Monday, December 29, 2014

Pointer to my post on this week's Rose's Alpha Bakers recipe

I baked the Frozen Pecan Tart before the official bake-through started, and blogged it here:

Monday, December 22, 2014

BB: Almond Coffee Crisps

Almond Coffee CrispsMy father really loved crisp, buttery cookies. For a few years when I was high-school to college age, I'd bake him a batch of "Super Wheat Germ Cookie Balls" for a Christmas present, and he would always remark that it was about his ideal cookie. I'm sorry he's not still with us to try the Almond Coffee Crisps--it might not have displaced the wheat-germ cookies, but I bet it would be in the running.

Side note: the Web is amazing. Here is the wheat-germ cookie recipe, and I probably got it from a clipping in the Atlanta paper from some syndicated column at the same time this Milwaukee Sentinal paper was printed. My yellowed recipe card says to use half butter instead of all shortening, and I probably made it with all butter later on, though I made no notes on that. I rarely shaped it into balls and instead made "fingers" for more crispness. I must bake these again when a cookie need arises, and blog my version of the recipe.

Back to the Almond Coffee Crisps: there's some similarity in this cookie and the cookie part of last week's Ischler as almonds are ground with the dry ingredients. This week there's a hefty addition of baking powder, which must be a major factor in the resulting texture. A good bit of espresso powder goes into this one, and instead of the somewhat problematic (well, for me anyway) rolling out and cutting, the Almond Coffee Crisps are formed by making small dough balls and flattening them. I let my dough rest overnight in the fridge because of timing issues, but these can be formed and baked immediately after mixing. My dough was quite soft at that point so I'm glad I needed to wait. I did try several methods of flattening the balls (an ungreased meat pounder, then the same implement sprayed with Pam, then floured, then the bottom of a glass) but after everything kept sticking to the dough I just used my hands and tried to keep the cookie thickness as even as possible.

I baked on parchment sheets on my heavy shiny baking sheets, for 12 minutes total. While still hot, I used a brush (the recipe suggests a brush or sprinkling with your fingers) to flick more espresso powder on the cookie tops for an extra coffee punch. The cookies came out slightly raised, total crisp, and really lovely. The texture was almost like a 3-d lacework...don't think lace cookies, but a lattice.

Older niece on the first tasting thought the coffee flavor was too strong--as both nieces are coffee fiends, I'm surprised. Her sister didn't have this problem. I offered these at sister-in-law's Hanukkah party this evening, and everyone (including older niece) enjoyed them. Nephew said it reminded him a bit of creme brûlée, and we concluded it was the caramelized sugar flavor that did it. Or as a guest said, sort of coffee-toffee. I'm adding this cookie to the repeat pile.

Almond Coffee CrispsAlmond Coffee Crisps

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

BB: The Ischler

The IschlerThe Ischler is, it seems, a classic sandwich cookie-not one I'd ever encountered before, but then I haven't spent a lot of time in bakeries that have classic Austrian cookies on offer. The dough uses a healthy proportion of ground almonds instead of all flour, and the sugar is powdered sugar, taking the cookie texture towards the delicate shortbread style. It's sandwiched with apricot preserves then dipped in chocolate in the classc form, but Rose's recipe spreads chocolate ganache as a second sandwich filling instead of the chocolate dip.

I made the dough for the cookies before leaving on my quick trip to Walt Disney World for some Christmas activities, thinking I could get the cookies baked and filled before the trip so sister-in-law and the nephew could used the cookies for their cookie bags for teachers. However, time ran out on me, so I put the well-wrapped dough in the freezer to wait until I got back. (Nephew volunteered to have his mom and himself finish the cookies for me, which I turned down knowing that s-i-l was unlikely to have time or want to fuss with a 2-filling cookie. Having completed the baking myself, I'm now sure that was the right call...)

I tackled the actual baking and filling yesterday, and it all took far longer than I'd thought. Part of that was the nature of the cookie--the dough needs to be rolled thin, then there are the two fillings to prepare and which have to be done just before filling all the cookies so as to be at the proper consistency for spreading. The other part was just the handling of the dough. In my somewhat warm kitchen and with my inexpert (which means slow) cookie rolling, I needed some back-and-forth between the counter and the fridge or freezer as the dough got too warm to handle.


--I rolled most batches between 2 sheets of parchment paper, which works better for me than plastic wrap for a difficult dough as it doesn't have the wrinkling issues. I used the plastic wrap a few times when just unwrapping a new batch of dough, and really didn't see a big difference...except for the wrinkles.

