Sunday, April 12, 2015

Dattelkonfekt




Dattelkonfekt cookies have to be the easiest of all Rose's recipes. 
They are far easier to make than pronounce!

These date meringue cookies only came to be because of  The Alpha Bakers.
I would never willingly make meringue cookies.

But these are not like jiggly wiggly meringue on top of lemon meringue pie.

Even my mom detested meringue and substituted a sweetened sour cream topping from her cheesecake recipe after Marie Callenders added it to their menu.

So count me a teeny bit skeptical.

But these cookies surprise!
These cookies are like a chewy confection, reminiscent of  Italian nougat candy, only much lighter.


Dates and almonds are pulverized separately, then together.


Egg whites, vanilla and sugar are whipped until ultra thick.
The date and almond mixture is then tipped in and combined.



Get out the Back-Oblaten wafers and deal them 
round the cookie sheet.
Fill a pastry bag or use teaspoons to drop the dough onto the wafers.  
Pastry bag is the better option for neatness and aesthetics.
Drop method makes for interesting shapes.
Not quite certain what purpose the wafers serve unless to prevent sticking.

A few drops of orange oil added to the last of the batter really upped the flavor.



Let them cool.  
Enjoy!
This recipe could easily adapt to different flavors and additions.
Mini chocolate chips come to mind. And pistachios. 
I even think they could come very close to the many flavors of  my favorite 
Larabar by substituting cashews. .
Plus the sky's the limit on flavored oils!
~~~

The Baking Bible is available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble












Monday, April 6, 2015

Strawberry Shortcake Genoise


Ta Da!


This recipe wore me out because I was already worn out.  Might be the dawning of  The Age of Aquarius, or holiday.   But it's done and it's good even if I just now discovered the smashed strawberries that were supposed to be turned into puree sitting in the refrigerator.  Oh, well,  they weren't missed and good for  yogurt!  I will say this, the genoise turned out okay and that's always half the battle for me.  The left over strawberry syrup made it even better poured on the plate.





Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Pita Bread



Well.  Not quite pita bread.  Not quite naan.  More like an environmentally correct hybrid.
And it's tasty, too!  Especially topped with mozzarella, lettuce, tomatoes and olives.

The dough was ridiculously easy to mix up.  


After a two day slumber in the frig, it was time to buck up and roll out the pitas.
That part was easy.  Getting it to puff up during baking was not.


A big bubble here and there.

But the flavor!  Straight out of the oven, brushed with butter and sprinkled with Trader Joe's  garlic and parsley sea salt,  it is amazing.

If I ever master the puffing part, I can see throwing a pita party with a buffet of different toppings.  It would be like a magic act!  

~
The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum is still in print and available for purchase..





Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cran-Raspberry Upside-Down Cake


What do you do when an upside down cake is upside down for the seasons?

The Rhubarb Upside Down Cake version sounded really good.

Hothouse rhubarb, however, is finished for the season and field rhubarb isn't ready yet.  

Not a stalk of frozen rhubarb in town .


So onto cranberries which are pretty scarce this time of year.
Five dollars for a bag of frozen cranberries and they weren't even organic!

I was just happy to find them.

The Bake was on for the Alpha Bakers


So first the upside down sugar part gets cooked.  Poured into a prepared cake pan the cranberries are scattered on top.


A very simple sour cream and butter cake batter is mixed together to spread over the cranberry confection.

After thirty minutes in the oven it comes out  to be glazed with raspberry preserves.

While it cools, raspberry Italian meringue is whipped up.  


I'm not crazy about meringue.  This however, is not like regular meringue.
It's thicker, denser and has an altogether different flavor.



Some of us didn't wait for the topping.


And had to have another slice for comparison.

Definitely going on the holiday list.  It's vibrant in color with delightful flavors.
Perfect for gray winter days.  And not so bad for spring. 



This cake was a big success.  We all loved it!

Still I can't wait to try it with fresh rhubarb.
~

The Baking Bible is available to buy at all the usual places.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Luxury Oatmeal Cookies





It's-It

What's it?

This.  It's a It's-It.

Not really but it could be! The Alpha Bakers made cookies this week, The Baking Bible Luxury Oatmeal Cookies.  They are pure BR&;R Baking Rest and Relaxation. There is something so soothing about mixing up homemade granola with a bowl and a spoon to meet up with chocolate chip cookie dough. Put these two together and it just begged to be turned into a chocolate inside out It's-It ice cream sandwich 

Continuing along these retro lines, the scale stayed in the cupboard and out came the measuring cups and spoons.  Let's have a bit of fun, shall we, and throw caution to the wind!


Oats, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt are doused 
with maple syrup, Lyle's Golden Syrup, honey # veered off recipe, sunflower oil, vanilla extract
and Boyjian Orange Oil # can't I follow directions?


Seriously, I could have stirred this forever.

Into the oven for twenty minutes and then five more for extra measure.  The kitchen became perfumed with cinnamon, vanilla and orange.



Nice and crunchy with a few clusters here and there for nibbling taste testing.

On to chocolate chip cookie dough,  America's favorite cookie. Easy peasy to mix up and then pour straight into the granola along with golden raisins lest they be noticed.  Camouflage raisins!


Remember a few weeks back when I ranted and raved about chocolate?  Of course you do!
I'm always on about something.



