Mar 27, 2013

Gâteau á la Crème

Gâteau á la Crème

This month, the Bread Baking Babes (12 awesome women from around the world who bake a specific yeasted recipe every month) are making Gâteau á la Crème. The Kitchen of the Month chooses the recipe and the Babes bake and post on the same day of the month. This month the Kitchen of the Month is Notitie van Lien, (click on her page to see links to all of the Babes' variations) and she chose this recipe from Kitchen Secrets by Raymond Blanc.

I am baking along as a Bread Baking Buddy. To find out how to be a Buddy, check out Lien's page.

This is a brioche dough with a citrus flavored filling that bakes along with the dough. It makes a wonderful breakfast pastry as well an impressive dessert.
Gâteau á la Crème


Mar 25, 2013

Whole Wheat, Oat, & Flax Seed Bread | Sharing Bread

Whole Wheat, Oat, & Flax Seed Bread | Sharing Bread

One loaf for you, one loaf for me.

This bread has just enough healthy to make you feel good about eating it. It is also super soft and moist....  and it is amazing spread with butter. It's also an excellent sandwich bread. I love it for turkey avocado, chicken salad, and BLT sandwiches.

And making it is easy!


Mar 24, 2013

Vesper Martini

Vesper Martini: Karen's Kitchen Stories

I don't usually see movies when they first debut, mostly because I am easily distracted by fellow movie goers. I have issues.

We finally watched Sky Fall last week on PPV. I was not prepared to love it as much as I did. The Astin Martin, the gadget references, and the shaken martini. So many references to the original Bond. Loved it.

Mar 22, 2013

Semolina Torpedo Bread | Pane di Altamura

Semolina Torpedo Bread Pane di Altamura

I love the nutty flavor of semolina, but working with the flour has its challenges. Bread made with 100% semolina does not develop a thick crispy crust like bread made from high protein all purpose or bread flour. In fact, the crust tends to crack. Regardless, it has a beautiful color and a sweet nutty flavor.

I have made a few breads (click here and here for two of my favorites) with a combination of semolina and bread flour. This is the first time I've made a bread recipe that uses entirely durum flour.

This bread is made from the same flour from which pasta is made, but the flour is more finely milled. If you attempt to make it with the coarsely ground semolina available in the grocery store, substitute half of the durum with all purpose or bread flour.

This small loaf is hand kneaded. It involves a starter that is allowed to sit with the rest of the flour sitting on top of it for about 4 hours.
Semolina Torpedo Bread Pane di Altamura


The loaf is small... about 3/4 of a pound.  I found the dough fairly easy to work with and shape. I baked mine in a clay baker, but having one is not necessary. Instead, bake the bread directly on a pizza stone and add steam to your oven.

This is a good video describing the various methods of creating a steam oven. I use a variation of the methods, except I do not use lava rock... any porous rock will do... long story... something to do with a trip to Hawaii and angering the volcano goddess Pele. =)

Golden Semolina Torpedo

Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible

Ingredients

Sponge

100 g durum flour
1/8 tsp instant yeast
3/4 C room temperature water

Flour mixture

117 g durum flour (or half durum, half all purpose flour)
3/8 tsp instant yeast
3/4 plus 1/8 tsp salt

Reserve Flour

38 g durum flour
Bread flour for the kneading surface

Instructions

  1. Mix the sponge ingredients in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let the bowl sit overnight (about 10 hours).
  2. Whisk the flour mixture together and sprinkle it over the sponge to completely cover it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to sit for 1 to 4 hours. 
  3. Mix the flour into the sponge with a spoon, and then your hands in the bowl. 
  4. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for about five minutes, adding additional durum from the reserved 38 grams as needed. The dough should be slightly sticky. 
  5. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 minutes. 
  6. Knead the dough for five minutes more by hand. The dough should be very smooth. You can continue to add flour in small increments if the dough is too sticky. You should be able to shape the final dough into a ball. 
  7. Place the dough into an oiled dough rising bucket or bowl, and allow it to rise until doubled, about 90 minutes to 2 hours. 
  8. Shape the dough into a torpedo. Check out this video on how to do it (my loaf is not quite as pointy as it should be). If you are using a clay baker, place the loaf in the bottom half. If not, place the loaf on a piece of parchment paper. Cover with oiled plastic wrap. 
  9. Allow the loaf to rise for about 60 to 75 minutes, until almost doubled. 
  10. At the same time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F with a baking stone and the top of the clay baker (if using) in the oven. 
  11. Slash the bread and transfer it to the baking stone, and either cover it with the clay baker or steam the oven as illustrated by the video. 
  12. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove the top of the clay baker if using. 
  13. Lower the temperature of the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  14. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes. The bread should be golden brown and the interior should reach 200 degrees F. 
  15. Allow the bread to cool on a rack before cutting. 
Enjoy!

