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Judy's Gross Eats

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream --- C.S. Lewis

Updated: 2017-12-17T10:49:03.256-08:00


Champagne-soaked Babas


December brings festive times and a festive bread.  Lien, our kitchen of the month, (Notitie van Lien), challenged the Babes to create a Champagne-soaked Baba.  This is a delicious and easy bread to make, so there are no excuses not to bake along!This is similar to a batter bread, which I have made many times.  I purchased small panettone papers from King Arthur Flour, and they were perfect for this bread, making 6 small babas.  They don't need a special baking pan.  I placed mine on a sheet pan, which worked fine, but next time I would be sure to allow sufficient space between them.  I didn't want to deflate the dough by moving them, but I did notice that the bread was browned nicely on the non-touching sides.I bought a huge bottle of champagne for the syrup.  Now, I have to figure out what to do with the remainder.  I also had leftover syrup, but I did use that each time I treated myself to a baba, by splitting the bun in two and drizzling the syrup over the cut sides.  Pretty tasty.Finally, I opted to cover the tops with a simple sugar glaze.  I couldn't find apricot jam in the pantry, although I did locate a jar of apricot-mustard jam from Germany.  Didn't think the mustard would be a favorite flavor profile on a sweet bun, but I could be wrong.As I mentioned earlier, this is an easy bread to bake.  Definitely use the syrup as it keeps the bread nice and moist.  You can substitute other liquids for the champagne.We hope you decide to bake along with us this month.  Send your results to Lien by December 29 to be included in the Buddy Roundup. Champagne Baba (1 large or 12 small baba’s) sponge: 100 g water 1 tsp instant dry yeast 1 TBsp sugar 100 g bread flour dough: 180 g bread flour ½ tsp fine salt ¼ tsp instant dry yeast 1,5 tsp vanilla sugar 3 large eggs 90 g melted butter soaking syrup:150 g sugar 177 g water 120 g champagne (or Asti Spumante or fruitjuice) 200 g apricot jam (or use a sugar glaze) Mix all the ingredients for the sponge together in a large bowl (the one you’ll be kneading the dough in). Now sprinkle 180 g bread flour over the sponge, so it is covered and leave to rest for about 1 hour. Now add the salt, ¼ tsp dry yeast, vanilla sugar and eggs. Start to mix this. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment. When it comes together after a few minutes, add the melted (and slightly cooled) butter and keep working it. The dough is a bit batter-like, but be sure to get some gluten developed. Place it in the molds. You can use a loaf tin or a round baking form (I used a paper Panettone mold (Ø13,4 x H 9,5 cm), filled about half way up. Cover with plastic and leave to rise until 2-3 cm under the rim of the mold. In the meantime don’t forget to preheat the oven to 180ºC (350-360ºF). Bake for about 45-55 minutes, until golden brown on top. If the bread gets too dark too soon, protect the top with a sheet of tin foil. Check the temperature in the bread with a thermometer, it should be about 93ºC. Take out of the oven and the tin and place on a deep dish. Poke the bread with a long wooden skewer from top to bottom. Brush the syrup all over it, and get as much as possible inside the bread, so take your time. Collect the syrup from the plate and keep pouring and brushing it, until all in absorbed in the bread.Now heat the apricot jam in a small pan and let it boil, add a little water if it is too thick. Brush or pour it over the top. You can also opt for a simple sugar glaze. This topping keeps the moisture in.The baba is best eaten on the day that it’s baked. But if not, keep in the fridge.Blog from OUR Kitchen – ElizabethA Messy Kitchen – KellyKaren’s Kitchen Stories – KarenNotitie Van Lien – LienMy Diverse Kitchen - AparnaBread Experience - CathyThyme for Cooking - KatieMy Kitchen in Half Cups - TannaBake My Day - KarenFeeding My Enthusiasms - Elle[...]

