Tuesday, March 21, 2017

TWD: Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars

Slump (geological):  a form of mass wasting that occurs when a coherent mass of loosely consolidated materials moves a short distance down a slope.

Have you ever had a week where everything you bake isn't quite 100%?  That's been my week so far (and it's only Monday night).

My second cookie for March was the Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars.  Easy to do.

 I was very organized, having chopped, toasted, softened, measured, prepped.  As soon as I walked in the door from errands and lunch out, I turned on the oven and began to create.  By the time I had to leave again, the cookies were totally finished, cooling on the counter.

Upon my return (once again), I checked the caramel, which was still fairly soft, so I put the pan into the refrigerator.





Somewhere along the line, the pan was slightly tipped over.  Much to my horror, I discovered that the caramel topping had shifted, moving en masse to the other side of the pan.  Slump.  (see above)  Well, I thought, I'll just tip the pan the opposite way, and the caramel will re-place itself.  Sigh.  I waited too long (slow as molasses it was).  The topping had indeed reversed, going all the way to the other side of the pan.  By now, the topping had warmed up considerably, so I manually played with the pan, tipping it this way and that, watching as the caramel oozed its way across the cookie base, and stopping when it had successfully settled into an even layer.  Back into the fridge it went, on a definite flat surface this time, with no chance of being dislodged.

I did manage to sneak a piece, spreading some of the wayward caramel over the top.  Nice and chocolate-y.



This recipe can be found in Dorie's Cookies on pages 42-44.  Take a look at what the other bakers did this week by going to the Tuesdays with Dorie blog.

Friday, March 17, 2017

BBB: Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread

Struan:  a special bread made from all the grains harvested during the year

This month, Elle, of Feeding My Enthusiasms, was our Kitchen of the Month.  While organizing her cookbook collection, she came upon one that 'called' to her:  Sacramental Magic in a Small Town Cafe, written in 1994 by Peter Reinhart.  That particular book shared a recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread, and, in turn, Elle shared it with us.



The bread has tons of flavor from the various grains:  coarse-grained cornmeal (or polenta), rolled oats, cooked brown rice, and wheat bran.  Since I don't store large quantities of wheat bran, I went to my local Smart & Final store, where I browsed the bins.  As luck would have it, I found coarse-grained polenta in addition to the bran, so, after purchasing small amounts of both, I was ready to bake.  I usually keep cooked brown rice in the freezer, and always have rolled oats (and buttermilk) on hand.

I used golden raisins in the bread -- a personal preference, but I suspect other dried fruits would work as well.

The original recipe makes three large loaves. Because I only have two 9x5 pans, I made one-third of the recipe, calculating all the ingredients as precisely as I could (lots of 2 tablespoons 2 teaspoons!).  It all baked up just fine.  I suspect some of the other Babes did a similar thing, so check their blogs for other versions.   The original recipe can be found on Elle's blog, so you can decide which one to bake.

I also used my stand mixer to knead the dough for the suggested fifteen minutes.  Saves the hands and frees you up to do other tasks.  My initial rise took a bit longer than an hour, closer to two, but the second rise was right on target.  It's probably because my kitchen/house is on the cooler side.



Before I rolled the dough, I brushed it lightly with melted butter, then sprinkled on the cinnamon sugar.  I did add some on the top of the loaf, however, I would skip that next time and just add more to the inside.



If you wish to bake along this month, send your photos and story to Elle by the 29th to be included in the Buddy Roundup.

And, since I still have some polenta and wheat bran remaining, I suspect I'll be baking this delicious loaf again.





Tuesday, March 7, 2017

TWD: "Corked" Breton Galettes



Over the years, I've accumulated a bowlful of corks from various kinds of wines.  I never quite knew what I'd do with them, but enjoyed reading the names/messages on the corks themselves.

Well, that all changed the other day when I made the first March cookie from Dorie's Cookies, the 'corked' Breton galettes (page 291).  I suppose I don't need this many corks, and I'm wondering how the champagne corks would work with their handle-like tops.



I made a batch of twelve for the first round.  Because it's a slice-and-bake cookie, you can easily bake them on demand, storing the dough cylinders either in the refrigerator or the freezer.  I have to admit that I ate most of them without filling (easier to store that way).  The filling I did use was Dutch apple jam that I had picked up from a Nebraska-only store the last time I was in Lincoln, Nebraska.  I debated using lemon curd or chocolate ganache or cherry jam, but those are for the future, especially since I didn't bake all the cookies at once.



These cookies are also handy if you need either a variety or flexibility of fillings.  I do have friends that don't like chocolate (gasp!), but I would be able to accommodate all tastes, chocolate and non-chocolate alike with these galettes.

All in all, these cookies were a great success.  Hop over to the Tuesdays with Dorie website to see what the other bakers did.




Tuesday, February 21, 2017

TWD: Valentine's Day Share-a-Heart




February's second cookie choice from Dorie's Cookies is the chocolate Valentine's Day Share-a-Heart.  Because I elected to make this one after Valentine's Day proper, I decided not to use a heart shape.  The instructions suggest that you make two very large chocolate hearts to share with a loved one, and make smaller cookies from the scraps.


