Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Sunday football season traditions

(recipe here--made two-thirds; sprinkled w/cheese powder for J & B but not G; I don't really like popcorn)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An apple cake for fall

I didn't want the whole month to pass by without at least one Tuesdays with Dorie post.  I don't have the fig cake that was on the agenda for this week.  (Head over to Cookie Rookie for this week's recipe.)  I also passed on last week's Ginger-Jazzed Brownies.  You may have seen why I had some trouble with the biscuits the week before that.  (I made them, but they weren't great, and I didn't take any pictures.  I'm still hoping to make them again.)  The cake I have for you today is actually the first recipe for October, the Apple Nut Muffin Cake picked by Katrina of Baking and Boys.  

In the hopes that my girls would eat the cake, I skipped the nuts and raisins.  Afraid that the cake would be a little plain after that, I added a crumb topping.  This was also a good chance to break out my bottle of King Arthur boiled cider, since I didn't have any regular cider on hand.  I used about 3 tablespoons of the boiled cider, then added milk to make a full 8 ounces of liquid.  I thought about using some white whole wheat flour in place of the all-purpose, but didn't this time.  I fully intend to make this cake again, so I'll see how that works out next time.

The verdict?  The cake was well-received both at home and at work.  I really liked it with the crumb topping, but that's not really a surprise. =)  I know Dorie originally made the cake because she was too rushed for muffins, but I want to try the muffin version next time, keeping the crumbs.  

If you'd like to play around with the recipe yourself, you can find the original on Katrina's blog.  For more about the muffin cake, check out the Links for that week.  For the fig cake, check here.  I promise to do better with posting next month, especially since I get to host again! =)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Handmade Loaves - The round-up

I was thrilled to see such a wonderful turnout for my Handmade Loaves event!  We got all kinds of loaves--yeast breads, quick breads and pounds cakes, as well as a few savory contributions (yes, including a meatloaf) and a no-bake dessert.  I hope these enticing pictures will lead you to check out the full posts from all of these great bakers.

First up is the one that I'm probably most eager to try.  Abby of Stir it! Scrape it! Mix it! Bake it! made this gorgeous Windsor knot loaf of Berne Brot.  I'm so glad that she included a link to a shaping tutorial, because I have got to try it for myself.  Read more about it here.  

Next is Phyl from Of Cabbages and King Cakes, lover of all things pumpkin.  He recently hosted a pumpkin blogging round-up, and in the process of deciding what to make himself he ran across this yummy pumpkin cornbread.  He discovered that it paired nicely with a bowl of chili.  Check it out!

Pamela of Cookies with Boys also went the pumpkin route.  She added some Biscoff Spread (I admit, I have a jar, but so far it's only made it as far as a spoon) and drizzled it with caramel.  Sounds good to me--go take a closer look!

If you're in a rush, try out this cake from Mike of Living Out West.  He freely admits that he used cake mix and box pudding.  But with the additions of lots of nutmeg and even more sherry, I don't think anyone will complain!  Just be sure to check the liquor cabinet before you head to the store for the other ingredients--3/4 cup will certainly put a dent in your sherry supply.  Read more here.  

My daughters are sure to approve of this loaf from Elaine of California Living.  She shared a loaf of pumpkin bread that's chock full of chocolate chips.  I was pretty skeptical about the combination of chocolate and pumpkin the first time I tried it, but I have to agree, it's pretty tasty.  Head over to her blog for the recipe!

Next we have a new participant, Carol of Bookcase Foodie.  I totally agree with the goal of her blog--trying to use all the cooking magazines and cookbooks that she already has.  I need to do the same.  At first glance, you might think that she's made us another quick bread.  But it's actually a kugel in loaf form.  Read more about her Carrot Kugel here.  

Yay!  I was very excited to see some savory entrees from our next baker, Chaya.  She sent me one for each of her blogs.  The first is a breakfast quick bread with cheese and veggies that you can find on Bizzy Bakes.  The second is, yes, a meatloaf!  I'm sure that my husband would love the Mexican flavors if I made it for him.  Read about it here on My Sweet and Savory.  

I love how Mary of Popsicles and Sandy Feet subtitled her blog post "A cautionary tale."  Apparently she missed the instruction in the recipe that said to lower the oven temperature after putting her loaf in the oven.  Hmmm, I wonder who else will admit to having similar baking mishaps?  (For me, it's not if I've done it, it's how many times...)  Read more here

Besides Abby's shaping, this is the loaf that I am most excited to try.  Margaret of The Irish Mother developed her own recipe for Multigrain Bread.  And it is absolutely gorgeous!  There are lots of helpful process pictures in her post, so go read it!