Easy English Muffins


Over the years, I've tried quite a few recipes for English Muffins.  This month, Babe Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms, offered up yet another version, and it is pretty easy to do.  The only caveat is that you have to think ahead by about 24 hours, but that's hardly a problem.These muffins don't require kneading; they don't need to be rolled out; and they don't need special rings.  When it's time to form them, you just drop large dollops of dough onto a baking sheet that's been sprinkled with corn meal.  I didn't find it necessary to use a lot of corn meal, and didn't have any problems with sticking.  It was just enough to add that traditional crunch on the outside.Like pancakes, the muffins are cooked on a griddle or in a large frying pan.When ready, just split them open by using a fork, which helps create that great bumpy texture.  Then, they are ready for toasting.   Butter and jam?  Yum!  Mini pizzas? Yes.  Eggs benedict?  Definitely.  So many uses!  There's no excuse for not giving these a try.English Muffinsadapted from Serious Eats, Stella Parks(  Makes twelve 3 1/2-inch muffinsACTIVE TIME:  20 minutes  TOTAL TIME:16 to 30 hours   Ingredients·         10 ounces bread flour (2 cups; 285g)·         5 ounces whole wheat flour (1 cup; 140g) (makes a more tender interior)·         2 3/4 teaspoons (11g) kosher salt; for table salt, use the same weight or half as  much by volume·         1 1/4 teaspoons (4g) instant dry yeast (not rapid-rise)·         12 ounces cold milk (1 1/2 cups; 340g), any percentage will do (helps create nooks and crannies)·         3 1/2 ounces honey (1/4 cup; 100g)·         1 large egg white, cold·         5 ounces fine cornmeal (1 cup; 145g), for dusting - don't skip this·         Roughly 1 ounce bacon fat, unsalted butter, or oil (2 tablespoons; 30g), for the griddle       Directions      Make the Dough and First Rise: In a large bowl, mix bread flour, whole wheat flour, kosher salt, and yeast together until well combined. Add milk, honey, and egg white, stirring with a flexible spatula until smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic and set aside until spongy, light, and more than doubled, 4 to 5 hours at 70°F. (The timing is flexible depending on your schedule.) .   Second Rise: Thickly cover a rimmed aluminum baking sheet with an even layer of cornmeal. With a large spoon, dollop out twelve 2 2/3-ounce (75g) portions of dough; it's perfectly fine to do this by eye. If you'd like, pinch the irregular blobs here and there to tidy their shape. Sprinkle with additional cornmeal, cover with plastic, and refrigerate at least 12 and up to 42 hours.      Cook on the Griddle and Serve: Preheat an electric griddle to 325°F or warm a 12-inch cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. When sizzling-hot, add half the butter and melt; cook muffins until their bottoms are golden brown, about 8 minutes. Flip with a square-end spatula and cook the other side. Transfer to a wire rack until cool enough to handle, then split the muffins by inserting a fork around the edges to pull them open a little at a time. Toast before serving and store any leftovers in an airtight container up to 1 week at room temperature (or 1 month in the fridge).  Can also be frozen.The Bread Baking Babes get together each month to make a bread chosen by one of us. The Babes who baked along are:Blog from OUR Kitchen – ElizabethA Messy Kitchen – KellyKa[...]

