Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sourdough Bread Pudding



Bread pudding has always been one of my favorite desserts, but I've never cared for the extremely wet bread pudding. This bread pudding isn't soupy, but more dry and firm. It's got a great sweetness and vanilla flavor with some soft spots and crunchy bits.

I made the sourdough myself about a month ago. Since my starter makes two loaves, this one was in my freezer for a month until i could make bread pudding or french toast with it. This was a great recipe, and something I will definitely do again.
Sourdough Bread Pudding
Ingredients
  • 4 -5 cups stale bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 ½ cups sliced apples
  • ½ cups raisins
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp whiskey
  • ½ cup sliced almonds or pecans
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Toss raisins, apples and stale bread together and press firmly in into a 9 inch baking dish.
  3. Mix eggs, butter, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and whiskey together and pour over bread, making sure to soak every piece equally. Firmly pressbread into pan, submerging as much as possible in liquids. Top with nuts.
  4. Bake for 1 hour until liquid center is set. Press bread into liquid again midway through.
  5. Let cool a little before serving, but not much.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bread



Cinnamon Raisin bread has always been one of my favorites, but I have some restrictions. I have been searching for a great raisin bread recipe, but most of the recipes and most of the raisin breads out there I have found inthe past are closer to cake or a cinnamon roll than they are like bread. Sometimes I don't want cake for breakfast and I don't want a cinnamon roll. Sometimes I want a slice of normal, honest wheat bread that just happens to be sweet and have raisins in it.

I found this recipe on a website called The Fresh Loaf that is a great resource for bakers. I scaled it down to two loaves and made a couple additions. For measuring for this bread, I recommend using weight measurements for all dry ingredients as they are more accurate. During the second rise, be gentile when degassing the dough. The last person to punch down their dough was Julia Childs and potentially yo mamma, but it's just not done that way anymore.


I had a little trouble getting the yeast to rise all the way in the pans. Perhaps next time I will change the size of the pans and the amoun

t of degassing I do before the second rise. Even though there were a couple problems, the bread was very moist and had a delightfully light crumb like sandwich bread. It was exactly what I wanted: a great wholesome wheat bread that happened to have raisins.

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bread

Ingredients

  • 16 oz (3 2/3 cup) all purpose flour
  • 5.3 oz (1 1/4 cup) whole wheat flour
  • .2 oz (2 Tbsp) wheat bran
  • 3.5 oz (1 cup + 2 Tbsp) rolled oats
  • 13.3 oz (1 2/3 cup) water
  • 2.3 oz (1/4 cup) milk
  • 1.6 oz (2 Tbsp) honey
  • 1.6 oz (3 2/3 Tbsp) vegetable oil
  • .5 oz (2 tsp) salt
  • .25 oz (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • .3 oz (1 Tbsp + 1 tsp) cinnamon
  • 7 oz (1 1/3 cup) raisins, soaked (note: weight is the dry weight of raisins before soaking)

Directions
  1. 30 minutes prior to baking bread, soak raisins in warm water. In separate bowl, soak oatmeal in 1 1/3 cup warm water.
  2. 5 minutes before, begin proofing yeast in 1/3cup body temperature water.
  3. Add wheat bran, wheat flour, white flour, milk, honey, oil, salt, cinnamon and yeast to oatmeal. Mix until everything is incorporated.
  4. Let dough rest for 15 minutes. This is called autolypse, and will help relax the dough, making it easier to knead
  5. Knead dough for 5 minutes until the exterior is smooth. Drain raisins and fold them into dough until evenly distributed.
  6. Place dough into bowl and let rise in draft free place for 1 hour
  7. After 1 hour, turn dough out onto floured surface. Fold dough in thirds like a letter. Rotate dough 90 degrees and fold into other direction. Be sure to be gentile when folding and degassing the dough.
  8. Place dough seam side down back in bowl and let rise another hour
  9. After 1 hour, divide dough in half and shape loaves, placing in two greased loaf pans. Mist the tops of the loaves with water and top with oats.
  10. Cover and let rise in bulk again for 90 minutes or until loaves almost crest the tops of the pans
  11. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  12. Bake at 450 for 5 minutes and reduce heat to 375. Bake another 15 minutes and rotate loaves. Continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes until the tops are golden. Knocking on the bottom of the loaf when removed from the pan should sound hollow.
  13. Let loaves cool before slicing. Obviously I'm not very good at that step...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grapefruit Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting



