Friday, April 22, 2016

Simply Delicious Butter Pecan Ice Cream

I mentioned before how pleased we were with the Cuisinart Simple Chocolate ice cream recipe.  My kids absolutely love it and it is certainly the very best of all the many chocolate recipes I have tried.  But I found one I like even better:  Butter Pecan.  It is so simple, just their vanilla recipe with buttered pecans added in, but I found it absolutely divine.  You can find the recipes online through Cuisinart and the manuals, and while I mention that, I must say that I am extremely happy with the new ice cream maker we got from them.  I upgraded from our old one because Williams Sonoma had a special for the machine and two freezing bowls.  I used to have a compressor style gelato freezer, but the compressor died sooner than I liked and I was not going to invest that much money again for such small capacity and lack of durability.  So having two freezer bowls meant I could still make a least two flavors in a short period of time.  You can make a full batch of simple vanilla ice cream and a half batch of the buttered pecans and stir them into half of the finished vanilla after scooping it out, and you get two flavors for one churning!  The recipes only make 5 cups worth, so there will be a generous pint of each that way.

Buttered Pecan Ice Cream
makes about 5 cups
from Cuisinart

4 tbsp unsalted butter (or use a bit less salt if using salted butter)
1 cup pecans, broken into large chunks
1 tsp sea salt

1 cup whole milk
¾ cup cane sugar
pinch sea salt
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Melt butter in a skillet.  Add pecans and 1 tsp sea salt.  Cook and stir for about 6-8 minutes over medium low heat until pecans are toasted, golden and fragrant.  Remove from the heat and remove the pecans from the butter.  Cover and chill them in the refrigerator.  You may save the flavor infused butter for use in another recipe, like pecan waffles or pancakes.

(What follows with the remaining ingredients is also the recipe for Simple Vanilla ice cream.)

In a medium bowl or in a blender, mix with hand mixer/blender on low speed to combine the milk, sugar, and salt until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Stir in the cream and vanilla.  Cover and chill for 1-2 hours until cold, or overnight.

Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.  Just before mixing is finished, add in the reserved pecans and mix in completely.  The ice cream will be soft and creamy.  To cure and have firm ice cream, store the ice cream in an airtight container and freeze for about 2 hours or overnight.  Remove from freezer 10-15 minutes before serving.

I have found that these simple ice creams stay fairly scoopable, even straight from the freezer.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

BBB Bakes Up Cinnamon-Free Swirl Rolls

No cinnamon rolls allowed for this challenge!  Cinnamon buns are a dime a dozen, so our challenge was to come up with something else to roll up in our pans.  It could be sweet or savory, whatever we could imagine.  No big surprise I went with sweet.  

Our secondary challenge was to figure out why (or even if) this recipe needs the three different forms of leavening for which it calls.  This particular recipe has appeared in numerous places around the internet, most notably in the Pioneer Woman's kitchen.  It calls for yeast, baking powder, and baking soda.  My take on the three leavens is this:  the yeast is your standard roll dough raiser and flavor enhancer, the baking powder is there for extra insurance and lift in the oven to make the rolls extra fluffy, (but only if you use double acting), and the baking soda is there to tenderize the crumb and perhaps aid browning.  There is no added acid in the dough so the soda does not really do much if anything to raise the rolls.  Too much and it could make the dough taste soapy.  There is enough sugar in this dough to ensure nice browning, so I would say it is not really necessary.  According to my test panel, they preferred the batches that were less fluffy anyway, (bready was the term used), so the extra leavens are probably not necessary.  It's personal preference though, because I really liked the fluffy batch!

So the flavors I ended up going with were, in no particular order: Maple Bacon Gingersnap Stuffed Rolls, Raspberry Cream Cheese Ricotta Twists, and Caramel Apple Fritter Rolls.  Believe me, I had many more flavor ideas, including savory, but the half batch of roll dough that we made divided nicely into three little pans of seven rolls.  So, three it was.  I really want to make a spanokopita filled roll, and one that uses the garlic filling, (mashed, to spread easily on the dough), of Dan's Garlic Bread!  So I can't wait to see the other Babes' takes on the rolls because I know there are quite a few savory options that will be presented.  This is a fun challenge, so if you want to bake along with us this month, take a picture or post on your blog.  Then send the results to our host kitchen at Bake My Day! before the 29th of this month to receive an honorary Buddy Badge and be included in the wacky roll round up!

Swirled Rolls
18-21 rolls

480 ml (2 cups) milk
120 ml (½ cup) vegetable oil or melted butter (I only used ¼ cup melted butter)
95 gr (½ cup) sugar (depending on the rolls you make, I only used ¼ cup even for my sweet rolls)
2 to 2½ tsp yeast (2 is more than sufficient for the instant yeast I use)
520 gr (4 cups) all purpose flour
65 gr (½ cup) all purpose flour (extra, reserve to add later)
½ tsp heaping baking powder
½ tsp scant baking soda (I would use ¼ tsp or omit)
½ tbsp (9 gr) salt
melted butter

In a saucepan, heat milk, butter/oil, and sugar until the butter is melted.  Cool to lukewarm.  If you want to use active dry yeast that needs to activate in liquid, wait until cooled before adding yeast.  Otherwise add instant yeast to flour.

