Monday, November 28, 2011

Modern Baker: Blackberry Jam Sandwich with Lemon Icing

The Modern Bakers are baking cookies, bars, and biscotti from the Modern Baker cookbook and these blackberry jam sandwich cookies were a great baking project for our weekend. The dough came together too dry and I wasn't sure what to do so I just continued and put the dough in the fridge to chill as directed. When I tried to roll it out all it would do is crack and crumble in my hands. I wasn't sure what I did wrong. I called my stepmom for advice. One of her first questions, "did you use unbleached flour?". I sure did. She said she's noticed it sucks up the liquid more in her baking. She advised putting it back in the mixer with a little water. I did just that and 2 tablespoons later the dough was at a perfect consistency to roll.

Then, we began the rolling out! Charlotte and Penelope took turns rolling out with their little rolling pin too.
The cookies baked and I reduced the preserves a little in a saucepan. We had great fun filling and smashing the cookies together to make sandwiches.

The icing consisted of confectioners' sugar and lemon juice. N.M. has you cook the icing over low heat. I've never done icing over heat. I think perhaps I had the heat up too high. I was able to streak the first couple of cookies, but quickly the icing would only come out in globs and I switched to just topping them with some icing instead of streaking.
The cookies were great fun to make and yummy. The lemon cookie, blackberry filling, and lemon icing all complimented each other very nicely. A great afternoon treat!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stuffing Stuffed Mushrooms

Got leftover stuffing? Try these!!

I'm piggybacking off of my Thanksgiving roundup recipe of Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Apples. This recipe uses any leftover stuffing, but I used my yummy cornbread stuffing.

I realize earlier I referred to the dressing as dressing and now I'm calling it stuffing, but like I explained I use the words interchangeably and Stuffing Stuffed Mushrooms just sounds more fun than Dressing Stuffed Mushrooms.

These little stuffed mushrooms are super simple and super delicious!! I could not stop eating them and almost finished an entire pan myself!
Stuffing Stuffed Mushrooms
Adapted From: Rachel Ray
Printable Recipe

15-20 Mushrooms
1 cups leftover stuffing
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Pop the stems out of the mushrooms and set top down on a baking sheet. Toss the leftover stuffing with the Parmesan cheese. Scoop heapfuls of stuffing into mushrooms.

3. Bake for 20 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and browned.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

BBA #37: Swedish Rye (Limpa)

The thirty-seventh bread of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is Swedish rye or Limpa. The bread begins with a complex sponge including my sourdough starter, white rye flour, ground cardamon, ground fennel seeds, ground aniseeds, dried orange peel, and molasses. This was my first time seeking out dried orange peel and I was pleasantly surprised to find it under "O" in the bulk section.

I let the sponge ferment for about 5 hours until it was foamy and then I refrigerated it overnight. The next morning I mixed the sponge with bread flour, instant yeast, salt, brown sugar, and some vegetable oil. I knew from previous experience with rye that I should knead the dough as little as possible. Reinhart also reminded that kneading time should only be, at most, 6 minutes.

The dough was not coming together too well. It was too dry. I began to panic because rye and I have not had that great of a relationship thus far. I started dribbling water down the side of the bowl and after about 2 1/2 tablespoons of water the bread finally came together. I let the dough hook knead it for about 3 minutes and then put it in a oiled bowl.

I took my kids on a playdate and preceded to completely forget about the bread. The two hour rise turned into about 3 1/2 hours but the dough handled it well. I shaped it into a bread pan, let it rise again, and baked it.
The bread was delicious. The crust was crunchy and the dough inside was soft like sandwich bread although denser. The flavor was amazing. I sliced it right before dinner and my two year old strongly requested a piece. She then demanded two more pieces and effectively ruined her dinner but I didn't mind. I was so thrilled she loved the bread. The husband also loved the bread and declared it one of his all time favorite. Yay! A rye bread that was a success!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins

Let's face it. A lot of muffins are cupcakes in disguise. Sometimes, the disguise isn't even that good.

We feel so much better when we're eating a muffin over a cupcake though don't we. I want to make start making delicious muffins that I feel no guilt over making over and over again. Here's one attempt.

