Babka

March 21, 2016

Chocolate Babka

Today is the beginning of three new recipes, the first being a chocolate babka. I brewed a cup of coffee, sat down and studied the recipe. ( Just a side note, the babka is steeped in Polish and Jewish tradition and may have various fillings other than chocolate.)

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The dough is mixed in an upright stand mixer. Flour, sugar, yeast, milk, almond extract, lemon oil and butter  are combined, put in a warm place to rest while the chocolate filling is assembled.

The chocolate filling, consisting of wonderful things like melted butter, brown sugar, Dutch processed cocoa, honey, an egg, vanilla extract and chocolate cookie crumbs. These are combined and set aside.

After an hour the dough is rolled into a 10 X 24 inch rectangle. (The dough didn’t rise much in the hour required even though it was set in a 75 degree environment. Checked the recipe fearing I had neglected some measurements. Everything looked A-okay so I continued.)

Spread the decadent chocolate filling onto the rolled dough leaving a 1/2 inch border. Now, with the bottom edge I rolled the dough into the middle of the rectangle (not perfect I have to admit) then did the same with the other edge meeting them both in the middle. With the “roll” done now comes the “fold.” Taking the ends in hand I fold the left side of the dough so it meets in the middle of the roll and doing the reverse side so both meet in the middle.

With the above process I flipped the dough over so the seam was on the board. Gently I gather the dough in my hands and make a slight twist in the middle. After that the dough is brushed with an egg wash then put in a bread pan to rise.

When the dough has “rested’’ for about an hour I again brush the bread with the egg wash and sprinkle the streusel over the top. Baked in a 375 degree oven for 40 (not 50 as suggested in the cookbook as my oven runs a bit hot) making sure to turn the bread half way through to insure even baking.

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What an amazing result before me as I slice the babka in half revealing the beautiful chocolate swirls. Very impressive presentation if I do say so myself…and I do. These were relatively easy compared to the croissants.

We have had a few hiccups slowing down my progress with “Next”. What I am realizing is this…starting this little project at 70 when the fingers aren’t as nimble, the eyes struggle to decipher small print, the shoulder is facing therapy or worse yet, an operation, Dick having carotid artery surgery and lastly, my two month battle with bronchitis was a bit of a folly.   However, being blessed with a stubborn nature and a strong determination to finish this from start to finish I will prevail!

March 22,2016

Hazelnut Babka

The same process as above for the dough. A nutty, cinnamon filling replaces the chocolate filling making it a very different mixture and , may I add, a surprisingly welcomed one!

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The ingredients are a combination of sugar, milk, butter, vanilla, salt, hazelnuts, cinnamon and an egg yolk.

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True to the recipe, I roasted the hazelnuts at 350 degrees until the were evenly toasted.  Then I proceeded to skin the hazelnuts by putting the nuts into a clean towel and rubbing the nuts against each other until most of the skins fall off. Following this technique, I then finely chopped them!

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.Then the above ingredients except the cinnamon and nuts were put in a small pot and brought to a boil. Removed the pot and added the nuts and the cinnamon. Cooled the mixture then whisked in the egg yolk.

Spread the mixture on the dough making sure to leave a half inch boarder and continued using the same technique as in the chocolate babka. Darn yummy!

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March 23, 2016

Apricot Cream Cheese Babka

Again, the same instructions for the dough as before is used. The filling, however, is far different than the prior two recipes.

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I combined orange juice, lemon juice, dried apricots and sugar in a small sauce pan brought them to a boil for 20 minutes. The mixture is then cooled and put in a food processor and mixed until a smooth jam is achieved. Set this aside and began the cream cheese filling.

The cream cheese filling is a creamy mixture of an egg yoke, vanilla and almond extract, orange zest, a pinch of salt, cream cheese and sugar. These, except the egg, were beaten together with a wooden spoon . When the filling is fully combined the egg is added.