Combine milk mixture and the 4 cups of flour and yeast in a large bowl.  Stir until combined, cover and let rise on the counter for an hour.

Add baking powder, soda, salt, and the remaining ½ cup flour.  Stir very well to combine.  Chill for at least an hour or up to three days.

Divide dough into two or three equal parts if you want more than one flavor.  Or just to make it easier to work with.  Roll the dough out fairly thin, into a rough rectangle on an oiled counter or floured pastry cloth.  For standard style rolls, divide into two parts and roll to preferred thickness.

Drizzle and spread with melted butter and/or whatever filling you choose to use.

Roll up lengthwise and pinch seam closed.  Slice evenly into desired number of rolls and set, cut side down, in baking dish.  Cover and let rise for 20-45 minutes before baking.

While the rolls are resting, preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC.  Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and done in the middle.  Cool on a wire rack.  Rolls are best eaten slightly warmed.

Here are the fillings I came up with:

Caramel Apple Fritter
3 apples (use a firm, sweet-tart apple that will not turn to mush when cooked)
½ tbsp lemon juice
½ c brown sugar (muscovado)
½ tsp vanilla
1 tbsp butter
½ tsp cinnamon (it wasn't the main filling so I allowed it)
½ tbsp starch (I used tapioca starch, but corn is okay if you don't have an allergy)

Cook mixture until apples are somewhat tender and filling is thickened.  Pour into a bowl and set aside, covered, to cool.  (Makes enough for one pan of seven to nine rolls, double for more rolls.)

Spread filling over dough (melted butter from original recipe optional) and roll up and slice as directed before baking.

     Caramel Glaze
     ½ cup butter
     1 cup brown sugar (muscovado)
     ½ tsp salt
     2/3 cup half and half
     ½ tsp vanilla
     2 cups powdered sugar

Bring butter, brown sugar, salt, and half and half to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and cook for a minute until the mixture is completely homogeneous.  Remove from heat.
Stir in vanilla and powdered sugar.  Cool slightly and drizzle over warm rolls.
(This glaze makes more than you will need for a pan of seven rolls, may be halved.)

Raspberry Ricotta Danish Style Twists
2-4 oz. raspberries (frozen is fine)
2 tbsp cane sugar (recommend 4 tbsp for 4 oz raspberries)
2 tbsp brown sugar (muscovado)
2 tbsp butter
¼ tsp cinnamon (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.  (Makes more than needed for seven rolls.)

Cream Cheese Ricotta
½ cup whole milk ricotta, drained
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp lemon curd (store bought is okay)

Mix together the cheeses until creamy and no lumps remain.  Stir in the honey and lemon curd.  Cover and chill.

Spread a layer of the cheese mixture over dough.  (Omit the melted butter from the original recipe)  Pipe and/or spread a thin layer of the raspberry sauce over that.  Roll up or cut into twists.

(Don't use too much raspberry sauce or it will get very messy!  This method was adapted from the lazy daisy coffee cake twist that just uses apricot preserves)

I spread my cheese first with an offset spatula, then piped on the filling from a sandwich bag with the tip cut off.  I ended up with way too much raspberry because you flip the pieces over on each other and twist them together and curl up for the daisies.  I wonder whether it might be better to cut the lines out from the glass 
first and then pipe the fillings on every other petal to avoid overfilling.  At any rate, I scraped up the extra filling that oozed out and taste tested it.  I would also recommend shaping this one on parchment so you don't have to move it.  Very messy!

     1½ cups powdered sugar
     2 tbsp butter, melted
     ½ tsp vanilla
     1-2 tbsp milk

Stir ingredients together until smooth and creamy and of drizzling consistency.  Drizzle over cooled rolls.

Maple Bacon Gingersnap
6 slices of bacon, reserve 3 tbsp of the rendered bacon fat (I loved it, but some of my testers did not prefer the hickory smoke flavor of my bacon)
1¼ cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter (add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter)
6 tbsp brown sugar (muscovado)
6 tbsp cane sugar
2 oz. cream cheese
2 tbsp + 2 tsp molasses

Melted butter
Brown sugar

Cook the bacon and reserve 3 tbsp of the rendered fat.  Finely chop four slices of the bacon, and chop the remaining two in a larger dice for garnish.  Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, bacon fat, and sugars until creamy.  Mix in the cream cheese fully.  Then add the molasses and mix.  Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and gradually add to the creamed sugar mixture.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until fairly firm.

