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.

Biga
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

Soaker
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.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Goat Cheese Mini Cheesecake



Once, many years ago now, I went on a double date with a boy from high school and a couple of his friends.  I did not know his friends and they were older than me so I was quite nervous.  We did some activity, I have no idea what anymore, and then we went for pizza.  The girl was a vegetarian and so we ended up ordering a Mediterranean type pizza with lots of veggies and feta cheese.

The pizza came, we ate, we chatted, altogether it was a pleasant evening.  When the time came to pay the check and the leftover pizza was in its box.  The girl commented that she was going to have to hide the pizza in the refrigerator so that her family would not eat it because she thought is so delicious she wanted the leftovers for herself.  And then I felt the need to open my mouth.  I said "Well, you should just tell them it has goat cheese on it and then they will stay away." 

The three people at the table looked at me for a moment and then the girl finally said.  "Heather, feta is goat cheese."

Awesome.  Such an embarrassing moment in my young adolescent life.  Obviously since then I have come to know and love goat cheese dearly.  My husband and I ate at a nice restaurant for our anniversary this past year.  For dessert, the menu offered goat cheese cheesecake.  We decided to try it, as my husband loves cheesecake.  It was AMAZING.  Cool and creamy but tangy and sweet.

I saw that Tartelette had a recipe for mini goat cheese cheesecakes and I had to try it.  Mini cheesecakes are great because you only need to bake them for 20 minutes and they are already individually portioned.  A full size cheese cake is a multi hour endeavor that I rarely manage to plan for.  You should should check out Tartelette's post too, she has stunning photos, a recipe for gluten free crust, and a blood orange sauce I ran out of time to make.  And I typically like my cheesecake unadorned anyway, maybe a bit of fruit on the side.



Goat Cheese Mini Cheesecake adapted from Tartelette
          makes 12-15 standard sized cupcakes
Filling
  • 8 ounces soft goat cheese
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • juice and zest from one lemon
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
Beat together the goat cheese and cream cheese until smooth.  Add granulated sugar and beat until incorporated.  Remember to beat the cream cheese mixture until completely  smooth, once the eggs are added the lumps won't beat out and cream cheese does not melt in the oven.

Beat eggs in one at a time, scraping the bowl after each egg.  Add the zest and juice from the lemon and beat until incorporated.

Crust from the Keebler Graham Cracker box
  • 1 1/4 cups Graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
Whisk together Graham cracker crumbs and sugar.  Pour in melted butter and stir together.  Press into the bottom of greased muffin tins. Its actually a good idea to grease both the inside of your muffin pan and the muffin papers themselves.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-6 minutes.  Allow to cool.

Once the crusts are cool, pour the filling in the muffin tins until about 3/4 full.  Cheesecake doesn't raise much, but it does puff up a bit.  Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes.  You want to pull them out of the oven when they are still a bit jiggly.  A friend of mine told me that the cheesecake should wiggle as one unit when you get it out of the oven instead of having many ripples when moved like when it's put in the oven.  I found a water bath unnecessary but to be on the safe side you can use one.  Just fill a pan larger then your muffin pan with about an inch of water.  Allow to cool.

Friday, August 27, 2010

August Daring Bakers: Baked Alaska

Another ice cream challenge to go wonderfully with the sweltering heat of August.  I have been wanting to make Baked Alaska for a long time and now the Daring Bakers have given me a great excuse to try it.  These mini Baked Alaskas have a delicious caramely cake bottom, homemade strawberry or vanilla ice cream in the middle, covered by ethereal whipped meringue lightly toasted.  I have to confess though, I used my homemade ice cream left over from last months challenge.  I do not have an ice cream maker and I was lazy.

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

Brown Butter Pound Cake-best pound cake ever!
  • 19 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3  cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. (The next time I make this, I might use a jelly roll pan to make the cake circles a bit thinner)

 Place the butter in a 10” skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells like caramel. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.   Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.  Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.

Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Meringue 
  • 8 large egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) salt
  • 1 cup (220g) sugar
Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar one tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form.

Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 2 and ½ C  whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ C granulated sugar
Grind the sugar in a food processor. In a mixing bowl, add the cream and sugar and vanilla and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together.
Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

Strawberry Ice Cream
  • 5C of whipping cream
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened strawberry puree 
Grind the sugar in a food processor unless you really have caster sugar, which I did not. In a mixing bowl, add the cream, sugar, and strawberry puree and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together.  Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

 Strawberry Puree
  •   16 ounce bag frozen strawberries
Thaw out the frozen strawberries in a strainer over a bowl.  Save the juice.  Put the berries in the food processor and process.  Take the saved juice and reduce it to 1/2 of a cup.  Pour into the processed berries.  You can lightly sweeten this with 1/2 cup sugar.  I did not sweeten the puree because I was using it in the ice cream

To make this delicious cake, take a bowl and slice the cake roll into slices.  Line the bowl with plastic wrap and then line the bowl with the pieces of the roll.  Place the bowl in the freezer.  Then layer the vanilla ice cream, freeze for about an hour.  Layer the fudge, freeze for about and hour.  Finally layer the strawberry ice cream and allow to freeze.