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After the dough cooled the apricot jam was spread evenly over the surface leaving a half inch boarder as done in the previous babkas. This was topped with the luscious cream cheese filling.

With that done I proceeded to roll the babka as done in the other three recipes. How amazing this finished product is. Such wonderful taste filling the palate making just one not enough. This concludes the section on babkas…they are so worth the extra effort.

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April 10, 2016

FRENCH PUFF

(Today I am making French Puffs. They do not come under any specific category. Daughter #1 is coming over to do her taxes. Thought these little puffs would make the ordeal a bit sweeter for her, as it did for daughter #2.  We can easily see which daughter is the procrastinator.)

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Another great recipe to have in the morning or tea in the afternoon. Oh heck, they are great any time of day. Here we go…

The ingredients are readily at hand for these puffs. Buttermilk gives this batter a distinct  flavor one can’t mistake. To begin with, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder and freshly grated nutmeg in a large bowl. With your stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugars (white and dark brown) on medium speed until smooth. So far, so good but I’ve had a funny feeling there might be a fly in the ointment. Well, not really you know.)

Lower speed to low adding 2 eggs one at a time. Then add vanilla and half the buttermilk followed by half the dry ingredients making sure to scrape down the sides. (So far…no flies) Add the remaining buttermilk followed by the dry ingredients making sure the batter is mixed thoroughly.

Scoop two heaping tablespoons into well buttered muffin tins. Bake for 14 minutes making sure to rotate half way through the baking.

Meantime, prepare the topping which consists of butter, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon. When the muffins are removed from the oven cool them for a few minutes. Then, add vanilla to the melted butter, dip the tops of each muffin in the cinnamon mixture…set aside.

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With the conclusion of this recipe I am pleased to report NO FLIES appeared during this heavenly bake.

NEXT…TARTS

Scones continued

March 6, 2016

Wild Blueberry Oat Scones

My freezer at home stores many packages of Wyman’s Maine wild blueberries…always ready to make a pie or Marjorie Standish’s Melt In Your Mouth Blueberry Cake. Delighted to bake some of these little blue, juicy jewels into yum-delicious scones.

Prep done on the dry ingredients. Now to add the butter…a new way of doing this with the food processor came to me like the proverbial light bulb going off. Rather than using all the flour to mix in the butter, I decided it would be wiser to use just 1 cup of the flour pulsing 3 times leaving just the right consistency. (Still bothers me that I can’t use my fingertips to do this.)

Then, with my hands, I tossed in the oats and blueberries. Mixed the half and half with the vanilla in a glass measuring cup. Proceeded to add a bit of the liquid at a time until the dough was very moist. Pressed the mixture into a 1/2 cup measure plopping them on the prepared sheet pan. Topped the scones with a few oats and a dusting of turbinado sugar.

Gorgeous scones if I must say so myself. The blueberries just popped with flavor enhanced by the garnish making this a great baking day. YUM!

March 8, 2016

Pumpkin Cream Scones

Can’t wait,  REALLY, I can’t wait to make these. Nothing smells, tastes and bakes like something with pumpkin and molasses. They’ll come running for miles when the aroma whiffs through open windows. (By the way, it is mild enough today to open the kitchen window.)

After breakfast with classmates in Topsham I returned home to begin today’s scones. (Had planned to have coffee ONLY at the restaurant today but ended up with the #1 special on the chalkboard. It was the full meal deal.)

Preheated the oven to 400 degrees, lined the baking sheet with parchment paper, mixed the cinnamon and sugar for the garnish and now I’m ready to begin. Again I put just one cup of flour in the food processor then added a cup and a quarter chilled butter. Three pulses then flour/butter mixture went into a large bowl followed by the rest of the flour, the crystalized ginger, the dark brown sugar and spices along with baking powder and salt. Mix with a whisk and my finger tips (ugh) making sure all the large lumps were out.