Brush the dough with the melted butter from the original recipe.  A generous sprinkle of brown sugar over the butter is recommended if you don't want the rolls to be too salty savory.  Pinch off pieces of chilled gingersnap dough and spread evenly over the roll dough.  Sprinkle the finely chopped pieces of bacon over the dough.  Press in lightly.  Roll up the dough and slice as directed.  Reserve the large bacon pieces for garnish after baking.

     Maple Glaze
     2 tbsp butter
     ¼ cup maple syrup
     1¼ cups powdered sugar
     Reserved bacon pieces for garnish

Melt butter and maple syrup together over medium heat until combined.  Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar.  Drizzle over warm rolls and quickly sprinkle with reserved bacon pieces while still wet.

My notes and tester reactions:

I found that the first batch of buns, rolled straight out of the fridge, had the best appeal from a dough perspective for my tasters.  Those were the apple fritters and the overall winner for taste and texture.  Next was the raspberry, which really was more like a Danish with the amount of filling and the way I shaped them.  The filling was nice and tart-sweet, but a tad more sweetness would not go amiss for this application.  It was more like pie filling tart, which I like.  If using the larger amount of raspberries, I would recommend an extra 2 tbsp sugar.
My dough for the maple bacon sat out the longest before rolling out and they seemed fluffier to me.  I really liked them, but then I absolutely adore maple bacon bars from the donut shop.  It's a flavor combo you either love or hate I think.  My family thought they were good to okay, but they weren't the favorite of my other testers.  I think more sweetness in the filling might have been better for the masses.

Next time I would probably only divide the dough in half for two flavors, to give a thicker, more standard cinnamon roll type texture.

Verdict on the three leavening items:  Yeast is necessary, baking powder is okay if you want an extra lift, baking soda is unnecessary.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Creamy Strawberry Sherbet

We've just had some of our first multi day runs of warm weather for spring and it has been wonderful!  The girls requested some ice creams and we had already found that Cuisinart's chocolate ice cream recipe is fabulous!  The best chocolate recipe I have tried.  But I also had a request from eldest for sherbet since almost all store bought has corn syrup in it and we have to avoid that.  First, we tried a lemon sherbet because that is easy with ingredients on hand.  It was nice, maybe not as tart and sweet as I would have liked, but still good.  Strawberry seemed to me to be the next easy choice.  I looked at a bunch of old recipes in a book I grew up with, and then cobbled together my own.  I love how it turned out!  Good strong flavor, nice and creamy and assertively tart-sweet, as sherbet should be.  Youngest loved it, hubby declared it perfect.  Now usually youngest isn't too big on lots of sweets, but this morning, I found that she had gotten into one of the pints in the freezer and eaten half of it!  While I wasn't happy about that, I'm glad it is such a hit.  It's a bit richer than standard sherbet, but not nearly as rich as ice cream.  A good compromise and great flavor.  

You can use fresh or frozen strawberries.  The nice thing about using frozen is that they should be perfectly ripe and sweet, being picked and frozen when in season.  There is also the added benefit of the mix being instantly ready to go in the ice cream freezer without refrigerating first to chill!  If your strawberries are particularly sweet, you might be able to cut back on the sugar by 2-4 tablespoons, but remember that your mix will not taste as sweet once fully frozen and cured.  Cold reduces perception of sweetness.

Creamy Strawberry Sherbet
Makes about 2 quarts

1 cup milk
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup (an 8oz. carton) sour cream
1 qt. fresh strawberries, washed and hulled (frozen works as well)

Combine sugar and gelatin in a bowl.  In a medium saucepan, heat and stir milk and sugar/gelatin mixture over medium/low heat until sugar is dissolved.  Stir in lemon juice.  Pour mixture into a blender.  Add strawberries, half at a time if frozen, and blend until smooth.  Blend in sour cream.  Chill in refrigerator until cold if using fresh strawberries.  Pour into ice cream canister and freeze according to manufacturer's directions until the mixture has a soft and creamy texture.  When sherbet is done freezing, remove to an airtight container and freeze for about 2 hours or until firm.  Remove 5-10 minutes before scooping.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

BBB Auberge Walnut Bread

I'll admit this beautiful loaf caused me some frustration.  Not because it was difficult to make, but because it had a streak of lemming in it.  But sometimes you just have to suck it up and realize that everyone has had a baked good take a swan dive at least once.  Oh and if you haven't, don't be smug, it will happen eventually!  Some very unladylike words made it out of my mouth when that thing did a back flip off the peel.  I guess I was loud enough in my proclamations of calamity that hubby came running down the stairs to find out if I was okay.  Yes.  No.  Damn it, now I'm going to have to make another one.  There is no way I am putting a broken loaf on my post.  Well, at least not for the main picture.  I have to include it at least because misery loves company right?  Maybe at the very end of the post.