--I skipped the making of levkar in favor of apricot preserves, and what I had on hand was "low sugar" apricot preserves (not artificially sweetened, just lower sugar). The texture is looser than full-sugar preserves, and the jar was a little larger than the amount the recipe called for. I heated and strained the whole jar, then reduced it to a little more than the 2/3 cup Rose called for when done properly. (Looking back, I skipped the levkar during the Heavenly Cake Bake-Through too. Must make it sometime, but I need a recipe that calls for more of the yield than here. Having an extra 2 cups of levkar in the fridge while I come up with uses for it is not an attractive prospect, with the number of jars already semi-permanently in residence in my fridge.)

--The chocolate was 62% cacao Ghirardelli chocolate chips that are now pretty standard in the grocery stores around here. Not on Rose's recommended list, but acceptable and not requiring a trip to Whole Foods. Alas, the Whole Foods quit carrying the baking blocks of Scharfen Berger that was my standard while baking through Rose's Heavenly Cakes.

The Ischler--I almost ran out of apricot glaze despite starting with more than the recipe amount. I'd used a slightly smaller cookie cutter than 2-1/4", but didn't have many over the 80 cookies (to make 40 sandwiches). I must have spread my glaze a little thickly. This may also have been true of the ganache, which I did run out of with about 8 cookies to go even after scraping a bit from some of the most recently spread cookies to eke it out. For the remaining cookies I reverted to the original Ischler: I sandwiched only the apricot preserves, melted a bit more chocolate with a little shortening, and dipped half of the cookie in that. The chocolate was a little streaky after cooling (I didn't make any attempt to temper it), but the half-dipped cookie is still a very pretty effect.

Taste test: Most of these are headed to the office holiday party on Wednesday, but I tasted one last night after all my baking efforts, then offered samples to s-i-l and nephew this evening. Tonight we all agreed that the cookie needed to be a little crisper--I thought it was lovely last night, freshly baked and filled, but despite my sealed container the cookies softened a bit overnight. Nephew wanted more apricot--he liked the cookie but thought the chocolate overbalanced the apricot. I want to hear what he thinks of the version dipped in chocolate instead of a chocolate sandwich, as I think that may give him a little more up-front apricot taste. I do have to agree that the apricot is subtle compared to the chocolate in Rose's version.

In summary, this a very good cookie, but between the long and somewhat difficult rolling-out process and the time to fill with 2 fillings, it's not one I'm likely to repeat, especially if it continues to lose crispness. Rose says it will store airtight for 5 days at room temp, so I should be OK taking these to the party on Wednesday.

The IschlerThe IschlerThe Ischler

Monday, December 8, 2014

BB: English Dried Fruit Cake

English Dried Fruit Cake"Fruit Cake" is deceptive, to American ears--that phrase means the sticky dense cake with all the candied cherries. Call this a "nut cake with dried fruit" maybe. Or an apple cake, for the hefty component of fresh apples. Whatever you call it, it's easy and good. Maybe if I'd left my dried fruit in a little larger pieces it would have been more prominent, but the main impression in my version is moist pecan cake. This is a batter cake that doesn't need a mixer--the butter is melted to mix with the sugars, then the other wet ingredients are mixed in. The dry ingredients go in another bowl, and are tossed with the pre-soaked dried fruit and the pecans. My dried fruits were mostly pear and apricot, a few prunes and golden raisins to fill out the amount. Add wet to dry, fold it all together, and pour into a 13x9" pan--I used my insulated one so I didn't need to fuss with baking strips. I did use the optional dark rum, brushing it on the bottom of the cake after it came out of the pan, then all over the top after skewering the cake to aid the rum dispersion. It gave a nice bit of extra flavor, but I'd like to make this again with a few weeks of lead time, and baste the cake with rum periodically to get a more alcoholic version. I sent half of the cake off with sister-in-law for her pre-school training session Friday, and took the rest to my office where several people who remember the Heavenly Cake Bake-Through have been asking when cake-of-the-week will start appearing. I didn't get any comment from my office, and s-i-l reported that one person said it had too many nuts (is this possible? not in my world...), but otherwise it was well received. However, s-i-l herself apparently got a wad of orange peel that didn't mix in well, so she had an overwhelming orange 'hit' in her piece. I'll just have to watch for that if I make this again, as the grated peel had plenty of opportunity to disperse in the wet mixture early in the mixing process. English Dried Fruit Cake English Dried Fruit Cake English Dried Fruit Cake

Monday, December 1, 2014

BB: Kouigns Amann

Kouigns AmannBaked 11/23/14

Finally, an assigned recipe. :)

I'd never heard of this pastry before: it's a puff pastry relative with fewer turns and sugar incorporated into the last turn to make it sweet and add crunch. Years ago I made puff pastry (croissants) just to say I'd done it once, but I've forgotten any techniques I might have gained then. This was essentially a new effort for me. TL;DR: I was not so successful at it.