Now for my other friend Margaret.  You might think that she brought us another pumpkin quick bread. But she went with another winter squash to make this lovely Butternut Squash Bread.  I'm always looking for more ways to sneak veggies into my kids, so I'm going to have to try this.  (though I may have to add chocolate chips to get them to eat it)  Head over to Margaret's blog for more info, as well as a picture of her cute steamer.  

The list of things I want to try ASAP just keeps getting longer and longer.  As someone who never gets tired of pizza, I was so excited to see the pictures for Jeannette's bread.  She added pepperoni, but I might have to see what other "toppings" I can get in there.  (Mushrooms are my favorite.)  Go check out her blog post at The Whimsical Cupcake, for more photos to drool over.  

I may have a hard time finding space for all the bakeware I already have, but that doesn't stop me from wanting the cute 4-loaf pan that Peggy has in her post.  Head over to her post at Pantry Revisited to see the pan as well as all the cute Halloween decorations she has pictured with her Pumpkin Bread mini loaves.  

Gillian keeps bugging me to make raisin bread for her.  I'm still trying to work it into the baking schedule, but when I do, it's going to be this loaf from my friend Nancy.  She posted it on her bread blog, Corner Loaf.  Her daughter bakes with a bread collective, and they were kind enough to let Nancy share the recipe for this yummy cinnamon swirl loaf.  You can get the recipe here.  

Jessica of Cookbookhabit found out about our blogging event at the last minute.  She says that her loaf of Portugese Sweet Bread isn't handmade since it came out of her bread machine.  I say that it came out of her kitchen rather than from a store, so that's close enough. =)  Every time King Arthur has a blog post that uses a bread machine (mostly for mixing), I kind of want one.  You can read more about Jessica's loaf here.  

A couple friends were running a bit late, but I often have the same problem, so I understand.   Marthe of The Baking Bluefinger shared this easy no-bake dessert with us--Arretje's Cake.  I love reading about Dutch things on Marthe's blog--it's fun to see what's popular in other cultures.  Be sure to read about this recipe and others.

Tracey was also having a crazy week.  She got her loaf baked, but just took awhile to get it posted.  No problem--her Lemon Lemon Loaf was definitely worth waiting for!  I love anything lemon, so I can't wait to try this recipe.  Tracey always has gorgeous pictures, and this post is no exception.  Go take a look!

And last but not least, I made a pound cake, too.  Mine was flavored with nutmeg, one of my favorite spices, as well as a bit of bourbon.  I had to make a second loaf to get pictures, since the first loaf disappeared so quickly.  You can read more about it here.  

I hope you've enjoyed reading about all of these wonderful loaves.  (If I somehow missed your loaf in the round-up, please let me know!)  Check back in early December for our 2nd annual Virtual Cookie Exchange!  If you want to join in the fun but aren't already getting emails from me about the seasonal blogging events, send me an email at diskitchennotebook at gmail dot com.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Handmade Loaves - Bourbon & Nutmeg Pound Cake

The only problem with picking loaves as the theme for my autumn blogging event was that I had a really hard time deciding what to make myself!  My first thought was to make a yeast bread.  I usually do non-pan loaves when I bake bread, since I'm not that excited by typical sandwich loaves.  However, I seriously considered Dan Lepard's Simple Milk Loaf (posted here by my friend Nancy), since somehow I haven't blogged it even though I've made it many times.  This week ended up being kind of crazy, though, and I spent my day off on Thursday making a fancy birthday cake for a certain young lady who turned 5 on Friday.  Thursday evening I decided to try to throw something together quickly so I wouldn't end up baking at the very last minute.  The other thing I had been considering was pound cake.  I ended up turning to my copy of Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert.  I made several of the variations of her Kamut Pound Cake a couple years ago, but again, never got them posted.  I didn't have an kamut flour in my pantry, so I decided to go with one of the variations.

The version that caught my eye was the Bourbon and Nutmeg Pound Cake.  As I mentioned in another recent post, nutmeg is one of my favorite spices, and this recipe sounded like a good one for fall.  The kamut flour from the original recipe is replaced with either spelt flour (nope, out of that too) or whole wheat flour (yes! I have that!).  I actually used white whole wheat flour.  I also got to use some of my unbleached cake flour blend for the cake flour in the recipe.  

