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.