Now the wet ingredients. Half and half, pumpkin puree and 1 egg. As quickly as possible I mixed all the components together. With my ice cream scoop I shaped the scones topping each with the cinnamon sugar and a few  pumpkin seeds. Into the oven for 25 minutes making sure to turn the baking  pan half way through in order have an even bake. (Wish you could smell them baking!)

Okay, 25 minutes might have been a tad too long. The scones didn’t burn but two more seconds and it would have been Sayonara Baby. Oh, but the taste is full and rich. The crystallized ginger adds so much flavor along with all the spices, pumpkin and molasses. Lord, I’m glad to be alive!

May have to drop a couple off at City Hall! What say you, Kathy?

March 11, 2016

(I have a problem…the next scone recipe is the dried pear and ginger scone. What’s the problem you ask?…where in the heck do you find dried pears! Looked locally without any success. So, I’m drying my own. OMG, what a ordeal this is turning into. Those little sliced pears have been in the oven for 5 hours (after soaking them in some weird solution) turning them into pear leather. Oh goodie…went back to Google to find the above recipe and I can’t find it. Read others articles on this process in Google but they were not one bit like the one I’ve been working on. Okay…this will take a bit of time so I am, for today, skipping over the dried pear and ginger scones and continuing on with the cheddar chive scones.)

Cheddar Chive Scones

After preparing the pans, mixing the topping of corn meal, cheese and pepper, I again took 1 cup of flour adding 1/2 cup chopped butter and pulsed 3 times in my food processor. I then added this to the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combined the egg and half and half with a whisk and poured this over the dry ingredients followed by the cheese and egg mixture being careful not to over mix. Then gently added the chives and extra sharp cheddar. YUM!

I was surprised at the amount of pepper used in this scone, 2 1/2 teaspoons. Baked the scones 20 minutes until golden brown. To my delight the pepper amount was perfect! No Doubting Thomas here, thank you…this cookbook is perfect in every sense. The scones are light with a peppery, cheesy, zing… very tasty. Thank you SBC!

(Okay, for those who REALLY know me, you must be impressed at the lack of expletives in this blog. It is with the utmost diligence this phenomenon has occurred. Of course, you have my permission to read between the lines.)

March 12, 2016

Pear Ginger Scones

Finishing the chapter on scones today with pear ginger scones. After dehydrating the sliced pears in the oven for 5 hours yesterday they are ready to be used in today’s recipe. Funny, after all that time turning these pear slices into pear leather, I now have to hydrate them in a cup of boiling water!

Prep work done…now to add the half and half, vanilla and eggs

into the dry ingredients along with the chopped butter. Lovely dough…moist and light. Added the ginger and the chopped pears. With an ice cream scoop I dropped the scones onto the parchment lined pans followed by the cinnamon/sugar topping.

Baked for twenty minutes, turning the pan after the first ten minutes. My, oh my, oh my are these delicious! I’m not kidding here…they are my favorite. Well, the pumpkin creams are a close second.

I do hope you folks out there get your fingers messy and try some of these scones. The cookbook, “Pastries” will be required but, to me, the price of the book vs. the pleasure of baking these recipes is minimal. A delight to the baker and those who enjoy the finished product.

NEXT…BABKA

Scones

February 29, 2016

Today begins the chapter on SCONES…a favorite of mine to make and EAT. These are currant scones made with 2 ingredients I’ve not used in making scones before…dark brown sugar and yogurt.

Right from the get-go I felt things were rather amiss. After preparing the sheet pan with parchment paper, setting the oven to 425 degrees and combining the cinnamon/sugar to top the scones before baking I began to combine the dry ingredients with the cubed butter. Using my finger tips I began the process of incorporating the butter into the flour mixture. Well, my arthritic hands rebelled! 

As much as I tried to complete this critical part of the scone I did not succeed. Should I pull out my food processor? The recipe did not call for any devices requiring an electrical cord. Humm…so, I continued with the recipe adding the rest of the ingredients and finally the yogurt. Oh dear, what a mess. The yogurt did not moisten the dough enough to form the 8 inch square required. As it stressed not to over work the dough, I just dumped the mess on my floured board and tried to mold it into a square. I then randomly cut out the scones, topped each with the cinnamon/sugar topping and baked. The result…DISASTER!

