Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Tale of Two Stollen (aka BBD#45)

This has been a stollen-baking week.

I made two stollen: the first came out flat (in the front); the second (in the back) rose beautifully.

I had intended to use the first one for December's Bread Baking Day entry, but it just didn't meet my standards. So, I baked version #2, using the recipe from Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. I did soak the fruit in rum overnight, and did add several more spices along with the cinnamon.

Even while the dough was rising, I knew this second effort was going to be successful. The dough had a wonderful silky feel and you could just see the yeast doing its magic.

I decided to form the dough into a simple curved batard. The loaves may look funny, but the taste is anything but.

The month's BBD, number 45, was hosted by Cinzia of Cindystar. She chose a holiday theme for the bread. Check her blog around January 5 to see the roundup.

Thanks also to Zorra for being such an inspiration to the bread-baking world.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BBB: Stollen

For December, the Bread Baking Babes made stollen. I have made stollen before, although not with this particular recipe.

The hostess this month was Susan of Wild Yeast.

First, the good news. This bread has an amazing flavor, probably from soaking all the dried fruit in rum overnight and adding bunches of spices.

Now, the bad news. Try as I could, this dough would not rise for me. I know it wasn't the yeast because I also made some other yeasted dough at the same time, and that dough rose beautifully. I'm stumped.

I proceeded as if all was well, but was sorely disappointed in the results. I'm aware that rich doughs can take longer to rise, but this one never did. Oh, and when I removed the best looking loaf from the pan, it broke in two, crumbling. Definitely not a success.

Perhaps, someday, I'll try again. But do go to the BBB blogs via Susan's website and see what this bread is really supposed to look like.

Monday, December 26, 2011

TWD: Kids' Thumbprints

It was inevitable.

After nearly four years, baking with the Tuesdays with Dorie group has come to an end. The last recipe, chosen by Ms Dorie, herself, is a delicious one -- Kid's Thumbprint cookies, a shortbread-type peanut butter cookie, filled with chocolate chips (in my case).

Peanut butter and jelly/jam is a great combination, but nothing beats peanut butter and chocolate.

Instead of rolling the cookie dough in chopped peanuts/nuts, I used some almond meal from Trader Joes. it really does behave like finely chopped nuts and is a wonderful time-saver.

These cookies are definitely addictive, too. Hard to eat just one.

When I started this blog four years ago, my younger daughter had gone off to college in New York and I needed something to fill that empty space. In the interim, she has come back for awhile, and then left again, to finish her college studies, also in New York, but at a different school. I joined TWD shortly after it began in 2008 and I have truly loved baking nearly everything in BFMHTY. I still have a few rewinds and catch-ups to do. (November and December have been tough with a heavy workload and an ailing dog, so I have been somewhat distracted in the 'fun' department.) It will be difficult to put this cookbook back on the shelf, so most likely it will retain its place on the kitchen counter and continue to be my muse.

With 2011 nearly a memory and 2012 looming ahead, I'm looking forward to baking again, especially with the new group and the new book, Baking with Julia.

Thanks to Laurie for having the great idea to share her baking experiences and let others join in.

Thanks to Julie for keeping TWD up and running.

And, many thanks to Dorie for her baking expertise and friendliness.

It's been a great run! I look forward to playing with both TWDers and newcomers in 2012.

The cookie recipe can be found on Dorie's website.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

TWD: Blueberry Chocolate Ice Cream


It's nearly Christmas and here we are making ice cream for TWD.

Normally, in southern California, it's warm and sunny, even in December. At the moment, however, it's cool, cloudy, and rainy. That's some of my favorite weather, but it's not exactly conducive for ice cream.

Luckily, I love ice cream, no matter what time of year it is.

This recipe is chocolate ice cream with a twist. At the very end of the freezing cycle, you throw in some blueberry preserves. Mostly, the blueberries disappear. Occasionally, however, a lump of preserves pops up for a sweet and fruity surprise. The photos really do show some of the blueberries, even though the color contrasts aren't evident. I can see them. Can you?

Now, I'm set for chocolate ice cream for a few days.

The ice cream hostess this week was none other than the Tuesdays with Dorie instigator, Laurie. Glad to see her smiling, chocolate-y face once again! Laurie has the recipe posted on her blog.

In less than two weeks, we'll be finished with this cookbook. I have a few more recipes remaining, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TWD: Matcha Mads

For years, my madeleine molds languished in my cookie drawer. It wasn't until I began baking with the Tuesdays with Dorie group that they received some well-deserved use. At the same time, I discovered that I really enjoy eating them and they aren't difficult to make.

I suspect, now, that the molds will no longer gather dust.