Citrus and avocado are a classic salad combination. I never used to like avocado (I always it was a pointless use of calories) until I tried the grapefruit and avocado salad at a local restaurant. I can no longer remember the name of the restaurant, but I can remember the beauty of grapefruit segments, thin slices of avocado, pink sea salt and a hint of lemon zest.

When trying to create a completely original cupcake idea, I thought of this salad. I thought of just how it changed my opinion of avocado and what an amazing combination this would be, especially when topped with a little pink sea salt.

The cupcakes had a perfect texture. They were dense, but still quite moist and tasted strongly like a grapefruit creamsicle. The avocado was not overpowering and neither was the salt, but provided a complexity for the grapefruit to play against. It was sweet and salty and bitter all at the same time. At first it was a confusing assault on my taste buds, but after the initial bite, it became quite enjoyable.

Grapefruit Cupcakes (makes 24)
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (8.5 oz) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp packed grapefruit zest (about 2 grapefruits)
  • 1 cup less 3 Tbsp lowfat greek yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp grapefruit juice
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt
  2. In separate bowl, cream butter. Add grapefruit zest and sugar, beating until light and fluffy
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated
  4. Add half the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporate.
  5. Add vanilla, yogurt and grapefruit juice, mixing until incorporated. Finish with the remaining flour mixture.
  6. Spoon into prepared muffin cups and bake for 10-15 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean
  7. Let cool completely before frosting.

Avocado Frosting
Ingredients
  • 4 oz ripe avocado meat (about 1 large avocado
  • 1 tsp lemon or lime juice
  • 8 oz powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla (optional, depending on if you want a stronger citrus flavor)
Directions
  1. Beat avocado with lemon or lime juice with electric mixer until creamy.
  2. Add sugar and beat until smooth
  3. Frost cupcakes and garnish with a little sea salt

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Coconut Flour Cake with Fudge Frosting

I have never subscribed in the belief for food with special dietary restrictions. Most of my friends feel the same way. They shun most things vegan and gluten free if those foods are pretending to be real food (such as coconut flour pretending to be cake, or something as sinister as vegan cheesecake)

One of my coworkers asked me to make him a dessert with coconut flour as be has been trying to keep a gluten free diet. It wasn't as restrictive as vegan or dairy free or no refined sugars, so I decided to give gluten free baking a try for the first time.

The cake was a lot more moist and spongy than I expected it to be given the density of coconut flour. The fudge frosting was a little too sweet for me, but it was delicious and tasted like a chocolate orange you get at Christmas time. The cake will be a staple for all my gluten free friends in the future. In the future, I will also double the recipe to make a double layer cake.

Coconut Flour Orange Cake
Ingredients
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 orange zest
  • 1/2 orange, juiced
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch cake pan with butter and coconut flour
  2. Sift together baking soda, salt and coconut flour
  3. Melt the butter so that half is melted and the other half is very very soft
  4. Mix in honey, orange zest, eggs and coconutmilk with the butter using electric beaters

  5. Slowly add coconut flour while mixing, making sure to remove all the lumps from the cake
  6. Pour cake into pan and bake for half anhour or until cake is set and tester comes out clean.
  7. Poke holes in the top of the cake with toothpick and squeeze the juice from half an orange over the top


Orange Fudge Frosting
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 lb powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2.5 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • juice from the other half orange
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
Directions
  1. Melt butter and unsweetened chocolate together in the top of a double boiler
  2. Combine sugar, milk and orange juice, mixing with electric beaters.
  3. Add hot chocolate and butter. Continue mixing on high until thickened and cool
  4. As necessary, put frosting in the refrigerator to chill faster and continue beating until frosting is the right consistency.
  5. Frost cake and top with the unsweetened coconut.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chocolate Root Beer Bunt Cake




I only realized after making this cake that it would be such a contentious issue. Root beer has always been my favorite soda, but I took this for my co-workers, most of whom are not originally from the United States. I never realized that root beer could be so contentious.