 (At this point, I wondered if perhaps all the meds I’ve been taking, especially the prednisone, might be causing me to hasten my work. Yes, I do think my need for detail and patience went out the window replaced by lack of attention to the recipe causing failure. Back to the drawing board tomorrow.)

March 1, 2016

Off to the grocery store to replenish the larder with flour, dark brown sugar among other staples. Mission accomplished.

Today I am doing the Currant Scones again…with patience and precision! Everything was in place before the actual mixing began.…currants, sugar/cinnamon mixture, flour and remaining dry ingredients.   I did have to use my food processor  which made me feel OLD. ( I have to interject a very valid point the book makes…read the entire recipe before beginning!)

After the dry ingredients were combined in the processor, I then dumped them into a large bowl, adding the yogurt. With a small hand scraper, I incorporated everything together without too much muscle action (as if). The moistened dough was then put on a floured work space, shaped into an 8 inch square and dusted with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Proceeded to cut the square into 6 squares then cut each of these squares on the diagonal.   The scones appear to be moist and light unlike yesterday’s fiasco. Popped them into the oven, made a cup of coffee and thumbed through the newspaper.

Oh my, they are rustic but lovely. I pulled one apart to see if they baked evenly…yes, they had. Now for the first bite…delightful. Light with a burst of flavor that lingers on the palate…I am truly pleased with todays results. Tomorrow I will make cranberry/walnut scones, a variation of the currant scone.

As a side comment, the above scones were delivered to my son and his family in Bath last evening. They were hosting a Bon Voyage gathering on the eve of their departure to the Caribbean. We had the most delicious tastes of the islands inspired by a buffet prepared by my daughter-in-law. My son made island rum drinks that had Mamie (me) relaxed and wishing she were going with them. We sang songs like, “Holiday” and “It’s not a dream your seeing down in the Caribbean”…remember that one?  The teenage boys were not too impressed and soon were off saying…”see you when we get back”…

A word from one who has to do everything at least twice, I have to tell you…if you take your time, plan your time and set aside any other business, follow the recipe with well rested eyes and body you will succeed the first time. The recipes are so instructional and detailed that one should nail it on the first go.

March 2, 2016

Cranberry/Walnut Variation

The same process as above was completed except dried cranberries and walnuts replaced the currants. The recipe suggested using Turbinado sugar instead of the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Since I do not have this item in my pantry I again used the c/s mixture. No oh-oh’s and with that, considered these scones a success.

Tonight is “Turbo Tax Night” with daughter No. 2.  Hopefully, a scone or two will help make the task less painful. 

March 3, 2016

Today I resumed my Thursday morning league bowling in Brunswick. After that, it will be a trip to Now You’re Cooking in Bath to find Turbinado sugar. Then on to the local fish market for crabmeat that will be made into “cakes” for lunch upon my arrival home. I love my life> <3

Returned from my Thursday outing successfully obtaining the Turbinado sugar. Mike, at Now You’re Cooking, told me they didn’t carry this item but did tell me that good old Reny’s did. Thanks, Mike!…you’ve always been so helpful over the years.

Dried Apricot/Toasted Almond Variation

Again, repeated the above scone recipe using chopped apricots and roasted almonds. (There is a guide on roasting nuts in the back of the cookbook that is very helpful.) The scones were dusted with the Turbinado sugar, which I have to say was well worth the extra effort to find.

 

March 4, 2016

Today is a busman’s holiday. Baking on the docket but switching from scones to cakes! Tomorrow Dick and I are headed to Phippsburg to have lunch with old friends who just happen to be the parent’s of my daughter-in-law. Thumbing through “Pastries” I found a flourless chocolate cake that will certainly be a perfect addition to the day. I will repeat this in my blog later. At that time I’ll do the play by play. (Just a side note…it’s a lovely cake topped with whipped cream and mixed berries.)