Sharing with Yeastspotting

Mar 20, 2013

Stir Fried Chicken with Carrots and Mushrooms | Wok Wednesdays


I'm going to start this by saying that this stir fry was really good and really easy. Any problems are because of "user error." Essentially, the "user" needs to read the recipe all of the way through.

Before settling in to watch a movie, I shredded the carrots, skinned and cubed the chicken and set out all of the ingredients. Mise en place. Got that down.

Once the movie was over, I took a look at step one.... "soak the mushrooms in .. cold water 30 minutes."
  1. First, I could have bought fresh mushrooms and skipped this step. 
  2. Second, I need to read recipes all of the way through. 
This gave me time to get my act together. I'm new to wok cooking. It is very fast paced. In step one of the book, you soak the mushrooms. In step two, you mix the chicken, cornstarch, and soy sauce. In step three, you stir fry. Here's how I broke down step three. 


Yep. Nine steps. I'm a beginner. And I'm a read-write learner. Thank goodness I'm completely comfortable writing in my cookbooks.

This stir fry is simply chicken thighs, garlic, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms with soy, sugar, and salt, but it is pretty magical. The carrots were amazing.

If you want to save a huge amount of time preparing the julienned carrots, get one of
these. It works great.

This dish was a big hit in our house. If you want a recipe that will get people to eat their carrots, go with this.

The dish goes best served with rice. It reheats beautifully, and is wonderful as a main course or as an addition to a multi-course meal. I like to add a little black and crushed red pepper at the table.

This recipe is from Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge. I am loving making the recipes in this book. As a beginner, I also love all of the wok tips.



 I'm also enjoying the Wok Wednesdays community. Amazing how food brings us together.

The recipe can also be found here.

Mar 19, 2013

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies | Tuesdays with Dorie


I am in serious love with these cookies.


There is nothing new about them.. other than that they contain a large amount of instant coffee in the dough.. and a pound of chocolate vis a vis two cups of flour. Love the ratio.


These cookies are from the book Baking with Julia edited by Dorie Greenspan. This particular recipe was contributed by Rick Katz. I can't stop eating them. I had no idea that mass quantities of coffee in a chocolate chip cookie would taste so good.  Seriously good. I expected that the coffee flavor would be too strong. It's not. I'll probably use more next time.


What did I like about this recipe?
  1. The flavor. Ah-maze-ing. 
  2. After three days these cookies remained as chewy as the day they were baked. So good. 
What didn't I like?
  1. That they bubbled up in the oven and then collapsed once they were removed. I'm guessing that I used less flour than the recipe required. I like to weigh my flour and used 9 1/2 ounces. Maybe more would give these cookies a little more body. 
What did I do differently from the book?
  1. Instead of instant coffee, I used 2 T of espresso. 
  2. I didn't add the apricots. (That doesn't mean that they wouldn't be a nice addition.)
  3. I used 1/2 pound of semi sweet chocolate chunks, 1/4 pound of milk chocolate chips, and 1/4 pound of cappuccino chips.  
Suggestions?
  1. If you have kids in your house, use decaf. They will not understand why they can't have more cookies.
  2. Smaller cookies turn out better than larger. The recipe says it yields 48 cookies. Go with that. 
  3. Make these. Seriously. Make these. 

To get the recipe, visit Galettista by Peggy. To see how other bakers fared with this recipe, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie site and click on the links. 

To find out more about Tuesdays with Dorie, click here.

