Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Semolina Bread

July 17, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 17 Comments
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semolina bread

I thought I was in for a whole day project when I set out to make Nick Malgieri’s Semolina Bread.  The recipe calls for three two-hour proof periods, but with the East Coast heat and humidity, my kitchen is its own proof box.  I had that loaf ready for the oven in under five!

I made the dough in the food processor.  So easy.  I cut the salt by a quarter teaspoon, and added it to the dough after the rest period in the processor.  Besides that and my shorter proof times, I followed the recipe as-is.

I wanted my loaf to be like bread from the Italian bakeries over in Carroll Gardens, so I spritzed it with a little water and sprinkled on some sesame seeds before I put it  in the oven.  Then they all more of less fell off when I cut into it, but whatever.  I had a crusty, golden loaf of bread, and it was delicious.  My favorite part of a crusty loaf like this is the end bit.  Actually my favorite parts, since there are two end bits!  Slathered with a little salty butter, they are my ideal baker’s treat.

semolina bread

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Renee’s The Way to my Family’s Heart and Anna’s Keep it Luce.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Hazelnut Biscotti

July 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 16 Comments
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hazelnut biscotti

I’m not supposed to be home writing this post right now, but the last three days we’ve had power outages at work and closed up shop early.  Hard to work in a food business when your refrigeration is down.  I feel bad for the store owners because it’s truly a mess and they lose sales when this stuff happens, but it’s a little bonus time off for me.  Time off means time for a cookie break with Alice Medrich’s Hazelnut Biscotti!

These super-crunchy biscotti are the perfect little something on the side of a plate.  Good with coffee (naturally), ice cream or fruit.  The recipe calls for skin-on hazelnuts and has kind of a kooky method for removing the skins (just watch this video…ick).  I went a far more straight-forward route– I bought pre-blanched nuts!  I just toasted them as directed before proceeding with the dough.  A tip that worked well for many of us this week is to lightly wet your hands before shaping the dough into logs.  This helps neatly deal with the stickiness.  And I recommend slicing the cookies pretty thin after the first bake, because after the second, the cookies are so crisp that a fat cookie would be hard to bite down on.  They have proven to be good keepers, even with the heat and humidity we’ve had here this past week. 

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Jodi’s Homemade and Wholesome and Katrina’s Baking and Boys.  There’s also a video of Alice and Julia making the biscotti together.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!  I kept mine pretty plain and simple, but I’m sure there are lots of fun substitutions and biscotti variations this week.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: French Strawberry Cake

June 19, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, layer cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 24 Comments
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french strawberry cake

Flo Braker‘s French Strawberry Cake is the perfect thing for right now, right here.  Strawberries are all over the NYC greenmarkets (and my CSA), so a summer strawberry cake of some sort was bound to be in order even if we hadn’t picked this for TWD

This is a lovely simple cake…no fancy buttercreams or anything.  Just some lightly sweetened whipped cream and mashed strawberries filling a whole egg sponge cake.  The cake is called a genoise in the book, but it’s the only genoise I’ve ever made that doesn’t heat the eggs in the process.  The recipe calls for making one tall cake and splitting it into three layers.  I made just a half recipe and I thought my little six-inch cake really only needed to be cut into two.  This type of sponge cake can be a little dry on its own, but the whipped cream and macerated berries add the moisture that is needed.  I think it became even tastier the second day.  I can see this being great with raspberry smoosh, too, if you are feeling more English than French (Victoria sponge, anyone)?.

french strawberry cake

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read  Sophia’s, Sophia’s Sweets and Allison’s Sleep Love Think Dine.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Oasis Naan

June 5, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 32 Comments
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oasis naan

Phew…I cut it close on this one.  I just made Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Oasis Naan a couple of hours ago.  Luckily it’s a pretty simple bread dough, as long as you have the time to proof it.

The recipe calls for making this flatbread dough by hand.  I’m lazy…I used the food processor, same as I do for pizza dough.  (I must say here, that I only made a half batch of dough, so everything fit just fine.)  I started by adding the minimum amount of flour to my processor bowl, then with the machine running, I poured in my water/yeast combo.  I added more flour to touch and turned off the machine for 10 minutes.  Then I sprinkled the salt and a little bit more flour over the dough (because it still felt pretty sticky) and turned it back on for a few more seconds.  I kneaded it on the counter for about a minute before putting into a bowl to proof.