Kouigns AmannMaking the dough was straightforward. I thought the shaping of the butter block from my high-butterfat content (Organic Valley European Style Cultured Butter) was as well, but in retrospect perhaps I should have thoroughly kneaded the butter then re-chilled it if necessary to get it to temp. I did a pretty minimal kneading mostly to get the right sized block, then checked the temperature to be sure I was in range. Alas, in the second turn I could see that my butter wasn't in a smooth layer, but was in little shingles under the dough. The obvious issue was the butter and dough not rolling out together, but exactly what I did wrong is less clear--maybe the temperature of one component was off (I checked the butter but not the dough), maybe the butter needed kneading to gain plasticity, maybe my rolling technique needs work.

Kouigns AmannI didn't see a way to fix the shingled butter at that point in the process, so I went ahead with cutting and shaping the pastries, let them rise in English muffin rings, and baked them. I got a pool of butter on the baking sheet which is probably in part due to blobs of butter melting out of the pastries. It was actually only about 2-3 tablespoons, but I suspect if the dough had layered properly there would have been less.

We tried one of these warm from the oven as Rose suggested, and even though it wasn't as well layered as I'd have liked, the flavor was good. The sugar-limiting folks next door found it on the edge of too sweet, and thought the 1/5 of a kouign amann we each got from the sample was plenty. The rest were frozen and brought out for Thanksgiving breakfast, where older brother's family (much less sugar-averse) thought they were wonderful.

Kouigns AmannKouigns AmannKouigns AmannKouigns Amann

BB: Frozen Pecan Tart

Frozen Pecan Tart
Baked 11/25/14

My pie contribution to the Thanksgiving pie collection was this one from the Baking Bible, intended to be served frozen. It's a pâte sucrée (sweet cookie tart crust) with a riff on pecan pie filling...and a lot less of the filling to the amount of pecans. That's all to the good for me, as the thicker traditional pecan pie is something I can only take in very small slices. The ratio here is much more to my liking.

I struggled with the crust, despite the promising technique of laying the rolled-out crust over an 8-inch cake pan to help shape it, then placing the 9.5-inch tart pan on top and flipping it all together before finishing the easing of the crust into the pan. All that seems to go fine, but my bad luck(?) (poor skills? who knows!) with blind-baking continue, and my baked crust had cracks all over. I patched a few with scraps of unbaked dough when the pie weights came out, but still had cracks most of the way around the sides and some in the middle. I painted a lot of them with dark chocolate (knowing I planned to do a chocolate drizzle), but still had a lot of leakage of the filling. It made getting the tart off the tart pan base rather....challenging.

After the pie cooled and was detached from the pan and base, it got a chocolate lace topping (a drizzle of ganache, that is) before being frozen. It was fine served frozen though the flavors weren't pronounced, and I wonder if it would do as well or better at room temperature. Still, it was very nice to have this pie all prepared and out of the way, just needing to be pulled out and sliced before dessert.

I didn't get much feedback from the rest of the family beyond "it was very good"--our Thanksgiving pie race is always won by the Black Bottom Pie, and this year was no exception. The rest, even a Frozen Pecan Tart from Rose, just become "the other pies", I'm afraid.

Frozen Pecan TartFrozen Pecan TartFrozen Pecan Tart

BB: Luscious Apple Pie

Luscious Apple PieBaked 11/26/14

Nephew (of the folks next door) wanted to make an apple pie for the Thanksgiving crowd, and sister-in-law and I suggested it be for Wednesday night instead of yet another pie in the Thanksgiving dinner collection. He and I agreed on the Luscious Apple Pie from The Baking Bible. I made the crust, and we shared the rest of the work to get the pie into the oven.

