Daring Bakers: Beautiful Breads

February was DEFINITELY a winner! I love baking anyway (umm, duh, I’m a DB member) but it’s especially fun when things are as beautiful as they are delicious… AND easy to make. These were really no more trouble than regular cinnamon rolls, but had significantly more visual impact. Highly recommend them for your next brunch!

DSC03487DSC03498I actually had so much fun with this cinnamon breakfast beauty I decided to try a savory option and made a garlic bread (with the garlic butter baked in) in a slightly different pattern. Also delicious and beautiful!
Blog-checking lines: Beauty surrounded the Daring Bakers this month as our host, Sawsan, of chef in disguise, challenged us to make beautiful, filled breads. Who knew breads could look as great as they taste?

Posted in Food | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Daring Bakers: Schichtorte

I wasn’t familiar with this month’s challenge recipe, and the method was certainly new: bake/broil a cake miniscule layer by miniscule layer, one on top of the next. Weird, yeah? As soon as a I read the recipe, I wondered how the result avoided complete dryout. In fact, it doesn’t and the resulting cake is dry and solid. According to my parents, it’s very popular in Indonesia where a slice might be brought along as a little gift when visiting a friend. I guess a little dryness is appreciated in a tropical climate?! Anyway, it’s the sort of thing that was worth trying once but I don’t expect to ever do again. I prefer my deserts soft and melty ;)
For a recipe, I used elements of two, although I 2/7th the recipe (yes, I’m crazy): http://blog.webicurean.com/easyrecipe-print/1572-0/ and http://www.larecetadelafelicidad.com/en/2012/05/baumkuchen.html#

BattersSchichtorte

Blog-checking lines: The January 2014 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Francijn of “Koken in de Brouwerij”. She challenged us all to bake layered cakes in the tradition of Baumkuchen (tree cake) and Schichttorte (layered cake).

Posted in Food | Tagged | Leave a comment

Daring Bakers: Pot Pie

For my pot pie, I went pretty simple from necessity–I didn’t have ingredients for anything fancy! In the end, it was a simple veggie pot pie (potatoes, onions, greens with a thick chicken broth sauce) in a double crust. Yummy, and I’d been wanting pie crust!
Blog-checking lines: Hannah of Rise and Shine was our October 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to bake our own double crusted savory pot pies. Using any from-scratch crust and filling we choose, we were allowed to get completely creative with our recipe, showing off the savory flavors and fillings from our own home or region.

Posted in Food | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Daring Bakers: Mawa “cake”

I didn’t want to make a full cake, so I made a 1/3 recipe and portioned it out as cupcakes/muffins with a sprinkle of ground hazelnuts on top. Very yummy!
DSC02325Blog-checking lines: Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

DSC02327

Posted in Food | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Daring Bakers: Replay

DSC02284This week’s challenge was to choose an old challenge and redo it–such a fun idea! Unfortunately, time got away from me and I didn’t make any of the dozen fun ideas I had (yet–maybe tomorrow). So the only repeat challenge I made this month was simple: blueberry muffins from the quick bread challenge. It wasn’t even on purpose for the challenge, but my sister and I went blueberry picking and of course it led to lovely muffins!

Blog Checking Lines: In a “celebration” of past Daring Baker and Daring Cook challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we’d like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

| Tagged , | Leave a comment

Daring Bakers: Pie

Blueberry Peach Pie

Blog-checking lines: Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie!

| Leave a comment

Daring Bakers: Prinsesstarta

deliciousThis months challenge was…challenging. The recipe itself was simple, but when you need to beat the cake batter thoroughly and whip cream, it’s a bit of a problem to no longer have any variety of mixer. As it was, my arm got a workout with the whisk!
The dessert itself was very pleasant (I opted for blackberry jam) and you can’t go wrong with cake, custard, jam, whipped cream and marzipan. Still, I’m not sure it was quite worth the work!

Blog-checking lines: Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta!

| Tagged , | 1 Comment

Daring Bakers: Savarin

Savarin–to be quite honest, I had no idea what that even was until the DB challenge came out. It’s pretty simple: yeast cake soaked in syrup and garnished as desired. Weird. But, as it turns out, tasty! I can’t say I’m totally won over to this as a favorite dessert, but it makes a fun change.

SavarinI followed the cake/bread (it’s not sweet on its own) recipe as required but decided that for the syrup and filling I’d go with simple and, from what I can tell, classic. Simple syrup with kirsche to soak, and sliced fresh strawberries to fill. It turned out quite nice and I think will be even better tomorrow when the flavors have had time to meld.
Syrup:
Boil 2 cups of sugar with 1 cup of water and a few slices of lemon zest. Remove zest, pour half of the syrup over the savarin, pour 1/2 cup of kirsche over, then pour on the remaining syrup.
Let soak in, then turn onto a plate and garnish with strawberries.