Double-duty Baking for October -- Babes and World Bread Day


This month (October) I am pleased to be the Kitchen of the Month for the Bread Baking Babes.  Since we post our stories on the 16th of the month, our baking this time around also coincides with World Bread Baking Day, also October 16th.The minute I sign up for my turn, I start keeping an eye out for a good and interesting bread recipe.  The closer my time comes, the more indecisive I become.  Which bread to choose?  This year was no exception.  By the deadline, I had my choices narrowed down to two:  one was a fun sort of bread, the other was more sturdy and fit with the time of year.  I went with the latter choice, but when my turn rolls around again (no pun intended), I will most likely choose the fun bread because it keeps calling my name.Because October is the beginning of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, and there is a noticeable nip in the morning air, I selected a seasonal recipe, Pumpkin Cornmeal Bread.  The original recipe can be found in Bread for All Seasons, by Beth Hensperger.  The dough contains a delicious mixture of cornmeal, rye, and bread flour, with flavorings from buttermilk, molasses, and pumpkin (of course).  It's really a lovely dough to work with, and can be shaped either into loaves or rolls.I took two-thirds of the dough and formed it into round loaves, then I took the remaining third and shaped it into rolls.  While you can shape the bread however you wish, I followed the recommendation from the book, and made the rolls in the shape of a spiral.  I decided it was a bit of an unfortunate shape, seeing it after rising and baking.  But, the rolls were fun to eat!Here's hoping you're all in the mood for some fall baking, and you give this delicious bread a try.  If you do decide to be a Buddy, please send your baking story and photos to me at jahunt22 dot gmail dot com by October 29th, and they will be included in the BuddyRoundup.Be sure to check out the results from the other Babes:Blog from OUR Kitchen – ElizabethA Messy Kitchen – KellyKaren’s Kitchen Stories – KarenNotitie Van Lien – LienMy Diverse Kitchen - AparnaBread Experience - CathyThyme for Cooking - KatieMy Kitchen in Half Cups - TannaBake My Day - KarenFeeding My Enthusiasms - ElleHappy Bread Baking!Pumpkin Cornmeal BreadYield:  2 or 3 loaves or 24 dinner rolls1 ½  tablespoons active dry yeast (1 ½ packets)Pinch of sugar1 cup warm water (105˚ to 115˚)1 cup warm buttermilk (105˚ to 115˚)5 tablespoons melted butter or oil1/3 cup light molasses½ cup pumpkin purée (either canned or homemade)1 tablespoon salt1 cup fine- or medium-grind yellow cornmeal1 cup medium rye flour4 ½ to 4 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flourIn a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar, salt, cornmeal, and rye flour.   Whisk to mix well.Add warm water, buttermilk, melted butter/oil, molasses, and pumpkin purée.  Beat until smooth (1 to 2 minutes) using either a whisk or the paddle attachment on a mixer.Add the unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour, ½ cup at a time, until it becomes a soft dough.  Knead until smooth and slightly tacky, either by hand or with a dough hook.Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the top; cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise at room temperature until double, about 1 ½ to 2 hours, depending on how warm it is.Turn onto work surface and divide the dough into 2 or 3 equal round portions.  Place on parchment-lined baking pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 45 minutes.To make dinner rolls, divide the dough into 24 equal portions and shape as desired.Place on parchment-lined baking pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 20 minutes, or place in refrigerator for 2 hours to overnight.Twenty minutes before baking, heat the oven to 375˚, using a baking stone, if you wish.  While the oven is [...]

BBB: Swiss Rye Ring/Brasciadela/Kantonsbrot Graubünden


After a month-long hiatus from any kind of baking (Whole30 month), I was back in the kitchen on September 1st, just in time to bake the Swiss Rye Ring.

Cathy, from Bread Experience, was the Kitchen of the Month, and she was excited to share this bread after attending a bread-baking workshop.  Luckily, my sourdough starter is rye flour-based, and was only in hibernation for a month.  There must have been some benefits to that, because the started returned to an extra bubbly state.

The original recipe can be found at The Rye Baker.  It calls for several types of rye flour and for first clear flour, commonly used in Jewish rye breads.  Locally, dark rye flour is my only choice.  I did find a formula for simulating first clear flour -- for every 100 grams, use a mixture of 96 grams all-purpose flour and 4 grams of vital wheat gluten.  Other than that, the recipe is very straight-forward and easy to make.

My one change, and it has nothing to do with the recipe, would be to fire up the oven when the dough begins its final rise.  My oven takes forever to get to temperature, and the dough was a fast riser, so just keep that in mind.

At first, I thought my dough had collapsed, but upon seeing the results from the other Babes, I don't think that is the case.  Sure, some were more filled out, but mine didn't turn out as awful as I first believed.  It has a nice tang as well, delicious either plain or toasted with butter.

I'm still feeding my starter and need to make up for lost time, trying all kinds of sourdough recipes.  If I ever get my hands on the requested ingredients for this bread, I will definitely make it again.

For the recipe, you can go to either Cathy's website or to The Rye Baker.  If you want to bake as a buddy, send your results and photos to Cathy by September 29th.

Coffee Malted Cookies


For the Dorie's Cookies bake-along, the second cookie for July was the Coffee Malteds (page 116), highlighting two of my favorite flavors, coffee and malt.

These cookies are easy and quick to make, with a cake-like texture.  They are drop cookies, although, because I wasn't sure how much they would spread, I decided to bake them in mini-muffin tins, using my smallest scoop to dish out the dough.  I ended up with bite-sized buttons.  The flavor mellowed over time, but they were delicious from first cookie to last.

The Coffee Malteds were also Dorie's selection for her Cookies and Kindness project.

Stop by the Tuesdays with Dorie website to find out what the other bakers thought.

