Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Nyom, nyom, nyom

November 15, 2010

Note: I’m not sure why I didn’t publish when I wrote it, but here it is: only three months after composition.

I’ve been on a baking streak lately. First it was the Bean’s birthday cake:

Then I made chocolate-peanut butter chip cookies, using–alas–the Doubletree Hotel recipe instead of my old Betty Crocker standby that has all the family-approved adjustments written in. They were good, but not great. Which is why we still have a dozen left after two whole weeks–a situation unheard of in our household.

Next I tried a new Smitten Kitchen recipe: Peach Shortbread. Oh, it looked so beautiful in Deb’s photos. And it was tasty, but not what I think of when I think shortbread. A little too close to pie crust in texture. I’d like to try messing around with this recipe to see if I can come up with something more like shortbread, but embedded with some sweet little peach slices as in this recipe.

Tuesday was a dear friend’s birthday, so I made her a single-layer chocolate cake, cutting down the recipe I used for the Bean’s birthday.

Wednesday was the weekly garden Weed-and-Feed potluck, so I made Plum Kuchen. I had a few pints of wild plums from the farmer’s market and a Deborah Madison recipe accompanied by yet another gorgeous photograph. Mine was delicious, even if it wasn’t as pretty as the inspiring picture. I love to cook for garden night, because I can try new recipes without fearing I’ll have to eat a ton of the result. Aside from the Green Tomato Cake (which was HUGE), I have yet to bring home any leftovers.

Yesterday I received a few gallons of pears and apples from my grandparents’ trees. Today I searched for pear recipes online. I found another Smitten recipe: Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake. So I made it for tonight’s dessert, to share with my parents and in-laws. Ooh, yummy.

Up next? Another Deborah Madison recipe: Cornmeal Crepes with Plum Compote (for breakfast, because I still have at least a pint of plums). Then maybe Emeril’s Blue Cheese-stuffed Figs with Lavendar Honey. Or perhaps Fig and Orange Flower Water Custard Tart, also from Deborah Madison. But then what will I make with all of my remaining apples and pears?

Am I in a rut? Is it irrational that I want to bake at least three desserts between now and our trip to New York (only five more days!)? What does it mean that my baking is suddenly using more fruit than chocolate? Will I ever learn to take gorgeous food pictures for my blog?

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Baby got back

January 14, 2010

Yesterday I baked a loaf of bread. My mom gave me a copy of The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book, which is primarily about baking bread using whole-grain flour. The food coop recently began carrying whole-grain flour, so of course, I have some. And of course, I decided to bake a loaf of bread.

Let me back up a second. Michael and I almost never buy bread. We have a loverly chrome bread machine that he feeds weekly, and that is our normal source of bread. Cheaper than store-bought bread, plus we can control the ingredients. Perfect, right?

Not so much, unfortunately. I don’t know if it is because we usually set the bread to bake overnight, or if our kitchen is too cold for decent bread rising, or what…but lately the bread has been less than satisfactory. In fact, I would categorize it as Unmixed Floury Goop. Not economical or tasty.

And even when it does turn out looking good, the crust is HARD. I hate that.

Enter The Bread Book. The first dozen or so pages are one recipe: A Loaf for Learning. It gives a great explanation about how baking with whole-grain flour is different, very detailed instructions on how to tackle each step (no matter how tiny), and excellent descriptions of what to look for at each stage of the process. I read it and thought, I could do that.

Later I read the explanation of why breads get a hard outer crust (low temperature during the final rise). And I saw that the Loaf for Learning is marked by a very thin, crispy crust. I knew I had to try it.

So yesterday, I did. It took me about five hours from start to finish, with my two girls underfoot and a business phone to answer and a Nebraskans for Peace meeting at the very end.

By and large, the whole experience turned out great. The loaf is golden brown and delicious. No tooth-cracking crust. Nice light texture.

We ate most of it for supper last night. In fact, it was only when we were almost finished eating that I noticed the bread’s one and only flaw.

It has a butt.