Thursday, October 1, 2015

Beautiful Cinnamon Bread

Back in early 2014, the Daring Bakers group made something called Beautiful Bread.  Aptly named, right?  There were two recipes, one involving a cinnamon filling, the other a Nutella filling.  Above is the cinnamon bread.  I do intend to make the Nutella one some day, though. 

While I tend to make desserts that look sort of complicated but actually aren't, this one does actually have a lot of steps.  But it is SO SO worth it.  I mean, really, is that some beautiful bread, or what??  Essentially, you make a sweet dough that is divided into 4 parts and rolled out into 8-inch circles.  Each circle gets a layer of butter and cinnamon sugar, and then the next layer is placed on the top, ending with the 4th layer.  With some fancy cutting and twisting, you end up with the bread you see above.  Here is how it's done:

Beautiful Cinnamon Bread
adapted from Daring Bakers
Makes 8 servings
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup warm milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon cardamom, optional
 Cinnamon Filling
1/2 stick butter
4 TB cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 TB sugar
For drizzling
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Whisk the egg with the water, milk, butter and yeast, and set aside.  Sift the flour, salt and cardamom in a separate bowl.  Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and knead until the dough is smooth.  Brush a large bowl with oil and place the dough inside, covering with a damp cloth.  Leave in a warm place to double in size.

Once the dough has doubled, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 equal parts.  Roll each part into a circle that is at least 8-inches in diameter.  Mix the cinnamon and sugar topping together.  Brush the first circle with butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Place a second layer atop the first and repeat the butter and cinnamon sugar.  Do the same with the third circle.  Top with the last, fourth layer and brush with butter.  With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 equal triangles.

Now, make cuts in the center of each triangle that go 2/3 of the way down, not reaching the outer edge or the tip.

Take one of the triangles and gently fold the tip down and poke it into the cut you made, and then pull it down through the cut and back up so the tip is back on top.  I unfortunately did not photograph this step, but this is sort of a graphic to demonstrate how it will look:

It's dreadful, sorry, but if you are making this, hopefully this image will help out.  Do this with each triangle and arrange on a parchment covered baking sheet.  Now pinch the bottom corners of each triangle together, into the middle.  So they are not being pinched to the triangle on either side but rather it's own left and right corners are being pulled together and pinched.  While you are working on this, preheat your oven to 500F. 

Brush the dough with the sweetened milk topping.   Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes, then place into your hot oven (rack in center).  Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400F and bake for 15-20 more minutes, or until the underside is golden brown.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack and drizzle with sweetened condensed milk while warm. 
Printable recipe

Bask in the glow of the most beautiful "cinnamon rolls" you have ever made!

Monday, September 28, 2015

French Lemon Cream Tart

I'm a fan of lemon pies (see here and here), so when I saw "The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart" in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours, I knew I needed to give it a try.  It just so happened that my dad was in town when I made this pie (lemon pie is his absolute favorite)!  Essentially, this pie consists of a sweet tart shell that gets filled with lemon cream.  I then whipped some cream and piped little stars around, just to be fancy pants.  If, like me, you aren't sure of the difference between lemon curd and lemon cream, let me share my newfound education!  They basically contain the same ingredients:  eggs, lemon zest and juice, sugar and butter.  The difference is how they are made.  In curd, all of the ingredients are cooked together until they thicken, so you get that nice silky, buttery spread.  In cream, the butter is left out of the cooking - only the eggs, sugar and lemon are cooked until thickened.  Then they are put into a blender, allowed to cool, and whipped with the butter.  This way the butter doesn't actually melt, it gets emulsified, so you end up with a really light, velvety spread.  Lemon cream and lemon curd can be used interchangeably in most cases, however your mood dictates! 
The conclusion?  Lemon cream is blissful!  I would probably reduce the sugar next time (a common theme in my lemon pies) but it was super!  The best part though was when I gave the clever boy a taste of the lemon cream.  He is always eager to try anything I am baking, but had not connected the ideas of "lemon" and "tart".  So when I put a bit of lemon cream into his mouth, his eyes got really wide and he did this little shiver/convulsion throughout his 2-yr old body.  It was hysterical!  Sweet boy. 