BBB: Velvety Bean Bread


Kelly of A Messy Kitchen is the Kitchen of the Month for July.  She chose a fiber-rich bread with an unusual ingredient -- pureed white beans.To be honest, if I were a baker on the Great British Baking Show, I would be sent home because of this bread.  I baked it two separate times, and both times the loaves failed.  Can't seem to bake a loaf of bread to save my life, it seems.The first time around, the dough overproofed, even though I watched it carefully.  When I slashed the first loaf, it deflated faster than a blink of an eye.  I didn't slash the second one.So, I decided that it was baker error and I needed to try again.  This time, I watched the dough like a hawk.  The final proof only took around 30 minutes.  The unbaked loaves looked fine, but, when I removed them from the oven, both were flat.There was no third time.I'm getting a bit gun-shy with bread at the moment.  For the time being, I will stick with cookies.All the other Babes had perfect loaves.  So, give it a try and see what happens.  Send your efforts to Kelly by the 29th of July to be included in the Buddy roundup.From Kelly: Velvety Bean BreadMakes 2 small pan loaves2 tsp (7 g) active dry yeast1 cup (326.5 g) lukewarm water2 cups drained cooked or canned navy beans, room temp (I soaked and cooked mine)1 cup (113 g) whole wheat flour (I used sprouted spelt)1 tbsp (13.7 g) olive oil1 tbsp (17 g) salt (I used less with my salt.  Scant tsp or ¾ tsp)2 tbsp (~6 g) chopped chives (optional)~ 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour (I added 30 extra grams to each loaf, 60 g total)Dissolve yeast in water.  Process beans until smooth, transfer to a large bowl or stand mixer.  Stir yeast mixture into beans.  Add the whole wheat flour and stir for one minute, in one direction, to develop the dough.  Add the oil, salt, and chives, if using and stir them in.  Add 1 cup of the AP flour and stir in.  Add the remaining AP flour and knead in with a dough hook, or work in and knead by hand for about 5 minutes, until smooth.Place dough in a bowl, cover, and let rise for 3 hours, until almost doubled in volume.  (There should be about 2.5 pounds of dough.)Turn out dough and divide in half.  Butter two 8x4" pans.  Form each portion of dough into a loaf and place seam side down in the pans.  The directions say to let rise for 2½ hours.  That was WAY too long for my kitchen.  The above loaf was baked after 1 hour.  You'll have to watch the dough for proper rise.  Check at 1 hour and continue to proof if needed.Preheat oven to 400ºF, have a spray bottle or small cup of water ready for steam.  Slash each loaf lengthwise , place in oven and bake for 5 minutes, adding steam every couple minutes with the sprayer or cup.  Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375ºF and bake for 25 minutes until rich brown with a matte finish.  Turn the loaves out and check for doneness. Finish cooling on a wire rack before slicing.The Bread Baking Babes:Blog from OUR Kitchen – ElizabethA Messy Kitchen – KellyKaren’s Kitchen Stories – KarenNotitie Van Lien – LienMy Diverse Kitchen - AparnaBread Experience - CathyThyme for Cooking - KatieMy Kitchen in Half Cups - TannaBake My Day - KarenFeeding My Enthusiasms - Elle[...]

TWD: Jammin'


 It's cookie time again. 

By popular acclaim, the first cookies for July are Classic Jammers (page 350) in Dorie's Cookies.  This is a multi-step cookie:  vanilla sables for the base, streusel for the top, some kind of jam for the assembly.  I used some cherry preserves for my jam. 

I only made half a recipe, but the streusel topping ran out before I could use up all the dough, so I baked the remainder as plain cookies.  I'm not a huge fan of jam in cookies, and I debated whether to use lemon curd instead.  If there's a next time, that's what I'll use.

They were  pretty darn delicious, even so.

I did experiment with the baking pan.  A few years ago, a friend gave me one of those mini cheesecake pans with the removable bottoms, so the first twelve cookies were baked in that pan (the small ones in the photo).  The pan worked nicely, but the openings are deep, making it a challenge to sprinkle on the streusel.  I'm sure it would do fine for less complicated cookies.  The remaining six were baked in a standard muffin tin (the big ones), which certainly made assembly a bit easier.  Neither pan affected the taste; it was just a matter of appearance and ease of preparation.

Stop by the Tuesdays with Dorie website to see what the other cookie bakers thought.

TWD: Cookies -- Two for the price of one


Saturday was cookie-baking day, and it had to be done early before it got too hot.

First up were the Rose-Hibiscus Shortbread cookies.  I had made them several months ago with disappointing results.  This time, I had fresh rose water and fresh rose-hibiscus-cherry tea, so I thought I would try again. 

