Saturday, 28 February 2009

The Daring Bakers Get Romantic

It's that time..
That special time when thousands of people all over the world reveal that they have been baking up a storm and challenging themselves in the kitchen.
This month we made a flourless chocolate cake with homemade ice cream. A little Valentine's month treat for sharing with those we love. Yes, I said month. One day is simply not enough to celebrate love, show affection, and buy me presents.. Oops! Did I say that out loud?
I made small cakes in my Chicago Metallic Molton Cake Pan. Sort of like a popover pan with removable bottoms. I chose to make the Philadelphia style ice cream (below) as I had never made an ice cream that didn't start with a French Custard base before. I used my fancy, expensive vanilla paste for it and it was delicious.
I made a strawberry sauce to go with it and used my handy ice cream scooper to make a little tower out of the dessert.
I also used up some chocolate sauce that I already had in the fridge to go with it.
Altogether, it made for quite the decadent dessert!
A few words for the robots:
The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Wendy's Ice Cream Recipe
Vanilla Philadelphia Style Recipe

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

2 cups (473 ml) of half and half (1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of whole, full fat milk)
1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
2/3 (128 grams) cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 (12 grams) tablespoon of vanilla

Mix all ingredients together (we do this in a plastic pitcher and mix with an emulsifier hand blender-whisking works too).
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer
Mix in your ice cream maker as directed.

Strawberry-Chambord Sauce, Shirley O. Corriher, Bakewise
Makes about 2/3 cup

One 10-ounce package frozen strawberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon Chambord, Grand Marnier, or other raspberry or orange liqueur.

Let the strawberries thaw in a strainer, catching the liquid in a medium saucepan. When the strawberries have thawed, stir the cornstarch into the juice and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the juice thickens. Stir in the liqueur and gently fold in the strawberries.

Jackson Pollock's got nothing on me!
Check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see how the others fared.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Tyler's Curried Cauliflower with Chick Peas and Tomatoes

Ok, it is true that Canadians are obsessed with the weather. But it has been crazy this year. Warm this morning at plus eight with torrential rain showers and dropping down to minus twenty by dawn tomorrow. (WCF)
As we nudge closer to Spring, nature likes to play these little games with us.
To celebrate his day off, hubby and I decided on an island themed dinner to distract us from any harsh realities that might lie outside our windows.
Tyler Florence's Curried Cauliflower with Chickpeas and Tomatoes was a perfect and healthy accompaniment to my mango jerked salmon with mango salsa and basmati rice. Hubby provided the fruity, frosty cocktails and our little island in the sun was complete.

In any other scenario, I would have upped the spices in the cauliflower dish, but my winterfied taste buds were already hopping from the habaneros in the marinade and the salsa so I was happy with a milder side dish.

Curried Cauliflower with Chick Peas and Tomatoes, Tyler Florence, Eat This Book

1/4 cup ghee, recipe follows (I was lazy and just mixed half butter and half oil in the pan)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder, recipe follows
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
1 head cauliflower (about 1 pound), cut into florets
3 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Heat the ghee in a deep skillet or pot over medium flame. Add the onion, curry powder, and ginger; cook and stir for a few minutes to soften the onion. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes break down and soften, about 6 minutes. Mix in the cauliflower, chickpeas, tomato paste, and 1 cup of water; stir everything together. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover, and continue cooking until the excess moisture has evaporated and the cauliflower and chickpeas are coated with a thick gravy. Season with salt, to taste, and garnish with cilantro before serving.

1 pound unsalted butter
Put the butter in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, swirl the pot around to ensure that it melts slowly and does not sizzle or brown. Increase the heat and bring the butter to a boil. When the surface is covered with foam, stir gently and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Gently simmer, uncovered, and undisturbed for 45 minutes, until the milk solids in the bottom of the pan have turned golden brown and the butter on top is transparent. Strain the ghee through a sieve lined with several layers of cheesecloth. The ghee should be perfectly clear and smell nutty; pour into a glass jar and seal tightly.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Curry Powder:
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 dried red chilies, broken in pieces, seeds discarded
1 tablespoon turmeric
Toast the whole spices (coriander, cumin, fennel, cloves, mustard, cardamom and peppercorns) and the chilies in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the pan often to prevent them from burning. Toast for a couple of minutes until the spices smell fragrant. In a clean coffee grinder, grind the toasted spices together to a fine powder. Add the turmeric and give it another quick buzz to combine. Use the spice blend immediately, or store in a sealed jar for as long as 1 month.
Yield: about 1/2 cup

Join us for Tyler Florence Fridays!
Choose, cook, share.
Round-up every Friday, check out the
Tyler Florence Fridays site for details.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Oink! It's a Cookie Carnival!