The dough bakes up nice and puffy (be sure to dock it well!), and chewy, too.  I topped mine with chopped spring garlic and za’atar spice, but I bet all kinds of things would be good on top.  You could even make them like mini pizzas.  It’s not quite as soft and charred as the naan I get from my local Indian takeaway, but I’d make this again for sure.

We ate our naan with a freekeh, beet, chickpea and feta salad I concocted.  Very healty…I think my husband thought the naan was the best part!

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Maggie’s Always Add More Butter and Phyl of Of Cabbages & King Cakes.  There’s also a video of Alford, Duguid and Julia making the bread together, and the authors wrote this article that gives more naan tips.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Pecan Sticky Buns

May 15, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 31 Comments
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pecan sticky buns

I’ve been getting a lot of practice making breakfast pastries lately.  A couple of months ago, the owners of the shop I work for decided that we should open three hours earlier and have a menu of morning baked stuff.  I now have to wake up basically in the middle of the night to walk to work and make this happen.  I’m thinking about quitting soon….but you didn’t hear me say that, and you certainly didn’t come here for banal griping.  You came for Nancy Silverton’s Pecan Sticky Buns!

It’s pretty much a given that sticky buns have a lot of butter in them, but this recipe uses a sh*t-ton of butter.  There’s brioche dough..no, make that laminated brioche dough (unlike the other sticky buns we did about–yikes– four years ago)…and then there’s the sticky top part.  The only component without butter is the pecan-cinnamon swirl inside.  When everything’s tallied up, it comes to five sticks for a whole recipe!!  My mind immediately went to work wondering where I could shave off a few tablespoons.  First off, a whole recipe makes two 9-inch pans, or 14 buns, and I certainly didn’t need that many for the two of us.  A quarter of a recipe would be fine…I knew I could squeeze four slightly smaller buns out of that and bake them in a 6-inch pan.  I ultimately decided on making a half recipe of brioche dough, and only taking half of that to make buns with (I’m saving the other half for another project).  I kept the full amount of butter in the dough itself.  Best not to mess around with that.  I used about two-thirds the butter called for in the laminating step and half for the topping.  I don’t think I missed out too much…my buns were sweet and soft and flaky.  I plan to experiment more with this laminated brioche thing later on…it’s a cool technique.

By the way brioche is a lovely dough to work with…if you can keep it cool enough while you shape it, that is.  It’s so soft and nice to touch.  And it rises beautifully.

pecan sticky buns

It took me like an hour to figure out how to put two pics side-by-side in Photoshop, btw…wow.

I made my base dough on day one, parked it in the fridge overnight after its first rise, and finished off the laminating and rolling the next day.  I did my dough in my stand mixer.  Since I just made a half a batch, my KA had no problem cranking it out.  It was really such a small about of dough, though, that I think even the whole recipe would have been just fine.  Despite my earlier talk about breakfast pastries, my husband and I actually ate two of these sticky buns for dessert.  After getting up so early for work now everyday, I can’t manage to get up early enough on the weekends to have buns proofed, baked and cooled before brekkie.  The other two baked buns were wrapped up tight and stuck the freezer, to be defrosted and enjoyed properly one weekend morning with a cup of coffee.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Lynn’s Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat and Nicole’s Cookies on Friday.  There’s also a video of Nancy and Julia making the buns together.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Hungarian Shortbread

May 1, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 20 Comments
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Hungarian shortbread

Glad I didn’t have to wait very long for TWD to choose Gale Gand’s Hungarian Shortbread…this recipe has been calling to me since I bought Baking with Julia years ago (but I was rather painfully pretending I couldn’t hear because of all the butter).   Shortbread dough with a homemade rhubarb jam layered in between– oh, come on.  Actually, I didn’t find rhubarb at the greenmarket in my neighborhood the weekend I made these, so I used it as an excuse to help clear out the fridge and went with store-bought jam instead (I used Sarabeth’s Plum Cherry).

I made half of a recipe, which worked wonderfully in an 8-inch square metal cake pan (I prepped it with parchment first).  The dough is pretty cinchy to layer in the pan because you freeze it and grate it….then just sprinkle the grated dough fluff right in and pat without really pressing much.  I grated my dough the old-fashioned way, but I hear a food processor works great, too. I figured my store-bought jam would likely be sweeter than a homemade rhubarb one, so I cut back on the sugar in the shortbread just a tad to compensate.  Then I added in a splash of vanilla and bumped up the salt with an extra pinch.  I didn’t want the bottom layer to be rawsies (which can sometimes happen with multilayered bar cookies), so I decided to par bake the bottom crust before adding jam and top layers.  Twenty minutes in the oven was enough to make the bottom layer look set but not browned, which was all I was going for.