A successful attempt I must add. I drastically reduced the sugar, added flaxseed meal, and included pecans. The reduced sugar was noticeable. Perhaps even off puttingly noticeable to some. My kids didn't seem to notice though and gobbled these up today.

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins
Printable Recipe
1 c flour
1/4 c flaxseed meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 c pumpkin
2 T butter
1/4 c milk
1/4 c brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 c pecans, chopped

1/2 T sugar
dash of cinnamon

1. Combine the flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a bowl.

2. Whisk together the pumpkin and brown sugar. Add the butter, milk, egg, and vanilla and continue to whisk.

3. Stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in the pecans.

4. Divide the batter into 6-9 lined muffin tins. Mix the topping and sprinkle onto each filled muffin tin.

5. Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

BBA #35: Sunflower Seed Rye

The thirty-fifth bread of Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is sunflower seed rye. Rye bread and I have had some good times and some struggles.

New York Deli Rye- good
100% Sourdough Rye- epic failure!
Pumpernickel Bread- great

This sunflower seed rye utilized a soaker, a starter, and instant yeast. With all that going for it, I was shocked when it was slow to rise. The rise took an extra hour and the proofing an extra 30-45 minutes. I was excited to learn a new shaping method. The couronne was fun to make, although now having done it once and seeing the results I know I could do it better next time! I didn't realize the hold would close up that much during baking. I need a much bigger donut hole next time!

The bread, unfortunately, was a bit gummy. I tried hard to not over-mix it as Reinhart is clear that over-mixing leads to a gummy final bread. The sunflower seeds were great and the flavor was good. It was just the texture that fell flat. The family all thought the bread was good and ate it up.

I have a whole new appreciation for rye bread now. Rye bread bakers are truly skilled bakers. I think I'll buy my rye from now on.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lemon Rosemary Buttons

My dear friend and fellow baker Minna put these yummy little cookies on her holiday cookie plate last year. After one bite I immediately emailed for the recipe. I'm a bit embarrassed and shocked it has taken me almost a whole year to get around to making them!

The cookies are so simple and yet so delicious. The end of Minna's email describes them perfectly. "A cookie that screams "less is more"!!!  Look at how few ingredients there are."

Yes, so few ingredients! The original recipe uses an electric mixer, but one thing I've learned from my Modern Baker cookbook is that a food processor can be your best friend when making shortbread and pie crust type doughs.
Just cube the butter into the processor and mix until it all comes together. So easy.
The cookies are simple with a lemon punch in the icing and the rosemary compliments all it perfectly.

Lemony goodness!!!!

Lemon Rosemary Buttons
Printable Recipe

Shortbread base:
2 cups flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup granular sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Zest of one lemon

2 Tbs lemon juice (about juice of 1 lemon)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
lemon zest (optional)
rosemary twigs

1. Preheat oven 325 F.  Mix flour, butter, granulated sugar, salt and zest in a food processor. Mix until dough is no longer crumbly and just comes together. It will clump around the edges of the bowl and allow you to form it.  Form dough into a disk; chill 30 min.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough 1/2" thick and cut cookies. A 1.5'' cookie cutter works well. They are "buttons" so think small for the cookie cutter.  Arrange on baking sheets and chill 15 min. Bake until light golden brown, about 15-18 mins.

3. Mix powdered sugar with fresh lemon juice. Add zest if using.  Spoon 1/2 tsp glaze over each cookie, spreading with back of spoon, and press 1 rosemary sprig into glaze.

(You can also add some chopped rosemary, 1 tsp, into the dough if you want to intensify the rosemary flavor.)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Apples

It's time to start thinking about Thanksgiving!

My good friend Phyl  put together a Thanksgiving dinner round-up and I grabbed the stuffing! Or, dressing as many call it. I use the words interchangeably, although I'm sure to some there is a distinction between stuffing (inside bird) vs dressing (outside bird). I'm sure I've had stuffing actually stuffed in the bird at some point in my life, but for the majority of my adulthood I always remember it being cooked alongside the bird.