Everyone liked this cake because it did not have as strong a root beer flavor-- it was primarily chocolate. I wanted a stronger flavor that was closer to a root
beer float or cream soda. The root beer taste was very strong in the original batter but dissipated during the baking process. Yet the chocolate flavor was intense, not too sweet, and the cake was both very dense and very moist. In the future, I will use dutch process cocoa (for a lighter flavor) or root beer extract.

Chocolate Root Beer Cake (taken from smitten kitchen)
Ingredients
  • 2 cups root beer
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups (8.5 oz) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease/flour your bunt pan
  2. Heat root beer, butter and cocoa powder in saucepan until combined
  3. Add eggs one at a time and sugar. Mix thoroughly and let cool
  4. In separate bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder
  5. Add root beer mix to flour mixture, folding gently and not overmixing
  6. Bake 30-40 minutes until tester comes out clean
  7. Let cool completely and serve with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Portuguese Biscotti

I remember always getting this cookies at Christmas and Easter from my mother's side of the family. They were crunchy, buttery cookies that were not too sweet. They were like a softer version of biscotti but still perfect for coffee or tea.

I never knew what to call these when I was growing up and I still don't. Sometimes I call them Portuguese shortbread and sometimes I just call them cookies, but they bring back great memories of childhood and the sweetness of family.


Portugese Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 3/4 t vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg for wash
  • 1 3/4 T milk
Directions


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix eggs, sugar, vanilla, milk and melted butter.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Add to the liquid mixture and stir until combined.
  4. Make into desired shapes and brush with egg. Let stand 20 minutes before baking. Make sure to leave plenty of room between the cookies
  5. Bake for 20 minutes and leave in oven for 1 hour after baking to let them get crispy.
Note: I do not normally add a glaze to these cookies, but I was making it for people who like sweeter foods. It is just almond extract and powdered sugar.

Almond Rochers


I used to keep a blog, which has since fallen into the infinite abyss of internet obscurity. I began to favor pen and paper as my medium of choice for recording my thoughts, observations, and interactions. I wanted something tangible I could bring with me and observe on the spot, or something that I could keep completely private.

For a time I tried doing a food blog, but I was not in a place where I cooked regularly enough to keep it up, nor in a place where I really used recipes (I still don't, most of the time).

But recently I started to catalogue my favorite recipes (ones I had adapted, and ones I had taken from my favorite books or blogs) and began to photograph those creations to keep track of my progress and how I had learned. One of those that I chose was the recipe for Almond Rochers from the Tartine Bakery book when I discovered that I would soon be moving across the country, and would no longer have access to this amazing bakery within 30 minutes of my house

Almond Rochers (from Tartine Bakery in San Francisco)

Ingredients
  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp sliced almonds
  • 2 large egg whites (at room temp)
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Break almonds into 1/4 inch pieces or smaller, depending on whether you will be spooning or piping them. Toast in oven until golden brown and let cool
  3. Combine egg whites, confectioners sugar and salt in stainless steel bowl over a double boiler. Whisk ingredients together over simmering water until egg whites are hot to the touch (about 5 minutes)
  4. Remove egg whites from heat and beat on high speed until egg whites are glossy and hold very stiff peaks (note: it is important to use an electric mixer. I tried doing this by hand and it's like trying to whip glue)
  5. Fold in almonds and vanilla with a rubber spatula, being sure not to lose volume
  6. Pipe 1 inch meringue kisses onto parchment lined baking sheet, or drop by the tablespoon
  7. Bake cookies for 15 minutes with oven door slightly ajar. They will puff at the sides and feel dry but soft to the touch. Cool completely before serving.




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