Sharing with Tasty Tuesdays

Mar 18, 2013

Crescia al Formaggio | Italian Easter Bread

Crescia al Formaggio | Italian Easter Bread

I admit it. I'm always drawn to cheese bread. While looking for a bread to make for this month's Twelve Loaves holiday theme and sorting through tons of sweet breads, I stumbled upon this bread. Cheeeeeese!

I'm watching Biggest Loser as I write this... alrighty then.

This is an egg bread loaded with parmesan cheese. When it bakes, your house will smell divine.

According to the King Arthur Flour website (I heart King Arthur Flour), this bread is traditionally baked in a pandoro pan. As luck would have it, I happen to have one of those (of course I do). Another Italian site (or at least it is written in Italian) shows the bread baked in the shape of a panettone. I happen to have panettone papers too (naturally, you never know when you want to whip up a panettone).

Mar 17, 2013

Cabbage Salad with Braeburn Apples & Spiced Pecans

Cabbage Salad with Braeburn Apples & Spiced Pecans

This has been my go-to recipe for a salad when I'm serving an Asian flavored main course, particularly with a Korean barbecue beef we like to prepare (I will post the beef recipe next time we make it because it's amazing). This salad is also substantial enough for a lunch main course, and because it's a cabbage salad, any leftovers you may have will hold up pretty decently for the next day.

Pecans tossed in a hot pan with butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and a bit of cayenne.

Braeburn apples tossed in lemon juice.

A dressing of seasoned rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, dijon, and olive oil.

Two kinds of cabbage and dried cherries.

Cabbage Salad with Braeburn Apples & Spiced Pecans

This salad is super crunchy and has a great mix of sweet and savory.
Cabbage Salad with Braeburn Apples & Spiced Pecans

Make ahead tips:

  • You can make the pecans and the dressing in advance. The dressing can be stored in the refrigerator and the nuts can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. 
  • You can also chop the cabbage and store it in the refrigerator.
  • Slice and toss the apple slices with the lemon juice on the same day that you are making the salad and store them in the refrigerator. 

Cabbage Salad with Braeburn Apples & Spiced Pecans

Adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2007. The original recipe can also be found on Epicurious

Ingredients

2 tsp butter
1 C pecan halves
2 T light brown sugar
1 T Worcestershire 
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 T seasoned rice vinegar
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 C olive oil
2 medium Braeburn apples, cored, quartered, and thinly sliced
2 T fresh lemon juice
3 C thinly sliced red cabbage
2 C thinly sliced Napa cabbage
5 ounces dried cherries
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet. Toss in the pecans and stir for about a minute. Add the sugar, Worcestershire, and cayenne, and stir for about another minute. Place the cooked pecans on a large piece of foil to cool. Separate the pecans so that they don't stick together. 
  • Blend the rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon in a bowl or small food processor. Slowly add the oil until fully emulsified.
  • Mix the apple slices in a large bowl with the lemon juice. 
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and toss. 
I'm also thinking that a few slivers of fresh jalapeno peppers would be nice in this salad. 

I am participating in Eating the Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge hosted by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic. This month we are to choose a recipe with a vegetable, fruit, or grain that starts with "C" or "D." If you'd like to participate, click here. My ingredient this month is Cabbage.

(sharing with Tasty Thursdays)


Mar 15, 2013

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

These cookies are super easy. They are normally made with pistachios on top, but because I brought them to a Saint Patrick's day potluck at work, I decorated them with these tiny little shamrocks instead. The pistachios are tastier, but these are definitely cuter. Sometimes style over substance will have to do. Plus, kids won't turn their noses up to sprinkles the way they might with nuts.

Éirinn go Brách says I.

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies 


Ingredients

8 ounces of room temperature unsalted butter
1 3.4 ounce box of instant pistachio pudding mix
1/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pistachio flavor or vanilla extract, both optional. I used vanilla.
8 1/4 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
Shamrock sprinkles, or 3 ounces shelled and chopped pistachios

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven and line two 8 inch square cake pans with parchment. Spray the parchment with spray oil.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, pudding mix, sugar, salt, and extract. 
  • Add the flour and continue to beat until combined. It will be dry at first but should come together. I've not had to add any water, but if you need to, add up to 1 T to get the dough to come together. It should be quite stiff. 
  • Divide the dough in two and press it into the two prepared pans. Prick the dough all over with a fork and lightly press the sprinkles or nuts into the dough. 
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. The edges should be golden brown.
  • When done, place a plate over the pan and flip out the short bread from the pan. Turn the squares back over onto a cutting board, and cut with a pizza cutter while they are still warm. 
  • Cool the cut cookies on a wire rack. 
  • Yield depends on how large you make your cookies. 
This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour's website