The cookies turned out fine, although the flavor is still too mild to notice.  I'll probably stick with regular or lemon-poppy seed shortbread.

Next was the latest version of chocolate chip cookies, My Newest Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I had made the dough on Wednesday, so it had plenty of chilling time.  I also halved the recipe because I didn't need to be tempted by 50+ cookies.  For the chocolate chips, I used a giant bittersweet chocolate bar from Trader Joe's, weighing out the appropriate amount and slicing off slivers with a serrated knife.  No big hunks of chocolate, but a nice distribution of chocolate throughout the cookie.  These baked up very nicely, the spices were subtle, so they shouldn't be terribly noticeable.  I'd definitely bake these again.

Now it's your turn to try them out.  Stop by the Tuesdays with Dorie website to see which cookies the other bakers made, and keep an eye out for the July selections.

The recipe for the Rose-Hibiscus Shortbread Cookies can be found on page 191; the one for the chocolate chip cookies on page 125 of Dorie's Cookies.

Bread with handles (Kaak)!


This month's creative bread is courtesy of Karen (Baking Soda) at Bake My Day!  She asked us to bake Kaak, a Lebanese bread with sesame seeds. It also has a unique shape.The recipe I used was slightly different than the one Karen posted.  I did use buttermilk, but I also did the initial dough mixing and rising in my bread machine, saving the final shaping to do by hand.  Also, because I created the holes with a round cutter, I had 8 little bread disks, which made for excellent testing and snacking.My kaak was more like a flatbread.  Perhaps the second rise wasn't long enough.  But, even so, they were delicious, worthy of baking again.Stop by and see what the other Babes did, and feel free to join in as a Buddy.  Send your information to Karen by June 29 to be included in the roundup.The Babes are:Bake My Day - Karenblog from OUR kitchen - ElizabethBread Experience - CathyFeeding my Enthusiasms - Pat/Elle  Karen's Kitchen Stories - KarenMy Diverse Kitchen - AparnaMy Kitchen In Half Cups - TannaNotitie Van Lien - LienA Messy Kitchen – Kelly  Thyme for Cooking - KatieLife's a Feast - JamieKaakIngredients1 1/2 cups warm reduced-fat milk1 tablespoon olive oil2 cups bread flour1-2 tablespoons more flour for flouring and rolling1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour1 tablespoon sugar1 teaspoon salt1 envelope rapid rise yeastFor topping1 large egg1/2 cup sesame seeds (1 tablespoon per kaak)Directions1. In the pan of an electric bread machine, add ingredients in the order recommended by the yeast manufacturer. Set for the dough cycle.2. When done, remove dough from pan, cover with a clean towel and let rest for 10 minutes.3. Divide into 8 equal parts, each weighing about 100 grams. With a floured rolling pin on a floured surface, roll each part into a large, 6-7 inch circle. Use a small, 2-inch glass to cut a small circle out, near the edge of each large circle:4. Place rings on two greased baking sheets. Beat the egg and 1 TBS water with a fork. Brush each ring with the mixture and sprinkle with about 1 TBS sesame seeds:5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes, or up to an hour. 6. Heat oven to 200°C. Bake about 10 minutes, or until golden and puffed. Serve immediately.[...]

TWD: Blueberry Buttermilk Pie Bars


Getting back to baking for the month of June.  May flew by, mostly because I was traveling for several weeks on the East Coast, so being in the kitchen was put on the back burner, so to speak.

To start the month, I chose to bake the Blueberry-Buttermilk Pie Bars, page 62, in Dorie's Cookies.  For some reason, they took nearly twice as long as to bake.  After 45 minutes, they were still soupy in the middle, so I baked them longer, checking every 5 to 10 minutes, until the center was puffy and the edges were golden brown.

Once baked, I chilled them overnight, and gave them my stamp of approval.  They were much better than when freshly baked, probably because the custard-like top had time to firm up.

I also added more blueberries, just because.

Head over to the Tuesdays with Dorie website to what the other bakers thought.

BBB: Shubbak el-Habayeb


I'm out of time.  Early in the morning, I head out on a cross-country trip (West coast to East coast), so this post is short.

This month's bread, Shubbak el-Habayeb, comes from Karen at Karen's Kitchen Stories.

