Tuesday, January 31, 2012

BBA #39: Vienna Bread

The thirty-ninth bread of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is Vienna bread. Many of the breads we love and consider great French breads and pastries actually came from Austria many years before. The big difference in these breads is that the Austrian breads utilize a little sugar, barley malt syrup, and butter. The sugar and malt syrup brown the crust faster and the butter "tenderizes the dough by coating and 'shortening' the gluten strands" as stated by Reinhart. I must admit that I still struggle to always understand all his bread language. However, having baked and tasted the bread, I think I understand what he means.

The bread was delicious. It was soft and rich. We spread ours with butter and finished it off with friends at dinner. I know we'll be making this bread again!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Kitchen, The Old

We've moved and I've left behind my kitchen. This is where I began my cook/baking journey. (Please forgive the appearance. This picture was taken after three days of packing, moving, and cleaning and right before we handed over keys.)

I will always have a special place in my heart for this kitchen. I learned so much on these counter tops. I'd love to do a long post recapping it all, but I just don't have the time!

I have a confession to make. Please fellow bakers go easy on me. During this crazy moving time when one really wants a treat now and then I've resorted to boxed brownie and cake mixes.

I promise to give you a tour of my new kitchen soon and you will notice many blog posts to come in this kitchen. I dealt with the angst and stress of the buying/selling process by baking. It was a great stress relief and allowed me to schedule out many posts so I don't feel like my blog is neglected during this chaotic time.

Happy Baking All!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Modern Baker: Coconut Pecan Chocolate Chunk Bars

The Modern Bakers are baking up bars and cookies and these coconut pecan chocolate chunk bars really deliver! I took them to a party and not only was the plate emptied quickly but I've had three people ask me for the recipe.

They were super simple to make. One step I want to stress is the buttered foil covering the whole pan. I almost missed that little step and can only imagine the mess I would have had!

To begin the bars, you make simple cookie like crust and bake it. Then, you mix the coconut, pecans, and chocolate chunks together with lots of sugar and eggs. This mixture is spread on the crust and baked.

Each element really holds it's own and the tweaking possibilities are endless! Yay for super yummy bars that are a cinch to make!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Oatmeal Applesauce Bluberry Muffins DD

These mini muffins are another attempt at semi-healthy muffins with a little deceptively deliciousness as well. The girls helped me make the muffin batter. They loved mixing and tasting everything. I'm not sure why, but they both think flour all by itself is "super yummy".

I like the mini muffin size. It's great for kids!

Oatmeal Applesauce Blueberry Muffins
Printable Recipe

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup yellow squash puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T oil
1 egg
1 cup blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in one bowl.

3. Combine applesauce, squash puree, brown sugar, oil, and egg in another bowl.

4. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingrients and then stir in the blueberries. Spoon into mini muffin tins and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Modern Baker: Sicilian Fig Bars

The Modern Bakers are baking cookies, bars, and biscotti from the Modern Baker cookbook.  These sicilian fig bars are a merger of the classic fig bar we're all used to here in the U.S. with the seasonings you'd find in a fig bar in Sicily. I must say they look more complicated to make than they were!

I made a half recipe of the dough and rolled three ropes to about 12 inches long. I put these in the fridge to chill overnight. The next day I rolled the ropes out about 4 inches and then spread them with the filling.
The filling: You'll soon learn that I wasn't a huge lover of these fig bars, but I think a likely reason could be because I used different figs than specified. N.M. recommends Calimyrna figs. I couldn't find these so I used black mission figs. It could simply be that these figs didn't blend as well with the other seasonings.
I cooked the figs with water, apricot preserves, rum, cinnamon and cloves.
And then pureed the mixture. Oh my goodness did the house smell festive! I think it was the combination of the cinnamon and cloves.
After I spread the filling on the dough, I rolled them put and set them on a baking sheet seam side down. I baked them and then cut them up just like the classic fig newton bars.

What I liked about the bar is that it was a lot less sweet than a fig newton. The cookie part was crunchy and flaky more like a pie crust. What I didn't like was the filling. I'm thinking it was the combination of the "wrong" fig and the cloves that was off putting to me. I like a hint of cloves, but this recipe used quite a bit and it was overpowering to me. I doubt I'd make these again, however it would be fun to find another filling and make a similar style cookie/bar.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

BBA #38: Tuscan Bread

The thirty-eighty bread of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is Tuscan bread.

This bread is unique because it does not contain salt. In the intro Reinhart discusses, almost exclusively, the unique flavor this creates in the bread. I think it was a benefit that I didn't get around the reading the intro until after I made and ate the bread.