Mar 14, 2013

Whole Wheat and Rye Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Loaves with Rye and Whole Wheat

I came across this recipe from King Arthur Flour. Because of all of the positive reviews from other bakers, I had to try making it. Of course that meant I had to order white rye flour from them (no worries, you can use medium or dark rye in this recipe, it's just that I look for any excuse to try a new ingredient).

This bread makes great sandwiches, and the dough is super easy to handle. It's great for sandwiches. It's also excellent toasted with a fried or poached egg on top and eaten with a knife and fork for breakfast.
Sourdough Loaves with Rye and Whole Wheat

Whole Wheat and Rye Sourdough Bread

Adapted from King Arthur Flour, where it is called Marilyn's Whole Wheat and Rye Sourdough Bread

Ingredients

1 T instant yeast
1 3/4 C lukewarm milk
16 1/2 ounces sourdough starter
1/4 C packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 T caraway seeds
1 tsp whole anise seeds
4 1/4 ounces white rye flour
4 ounces whole wheat flour
14 3/4 to 17 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur Flour)

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast, milk, starter, sugar, salt, cardamom, caraway, and anise and stir by hand to combine. 
  • Add the rye flour and stir until the mixture is smooth.
  • Add the whole wheat flour and stir to combine.
  • One cup at a time, add the white flour and stir. Continue to add flour until the dough forms a sticky ball. Move the bowl to the mixer, and with the dough hook, knead on low, adding more flour in tablespoons until the dough is still tacky, but not sticky. Depending on the moisture in the air and in your flour, you may or may not use all of the flour.
  • Move the dough to the counter and knead by hand about a minute, adding more flour if necessary. The dough should not stick to the counter. (you can also knead this dough entirely by hand)
  • Place the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to rise until doubled, about 90 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Gently divide the dough into two loaves and shape as you like, and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. (you can also make one big loaf or several rolls)
  • Cover the loaves with oiled plastic wrap, and allow them to rise for about 45 to 60 minutes. 
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and bake the loaves for 25 to 35 minutes, until they are browned and the interior reaches about 200-210 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. 
  • Cool completely on a wire rack. 
  • Make yourself a pastrami sandwich.


Mar 10, 2013

Spicy Parmesan and Herb Grissini

Spicy Parmesan and Herb Grissini

These super skinny and crispy pieces of straw colored goodness are completely addicting. The ingredient list includes parmesan, black pepper, white pepper, garlic, chives, rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano. My biggest issue with them is that I can't leave them alone. They are crazy good.

Don't you think these would look fabulous at your cocktail party? I promise you, they will be gone in about 15 minutes.

Spicy Parmesan and Herb Grissini

The first time I made these, I did not thoroughly read the recipe, and half way through, realized that it called for a pasta maker, which I did not have. I made do with a rolling pin and a pizza cutter. They were good, but the crisping stage took quite a while longer, and the thicker ones were a little too hard.

The next day I ordered a Pasta Maker ... Why not? Am I the only person who buys a pasta maker just to make breadsticks? Someday I'll attempt pasta... In the meantime, I'd like to pause and admire my breadstick making toy (the mess is corn meal, more about that later).


Check out these super skinny pieces of dough created by running the dough through the machine.


It's your call as to what herbs you add to this dough. We have a little "farm" of herbs in pots so I went out and grabbed a handful of rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, and chives and chopped them up together and added them to the dough.



This recipe is adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible published in 2003. This was the first recipe I made from this book. The book has an extensive instructional section on all things bread, including developing your own recipes, and, of course, equipment.

The dough is made 6 to 12 hours in advance of making the grissini, so plan for that extra time. I made my dough the night before, and cut and baked the breadsticks the next morning.