You can find The Most Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart on pages 331 and 332 of Baking: From My Home to Yours, or by going here, to Dorie's website. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tuesday's with Dorie July Catch-up!

Well, all I can say is that my free time seemed to disappear over the summer...  I did a lot of baking, but never managed to set aside the time to edit photos and post to the blog.  Summer is a busy time with two kids!  Better late than never, though! 

The first recipe in July is the White Chocolate Patty Cake from Baking with Julia.  What appears to be a simple white cake, above, is actually a rich, velvety cake made of white chocolate and lots of eggs.  It was fluffy and velvety and scrumptious.  I am not generally someone who jumps for joy for white chocolate, but it really made this cake something special!  The cakes themselves collapse a bit when taken out of the oven, but that's totally fine.  You sort of smoosh the cakes together anyway!  There is a layer of "raspberry crush" in between the layers, and also some on top of the cake (that's the red sauce you see).  It was supposed to be made with frozen raspberries in a light syrup, but my raspberries were simply frozen - no syrup involved.  That worked fine with me though, as it was not too tart by any means.  Plus, the cake itself is sweet (all that white chocolate!) so the contrast between the sweet cake and the tart sauce was perfect!  Once the sauce is spread over the bottom layer, the top layer is placed and then the edges are smooshed together.  Then more sauce is put on top, with fresh raspberries.  This is a delicious summer treat!  It looks and tastes like you worked really hard, and it is actually quite simple!  Try it!  You can find the recipe here

Ready for some more raspberries?  I am!  Truly, when raspberries start showing up in the grocery store, I am thrilled.  My kids love them (call them "finger berries") and I could easily eat an entire tray (no matter the size!) in a sitting.  If you are a Costco member, go there for your summer raspberry fix.  They are AWESOME and like everything at Costco, comes in a bigger container than in the grocery store, for about the same price!  Win! 

This particular recipe is from Baking Chez Moi, and is the Apricot Raspberry Tart.  You can find the recipe on page 145.  This recipe was supposed to have a layer of stale cake crumbs or brioche between the sweet tart and the fruit layer, to absorb the juices.  OR, Dorie suggests that you create an Apricot-Almond Cream Tart and spread a layer of almond cream over the bottom of the tart.  Yeah, HELLO?  I'll take that option, thank you very much!  But I didn't see the purpose of losing the raspberries in the process (Dorie leaves them out in this version) so I used them anyway.  Are you with me here?  Sweet tart dough, almond cream, apricots, raspberries, and pistachios on top.  NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS!  Delicious.  This is totally my kind of dessert.  I tend to lean towards the fruity pie-ish type desserts and this baby is right up my alley! 

Finally, in July we made Vanilla-Mango Panna Cotta.  This recipe is also from Baking Chez Moi and can be found on pages 370-372.  This I made at my parents house, where the kids and I went to help my mom after a minor surgery.  Surely delicious food and love from grandkids helped her heal well!  I like to think so, anyway!  This is another recipe that looks like a million bucks but is actually fairly simple to make!  If you've never made a panna cotta, you really need to give it a try.  It takes minimal time to prep and can (in fact has to) be made in advance, so at the right time you just have to get it out of the refrigerator and BAM an amazing dessert is served! 

The panna cotta sits on a puree of mango and lime.  You could also add honey to the mix, but my mangoes were sweet so I didn't add any.  The puree goes on the bottom and into the refrigerator.  Then you make the panna cotta, which is made by infusing vanilla bean into heavy cream and milk, then adding bloomed gelatin.  Pour this on top of the cold puree, refrigerate at least 2 hours, and there you have a beautiful dessert!  If you don't care for mango, you could use a different fruit puree or use NO fruit puree, set the panna cotta in a lightly oiled mold, and then pop them gently out to serve on a plate with berries or some sort of syrup.  Panna cotta is super versatile!

Oh, and I can't believe I took this picture.  I probably couldn't do it again if I tried but I love how it turned out!  I'll take my successes where I can!

There you go for a July catch up...  There is still one recipe that I haven't gotten around to making yet, but I'll get there.....  eventually.....