My bread came out too dark, my fault entirely.  I accidentally set the timer for 17 minutes, and, rather than reset it, I thought I could check it before the timer went off.  Sigh.  I got caught up in the latest episode from Anthony Bourdain, a trip to Laos.  When the beeper rang, and I saw the dark brown rolls, my heart sank.  Should have reset the timer.

But, they were delicious in spite of being extra dark.

Head over to Karen's blog to get the recipe and be a buddy for May.  You won't regret it!

TWD: Lemon Sugar Cookies


The second April cookie from Dorie's cookbook is filled with the taste and scent of lemon, Lemon Sugar Cookies.  I love anything lemon, and I am fortunate because there is a lemon tree in my backyard, loaded with lemons.

I must admit that I made these back in February, and they were a big hit with everyone who tried one.  One problem, though.  I forgot to take photos, or, rather, the cookies were eaten too quickly.  So, sigh, I was forced to bake them again.  Almost ran out the second time, too!

I didn't have too much of an issue with spreading.  Those most likely to expand were the last to be scooped out.  Maybe a bit of chilling would be helpful.

The only other thing I did a bit differently the first time was that I used the zest of two lemons instead of one.  They were really lemony.  And super delicious.

If you have Dorie's Cookies, you can find the recipe on page 171.

To see what the other bakers thought, stop by the Tuesdays with Dorie website.

BBB: Kare Pan


Lately, I’ve been having issues with following directions.  Call it creative departure.  Making this month’s bread was no exception.Babe Aparna asked us to make Kare Pan, Japanese curry balls, for our April challenge.  (You'll find the recipe on Aparna's blog.) These are balls of dough, filled with a curried vegetable mixture, coated in panko, and deep fried.  I almost did that.  Upon doing a vegetable check, I determined that I had some but not all of the required produce.  Change number one:  I created a mixture of onions, garlic, ginger, kale, tomatoes, and potatoes, adding the various spices, which I did have.  I thought it turned out well, and there was enough left over to put in this morning’s breakfast omelet.Change number two:  instead of deep frying the dough balls, I chose to bake them.  I searched for alternative recipes and did find one that gave me the specifics.  It's not that I have a problem with deep frying, but I had so much going on simultaneously that I didn't have the time to stand over a pan full of hot oil, hence the baking option.  I dipped the balls in egg wash, coated them with panko, then drizzled olive oil over each ball.  They went into a 390 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  I started checking them after 10 minutes, then increased the bake time by 5 minute increments until they were golden brown.  The resulting bread was crispy on the outside  and soft on the inside with a tiny kick from the spicy filling.  As I was tasting them, I could imagine other fillings, both sweet and savory.If you want to be a Buddy, bake your Kare Pan by the 29thof April, post the results, and let Aparna know. She’ll have the Buddy roundup ready shortly thereafter.  And, of course, check out the adventures of the other Babes.Blog from OUR Kitchen – ElizabethA Messy Kitchen – KellyBake My Day – KarenBread Experience – CathyFeeding My Enthusiasms – ElleKaren’s Kitchen Stories – KarenMy Kitchen in Half Cups – TannaNotitie Van Lien – LienThyme for Cooking – KatieMy Diverse Kitchen - Aparna   [...]

TWD: Anzac Biscuits


Oatmeal cookies.  Mostly, I'm neutral about them. If there are raisins, I won't touch them.  If there are chocolate chips, I will.  If they are plain, it's a toss-up.

But, I have now discovered my favorite variety of oatmeal cookie:  Anzac Biscuits from Dorie's Cookies (page 159).  I've heard of them many times, but have never made them before.

They are a delicious combination of oatmeal, coconut, and golden syrup.  Easy to make, easy to eat.

I usually have some kind of container of golden syrup in my pantry because I never know when it will be needed.  Somewhere, and I don't remember where, I came across this squeeze bottle of golden syrup.  Had to have it!  And, it paid off with these cookies.

The other deviation I made was that I used unsweetened coconut -- the only kind I will use.  First, coconut is sweet enough on its own; second, sweetened coconut makes me gag.  Coconut-filled candy bars are safe with me, since I refuse to eat them.

That aside, these cookies are terrific.  If you have the book, definitely bake up a batch.

Also, check with the Tuesdays with Dorie website to read about what the other bakers thought of them.

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.

BBB: Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread


Struan:  a special bread made from all the grains harvested during the yearThis 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. [...]

