Saturday, May 31, 2008

corn muffins

I've been trying to clean out my pantry -- my goal is to use up some of the foodstuffs I don't typically use during the summer. Our house is not air-conditioned so we do a lot of outdoor cooking and very little inside cooking. Definitely no oven cooking!

This morning, I made corn muffins to aid in that goal. These muffins were corn-y and had a touch of sweetness -- definitely a keeper. And I'm pretty picky about my cornbread/corn muffins too. Unfortunately, I still have a lot of cornmeal left!

Friday, May 30, 2008

almost-fudge gâteau

This is a little departure for me. Instead of the customary arrangement of me baking and then posting here, this time C. did the baking. He had to come up with a project for his French class and one of the options was to make a French recipe and report on it. So he and I perused Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours, and he decided that this was the recipe he wanted to make. AND, it served double-duty as my 40th birthday cake!

Almost-Fudge Gâteau

5 large eggs
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (we used a mixture of bittersweet and semi-sweet, after reading a Tuesdays with Dorie blogger who suggested that 100% bittersweet chocolate was a bit too intense)
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons coffee or water (he used decaf coffee)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

For the Glaze (optional):

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (again, we used a mixture of bittersweet and semisweet)
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Getting Ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixer bowl or other large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the chocolate, sugar butter and coffee. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted; the sugar may still be grainy, and that’s fine. Transfer the bowl to the counter and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour.

Working with the whisk attachment of the mixer or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm, but glossy peaks. Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the butter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges and you’ll think it’s done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn’t shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. Invert the cake onto another rack and cool to room temperature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink.

To Make the Optional Glaze:

First, turn the cooled cake over onto another rack so you’ll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips.

Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave oven – the chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small sauce pan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup.

Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula. Don’t worry if the glaze drips unevenly down the sides of the cake – it will just add to its charms. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature or, if you’re impatient, slip the cake into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. If the glaze dulls in the fridge, just give it a little gentle heat from a hairdryer.

Here is the finished gâteau. It is yummy -- rich, dark and very, VERY decadent.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

they're boule-tiful!

More boules made from the Acme's Rustic Baguette recipe from Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking.

Friday, May 16, 2008

parmesan focaccia

This was another Cook's Illustrated recipe for our anniversary dinner.

dark chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting

For our anniversary dinner tonight, I planned a special menu and this was the dessert. The recipes are from Cook's Illustrated, and I have to say that the dark chocolate batter was probably the tastiest batter bowl I've ever licked. It was almost a shame to put it in the cupcake pan.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

pita bread

I was filled with confidence before I attempted this recipe. We made whole grain pitas in class and while not all of those puffed well, we figured out what the problem was -- Chef Mitch forgot to add the salt, resulting in lackluster yeast performance. So making them at home would be a breeze, right? I used the pita bread recipe from The King Arthur Flour Baking Companion, and it seemed like it was a foolproof recipe (They won't puff? Just bake for another minute or two. Still won't puff? The oven temp must be too low. Boost the temp for the next batch.). Guess what? They just wouldn't puff. They inflated oh so slightly, but not completely and there really was no pocket inside. Nevertheless, I carried on, mostly because I had counted on the pitas to be the bread for our sandwich dinner. I made the failed pitas into pockets by gently making an incision in the middle of each -- not ideal, but it worked. C. proclaimed them perfect (he'd never had tried pitas before) because they stood up to the cheese in his patented American cheese-mesclun-Italian dressing-dill pickle sandwich filling. Actually, all in all, everyone said they loved them. I suspect they were just being kind, but I still appreciate it.

As a postscript, after my failed pitas, I looked at the recipe from class and it was very different from the King Arthur recipe. I think next time I attempt pitas I'll use the Johnson & Wales recipe instead and see how that goes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

oatmeal cake with broiled icing

This cake recipe is from the Cook's Illustrated website. This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well, but my primary motivation for trying this recipe was to use up ingredients I have lingering in my pantry and freezer (quick oats and sweetened coconut to be specific). The final product was moist and very tasty -- sort of like an oatmeal cookie in a cake form. And it made the house smell really good!

Immediately above is the finished cake before I sliced it. I managed to get the cake out of the pan and off the foil by following the instructions from the recipe. I have to confess that for a few moments I wasn't filled with faith that the authors knew what they were talking about!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

peanut-mallow brownies

I made these Peanut-Mallow Brownies (from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion) for my niece's First Communion celebration this afternoon. I used the Fudgy Brownie recipe from the book as the foundation. C. took one look at the finished brownies last night and proclaimed that they looked much more like the kind of brownies he likes before realizing that they had a peanut butter filling. The filling is actually peanut butter, confectioners' sugar and mini marshmallows all melted together (very sticky!) and the effect is more Mary Jane than Reese's -- the peanut flavor is very subtle and they are ultra-gooey and taffylike. Definitely decadent and very addictive!

Friday, May 9, 2008

acme's rustic boule!

OK, I won't have time this weekend to post. Here's a shot of a slice from the boule I made from the baguette dough.