The next one came out beautifully, though I did take a few liberties with the second batch.  I decided to add some chopped deglet noor dates to the filling, and I used muscovado sugar instead of honey because I am almost out of honey.  I also stuck with the water and powdered milk instead of scalding milk as I did for the first batch.  I did use the powdered whole goat milk at least.  Feel free to use scalded milk in place of the water and milk powder in this bread.  Oh, and I think I added a big spoonful of sourdough starter just for the heck of it, while reducing the water.

It really turned out pretty!  The whole milk made a nice subtle glaze.  This recipe makes 2 large loaves and I reduced the recipe by half to make only one.  I loved hearing about the memories in the perfume infused cookbook from which it came.  Our host kitchen this month, Elizabeth of blog from OUR kitchen, remembered that her father in law used to have an orchard of walnuts up until recently.  If you have a love of walnuts, please bake along with us!  I think you could even get away with pecans, that would be fabulous.  If you do bake it, take a picture, post about it and email your results to our host kitchen before the 29th and you will be included in the Buddy round up.

Walnut Wholewheat Bread
based on recipes for Le Pain de Noix in Auberge of the Flowering Hearth by Roy Andries de Groot and Pane di Noci in The Italian Baker by Carol Field
makes 2 loaves

2 cups walnut halves, toasted
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted, grated or finely chopped
1¾ cups very hot water (or use same amount scalded milk and omit milk powder)
½ cup skim milk powder (I used whole goat's milk powder, second batch)
2½ Tbsp butter
2 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp powdered ginger
4 Tbsp dark honey
~5 c flour (the original recipe called for 3c white bread and 3 c whole wheat but that seemed like too much. We switched to the equivalent of 2c white and 3c whole wheat.)  (I used 33% each sprouted spelt, white spelt and all purpose flour)
¼ cup water at ~98ºF2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp milk or cream for brushing during baking

Whisk together the milk powder and hot water.  Add in the butter, honey, salt and powdered ginger and whisk until the butter has melted and the honey is incorporated.  Add flours and chopped walnuts.  Rehydrate the yeast in the ¼ cup lukewarm water.  Make sure that the milk mixture has cooled to no more than body temperature and mix in the dissolved yeast.  Stir it all together with a wooden spoon to make a rough dough.

Knead by hand or with a stand mixer until the dough is smooth, elastic and no longer sticky.  (I left mine just slightly sticky.)

Cover the bowl and allow to proof in a draft-free area until the dough has doubled.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board and divide in two. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover and allow to rest for 20 minutes. After resting, flatten each ball into a rectangular disc and evenly divide the walnut halves on top, pressing the nuts in slightly.  Roll each piece of dough to form a log. Join the ends to make a ring and place each log seam side down on the parchment paper. Cover and allow to rise in a draft-free area until the rings have almost doubled.  (First batch I followed these directions, second batch, I made a round disk and poked a wooden spoon through the middle to make a hole, then gently widened the hole.  Then I realized I couldn't exactly roll up the walnuts like a log.  So I flattened it again, keeping the hole in the middle, sprinkled on the walnuts and chopped dates this time and folded up the outside edges into the middle and sealed.  I ended up with a prettier ring, but less evenly dispersed filling.)  One suggestion is to place the loaf in a ring mold with walnuts along the bottom.  I pressed raw walnut halves firmly into the top of my ring before it rose and that worked beautifully.  They toast in the oven.

Just before putting the bread in the oven, spray the tops liberally with water. Put the bread into the oven and immediately turn the temp down to 350ºF. After 30 minutes, brush the tops of the loaves with milk or cream, then continue baking for about 10 more minutes until the loaves are nicely browned and have reached an internal temperature of 200-210ºF (the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom). Remove the bread from the oven.
Allow the bread to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into it.

This bread is dying for a spread of soft cheese and maybe a small slice of quince jam.

Oh, and do be careful when taking the bread out to glaze it because I swear it wants to try out for the Olympic diving team...

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Strawberry Lemon Trifle with Homemade White Cake


This is the second time I've made this white cake and I love it!  A very simple recipe, standard creaming method, and you get a nice tender, yet firm cake.  It reminds me of typical wedding cake base.  We used it for hubby's birthday cake and everyone loved it.  This time I needed it for a luncheon for which I was donating a trifle.  I wanted something lighter, with fresh, not cooked fruit like you would find in an English trifle.  I debated making a custard, but decided to stick with whipped cream.  Strawberries were the easiest fruit for me since they hold up well and have great color.  And since I started making my lemon curd in the blender, it is even easier than before and guaranteed no straining necessary, so I flavored part of the cream with that.  Trifles are infinitely customizable, so you could choose whatever fruit and cream combination you desired.  Lemon curd is optional but delicious!  I made the cake and curd ahead and froze the cake for a couple days.  Thawed the cake the night before and dessert assembly was easy the next morning.  Just whip, fold, cut and layer.  I ended up with enough ingredients to fill my 8-inch trifle bowl and two mini trifles, so this recipe would probably work for a punch bowl sized trifle.

