Monday, December 6, 2010

More Birthday Cake

Three month birthday cake for my nephew James.  White cake, American buttercream frosting, colored fondant rings. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rolled Butter Cookies

For some reason this year, I have had a hard time getting into the Christmas season.  It's only three weeks away, and I have made no preparations.  Usually most of my Christmas gifts are purchased and I have decorated my house, but not yet this year.  Then yesterday, it snowed.  A beautiful wet stick to the ground snow.  Now it feels like winter, now if feels like Christmastime.  It's time to start baking!

These cookies are the version of sugar cookies my husband's grandmother always used to make.  They are delicious and buttery.  They are good plain, but we prefer them with the powdered sugar glaze.

Rolled Butter Cookies

  • 3 cups flour-sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Put flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  Cut in softened butter with a pastry blender until the particles are fine.  (I actually usually do this in my food processor, but a pastry blender by hand will do just fine.)  After the butter is mixed in, add the egg, milk, and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.  Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to three days.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it's 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into shapes as desired.  Bake at 400 degrees for 5-8 minutes.  Cool completely.  Frost with a mixture of 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla and 5-6 tablespoons milk.

Add sprinkles!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

So I made these pumpkin whoopie pies a few weeks ago and I was totally amazed at how easy they were.  They turned out to be such cute little cakey cookies with a delicious cream cheese frosting.  But then, the weirdest thing happened.  I put them in an airtight container overnight and when I opened the container to serve them the next evening, they were watery.  As in there was liquid all over the bottom of the container.  I have no idea what happened.  Any ideas??  Is that a pumpkin thing? 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chocolate Pecan Pie

I am addicted to cookbooks.  Oftentimes, I like reading them and looking at the pictures, daydreaming about baking for hours.  I really love church cookbooks.  Man, those ladies (and gents) can bake.  Those spiral bound collections of everyone's family recipes are fantastic.

This chocolate pecan pie is from my mother in law's church cookbook.  I tweaked it a little bit, the original recipe only had pecans for garnish and I love pecans so I amped up the amount of pecans.

Chocolate Pecan Pie adapted from A Taste of Asbury
1 9 inch pie shell-honestly, I used Pillsbury's ready to use crust, I was in a time pinch
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup pecan halves

Beat together the corn syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs.  Mix in chocolate chips and pecans.  Pour into pie shell.  Bake for an hour at 325 degrees or until the filling is set.  Allow to cool because the combination of corn syrup and hot chocolate chips will burn your mouth like none other.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Butternut Squash Bread

My husband and I used to live in Seattle.  He loves it there, with the temperate climate and fantastic restaurants, longtime friends and access to a lot of good jobs.  I didn't so much love living there.  I was terribly homesick for the Midwest and my family and so when given the opportunity, I jumped at the chance to move back here.

However, Seattle is such a great city to visit and because we have some friends still living there, we try and make it back for a visit every year.  This year we went back in August, for a big birthday celebration.  The friend we stayed with lives right above Macrina Bakery.  Literally right above it.  Each morning I would go down and ogle the pastry display case and wait for my coffee and cinnamon roll.  They have a huge window that faces the street that you can watch as they prepare the days cakes and other goodies.  As a souvenir for myself, I picked up the Macrina Bakery cookbook.

This delicious take on pumpkin bread is from that cookbook.  Ideally, instead of using pumpkin, you make it with roasted butternut squash.  It is packed with pecans, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds adding crunch to this super moist bread (really more of a coffee cake).

Butternut Squash Bread adapted from Macrina Bakery Cookbook
2 cups roasted butternut squash
4 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk (I used powdered buttermilk and water)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
1 cup oil (I used peanut oil)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup hulled toasted pumpkin seeds (make sure they are hulled, I used ones with the shell on and it made for some chewy bread)
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Toast the seeds for about 20 minutes and toast the nuts for about 15 minutes on 375 degrees.  Toasting the nuts and seeds add a ton of flavor.

