Wednesday, March 4, 2015

February's Apron Winner!

Congratulations to Brenda who is the winner of February's Snowman Apron! Please email me your address and this gift will be sent to you:-D

Tomorrow, I will have March's apron up and it's guaranteed to make you feel Cheery!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Anadama Bread

March has come in rather wet for us, however, there is still some snow covering from our storm earlier this week and baking bread just seems like the right thing to do.  Anadama bread is one of my favorites that my mother and I would bake...and my father would eat!  The anniversary of his passing was the 24th; it's been 20 years and I still miss his sense of humor, loving nature, and the person who convinced me that mathematics would always be a part of my life.
Me and my Dad  
Anadama bread is a rustic dough made, not only with flour, but with cornmeal, molasses, and this recipe that I adapted from Bon Appetit magazine, lots of seeds.  There are many legends where this bread originated from; Rockport and Gloucester, Massachusetts claim it as their own, but many think it originated in Europe.  However, the story my Mother told me was, "a husband, who came home every day from working in the fields, was met with the cornmeal mush his wife Anna made.  One day he came home and Anna had left him, only to leave a bowl of the mush behind. He mixed flour and yeast with the mush and threw it in the oven, exclaiming Anna, damn her!"  This was such a favorite in our home that my mother and I made it for my wedding reception, which was very much enjoyed by my new husband as well.

My three "Culinary Cats" look on while I begin the baking process...
Harper, Clara, and Zuzu on the stool:-D
Anadama Bread
1/2 cup very warm water + more for the dough
1 T (or pkg.) of active dry yeast
1/2 tsp granulated sugar

Mix the ingredients together and allow to "proof" for about 7 to 10 minutes to ensure the yeast is active--it should get foamy.

2 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (plain flour)
1 cup fine ground cornmeal
1 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt (I used Baking Salt)
1/4 cup mild molasses
2 T soften butter
2 T Golden Flax meal
2 T  Black Sesame Seeds
2 tsp. White Sesame Seeds (or Hemp Seeds
2 T. Flax seeds
2 tsp. Poppy seeds

In a stand mixer, using the dough hook, mix all the ingredients together.  Add the proofed yeast and about another 1/2 cup of water, adding the water slowly just until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a bread board and knead until smooth.  Place dough, right side down into a large, buttered bowl, then, turn right-side-up.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 1 hour.  Remove the dough after the rising and form into a loaf (8" x 4" x 4").  Place into the buttered loaf pan and allow to rise another 45 minutes.

Just before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 375F-degrees.  Place the dough into the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 180F-degrees internally.  Remove from the oven and allow to sit on a rack for 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan.  Allow to cool completely before cutting into it.
The texture is wonderful and the taste brings back some fond memories on this wet, cold day.  Miss you Dad.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats & February's Apron

We've had a taste of winter here this past week...nothing like the Northeast or what Boston is going through, but still enough to keep us in for 4 days.  I can hear you laughing from here!

View of the backyard and my new line of dies, Garden Notes~Tulips and stamps, Seeds of Thought
When we had snow days, I loved to make Rice Krispie Treats with my girls.  Today, I thought I'd change them up a bit by browning the butter first and adding a little salt to provide that dual sweet/salty flavor, and, the good side of "cabin fever" is that I finally got the apron sewn for this month.  I had no idea that February would  bring record-breaking snow, so I hope you can see the lighter side of the fabric I chose:-D  To win this apron, all you need to do is comment on this month's posts; if your cold fingers can type!

Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter + more for greasing the pan
1 1/2 bags of marshmallows (about 16 oz)
1/2 tsp salt + more for sprinkling the top
12 cups Rice Krispies

Butter a 9" x 12" x 2" baking pan. Set aside.  Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, over medium heat, melt the butter and allow to brown about 4-6 minutes while stirring constantly. It will foam first, then, it "settles" down and you will see a golden brown color. 
 Add the marshmallow and stir until melted--the mixture has a lovely caramel color.
Add the salt, then the Rice Krispies.  Stir, using a rubber spatula until the Rice Krispies are combined  completely.  Spoon or pour mixture into the butter baking pan, pressing down firmly with the rubber spatula (be careful, mixture is hot.) Sprinkle the top, lightly with additional salt.

 I allowed them to cool about 15 minutes, then I cut them with my Pizza Knife...

I wrapped each one in plastic wrap, but not before trying a few--Enjoy!