I made scalloped-edge cookies, and, in a fit of brilliance, I just baked the scraps as is.  (No photos of those, since they were all taste-testers.)

Batch number one was decorated, pre-baking, with Swedish pearl sugar.  Cookies from batch number two had a dollop of vanilla icing, sprinkled with red sugar crystals.



If you like crispy cookies, these are the ones for you.  Just an observation:  the frosted cookies did soften slightly, probably because of the moisture from the icing.  Both versions are delicious.

Be sure and stop by the Tuesdays with Dorie website to see how the other bakers did.


Dorie's Cookies, Valentine's Day Share-a-Heart, pages 274-276.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Jachnun

Our kitchen of the month was Lien of Notitie van Lien.  She challenged the Babes to make Jachnun, a Yemenite Jewish bread that has an overnight bake.  If you check out the various Babe sites, you will notice quite a variety of results.  It always surprises me that one recipe, prepared by different bakers, can turn out in such dissimilar ways.

Mine was no exception.  After some online research, I decided to bake my jachnun in a slow cooker overnight.  I used the same recipe (approximately), using all-purpose flour and honey.  I made the dough in the morning, so it could have a decent rest time, then prepared the rolls in the evening for the overnight bake.

The dough was extremely soft and sticky, so I don't know if that was correct.  I used my famous 'strudel' table to stretch out each one.  (It was rather like making strudel dough, and this table allows me access from every side.)  When they were rolled, I placed them in the slow cooker with layers of parchment paper, and set the timer for 12 hours.



The jachnun were definitely cooked, almost to the point of being inedible.  Next time, I would bake them for only 10 hours.  I served them with the traditional hard boiled eggs, but added sliced fresh strawberries rather than the grated tomatoes with zhug (a spicy condiment).




In the end, the jachnun were really very simple to prepare.  If you've made strudel dough before, it will be easy.  The tricky part is in the baking, but it is certainly worth trying at least once.



Jachnun

Ingredients

  • 500 grams bread flour
  • 25 grams date syrup (or honey)
  • 20 grams honey
  • Pinch of baking powder
  • 12 grams salt
  • 300 grams water (plus or minus)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter, margarine, or oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, date syrup, honey, baking powder, salt, and water in the bowl of a stand mixer and knead for a few minutes. You can also mix and knead by hand. Let the dough relax for 10 minutes, and then knead again for about 5 minutes. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rest for an hour.
  2. Preheat your oven to 225 degrees F and place a rack at the lowest position. Line the bottom of a 9 inch by 13 inch cake pan or casserole with with some stale bread and then with parchment paper.
  3. Divide the dough in to 6 pieces and shape them into balls. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. To stretch the rolls, oil or butter your work surface and place a piece of dough on it. Oil the top of the dough with you hands and begin stretching out the dough. Pull, stretch, and oil the dough until you have it as thin as possible. If you have tears, don't worry too much. When the dough is very thin, fold it in thirds, like a letter. Oil/butter the top, and roll the dough into a log. See this video. Continue with the rest of the pieces.
  5. Place each rolled piece of dough on the parchment in a single layer, and top with more parchment paper. Top with a double layer of foil, sealing the top of the pan tightly. Place a sheet pan on top of the foil. Place in the oven overnight, and bake for 12 hours. The Jachnun should be a deep golden brown. 
  6. Serve hot with grated tomato, hard boiled eggs, and zhug (recipe below).
Yield: Makes 6

To make the zhug, process 1 teaspoon chili flakes, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds, 4 garlic cloves, pinch of ground cardamom, pinch of cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a handful (about 30 grams) of cilantro in the food processor with enough olive oil to make the mixture into a sauce. This can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator.


Participating Babes:


Cathy from Bread Experience
Kelly from A Messy Kitchen
Karen from Bake My Day
 
 
 
 If you want to bake along as a buddy, send your story and photos to Lien at notitievanlien(at)gmail(dot)com) subject: BBBread February by the 28th of the month.  The roundup will be posted in early March.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

TWD: Rose-Hibiscus Shortbread Fans





Once again, I am back baking with the Tuesdays with Dorie group.  This go-round we are baking from Dorie's Cookies, a beautifully photographed book with delicious recipes.  I've already made several kinds of cookies with good results, and several blogging friends suggested I join in.




For the first February choice, I chose the Rose-Hibiscus Shortbread Fans.  I love shortbread and have made one of the other shortbread recipes in the book.  On hand, I had rose water and an herbal tea containing hibiscus flowers.






While I liked the cookies, I honestly couldn't taste any of the flavors.  I did ice them, although the icing was flavorless as well.  The cookies are pretty, but could use either stronger or different flavoring.  For a basic shortbread cookie, though, they pass the test.

If you're curious what the other bakers thought, go to the TWD website and check the links.