Blog-checking lines: Natalia of Gatti Fili e Farina challenges us to make a traditional Savarin, complete with soaking syrup and cream filling! We were to follow the Savarin recipe but were allowed to be creative with the soaking syrup and filling, allowing us to come up with some very delicious cakes!

Posted in Food | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Daring Bakers: Hidden in Plain Sight

My initial feelings about this challenge can best be described as nonplussed. The challenge goal was to hide veggies in baked products. I’ve never been a fan–to me such behavior implies that it’s ok to be ashamed of openly serving vegetables and that picky eating is acceptable. No way. Eat your vegetables and be proud of it! Of course, I say this as a non-mother who doesn’t have to actually worry about getting small ones to consume a balanced diet.
My second raised eyebrow came on the brownie recipe option offered by the challenge host, the hidden “vegetable” being kidney beans. I don’t consider beans a vegetable, and I’d actually just had a debate earlier in the day with some fellow nutrition students as to whether it was appropriate to categorize pulses as vegetables in an epidemiological study. (The consensus, in case you care, was categorization would depend on the proposed mechanism of action hypothesized for vegetables; it would be a different story if you were investigating, say, micronutrients or fiber. Yeah, we’re nerds.) Anyway, I decided if I was going to stick beans in my brownies there had better be a good reason, and since the recipe already had a low flour content I decided to transform it to gluten-free. (I have several friends who won’t touch gluten.) I also halved it in case I didn’t like the result. So:

DSC02118Bean “Brownies”
8 oz (1/2 can) kidney beans
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice flour (if you don’t care about gluten, you can use regular flour)
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350. Puree the beans, then mix all ingredients and pour into a 8×8 pan. Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Verdict: In my opinion, these still taste distinctly like kidney beans. Not unpleasant, just distinct.

As a result of low enthusiasm for the first round, I decided to make another batch playing with the ingredients a bit more and spicing it up to get rid of the kidney bean taste. This also got rid of the other half a can of beans.

DSC02117Chocolate Bean “Gingerbread”
8 oz (1/2 can) kidney beans
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup rice flour (if you don’t care about gluten, you can use regular flour)
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
dash cinnamon
pinch of cayenne
chocolate chips and walnut pieces to sprinkle

Heat oven to 350. Puree the beans, then mix all ingredients except chips and walnuts and pour into a 8×8 pan. Sprinkle chips/walnuts on top. Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Verdict: The molasses, cinnamon and cayenne covered up the beans a lot better than the first recipe had, but gave the dessert a distinctly gingerbready flavor. I think next time around I’ll try throwing in some actual ginger and see how that goes. The best addition was the chips, which kept the focus right where it belonged: chocolate chocolate chocolate!

Blog-checking lines: Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results!

Posted in Food | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Daring Bakers: Laying low (ok, I mean flatbread)

This month’s challenge was crackers and flatbreads, and I had a great sesame cracker recipe to make. Until I realized I couldn’t find my sesame seeds–so flatbread it is! Hey, flatbreads go well with soup too, and it’s certainly soup weather. Or at least every other day it’s soup weather; around here it’s been alternating between sleeting and 60s with alarming regularity.
Normally, I point to the challenge poster’s blog for recipes, but I couldn’t find it on Sarah’s blog this month so here it is:

Herbed Flatbread
Servings: About 16 pieces

Ingredients:
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (about 110°F/43°C)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (2 ¾ gm) active dry yeast
3 cups (720 ml) (420 gm) (15 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, plus more for rolling
3 tablespoons (45 ml) of extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
sea salt, for sprinkling
1/4 cup (¼ oz) fresh rosemary or thyme

Directions:
Place the water in a medium sized bowl and sprinkle the yeast. Let stand until the yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, oil, 2 teaspoons coarse salt, and the sugar. Stir until a dough forms.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2 minutes. Use as much flour as necessary so it is not a sticky dough. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and roll the dough around in the bowl so that it is also lightly oiled on the surface. Cover with saran wrap. Let stand in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Divide dough into 16 equal portions and cover with plastic wrap. Roll out each piece to approximately 4″x10″ (10cm x 26cm) on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with the egg mixture and sprinkle with sea salt and herbs.
Bake, rotating sheet halfway through baking, until crisp and golden, 18-22 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Actually, I thirded (is that a word?) this recipe since I didn’t quite believe the promises about long-term storage possibilities.

Blog checking lines: Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie was our February 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to use our creativity in making our own Crisp Flatbreads and Crackers!

Posted in Food | Tagged , | 1 Comment