I do know what the Northeast is going through because we lived there from '92-2001 and went through some snowy winters.  In fact, that's how I got started making 3-dimensional flowers from paper.  Think Spring!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dutch Spice Bread (Ontbijtkoek)

Last week I was Pine, Colorado shooting YouTube videos for my new lines of thin dies and red rubber stamps.  My hosts and the company I am licensed with, Elizabeth Craft Designs, are from the Netherlands and I had the opportunity to taste some wonderful baked goods they both grew up with.  This Dutch Spice Bread is one I knew I had to make for my hubby--I had one slice a day:-)

This recipe is literally translated breakfast cake, but I can tell you it made a wonderful addition to our evening meal as well.  Depending on the region it's made in the Netherlands, the spices can vary, but this is what I decided I tasted in the bread that I was served.  Originally it was called "peperkoek" and it was made from breadcrumbs and other leftover products stored in the bakery attic.  Periodically the ingredients were collected and pressed into a bread. Spices were one of the most valuable trading products from the Dutch East India Company and used in many Dutch food--some of my favorite to bake with.

Dutch Spice Bread
1 cup medium rye flour
1 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of ground cardamon, ground ginger, ground coriander and ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup Grandma's molasses
1 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 300F-degrees.  Grease a small Pullman loaf pan with shortening.  

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or use a large bowl) Mix all the ingredients together into a smooth batter.  Bake for 70-80 minutes or until cake is done by testing with a wooden skewer.  I bake with Convection, so mine took 70 minutes.

Cool completely on a rack, then to keep it fresh, wrap in aluminum foil.  We had ours with Irish Butter--need I say more.

 I'm making another load (or two) today since we have had some sleet and ice and it is freezing in the single digits and this recipe is so easy to do.  Additionally, your home smells so inviting. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Little Banana Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

Who doesn't like a "little" dessert?  I know it makes me feel like it was baked just for me, or in this case, my hubby.  Once I saw I was left with two bananas left hanging on the banana rack, I needed to give them some special I baked this cake.

Over the years, it's become quite fashionable for desserts to take on unusual shapes; pie, cake, or cupcakes in a jar, cake or pie pops, and then there's the shot glasses with Tiramisu, Cheesecake, or Chocolate Mousse, to name a few.  I think for those special occasions, an individual cake is just the thing to WOW your family and friends.

Banana Cake with Chocolate Buttercream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 medium, ripe bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (or sour low fat milk with 1 tsp. of vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes)
2 cups Cake Flour
1 cup All-purpose Flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Prepare a sheet pan (approx. 18" x 26" x 1") by brushing with melted butter, then, place a full sheet of parchment paper on the bottom, brush the parchment paper with butter, and finally, dust with flour.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter while slowly adding the granulated sugar for 10 minutes (this ensures the sugar will dissolve completely and give you a better texture.)
Add the eggs, one at a time, scrapping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula .  Add the mashed bananas.  

Measure the vanilla extract into the buttermilk.  Alternately, add the dry ingredients with the wet, starting with the dry in three measurements.  Beat on medium one more minute once everything is added.  Transfer the batter to the sheet pan, spreading it to equally cover the surface.

Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, testing with a wooden skewer that the center is completely done.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the Chocolate Buttercream.

Chocolate Buttercream:
10 oz. chocolate, chopped or use chips
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
18 T (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Place the chocolate in the food processor.  On the stove, in a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream, light corn syrup, and salt to a low boil.  Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and process the mixture until smooth.
Add the sugar and vanilla and pulse several times to combine (about 30 seconds).  With the machine running, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time and combine until smooth and no butter chunks remain.  Transfer frosting to a medium glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until thick and spreadable, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

To assemble:
I used a 3-inch round biscuit cutter to create circles for the individual cakes.
By the way, scrapes are "fair game!"
Place one of the circles on parchment or wax paper. Fill a pastry bag with the buttercream and a small rose tip.  Pipe the top of the first layer, then add another layer of cake.
As an extra garnish, I sprinkled some Toffee Bits between the layers and a little bit on top.
 Add one or two more layers, then, pipe the sides, starting from the bottom.  Pipe some on top, then, smooth with an off-set spatula.
One more sprinkle of Toffee Bits and it's ready to be served. Enjoy! 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Red Velvet Shortbread

One of the best things about attending the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) trade show is getting to see friends...and new products.  Susan Balfour of Katy Sue Designs has been a friend and over the last few years, she has been designing molds for use in baking and clay.  She's given several molds to form fondant in and place on cupcakes, but this year she expanded to some mat molds.
I loved these entwined sweet hearts, which she gifted to me to try with my baking...and I did. I used my favorite shortbread recipe and keep in mine a cookie that has no leavening is what you'd want to use.