As we reach the end of Dorie's book, we're down to the last five recipes. Hard to believe. This recipe is supposed to be Earl Grey Madeleines. While I have the tea in the tea drawer, I ran across a little can of matcha and decided to use that instead. I ended up with olive green madeleines that tasted like lemony green tea. Not bad.

I also ended up with 15 cookies rather than 12. These molds really need less batter in them so they don't overflow. That was remedied in the second batch. Of course, one has to eat one's mistakes, right?

The madeleine hostess was Nicole of Bakeologie. She has the recipe posted on her blog. I would highly recommend giving it a try. Some of the other TWD bakers also used different teas, so be sure and check out their websites.

(These cookies were all I could manage this week because of an ailing old dog. We've been struggling for the last two months and taking one day at a time. Between the dog and my work load, it's been a challenge to do any baking or cooking, especially in a timely way. During Rewind week I plan to catch up.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bread Baking Day #44: Autumn Flavors

Barely in the nick of time, I've baked my entry for this month's Bread Baking Day (#44). The theme of Autumn Flavors was selected by Sarah of Winged Snail.

I discovered a delicious recipe on Kayte's blog, Herbed Carrot Cloverleaf Yeast Rolls. They are full of flavor and colorful as well.

Instead of making cloverleaf rolls, I chose to make just regular individual rolls. Basically, this is an all-purpose dough, so any shape would work. The recipe also makes just 12 rolls, the right amount for small families.

I plan to freeze some of these for times when I want a simple roll with dinner. This is definitely an easy and delicious recipe.

Many thanks to Sarah for choosing a great theme, and to Zorra for creating one of my favorite events.

Herbed Carrot Cloverleaf Yeast Rolls

Carrots: steam about 1/2 pound fresh carrots, peeled and cut into pieces, until easily pierced with a knife. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Cool to room temperature before using.


1/4 ounce active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees F)
3 tablespoons softened butter
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 cup pureed carrots
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and lightly chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 cups all-purpose flour

a little cream to brush on the tops

Measure the yeast into the warm milk and let sit for 5 minutes to proof

Combine the yeast mixture and the remaining ingredients (except the cream) in a large mixing bowl.

Stir to mix into a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes.

Place the dough into a clean, oiled bowl; turn so the top is oiled, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. To make cloverleaf rolls, divide each of the 12 pieces into 3 small pieces, form into balls, and place 3 balls into each cavity in a well-greased muffin tin.

Cover and let rise about 30 minutes.

Brush the tops with cream.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, or until golden on top.

Remove from pan and cool on rack.

Makes 12 rolls.

TWD: Normandy Apple Tart

Our second TWD Thanksgiving dessert this year was the Normandy Apple Tart. Essentially, it is a tart shell filled with homemade applesauce and topped with sliced apples.

Normally, I like anything apple, but this tart fell flat for me. It tasted bland and heavy. If I were to make it again, I would add some lemon zest and some spices to the applesauce.

To be fair, my mother thought it was delicious. But, that's a mother for you, liking anything you make.

This apple tart was chosen by Tracey of Tracey's Culinary Adventures. She'll have the recipe available on her website. While you're there, check out her other terrific recipes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TWD: Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie or Tart

We're approaching the end of our TWD adventure. This week I was lucky enough to choose for a second time, and since fall is in the air, I wanted to try another version of pumpkin pie.

I made this pie for Thanksgiving. This is the only photo I took, since it was devoured quickly, even without whipped cream. There was plenty of filling left over, so I poured it into four ramekins and baked them along with the tart. Pumpkin custard is a terrific breakfast treat.

Check out the Tuesdays with Dorie site for more pumpkin pie. (Normandy Apple Pie will show up soon.)

Here's the recipe if you want to give it a try.

Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie (or Tart)

1 9-inch single pie crust, partially baked and cooled, or one 9-inch tart shell, partially baked and cooled (recipes for the crusts can be found in BFMHTY on pages 442 and 444)

2 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Lightly sweetened lightly whipped cream for topping

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat and put the pie plate (or tart pan) on it.

Put all of the filling ingredients in a food processor and process for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Alternatively, you can whisk the ingredients together vigorously in a mixing bowl. Rap the work bowl or mixing bowl against the counter to burst any surface bubbles, and pour the filling into the crust.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F and continue to bake for 35 to 45 minutes longer (20 to 25 minutes for a tart), or until a knife inserted close to the center comes out clean. If you don't want to create a slash in your masterpiece, tap the pan gently -- if the custard doesn't jiggle, or only jiggles a teensy bit in the very center, it's done. Transfer the pie or tart to a rack and cool to room temperature.