--the apples were one Granny Smith and the rest Honey Crisps.
--instead of fresh apple cider thickened with corn starch, we used boiled cider from King Arthur Flour, reducing the amount to about 1/3 cup and adding a little more cornstarch to the amount sprinkled on the apples
--we used a silicone pie shield instead of foil, and found that the pie bubbled at the edge of the crust rather than in the steam slits, and made the crust a bit soggy in spots where the juices accumulated under the shield

We didn't have quite 4 hours to let the pie cool completely, though I speeded it up a bit using my stone countertops as a heat sink. It turned out fine--the first slice or two leaked some juices, but the rest of the pie set up quite well. I'm not the greatest of pie pastry makers, but this one was still reasonably flaky despite my skill level with it. The filling was indeed luscious, with a nice amount of cinnamon (we used the strong Vietnamese cinnamon from Penzeys). No leftover apple pie afterwards!

Luscious Apple PieLuscious Apple PieLuscious Apple Pie

Sunday, November 30, 2014

BB: Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread

Swedish Apricot Walnut BreadBaked 11/27/14

Swedish Apricot Walnut Pecan Bread. With dried cherries instead of golden raisins, due to raisin-phobia among some of the intended audience.

The biga got almost 3 days to get flavorful, then I made the dough Wednesday, let it rise once, then after its stretch and fold it went into the fridge for an overnight second rise. Thanksgiving morning it got shaped, the apricots rolled into the middle of a torpedo shaped loaf, and rose for the third time. With all the other Thanksgiving prep underway I failed to take pictures of the shaping process.

Baked on a stone with steam, it came out nicely crusty. I sliced it thinly and set it out with some interesting sausages (molé, fennel, and a piccante) and cheeses (smoked gouda, gruyere) for noshing while the main meal preparations continued. It was a hit, making a great base for the cheese and sausages.

Swedish Apricot Walnut BreadSwedish Apricot Walnut BreadSwedish Apricot Walnut BreadSwedish Apricot Walnut Bread

Thanksgiving menus

Who was here and what did we eat?

We had a gathering of my nuclear family--being single with no kids that means my brothers and their families. Younger brother's family is, of course, "the folks next door" as I refer to them here, though the nieces are now in college and not living at home. Older niece arrived the Sunday before T'giving, her sister on Wednesday, as did the rest of the crowd. Older brother drove down from North Carolina with his younger son who's in med school in NC. Sister-in-law flew up from Florida, and their older son flew down from Rochester, NY. Not a large gathering, but better than we do some years. We incorporated favorite foods from all comers.

Wednesday night was the first full gathering. Sister-in-law did most of the meal:
Low country boil (shrimp, sausages, corn)
Grilled salmon
Crusty bread
Tossed salad
BB: Luscious apple pie (made by me and youngest nephew)

Breakfast on Thanksgiving:
The NC contingent's "Christmas breakfast", an overnight omelet
BB: Kouigns amann

Noshing during the preparation of the big meal:
BB: Swedish Apricot Walnut (well, Pecan) Bread
Mole and fennel sausages from Pine Street Market
Sausage piccante from Publix
smoked gouda

Thanksgiving dinner:
Smoked turkey from the local taqueria/barbeque place
Token amount of gravy from Whole Foods
Pecan dressing
Jambalaya stuffing (with half andouille, half tasso--both from Pine Street Market)
Sweet potato casserole
Roasted broccoli with buttered almond topping
Peas and pancetta (skipped the mint)
Cranberry-orange relish
Whole-wheat angel biscuits
Pie! Pumpkin, black bottom, chocolate chess, and BB: frozen pecan tart

Lunch was at Pizza Antico, then dessert next door at the gelateria and pastry shop before we went to the early performance of Cirque du Soleil's Amaluna. Afterwards we came home for:
Whole-wheat challah with dried cherriesTurkey chowder (wonderful with stock from the smoked turkey)
Beer was procured from the nearby growler spot

Younger nephew from the NC contingent had to leave to make a shower for a wedding he'll be a groomsman in, and the rest of us settled in to watch the Georgia-Georgia Tech football game on TV, it being in Athens this year. And yay! Georgia Tech won in overtime--it's been a number of years since they've managed a win against the usually stronger Georgia. Older brother went to Tech for 2 years, younger brother and his wife both graduated from Tech, and my father was a Tech grad--we started as Tech fans early.

Football-watching food:
 Sriracha wings
Hoison-honey riblets
"Crack bread" (Cheddar bacon ranch pulls...though I used real bacon)

Older brother's family then went to visit friends, leaving me and the folks next door with a large Costco chicken pie that hadn't worked into the menus earlier, more leftovers, and a huge pan of cider vinaigrette roasted root vegetables as requested (and largely prepared) by younger niece, who is finding herself veggie-deprived at college. As does her sister, who used the veggie prep time to interview me for an assignment for her “Women, Food, and Culture” class.