My favorite pound cake recipes are usually the ones that fold melted butter into the batter at the end.  I haven't had much luck with pound cakes using the creaming method.  This recipe doesn't really do either.  Medrich mentions that she adapted the recipe from The Cake Bible, so if you've made cakes from that book, the mixing method will be familiar.  First you whisk together the wet ingredients--milk, bourbon, eggs and vanilla, and set that mixture aside.  Next, you mix together the dry ingredients--flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.  Chunks of butter are added to the dry ingredients, along with a third of the liquids, and the mixture is beaten together for about a minute to develop the structure of the cake.  Then the remaining liquid is added in two additions, beating for about 20 seconds after each addition.  

The recipe calls for an 8" by 4" loaf pan lined with parchment paper, and a bake time of 55 to 65 minutes at 350ºF.  I decided to use the vintage loaf pan that I received from my friend Nancy, which is about 3.5" by 10" and only 2.5" deep.  For others who have similar pans, the bake time is about 40 minutes.  Once the cake was baked, I let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then lifted it out (I let the parchment overhang the sides a bit so I'd have handles) and let it cool completely on a rack.  The next morning I cut it into thick slices and took it to work.  (I did take a few pictures, but it was early in the morning and still dark outside, so they weren't very good.) 

The verdict?  Well, I had to bake a second loaf today to take decent pictures.  I thought I'd have some left from the first loaf that I took to work, but it was pretty well devoured.  I'll take that as a positive review. =)  I really liked it myself--the cake is delicious, with a subtle spice from the nutmeg.  I've made some dry pound cakes in the past, but this one definitely is not.  I really like the slight nuttiness from the whole wheat flour, too.  But don't take my word for it, try it for yourself!  

I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of the book (maybe your local library will have it!)--there are lots of other enticing recipes besides this one.  I was also able to find the recipe on Google Books here.  (The link shows the variations page; the full recipe is on the previous page.)  For those who like to use metric weights, here are the ingredients I used:

30 grams(2 tablespoons) whole milk, at room temperature
15 grams (1 tablespoon) bourbon
3 extra large eggs (what I had--the recipe calls for large)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
100 grams unbleached cake flour blend (KAF)
50 grams white whole wheat flour (KAF)
150 grams granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
185 grams (13 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

For lots of other delicious loaves of many varieties (including some savory ones!), check back later this week for the round-up!

Handmade loaves (a seasonal blogging event)

Time for another blogging event!  I mentioned in my Sundae Sunday post back in July that I was going to start hosting this sort of round-up about once per season.  Today we have the Autumn event.  I had a few different ideas for the theme.  I thought about going with a specific fall ingredient (kind of like my friend Phyl's pumpkin round-up).  My only hesitation was that not everyone likes the same things, and I wanted a theme that would appeal to everyone.

Then it hit me--loaves!  Lots of things can be made in a loaf shape--yeast breads, quick breads, pound cake, terrines, even meat loaf. =)  Now that we're getting some cooler weather (even here in Texas), it's much more appealing to turn on the oven, so loaves seemed like a perfect idea.  Be on the lookout for a bunch of loaves this weekend, either from pans or freeform.  Don't worry about missing some--I'll have a round-up of all the posts later this week.

If you'd like to join us in future events, you can leave a comment on this post or email me at diskitchennotebook at gmail dot com.  Next up will be our 2nd annual Virtual Cookie Exchange, in early December!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sugar and spice and everything nice

One of the things that I love about blogging is all the great friends that I've made.  I'm especially glad that some of my bloggy friends convinced me to start using Twitter--it's so fun to bake along with each other.  It's also so nice that there's usually someone around pretty much any time of the day (and well into the night) if I need someone to talk to.  As wonderful as that is, though, sometimes it's nice to talk to someone in person.  Which is why I was so happy to have lunch with my friend T when I was off from work last Friday.  I have a new--male--manager, and she's currently working in an office full of guys.  So we both really wanted needed some girl time. =)  Of course, I can't show up for a lunch date empty-handed, so I decided to bake some cookies. 

Chocolate is good, but this time of year I'm more in the mood for spices.  When you think fall, you probably think cinnamon first, but my favorites are actually nutmeg and ginger.  I go with nutmeg more for cakes or muffins, but ginger is perfect for cookies.  So I turned to one of my favorite ginger cookie recipes, Double Ginger Crackles from Fine Cooking.  I first made these cookies shortly after they appeared in the magazine, around the holidays in 2005.  I've made them many times in the past 6 years, yet somehow I've never included them here on my blog!  Time to fix that. 