Go To White Cake
makes 1 9x13" cake (or about 2 dozen cupcakes)

1¾ cups all purpose flour
¼ cup potato starch
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
¼ cup un-hydrogenated shortening
 1½ cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
5 large egg whites
¾ cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 350º.  Line a 9x13" baking dish with parchment and grease the bare ends with butter.  

Whisk together the flour, starch, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.  

In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix the butter and shortening until combined.  

Add the sugar and cream until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  

Scrape down edges, add extracts and mix again.  

Add the egg whites, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.  Scrape the sides if needed.  

On low speed, add the flour mixture alternating with the milk.  Start and end with the flour.

Scrape batter into pan and smooth top with an offset spatula.  Rap the pan on counter a few times to minimize bubbles in the batter.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until lightly golden and a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 15 minutes.  Loosen the edges with a knife and turn cake out onto wire rack.  Remove parchment and allow to cool completely.

Decorate as desired.  (Cakes are easier to frost when they have chilled or settled for a few hours or overnight.  Wrap or cover when cool, to prevent drying out.)  Cupcakes will bake in 18-20 minutes and may be frosted when cool.

To Assemble a Trifle
makes one large trifle or 1 medium and two mini
1 recipe white cake (or pound cake or angel food cake)
1 batch or jar lemon curd (7-8oz or more to taste)
2 pints heavy whipping cream
3 16oz pkg fresh strawberries  (Save a few for garnish)
1-2 cups powdered sugar (depends on how sweet the strawberries are)

Wash and hull the strawberries and allow to dry.  Set aside a few for garnish.  Take 1 cup of strawberries and mash or blend with ¼ cup sugar or as needed.  Whip one pint of the cream with ¼-½ cup powdered sugar and stir a dollop into the lemon curd in a medium bowl to lighten.  Then fold in the remaining cream and set aside.  Whip the next pint of cream and sweeten with ½-1 cup powdered sugar.  Fold in the mashed strawberries and set aside.  Cut the cake into small cubes.  The smaller the trifle bowl, the smaller the cubes.

Slice the remaining strawberries and toss with up to ½ cup sugar as needed.  Let sit for a few minutes.
Now layer the cream, cake, and berries, in repeating layers as desired, until you reach the top of the bowl.  I did lemon cream, cake, berries, strawberry cream, cake, berries and then garnished with strawberry cream in the middle and sliced, fanned berries, with the lemon cream piped around the edge.

Refrigerate until serving, up to two hours.  If longer, cover with plastic wrap or a lid, to keep the cream from gathering off flavors in the fridge.

Serve with a large serving spoon or scoop. 

Wow, looks like they liked it!  Just a scoop or two left and that was a full dessert buffet along with a full BBQ buffet!  That always makes me happy, I love feeding people. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Caramelized Onion Bread - My first post as an official Bread Baking Babe!


It's been a great month for me.  I got invited to be part of a group of bread baking gals that I have been admiring and following since January 2010.  I was over the moon when I got the email and grinning and giggling all day.  I'm a little kid when it comes to things like that, and I love that it's a small, personable group.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed baking along as a buddy!  But this coveted title of Babe... whew!  I'm a happy camper.  And you will be too when you make this bread.  

Are you an onion lover?  You will love this bread.  This is an oh-my-gosh bread.  It reminded me a bit of Dan Lepard's Garlic bread that the babes baked in 2011.  The onions take a good hour to finish, but then they are the star attraction.  I was going to do them ahead, but forgot and ended up getting them done while I was doing the stretch and folds.  Good thing I did it right before I needed them or I would have nibbled away at them until I didn't have enough!  This is a loaf that takes some time planning as the whole process takes around 36 hours.  Not too much hands on time really, but a lot of resting and fermenting time.  I kept forgetting to get the starter going and knew I should start it late on a weekend.  I ended up remembering and hopping out of bed at midnight on a Saturday night and throwing it together since it only takes a minute.  Then I was good to go.  I wish I had made the whole batch instead of the half batch that gave me just one delicious loaf.  My loss.  I'll just have to make it again!  But we loved it with our ribollita soup.  It is a brilliantly flavored, chewy, artisan loaf.  I may just have to snag a copy of the Bien Cuit cookbook if all the results are like this!  Never mind, I couldn't stand it and grabbed a copy already!

I think I did get my bread to a bien cuit, pas trop cuit stage.  That is, well baked, but not overdone.  The bread is baked at a high temperature for a shorter time, which really enhances that Maillard browning reaction of the sugars caramelizing.  It's part of what makes a nice mahogany colored crust.  I even ended up putting it back in for a few minutes which I never thought I would do at that temperature.  Actually, another three to five minutes would have gotten it to the book pictures standard, but the internal temp was good for me so I pulled it.