We loved this bread. I'm impressed I even noticed a difference in the taste of the bread. I must be getting a bread palate! I attributed the unique flavor to the addition of olive oil and to the usage of a flour paste. I didn't even notice it didn't contain salt. The flour paste, made with boiling water and flour, is unlike a pre-ferment because it doesn't contain yeast.

The flavor the bread can be dull or flat tasting and Tuscans combat this by using the bread with lots of lavish spreads or with hearty flavorful soups. We ate the bread with our favorite dipping olive oil, balsamic, and dipping spices. We loved the chewy dense texture of the bread. I told my husband that we'd be visiting Vienna next (Vienna bread is #39), he asked if I could just keep making this one.

So a definite hit and I now have a whole new appreciation for what salt does for a bread!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Applesauce Spice Muffins DD

Yummy muffins! They sure don't taste like they have squash in them!

I'm now experimenting with my own Deceptively Delicious recipes! I have a whole freezer full of vegetable purees thanks to my parent's garden. Muffins are a great place to hide vegetables.

The kids loved them! Okay, I'm sure it had something to do with the chocolate chips, especially the double dose of chocolate chips! When one kid gets to pour the chocolate chips and the other freaks out, sometimes the solution is just more chocolate chips instead of a big discussion about how life isn't fair.

Applesauce Spice Muffin DD
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar, separated
11 Tbs butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup yellow squash puree
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
1 cup coconut (optional)

1 Tbs sugar
1/8 tsp cinnaomn
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

2. In an electric mixer beat butter and half of the brown sugar. Add the eggs and beat to incorporate each. Add the applesauce and squash puree and then slowly add the flour mixture.

3. Take bowl off mixer. Fold in the second half of the brown sugar and the chocolate chips and/or coconut if using. Spoon into a 12-cavity muffin pan.

3. Mix topping and sprinkle over each muffin.

4. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Melting Snowman Cookies

I originally saw these cookies on Pinterest and knew I had to do them this winter! What a fantastically fun cookie!
The girls had the best time shaping the dough and then decorating.
I let them each do a couple completely on their own and they created abstract art interpretations of snowmen.
Cookies, frosting, gel icing, chocolate chips, and marshmallows.... does a kid want anything more?
Melting Snowman Cookies
Printable Recipe

1 package Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1 can white frosting
Frosting tubes or gels
Mini chocolate chips

1. Mix the sugar cookie mix as directed. Take a small handful of dough, about 2 Tbs worth, and push down into a flat cookie shape. Don't worry if it's lumpy or misshapen. That just gives them extra charm. Bake the cookies as directed or until slightly golden.

2. Frost the cookies and allow it to drip over the sides or pool.

3. Spray a plate with cookie spray and place marshmallows on the plate. Set in the microwave for 30 seconds but watch them. Stop the microwave when they've puffed up. Don't worry about letting them double, just let them puff. Spray your fingers with cooking spray. Pluck them off the plate and place one on each cookie.

4. Decorate into snowmen.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Modern Baker: Caramel Crumb Bars

The Modern Bakers are in now in cookies, bars and biscotti section of the cookbook!

I did okay for my first attempt at these bars but I think I can do better. Sometimes you need to do a recipe once to learn the slight nuances of it. Okay, I'll give you that usually those nuanced recipes are more complicated than a simple bar- like meringue or candy.

The bars could have used about 5 more minutes of baking. The caramel was light and creamy and the crust very buttery. These bars were really quite delicious. I would have preferred the caramel flavor to be a bit stronger but others loved them as they were. Please remember to line the pan with foil. I forgot and had a bit of a time getting them out of the pan.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Modern Baker: Sour Cream Brownies

Brownies! Seriously, need I say more?!
The Modern Bakers are now baking cookies, bars & biscotti from The Modern Baker Cookbook.

These brownies are made with bittersweet chocolate chunks that are submerged in warmed butter and then mixed with dark brown sugar, eggs, sour cream, salt, vanilla, flour, and walnut pieces.

N.M. says that the sour cream helps cut down on the sweetness. He's right. These brownies are perfectly chocolatey and rich without sending you over the edge. In fact, what they'll do is send you back to the dessert table for another one! They are delicious!

They're more of a cake-like than fudge-like brownie. I happen to love both kinds, but often cake-like brownies can feel dry out. These were nicely moist. The walnuts were a great addition. Bake these with confidence that you'll have a happy crowd!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Charlotte's 4th Birthday Breakfast

Happy 4th Birthday Charlotte!
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