Can be served either chilled or at room temperature, topped with whipped cream. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Alternative version: Pumpkin-Banana Pie

Line the bottom of the pie or tart shell with sliced bananas. Cut them on the bias and don't make them too thin -- a scant 1/4 inch is good -- and pour the custard over the fruit; bake as directed.

Leftover filling can be used to make mini tarts/pies; bake the minis at 400 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rewind TWD: Creamy Dark Chocolate Sorbet

Last week, for Tuesdays with Dorie, we were treated to a Rewind, where we could either re-bake something we liked, or make something we missed the first time round. (I didn't know we were supposed to be making something for Thanksgiving.)

With my summer schedule, I missed the week of Cream Dark Chocolate Sorbet, hosted by Stephanie of A Whisk and A Spoon. Even though it's November, I wanted to give it a try.

If you want something intensely chocolate, this is the dessert for you. Be warned: it has a tendency to melt quickly, even in November.

But don't let that stop you.

Just consume quickly.

Head over to Stephanie's blog for the recipe and for reading enjoyment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

TWD: Alsatian Apple Tart

First up for TWD this week is Dorie's Alsatian Apple Tart. I adore apples in any form, especially in pies and tarts, and because it's just me now, I can have cooked apples anytime I wish. This particular tart only took two apples -- one large Braeburn and one small Gala.

The creamy custard that covers the apples is easy to mix up, making this dessert a good choice for a get-together.

I did share a portion of it with my neighbor so I wouldn't be tempted to eat it all.

This is also a very photogenic dessert, and definitely a dessert winner.

Jessica, of cookbookhabit, chose this apple tart. She'll have the recipe available on her blog. Take a few minutes to stop by the Tuesdays with Dorie site to see what the other bakers thought.

Not being in a chocolate mood lately, I took a pass on the second recipe of the week, Bittersweet Brownies. Perhaps I'll be able to bake them during the rewind week.

Monday, November 14, 2011

End of an Era

I knew this day would come -- my wonderful vanilla has been completely consumed, all 33.8 ounces of it.

I bought this in Ensenada, Mexico, while on a cruise in March 2002. It was my favorite vanilla and I used it in everything I baked. Who'd have thought it would have lasted this long?

This past January, I was, once again, on a cruise to Mexico, and my primary task was to find a replacement, knowing that the end was in sight. Sadly, I was unable to find anything in the same quantity. I did return with two small bottles of vanilla, but they won't last long at all at the rate I bake.

This vanilla was the best buy ever, in both taste and cost, so I guess the search will begin again.

National Bundt Day

This year I just couldn't resist participating in National Bundt Day, which is tomorrow (November 15). For all bundts wild and wonderful, check out Mary's blog, The Food Librarian.

Ha ha. Check out. That's a librarian joke. (From one librarian to another)

All joking aside, I haven't been in a chocolate mood lately, so I searched for a lemon-flavored bundt. I ended up using Ina Garten's lemon yogurt cake. It has triple-whammy lemony goodness with lemon zest and lemon oil in the cake, lemon syrup drizzled over the hot cake, and a creamy, lemon glaze to finish it off.

In the process, I used up all my lemons. Not to worry, though, because I think the lemons on my tree are just about ready to harvest.

Celebrate National Bundt Day by heading over to Mary's blog to see a terrific selection of delicious cakes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

TWD: Not-so-mini Madeleines

I had basically decided that I would not make the second TWD recipe this week because I don't own a mini-madeleine pan. I just have large, individual molds.

But then, some of the bakers said they made them anyway in a bigger size, so, I changed my mind.

Half a recipe produced 7 giant madeleines, although I think 8 or 9 would be more realistic.

I baked the cookies right after I baked the butternut squash pie. I'd made the batter the night before, so it seemed natural. The house was a bit chilly so I thought the heat from the oven would make the kitchen a cozy place for me and the dog.

The cookies started out with the traditional 'bump' on top, which promptly collapsed within seconds. On the bright side, they unmolded perfectly.

They sure were tasty cookies. Bites of light, lemony sponge cake. I spent Sunday nibbling away. After all, there were only seven of them, and everyone knows that madeleines don't hold up well, right?

I think I may just have to make these again soon.

The madeleine hostess this week is Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook. She'll have the recipe posted on her blog.

So, settle in with your madeleines and nice cup of tea and see what the other TWD bakers did.

TWD: Fall Butternut Squash Pie

It's another double-dip week for the Tuesdays with Dorie group.

First up is a fruity pie, loaded with butternut squash, pears, dried cranberries, and walnuts and spiced up with cinnamon and nutmeg. What a great flavor combination!

Even though I have a butternut squash on my counter, I wimped out and bought some pre-cut squash from Trader Joe's. They carry two sizes: 12 ounces and 2 pounds. I chose the smaller package, and it was more than enough for this recipe.

