dough on a heavily floured towel that has been sprinkled with wheat bran; sprinkle the top of the loaf with wheat bran and fold the sides of the towel up over the loaf. You may also place the loaf on parchment paper (my preference) which then goes right into the oven when you bake. Cover with a towel to keep the dough from drying out.
7. Let rise for two hours.
8. After one hour of rising, put the Dutch oven with the lid into the oven and turn it on to 500°
9. After the two hour rise, open the oven, pull the lid off the Dutch oven and turn the dough from the towel into the Dutch oven, trying not to let it fall in and completely deflate.
10. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on then bake for 20-25 minutes with the lid off. Use an instant read thermometer to be sure the interior of the loaf is 205 degrees or above if you have doubts.
11. Cool on a rack for at least two hours. Resist the urge to tear the loaf apart with your bare hands once it is cool enough to not give you third degree burns. You won’t be sorry.
A few notes:
· Go to YouTube and search on no-knead bread. Be sure to watch the video of Jim Lahey and Mark Bittman from the New York Times but when you go to make the bread, use the ingredients listed here rather than the measurements he says. This version tastes and rises much better. Marthastewart.com also has video of Jim on Martha’s tv show but some find her a bit hard to stomach (no culinary pun intended...)
· If you don’t have a Dutch oven, I’ve seen people make this bread using a pizza stone with a flower pot on top or use a number of different types of Pyrex bowls with lids. The real key is to be sure a) whatever you use can stand up to a really hot oven, and b) the lid fits tightly.
· If your dough sticks to the towel when you go to turn it into the Dutch oven, pry it off as much as you can and hope for the best. Next time (and there will be a next time), be sure the towel is very heavily floured (so you can’t see the weave of the cloth) and add more wheat bran. Do not despair as you will probably still get a fantastic loaf of bread.
· As I mentioned above I’ve had pretty good luck rising the dough on parchment paper then just sliding the whole thing, paper and all, into the Dutch oven. The paper gets a bit crispy but doesn’t catch on fire or anything horrible like that. If you’re really concerned, pull the paper out of the Dutch oven when you remove the lid before the second half of the baking period.
· If the bread seems a bit sticky when you cut it, it is underbaked. Add five minutes to the baking time next time you bake and test with an instant read thermometer. If it measures over 205 degrees, you’re good.
· If you don’t get a good rise in the oven or your crust is hard instead of being chewy, your dough is probably too wet. Because the dough is very sticky and may not incorporate all the flour in the bowl, you may be tempted to add a bit more water. Do not do this, just keep mixing (you can use your hands or a wooden spoon) until the dough is mostly pulled together.
· You can add stuff like cheese or raisins if you want. There are MANY recipe variations of this bread available on the web (breadtopia.com is one that I like but just Google no-knead bread and you’ll see how this has caught on in the baking world).
· This recipe makes a BIG loaf. You can easily cut the ingredients in half and get a nice size loaf for a smaller family.
Good luck and report back!
I'm not going to name names but when you get a posting thread that goes on for days that debates the merits of one percentage of hydration vs. another, I realize that the denizens of this particular website live on a different plane of reality than mine. These guys are SERIOUS about bread and there is no room for error when calculating percentages of ingredients or discussing grinds of flour (yes, there is the subculture of grinding your own wheat that plays in this too - eek! - but I'm not even going down that road)
Yes, I know there is science to baking and my refusal to pay much attention to that has led to some of my more spectacular failures but really, I mostly like to bake because I like to eat. The serious bread people don't seem to be having much fun with the whole thing and I don't hear a lot of discussion about how good the stuff tastes, which is the point, I thought. At any rate, I get slightly creeped out when bread stops being food and starts being just an experiment. It all seems a bit Soylent Green (I hope I spelled that right - the movie came out a LONG time ago) to me.
Its snowing here in the mountains and the kids are agitating for me to bake cookies. One wants peanut butter, the other chocolate chip so I'm off to wing it and attempt to make something that satisfies them both. As long as nothing explodes it'll be a success as far as I'm concerned.