Mix together the remaining ingredients.  Fold in the3/4 of the  nuts and seeds.

Pour the batter into two greased loaf pans.  Sprinkle the remaining nuts and seeds on the top of the loaf.  Bake loaves for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. 

Allow to cool and enjoy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Honey Wheat Bread

I tell you what, you go on vacation for two weeks and coming home is a shocker.  I have been home for four days and am still out of sorts.  This morning before work I managed to somehow stain my shirt and then got my hair stuck in the button trying to change out of it.  I cannot manage to sleep later than 5:30AM, suffering from reverse jet lag because I am totally exhausted by about 7PM.  You would think that I would be able to transition back home better. 

This bread is a great transitional bread.  Maybe you aren't sure you want to jump feet first into the whole wheat bread thing.  Try this.  The whole wheat flour adds depth and character while still being soft and sweet.  It is one of my family's favorite breads and it makes two loaves, so you can always share.

Honey Wheat Bread
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1 cup wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons instant yeast
1 egg
4-5 cups all purpose flour

Combine water, cottage cheese, honey, and margarine in a saucepan and heat until the butter is melted.  Remove from heat and allow toll cool a bit.

In another bowl, combine 2 cups of all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, yeast and egg.  Add warm liquid and stir together.  Stir in remaining flour until you have a stiff dough.

Knead until smooth and elastic (about 2 minutes).  Place in a greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise until dough is doubled in size (about 45-60 minutes)

Turn dough out on floured surface and knead again for a minute.  Divide dough in half and shape into two loaves.  Place into greased bread pans, cover, and allow to raise again until the loaves just rise over the rim of the pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes for full loaves.  Allow to cool.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Honey Pear Cake

Recently, I was the lucky recipient of several fresh pears from a co-workers pear tree. These pears were small and their skin was mottled.  Beautiful, they were not.  But when you stuck your nose into the bag and inhaled, the most wonderful pear scent emerged.  I knew I had to bake something with these pears.  Something simple, yet special.  Something that would really showcase their flavor.  Pear cake was the answer.  This cake was found on and the original recipe is here.

Honey Pear Cake adapted from Martha Stewart
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 milk
1/2 cup peanut oil
1 teaspoon lemon extract

Beat together the eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until thick.  Add the oil, honey, milk, and lemon extract and beat until combined.  Add cinnamon, nutmeg, soda, and baking powder.  Beat until combined.  Add the flour and beat until just combined.  Pour batter into a greased and floured 10 inch springform pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool.  If desired, top with caramelized pears.  

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup sugar
4-5 small Bartlett pears cut into thin slices
1/4 cup honey

In a skillet, melt butter.  Add sugar and cook until sugar is fully melted.  The sugar will turn brown and caramelize.  Add the pears and cook until very soft.  Add honey and cook for a few more minutes.  Pour on top of cake. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daring Bakers October: Doughnuts!

I have been wanting to make doughnuts for a long time and as usual I have never found time.  The hot oil intimidated me.  Of course, that's when the Daring Bakers Challenge comes in.  I chose to make the first recipe of classic yeasted doughnuts, but decided to switch it up by adding apple cider instead of milk.  It is the season for apple doughnuts and I love them.

The October 2010 Daring Bakerschallenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challengeDBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipesincluding Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Yeast Doughnuts

1 cup apple cider
1/3 cup shortening
4 teaspoons instant yeast
1/3 cup warm water
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4-5 cups all purpose flour

  1.  Melt shortening in a glass measure in the microwave
  2. Put the cider, yeast, shortening and warm water in a large bowl (for stand mixer if you have one)
  3. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
  4. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
  5. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
  6. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  7. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured the dough is very sticky)
  8. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch  ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet (of course I did not follow this part of the directions and my dough stuck like crazy leading to misshapen doughnuts), cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
  9. Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
  10. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown.
  11. Roll in granulated sugar.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Roasted Squash