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

TWD: Baking Chez Moi June Catch-up!

More catching up to do!  The first recipe for June was Chocolate-Cherry Brownies, found on pages 322-323 of Baking Chez Moi.  Though I do have a favorite brownie recipe, I am certainly willing to try new recipes, especially when in a cookbook written by Dorie!  And this recipe certainly did not disappoint!  Truly, if you use good quality bittersweet chocolate and tart dried cherries that have been soaked in port wine until nice and plump, you cannot go wrong!  Mmmm.  I love tart cherries and when paired with bittersweet chocolate, it is just divine.  These brownies are a one-bowl recipe, which makes them quick to both make and clean up!  Oh, and they will quickly disappear as well!
See the nice crackly top?  That is an important brownie element for me - the nice crackle top before the moist and chocolatey inside.  Mmmm.  Kinda makes me want to bake these again...  Good thing they are so easy!

Our second June recipe was Strawberry Shortcakes, Franco-American Style, on pages 338-340 of Baking Chez Moi.  Instead of using a biscuit, Dorie uses round ladyfingers.  They are nice and light and crunchy and elevate the dessert to something elegant! 
In addition to the ladyfinger substitution, Dorie also recommended using roasted strawberries in lieu of traditional macerated or plain strawberries.  This recipe can be found on page 458 of the book, and essentially involves mixing sliced strawberries with sugar, cloves, olive oil and thick balsamic vinegar and then roasting them in the oven until nice and soft.  I used the roasted strawberries in the middle of my shortcakes, but only for the adults.  I figured the kiddos were better off with typical plain strawberries.  The roasted strawberries provided a nice fancy taste to the dessert.  It was like a surprise with each bite as I don't generally associate those flavors with strawberry shortcake, but it was so good! 

This is definitely a dessert to be eaten as soon as it is made.  I am not sure how the ladyfingers would last, maybe okay in an airtight container for a day or so?  But you might as well just eat it up at once.  Strawberry shortcakes are too good to be left around! 

My summer baking is way off schedule, but I'm catching up, slowly but surely!  Hope you've been enjoying whatever summer treats come your way!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

TWD: Baking Chez Moi May Catch-up!

Yes, I know, this blog has been woefully silent lately.  Quite frankly, the end of the school year and start of summer has kept me hopping and I have neglected my blog.  Sorry!  I did not neglect the baking, however, and did manage to bake MOST of the assigned recipes.  Blogging about them has been my hangup.  So, I thought I'd do a little catching up with the May recipes from Baking Chez Moi

The first recipe for May was Nutella Buttons, which can be found on pages 188-190 of Baking Chez Moi. And though I did make them, they were devoured before I managed to take a photo.  So close your eyes a moment and picture this:  a mini yellow cupcake that has a tiny blob of Nutella baked into the center.  No, you can't actually SEE the Nutella in the center, but it is there.  And the Nutella makes the cupcake "button" wonderful.  My only problem with this recipe is that it is for an UN-ICED cupcake, something that is simply NOT RIGHT in my book.  Glazing the top with melted chocolate is considered a "good idea" but not necessary to the recipe.  I disagree.  A cupcake simply needs it's icing cap on top, otherwise it will get cold, or maybe sunburned or otherwise feel naked and sad.  Put a hat on your sweet little cupcake!  All will be well with the world.

The second recipe for May was Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake, on pages 24-27.  Mmmm.  Easy and delicious!  I had a hard time finding rhubarb for some reason, so I ended up getting frozen rhubarb and letting it defrost first.  It worked perfectly and saved me the step of chopping ad peeling the rhubarb!  Gotta love a time saver!  We originally ate this cake for dessert, but had leftovers for breakfast the next day!  The tartness of the rhubarb is a pleasant match for the sweet brown sugar cake.  Yes, rhubarb is tart, but the cake was not so tart that the clever girl wouldn't eat it. The cake and rhubarb make a good marriage.  And putting a dollop of whipped cream on top makes everything good!

