Make’n’Tell Day 16: Dough I Know You?

February 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in a very long time: I baked bread. I used the baguette recipe I posted about a while back, but I’ve made some slight modifications in process since then. See, it turns out that most bread recipes are written with instructions to maximize crustiness. I guess most people like a really crunchy crust? Not me (or my kids): I want my bread moist and chewy and not ripping up the roof of my mouth. I can eat me some Cap’n Crunch if I want that.

Makes me hungry just looking at it.

So. I went back to those recipes and books and I paid special attention to the bits that were emphasized for crustiness: baking on a stone, steaming (with a pan of water in the oven), and painting the dough with a coat of water just before baking. Then I stopped doing all of those things, and now I have bread with perfect — for us — crust. It’s chewy and delicious, but not at all crunchy. I don’t use any water, either applied to the dough or to steam, and instead of baking on a stone I bake on parchment paper on an airbake cookie sheet (or in a loaf pan).

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I Like Cheesy Buns and I Cannot Lie

January 15, 2014 § 1 Comment

The backstory: Kit has had to go gluten free. Like, extremely gluten free. I like to call him a Gluten Freek. The tiniest eensiest little bit of gluteny goodness — even just from cross-contamination — will double him right over with stomach cramps. So, he’s been missing a lot of his favorite foods, especially stuff we typically get got in restaurants, like burgers and fries. A few months ago, we discovered that the kids’ favorite stop on the way up to Boston, Maggie McFly’s, has an extensive GF menu and a dedicated GF fryer. And for the “bun” on the burgers, instead of the regular GF buns like he’s been getting at the store, they have this amazing GF cheesy flatbread stuff. It’s so good I’ve started ordering my burgers with them, too.

I looked for a recipe for bread like this with no success, and then about a month ago, one came across my interwebs (I think on Twitter, but I’m honestly not sure). I tried it out last month and it came out pretty good, if a little greasy. This time, it’s pretty much perfect. The original recipe I found calls for tapioca flour, which it turns out I can’t use, as even the smell of it triggers my gag reflex (even just the little bit in GF all-purpose mixes). He talked a lot about the fine, silky texture of the tapioca flour, and I thought rice flour might substitute in nicely. Sure enough, it subs right in. Now, mine don’t look all pretty and puffy like in the pictures over at the original recipe, I assume because of the different flour. But, since we really want to use them for sandwiches, that actually works in my favor.

The hardest part about this dough is getting the texture right. It needs to be, once you’ve added everything in, moist enough to hold together but only just. Any moister, and you’re going to end up with the (admittedly delicious) greaseballs I had the first time. The key to this is the flour — the different flours seem to absorb moisture at different rates, even just different batches of the same type of flour. I used the exact same type and amount of flour this time as when I had the too-moist dough last time, and ended up having to remoisten the dough a little by adding more milk at the end.

Gluten Free Cheesy  Buns

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 3 1/2 c. Rice Flour (-ish — due to variations in absorbency, you may need more or less flour)
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 c. shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a dutch oven or other large pot, melt butter. Allow butter to brown slightly but not burn.

Add milk and oil. Bring to  boil, stirring frequently.

As soon as the mixture boils, remove from heat.

Add flour, mixing well. Mixture should be fairly dry and crumbly at this point.

Stir in eggs and both cheeses.  Mixture should be smooth and slightly shiny.

If mixture is too dry, add additional milk in 2 Tbsp increments, stirring well after each addition, until mixture holds together. Do not over moisten.

Form dough into discs 3-4″ in diameter and about 1/2″ thick. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Dough will lose its shininess and you may see errant pieces of cheese begin to brown.

Let cool before serving. These are best slightly warm but quite good at room temperature or even cold for a quick snack.

The Taste of Summer

November 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Summer is my favorite season, no questions asked. I love the sunshine and heat and warm nights and cooling off in the pool or the ocean and especially, I love the fresh fruit. We live in a fabulous modern age of strawberries in February, but they are truly not the same as the strawberries of July, plucked fresh off the plant, nor are the peaches you buy in January anything like summer’s fresh peaches so ripe they practically burst when you bite into them, dripping sticky juice down your chin no matter how fast you eat. And fresh summer cherries, sweet and firm and plump, the perfect size to pop into your mouth – I can eat a pound at a time (and have, but I don’t recommend this…you’ll have a tummy ache). The downside is, I get so excited about all the fresh fruit that I end up buying more than I can possibly eat before it spoils.