Spicy Parmesan and Herb Grissini

Ingredients

351 g (2 1/4 C) bread flour
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper (or substitute more black pepper)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
20 g (1/2 C loosely packed) freshly grated (not the canned stuff) parmesan cheese
7 g (2 T) minced fresh herbs such as rosemary, chives, thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, and/or dill
1/2 tsp Tabasco (I also added a squirt of Sriracha along with the Tabasco)
1 C water
Cornmeal 
Olive oil
Fine sea salt

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the flour, yeast, salt, peppers, garlic powder, parmesan, herbs, and Tabasco. 
  • Add the water and stir with a large spoon or a dough whisk.
  • Move the bowl to the mixer and knead with the dough hook (can also be kneaded by hand) until the dough comes together and clears the sides of the bowl.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and hand knead a couple of times, adding more flour if it is too sticky. 
  • Place the dough in an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, spray with spray oil, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 6 to 12 hours. 
  • After an hour or two, if the dough has risen, push it back down. Mine did not rise at all. 
  • After 6 to 12 hours, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, place a rack in the middle of the oven, line two baking sheets (I use two so I can prepare the next baking sheet while the first is in the oven) with parchment, and sprinkle them with corn meal.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and divide it into four equal pieces. 
  • Place three of the pieces back in the refrigerator (covered) and flatten the piece you kept out on a counter sprinkled with corn meal. 
  • Pass the dough through the pasta machine on the widest setting. Place the dough back on the cornmeal sprinkled counter and flip in over a couple of times. Let it sit for a couple of minutes to dry a tiny bit.
  • Run the dough through the fettuccine cutter of the pasta machine and toss the noodles in cornmeal (thus the mess in the photo above). Separate the strands and place them lengthwise on the baking sheet. Do not stretch the strands. If they are too long, trim them to fit the pan. 
  • Brush the strands with olive oil, sprinkle with more cornmeal, and sprinkle lightly with the sea salt. 
  • Bake for 12 to 16 minutes until golden and the ends slightly lift up. Do not allow to get too dark. 
  • Cool on a wire rack.
  • While the first sheet is baking, begin preparing the second batch. Repeat with the next three dough pieces. There is no need to replace the parchment. 
  • Once all of the dough is baked, turn off the oven, and place the wire racks in the baking sheets. Place the sheets back in the oven and allow the breadsticks to crisp for about an hour. I turned my oven to 100 degrees F with the convection mode on for the last 15 minutes. 
  • Enjoy!
Store in an airtight container. 

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Mar 9, 2013

Pane di Como | Como Bread

Pane di Como Karen's Kitchen Stories

Isn't this bread pretty? It's a white bread with a lovely thin crisp crust. The starter contains both malt syrup and milk. The interior, while not super airy, is somewhat soft and has both large and small holes. It's great for sandwiches and morning toast.

Check out the other side.


Hi there. The recipe did not mention that I should have slashed the bread. Or maybe not. When researching the bread, I came across this post in Serious Eats than used the same formula, and the loaves do not appear to be slashed in the photo. It also looks like those loaves may have a bit of "bursting action" going on too.

Pane di Como
As the name implies, the bread formula is from the Como region of Italy, and is sometimes referred to as Italian French bread. This recipe is adapted from The Italian Baker, Revised: The Classic Tastes of the Italian Countrysideby Carol Field. The book gives you three options for mixing the dough, either by hand, mixer, or food processor. I used a mixer.

The dough requires a starter that is made the night before and left to bubble up.

Pane di Como

Ingredients

Starter

1 tsp active dry yeast
1 scant tsp barley malt syrup
1/3 C warm water
2/3 C room temperature milk
135 grams unbleached all purpose flour

Dough

2 C room temperature water
860 grams unbleached all purpose flour
1 T salt
cornmeal for the baking stone

Instructions

To make the starter:

  • In a large bowl, mix the water, yeast, and malt syrup and let it sit for about 5 minutes. 
  • Add the milk and flour and stir with a spatula or dough whisk until combined.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit until it is very bubbly, at least four hours, but overnight is better. It will get very large.