I went to Budapest back in the nineties, but I didn’t have anything like this.  I’m certain I would remember, because these are really delicious (so don’t feel bad at all if you want to skip the homemade filling and use jam from the shops).  And they hold up very well refrigerated, as I can assure you, since it takes us days for the two of us to get through an 8-inch pan.  In fact, I wound up freezing the last couple of pieces before my husband and I went out of town for our anniversary this past weekend (nine years– what?!?), and they were perfect after they defrosted to room temp…even the powdered sugar on top was still intact!

Hungarian shortbread

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Lynette’s 1smallkitchen and Cher’s The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler…  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Meyer Lemon Loaf Cake

April 17, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 32 Comments
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meyer lemon loaf cake

Wow–I went all last week without a post.  Blah.  But now it’s time for cake with TWD and Norman Love’s Lemon Loaf.  I bought a few Meyer lemons at TJ’s a couple of months ago, and although I was too lazy to use them then, I did manage to zest and juice them and stash that stuff in the freezer for another time….a time like this!

I didn’t have any issues with this recipe. I did do a half recipe (although I think that with the particular pan I used, I actually should have done two-thirds or three-quarters to get taller slices).  It’s a pretty easy recipe and it’s made by hand.   There were a couple of things I fiddled with here to ensure a moist and lemony cake.  I rubbed the lemon zest into the sugar before mixing anything and I added (for a full recipe, the equivalent of) the juice of one lemon into the egg/sugar mixture.  I also made a quickie soaking syrup by heating some extra juice and sugar together, and brushed it all over the loaf while it was still hot.

I liked this loaf cake.  It had a nice sunny color and a good pound cake-style texture.  I think cakes like this are really good with a little bit of fruit sauce or compote.  Jam’s fine, too, when I don’t have any berries in the house.  After I took this picture, you bet I totally smooshed the jam and cream over the the top and ate it as a open-faced cake sandwich (or maybe cake smørrebrød since I used lingonberry jam)!

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Truc’s blog, Treats and Michelle’s, The Beauty of Life.  It’s also on The Splendid Table’s site.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Pizza Rustica

April 3, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, other savory, savory things, tuesdays with dorie | 30 Comments
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pizza rustica

This week TWD is putting on our Easter best with Nick Malgieri ‘s Pizza Rustica.  If you are wondering “what heck kind of pizza is this?” then think instead of cheese pie.  Ricotta, mozzarella, pecorino…like calzone filling inside pie crust.  This is rich and special…no wonder it is an Italian Easter tradition.

The pie dough is a pasta frolla, which is actually a sweet dough, and is used in cookies as well.  A sweet dough may sound odd for a savory pie, but with the salty filling, it just works.  I should note though, that I cut back the sugar in the recipe from 1/3 cup to 3 tablespoons.  For me, this was just the right level of sweetness.  The dough also has some baking powder in it, so it puffs a bit and reminded me a little of a biscuit.  The pasta frolla is really easy to work with.  If you need to patch it while rolling it out, just press it back together.  For better browning, you can brush the lattice strips with a little eggwash before baking.

At the shop where I work, we make a pizza rustica almost every day.  The filling has prosciutto in it and I don’t eat pork, so in the year and a half I’ve been there, I’ve never had a taste!  I was really excited to make one at home that I could finally try.  This recipe also has prosciutto in the filling, but I think the substitution possibilities are pretty limitless here.  In mine, I went with chicken sausage and kale (both of which I cooked and cooled first), and some red pepper flakes for spice.  One thing that I’ve learned from making rustica at work is that it’s important to remove any excess liquid from the filling components before assembly.  The night before making my PR, I drained my ricotta in a sieve lined with a coffee filter.  I also was sure to squeeze any juice out of my cooked kale before chopping it up.

