Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Of Granola and Grey Hair

Recipe: Cacao Nib Granola

Granola is a loaded word. Even today, it’s not just about the cereal – it’s about a lifestyle. Especially if you make your own – something I’ve been doing for years.  For a long time I thought it wasn’t really worth blogging about, till I gave some to a friend and she started raving about it.

Eventually every food blogger posts a recipe for granola, anyway, right? Just as it was in the ’60s it’s certainly one of the gateway foods for a do-it-yourself lifestyle.  Ironically, the word granola was once a trademark; a cereal created by Kellogg’s, in the 1880’s, consisting of baked and ground  oats, wheat and cornmeal.

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Mango Lemon Cake

It’s Tuesday – and that means a new challenge from the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group. I almost skipped this one.  The last two weeks have gotten away from me – mostly in a good way: dog classes, a photography workshop, social events, and even some gainful employment.

But really, my reluctance was mostly about the 1 ¾ cups of cake flour called for in this week’s recipe for Lemon Loaf cake. As I move more and more towards whole grains (if I can make bread without white flour, surely I can make anything without it!) I’m more and more reluctant to let more processed flours creep back into my diet.  But cakes without white flour are a big challenge. And I signed up for Tuesday’s with Dorie to become a better baker, so I don’t think it’s a great idea to pick and choose the challenges. If I’m in, I’m all in.

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Easter Pizza

I’m always excited when I come across a dish I’ve never heard of – like the Pizza Rustica I made for today’s Tuesdays with Dorie challenge.  This dish is a savory pie – closer to a quiche than to what most of us think of as pizza.  Rustic Pizza is a traditional Easter dish in parts of Italy and well known to many Italian Americans as cold cut pie.  In Naples, they call it Pizza Chiena, or full pie.

Whatever you call it, the fillings often contain ricotta and pork, and the crust is always made with sugar.

This posed a couple problems for me. First the pork – I went a whole year of Charcutepalooza only eating pork a few times and I didn’t want to make an Easter pastry K.M. wouldn’t eat. But luckily, Charcutepalooza solved that problem – I already had home-cured duck prosciutto and duck salami on hand.

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Irish Soda Bread And A Food Legend

I’ve made a lot of bread in the last month. I am, again, working on my sourdough bread baking skills. Every few years I seem to give it another try. Right now, I’ve got a great starter going, and the crumb isn’t bad. But I’m still challenged by many of the frustrations that William Alexander describes in 52 Loaves  – not yet able to produce those wonderful, irregular holes that make good bread something great.

I’m working with three different flours, weighing the ingredients (most of the time), and struggling to master Baker’s Math.

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I’d Love To Make Rugelach Or Schnecken – For You

All the delights of cream cheese were waiting for me when I hit the East coast at the age of 17: cheesecake, bagels with cream cheese and lox, and of course, rugelach –the subject of this week’s Tuesday’s With Dorie challenge (I know, I’m running a day late.) My freshman 15 was made of cream cheese.

I think of rugelach as a pastry, rather than a cookie – a rich, not-so-sweet- cream cheese pastry that almost melts in your mouth wrapped around a sweet jam filling. When I worked at Rosie’s we sold them by the pound – and I ate them by the pound too.

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Baking with Dorie and Julia

Challenges you define for yourself are luxuries. Training for a marathon, reading the Brothers Karamazov, writing a novel in thirty days or learning to bake a loaf of bread – it all falls under the category of luxury.

My new challenge is unquestionably an indulgence. I’ve joined the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group in their new incarnation – working their way through Dorie Greenspan’s 1996 book, Baking with Julia, the companion to Julia Child’s last PBS cooking series.

It’s going to mean a lot butter, flour, sugar, yeast and learning. And that I might finally make a decent loaf of bread.

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Valentine’s Day for many more than two: Red Velvet Cheesecake Layer Cake

Recipe: Red Velvet Cheesecake Layer Cake

Many things in life are a hassle: doctor’s appointments, any kind of encounter with government or corporate bureaucracy, opening plastic packaging. Making a cake shouldn’t fall into that category.

I don’t need it to be fast – or easy. Just not frustrating or aggravating. Many culinary tasks have a learning curve – boning a duck, stuffing a sausage, even chopping an onion. You won’t (or at least I didn’t) get it right the first time – but by the forth, you’re relaxed and confident. No more tears.

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It’s Legit: Satsuma Apple Marmalade

Recipes: Satsuma Apple Marmalade and Dark Chocolate Almond Marmalade Tart

Marmalading: it really is a word. The Oxford English Dictionary says so, citing C.S. Lewis’s diary. Granted, the entry is marked as a rare usage, but still. That’s what I’ve been doing this week – making marmalade.

At first, I was afraid I wasn’t actually making marmalade at all, since my recipe doesn’t involve first boiling orange seeds to release the pectin contained within. Rather, (Satsumas are nearly seedless oranges), I chopped up an apple, tossed it in the pot, and hoped for the best.

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It all started with an Ice Cream Manifesto

Recipe: Tart Lemon Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream

After two full years of making my own ice cream, it’s become second nature; easy even. If I have eggs, sweetened condensed milk, half-half, and whole milk in the house, I can come up with almost any flavor, and end up with a creamy, yet firm texture.

I’m ridiculously proud of this skill. It’s a case where practice has made, if not perfect, at least a huge difference. I can look at the warm custard and tell if it is going to freeze properly – not too hard, not too chalky, but with just the right mouth feel.

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Christmas Cupcakes and Railway Trivia

Recipies: Gingerbread Cupcakes and Northern Pacific Dark Fruitcake Cupcakes

I’m a little late with this post in every way – not only am I posting a fruitcake recipe just a few days before Christmas, but it turns out that National Cupcake day was last week. Who knew?

I know a lot of people out there are over cupcakes – but I’m still into it, even though I hardly ever make my own – there’s not a lot of incentive, frankly, with Cupcake Royale less than a mile away. But cupcakes make a great holiday gift, in ones and twos, or by the tray. No utensils or formality required. And if you don’t frost them, you can even pass them off as breakfast.

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