To make the dough:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the starter and water with a dough whisk or the paddle attachment. 
  • Add the flour and salt, mix first by hand until all ingredients are blended, and then switch to the dough hook and mix on medium for about 4 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky and elastic. 
  • Remove the dough from the mixing bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for about a minute. 
  • Move the dough to an oiled dough rising bucket or large bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. 
  • Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes. 
  • Divide the dough in half and shape into boules (round loaves) and place them, seam side up, into oiled and floured bannetons or brotforms. If you don't have a banneton, you can line a bowl with a well-floured tea towel and place the dough in there. Cover with plastic wrap. 
  • Allow the dough to rise until doubled, about an hour. 
  • Prepare the oven with a baking stone and preheat it to 400 degrees F. 
  • When the loaves are ready, sprinkle the stone with corn meal and turn the loaves out onto the stone. 
  • Spray the oven with water to create steam, and close the door. About 30 seconds later, spray the oven again and shut the door. 
  • Bake the loaves until golden brown and the interior reaches about 200 to 210 degrees F. The bottom, of the loaves, when tapped, should sound hollow. The book says about an hour, but mine took about 50 minutes. 
  • Allow the loaves to cool completely on a wire rack. 
  • Slice and enjoy!
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Sharing with #bakeyourownbread

Mar 8, 2013

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread | Happy Friday

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

Today is Friday. It's been a long week for some reason. Same for you? Would you like some comfort food?

I'm sure I've said it before, but for me, baking bread is therapeutic.

This is a sweet version of the Parmesan pull-apart bread that is so addictive. These breads are so simple and fun. The dough is rolled out, spread with fillings, and then cut into squares and sandwiched together in a bread pan. Then the yeast does its thing.
cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread

While this one is filled with sugar and cinnamon, I can imagine adding raisins. Or how about thinly sliced apples?  You could also drizzle a glaze over the top after removing the loaf from the oven. I think this would be perfect for Easter brunch too.  Or... you could skip the cinnamon sugar and fill the bread with jam or marmalade.
Cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread

This bread is best on the day that it is baked (as if it would last any longer than that), and unlike most breads, you can serve this one warm. If you do have any left over, keep it wrapped at room temperature.

Cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread

Enjoy the weekend. Relax. Pour a cup of coffee. Bake some bread.

Cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread

I found this recipe, with great step-by-step instructions, on Joy the Baker, who adapted it from HungryGirlPorVida. There are tons of versions of this bread out there in the blogosphere (just do a search on "pull-apart bread")..... so humor me.... because it's really good.

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-apart Bread

Ingredients

Dough

12 3/4 ounce (3 cups) unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
1 3/4 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/3 C whole milk
1/4 C water
2 large room temperature eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
generous tsp ground nutmeg
2 ounces melted butter

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk 2 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt together. 
  • Whisk the eggs in a small bowl.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, heat the milk and the butter in 30 second intervals until the butter is melted. Add the water and vanilla. Let the mixture cool to 115 to 125 degrees F. 
  • Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula or dough whisk. Add the eggs and stir until incorporated. Add 3/4 C of flour and knead with the dough hook for about two or three minutes while adding the final 1/4 C of flour by tablespoons until the dough is slightly sticky but comes together. 
  • Scrape the dough into a greased dough rising bucket or large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to double in size, about an hour. 
  • Grease a 9 by 5 inch bread pan.
  • Mix the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Melt the butter. You can just melt it, or melt it until browned if you like. 
  • On a lightly floured work surface, deflate the dough and sprinkle it lightly with flour.  Roll the dough out with a rolling pin to a 12 by 20 inch rectangle. 
  • Brush the melted butter over the rolled out dough.
  • Sprinkle all of the cinnamon sugar mixture over the butter. 
  • Cut the dough lengthwise into six strips. 
  • Stack the strips on top of each other and cut the stack into six equal pieces. 
  • Turn the bread pan on its side, and lay the slices in the pan so that they are all lined up like 36 squares in a row. 
  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes. 
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place a rack in the center of the oven. 
  • Bake the loaf for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is a very deep golden brown. 
  • Allow the bread to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Loosen the sides from the pan with a thin spatula or butter knife and turn the dough out onto a large piece of wax paper. Lift the dough carefully with the wax paper, and place it right side up on a serving plate.
  • Enjoy while warm!

Mar 6, 2013

Stir-Fried Chili Scallops with Baby Bok Choy | Wok Wednesdays

Stir-Fried Chili Scallops with Baby Bok Choy

This is a meal that you can prepare when you get home from work and are too tired to cook. The ingredients don't require a lot of prep, and you can have this on the table within minutes.