Had your fill of sweets yet this week? No? I didn't think so. This month's Cookie Carnival pick is Chocolate Fudge Cookies with Toffee and Dried Cherries from Regan Daley's In the Sweet Kitchen.
These were indeed fudgy and delicious, mine spread a bit but were none the less tasty. One day I am going to have to pick up this book, I have heard so many wonderful things about it.

Not that I am lacking in cookbooks....

Chocolate Fudge Cookies with Toffee and Dried Cherries, Regan Daley, In the Sweet Kitchen

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened dutch cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup plump moist dried sour cherries (optional)
8 ounces bitter chocolate or semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks about the size of the cherries (can use chocolate chips)
1 cup English toffee pieces, such as Skor Bits

Preheat oven to 350°F Line two heavy baking sheets, not non-stick with parchment paper and set aside. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and both sugars until light in color and fluffy - about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla. Stir in the flour-mixture in 3 additions, blending just until the dry ingredients are moistened. This part is really easier with a wooden spoon since the batter is quite dense. (The dough may be frozen at this point for up to 4 months; wrap securely in plastic wrap, then in a plastic freezer bag; thaw in the refrigerator without removing its wrapping before portioning the cookies and baking.).
Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets and place them in the center of the oven, turning half way through baking. Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes or until barely set in the center and just firm around the edges.
Cool cookies on tray for 3-5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before storing. Store in air tight containers, layered between sheets of parchment or waxed paper for up to 5 days.
Add a little homemade vanilla ice cream and you have a heck of an ice cream sandwich!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Potato Gnocchi with Peas, Prosciutto and Ricotta

February's optional bonus challenge for Tyler Florence Fridays is his Potato Gnocchi with Peas, Prosciutto and Ricotta. I was both excited and nervous to attempt this as I love gnocchi but have not had a lot of luck making it. I do tend to err on the side of soft, and my gnocchi lack any sort of "bite". I was, however, excited to use my new gnocchi board that I had picked up in the fall and haven't tried out yet. I love new toys!
I made a couple of changes to the recipe, I did not have prosciutto on hand so I used Spanish chorizo. I added herbs and garlic as well. I just cooked the chorizo, shallot and garlic in the same pan.
Mine did turn out a little soft, but they were still the best gnocchi that I have made to date. My favourite part of this dish is the lemon ricotta. Wow! Great flavour, especially with the herbs. I just used a medium sized disher to mound it on top of the serving bowl of gnocchi, and topped with more fresh herbs.
Potato Gnocchi with Peas, Prosciutto and Ricotta, Tyler Florence
Potato gnocchi:
2 pounds (about 4) russet potatoes, or similar starchy/white variety
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 egg white (I ended up using the yolk as well)
1 to 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 pound prosciutto (I used Spanish chorizo)
1 large shallot, finely diced (I used two, plus four cloves of garlic)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
Grated Parmesan (I also added a very large handful of 50/50 chopped parsley and cilantro)
2 cups Lemon Ricotta, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Scrub potatoes, pierce the skin with a fork, drizzle with olive oil and salt and place on a sheet pan. Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until they are easily pierced with a pairing knife. Allow the potatoes to cool slightly then peel the potatoes while they are still hot and press them through a potato ricer. Put the potatoes in a large bowl with salt, nutmeg, baking powder, grated cheese and egg white. Add the flour a little at a time and mix with your hands until the mixture forms a rough dough. Do not over-work the dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Gently knead the dough for 1 or 2 minutes until smooth, adding a little bit more flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking.
Break off a piece of the dough and roll it back and forth into a rope, about the thickness of your index finger. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces. Gently roll each piece down the prongs of a fork while pressing a small dimple with your finger in the back. The gnocchi should be slightly curved and marked with ridges. This will allow the pillows to hold sauce when served. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
Boil the gnocchi in batches in plenty of salted water. The gnocchi are done about 2 minutes after they float to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon. Reserve about 1/2 cup cooking water. If not cooking immediately, place the gnocchi in a single layer on a baking pan dusted with flour.
If the gnocchi start to feather and fall apart in boiling water, you need more flour. If the gnocchi don't float after 2 minutes and are hard, you used too much flour.
Blanch peas in hot water and set aside.
Place 4 strips of prosciutto on a sheet pan and place in a preheated 350 degree F oven. Cook until the bacon is crispy, 8 to 10 minutes.Add chopped shallots to a pan over medium high heat with 2 counts of olive oil pan of and gently saute until fragrant and translucent. Dump in the peas and toss gently to coat. Season with a little salt and pepper. Add boiled gnocchi to the pan and gently toss. Add a ladle of gnocchi water to the pan, add 1 tablespoon of butter, sprinkle with Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with crispy prosciutto and a scoop of fresh lemon ricotta. (Optional: finish with a drizzle of white truffle oil)