When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to like to take a squash (butternut, acorn, whatever was available), split it open, scoop out the seeds and bake it in the oven for a long time with butter and brown sugar.  She used to call it dessert.  Me, being the "wise" child that I was, refused to eat that mushy garbage called squash that my grandmother tried to lie and tell me was delicious, that it was a treat. (I mean, this is the same woman who told me that eating the crust on my bread would make my hair grow long and beautiful).  Oh, what a fool I was!  Squash made that way is AMAZING!  My friend Mandy grows an fantastic garden every year and I am always a willing recipient of her over stock.  She makes a fantastic pot roast and roasted butternut squash with garlic and butter that is to die for.  I recently made a new recipe calling for roasted butternut squash rather than canned pumpkin that tastes like fall in quick bread form.  I have totally fallen in love with baked and roasted squash.  It's super easy to make and can be added to a plethora of recipes or just eaten on its own.

Roasted Butternut Squash
1. Cut squash in half lenghwise
2. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits
3. Place facedown on a pan with sides (I used a jellyroll pan here but I have used a bread pan for small squash)
4. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until the squash is squishy
5. Remove from oven and ALLOW TO COOL.
6. Scoop out insides or peel off skin
7. Enjoy immediately.  If desired, squash can be frozen for several months or refrigerated for up to 3 days

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fun with Fondant and more Rainbow Cake

I have a nephew now.  He is just over a month old and absolutely delightful.  Never in a million years did I think this miniature human being would move me and my family like he does.  He, of course, is super cute and an honestly good baby.  He cries when he needs something and just hangs out otherwise.
Colored batters
I come from a family of celebrators.  Any excuse to get together and eat cake, we take it.  So, obviously, we would have a one month birthday party for our newest addition.  I decided to seize the opportunity to practice some fondant critters and make rainbow cake.  I have been seeing rainbow cake everywhere and what would be better for a one month birthday celebration than whimsical rainbow cake.  You can see from my previous post that my first try with the rainbow cake didn't fly so well so I just stuck to the recommendations on the back of the cake mix box.  Consequently the batter was a bit thinner than when I added sour cream and it made the finished cake more tie-dye than rainbow, but that was ok.  It looked awesome anyway.  It now seems to be my sister's favorite way to eat white cake.
batter before the oven
Tie-Dye Rainbow Cake
1 white cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup of oil
1 cup water
red, yellow, green, blue, and violet gel food coloring

Mix cake mix, eggs, oil and water together.  Separate batter into six different bowls (no Indigo for me, poor lonely Indigo).  Using a toothpick, add desired amount of food coloring to batter.  If using gel colors, remember that it takes some time for the color to reach full vibrancy.  I don't have orange food coloring, not even sure Wilton makes it, so I just mixed red and yellow.

Grease and flour a 9*3 round cake pan.  Scoop 1-2 scoops of red batter into the pan.  Next scoop 1-2 scoops orange batter and put it directly on top of the red batter. Then scoop 1-2 scoops yellow batter and put it directly on top of the orange batter.  Lather, rinse, repeat with the remaining colors.  I had to repeat the pattern about 3 times in total.  The batter will spread itself out.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Frost and decorate as desired.  I used the American Buttercream that my family is so fond of.
cake after baking
American Buttercream adapted from Wilton
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
5-7 tablespoons of water

Beat together the butter and shortening until smooth.  Add the vanilla.  Slowly add the powdered sugar.  If the mixture gets too thick and your mixer is having trouble, add some water or milk a one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

I only frosted the outside of this cake.  Double the recipe if filling the cake.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rainbow Fail

Note to self: If the cake mix already has pudding in it, don't add more pudding and then some sour cream.  Too heavy.  Your mother in law warned you against this pudding on pudding situation and you did not believe her.  Believe now.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Darling Husband