And that was about it, as all but younger niece headed out early Sunday morning.

BB: Molasses Crumb Cakelets

Molasses Crumb CakeletsBaked Nov. 22, 2014

Another baking for sister-in-law, this time for her Friday mini-classes for teachers.

A nice simple cakelet, very quick to mix up. This is more the level of effort I need for these mid-week bakings, with apologies to the really lovely but much more time consuming crumb coffee cakes I did first.

The concept is related to gingerbread but without the spices, and with a crumb topping. (Maybe I was in a rut....) However, I didn't get crumbs--my mixture of flour, sugar, oil, and salt went instantly from 'dry flour bits still here' to a blob--see the picture below. I measured out the weight for the crumb topping then tried to crumbled it, but found by the time I'd crumbled my handful the 'crumbs' had remerged. Ina rescue attempt I sprinkled on a tablespoon or so of flour and tried again, but still it was more a paste than anything that would crumble. I should have followed my instincts and added even more flour, because my 'crumbles' sort of melted onto the top of the cakelets in a splotchy pattern. They give a little crunch sometimes, but not really a crumb topping effect at all. I don't know where this went wrong as I'm a pretty meticulous weigher of ingredients.

It turns out that my excessive kitchen inventory has 3 brands of mini-muffin pans, but all have bottom diameters of 1-1/4 inch or so, not Rose's 1-1/2. As a result my cakes are higher and less wide. I made use of a bit of kitchen gadgetry bought a while back to fill the cups-this batter dispenser worked really well for the thin molasses batter.

Four mini-muffin pans almost completely cover my oven rack, leaving no room for circulation except on the sides, and so the cakelets baked another 10 minutes beyond the stated 8-10, possibly also affected by the different cakelet shape. I should have just used 2 racks and/or the convection setting. The cakes didn't seem to have suffered, though.

Taste test comments: the molasses gives an excellent flavor, bringing memories of gingerbread even though there's no ginger involved. I'll be making these again. SIL's teachers wondered a bit at the odd mottled topping, but apparently thought it was a strived-for effect. That's OK, then...

Molasses Crumb CakeletsMolasses Crumb CakeletsMolasses Crumb CakeletsMolasses Crumb Cakelets

BB: Blueberry Crumb Party Coffee Cake

Blueberry Crumb Party Coffee CakeBaked Nov. 18, 2014, for sister-in-law's pre-school meeting to plan her school's literacy night.

Second recipe tried from The Baking Bible. This is essentially the same recipe as the Coffee Crumb Cake Muffins, or very similar, with blueberries instead of apple slices and baked as a single large coffee cake instead of the Texas-sized muffins.

I used a 13x9 insulated pan and so didn't use cake strips, though I got a good bit of doming and wonder if cake strips would have helped.

Something different in this recipe was the technique of partially baking the cake, then removing it from the oven long enough to strew the blueberries across the top and sprinkle it with the crumb topping. It then went back into the oven for 15-20 minutes (or 25, for mine). My 'wild' blueberries had perhaps been in the freezer too long, which I discovered when I was about to start strewing...hope SIL's co-workers don't mind. Though really, at most workplaces in my experience, if you put out free food you don't get many complaints about the quality. :)

The reports from SIL's teachers ranged from the wit who said it was 'crumby', the woman who would've liked it except for an aversion to walnuts, the one who thought others might want it sweeter though it was fine for her (no one complained, as it happened), and several people who independently said they'd thought the cake would be dry, but found it very moist.

My personal taste test: I need to do this with good blueberries, because even with the freezer burned ones I really enjoyed it. Lovely fluffy crumb, good crunchy topping--it's a very nice cake. It's not a "just whip it out in a few minutes" cake and it messed up a lot of dishes between the mixer and the food processor, but the results were very good.

Blueberry Crumb Party Coffee CakeBlueberry Crumb Party Coffee Cake

BB: Coffee Crumb Cake Muffins

Coffee Crumb Cake Muffins Baked 11/12/2014

Having a new cookbook arrive just as I finished a major work project and as the pre-Thanksgiving food obsession started had me turning to The Baking Bible for every proposed baking. I picked out this recipe as my first to try after the book arrived. Looked simple, relatively...but there were a number of steps. I ended up with a dishwasher full of dishes, too--now I'm recalling the first RLB bakethrough. We're back!