Dorie's Cookies, Rose-Hibiscus Shortbread Fans, pages 191-193.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bread Baking Day #86: The Final Act (Kugelhopf)

As the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end."   So it is with Bread Baking Day. 

Founder and inspiration, Zorra, announced in early January that this would be the final BBD.  In its honor, we were challenged to bake a yeasted Kugelhopf/Gugelhupf.




Years ago, when baking with the Tuesdays with Dorie group, one of the recipes was a Kugelhopf.  Although I could have made it a second time, I decided to find a new recipe.  I chose this one from David Lebovitz, and it was definitely an excellent choice.  In addition, it allowed me to use some of the orange flower water that I had purchased for a previous bread recipe, Fouace Nantaise.

I tweaked the recipe in little ways.  I used golden raisins, soaked in dark rum, and a combination of lemon and clementine zest. 





For the soaking glaze, I used the orange flower water -- a healthy tablespoon-full.  Since I still don't have a kugelhopf pan, I used my bundt pan.  On a sadder note, the last of my favorite yeast went into this bread.  I've had it for many years and never doubted its potency.  The large package was stored in the freezer, and I decanted out a small jar for the fridge, refilling it when necessary.  I'm hoping its successor will be just as reliable.






Stop by Zorra's website in the next few days to see all the beautiful kugelhopfs.  Thanks, Zorra, for all the wonderful bread baking challenges.  I will definitely miss the fun.



I'll definitely miss this bread as well.  I shared some with friends, but it's too delicious to last very long!



Kugelhopf
(from David Lebovitz)
8 servings
Ideally, you want to use a high-sided Kugelhof mold or bundt pan that has a 6 to 8 cup (1,5-2l) capacity. I made it in a larger-sized bundt pan (10-inch/25cm) and it works fine, but the cake will be lower than a traditional Kugelhopf and will take less time to bake. I don't use instant yeast (nor did I use fresh cake yeast for this cake), but if you want to use one of those, check the manufacturer's website for instructions on substituting them for the active dry yeast.
Sponge
1/2 cup (125ml) whole or lowfat milk
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope, 7g)) active dry yeast
2/3 cup (90g) flour
Dough
1/2 cup (80g) raisins
1 tablespoon dark rum or kirsch
10 tablespoons (5 ounces, 140g), unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature, plus additional soft butter for preparing the pan
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon or orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 cup (140g) flour
1/3 to 1/2 cup (30-40g) sliced almonds, blanched or unblanched, for preparing the cake pan
One 6- to 8-cup kugelhopf pan, or a 10 cup/25cm bundt pan (see headnote)
1. Make a sponge by warming the milk over low heat in a small saucepan until it’s tepid. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer, add the sugar, and sprinkle in the yeast. Stir in 2/3 cup (90g) flour. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise until bubbly, about 20 minutes.
2. Butter the inside of a kugelhopf mold or bundt pan very well then scatter sliced almonds over the inside of the mold, pressing them in a bit and turning the mold so there is a relatively even coating of almonds. Gently tilt out any excess almonds.
3. In a small bowl, stir together the raisins and the rum, and set aside.
4. Add the cubed butter to the sponge and attach the bowl to the mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the salt, citrus zest, and vanilla until incorporated.
5. Beat in the egg and the yolk until smooth. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl
6. On low speed, mix in the 1 cup (140g) of flour. Once the flour is incorporated, increase the speed to high and beat until smooth, shiny and elastic, about 3 minutes.
7. Beat in the raisins and any liquor in the bowl.
8. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the dough begins to puff, about 30 minutes.
9. Make a hole in the center of the dough with your hands and stretch the dough out so the hole will be is large enough to go around the center of the kugelhopf mold or pan. Lift and transfer the dough into the cake pan. Make sure it's of even thickness all the way around. (A damp hand works well for that.) Cover the mold with a kitchen towel or buttered plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If using a kugelhopf mold, it should reach to the top, or almost to the top, of the mold. If using a larger bundt pan, it will likely take the maximum amount of time to rise.
10. Fifteen minutes before the dough is fully risen, preheat the oven to 375ºF (180ºC). Bake the kugelhopf until it’s deep golden brown across the top, about 40-45 minutes. (In a large bundt pan, the cooking time will be closer to 25 minutes.) When done, a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes.
11. While the cake is baking, make a glaze by bringing 1/3 cup of water (80ml) and 1/3 cup (65g) of sugar to a boil. Remove from heat once the sugar is dissolved and add 1 ½ teaspoons of orange flower water or 2 tablespoons of rum or kirsch. Poke the kugelhopf 35 times with a skewer and liberally brush half of the syrup over the cake, repeatedly, letting it absorb. Turn the cake out of the pan onto a cooling rack set over a baking sheet (to catch any dripping syrup), and brush the rest of the syrup, repeatedly, over the top and sides (and the inside hole) of the cake. Cool completely before slicing and serving.
Storage: The kugelhopf is better served the same day, or the day after it's made. Store at room temperature, well-wrapped.