This dish is also perfect if you are serving a multi-course meal with lots of choices. Make some rice, stir-fry a few courses such as this chicken and these vegetables, and you've got the perfect meal for casual entertaining.

I am just learning how to stir-fry. The pace is a lot faster than I am used to (I bake bread for goodness sake). I have to take the three steps outlined in the book break them down into about 15 until I get the hang of this. While it's a bit of a high wire act, it's definitely a lot of fun. It feels so "chef-y."

While the recipe called for medium scallops, my store had either jumbo or small. I bought the small ones and did not slice them in half as instructed. I'm sure the larger scallops were better (at 3 times the price) but these were still pretty good.

Besides the scallops, the recipe also includes baby bok choy (a first for me), red bell pepper, scallions, soy sauce, and chili bean sauce. Fortunately I live in an area with plenty of Asian markets, so I was able to find the last ingredient.

I am participating in Wok Wednesdays. The recipe can be found in the book Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories If you'd like to stir-fry along with everyone else, check it out. Totally enjoyable. Everyone who participates must own the book. There is so much great information regarding stir frying, Asian ingredients, and woks contained in this book, it is worth the investment.

To see other's experiences with this dish, check out the Wok Wednesdays site. Bonus: Grace Young, the author of the cookbook sometimes visits the site with feedback!

Enjoy!

The recipe can also be found here.

Mar 5, 2013

Croissants & Pain au Chocolate | Tuesdays with Dorie | Baking with Julia

Pain au chocolate Karen's Kitchen Stories
Pain au Chocolate

I've made croissants before. Successfully. How hard could this be? The last time I made croissants I had hunks of butter popping out everywhere and they still turned out. I can do this.
Croissants Karen's Kitchen Stories
Dough & butter 

I cannot tell you how "done" I was with this process. Making these croissants has been a three day adventure (ordeal). I'm sure it was fun for the other member of my household to watch me standing on a chair just to get leverage with my rolling pin. The palms of my hands are sore from rolling out this laminated dough over and over and over.
Croissants Karen's Kitchen Stories
Laminated dough before final roll out

And this dough did not easily roll out for me as it did for Esther McManus in this video of her demonstrating it with Julia Child.  Every time I turned a 20 by 24 inch piece of dough, it shrunk back up to to about a 10 by 12 inches (slight exaggeration).

Even though I had a lot of time and labor invested in this project, when the time came for the final roll out and shaping of the croissants, I was DONE. Three hour rise? Forget it. One hour will have to be enough. I need to go to bed. I don't really have to do this. It's a flipping hobby, not my JOB. I can skip this.

End of rant.
Pain au chocolate Karen's Kitchen Stories
Jumbo pain au chocolate

I haphazardly rolled up half of the dough into 12 semi-crescent shapes and the other half of the dough into four huge pain au chocolate shapes (when it's supposed to be ten to twelve), let them rise for an hour, threw them in the oven, set the timer, and used one of my least favorite expressions.. "whatever."

When the croissants were done baking, I decided to try the teeniest one. Oh. My. Goodness. Alrighty then. It was all I could do not to stuff the rest of the croissants into my mouth right then. Right there.

croissants Karen's Kitchen Stories
Croissants
These croissants are about as flaky as anything I will, could, should ever create. Ever.

This recipe is from Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America's Best Bakers edited by Dorie Greenspan (of Tuesdays with Dorie fame).  Awesome book. To see the recipe and step-by-step photos, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie host Amanda's blog, Girl + Food = Love. To see how each baker did with this recipe, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website and click on everyone's links.
Croissants Karen's Kitchen Stories


What did I do differently from the original recipe?

  • I let my croissants rise for just one hour at room temperature (about 65 degrees F) instead of the three hours in the warm environment that the book called for. Oven spring took over from there. 
  • To save time, I baked some of the croissants in the toaster oven (it worked!).
  • I shaped the second half of the dough into four large pain au chocolate instead of 10-12 rolls. 
  • I started the four large pain au chocolate at 450 degrees F to give them a boost and immediately lowered the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • I used instant yeast instead of the fresh yeast called for in the recipe at a 40 percent ratio by weight. 
These can be wrapped individually and frozen. Thaw, wrapped, at room temperature. Unwrap and re-crisp in a 350 degree F oven for about 5 to 10 minutes. 