I have a wonderful husband.  I have a wonderful husband who is smart.  Because I have a wonderful husband who is smart, he writes really nerdy research papers that get accepted to conferences in Europe that he must attend to present said papers.
I have a wonderful husband who always brings me back something from his travels in Europe.  This trip he went to Germany and Greece.  This trip, because he is a wonderful husband, he brought be back a baking book.
But my wonderful husband, he also has a playful side.  He brought me back a beautiful baking book from Europe...all in German.  I don't speak a lick of German and this whole book is totally in German.
I guess my wonderful husband just wanted to spend more time with me, reading German recipes to me :)  What a sweet guy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lemon Pavlovas

 Lately, each Wednesday, my mother, sister, grandmothers, aunt and I have gathered together at one or another's home for what we like to call "project night."  Its an evening where we come together and work on whatever crafty project we want.  My aunt and grandmother crochet, my sister scrapbooks, my mother cross stitches, and I continue hand quilting a Christmas tree skirt that I have been working on for four years.  This gathering is some comfortable, so familiar. 

When I was little, project night occurred each week during the fall and winter months without fail.  Back then I used to latch hook or make endless little loomed pot holders. When I was little, my favorite part was snack time.  Now I am in charge of bringing the sweets each week.  My mother loves pavlovas with lemon filling and so since it was an unseemly 90 degrees out this past September Wednesday, I made a treat that still tastes like summer.

Meringue for Pavlovas adapted from the Joy of Cooking
8 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat the egg whites and cream of tarter together until foamy.  One tablespoon at a time, add the granulated sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Add the vanilla and beat to combine.  Plop spoonfuls of meringue onto cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.  Bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours.  Allow to cool.  Fill with lemon cream right before serving or the lemon cream will dissolve the meringue.  Store in an airtight container.  Do not store in the refrigerator or freezer, the moisture will soften them.

Lemon Cream Filling
8 egg yolks
2/3 cup of lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
5-6 drops lemon oil or 1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup heavy cream

Put egg yolks and sugar in a medium sauce pan.  Mix together.  Add lemon juice.  Put over medium heat and stir constantly. Do not allow to boil or the egg will curdle.  When the mixture thickens such that it coats the back of the spoon, remove from heat and add butter and  lemon oil.  Strain if necessary and put in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  Beat heavy cream until medium peaks form.  Fold lemon curd into the cream.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Applesauce Cake

Fall is in the air!  The days are getting shorter, the nights crisp, the trees turning fiery.  I  have slow down for farm equipment and the field across the street is now empty, the corn making its way to the grain bins.  This cake tastes like fall.  The cinnamon and nutmeg paired with the tang of the cream cheese frosting.  The way the kitchen smells when this cake is baking is like warm cider.  This is one of my dad's favorite cakes and one of the few that I am confident to make from scratch.

Applesauce Cake
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon all spice
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups applesauce
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Cream together the butter and the sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating them completely between each egg.  Add in the rest of the ingredients.  If you choose to use the raisins, you can plump them in a cup of boiling water.  Pour the batter in a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-45 minutes.  Allow to cool completely and frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting 
(This makes a "double" batch, I split and filled the inside of the cake.  If you are going to only frost the outside you can split this recipe in half.)
1 8 ounce block of cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks butter, room temperature
7 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
6-7 teaspoons water (as needed)

Beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Gradually, and I stress gradually, add in the powdered sugar. (Nobody likes a powdered sugar shower).  Add the vanilla.  Add the water as needed by the teaspoonful to reach the desired consistency.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rye Bread

Honestly, there is not much good for me to say about this bread.  This baby looks pretty but tastes terrible!  I was looking for a savory loaf to enter in a local baking competition.  Naturally I turned to Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice.  This book really has never failed me in the past.  The recipe for marbled rye looked so beautiful with its bulls eye swirls of dark and light rye.