Lemon Ricotta:
2 cups good quality ricotta cheese
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Place the ricotta cheese in a mixing bowl and add the lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and serve with the gnocchi.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Here is a handy video to show how to shape the gnocchi.

Gnocchi are a labour of love. Pour yourself a glass of wine and get comfortable. Enjoy the process.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Caramel Crunch Bars

Tuesday is the sweetest day.

Today in Tuesdays with Dorie, Whitney of What’s left on the table? chose Caramel Crunch Bars, page 112-113 of Dorie Greenspan's ultimate baking book, Baking: from my home to yours.
Please see Whitney's site for the recipe, today's date. (Or just buy the book, you will be glad you did!)

I made these with my son and they were greatly loved, both for their simplicity and their wonderful flavour. They are like a grown up chocolate bar. No wax, no fillers, just crunch, chocolate and great flavour. Definitely a new favourite in our house, and a reminder to keep Skor bits on hand for baking!
I followed the recipe, using Skor bits instead of Heath as we don't have Heath bits here. And I used a flavoured cappuccino mix that someone had given us instead of the espresso powder in the base of the bar.

In case you were wondering if this was the same bear from the Teddy Bear's Picnic post for Cookie Carnival last year, I assure you it is not. This is the bear that Santa brought for my daughter this Christmas, because, even though she will be twenty this year, she is never too old for a new teddy bear.

Now bear, shouldn't you be having some nutritious milk with those bars?

Very good.

"He respects Owl, because you can't help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn't spell it right.”

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Chicken Barley Stew with a Puff Pastry Lid

“From morning till night, sounds drift from the kitchen, most of them familiar and comforting....On days when warmth is the most important need of the human heart, the kitchen is the place you can find it; it dries the wet sock, it cools the hot little brain.”
E.B.White (1899-1985)

It is true that many of us are missing lighter, spring and summer fare right about now, but the recent snow flurries in our area have us thinking comfort food again. This week for Souper Sunday, I have made a Chicken Barley Stew with a Puff Pastry Lid. The chicken is left over from a roast chicken I had made the day before and the stock is from that very same bird. A great way to stretch out leftovers, yummy too!

Chicken Barley Stew with a Puff Pastry Lid
A thick stew to warm you up

Olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
10 mushrooms, sliced
2 parsnips, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced

I quart homemade chicken stock
½ cup white wine
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
½ cup barley

1 tbsp Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
One sheet butter puff pastry
Egg, lightly beaten with a small splash of water, milk or cream in it for egg wash.

Preheat oven to 400f.
Have oven safe bowls, ramekins or casseroles ready - the amount you need depends on the size you use.

In a heavy bottom pot, heat up olive oil and add all vegetables and cook, stirring, on medium/high until beginning to become tender - about 10 minutes.
Add chicken stock and white wine and bring to a boil.
Reduce to simmer and add barley and Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer gently until barley is almost cooked. Correct seasoning to taste.

Fill oven safe dishes almost to the top.
Roll out puff pastry for lids. Cut to size, just larger than the dish.
Brush beaten eggs over the lip of each dish and apply the puff pastry. Seal with your fingers and make a couple of quick vents with the tip of a knife.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
You can use some of the scraps for decorative additions if you wish.
Bake on a baking sheet on the middle rack until golden and puffed, about 20-25 minutes.