Butter Croissants

The first recipe in the cookbook is the scary Croissant. I have practiced the folds and techniques on plain white paper. I have to tell you, this will be one of the most difficult recipes to pull off for me. Here goes!

January 18, 2016

Okay, step one is under way. I combined the first ingredients including yeast, flour and water etc. setting it to proof for an hour.

The dough has now risen and this lovely glob of flour mixture will be rolled into a rectangle then placed in the refrigerator while preparing the butter.

Chopped, mixed and rolled the butter into a 6 inch square. Put it in the refrigerator to chill before rolling it with the dough.

Hummm…it has been now 59 mins. and the dough hasn’t risen quite high enough. I did test the liquid temperature before adding it to the dry ingredients (70 degrees). Tick tock…will wait another 15 mins.

Okay…now to laminate the butter on to the dough. This was the hardest part so far. Rolling the dough/butter to 12 X 6 inches using the envelope turn proved difficult for me. With the utmost perfection it took me too long. And, I forgot to dust off the dough in between each step. Duh! After much to do the dough is in the refrigerator for 45 mins. to an hour. Now to clean up the mess before making a new one. (I just remembered Alison, the star baker at TSBC) said to call her if I ran into any problems…will hold off…too many calls might not be wise at this point) The dough is ready for the next turn. So, once again it’s rolled, folded and put in the fridge for another 45 mins. or so. (I need another cuppa!!) Repeated this step again.

The final turn has now been completed. I have elected to freeze the dough at this point. Enough stress for one day.

January 19, 2016

Today we are off to purchase a kitchen table. That means no shaping and baking today. After seventy years without a microwave oven I have ordered one online. It should be here by week’s end. With the addition of this new kitchen appliance we discovered our present kitchen table is inadequate. Off to the furniture store…

We found the perfect table in Waldoboro. It’s assembled (thanks Dick) and placed by the chimney wall awaiting the UPS person who will bring the microwave oven on Friday.

January 20, 2016

Removed the dough from the oven and placed it on the prepared surface. The rolling commenced…12 X 25…seriously???? I rolled and rolled and finally the required dimensions were achieved.

Now the shaping. Trimmed off the rough edges and began cutting the triangles. After my first shaping, some looked like footballs!…Stopped!…took the remaining dough and rolled it thinner and not as wide or long. Rolled these out…cute, they are so cute. Of course, we don’t know at this point if the dough is properly layered. Resting the croissants on jelly roll pans in the oven (without turning it on) while they rise to a glorious height. Per the cookbook, I placed a pan of hot water on the bottom rack to ensure the temperature stays around 73 degrees.

After removing the pans and the pan of water the oven is now set for 430 degrees. The second brushing of the egg wash has been applied. Ready to put these suckers in the oven. Well, it’s back to the drawing board for me…not flaky….but tasty. Will do repeat again next week J

January 22, 2016

Uh-oh…the microwave, we thought, was ready to go wasn’t. It arrived all new and shiny but when we went to plug it in we found there was no outlet near enough to plug the darlin’ in. So, we have now called an electrician…he’ll get back to us. For now we will run a cord to the nearest outlet. Hope Dave the electrician calls soon. I knew there was a reason we’ve never had a microwave oven…buggar.

January 24, 2016

The electrician called, came over and wired a new outlet behind the new table that supports the new microwave. The total cost…$129.00 for microwave, $175.00 for the electrician and $300.00 for the table for a grand total of $604.00. Good night, Irene!

January 25, 2016

Today I attempted to make croissants AGAIN. Well, I knew I was in trouble. After the dough was ready for the butter to be laminated I felt it was too cold. It was…but, instead of stopping I continued. WRONG…now they are baking off and the butter is oozing from the croissants making a buttery mess on the parchment paper. My first attempt was far more successful.