Making the dough couldn't have been easier.  The two doughs are identical except for some coloring put into the dark rye.  Peter Reinhart recommends using caramel coloring, carob powder, or cocoa powder.  He warns against using cocoa powder because it can lend a bitterness to the dough.  The only thing I had was cocoa powder, so that is what I chose to use.  I have had trouble finding caramel coloring.  He was right, it does impart a bitter flavor into the bread which really turned me off.

I also had trouble with the bread being gummy.  I know that it is possible to overwork rye flour and I thought I was being careful.  I did use my stand mixer to mix the dough and so its possible that I overworked the dough without realizing it.  Maybe in the future I should hand knead rye bread.

This is the second time I have made this recipe without success.  Hopefully I can tweak my technique some more and have a reliable recipe for a savory direct method rye.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


 Just found this interesting article about some of the science behind bread baking and gluten.  I find it helpful in baking when I understand the chemistry behind the magic.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Peanut Butter Pie

Delicious, decadent, totally dreamy.  Once piece of this pie has probably more calories than are supposed to be consumed in a day, but soooo worth it!

Peanut Butter Pie adapted from Sugar Bitches
makes a single 10 inch pie

Graham cracker crust of your choice

12 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 8 ounce container of Cool Whip

Beat together the cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar until smooth.  Fold the Cool Whip into the peanut butter mixture.  Smooth into pie crust.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 70% cacao)
1/2 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together the sugar and heavy cream into a small saucepan.  Stir until the mixture comes to a boil.  Simmer without stirring for 6 minutes.  Remove from heat and dump in the chocolate and butter.  Allow to sit for a minute and then stir until smooth.  Add the vanilla.

Add topping to pie and crushed peanuts if desired.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving or stick in the freezer.  If freezing, be sure to remove about an hour before serving so that the pie will be soft enough to cut.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Strawberry Bread

Typically, I only make this bread at Christmas time.  My mom and sister and I make a bunch of mini loaves to make and add to our cookie plates.  This bread is a perfect winter bread, it calls specifically for sweetened frozen strawberries.

Now due to a cancellation, my angel food cake had to find another home (my husband's work) and I had to find a new occupation for my  thawed strawberries.  Strawberry bread it is.  This bread is moist, sweet, and perfect for breakfast or gift giving.  You can easily wrap and freeze this bread and it tastes just as good as when you baked it.

Strawberry Bread
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 24 ounce package frozen sweetened strawberries, juice and all
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup pecans, optional

Mix together wet ingredients.  Add dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Add pecans last.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Just a good idea

I can't remember where I saw this, but adding some of that gripper shelf paper to my cake carrier changed my life.  Seriously.  I take dessert a lot of places and up until last Christmas I did not have a cake carrier.  I thought my cake carrier was awesome, but then I read about putting this non skid shelf paper between the cake and the carrier.  It makes a huge difference.  No more cake smears on the sides of the cake carrier.  It's so good!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake is absolutely, hands down, my favorite cake in the whole world.  Its the cake that I always ask for as my birthday cake.  Growing up, because we had chickens, we actually ate angel food cake fairly frequently.  My mother always said that fresh eggs made the best angel food cake.

This is my second attempt at making angel food cake.  The first time, a few years ago, I did not yet believe in the powers of cake flour and instead used all purpose flour.  Do not do it unless you want an angel food cake that is about 2 inches tall and quite heavy.

Angel food is a great summer cake.  Served with some strawberries and Cool Whip makes this dessert absolutely divine.  Served plain, this dessert is low in cholesterol and fat, which is always nice.

Angel Food Cake adapted from Betty Crocker
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
12 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 1/ 2 tablespoons vanilla

Before starting, place your bowl (stainless or copper) and your beaters in the freezer.  Also, remove eggs from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.  To be honest, I have know idea why you should do this, but my mother swears these are key elements to the success of the angel food cake.

Separate your eggs.  There can be no traces of yolk in your whites.  I find this to be a struggle sometimes.  But then I realized that I was an idiot keeping my bowl of whites under each precarious yolk.  I then learned that each time I plopped an egg white out, put it in another bowl so that on the last egg the yolk does not accidentally slip out and ruin a dozen egg whites.