Mmmm, just like a warm hug on a cold day.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Tea and Comfort

When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I'm on your side. When times get rough
And friends just can't be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
There is something so soothing about a cup of tea and a little home baked goodness. Times can be stressful, heartaches are real, but a simple gift of a potted plant can lift your spirits. Hubby brought home this little cyclamen that adds a little burst of colour to my kitchen and to my week.
Outside it is bitterly cold, but it is warm inside and the sun is shining through the curtains. This morning I offer up some delicious candied ginger scones. Guaranteed to smooth your furrowed brow, at least for a little while.

Candied Ginger Scones - Cindy Mushet, The Art and Soul of Baking
• 2 ounces crystallized ginger
• 1/4 cup (1¾ ounces) granulated sugar
• 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1¼ cups (10 ounces) chilled heavy whipping cream
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1/4 cup (1¾ ounces) turbinado or raw sugar (light brown sugar may be substituted—it will be very tasty, but not quite as crunchy)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and position an oven rack in the center. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or a thin silicone mat. Place the crystallized ginger and granulated sugar in the bowl of the food processor and process until very finely chopped— the mixture should resemble damp sand. Transfer to the large bowl and add the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt. Whisk to blend well.
2. In the bowl of the stand mixer, or with a hand mixer and a medium bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks, with tips that fold over and barely hold their shape. Use a silicone or rubber spatula to scrape half of the whipped cream into the flour mixture and gently fold in with the spatula. Add the remaining whipped cream and continue to fold until there are no longer any obvious streaks of cream or patches of flour. The dough may seem a little dry at this point—don't worry.
3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead gently a few times to finish bringing the dough together. If the dough seems very wet and sticky, sprinkle it with a little flour to keep it from sticking to your hands and the work surface. Pat the dough into a 7-inch circle. Use a chef's knife to cut the dough into 8 equal wedges. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
4. Brush the tops with a thin layer of the beaten egg. Top each scone with a generous layer of turbinado sugar. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until firm and golden brown. Transfer to a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I will comfort you.
I'll take your part.

I will ease your mind.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Tyler's Penne Puttanesca

I admit it, I love those salted little fishies. Pasta puttanesca is one of my favourites because it understands big flavour. Garlic, olives, anchovies, capers.... I am in heaven. This is a fun pasta as, a) it is fun to say, everyone loves alliteration, and b) the naughtiness of the name makes it extra fun to eat. See? Good times all around.
Now, I know you are watching your bucks, who isn't? We served this with a grilled strip loin steak that I sliced thinly and split between the two of us. Garnished with some thinly sliced red pepper, avocado and parsley and we eat like kings for about the same as it would cost us to go to MacDonalds for dinner. Plus we had leftover pasta for quick lunches. More money left over for wine, and that's a good thing!

Penne Puttanesca - Tyler Florence, Eat This Book
Pasta Puttanesca, or "whore's" pasta, is a classic recipe from the back streets of Naples. It owes its colorful name to the fact that it is easy, fast, and delicious like a beautiful Napolitana woman. TF.

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced (double the garlic, I say! I used at least six cloves)
6 anchovies, rinsed (I use the tinned ones, the whole tin - no rinsing)
1 cup black olives, pitted and roughly chopped (I used Kalamata - don't use canned, jarred are better tasting)
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
3 tbsp capers, drained
2 (28 oz) cans whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano style, crushed by hand
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 pound dried penne
Put a large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook, using a wooden spoon to break up the anchovies until they seem to dissolve in the oil. Add the olives, red pepper flakes, and capers, and let that cook for 2 minutes, stirring often.
Toss in the tomatoes with their juices and bring to a low simmer. Stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.
Bring a big pot of lightly salted water to a boil for the pasta.
Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain and dump it into a big pasta bowl. At the same time, bring the sauce back to a simmer. Pour it over the drained pasta and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Join us for
Tyler Florence Fridays!

Choose, cook, share.

Round-up every Friday, check out the Tyler Florence Fridays site for details.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Bread Baking Day #17, Bread with Potatoes!

The staff of life meets the humble potato in this month's Bread Baking Day challenge.
Bread Baking Day #17, Bread and Potatoes, is hosted by none other than that fabulous babe; Lien of Notitie van Lien.
Always wanted to try a bread with spuds in it? Now's the chance!