To Assemble the ice cream:
  • Remove ice cream from freezer and allow to soften
  • Line tea cup with plastic wrap
  • Scoop softened ice cream into tea cup
  • Wrap well and refreeze

To assemble the Baked Alaska:
  • Cut the cake into circles the same size as the teacups full of ice cream (the 9x9 cake made very thick cake circles, so I cut mine in half to make enough for the people I wanted to serve)
  • Unwrap the ice cream and place on top of the cake rounds (if you have difficulty removing the ice cream from the tea cup, run the cup under hot water)
  • Spread a liberal amount of meringue on the cake and ice cream (or pipe)
  • Freeze for a few minutes or up to 1 day
  • With a kitchen torch, brown the outside of the meringue, alternatively  put the cakes under the broiler for a minute.  Be careful, I have known people who have caught meringue on fire.





Monday, August 16, 2010

Pale Ale Caramels

When I first saw these pale ale and pretzel caramels on Sprinkle Bakes, I immediately bookmarked the recipe.  I found them fascinating, incorporating a beer into a sweet caramel and her photos made my mouth water.  Personally, I dislike beer.  My husband, however, thoroughly enjoys a good beer.  I figured this would be the best of both worlds so I had him save me a few pale ales and gave it a shot.  I originally used the exact recipe from Sprinkle Bake's website, however I had quite a bit of trouble with it.  I ended up over reducing the beer, creating a sticky mess on the bottom of my saucepan.  I also failed to consider how much the caramel would boil, and used too small of a saucepan for the caramels resulting in an even bigger and stickier mess all over my range.  Awesome.  When I finally managed to get the caramels into the pan, they hardened into a solid crystallized blob.  Back to the drawing board. 

I consulted a couple of my cookbooks: Field Guide to Candy and Chocolate and Confections and developed the below recipe.  The caramels turned out soft, buttery, and melt in your mouth good.  Honestly, they do not taste a bit like beer.  In the future, I will probably just stick with vanilla flavoring.  Its easier than reducing the beer.  I opted out of the pretzels that the original recipe called for, because this recipe was a bit of an experiment already. 


Pale Ale Caramels adapted from Chocolate and Confections and Sprinkle Bakes
  • 2 cups 20granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 12 oz pale ale, divided
  • 24 oz evaporated milk
  • 10 oz heavy cream
  •  1.5 oz butter (2-3 tablespoons)
  • 20 oz Caro syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
Take 1 cup of the pale ale and pour in a medium to largish bowl and stick in the microwave for about 10 minutes or until the ale is reduced to a few tablespoons.  You want to make sure that your bowl is large enough to accommodate the boiling of the beer.  Optionally, you could simmer the beer on the stove unless you are me who starts doing three other things and soon has a burned sticky mess on her hands.  The beeping of the microwave keeps me accountable.  Also, you lessen the chance of caramelizing the beer.

In a large saucepan, combine the sugars, remaining ale, evaporated milk, and cream.  When making caramel, you want to add the sugar to liquid alone to be sure that the sugar fully dissolves.  Bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add the Caro syrup.  This helps to prevent crystallization and gives the caramel chewiness.  Bring the mixture to 230 degrees Fahrenheit.  With caramel, it is better to have a long slow cook to allow the flavors to develop and prevent burning of the milk products.  Once the mixture is up to 230 degrees Fahrenheit, add the butter.

When the temperature reaches 239 degrees Fahrenheit, remove from the stove.  Add the salt and 2 tablespoons of the reduced beer syrup.  Pour into a buttered and tin foiled 9x13 pan.

Allow to set and cut into pieces with a well oiled knife.  Wrap with wax paper or dip in chocolate.  These babies loose their shape so they need to be wrapped.  Also, if it is very humid out like it has been in the Midwest here, don't make these without air conditioning.  They will not set up well. 




Friday, August 13, 2010

Cake Pops

When I was  a little girl, going to spend the night at Grandma's was always the biggest treat.  My dad had 5 siblings and everyone lived locally so there was always an aunt or uncle around to play with my sister and me.  We play countless games of freeze tag, go "fishing" for tadpoles and toads in the creek, and zoom around the property on the go kart.

Inevitably we would grow hot and hungry and come in the house for an afternoon snack.  We would race to the freezer and choose our favorite Little Debbie snack cake.  I think my sister preferred the Ding Dongs, but I loved the Zebra Snack cakes.  These were always a special treat because my mother did not buy things like that. 

