Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Weekend Relaxation – Baking a Challah Bread

February 20, 2008

Something about bread baking makes me feel very calm. It takes all day, kneading, resting, kneading, resting, which is almost zen kind of experience. Not that I am religious or anything, so I wouldn’t know the real zen relaxation, but I feel good when baking bread.

I just saw a recipe on Food Network, and thought it would be a good weekend pastime.

Recipe is as follows:

-1 cup warm water, about 110 degrees F
-1 teaspoon sugar
– 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
– 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus about 1 cup for kneading
– 1⁄3 cup honey
– 2 whole large eggs
– 3 large egg yolks
– 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 tablespoon kosher salt
– 3/4 cup to 1 cup currants
– 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Dissolve sugar and yeast in water, let it bubble up for about 8 minutes. Mix it with honey, 1 whole egg, egg yolks, olive oil. Make a well on flour and salt mixture, pour in the wet ingredients, and currants. Once it’s mixed, knead it for about 10 minutes.

To mix the ingredients, I used a stand mixer, but you should definitely knead it manually. It definitely makes a difference. Dough hook doesn’t do what our hands can do…

Once it’s smooth, put it in a greased bowl, and let it rise until the size doubles. (Fortunately I have a bread rising mechanism on my oven, so it was easy).

When the size doubles, punch it down and knead it for just a minute, then put it back and let it rise again until the size doubles.

Once it’s done, you cut the dough into three equal pieces (some people do 6, but I took the easy way). Braid the dough nicely, as if you are braiding a girl’s hair. Let is rise AGAIN until the size doubles.

Brush it with egg, bake it for about 30 minutes on 375 oven or until it sounds hollow. I didn’t sprinkle it with poppy seeds, since I don’t have such a drug in my household. hehe.

I should have taken pictures of each step, but of course, when I realized this would be a perfect one, it was already done.

Doesn’t this look GORGEOUS? I should work for Amy’s Bread. Too bad, I don’t eat too much bread, and I have NO IDEA about good bread vs. bad bread. But I brought it to work, and many “bread connoisseurs” said it was fabulous. So I guess it was a success in both appearance and taste.

BLT Steak’s Popover

February 19, 2008

I told you that I would blog about BLT’s famous popover (I miss sunny Puerto Rico). Well, images from the restaurant weren’t good enough, also they gave a recipe card with it, so I decided to make it myself. I have had popovers at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners, and they were crispy on the outside, and hollow inside, and good stuff. BLT’s version was huge, and so crisp outside, and the Gruyere cheese definitely added some indescribable joy to it.

Since I bought a 6 popover pan, I reduced the recipe into half.

  • 2 cups of flour
  • A bit less than 1 table spoon of salt
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 4 eggs
  • gruyere cheese

Warm the milk, beat eggs until they are frothy, add milk slowly (so that it doesn’t cook the eggs). Sift flour and salt, and mix them together well. Make sure you don’t chill the batter. Keep it a bit warm of room temp.

Meanwhile, stick popover pan into 350 degree oven. Once it’s hot, take it out, and spray it with non stick spray, pour the batter (I filled it basically to the top to make the largest possible popovers). Sprinkle cheese on top, and put into the oven for 50 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN, it will deflate it!

Wow, it started to rise!!
Soon enough, it looks like erected dog penis.
It’s getting bigger and by this time, the smell of burning cheese was so delicious!
Don’t they look fabulous?
As long as you don’t chill the batter, and not open the oven door, this is almost fail proof. For your next dinner party, instead of regular bread, try this. This is definitely the “Did you really make this? Holy shit!” kind of stuff. Similar recipe is yorkshire pudding, but it uses beef jus, but this one doesn’t use any additional grease (other than cooking spray), so it’s vegetarian friendly too.

A Guilty Favorite

January 15, 2008

Hello all!

I’ve been promising Kayoko I would blog for months, and now, having settled into a relatively productive cycle of cooking and baking, I thought I’d give it a go…

In the last month or so, I explored the wonders of oatmeal (oatmeal cookies, bars, and yes, oatmeal cake really does just taste like oatmeal), experimented with rugelach (try nutella as a filling instead of chocolate – it’s much smoother and adds a nice nutty balance), and just last night, I tried to replicate one of my secret fixations…last seen at my local Starbucks in Fall 2006. I’m talking, of course, about the iced pumpkin scone.

For those of you well-traveled in the scone world, I find that it’s incredibly hard finding a scone that is moist enough without leaving that unpleasantly greasy taste in your mouth, while not being so dry that you need tea to dunk it in to make it relatively edible. That said, the Starbucks iced pumpkin scone is a fantastic middle ground of sweet but not too sweet, firm without being crumbly, and autumnal without having that cloying nutmeg/clove/cinnamon spiciness.

First off, a co-worker who lives in upstate New York on a farm gifted me with three lovely cups of fresh pumpkin puree. Supposedly she just bought a big ‘ol pumpkin, roasted it, scooped out the flesh, and pureed. Here is a cup of this precious puree just out of the freezer:

It may not look all that appetizing, but it really does make a difference. I find most canned pumpkin to be suspiciously orange and a bit too sweet – have you ever looked at pumpkin flesh? It’s really more yellow than Halloween orange.

Now there’s a bunch of recipes online that claim to be the secret recipe for these scones, here’s the one I started off with:

To ensure extra moistness, I substituted Greek yogurt in for the half-and-half, and added a quarter cup more of the fresh pumpkin puree. Also, for the spiced glaze I added a bit of molasses. Here are my results:

As for my taste test, I felt that while my wannabe scones were far lighter and more subtle than the Starbucks heavyweights, they still lacked that creamy denseness that I admired so much in the store-bought variety. Next time I think I’ll go with less baking powder and more baking soda, and I might even try substituting in some whole wheat flour.

Next up: the perfect maple coffee cake.