Sunday, October 28, 2007

Well, this is exciting -- my very first Daring Bakers challenge. It's been difficult to wait for the posting date, and, at last, here it is.

The October challenge was hosted by Mary at alpineberry. The treat was to create a Bostini cream pie, a yummy concoction of vanilla custard, orange chiffon cake, and chocolate sauce. (Full details about this dessert along with the recipe can be found at Mary's site.)

My first step was to make the vanilla custard, which I did the night before I baked the cake so it would have time to chill thoroughly.

Next came the orange chiffon cake. I halved the recipe, scaling out the ingredients, and baked it in a 9x9 pan. It came out only ok as there was a slight bit of separation at the bottom of the cake. Not satisfied with this, I made a second cake, being sure to really whip the egg whites until nearly stiff and having the oven well-heated. This time I also turned the cake upside down to cool, since it is a foam cake. The second cake turned out fine -- no cracks, no sinking, no rubber layer. I used various cookie cutters to get different shapes for the plating.

The chocolate sauce was straightforward.

The hardest part of the challenge was plating, so I spent some time trying out various kinds of serving dishes:

Number one is tiny -- in a liqueur glass.

Number two is in a small dish.

Number three is on a dish.

And, number four, my favorite, is in a margarita glass.

In the end, it didn't really matter what the dessert looked like, because it tasted so good. With a lot of pleasure and no guilt, I just polished off the remaining custard, all by itself.

Now, I'm looking forward to seeing the creations of the other Daring Bakers, and, of course, to the November challenge!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sage Rosemary Time But No Parsley

So, Silver Sage was put into action last week to create my Sourdough Rosemary Raisin bread.

As the first test, I only made a fourth of the recipe and was pleased to discover that I should be able to make half a recipe without compromising the mixer.

I may need to find a larger bowl, though, for the rising process.

I ended up with 2 loaves. But, to prevent myself from eating both, I immediately took one warm loaf over to my neighbor's, leaving only one to tempt me.

For the first time in over a year I'm looking forward to some 'free' time. On Monday and Tuesday I will be going on my first Girl Road Trip without children! Hooray! Three friends and I are driving to Reedley in central California for an overnight trip. I have convinced them that it will be mandatory to stop at the Superior Dairy in Hanford for some divine homemade ice cream (my favorite flavor there is lemon custard). One serving is huge enough to feed 3 people. It will be fun to see what kind of adventure we will have.

Upon my return, it will be back to class on Wednesday and Thursday, after which I can finally tackle various projects that have been taunting me for months. Updates will be provided. (And, I might have to make my Herb Sourdough Rolls so I can use some parsley.) ; )

Monday, October 8, 2007

Demented piecrust

Now, I've been making pie crusts since I was 15 (Dark Ages) and I've made so many that the recipe is firmly embedded into my brain. It's delicious, too, so no other pie crust compares. That being said, I am not necessarily set in my ways and am willing to experiment when some new version comes along.

So, when Cook's Illustrated described their vodka-laced pie dough, I thought I'd give it a shot. (oops, no pun intended) Now, the dough was definitely softer/moister and much more short than my standard dough, but watch out for the fumes! I let the dough rest in the fridge overnight. True to the description, the dough does require more flour when rolling it out, and it needs a slightly different touch, since it is so soft. I put 2 pie shells, 2 tart shells, and some miscellaneous dough pieces in the oven to partially bake. (Hey, fledgling -- the dough pieces were ALL mine this time -- woo hoo!) When time was up, I removed the various shells, BUT to my horror, the darn things had shrunk! As I said above, I've made hundreds of pie shells and rarely do they shrink, so I will have to analyze the dough and process and see where the problem is.

On the plus side, the dough is very tender (I would guess because of the shortness rather than the vodka), and even a third roll produced a tender, flaky product.

Now, just for the record, the 2 pies turned out just fine, despite the demented-looking crust. #1 was my 4-color sweet pepper quiche; #2 was the Crunch/Custardy Peach Tart from Dorie Greenspan's book (p.346). Perhaps I will feel brave enough to take photos later today.

I think, though, that I will go back to my regular pie crust recipe, although I may experiment with the vodka in that recipe and see what happens. Unless the fumes get to me first......

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Baking favorite

My current favorite cookbook is Dorie Greenspan's Baking From my home to yours (now celebrating its first birthday). I've made about half a dozen recipes so far, which isn't bad. [Somewhere I read that the average number of recipes tried from most cookbooks is about 3, 7 at most. Some cookbooks are best used as references, some for the photos, and some are just workhorses. In my collection, there are quite a few I've never used, some from which I've used one or two recipes, and a small group that get a lot of use. Over time, my tastes have changed, but I find it difficult to part with any cookbook.]

Anyway, my favorite recipe so far is the Swedish Visiting Cake. It is simple and delicious. My goal is to try at least one recipe from each section and then start all over again. It's fun to read the recipes and drool over the photos in the meantime.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Silver Sage

That's the color of my new KA mixer that arrived today. It fits right in to the current kitchen decor. Now, I can hardly wait to use it!

I will still keep my vintage KA -- harvest gold (can you guess when I bought it?) -- and over 30 years old. It's still going strong, but, lately, with all the breadmaking, it's little motor is being taxed, and I would be devastated to lose it. So, Silver Sage has joined the gang. I do believe it's time to retrieve Henry from the fridge and make some rosemary raisin sourdough bread.

If I ever get the digital camera I've been promised (and paid for), I will start including photos.

So, I will report on Silver Sage in the next few days as I start baking through the list of all the breads I've been putting on hold. (Oh, and I neglected to say that Silver Sage is a Professional 600 model -- what can I say -- it was late last night!)