Enjoy!

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Mar 4, 2013

Heart of Darkness Brownies

Heart of Darkness Brownies Karen's Kitchen Stories

These things are ridiculous. Chocolate. Caramel. Marshmallows. Chocolate chips. Roasted pecans. Snicker bars. Out of control.

Heart of Darkness Brownies Karen's Kitchen Stories


These brownies are baked in muffin tins because they would be too hard to cut apart due to their "sticky-, chewy-, messy-, and gooey-ness."

Heart of Darkness Brownies Karen's Kitchen Stories


The hardest part of making these brownies was getting them out of the muffin tins.

Heart of Darkness Brownies Karen's Kitchen Stories


Some came out intact.

Heart of Darkness Brownies Karen's Kitchen Stories


Some did not.

Heart of Darkness Brownies

But isn't that the point of gooey desserts?

Heart of Darkness Brownies Karen's Kitchen Stories


I've decided that I need to actually try recipes from books that I already own before I buy any new ones. This recipe comes from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth by Jill O'Connor. She also has a book for baking with kids called Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids. Yes. I admit it. I bought that book too....

The oddest part of making these brownies involved the search for the Snickers bars. The recipe calls for full sized 2.07 ounce bars. Evidently, Mars is in the middle of downsizing Snickers to 1.88 ounces, and my grocery store had both sizes. Picture me digging through all of the Snickers bars at various check stands to find the right size. Everyone wanted to let me go before them in line when I was just looking for the right sized candy bar. Thank you kind citizens. (Reality check: now that I've made these brownies, I realize that the size of the Snicker bars doesn't make a huge difference... I'm a baker... I am exacting... I'll have to let t go...).

Hints for de-panning these brownies: Run a knife around the sides of the brownie in the muffin tin and then tip the the pan over to let the brownie drop out into your hand. If some of the brownie remains in the muffin tin, dig it out and paste it onto the bottom of the brownie/muffin. I know. Goes against the grain. It works. I tore small pieces of wax paper for the "bad" muffin/brownies upon which to cool. Worked nicely, and once the brownies cool, they hold together. Don't panic.

These brownies are amazing. I'm just saying.

Heart of Darkness Brownies Karen's Kitchen Stories

Heart of Darkness Brownies

Adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth by Jill O'Connor.

Ingredients

Brownies

3 sticks (1 1/2 Cups) of unsalted butter
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 1/4 C granulated sugar
1 C packed light brown sugar
6 large eggs, whisked together in a bowl
1 T vanilla extract 
6.4 ounces all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 C coarsely chopped pecans, toasted in a 350 degree F oven for 8 minutes
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
5 2.07 ounce Snicker bars, coarsely chopped 
3 cups of mini marshmallows

Caramel Topping

6 ounces of unwrapped caramel candies
2 T of heavy cream
1 tsp of vanilla 
Pinch of salt

Instructions

  • Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray two nonstick 12 cup muffin tins with spray oil.
  • Melt the butter and chocolate in a sauce pan over low heat until fully blended.
  • Pour the butter/chocolate mixture into a large bowl.
  • Stir in the sugars.
  • Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until fully combined. 
  • Sift the flour and salt through a sieve into the chocolate mixture and stir just until blended. 
  • Add the pecans, chocolate chips, and Snickers pieces.
  • Divide the dough between the 24 muffin cups. Start by filling each cup 1/2 way. 
  • Bake the brownies for about 20 minutes, until they have a shiny cracked "brownie" surface. 
  • Remove the brownies from the oven and top each one with about 1/4 C of the mini marshmallows. 
  • Return the brownies to the oven for two minutes.
  • Cool the brownies in the pans for about 10 minutes.
  • Run a knife around each brownie, and remove them from the muffin tin to cool on a rack (see note above).
  • While the brownies are cooling, make the caramel sauce. 
  • Combine the sauce ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 60 seconds. Stir Microwave in 30 second increments until smooth.
  • Drizzle over each brownie. I placed my brownies on parchment lined baking sheets before drizzling with the caramel. 
  • These brownies will keep for up to three days covered in an air tight container for up to three days.