Summary from the author:
"When I worked for Georges Perrier at Le Bec-Fin, they put raw onion in the sourdough, a practice that is quite common in France. I didn’t like the sharp, acrid taste at all, so Georges showed me how to get serious about caramelizing onions. His method takes a long time and a lot of stirring, but it’s so much better than the common shortcut of adding sugar to onions and sautéing them. I incorporated those onions into a baguette, which Georges liked a lot. Here’s the secret: The onion should be neither the centerpiece nor the last thing you taste; instead, it should be a persistent note in a chorus of flavors. For this recipe, I thought the fresh and slightly cooling sensation of buckwheat would play well with the other ingredients. I also used butter because it works well with caramelized onions, and honey, to extend the sweet finish the onions elicit. Georges would serve this bread with smoked meat, especially bacon or pancetta. I love it with brisket or anything you’d serve with caramelized onions. If you make traditional French onion soup, it would be an ideal crouton.”
Zachary Golper, Peter Kaminsky & Thomas Schauer. “Bien Cuit.”

I ended up yarding out a grain mill I had never used and grinding my buckwheat flour from hulled buckwheat, because I couldn't find the flour I knew I had. It was fun for my youngest to do the grinding though as it is a high quality manual mill. I also used a small portion of white spelt. I think the fresh ground buckwheat and the spelt contributed to the fact that I needed quite a bit more flour to keep the dough from being totally sticky. Like at least 75 g or more. I was careful not to add too much though and I think the loaf turned out beautifully!

To bake along with us as a Bread Baking Buddy, and I highly encourage you to do so, bake the recipe and post about it by the 29th of the month.  Then send your link and a picture to let us know how it turned out for you!  To see directions on where to send your link, go to the host kitchen at MyKitchenInHalfCups.

Caramelized Onion Bread
Recipe By: Bien Cuit
Yield: 2 medium loaves

~36 hours to completion


For the starter:
125 grams (¾ c + 2½ tbsp) white rye flour
0.3 gram (generous pinch) instant yeast
125 grams (½ c + 1 tsp) water at about 60°F (15°C)

For the dough:
425 grams (3 c + 2½ tsp) white flour, plus additional as needed for working with the dough
75 grams (½ c + 1½ tsp) buckwheat flour
15 grams (2½ tsp) fine sea salt
1 gram (generous ¼ tsp) instant yeast
350 grams (1¼ c + 3½ tbsp) water at about 60°F (15°C)
50 grams (2½ tbsp) honey
25 grams (1¾ tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
50 grams (¼ c) Caramelized Onions (recipe follows)
Dusting Mixture, for the linen liner and shaped loaves  (also follows)


1. Starter
Put the flour, yeast and water in a medium bowl.  Mix with your fingers until all of the flour is wet and fully incorporated. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for 10 to 14 hours. The starter will be at its peak after about 12 hours.  (If your kitchen isn't too warm, it will be very forgiving on time.)

2. Dough
Stir together the white and buckwheat flours, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl.
Loosen the starter with about one third of the water, then transfer to an extra-large bowl along with the remaining water and the honey.  Break up and distribute the starter around the bowl with a wooden spoon.
Add the flour mixture, setting aside about one-sixth of it for later.  Continue to mix with the spoon until most of the dry ingredients have been combined with the starter mixture.  Switch to a plastic bowl scraper if you have one and continue to mix until incorporated.  At this point the dough will be sticky to the touch.
Push the dough to one side of the bowl.  Roll and tuck the dough, adding the reserved flour mixture and a small amount of additional flour to the bowl and your hands as needed.  To do this, flatten the dough slightly, then catch one edge with the scraper or your hand, and roll it up to the center and push down and back slightly.  Do this with all four edges as for a square, then flip the dough and repeat.  Continue rolling and tucking until the dough feels stronger and begins to resist any further manipulation, about 10 times depending on your flour and kitchen.  Then gently tuck the sides under toward the center.  Place the dough seam-side down, in a clean bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel.  Let rest at room temperature for 45 minutes.

3. Stretch and Folds - there will be four
For the first stretch and fold, lightly dust the work surface and your hands with flour. Use the bowl scraper to release the dough from the bowl.  Set it seam-side down on the work surface. Gently stretch it into a roughly rectangular shape.  Fold the dough in thirds from top to bottom and then from left to right. Again, gently tuck the sides under toward the center. Place the dough in the bowl, seam-side down, cover the bowl with the towel, and let rest for 45 minutes.

4. For the second stretch and fold, repeat the steps for the first stretch and fold, then return the dough to the bowl.  Cover with the towel and let rest for 45 minutes.

5. For the third stretch and fold, gently stretch the dough into a rectangle. Squish the butter into pieces with your fingers and distribute them over the top of the dough. Using your fingers or a spatula to spread the butter across the surface of the dough. Scatter the onions evenly on top. (I used half again as much onions as it calls for.) Roll up the dough tightly from the end closest to you. Turn it so that it is seam-side up and gently press on the seam to flatten the dough slightly. Fold in thirds from left to right and then roll and tuck a few times to incorporate the butter. Turn the dough seam-side down and tuck the sides under toward the center. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with the towel, and let rest for 45 minutes.