And, although I thought I had bought two Anjou pears, one turned out to be a Bartlett in Anjou clothing. Guess it must have jumped its bin.

I prepared the whole pie the night before, wrapped it well, and placed it in the fridge. First thing Sunday morning, I baked it. That extra hour of sleep made such a difference!

Now, as you look at the slice, it appears very brown. Trust me, it really doesn't look like this. It's more red and cheery. My Photoshop definitely has issues with reds and oranges.

If you want a delicious change from the usual fall holiday pies, why don't you give this one a try?

The hostess for this pie is Valerie of Une Gamine dans la Cuisine and she'll have the recipe posted on her blog. Then head over to the TWD site to see how the other bakers fared.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

TWD: Far Breton

This is truly the last piece standing.

Today was my turn to host my quilt group and I also signed up to make dessert. Would you believe that I agonized over a week about what to make? So many possibilities, so few quilt meetings.

While I was planning to make this Far Breton anyway, I kept putting off. Finally, yesterday, I said what the heck and decided to bake it this morning for my friends.

It went together very easily and was a breeze to bake. I left it in a bit longer than instructed so it would have a pretty, golden top. I learned that part when I was researching far bretons.

The dessert came out of the pan with no difficulties.

At the end of our meeting, there was only one piece remaining, a good testament to its deliciousness. I did choose to soak the fruit in Earl Grey tea, since I have no Armagnac (that stuff is expensive!). However, the zing from the liqueur would be fun, so I'm putting Armagnac on my official Christmas list this year.

This is definitely a 'sleeper' dessert, one I would make again.

Two other notes, I did cut up the prunes so they were the same size as the raisins. I think it made the dessert easier to eat. Next time I might play with fruit combinations as well.

And, I made the batter in my blender. Seeing no need to dirty yet another container, I let it remain in the blender over night, then gave it a gentle spin right before using.

The hostess for the Far is Nicole of Cookies on Friday. She has the recipe posted on her blog.

Stop by the Tuesdays with Dorie site for more comments. .

TWD: Honey Nut Scones

The Tuesdays with Dories baking group is nearing the end of its run. We are that close to finishing the cookbook, sad to say.

This week we are featuring two recipes. First up are the honey nut scones. Scones are always a favorite here, but because there is just me now, I made the whole batch, freezing half and baking half.

Needless to say, the baked scones disappeared too quickly.

Especially when topped with butter

and homemade blood orange marmalade.

I'm really glad I still have some scones in the freezer so I can look forward to a special treat one morning.

The hostess for the scones is Jeannette of The Whimsical Cupcake. The recipe should be available on her blog. They are definitely worth baking.

And, as usual, head over to the TWD site for more comments.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

BBB: Fougasse

I try to keep some basic dough on hand in case I want to bake up a quick pizza for dinner. When the Bread Baking Babes announced their October challenge, I realized that my 'pizza' dough would work perfectly.

Since I had a huge jar of Kalamata olives sitting in the fridge, I decided to use them as a filling for the fougasse.

I was really pleased that the slits didn't close up. That's success in my book!

Similar to focaccia, this is an easy and versatile bread.

The hostess this month was Elizabeth of blog from OUR Kitchen. Check out her blog to see what the other Babes baked. All of their breads sound so delicious! .

Olive Oil Dough
(adapted from ABin5)

11 ounces warm water
3/4 tablespoon active dry or instant yeast
3/4 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Combine the first five ingredients.

Mix in the flour.

Cover lightly and let rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses, about 2 hours.

At this point the dough can be used or refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove half of the dough, dust with flour, and shape into a ball. Flatten the dough until it's about 1/2" thick. Spread with 1/2 cup of chopped Kalamata olives, then roll, in jelly-roll fashion. Shape the roll into a ball, then, once again, flatten the dough until it is about 1/2" thick. Liberally flour the dough. Cut slits into the dough, adding flour as necessary to keep the slits open. Place on prepared baking sheet (parchment or greased), brush with olive oil, and let rest for 20 minutes.

Place in heated oven and bake until golden, about 25 to 35 minutes. (You can add a pan of hot water underneath to create a steam-like environment.)

Serve warm.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

TWD: Ginger Jazzed Brownies

This week at Tuesdays with Dorie we have yet another brownie version. This time the brownies are infused with ginger, both fresh and powdered.

While mild at first, as the brownies sit, the ginger permeates the cake and becomes more pronounced. I did have to bake these about 8 minutes longer than the recipe indicated, but they came out moist and cakey.

If you like ginger, you will like these brownies.

This week's hostess is Hindy (aka Clivia) of Bubie's Little Baker. You'll be able to find the recipe on her blog.

Meanwhile, check out the TWD site for the other bakers' opinions.