I found a fantastic recipe from one of my favorite sources Pioneer Woman and tweaked to my liking. If I were able I'd handle the calories, I'd love to cook my way through her cookbook!
This recipe begins with lots of bread: cornbread, french bread, and a crusty baguette! Sausage is added (I chose the use kiebalsa) along with onions and apples. If you're not a huge fan of apples in dressing, reduce to one apple. I love the extra flavor an apple brings to dressing, but I'm not a huge fan of cooked apple so, for me, two was a bit much.
Herbed chicken broth is poured over everything and then it's all baked in the oven. Oh goodness did the house smell like Thanksgiving! I almost called my whole family over for dinner. The dressing was really delicious and would compliment any Thanksgiving table.

Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Apples
Adapted From: Pioneer Woman
Printable Recipe
Serves: 8

2 cups of cornbread cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups of french bread cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups of crusty baguette cut into 1 inch cubes (I like the seeded baguettes)
1/4 lb sausage (italian or kiebalsa)
1 cup onion, diced
2 granny smith apples, chopped
2 T + 1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine
14 oz can chicken broth
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp tumeric
1 tsp rosemary leaves, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
pepper (to taste)
parsley, minced

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cut up bread and combine in a large bowl.

3. In a large skillet cook sausage. Once it has browned, set it aside. Add to the skillet (without cleaning) the onion. Saute the onions for one minute. Add the apples and brown sugar to the pan. Cook until the apples are soft, about 5 minutes. To the pan add the white wine and kosher salt and let mixture bubble for about three to four minutes. Set the onion and apple mixture in another bowl.

4. Add to the skillet (without cleaning) the chicken broth, thyme, tumeric, rosemary, and any desired pepper. Let the broth warm for a few minutes.

5. Add the sausage and apple mixture to the bowl with the bread. Toss. Pour the warmed broth over the bread mixure. Begin by pouring half of the broth over and tossing. As you add the remaining half of broth be prepared to not add it all. Assess by tasting.

6. Pour mixture into a large baking dish and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Buttermilk Cottage Dill Bread

I've been watching my friend Phyl's Bread of the Month group on facebook for months now and had to join in this month! The bread sounded too intriguing to not participate! Just look at the the picture below. Would you ever imagine this is how you would start off to make bread!
Yes, that is cottage cheese, butter, and buttermilk.
All cooked together with minced onion and fresh dill.
Then the flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and yeast is sifted together. The two mixtures are combined and all the rising begins. My doughs needed some extra time and extra coaxing but they rose in the loaf pans and were baked.
The bread was so good! I can totally see this bread becoming a favorite in our house. Phyl also suggested using this bread for making stuffing. Great idea! If you don't eat it all before it has time to "dry out" for the crouton making.
You can get Phyl's recipe for Buttermilk Cottage Dill bread here!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

BBA #34: Pumpernickel Bread

The thirty-fourth bread of the Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge is pumpernickel bread. I cannot believe I only have nine breads left!

I was so nervous about this bread turning out as I had many obstacles on my path to its creation. First of all, there is no pumpernickel bread in my city! I went to three grocery stores and no one carried coarse whole-rye (pumpernickel grind) flour. I couldn't even find anything that seemed close. I finally just ordered it from King Arthur Flour.

Next, I'd let my starter sit for about three weeks without any refreshing. I figured this was okay, but I've been very diligent about my starter since creating this second one and wasn't sure how it would react. I also ended up having to refresh it twice because I didn't realize I needed a cup of starter and I'd depleted by starter by quite a bit. The day I went to start the bread I ended up just refreshing my starter again because I didn't want to use all of it.

I finally got to mixing day. I made the rye starter and popped it in the fridge after a day of fermenting. I had planned to make and bake bread the next day but life happened and I didn't get to it. So, my rye starter sat for two days. This is the first bread I've made that has used the usual ingredients of brown sgugar, cocoa powder, and bread crumbs. I made the bread and let it rise. After two hours it had barely risen. I hopped it in a slightly warmed oven to see if that would help.

Yes, the bread finally rose after 4 hours but at this point it was too late to get it ready for dinner and my evening was being upended anyway so I shaped the dough and stuck it in the fridge. This is the first time I've ever retarded dough after shaping without being prompted that it's okay to do that. I assumed it was fine but you never know the first time you try something.
And after all that.... the bread turned out great! It was dense and chewy and had a great flavor. At dinner my daughter said, "Mama is bread is really good." So a hit definitely! I'll be making this bread again for sure. I like it a lot and I have plenty of flour from King Arthur to use up.
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