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.

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.



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.JachnunIngredients500 grams bread flour25 grams date syrup (or honey)20 grams honeyPinch of baking powder12 grams salt300 grams water (plus or minus)1/4 cup melted butter, margarine, or oilInstructionsMix 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. 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. Divide the dough in to 6 pieces and shape them into balls. Let rest for 10 minutes. 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. 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. Serve hot with grated tomato, hard boiled eggs, and zhug (recipe below). Yield: Makes 6To 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.Part[...]

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.

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 pan1/2 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons lemon or orange zest 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 large egg, at room temperature1 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[...]

BBB: Fouace Nantaise


Here in southern California, we're finally having a winter, the first in many years.  This means cool temperatures, blustery winds, and -- wait for it -- rain!  Six years with little to no precipitation is challenging, although too much at one time is not good either.  Just today, there was sufficient rain to cause flooding up in Santa Barbara.While the cooler weather and rain are welcome, they pose a challenge for finding a warm place to proof my dough.  There is no warm spot in this house.  The water heater is in the uninsulated garage, so that's no help.  When I get desperate, I fire up the huge gas oven for a minute or so, but that's just a short-term solution.I could turn on the heater/furnace to take the edge off, but did I mention that my 100-pound German Shepherd is afraid of it?  It seems to make some kind of thumpy noise that terrifies her.  Each day is a dilemma:  do I turn on the heat, which forces the dog to go outside, or do I bundle up with multiple coats, scarves, and gloves so the dog can remain inside?  Now, personally, I don't care if the dog is outside, but she plays this really annoying 'game' of scratching at the door, as if she wants to come back inside.  But, no.  As I reach for the handle, she runs away.  This happens multiple times until I give in and turn off the furnace.  And bundle up. So, for the January bread, Fouace Nantaise, finding a warm spot for proofing and rising the dough required some effort.  As I recall, I ended up turning on the gas stove for a brief moment so the dough could have a fighting chance.  It worked, by the way.If you, dear reader, decide to make this bread (and I hope you do, because it is delicious), you will discover that it has one unique ingredient -- orange flower water.  I actually had some in my pantry from years (I say, years) ago.  While I don't think it spoils, in the interest of safety and currency, I decided to replace it.  What was there to lose?  If I couldn't find any, I knew I had antique orange flower water at hand.  But, I was in luck.  The local BevMo had a small bottle in stock.  I now have two bottles.  I clearly need to search for other recipes that use that fragrant ingredient.Back to the bread.  Our Kitchen of the Month is Elizabeth, and she chose Fouace Nantaise, based on a recipe by Jamie Schler.   It's a lovely, orange-scented bread with a touch of orange-flavored liqueur, easy to make, and quick to disappear.  My only complaint would be that there wasn't enough of it.  (But I do have the orange flower water, so nothing is stopping me from baking it again.)  If I remember correctly (I made the bread in late December), I prepared the dough, saw that it was a really slow riser, got impatient, and tossed it in the refrigerator overnight.   The next day, I put the dough in the warm oven, and when it had doubled, formed the seven balls.  I wondered whether it required a pan with sides to retain the shape, but continued on anyway.  It baked up fine and was a really tasty bread, especially toasted and slathered with butter.  Salted butter.  That's all I have on hand.I should admit that my primary deviation from the recipe, and most bread recipes for that matter, is that I mix all the dry ingredients together, including the yeast, then add the wet ingredients and mix.  I find all the separate steps of me[...]

Bread Baking Day #85: Bread or buns with dried fruit


It seems forever that I baked for Bread Baking Day.  I missed #84 because I was still in transition from moving and hadn't yet found my baking equipment or my spices and key ingredients.Luckily, Simone, of Aus der Lameng, gave everyone two months to complete the challenge, which was baking a bread containing dried fruit.  In that time, I was able to find everything I needed and managed to bake two (!) types of bread.The first bread was a loaf filled with currants and dried cranberries. It turned out beautifully and made excellent toast.  It was also very simple because I used my bread machine to mix and knead the dough.  It is definitely a bread that will become a staple.  You can find the recipe here:   Golden Egg Bread with Dried FruitThe second recipe makes a dozen braided rolls, also filled with currants and dried cranberries. These require a bit more work, to roll out the dough and make braids, but they are also delicious and very spectacular-looking.  One advantage is that the dough can be made several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  Once again, I will direct you to the recipe link:  Milk and Honey Braided Buns with Dried Fruit and Pearl Sugar.This was a very enjoyable challenge.  I always look forward to each one, thanks to Zorra (the original Bread Baking Day hostess) and the Hostess of the Month.   In the next few days, stop by Simone's blog to see all the wonderful breads with dried fruit that she will share.Now, it's back to unpacking.[...]