Unfortunately (for me), I won't be enjoying this fresh. I'm going out to dinner with a friend, and the (meat-eating) boys will be having burgers and hot dogs. The boule is for C., who looooooves grilled cheeses on home baked bread.

guess what's finally here?

Fedex delivered my replacement stone yesterday -- YAY! I'm busy baking baguettes today -- will post the results this weekend. Happy, happy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

mexican cornbread with jalapeño and chorizo

I saw Padma Lakshmi make the Mexican Cornbread with Jalapeño and Chorizo from her cookbook Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet on a news/chat show last weekend and was intrigued. So in honor of Cinco de Mayo, I made it last night. Although I've always been curious about cornbreads with ingredients beyond the basics (cornmeal, flour, etc.) I've never tried making one. This recipe has corn pieces, chorizo, pickled jalapeño, Jack cheese and dillweed. It was quite the explosion of flavors. And best of all, this morning P. grilled the leftovers and served them with fried eggs for our breakfast -- YUM.

Monday, May 5, 2008

chocolate raspberry nut bars and baker's one bowl brownies

I was the mistress of the baked bars yesterday. First off, I made Chocolate Raspberry Nut Bars for C.'s school's Teacher Appreciation Luncheon. This is my second time making them, so I thought I'd tweak a mistake I made last time when I misread the recipe and used regular chocolate chips instead of the mini chocolate chips the recipe specified. But 12 ounces of mini chips seems like a hell of A LOT more than 12 ounces of regular chocolate chips. So I think next time I'll go back to doing my original (incorrect) recipe. I also somewhat unintentionally decided to substitute 2/3 cups of sliced almonds for the 1 cup of slivered almonds. When I was at the grocery store looking at almonds, the sliced looked prettier and came in a bigger package than the slivered for the same price. Furthermore, in the spirit of full disclosure, I also have to say that I had written the wrong quantity of almonds on my shopping list -- I wrote 1/2 cup when I in fact needed a full cup (which is why I had been hung up on the package size). I also rationalized that I must have used sliced before, when now I suspect I did used the slivered as the recipe called for. Anyhoooo... regardless of what I did, they were yummy once again. And I'm not one for mixing fruit flavors with chocolate ordinarily. I cut them up to put in the disposable pan for the teachers, but really I cut them up so I could sneak a few squares.
I also made Baker's Chocolate's One Bowl Brownies. My primary (actually, sole) motivation was that I've had this partial box of unsweetened baker's chocolate kicking around my pantry since Christmastime and I'm on a mission to use up stuff in my pantry, particularly since the weather is getting warmer and chocolate does not age well in an overheated kitchen. C., my brownie afiocionado, proclaimed them "not as good as your regular recipe" and refused to even finish one. Sadly, my "regular recipe" is a boxed mix (not even any particular mix, just whatever is on sale the day I go to the store). I explained this fact to him, and I tried to point out to him how these "from scratch" brownies (while admittedly not very chocolatey compared to the mix) are better for us (yes, I really said that) and automatically trump the mix just by virtue of being from scratch. He was unswayed. I then explained to him that it is my ultimate goal to come up with a brownie that's as good as the mix and that it's going to take a lot of experimenting and testing before I get to that point. In the end, he (somewhat reluctantly) agreed to continue being my brownie tester.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

crusty italian bread, parte due

I made another batch of King Arthur Flour's Crusty Italian Bread, this time with a (light) sprinkling of sesame seeds. Here's the biga yesterday morning, about 12 hours after mixing:

(The biga is just flour, water and yeast. Note the lovely bubbles!) After adding additional water, flour, yeast and salt, and a nice kneading, the dough rises for an hour and a half, turning after each 30 minute period. Here is the dough before the third turning:

After the third turning, I divided the dough into thirds and braided it, and then left it to rise for another hour. Here it is following that rise, before the egg wash and sesame seeds were added.

And finally -- the finished bread!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

raspberry-white chocolate scones

I've been having a hankering for scones, but they are hard to find out here in the sticks and I can't really stomach spending $5 on 6 scones that aren't even scones (they're dry, dusty biscuits with fruit in them) at the supermarket bakery. For some reason, the raspberry - white chocolate combo sounded appealing although I can't remember ever having that combination in my scone-eating life. So after spending considerable time searching for a scone recipe that seemed authentic and that I liked I decided to make the Simple Scones recipe from the King Arthur Flour website. I added 1 cup of frozen raspberries and 2/3 cup of white chocolate chips to the dough. In the future I'll probably add the raspberries in after all the other ingredients are blended since they did "bleed" a bit (I thought that by not thawing them in advance that wouldn't be such a problem). Also, I opted for the mounding method rather than using a scone pan and they did spread a bit more than I would've liked (all that butter!). So maybe they're not the most attractive -- but they were YUMMY. L. had to be rousted from bed to eat them warm, but ended up wolfing down 3. So I guess that means he liked them!

Friday, May 2, 2008

crusty italian bread

From the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion, yet another recipe that doesn't require a stone.

The recipe calls for sprinkling sesame seeds on top when you are applying the egg wash, but C. asked me to leave it off. Later when I was explaining this to everyone else over dinner, he recanted. So the next one I bake will be with sesame seeds!

Newer Posts Older Posts Home