Red Velvet is certainly a "Southern" thing--Adams Extract, a Texas company, is credited with bringing red velvet cake to American kitchens.  I've created lots of recipes with Red Velvet, so why not shortbread.

Red Velvet Shortbread
1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar (icing sugar) + extra for dusting the mold
1 T Red Velvet flavoring or red food coloring
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 T Dutch-processed Cocoa
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (plain flour)

Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter thoroughly.  Add the confectioners' sugar and cream again.  Add the Red Velvet flavoring (or food coloring) and vanilla and mix again.

Add the flour and cocoa and mix just until combined.  Form the dough into two disks and roll out between parchment paper.
Roll out to 3/8-inch thick between the parchment.  Remove the top sheet of parchment, dust the mold with additional confectioners' sugar, tap to remove the excess, and place on the dough.  Using your rolling pin to impress the image.
I used a 3-inch square cookie cutter to cut the dough, then transferred it to the baking sheet.  I also, used a skewer to add some "air holes" to ensure thorough baking.
I also scored a diagonal line across the cookie because I wanted the end result to be triangles. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
Just in time for Valentine's Day, these Red Velvet cookies and a sweet card are sure to impress your loved ones.  Enjoy!
One of my new lines--CountryScapes!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Barb's Dilly Bread

I'm so proud of my sister; she created this bread on Sunday and couldn't wait to share the recipe with me.  Often hesitant about working with yeast, I think she surprised herself how perfectly this turned out and we laughed after I said, "see, you did get the bread gene!"

Herb breads are one of my favorites to make because of the flavor they add to an ordinary sandwich.  The first time I had a really good herb bread was in the early 80s when I made a trip to California with my mom and dad to visit an older brother.  We had lunch at a little cafe in Benicia (which was actually the first capital of California) and I ordered their Veggie Sandwich on Herb Bread--delicious.

My sister's Dilly Bread reminded me of that bread and I couldn't wait to try baking a loaf yesterday.  Interestingly, most of the recipes, she found, called for cottage cheese and as they say, "necessity is the mother of invention", she came up with combining sour cream and buttermilk to substitute.  Also, she had the advantage of fresh dill because of a Christmas present her hubby gave her--an AeroGarden.  I have one, but it's still packed and I'm afraid the three kittens would be munching on the greens:-( So, I substituted dried, but I'll give the measurement for both since this summer, I will certainly be planting herbs on the patio.

Barb's Dilly Bread
1 T King Arthur Flour Gold Instant Yeast (or any dry you have on hand)
1/4 cup warm water (about 105-110F-degrees)
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
Mix these ingredients in a 1-cup glass measure and proof for 5-7 minutes.
It should appear bubbly if you have active yeast!

In another glass measure, warm 1/2 cup sour cream with 1/2 cup buttermilk in the microwave oven--about 30 seconds.

In a stand mixer, using the dough hook, add the following:
2 1/2 cups King Arthur Bread flour
2 T granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1T softened, unsalted butter
2T dried minced onion
2 T fresh dill, snipped (or 2 1/2 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. salt (I used a new salt developed especially for bread baking)
Combine those ingredients, then add the proofed yeast and the sour cream/buttermilk.  Allow the mixer to knead the dough about 5 minutes or until the dough comes together away from the sides of the bowl.  If you need to add more water and/or flour, do so a tablespoon at a time to achieve a smooth dough.
Place the dough into a greased or lightly oiled bowl, right side down, then turn right side up to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled, about 45 minutes.  
 Punch down the dough and knead by hand.  Roll the dough out to a 8 x 8-inch square, then start to roll the dough, pressing each time to seal the roll.  This process ensures that your bread doesn't develop gaping holes in it.  Place into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and cover again with plastic wrap, sprayed with a baking oil.
Allow to rise another 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat your over to 350F-degrees.  When the dough has doubled again, bake 25-30 minutes.  My Sis said her's took 30 minutes and so did mine!  Turn out onto a rack and allow to tempting as it may be to cut into that hot loaf!
Here's my loaf. I made grilled cheese and they were delicious.
My sister's turned out perfectly and I'm so happy she shared this recipe with us all! Enjoy!