These muffins are a coffee cake with a walnut-crumb topping, a little of a walnut-crumb filling folded into the batter, and sliced apple baked in the batter. They are baked in "Texas sized" muffin pans, which for some reason I seem to have 4 of. Must look back at the Heavenly Cakes list and see if that's when I bought 'em.

Details: I used White Lily bleached AP flour instead of digging the real cake flour from the bottom of the freezer. Dark brown sugar, because I've decided my taste buds will never tell the difference between that and Muscovado, and I can't find Muscovado at the DeKalb Farmer's Market any more. They do have superfine sugar, though, so I'll use that when called for. Right now I'm working on the lot I had at the end of Heavenly Cakes, I bet, and sifting it to get the lumps out. I had a largish Granny Smith apple so any rings sliced from it would be far too large for the muffin tins, so I just sliced it. I only needed a bit of it to lay one layer of apple in each muffin cup, so plan on eating a good bit of even a small apple.

My liberties:
--My 2 egg yolks were only 30 g., so I added more sour cream to get to 36 g. I suspect that 6 g. wouldn't make a lot of difference if I'd left it out altogether.
--The recipe calls for portioning out the plain batter into the 6 muffin liners, sprinkling on the filling mix of walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon, then folding it in each cup. I folded the filling lightly into the bowl of batter all at once.
--The idea is to lay apple rings or slices on the batter, press down a bit so the batter rises around it, then smear the batter over the apple. My apples were juicy or else still had lemon juice on them, so the batter clung to my fingers or the spatula and wouldn't spread over the apple. 'S OK, the apples seem to have gotten covered by the batter during baking anyway.

I should have pre-chopped the walnuts before putting them the food processor with the other filling/topping ingredients--by the time the big chunks were reduced, much of it was almost ground. My resulting crumb topping was not crumbly but in large lumps, so instead of pressing some of it together to make lumps, I had to break it apart to get some crumbs.

Taste test: the nephew collected 4 of the 6 for himself and sister-in-law, and I kept 2 for breakfasts. The texture was lovely, light and fluffy, and moist with the apple helping here. A very nice start to baking through The Baking Bible.

Coffee Crumb Cake MuffinsCoffee Crumb Cake MuffinsCoffee Crumb Cake MuffinsCoffee Crumb Cake Muffins

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mini Challahs

(drafted 9/25/2014--and now I'm remembering one reason for blog neglect.  The program I use to write my posts started losing them--when I told it to post my finished blog, the file disappeared from drafts and never reappeared as a post. I've got a little backlog of drafts that were waiting for me to solve this issue....for now, I'll have to use the Blogger interface.)

Mini ChallahsI have a sort of a new baking project, which as it has an external driver may be more successful than the last one (to cook everything in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook). Though really, the SKC project has floundered far more on the blogging than on the cooking. This one is in aid of a project of my sister-in-law's, who's the media specialist/librarian at a middle school.  She's trying to get the teachers to stop by the library on Friday mornings before classes start for a mini class in some media-related tool, like using Google Docs to make a quiz, or how to tweet, or the use of some of the library equipment.  To get the teachers to come by she offers food bribes--generally a good strategy, at least for me. I view this as an opportunity to work through some of the many recipes I amass either in cookbooks I've bought or from blogs (and even the old paper clippings file) without keeping the calories around where I'll consume them.

So I've baked cinnamony muffin tin doughnuts, and a crumb-topped coffeecake with a chocolate cinnamon swirl, and a mini version of the orange swirl buns  (close to this) I've been making for decades now. I'm doing most of this on Thursday nights so the results are pretty fresh for Friday morning, which does limit some options. Also limiting is "what's good at room temperature" since re-heating isn't an option. That's had me avoiding things like bacon-cheddar biscuits and other savory biscuit-y things--they'd be edible, sure, but not at their best.

Mini ChallahsThis week's idea was to celebrate Rosh Hashanah (s-i-l is Jewish) and maybe let her share a little Jewish culture. I made my standard whole-wheat challah with dried cherries, and we divided it into 2-2.5 ounce pieces, rolled each into a rope, and made mini spiral/round challahs. There was some dried-cherry loss--they are a little big for the size of dough ropes we made.

I brushed the rolls with an egg wash as usual just before baking, but then brushed them with a little diluted honey about halfway through the baking ("for a sweet New Year"). The nephew wanted some of the haul to take to his school for 'nosh' and wanted apples added as well, so for one batch we chopped a honey crisp apple finely, sprinkled the bits with cinnamon sugar, and rolled those into the spiral of dough.