I think that pizza rustica is best eaten room temperature.  And you know what goes great with it?  Red wine.

pizza rustica

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Emily’s blog, Capitol Region Dining, and Raelynn’s blog, The Place They Call Home, as they are co-hosting this recipe.  Thanks, ladies!  There’s also a video of Nick and Julia making the pizza rustica together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Irish Soda Bread

March 20, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, quick breads, savory things, tuesdays with dorie | 35 Comments
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Irish soda bread

We may represent six different continents, but this week we’re all Irish in TWD with Marion Cunningham’s Irish Soda Bread.  I like Marion Cunningham.  I think she seems like a cool lady, and I have a few of her books (the most well-used is The Breakfast Book).  But I digress…

I knew that I wanted to have this bread with butter and marmalade on St. Patrick’s Day morning, but I didn’t know how I was going to pull it off for breakfast when it takes almost an hour to bake and then more time to cool.  I was worried about making it in advance, because in the book, the recipe intro says it turns “as hard as the Blarney Stone” (which I have kissed, btw) after a few hours.  Then I watched the video of Marion and Julia making the bread together…Marion whips out an already-made loaf and clearly says that it had been baked the night before, left to cool completely and then wrapped.  So that’s what I did…I made it the night before and it was still perfect the next morning.

This recipe has just four ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk), and the dough is simply stirred together…it’s almost amazing that it turns into bread!  I had actually wanted to sneak some currants in my loaf, too, but then I completely forgot about them until the second after I’d scraped the sticky dough into the pie plate.  I wasn’t going to mess with it anymore at the point.  No matter– the bread had plenty of flavor…a little salty and a little tangy.  Like most Irish people I know, my loaf also had plenty of character….I probably could have kneaded a bit more flour into it to make it a smoother round, but I liked its quirkiness just fine.

Irish soda bread

Don’t wait until next March to make this….it’s so easy and good that it’s perfect anytime.  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here in somewhat condensed form) or read Carla’s blog Chocolate Moosey, and Cathleen’s blog My Culinary Mission, as they are co-hosting this recipe.  Thanks, ladies!  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Rugelach

March 6, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 42 Comments
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rugelach

This week, Tuesdays with Dorie is celebrating Purim with Lauren Groveman’s Rugelach!  (I know it should be hamentaschen, but that one’s not in the book.)  Anyway, we made rugelach in the last round of the group, but that was years ago now, so I was more than ready to make them again this past weekend.  This version’s quite different, as it turns out.  Most noticeably, these rugalach are round spirals, not cresent-shaped.  They’re formed from slice-and-bake-style rolled logs.  And they are stuffed–almost bursting– with good things.  Things like cinnamon sugar, nuts, dried fruits and apricot or prune lekvar (a thick jam/fruit butter).  I went with walnuts, golden raisins and prune butter.

What with making the cream cheese dough and prepping the list of fillings, this recipe has a lot of steps, but you can make it a little easier on yourself if you want.  I made my dough the night before, and toasted my walnuts then, too, since I already had the oven on for dinner.  The one big shortcut I took was that I used a plum butter that I had bought at the Grenemarket in place of making my own lekvar.  I’d had that little jar of plum butter open in the refrigerator for months, so I was glad for the excuse to finish it off.  It was the consistency of a thick prune paste, anyway, so I thought it would work perfectly, and in fact any thick store-bought jam would likely do just fine.  Also, I admit I didn’t measure anything related to the fillings.  I used good judgement and eyeballed it all.  I also eyeballed the amount of filling I put into each dough roll-up.  I know when enough’s enough and I didn’t want my spirals to unravel or explode.

These taste great.  The flavors are big and warm, so I’m glad we made them while it’s still chilly where I live.  They’re thick cut, so they’re nice and sturdy.  And I am in love with the prune swirls…it looks like a letter “C” in each cookie.  So cute that even though the cookies are supposed to be completely coated in cinnamon-nut sugar, I didn’t want to hide the tops.  Instead kept the sugar concentrated on the outside of the cookies and just sprinkled a bit on top.

Here are my rugelach pointers: With all the cream cheese in the dough, it gets soft fast, so I didn’t hesitate to left it have a rest in the fridge at different stages of rolling and filling.  The dough rolls up best if the chunky things like nuts and dried fruit are chopped pretty fine.  When these guys bake, there’s a lot of jam and sugar that gets caramelized on their bottoms, and it’s best to get them off the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack as soon as you can so they don’t get stuck.  They’re sturdy enough to handle almost right out of the oven.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Margaret’s The Urban Hiker and Jessica’s My Baking Heart, as they are co-hosting this week. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.

P.S.: For something totally unrelated, enter my BOOK GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a copy of Marshmallow Madness!

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