This was my first time baking bread with potatoes, and a good opportunity for me to try another recipe from The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book - after chipping a tooth on the Vollkornbrot in '08. (Oops! We all must suffer for our art, I guess.)
All is forgiven with Laurel though, this bread turned out light, fluffy and delicious.
Actually, I was surprised at how light it was, given that there were no white flours in it. That must have been thanks to the potato - definitely worth baking with again.

Van Gogh's The Potato Eaters, 1885
He deliberately painted the peasants coarse and ugly to represent the common people.
Depressed now? Try this recipe for potato wine! That should lift your spirits.

Potato Rye Bread - The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book
1 good-sized potato, about 1/2 pound (225 g) pared and cooked
Cooking water from the potato
1/2 cup yogurt (120 ml)
2 tbsp oil (30 ml)
2 tsp active dry yeast (1/4 oz or 7 g)
1/2 cup warm water (120 ml)
3 cups whole rye flour (385 g) (I used 2 cups rye flour and one cup brown rice flour, because I ran out of rye - nice results though)
4 cups whole wheat flour (600 g)
2 1/2 tsp salt (14 g)
1/2 tsp fennel seeds (I used 1 tsp, I like fennel)
Additional water, about 1 cup

Mash the potato. Add enough additional water to the potato water to make 1 1/2 cups. Mix together the potato, yogurt, and oil.
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water.
Mix the flours, salt, and seeds, then stir in the potato mixture and the yeast. Use some of the additional water also, if necessary, to make a very stiff dough. Knead the dough for about 20 minutes, incorporating the extra 1 cup water (or more potato water) gradually as you go along, until the dough is soft, supple, and smooth.
Form the dough into a ball and place it smooth side up in the bowl. Cover and keep in a warm, draft-free place. After about an hour and a half, gently poke the center of the dough about 1/2 inch deep with your wet finger. If the hole doesn't fill in at all or if the dough sighs, it is read for the next step. Press flat, form into a smooth round, and let the dough rise once more as before. The second rising will take about half as much time as the first.
Press the dough flat and divide in two. Round it and let it rest until relaxed, then deflate and shape into pan or hearth dusted with corn meal. (I used two pyrex loaf pans) Let rise in a warm, humid, draft-free place until the dough slowly returns a gently made fingerprint.
Bake about an hour at 350f.

Much thanks to Zorra from Kochtopf AKA 1x Umr├╝hren bitte for creating Bread Baking Day.
This bread is going Yeastspotting with Susan of Wild Yeast. (Voted one of the 50 best food blogs!)

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Devil's Food White Out Cake

Tuesday is the sweetest day.

This week in Tuesdays with Dorie, Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater chose Devils Food White Out Cake, page 247-249 of Dorie Greenspan's classic book, Baking: from my home to yours. Please see Stephanie's site for the recipe, today's date.

I am a daydreamer. I am generally thinking about something else when I cook, bake, watch tv or walk the dogs. This can result in me overshooting my house as I walk home, and entering rooms without any idea what I went in there for. (You will be happy to know that I don't drive)
While I was making this cake, I was thinking of some of my TWD friends. As I chose a baking pan, I thought about Caitlin from Engineer Baker and all the cute little minis she makes out of her TWD treats. I decided to make mine in my little four inch springform heart-shaped pans and wondered if she would do the same. Valentine's day is over, but I still have the urge to make things in the shape of a heart. Perhaps we should consider a Valentine's Week.

As I started to boil sugar and water together, I thought about Cathy from The Tortefeasor. I was hoping that she was not doing laundry, or answering the phone. I was concerned for her range-top. I am sure that my concern for Cathy and boiling sugar had something to do with me dumping the cream of tartar into the egg whites instead of the sugar water. I supposed there must have been good reason it was called for in the sugar water so I put it in there too. I don't really know what cream of tartar is and hope that it is not harmful to have a double dose. Just in case, I will be cautious about my mercury intake this week - one doesn't want to take any chances.

Dorie says that this is a messy, stick your face in it cake and I believe her. Just look at it. Don't you want to stick your face in it? Just in case, there is another one in the fridge for you. Don't say I never thought about you!