We'll see how these go over. So far the most reaction I've heard about was for the orange swirl buns, a classic gooey variation on a cinnamon roll.  I suspect the teachers run to a very sweet tooth, so the less sweet options may not be as popular.

BB: The Baking Bible master list

I'll link my blog posts to this list as an index. Some items are components of another recipe, some are variations of a base...I've got most of those on separate lines, though I may edit it later to have a more compact list.


Butter And Oil Cakes
  • Blueberry Buckle
  • var: Black and Blueberry Spoon Cake
  • Cran-Raspberry Upside-Down Cake (with Raspberry Italian Meringue)
  • component: Raspberry Italian Meringue
  • var: Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake with Strawberry Meringue
  • component: Caramelized Rhubarb Topping
  • Cream Cheese Butter Cake (with Light Lemon Curd Buttercream)
  • component: Light Lemon Curd Buttercream
  • Blueberry Crumb Party Coffee Cake
  • English Dried Fruit Cake
  • Honey Cake For A Sweet New Year
  • White Christmas Peppermint Cake (with White White Chocolate Buttercream)
  • The Red Velvet Rose (with Raspberry Sauce)
  • Pink Pearl Lady Cake (with White Chocolate Fondant and Strawberry Mousseline)
  • component: Strawberry Mousseline
  • Marble in Reverse With Custom Rose Blend Ganache Glaze
  • The Chocolate FloRo Elegance With Caramel Buttercream
  • Chocolate Pavarotti With Wicked Good Ganache
  • Double Damage Oblivion

Sponge Cakes

  • The Renee Fleming Golden Chiffon (with Lemon Curd Whipped Cream and Powdered Lemon Zest)
  • Banana Split Chiffon Cake
  • Lemon Icebox Cake
  • Light Sponge Cake (Biscuit)
  • var: Light Almond Sponge Cake
  • Prune Preserves and Caramel Cream Cake Roll
  • Lemon Posset Shortcakes
  • Var: Lemon Posset Alma
  • Strawberry Shortcake Génoise
  • var: Mini Strawberry Shortcakes
  • The Polish Princess Heavenly Chocolate Mousse Cake
  • component: pastry buttercream base
  • component: filling
  • Chocolate Cuddle Cake
  • ChocolaTea Cake


  • Mango Bango Cheesecake
  • Fourth Of July Cheesecake
  • Lemon Almond Cheesecake
  • Marble White And Dark Chocolate Cheesecake
  • Stilton Baby Blue Cheesecakes
  • var: Savory Stilton Cheesecakes
Pies, Tarts, And Other Pastries


  • Irish Cream Scones
  • Flaky Cream Cheese Scones
  • Var: Rose's Scone Toppers Raspberry
  • Butterscotch Lace Topping For Scones

Flaky Pastry Basic Recipe

  • Perfect Flaky and Tender Cream Cheese Pie Crust

Fruit Pies And Tarts

  • Luscious Apple Pie
  • Perfect Peach Galette
  • Sour Cherry Pie
  • var: "Churrant" Pie
  • Var: Fruit Perfect Cherry Pie
  • Cherry Sweetie Pie
  • Black And Blueberry Pie
  • ElderBlueberry Pie
  • BlueRhu Pie
  • Gooseberry Crisp
  • Lemon and Cranberry Tart Tart
  • component: Lemon Curd Filling
  • Lemon Curd and Raspberry Pielets
  • component: Lemon Curd Filling
  • The Araxi Lemon Cream Tart
  • Frozen Lime Meringue Pie
  • component: Meringue Topping
  • French Orange Cream Tart
  • Pomegranate Winter Chiffon Meringue Pie
  • var: Lemon Cookie Crust

Nut And Chocolate Pies And Tarts

  • Hungarian Raisin Walnut Tartlets
  • Pumpkin Pecan Pie
  • Mud Turtle Pie
  • Frozen Pecan Tart
  • Fudgy Pudgy Brownie Tart
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Tart
  • Posh Pie
  • Chocolate Ganache Tartlets
  • var: Dairy-Free Ganache Tartlets

Savory Pastries

  • Perfect Savory Cream Puffs
  • var: Deluxe Puffs
  • Michel Richard's Chicken Faux Gras
  • Pizza Rustica
Cookies And Candy