So when I found myself with some peaches and cherries that were getting close to passing over from perfectly ripe to rotten mush, I decided something must be done. And then I decided that something was a cherry-peach cobbler. I used my go-to cobbler recipe, only instead of berries, I used the peaches (sliced to about 1/8”, not peeled) and cherries (halved and pitted). The result is a delicious summery cobbler, fantastic as a breakfast treat or as a dessert…especially delicious under a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Delish.

Sometimes I Even Amaze Myself

September 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

The other day I bought a bag of these:

My absolute, hands down favorite candy bars EVAH.

so that I could make these delicious sounding cupcakes. But then I haven’t been in the mood to make cupcakes lately, and I had a cookie-baking mood come over me, so I decided to chop up the bars and use them in cookies instead! Absolutely brilliant, though I had to tweak the dough recipe a skosh to allow for the extra caramel.

C is for cookie!

You definitely want to bake these on parchment paper — even in the spots where the caramel bubbles out the sides it won’t stick as long as you give it a few minutes to cool. Have I told you about how parchment paper is my new favorite thing? About 6 months ago I was baking a batch of cookies and for some reason they were sticking really badly to the sheet. I keep meaning to get a silpat but then forgetting, so I figured I would just have cookie pieces instead of cookies out of that batch. Then I figured I’d give parchment paper a try (only because I happened to have some on hand) and OMG it’s like magic! They just slip right off the paper! I might still get a couple of silpats, just because I like the idea of being able to prep several sheets at once, but seriously, people — parchment paper. Don’t bake without it.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 oz. Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips
  • 1 bag Fun Size 100 Grand bars (about 20 bars, I think, so you could also get 10 regular size candy bars)

Preheat oven to 375°. Cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla, blending thoroughly. Add 1 c. of the flour, the baking soda, and the salt. When thoroughly mixed, add remaining flour. Beat on medium high speed for about a minute. Chop 100 Grand bars (Note: This is much, much easier to do if you cut them lengthwise first and then slice across the width to make approximately chip-sized bits). Add 100 Grand bar bits and chocolate chips to dough, mixing thoroughly. Drop spoonfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 375º for 8-9 minutes, until edges are just brown. Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet 5-10 minutes, until any leaky caramel is solid. Transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

Expanding My Horizons

August 24, 2011 § 4 Comments

And my waistline, but so, so worth it. I came across this thing called Taste & Create a few months ago, where people make food from each other’s blogs (you sign up and get assigned a partner each month — it’s very cool). I decided to participate for the first time this month, and my partner was Always Eat On the Good China. The hardest part was choosing a recipe to make (and I’m totally going to make more of them — she has some really nommy sounding stuff!) but I finally settled on the Chicken Puffs. Chicken, bacon, cheese, puff pastry…what could possibly go wrong? Nothing, in this case. They were amazing.

Delish.

I did modify the recipe a little to use what I had on hand (for example, I used goat cheese instead of cream cheese), and since I’m not a huge fan of plain chicken, I also decided to play around with marinades* and tried something new: OJ and balsamic vinegar. Yeah, that’s a keeper (1c. OJ + 1 Tbsp BV to cover about 1.5lbs of cubed chicken). She mentions in her post about the recipe that although the pic shows a whole chicken breast, she now cuts it into bite size chunks, so I went that way with it. And I didn’t mix anything up for the cream cheese mixture — I just threw a bunch of goat cheese on top and then topped it with some fresh basil, because I am lazy. Oh! Also instead of spraying my cookie sheet I just lined it with parchment paper which works beautifully for keeping stuff from sticking. And I didn’t brush with the egg wash, but that was just because I totally forgot to do it. Seemed to come out fine, but they would’ve been a little crispier with the wash.

The pile of nommy stuff going into the middle of the puff: chicken, goat cheese, bacon, fresh basil.