Once the eggs are separated add the cream of tarter and beat until foamy.  Once the eggs start foaming, then add 3/4 of a cup of the granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.  Continue beating until stiff peaks form.  A stiff peak is one that does not flop over when it is formed.  Take care not to overbeat the eggs.  This is especially possible when using a stand mixture.

what a stiff peak looks like

Sift together the remaining 3/4 and 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cake flour.  Once the egg whites are beaten to stiff peaks, fold the vanilla and the flour mixture into the egg whites with a rubber spatula.  Be sure to use a rubber spatula.  My mother only owns one rubber spatula and it is specifically for folding flour into the egg whites for angel food cake.

Once the flour mixture is folded into the egg whites, spread mixture into an ungreased angel food cake pan (or tube pan if you will).  Make sure the batter is even.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Flip pan with cake in it immediately onto a clean plate.  Allow to cool upside down.  When the cake is completely cool, run a knife around the edges of the outside and inside of the pan.  Flip back onto the plate and allow cake to fall out.

Once the cake has fallen out of the pan, be sure to scrape the pan and eat it.  It is sooo tasty!  Serve cake plain or with sweetened strawberries and Cool Whip.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Whole Wheat Potato Rosemary Bread

Sometimes, when the world beats you up, its nice to come back to something familiar yet challenging.  The past couple of weeks have been rough on my psyche and baking bread has been just what I needed to sooth my mind.  These humble looking loaves have taste depths that are difficult to describe.  The rosemary and the roasted garlic add a bit of awesome that you can't quite place.  It tastes great on its own and even better slathered in butter.  I served it as a side to beef kabobs and it was perfect.  I was a little sad, this bread did not have the lift I am used to.  I presume it was because of its whole wheat nature.  I used Gold Medal whole wheat flour, I have been told that possibly trying different flours might give more height to the end bread.  Even so, it was delicious.  I wish that I had thought to photograph the inside.  I am going to submit this Potato Rosemary Bread to Wild Yeast's Yeast Spotting event this week.
Whole Wheat Potato Rosemary Bread adapted from Peter Reinhart

Boil one medium to large (6 oz)  potato in 3-4 cups of water until the potato is tender.  Save the water for the soaker and the biga.  Mash up the boiled potato and save until the final dough.

8 ounces whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 cup potato water
2 tablespoons regular water

Mix together.  Knead for a few minutes.  Refrigerate overnight.  Remove from the refrigerator about 2 hours before mixing the final dough

3/4 cup potato water
Pinch of Kosher salt
8 ounces of whole wheat flour

Mix together and cover.  Leave out on counter for overnight.  If you are not going to make the final dough for a few days, whip the soaker in the frige

Final Dough
6 ounces mashed potato
All of the biga
All of the soaker
2 1/4 instant yeast
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 springs of fresh Rosemary about 3-4 inches long
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 bulbs roasted garlic, mashed
Black pepper to taste
8 tablespoons whole wheat flour

To roast the garlic:  Take 2 bulbs of garlic and cut the tops off.  Rub olive oil on the exposed cloves of garlic.  Put on a baking sheet and bake for 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the cloves are squishy.

Mix everything together except the flour.  Knead the remaining tablespoons of flour in as needed.  The dough should be tacky.  Allow the dough to rest for a few minutes and then knead again until the dough passes the window pane test.  Cover and allow to raise about an hour.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a minute.  Shape into round loaves.  Brush with egg wash.  Allow to raise for another hour.

Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Put a cast iron pan in the bottom of the oven and the baking stone on the second rack.  When the loaves are ready, brush them with the egg wash one more time.  Put in the oven and pour a cup of warm water into the cast iron pan.  Allow to bake for a couple of minutes and then turn the heat down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake for another 45-50 minutes or so.

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