Monday, 16 February 2009

The Bread Baking Babes make 5-Grain Bread with Walnuts

One whole year has passed since the Bread Baking Babes started baking together, and what more wonderful way to celebrate than to bake up a bread just filled with different flavours and flours. This month's host Babe is Tanna from My Kitchen in Half Cups and she chose 5-Grain Bread with Walnuts by Carol Field.
I was excited to have a reason to go to the bulk store and pick up some strange (to me) new flours and trotted home happily with them...
In retrospect, I should have marked the bags..
I did have to spend a while tasting and judging raw flours to try to remember which was which..
Don't let that happen to you! Always travel with a sharpie!

This recipe makes for a soft, pliable dough - not as elastic as a straight wheat dough but nice to work with. I used the maximum rising times as my Canadian kitchen is less than warm these days and I baked the loaves in pyrex loaf pans. I took the loaves out of the pans for the last 15 minutes of baking and sat them right on the stone to crisp up.
The loaves gave me no problem at all - the only note I had was the difference between weight and volume of the walnuts. I had picked up 1 1/4 cups walnuts from the bulk store but found that they only weighed 160 grams. So mine was lightly nutty, bake yours as you like.
They turned out very tasty, we had ours with dinner the first night with a nice soup and the bread topped with tuna salad. I loved the nuttiness with the salad. The next morning we toasted it up and had it with natural peanut butter and honey for breakfast - yum!

Pane ai Cinque Cereali con Nod
Five~Grain Bread with Walnuts
from The Italian Baker Carol Field
Makes 2 9 X 5-inch loaves
1 1/4cups (300 grams) walnut pieces
3 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast or 1 1/2 small cakes (27 grams) fresh yeast
¼ cup warm water
3 cups water, room temperature
3 3/4 cups (500 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups (125 grams) oat flour or finely ground rolled oats
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams) rye flour
1 cup less 1 tablespoon (125 grams) whole-wheat flour
¾ cup (125 grams) brown rice flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (20 grams) salt

Toast the walnuts for 10 minutes in a 400° F oven; then chop in a food processor fitted with the steel blade or with a sharp knife to the size of a fat rice kernel. Do not grind them finely.

Stir the yeast into the warm water in a large mixing bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cups water. Mix the walnuts, flours, and salt and stir 2 cups at a time into the dissolved yeast, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. The dough should come together easily. Knead on a floured surface, sprinkling with additional all-purpose flour as needed, until firm, elastic, and no longer sticky, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir the yeast into the warm water in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cups water. Stir in the flours, walnuts, and salt with the paddle. Mix until the dough comes together. Change to the dough hook and knead for 3 to 4 minutes at medium speed until firm and elastic but still slightly sticky. Finish kneading briefly by hand on a surface floured with all-purpose flour.

Make sure your food processor can handle the volume of this dough. Even when done in 2 batches, there will be 4 cups flour to be processed. Stir the yeast into the warm water in a small bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Place the flours and salt in a food processor fitted with the dough blade and process with several pulses to sift. With the machine running, pour the dissolved yeast and 3 cups cold water through the feed tube as quickly as the flours can absorb it; process until the dough gathers into a ball. Process 40 seconds longer to knead. Knead in the walnuts by hand on a surface floured with all-purpose flour.

First Rise.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Shaping and Second Rise.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. The dough should be moist, firm, and noticeably elastic, if slightly sticky. Cut the dough in half and shape each half into an oval loaf to fit a loaf pan. Place the loaves in the oiled pans (preferably glass), cover with a heavy towel, and let rise until truly doubled and fully above the tops of the pans, 1 to 1 ¼ hours.
Heat oven to 400° F. Slash a pattern in the top of the loaves. One baker in Milan cuts the shape of a stalk of grain on the top; elsewhere bakers make 3 parallel slashes. Bake 40 to 45 minutes; bake the last 5 to 10 minutes out of the pans on a baking stone or baking sheet to brown the bottoms and sides. Cool completely on a rack.

The Bread Baking Babes
Retired Beautiful Bread Baking Babes
A Fridge Full Of Food - Glenna - Alumni Babe
What Did You Eat? - Sher (Angel Babe)
Host Kitchen for February 2009
My Kitchen In Half Cups - Tanna
Hop on over to Tanna's to find out how you can be a Buddy to the Bread Baking Babes and earn yourself a groovy Bread Baking Buddy badge for your blog!
You may have noticed that I, along with Gretchen of Canela and Comino, have graduated from Buddy to Babe with the Bread Baking Babes. This has been a most thrilling honour and I am excited to see what the new year brings. For more information, please see Tanna's post.