You start by creaming butter and granulated sugar, then add molasses, an egg, and a bunch of diced crystallized ginger.  I admit, I add about a quarter cup, rather than the 3 tablespoons that the recipe calls for.  Then the dry ingredients--flour, baking soda, salt and a hefty dose of ground ginger--are stirred in.  The dough is scooped out by the tablespoon (I use my #70 disher), and rolled into balls.  The balls are coated in more granulated sugar, then baked on a sheet lined with parchment paper.  The dough can be rather sticky right after mixing, so I often chill it first.  The dough doesn't get rock hard like some, probably thanks to the molasses.  The recipes says to bake at 350º for 12-14 minutes, but mine are usually done in about 11 minutes.  

The verdict?  We all love these cookies.  I still can't believe that I haven't blogged about them before.  They have a wonderful texture--slightly crisp around the edges, and chewy in the middle.  One thing to watch out for--the dough itself is very tasty, so some of it may never make it to the baking sheet.  The cookies are actually more flavorful cool than warm, so be patient and let them cool completely.  If you manage to keep them around for a few days, the ginger flavor continues to intensify.  I haven't tried it, but I bet these would be great for ice cream sandwiches.

If you'd like to try these for yourself, you can find the recipe here at Fine Cooking.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I fought the caramel, and the caramel won

No, that's not this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, is it?  Jennifer of Cooking for Comfort picked Basic Biscuits for us to make this week.  I'm working on them, but it's slow going. My hand hurts.  I burned it attempting some Easiest Caramel Sauce--apparently my microwave is more powerful than I realized.  The sugar got way too dark, but I tried to salvage it and splashed caramel on my hand in the process.  I shouldn't have bothered--I tasted it and it was definitely burnt. =(

So the biscuits will be delayed a bit.  In the meantime, be sure to check out how everyone else did with them this week over on the Links page.  

Sunday, October 9, 2011

'Tis the season

RAIN!!  It rained today, a lot!  I think we've had more rain in the past 24 hours that we've had in the past several months combined.  This is the first day that it's really felt like fall--I think we barely hit 70º today.  So awesome. =)  Not that the lack of cooler weather has kept me from baking--once the calendar says October, I don't care what the temperature is, I'm baking with fall ingredients.  Heck, I was so sick of summer, I started in September, when it was still getting over 100º on occasion.  My favorite fall ingredient is definitely apples.  While I do like to use local ingredients when I can, I think that the best apples are from New York.  We are starting to get some of them down here, but it takes a little while to get the full variety.  So I'm also baking with my second favorite fall ingredient, pumpkin.

For my blogging friend Phyl, pumpkin is definitely a favorite ingredient.  So much so that he invited a bunch of us to join him in making and posting pumpkin recipes today.  We're aiming to have a full dinner's worth--with a whole lot of courses, I think.  I usually go for dessert, but I figured there would be several others more than willing to cover that course.  So I decided to make a recipe that I've been wanting to for a long time--the Pumpkin Brioche from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking.

The Secrets of Baking is one of the cookbooks that started off my very large (and still growing) collection of baking books.  My husband got it for me for a birthday or another occasion--I can't remember exactly anymore.  It was published in 2003 and he got it not long after publication, so I've had it a long time.  It's a really nice book for someone who likes to bake but is looking to expand their repertoire of pastry skills.  Each chapter starts with a basic recipe that shows a technique, like caramel or pound cake, and then uses that as a jumping off point for more complex recipes.  I have quite a few technique books now, but this is still one of my favorites.  

I've made brioche before, so this recipe wasn't as scary as I thought it would be when I first got the book.  It's a medium-rich dough, so it's buttery without being a huge pain to work with.  I used canned pumpkin puree, but you could certainly use fresh if you have it.  I made a few small adjustments to the recipe.  Since this is a rich dough, I used my SAF Gold yeast.  I had extra large eggs in my fridge, so I only used 5 instead of 6.  This is a pretty forgiving dough, since I totally didn't follow the mixing instructions.  I forgot that you're supposed to develop the gluten with about 5 minutes of kneading before  you add the butter.  I added it not long after I added the eggs.  So I just kneaded longer after the butter went in--about 8 minutes, I think.  Everything still worked out okay.

The recipe says that it makes 3 pounds of dough, but by my measurements, it's actually about 4 pounds (about 1.8 kilos).  I used about a kilo of the dough to make sandwich rolls--a dozen rolls of 85 grams (3 ounces) each.  I'm still deciding what to do with the remaining dough--maybe cinnamon rolls.  After shaping the rolls, I let them proof at room temperature for about 2 hours, then baked them at 350ºF for 25 minutes.  As usual, I skipped the egg wash, though you could certainly use it if you prefer shiny brioche. 

