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.