Guittard chocolate.  I now buy it whenever I am in need of a chocolate they make   Why?  What's the big deal?  I was astonished and horrified to learn there was a movement underfoot amongst certain big name chocolate companies a few years ago.  The goal: to get the FDA to change the definition of chocolate, allowing other oils to be substituted for cocoa butter.

Which is more than a little annoying since cocoa butter is pretty much what makes chocolate, chocolate.
Cocoa butter is expensive so this meant massive profits ahead.  Guittard is a family company and they steadfastly refused, starting a Don't Mess With Our Chocolate campaign..  I'm sure they as much as the next company could use a bigger profit margin but the family held firm to keep the integrity of chocolate.  And so now I buy it whenever I can.
The End



After chilling,  rolling, smooshing and baking the delicious dough, this is what you get.  
Yummy yummy cookies.
And ice cream sandwiches if you wish.
~


The Baking Bible is available to buy at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 





Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sour Cherry Pie



This here was the 12,000 mile Sour Cherry Pi Day Pie, give or take a few frequent flier miles.

The Alpha Bakers took on fresh sour cherry pie this week.  Collectively, we looked high and low for sour cherries because we are diligent that way.   The options were frozen and canned.  This is not the season for fresh cherries  in the northern hemisphere.   Any one of these cherry choices turn out excellent pie with Rose's Baking Bible recipe.

And that is saying something!  This recipe is calibrated for fresh cherries and yet here we are substituting canned and frozen with pretty spectacular results.  Maybe even dried.

Why are sour/tart cherries so difficult to find?  Chalk it up to regional demand, growing seasons, climate requirements and  the fact loads of sour cherries are juiced and bottled.  

We need to storm the Bastille and demand sour cherries be brought back to market!




First up Rose's cream cheese dough.  It's really fantastic. 


  Iowa grandmother's 100 year old rolling pin.  I so wish I had asked her to teach me to make pies the few times I saw her as a teenager.  What a wasted opportunity.  

She never wanted the handle fixed, preferring to use pressure on the handle-less end to make a perfectly round pie dough for her cherry pies..  

The cherries....finally a delightful market manager offered to call his higher end restaurant contact.  The market has a restaurant next door. I don't know if that means there are different distributors for restaurants vs grocery stores.   




Nearly a week (Thank you, Raymond, for the heads up!)  later, Dave the store manager rang to say the  package of frozen French cherries arrived.  Here's La Frutiere's  web site  Have a look.  They distribute to many countries and have an amazing selection of fruits.. 


Double double toil and trouble

Pie dough chilling in the frig, cherries happily bubbling away on the stove, what could possibly go wrong?  
Evidently everything for someone with no cherry pie making experience..

See all the lovely juice?  It refused to thicken.  I  got out the Thermapen and took its temperature.  Now here's a bit of wonkiness.

The instructions say to boil for one minute.  Cornstarch thickens fruit juices at 212 degrees F/ 100 C .  I watched the fruit boiling and watched the Thermapen degrees go up and down.  Repeatedly.

confused cartoon : Character illustration design. Girl confused cartoon,eps Illustration

I can only guess that even though the frozen fruit was fully thawed, it was still not at room temperature as fresh or canned cherries might have been.  These ultra juicy cherries released even more cold juice during cooking, and it caused  the temperature to fluctuate.  But it still refused to thicken, even when it finally reached 212F. 

Did I start out with too much juice?  

Could this cause the cornstarch to fruit and juice ratio to be off? 

Monsieur Sous Chat  would like to know



"This is not an improper, immaterial and irrelevant question."
Sous Chat likes Perry Mason

If it wasn't for the Alpha Baker FB and Hanaa's excellent suggestion, this would have been a pie disaster and big disappointment for me..   I had already followed Chowhound's  advice to add a grated and squeezed green apple for the pectin.  It helped somewhat but not enough.  The extra cornstarch Hanaa instructed me to add did the trick.

Who knew cherries have different pH levels? And that pH levels and things like acidity levels play havoc with cornstarch, let alone fresh, frozen or canned. What amazes me is all the zillions of home bakers who have churned out gorgeous cherry pies through the years with little more than a bowl and rolling pin.



Suited up in tin foil for the oven

By this time I had zero patience left to putz around with lattice.  Maybe next time it will look like proper lattice.



As for turning mid baking for even browning, didn't happen.


We favor lighter crust anyway. 



Cherry pie not Cherry Compote!
Gratefully thickened




This pie is incredible and even better the next day!.

Which is a near miracle for a first time cherry pie maker winging it with frozen cherries.

My daughter and I did have a giggle reminiscing  over the last time she baked with her grandmother.  It was cherry pie. My mom never made cherry pie, not once, but would bake anything for her cherished granddaughter.  They had so much fun baking  a pie together even if it was with canned cherry pie filling.


.

Turning leftover pie dough into cinnamon sugar treats.


So good with a cup of tea.










Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Baking Joy


This is my youngest granddaughter touching bread dough for the first time.  
"Grandma, I love you!  It is so soft!"
She was absolutely enthralled with the feel of the dough
and I was the lucky recipient of all that enthusiasm. 

Take no notice of the chocolate face


Rolling 



"I get to paint egg on dough?"


Sprinkling cinnamon, sugar and pecans. Raisins nixed.


Roly poly.  


She found cutting the dough with dental floss quite fun.

And then her mom came.  I quickly threw the buns in a pan and sent them to be baked at their house.  I never dreamed she would enjoy making cinnamon rolls so much.   She's baked many things with me but I have never seen this reaction before.