So, modifications I’ll probably make next time I make this (because there will be a next time): First off, I think I’m going to try it as a pot-pie kind of thing…the puff pastry-to-filling ratio is just really high. Now, it’s puff pastry, so it’s not like my tastebuds are complaining, but I think it will be just as tasty topped with the puff instead of surrounded by it. Second — you might want to sit down for this one — I’m going to leave the bacon out. I just really didn’t feel like it added much to the flavor experience in this case. Weird, I know, but there you are. I also will probably try different marinade/cheese combos — I think this would be great with something spicy on the chicken and cheddar cheese, for instance. And there you have it…my first Taste & Create. This was tons of fun — I’m totally going to do it again next month!

Fresh from the oven.

*A note on using a marinade on something you’re going to wrap in puff pastry and bake: you need to dry it out before you put it in the pastry. Throw it in a saute pan and brown it — you’ve got lots of sugar in this marinade, so even let it caramelize a bit. You don’t need to worry so much about it being cooked through — the baking in the oven part will take care of that. And it won’t get too dry b/c you’ve added all that moisture to it.

Smooth Like Billy Dee Williams

August 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

Or like, you know, a smoothie. I haven’t given y’all a recipe for awhile now, mostly because it’s been too damn hot to bake, and baking’s really mostly what I do. But, here’s a recipe that’s perfect for the hot weather and super fast and easy to boot. My favorite thing about this smoothie is that you can use pretty much any juice, yogurt, and frozen berries you have on hand. The one in the picture was made with strawberries, lemonade, a little orange juice, and plain yogurt. I love using the mixed berries with OJ or mango juice, too. Pretty much anything goes here.

Works Every Time!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 c. yogurt (I just use plain, but you can really use whatever you have on hand if you think the flavor will work.)
  • 2/3 – 1 c. juice (Again, whatever you have hanging around that you like is fine.)
  • 1 1/2 c. frozen berries (Really feel like I’m repeating myself at this point, but use what you like)

Place all ingredients in blender*. Blend until smooth. If your smoothie is too thick, add more juice. If it’s too thin, add more yogurt. Serve and enjoy.

*I have one of these fancy-schmancy personal smoothie makers and I absolutely love it. Can’t recommend it highly enough. If you get one of these, just fill the berries up to the “Frozen ingredients” max line.

Not a Walking Carpet, but still Chewy

July 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

(See what I did there?) Back in the olden days, when not everyone had one of these fancy blog-thingies and in fact, hardly anyone who wasn’t some sort of supergeek even drove on the Internet Superhighway (remember that?) you could subscribe to these things called “newsgroups”.* Being a fairly geeky, cutting edge kind of gal, I joined several. Many of them were dedicated to recipes — you may have noticed I like to dabble a little in the kitchen. The following recipe came from one of those long-forgotten (by me, anyhow) recipe groups. If anyone knows the original source, I’m happy to add the info.

I cannot even tell you how glad I still have some of these so I can go eat them after looking at this picture. NOM.

A note before I pass this one along. It is very simple to make, but it is also a giant pain in the ass. The results are worth it, but I generally save these cookies for people who are very special to me, or who have something I want very badly.

*Yes, I know newsgroups are still around. But most people who joined the interwebs after, say, Y2K probably don’t. Work with me here, people.

Recipe

Makes about 4 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 c. cocoa
  • app. 48 Rolos (A note on the Rolos: it’s usually cheaper to buy them buy the bag, but then you have to shuck them as they are wrapped individually. If you buy them by the roll, you save yourself that step. The choice is yours.)

Cream butter and sugars together until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and cocoa. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. (Seriously, you want to do this very gradually, or you will end up wearing much of the cocoa and flour.) Cover and chill for at least two hours (I usually do it overnight — you want it to be really chilled). Remove wrappers from Rolos if necessary (see note above) and chill them as well.

Preheat oven to 375F. Using a spoon, scoop out enough dough to cover one Rolo. Roll dough into a ball around Rolo and place on cookie sheet. Repeat until your cookie sheet is full, placing cookies about an inch apart. Bake for 8 minutes. remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. While each sheet is baking, put remaining dough and Rolos back into the refrigerator. If it is particularly warm in your kitchen, you may even need to put the dough in the freezer — it’s really almost impossible to work with if it’s even a little soft. (Heh. TWSS.)

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