Monday, May 21, 2012

Modern Baker: Viennese Punch Cookies

This is the final cookies recipe for the Modern Bakers challengers from the Modern Baker cookbook. These are an adult cookie as the filling and icing contain rum!

The cookie itself is a nice shortbread type cookie utilizing ground slivered almonds in the dough.
The filling is quite interesting. The dough scraps from cutting out the cookies are baked and then ground. To the ground scraps apricot preserves, semisweet chocolate, rum, orange zest, and lemon zest is added. The filling has a rich distinct flavor.
The icing is simply confectioners' sugar and rum (and a drop of yellow food coloring). The cookies were good. I'm not sure I'd make them again, but I liked the combination of flavors of the simple cookie with the rich filling and the icing that packed a little punch. I haven't done a lot of "adult baking" where the alcohol stays in the dessert. It was kind of fun to know I would be a "bad mother" if I shared any cookies with my kids. More for me! (heehee)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Modern Baker: Blackberry Linzer Disks

The Modern Bakers are baking cookies, bars, and biscotti from the Modern Baker cookbook. The cookie dough uses ground up slivered almonds, cinnamon, and cloves which gives the cookie a nice flavor. They look much like a shortbread cookie would, but when you bite into them the nutty, cinnamon, and clove flavor makes the cookie really stand out.

These linzer disks were supposed to use raspberry preserves, but since I had blackberry on hand, I used it up. I love the little window and the confectioners' sugar finishing makes them so presentable. You'll want to drop by the neighbors with a few just so they can see you're pretty cookies.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

BBA #43: Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche

Challenge Completed!!!
The forty-third (and final bread!!!) of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche. This is a three day bread that is worth every minute it takes to make!

On day 1, I made the sponge with my starter, water, and bread flour. The sponge fermented on the counter all day and then went into the fridge for overnight. On day 2, I made the bread dough and roasted the onions in the oven. The dough consisted of a lot of bread flour (7 cups!), yeast, water, salt, olive oil, shredded Asiago cheese, and chopped chives and scallions. All of this dough was a bit much for my KitchenAid mixer but I kept at it. Flour kept sloshing out the sides and wound around the hook connections. After the dough finally all came together and the dough hook mixed it for a couple minutes, I got the bread on the counter and hand kneaded it for several more minutes to give it a final good mixing. The dough fermented for 3 hours and then I shaped it into two boules and placed them in the fridge for overnight.
The next morning I got the breads out and realized I couldn't cook both of them at once because they were so big and my baking stone wasn't large enough. Oh well, that just doubled the amount of time my house smelled like baking bread!!

I topped them with another half of the Asiago cheese and my roasted onions and baked each for 35-40 minutes. I'm not sure my house has ever smelled so good! Baking bread, baking/melting cheese, and roasting onion filled the house.
The bread was incredible and well worth the two years it took to get here. The crumb was so delicious with pockets of cheesy goodness and a soft chewy texture. The crust was to die for, especially the top where the extra Asiago cheese and onions were. I took the breads to a family event and everyone commented on how delicious the bread was. It was a real crowd pleaser.
So, here I find myself at the end of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge. What a fantastic finale!!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge- Almost Complete!

Tomorrow I will post the final bread in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge. Two years ago- to the date tomorrow- I began my journey of learning to bake bread.

When I began I didn't know what yeast was , let alone instant yeast, or even where to find it in the store.
I didn't know that breads rose twice- the first usually referred to as fermenting and the second usually referred to as proofing. I didn't know that a lot of breads take more than one day to make! I had no idea what bread dough should feel like and was confused by Reinhart's "tacky but not sticky" repeated comment on how the dough should feel. I had no idea how to make, store, or feed a starter.

I am amazed at all I have learned and how much I've enjoyed baking bread. I am a bread baker now and I can't wait to see what bread comes next! Thank you Peter Reinhart for writing this bread book and thank you Nicole at Pinch My Salt for creating this great challenge out of boredom and a random thought!

I looked at the list of breads I baked for this challenge trying to find favorites and it is so hard to choose. There were so many! Here are my top 10.... we'll, at least my top 10 for today!

Bagels
Challah
Ciabatta
Foccacia
French Bread
Multigrain Bread Extordinare
Pizza Napoletana 
Potato Rosemary Bread
Sourdough
Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes

Monday, May 7, 2012

Modern Baker: Lemon & Almond Tuiles

More cookies from the Modern Baker Cookbook! My friends and I are still hard at work on the challenge.

Tuile is french for tile and these little cookies are delicious little tiles to goodness. I was in a mad rush this week and just didn't have the time to finish these off to perfection. I'm lucky a picture got snapped of them at all.

The cookie dough is made with butter, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, eggs, ground almonds, and flour. Once the dough mounts are in the oven they flatten out and create these thin cookies. Once out of the oven you can keep the cookies as is (the boring way), or curve them by placing them around rolling pins or bowl (such a fun idea but just didn't have the time!), or sandwich them with some preserves (fantastic idea that must be tried someday!)

My little cookies were quite delicious. The recipe calls for two teaspoons of zest. I only had one and so I substituted a teaspoon of lemon juice for zest. I love lemon so I figured I'd like the extra kick of juice. In fact, next time I might play with the proportions a bit and add even more lemon. These little cookies would be perfect for tea time!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

BBA #42: Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes

The forty-second bread of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes. This recipe is in fact the recipe of Tim and Crystal Decker, a friend of the author Peter Reinhart's. Reinhart has added a nice "final grace note" introducing us to them and their bakery in Santa Rosa. I am in the epilogue and have only one bread left! What a journey this bread baking has been.

This bread is made using my barm, cooked potatoes, the potato water, bread flour, yeast, salt, chopped chives, and sharp cheddar cheese. It is one of my absolute favorites from this book and the fact it is a one day bread makes it an extra bonus! Although, I'll need to plan out eating this bread in the future because if dinner tonight is any indication, I'll need to plan ahead for eating nothing but bread for a whole meal.
Even though I've baked 41 breads I'm still learning. My barm seemed more "watery" than at other times and I absentmindedly added a bit more potato water before really checking the dough during mixing. I was reminded that a little water goes a long way in bread baking. I had to add a ton of additional flour to rectify the super sticky dough I was dealing with. The note about the dough needing to clear the side of the bowl and the bottom was quite helpful. Seriously, I started questioning myself if flour made bread more sticky because I felt like I kept adding flour and the bread kept sticking to the bowl worse. It was laughable. Finally, I found a threshold and the dough finally cooperated.
The hearth baking was great fun this time. The cheese bubbled out and melted all over the bread and onto the stone. It looked so delicious I almost wanted to get a fork right then. The crust was crunchy but not too thick and the crumb was soft and delicious. The pockets of cheese were so delicious!
An absolute winner of a bread and such a treat to bake this bread right at the end.

One bread to go!
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