Babes see Red


Best laid plans, as they say.Last week, mid-work project, my laptop died.  I immediately rushed it over to my computer repair lady, who, after 24 hours, declared it unusable.  The next morning I went to a local store, purchased a new laptop, delivered it to my repair lady, then waited (impatiently) until all files could be transferred and I could resume work and life.Meanwhile, with enforced free time, I thought of all the things I could do, like bake bread and sew. But, no. Everything I needed was -- wait for it -- on the computer. Such is life nowadays that every important file or access point is on the computer, and when it dies, life is interrupted.For this month's bread, I knew I needed beets, which I actually had, so I went ahead and put them in the oven to roast and soften.  While doing that, a friend and I disappeared into the garage to move boxes and search for those still-elusive items.  Two-plus hours later, I remembered the beets, definitely roasted and soft.  After cooling, they went into the fridge.I made a distress call to the group, and, thankfully, I once again had access (via my phone) to the recipe.  Tuesday was the big day, both for bread baking and computer access (yay).Did I pay attention to the vitals of the beets?  No.  I peeled them, dropped them into the blender, added the milk, and pureed away.  (I should mention that my blender is vintage 1971, so it's beginning to be cranky on some of its settings.)Using the alternate recipe, I made the dough and set it out to rise.  (Another mention here:  the dog is afraid of the furnace, so the inside house temperature is around 65 degrees.  Not conducive to proofing bread in this lifetime.)  While the bread was trying to rise, I ran over to the computer repair lady's house to pick up the computer (huzzah!).  It only took another 24 hours to find all the appropriate software, load it, and return to some semblance of normalcy. Sadly, all my browser bookmarks disappeared, so the task of remembering and recreating them will fill my weeks to come.By now, the bread dough was risen.  I shaped three braided loaves, and when they were ready, popped them into the oven.  It is a finely-tuned dance -- waiting for the oven to come to temperature (20 min.) without over-proofing the dough.The end result was near-perfect.  A lovely pinkish-red bread and a non-beet flavor.  One loaf went home with my friend, and one will go to work with me today.  Always good to share.This bread is definitely Buddy-worthy, so check for details on Cathy's website, Bread Experience.  [...]

Pain Bouillie: Babes Bake Rye Porridge Bread for November


Seems like it's been forever since I wrote a post or baked bread. Since the beginning of August I have sold my mother's house, moved her furniture, helped her with several ER visits and multiple doctor visits, bought my own house, moved my belongings, and continued to work two jobs.  After over six weeks, I still haven't found my dishes.  The movers successfully buried them in the midst of a mountain of heavy boxes, whose contents I don't need at the moment.  It took about four weeks to locate baking gear, six to find some glassware, and six to find my comforter, just in time for cool weather.I did bake the coconut rolls featured in September, using the ancient oven in my rental place.  I probably won't post them, but I will share a photo.  They were very tasty and worth baking.I missed October:  bagels.  But, I will fit them in before the end of the year.In my new home, I inherited a large Wolf gas range.  Very pleased about that.  Although I'm not a fan of gas ovens, this one is performing beyond expectations.  For baking purposes, I will have to keep an eye on the temperature, since I believe it's running a little hot.  So, while I successfully baked the Pain Bouillie, and it looks nearly perfect, after 65 minutes in the oven, it still wasn't baked through inside.  Boo hiss.  I even covered the top with foil to keep it from turning too black.  I would bake it again, but I need to replenish my supply of cracked rye.  With all the microbreweries in the area, it shouldn't be too difficult.  Back to the bread.  It is Kelly's first selection as a Babe.  It really is a bread worth baking -- just watch that oven temperature and baking time.  (Also, use an instant-read thermometer to check the bread. This one time I didn't.  I thought the 'thump' sounded ok, but I was sure wrong.)So, if you want to be a Buddy this month, head over to Kelly's website to get the recipe, read her helpful tips, and see how delicious this bread looks.  Send your story and photos to her by November 30 to be included in the roundup. [...]