At the same time I was doing the plain croissant I also did the Pain au Chocolat…of course, I had the same problem with the butter. Back to the drawing board…but not for a while.

Luncheon tomorrow with old friends from Morse High School, a trip to the hospital to see a friend then on to my grandson’s basketball game at Erskine Academy at 3:30…that’s enough for one day.

January 27, 2016

Here goes my third and final attempt at making a perfect croissant. (One good thing about the repeats I don’t hesitate when typing the word, “croissant”!)

Again, made the dough and put it in the refrigerator to rise. The three turns are done and so am I. Putting this dough in the freezer to roll another day.

January 28, 2016

Removed the dough from the freezer and put it into the refrigerator to thaw. After the thawing another arduous rolling begins.

The rectangle is now HUGE and ready to be cut into triangles. Another “not quite” perfect technique completed. These croissants will be rolled with parmesan cheese and ham.

These little darlins rolled out fairly well but I feel the dough is too soft. Time will tell. Baking is done and they are again too fat and the dough is really soft inside (that’s okay) and outside (this is not okay.) They taste great and the layers are distinct. That’s a first.

The final croissant recipe in this chapter…the Almond Croissant, will be completed on Sunday.

Tomorrow, the 30th of January is full so no baking for this rather tired gal. Lunch in Bath, a memorial service in Phippsburg for a dear friend and then on to another basketball game.

January 30, 2016

It’s now 3:30 am…guess I’ll continue with the final croissant…the Almond Croissant before my day really begins. 

Saved enough dough from yesterday to perform my last task in this chapter. Rolled out the dough, shaped it into triangles, brushed with egg wash and baked. When they cooled I proceeded making them into almond delights (I hope.) The simple syrup and the frangipane (similar to almond paste) where made yesterday in preparation for this final bake.

Sliced and spread cooled croissants with almond filling after coating each with simple syrup. Smeared each one with frangipane topped with sliced almonds. Baked for 15 min. and viola…they are fat but they are beautiful.

February 2, 2016

Today I’m moving onto the next recipe in “Pastries” the Morning Buns. My excitement soon left me when I discovered that the basic recipe in making these buns is the croissant! Oh no, I thought moving along would rid me of this rather painful technique. Wrong…so I will not bore you with another fold by fold and will proceed without comment.

February 3, 2016

Okay, one comment about rolling out the dough…it was a piece of…dough! Can’t believe how easy the rolling process was. So happy…

To make the buns the first step is to measure and mix 1 ½ cups of brown sugar with 1 ½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon. Next step, butter the 12 cupcake tin with butter. After that, a tablespoon on the brown sugar/cinnamon is place in each cup. Then the dough’s rolled out, cinnamon mixture placed evenly over the dough and rolled into a log. Cut the log into 12 pieces, placed the pieces into the tins and set to rise.

The buns are ready for the oven…baked 375 for 30 mins. turning once. After they baked I flipped them onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and to my amazement they all came tumbling out. Spooned the br.sugar/cinnamon sugar syrup left in the pan over the buns and so ends this recipe (sigh). Btw, I also made the breakfast buns with some of the dough.

In doing this blog I have found immense pleasure and gratification…releasing my inner creativity doing two things I love the best…cooking and writing. Thanks to you all for the support you have given me, especially to Dick, my SO, who has guided me through many a rough sea including the creation of this blog.

(No cooking today…bowling and a basketball game in Rockland. No sleep last night…bummer.)

February 28, 2016

Where have I been? Well, January found Dick and I headed to PA. and OH. to visit family. Then came February…bronchitis found me and has held me at bay for almost 4 weeks. After doses of prednisone and antibiotics my health is finally returning. In the meantime, my  blog has been on hold. I have forgone my annual trip to Florida to visit my dear high school buddies, missed my grandson’s tournament games, luncheons and bowling.  That being said, I’m now back in the saddle and ready to roll up my sleeves and BAKE!

NEXT