The recipe suggested making a glaze for the top with melted apple, quince or red currant jelly, but I skipped that step.  It would have made it prettier on top, but it was great without.  I will definitely make this recipe again.  Easy and delicious! If you don't have Dorie's new cookbook, Baking Chez Moi, I'd recommend it. Thus far the recipe's I've tried have been a hit!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

New Pool/Beach Robes

You may recall that a few years ago I  made the clever girl a pool robe.  She loved it and though it still fit around her body, she had grown much taller so the length became a little, well, too short for my tastes.  Thus, she needed a new one, and clearly the clever boy needed one too!  Just in time for our trip to Florida!  I used the same pattern, by MADE, with a few adjustments.

I used bath towels from Ikea, and made my own bias tape with patterned fabric.  The hoods are lined with cute chevron flannel fabric that just happened to match perfectly!  It was meant to be!  I made the mistake of using a bias tape maker that makes double bias tape in 3/8 inch instead of 1/2 inch and that 1/8 inch was sorely missed.  Terry cloth is really thick (even these thin towels) so getting the thinner bias tape around the edges was tricky at times.  If you make your own bias tape, get the right size gadget!  

I used the largest pattern size when I made the previous robe for the clever girl, so I created a new pattern for this one.  I will explain how I did this, so if you have one of these patterns you could do it too!  For most of the pieces, I checked to see how much bigger Dana (of MADE) made each size from the one smaller and made my new pattern using these guidelines.  I made the front and back 1/2 inch taller in the shoulder and about 1 inch wider along the sides.  I made the bottom hem 5 1/2inches longer, so this robe is much longer than the previous one.  The sleeves are 1/2 inch wider and 2 1/8 inches longer, and the hood is 1 inch taller and 1/2 inch deeper (front to back). 

I found that the tie lengths recommended by the pattern to be too long for us, so I shortened them on both kids a bit.  I wish I had shortened the clever girl's ties even further, but realized that only AFTER sewing on all of the bias tape so at that point it was too late!  (Not really, I mean I could have ripped it all out and done it over, but no thank you!)  If I had proportionately increased the length of the tie for the clever girl's robe, it would have been about 83 inches long.  I made it 73 inches instead and again, it could be shorter.  I don't think a pool robe needs a bow tie, just a knot is fine with me.

The clever boy's robe is a size 18m-3T, which had a recommended tie length of 57 inches.  I made this tie 48 inches and it is perfect.  48 inches happened to be the easiest length for the towels I used!

Total success.  These were super comfy to put on after getting all wet and playing at the beach.  Perfect for warming up a bit and still being able to play - digging in the sand, building castles, playing catch with our random toys. Plus they are plenty big that the kiddos should be able to wear them for a good while before they are outgrown!  We are in the process of putting in a pool at our house, so I envision these robes getting a lot of use this summer!

Sure, this is more work than buying a pool robe at the store, but this way it is quality-made, in colors we love, without any additional marketing ploys imprinted on the fabric!  They are not difficult to make and your child can have a one-of-a-kind robe too! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

TWD - Baking with Julia: Ka'kat

I took a bit of a hiatus from TWD for reasons unknown even to me.  It just got away from me, I guess.  And I missed some recipes that looked to be quite good, so I'll have to make them up at some point!  This week, though, was Ka'kat.  Are you thinking, "what the heck?"  I was too.  I would say that bagel+pretzel=ka'kat.  Technically,  this bread is supposed to be covered with sesame seeds (I was out) and flavored with something called mahleb.  I didn't even look for mahleb as I remembered this week's recipe on MONDAY and it was due to be posted on Tuesday.  However, it turns out that Penzey's actually carries mahleb - it is the pit of a dried sour cherry.  Now I know!  At least I know it is fairly easily accessible!  

So, my ka'kat are sesame-less and mahleb-less, but still quite good!  They have the texture of a soft pretzel (which I love) but more of the flavor of a roll or bagel.  I thought it could use more salt, but that could be because my brain was thinking PRETZEL.  Best of all, this little guy was easy to make with only a short rise time.  In fact my handy mixer stayed in it's cabinet the entire day, as all I needed for this bread was a bowl and a spoon!

I am anxious to hear what other bakers thought of the ka'kat and whether anyone used the mahleb.  Is this a spice that I need to acquire??  Click here to find out who else tried this recipe and what they thought!