Cookies Dropped Or Shaped By Hand

  • Spritz Butter Cookies
  • Almond Coffee Crisps
  • Kourambiethes
  • Pepparkakors
  • var: Hot Nick Pepparkakors
  • Luxury Oatmeal Cookies
  • Gingersnaps
  • Molasses Sugar Butter Cookies
  • var: Molasses Sugar Butter Cookies made with shortening
  • Hazelnut Praline Cookies
  • My Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • var: Melt-in-the-Mouth Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Double Chocolate Oriolos

Rolled And Pastry Type Cookies

  • The Dutch Pecan Sandies
  • The Ischler
  • Lemon Jammies
  • component: Lemon Neoclassic Buttercream
  • Coconut Crisps
  • New Spin On Rollie Pollies
  • Giant Jam Cookie
  • Cookie Strudel
  • Rugelach
  • var: Schnecken
  • var: Chocolate Raspberry Rugelach
  • var: Cran-Raspberry Rugelach
  • Hamantaschen

Cake Type Cookies

  • Mini Gateaux Breton
  • Chocolate Sweetheart Madeleines
  • Woody's Black And White Brownies

Candy, Meringue, And Ice Cream Cookies

  • Luxury Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee
  • Pecan Praline Scheherazades
  • var: Yum Rolls
  • Bourbon Pecan Butter Balls
  • Brandy Snap Cannoli
  • Dattelkonfekt (Date Confections)
  • Meringue Birch Twigs
  • Praline Pecan Meringue Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • var: Praline Pecan Meringue Cookies
  • Fudgy Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches
Breads And Yeast Pastries

Sweet Yeast Pastries And Breads

  • Crumpets
  • Cadillac Café Milk Chocolate Bread Pudding
  • var: Sliced Bread Pudding
  • Rum Raisin French Toast Royale
  • component: Cinnamon-raisin bread
  • White Chocolate Club Med Bread
  • Golden Orange Panettone with Chocolate Sauce
  • Babka
  • var: Chocolate Almond Schmear Filling
  • var: Apricot and Cream Cheese Schmear Filling
  • Classic Brioche
  • var: Classic Brioche Loaf
  • Monkey Dunkey Bread
  • var: Bourbon Butterscotch Caramel
  • Caramel Buns
  • Sugar Rose Brioche
  • Kouigns Amann
    • var: Souffléed French Toast

For The Cheese Course

Favorite Homemade Preserves

  • True Orange Marmalade
  • Sour Cherry And Currant Jam
  • Concord Grape Jelly

The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum Poor neglected food blog--I'm going to try to revive it by participating in another cookbook bake-through, this one for The Baking Bible. The project is led by Marie, who organized the first bake-through I participated in for Rose's Heavenly Cakes, and the home blog is Rose's Alpha Bakers. It's the Alpha Bakers because many in the group were beta testers during cookbook development. Contrary to software development usage, they've moved from beta testing to alpha testing. I had to give the beta baking a pass because, Life, so the recipes will all be new to me.

I'm still trying to complete my solo Smitten Kitchen Cookbook project. I've cooked even more than when I last updated the master page--I almost never stop cooking and baking, but the blogging part, especially with pictures, falls by the wayside when life gets busy. Weekly assignments for The Baking Bible with a due date (blog posts go up on Mondays!) will hopefully get me back in the blogging habit. Younger niece is now off at college and isn't nudging me to try new recipes, so the Alpha Bakers may fill that gap.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pi Day post, try 3

My blogging software, MarsEdit, seems to have eaten 2 attempts at this post--eaten without leaving any remnants in the drafts folder, to boot. I'm trying one more time, with intermediate publishing to make sure it's working. I think each version is getting more succinct.

Gotta make pie on Pi Day...

Not quite Beatrice's Chicken PieFirst up: Variations on family favorite Beatrice's Chicken Pie. Beatrice made it with a double crust in a 2 quart casserole dish, using your basic Crisco pie crust. I made individual pot pies in ramekins with a top crust only, using the crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen's pancetta, white bean and chard pot pies. Worked quite well, except for the pie whose crust melted and sagged to the baking sheet before it set. Why only one of six did that, I have no idea.

Chocolate Midnight PieDessert: Chocolate Midnight Pie from the King Arthur Flour web site, a half recipe. Used Dave's Vanilla Coffee Syrup instead of the Kahlua I didn't have, including a little bit in the crust instead of using espresso powder. (Some espresso powder did go in the filling.) Speed-cooled it on the countertop and then the fridge instead of the overnight chill the recipe called for, and it set up fine. Good pie, lovely and fudgey.

Chocolate Midnight Pie