6. For the fourth and final stretch and fold, repeat the steps for the first stretch and fold, then return the dough to the bowl, cover with the towel, and let rest for 20 minutes.

7. Line a half sheet pan with a linen liner and dust fairly generously with the dusting mixture.
Lightly dust the work surface and your hands with flour.  Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, a bench scraper works well for this.  Press each piece into 9 by 5-inch (23 by 15 cm) rectangle, then roll into a loose tube about 9 inches (23 cm) long.

Let rest for 5 minutes. Press each piece out again and then shape into an oval about 12 inches (30 cm) long.

Transfer to the lined pan, seam-side up, positioning the loaves lengthwise. Dust the top and sides of the loaves with flour. Fold the linen to create support walls on both sides of each loaf, then fold any extra length of the linen liner over the top or cover with a kitchen towel.
Transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill for 12 to 18 hours.

Set up the oven with a baking stone on the baking rack and a cast-iron skillet on the lower rack for steam, and preheat to 500°F (260°C).

8. Using the linen liner, lift and gently flip the loaves off the pan and onto a piece of baking parchment, seam-side down.
Place the dough and parchment onto a baking peel or flat baking sheet.
Score the top of each loaf with a lame or sharp paring knife. Working quickly and carefully, transfer the loaves on their parchment to the baking stone.

Pull out the hot skillet with thick potholders, add about 3 cups of ice cubes, then slide it back in and close the oven door.  Immediately lower the oven temperature to 460°F (240°C).
Bake the loaves, turning them about two-thirds of the way through baking, until the surface is rich brown, with some spots along the scores being very dark (bien cuit), about 25 minutes.

9. Using the baking peel or potholders, transfer the loaves to a cooling rack. The bottoms of the loaves should sound hollow when tapped. If they do not, return to the stone and bake for 5 minutes longer.

Let the bread cool completely before slicing and eating, at least 4 hours but preferably 8 to 24 hours.  This bread lasts exceptionally well.

(I didn't bother to clarify my butter.)

(Makes more than needed for this recipe, batch may be halved)
Makes about 275g of onions and 215g (a generous cup) of onion butter

453g (1 lb) unsalted butter
907g (2 lb) onions (about 4 medium)

1.  Melt the butter in a saucepan without stirring it.  Skim off the foamy layer and discard.  Pour the clear yellow liquid into a medium saute pan, leaving the solids in the bottom behind.

2.  Heat the butter over low heat until it bubbles gently, adjust heat if necessary.  Add the onions.  After a few minutes, use a wooden spoon to gently move the onions and see the bottom of the pan.  Brown bits should be starting to form.  Scrape them back into the onions.

3.  Adjust heat to keep the contents bubbling gently and repeat the process of scraping in the brown bits every 15 minutes or so.  The onions should reach a rich amber color in 1 to 1½ hours.  Toward the end of the time, lower the heat and check more frequently to prevent burning the onions.
(Because that would be simply tragic!)

4.  Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl or measuring cup.  Put the onions in to drain off the excess butter.  Reserve the required amount for your recipe.  (Don't eat it all!)  Onions will keep in the fridge for 3 days and the strained butter for up to a week.

The dusting mixture, a blend of semolina and white flour, can be used on the kitchen towel, linen liner, or proofing basket, and the top and sides of the dough. The semolina, which is slightly coarser, helps keep the dough from sticking. The mixture is not part of the dough itself, nor is it used in shaping or stretch and fold techniques as the semolina would change the quality of the dough into which it was incorporated.

To make the Dusting Mixture, combine one part fine semolina flour with five parts white flour.  A large batch may be kept on hand if you bake often.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

BBB - Adjaruli Khachapuri - a Georgian Boat Shaped Bread

Oh my goodness, am I glad I decided to make this challenge recipe at the last minute!  Not the fact that it was last minute, but that I made it at all, it was so delicious.  This is one of those regional recipes that has many variations and lots of history.
"Acharuli/Adjaruli Khachapuri is a boat shaped bread from Georgia, that has melted salty cheese and a soft cooked egg or sometimes two in the middle hollow part of the “boat”. The name Khachapuri has its origins in the words “Khacho ” meaning cottage cheese / cheese curd” and “Puri” meaning bread. I believe the Georgians often eat this very popular bread as a snack or for lunch."
I didn't do the egg because I am the only one in my family who would eat it that way. Since I had a Mexican dish for dinner, I went toward that theme with my topping. What I ended up with was cheesy bread heaven. Even the girls, who are very picky about melty cheese, declared it quite tasty. Hubby said it was awesome and I agree. Do go and check out the original post at My Diverse Kitchen and scroll down to see all the versions made by this group.  My version is noted by any changes in blue.