The verdict?  Fantastic!  The rolls don't really taste like pumpkin, but as Brianna said, there's something different about them.  The color is gorgeous.  And I think this is my favorite style of brioche--you can taste the butter, but it's not out of control.  I used one roll to make a ham sandwich for lunch, and it was delicious.  I think they would also be tasty with jam.  Brianna was enthusiastic about having them in her lunch, so I'm sure we'll be making these again.  

Phyl should have the full round-up of pumpkin dishes on his blog sometime this week, so head over to check it out.  Updated: You can find the round-up here. And for more delicious breads and rolls, be sure to check out Yeastspotting.  

Pumpkin Brioche
(adapted from Sherry Yard's The Secret of Baking)

170 grams (3/4 cup) whole milk, at room temperature
5 grams SAF gold instant yeast (or regular instant yeast)
225 grams (1 cup) pumpkin puree
65 grams (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
140 grams (1 cup) bread flour

700 grams (5 cups) bread flour
14 grams (2 teaspoons) table salt
5 extra large eggs (267 grams out of the shells) or 6 large eggs, room temperature
225 grams (1 cup, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

This brioche starts with a sponge.  Put the milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine.  Let stand for about 5 minutes, until the yeast is dissolved and starts to bubble a bit.  (This step isn't absolutely necessary with instant yeast, but I figure in a rich dough like this, the head start for the yeast is still a good idea.)  Mix in the pumpkin, sugar and the cup of flour.  I like to use my dough whisk for this, but you could also use your mixer with the paddle attachment.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the sponge stand at room temperature until bubbly, 30 to 45 minutes.

For the dough, first add the flour and the salt to the sponge.  Next mix in the eggs until they are absorbed.  Then add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time.  Once all the butter is in, switch to the dough hook.  (You can do so sooner if you need to, but I found it easier to mix the butter in with the paddle.)  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then knead with the dough hook for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and shiny.  Transfer the dough to a well-oiled 4-quart container and turn the dough so it is coated with oil on all sides.  Cover the container (mine has its own lid) and let the dough rise until it is doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Deflate the dough by folding the dough over on itself. Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours or overnight.  It will rise to fill the container again.  Once chilled, the dough can be made into loaves or rolls or used for other recipes.  For the rolls I made, remove about half the dough from the container.  Divide the dough into 12 pieces of about 85 grams (3 ounces) each.  You could also do 60 gram (2 ounce) pieces for dinner rolls.  Roll the dough pieces into smooth, tight rounds and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Spray lightly with oil (I use Pam) and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.  During the last 30 minutes of the rise time, preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the size.  The rolls will be nicely browned and register about 195ºF internal temperature when done.  Transfer the rolls to a rack and let them cool before serving. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

LiveSTRONG with lots of cookies

I've been having a really hard time deciding what to write in this post.  For the past several years, I've participated in LiveSTRONG Day by posting a yellow dessert and telling you all about how cancer has touched my life.  I don't really want to go back over the same ground, but I still appreciate the chance to share something with you.  First is these cookies.  I generally associate yellow with lemon, so it's really not a surprise that I've got another lemon recipe for you this year.  These simple cookies are flavored with lemon zest.  Since the cookies themselves aren't that yellow, I also made some lemon curd to go with them.  The other thing that I want to share is something that I posted on Facebook earlier this year, in remembrance of my first husband Nate, who lost his battle with cancer in 1996:

"People speak of you less often now. The things you did are being done by others. I no longer notice your lingering presence in every room. Then an old friend calls and we tell forgotten tales, or I find a place not yet emptied by my grieving. And I am touched by the reality of you once more, and quietly I celebrate your continuance." 

The verdict on the cookies?  I was pleasantly surprised to see how much the girls loved these cookies.  I'm partial to pretty much anything lemon, but they often think things are too tart.  That's the nice thing about these lemon wafers--they have more of a hint of lemon, rather than hitting you over the head with it.  If you want a big lemon punch, add the lemon curd.  This recipe of Alice Medrich's is one of the tartest I've made, I think.  You can find the recipe for the lemon curd in her book Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies.  The Lemon Goldies are in there, too, but you can also find that recipe online here.  (A bit of advice--just put the lemon curd on top of a cookie & eat it, don't try to make sandwiches.  The lemon curd all comes out the sides when you try to bite the sandwich...)

There isn't an official LiveSTRONG with a Taste of Yellow event this year, but Barbara has a post up with links to the events from past years.  You can read more about LiveSTRONG Day 2011 here.  And the quotation is from Safe Passage: Words to Help the Grieving by Molly Fumia, a book of meditations on grief.