There has been a recent craze for cake pops.  When I finally tried making them, the taste reminded me of those little Zebra snack cakes at my grandma's.  They are simple to make and hugely popular.  I am still always stunned how many people love these little balls of cake and frosting coated in chocolate.

The master of these cake pops is, of course, Bakerella.  She started the cake pop movement if you will, and takes them to a whole new level with extremely cute pops.

I have only made them a few times.  Typically, I use whatever leftover cake and icing that I have on hand from baking cupcakes or whatever.  A whole cake makes a ton of cake pops.

Cake Pops adapted from Bakerella
  • 1 cake mix of your choice
  • about 2 cups of the frosting of your choice (Bakerella recommends using frosting from a can, but I have not had the best luck with that.  For me, homemade buttercream holds up a bit better during dipping)
  • 2 bags of Wilton Candy Melts in the color/flavor of your choice
Bake the cake according to the directions on the box.  Allow to cool completely. 

Tear the cake into small chunks and put in a bowl.  Add the frosting to the bowl with the cake bits.  Stir together.

Take about 1 teaspoon worth of mixture and roll into a balls.  Place on a cookie sheet covered in wax or parchment paper.  Stick a lollipop stick into each ball.

Place in the freezer for 1/2 hour or until cake balls are very firm.  Melt candy melts according to directions.  Dip each frozen cake pop into the melted chocolate and place back onto cookie sheet.  Allow to dry. (You can also use a Styrofoam block to dry the cake pops.  That way you will not have a flat side)


Monday, August 2, 2010

July Daring Bakers: Its the Bombe!



Things that are extremely challenging for me for no good reason
  • using an electric pencil sharpener
  • knowing right from left
  • rolling cake
The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.
cake roll disaster

This challenge was well, extremely challenging.  For a time I considered just skipping this challenge.  I don't have an ice cream maker so making the ice cream was going to be a hassle and I have never had good luck making a cake roll.  They crack, they rip apart, its just an unholy disaster.  But that is what Daring Bakers is about isn't it?  It would be silly to skip a challenge that was well challenging!  And so I plodded on.

I have no ice cream maker, so the ice creams were made by hand.  I haven't made ice cream by hand since high school agriculture class when we tossed the cream around the room to get it to set up.  This time there was no tossing, I just used Sunita's method of stirring every so often.

Swiss Cake Roll
  • 6 medium sized eggs
  • 1 C sugar + extra for rolling
  • 6 tblsp all purpose (plain) flour + 
  • 5 tblsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together with the flour
  • 2 tblsp boiling water
  • a little oil for brushing the pans
Beat together the sugar and the eggs until the mixture is very very thick.  Add the sifted flour and cocoa powder and fold together.  Add the boiling water to activate the cocoa powder.

Pour the batter into two jelly roll pans that have been oiled and parchment papered.  (FYI: oil the parchment paper too.  I did not do that and it was an ugly situation to get the parchment off of the cake)

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the cake springs back to the touch.  Plop out onto a kitchen towel that had been sugared.  Roll the hot cakes up in the towel in a roll.  Allow to cool.  Unroll and then spread with the whipping cream mixture and roll back up.  Put in the refrigerator to cool.

Filling
  • 2C whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
Put the whipping cream and sugar together in a bowl.  Whip the whipping cream into soft peaks.  Put in the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.

Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 2 and ½ C  whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ C granulated sugar
Grind the sugar in a food processor. In a mixing bowl, add the cream and sugar and vanilla and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together.
Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

Fudge Sauce
  • 1 C caster sugar
  • 3 tblsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tblsp cornstarch
  • 1 and ½ C  water
  • 1 tblsp  butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and water in a small saucepan.  Stir until thickened (about 2-3 minutes).  Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.  Set aside to cool.

Strawberry Ice Cream
  • 5C of whipping cream
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened strawberry puree 
Grind the sugar in a food processor unless you really have caster sugar, which I did not. In a mixing bowl, add the cream, sugar, and strawberry puree and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together.
Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

 Strawberry Puree
  •   16 ounce bag frozen strawberries
Thaw out the frozen strawberries in a strainer over a bowl.  Save the juice.  Put the berries in the food processor and process.  Take the saved juice and reduce it to 1/2 of a cup.  Pour into the processed berries.  You can lightly sweeten this with 1/2 cup sugar.  I did not sweeten the puree because I was using it in the ice cream

To make this delicious cake, take a bowl and slice the cake roll into slices.  Line the bowl with plastic wrap and then line the bowl with the pieces of the roll.  Place the bowl in the freezer.  Then layer the vanilla ice cream, freeze for about an hour.  Layer the fudge, freeze for about and hour.  Finally layer the strawberry ice cream and allow to freeze. 

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