Acharuli/ Adjaruli Khachapuri
(Adapted from Saveur)

For the Dough:
1 tsp instant yeast
½ tsp sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 egg (optional) (left out)
1½ cups flour, plus more for dusting (1 cup light spelt, ¾ cup all purpose flour)
1 tsp salt

For the Filling:
1½ cups grated/ shredded Mozzarella
1½ cups crumbled feta cheese
2 eggs (or any other topping of choice)

My Filling:
1½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 heaping tbsp sour cream
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2-4 cloves pressed garlic
1 tbsp chopped chives
sliced Roma tomatoes
sprinkle of oregano

For topping after baking:
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed

Put all the ingredients for the dough into a mixing bowl and combine/knead together with a dough hook or your hands until a smooth and somewhat loose elastic dough forms. This dough should not be too dry.

Transfer the ball of dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Loosely cover and let rise till double in volume, about 1 to 1½ hours. It will hold a little longer if necessary.

Place a pizza stone or a baking sheet on a rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 250ºC (485ºF). (I baked at 450ºF)

Combine the cheeses in a bowl and set aside. (Combine cheeses, sour cream, mayo, garlic and chives.) Deflate the dough and divide it into two halves. Working with one piece at a time, roll each piece into a rectangle about 10” long and 1/8” thick on a piece of lightly floured parchment. This makes it easier to transfer the dough to your baking sheet.

Roll the long edges in a bit curving them inwards at the ends and seal well (with a little water) or the edges will open up during baking. I pressed along the inner edge with my fingernail to seal. Then bring the edges close and pinch together on both ends to form a “boat” like shape. Again, make sure the ends are sealed well. Transfer the “boats” to the baking sheet or leave on parchment if using a pizza stone.

Dock the center area and fill with half of the cheese mixture so that it is a little higher than the edges of the dough “boat”. Repeat with the other half of dough. Right now is when I topped with sliced tomatoes and sprinkled with oregano. Bake them for about 12 to 15 minutes until the Khachapuri are golden brown.

Take the breads out of the oven and gently crack an egg on each bread without breaking the yolk (for the traditional topping) and return them to the oven. Bake for another 3 to 4 minutes till the egg is set.

Take the Adjaruli Khachapuri out, and place a couple of cubes (2tbsp) butter on each. Serve them hot. It helps to wait for about 10 minutes before eating them so you don’t burn your mouth! This recipe should serve 4 to 6 people.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sausage Ratatouille

We love this meal.  When I told the girls I was making it tonight, they both immediately requested that any leftovers be marked for their lunch boxes tomorrow.  I clipped the original recipe from a magazine six years ago and it sat in a folder for about five years of that time.  Last year I noticed it while clearing out old recipes and decided to try the recipe out.  It was the first time my kids had tried egg plant, and possibly the first time I had cooked with it myself.  Certainly the first successful time!  For my eldest, it was an instant favorite.  Little sis was a bit dubious about the eggplant, but loved the rest.  Now, it is an eagerly anticipated dish and I almost always get cheers when I mention it is on the menu.  Even my Dad requested the recipe after I served it to my folks!  Mom said with a wry smile, that he liked it better than hers.  My Mom is a completely awesome cook by the way.  

I think one of the reasons it turns out so well is that the dish is built in stages.  The eggplant and zucchini are first cooked separately and then added back in later on.  This prevents them from becoming a mushy mess.  It really is a delightful dish and a great way to start off someone who is new to eggplant.  The sausage makes it a full meal, but ratatouille is often simply the vegetable part served as a side or appetizer on top of a crusty baguette.

Sausage Ratatouille
Serves 6
Adapted from Family Fun

4 links Mild Italian Sausage
5 tbsp olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced into ¾" pieces
2 small zucchini, halved and sliced
1 large onion, quartered and sliced thinly
1 medium green bell pepper, quartered, seeded and sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sea salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley or 2 tsp dried (2 tbsp if using freeze dried)
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil or 3 tsp dried

Puncture the sausage links and place in a pot of boiling water.  Cook at a low boil until no longer pink in the middle.  Drain and cool, then slice into ¼-½" rounds and set aside.

 I found this gorgeous striped eggplant at the market.  It was so creamy colored and no dark seeds like the dark purple aubergines.

Warm 3½ tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the eggplant and zucchini and season with a little salt and pepper.  

Sauté, stirring often, until lightly browned but not soft.  About 7 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

Warm remaining 1½ tbsp oil in the skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and green pepper and sauté for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and sausage and sauté and stir for 3 more minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, eggplant and zucchini.  Season with the 1 tsp salt and plenty of black pepper.

Add the herbs and partly cover the skillet.  Gently simmer for the next 5-10 minutes.

Garnish with fresh basil chiffonade if desired.

This is a great one dish meal, but you can round it out with some crusty bread and a nice green salad.
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