Saturday, January 31, 2015

Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread

Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread was discovered by Rose at the Riddarbagariet bakery in Sweden.  She bought their  cookbook, had the recipe translated from Swedish to English and adapted it for the home baker in the Baking Bible.  Lucky for us  Rose went to Europe, visited this particular bakery and had the foresight to bring home the recipe ultimately working her artisan magic.

 This recipe was a lesson in rye flour vs pumpernickel flour, the disappearance of flour mills in California what happened to the hippy health food grind your own flour shops and now a field trip to historic Napa Bale Grist mill is top of the list because they stone ground real pumpernickle flour,  biga vs wild yeast starters (who knew they could be patent protected), natural leaveners are so entertaining Disney offers a tour through the Boudin bakery at Disneyland, gold rush miners and wild yeast sourdough bread's history are inextricably linked and opening the oven door after ice has been thrown in is guaranteed to fog glasses with an instant facial.  

After the rye flour is stirred into a biga and given a refrigerated rest,  it turns into dough with the addition of  water, flour, yeast and salt.  Raisins and walnuts are mixed in which kicks this rye based bread up a few notches into party mode. This is not your dad's toaster rye bread with seeds that get stuck in your teeth.

A bit of pummeling, resting, rising rotations,  the very sticky dough is patted into a rectangle, top corners folded  down and apricots lined be rolled into a sort of  roly poly pudding.  

 Baked with a handful of ice cubes for a  steamy oven, the aroma begins to permeate the kitchen. Letting it cool for two hours was the hard part.  The time was well spent with a trip to Whole Foods for Cowgirl Triple Cream Cheese, thanks to Michele for asking Rose which cheese would best compliment this bread.   The outer crust was brushed with butter while warm for a softer crust. 

Dollops of  favorite Trader Joe's apricot jam accent the bread and cheese perfectly.

I couldn't resist throwing one under the broiler for a Swedish crostini.

It is my favorite.   Toasting the bread brings out the flavors.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Q&E.  Quick and Easy.  Quick and Easy Gingersnaps are up this week with Rose's Alpha Bakers, out of the kindness of Marie's Post Panettone heart.

You know what was not quick and easy?  Finding Golden Caster Sugar. When even Amazon is out of Golden Caster sugar, you know that it must be seriously good sugar. Not one grocery, market or deli, including three Whole Foods in three separate counties had or heard of golden caster sugar.

A lovely bag of sugar sat on the grocery shelf calling me with its Island Ausukal song and the bewitching name:  Mascobado  Cane Sugar.  It promised "to have all the versatility of everyday  granulated sugar plus an amazing depth of flavor that makes it the ultimate secret ingredient".  Sounded good to me.

Batch # 1 Fail

I was wrong.  Mascobado Cane Sugar made the dough incredibly dry.  It's on a long time out in the freezer until I can figure out what to do with it. A second try with regular brown sugar mixed with standard Trader Joe's organic sugar and the Gingersnap dough finally looked like dough.

You know what I've never done with cookies before?  Weigh each of them before baking.

Or taken their temperature.

 I can't believe I've lived my entire sweet toothed life without ever knowing the versatile joys of golden syrup.  Thank heavens  in 1883 a brilliant chemist named Charles Eastick figured out how to take discarded leftover teacle syrup and turn it into a sweetened preserve for cooking.  This was no easy feat.  It involved a lot of chemistry alchemy.  
Abram Lyle & Sons was never the same.  Do you think Mr. Eastick got promoted or at the very least a large annual bonus?  Stock options?

Real Q&E batch # 2.

I then made batch number three, well half a batch, substituting coconut oil for the butter.  Melting in the pan with the golden syrup, it began to smell heavenly.  I added a bit of vanilla and dose of cinnamon to help boost the flavor lest the absence of butter make the dough too bland.  It did not disappoint.  

Batch # 3 Dairy free version

The flavors are nearly identical and now the entire family can partake of Mr. Eastwick's brilliant concoction.  No one thinks they resemble gingersnaps at all.  My brother thinks they taste like something called 
Stone cookies from Hawaii which truly are named after a rock.  These "gingersnaps" are nice and soft and chewy.  Not a snap in the bunch.  They are definitely going on the holiday cookie baking list..   

But look what cookbook was on Amazon promising sweet mischief. It can't arrive soon enough.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Panettone Milanese from Emporio Rulli

The San Francisco Chronicle had a full page article featuring a bay area bakery that is somewhat famous for its panettone called Emporio Rulli,  owned by Pastry Chef Gary Rulli and his wife Jeannie.  He was seriously trained in Milan in the art of panettone.  It fascinated me and when I clicked on the video, I was mesmerized.  And eventually a little disappointed that we did not  have to hang our Golden Orange Panettone upside down like Milanese bakers.

Reading his panettones are sent worldwide and to VIP chefs in the U.S., I  ordered one

It arrived today!

Unwrapped,  the orange scent was reminiscent of  the one we made, only less fragrant,  not being straight out of the oven.  Cutting into it, the crumb and texture looked just like some of the Alpha Bakers.  Here's the fun part, it tasted almost identical to Rose's recipe!  The raisins were soaked in something different and chestnut honey is referred to in the article instead of golden syrup, but that is all.   I, and others,  actually think Rose's recipe has the better flavor.   Can you believe it?    We made panatonne that seriously equals a very respected Italian bakery 's signature bread.  High fives to all of us and a big giant Well Done to Rose!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Golden Orange Panettone with Chocolate Sauce


This is the Golden Orange Panettone from Rose's book The Baking Bible.  An epic feat to produce not because it was difficult but because it took extraordinary mental energy for me to understand the many steps.  At  first I diagrammed the recipe into a crazed map with arrows pointing here and there and everywhere.  I then resorted to outlining.  Pages and pages of outline.  It slowly began to make sense but I still felt befuddled.  LIGHT BULB  List the steps numerically!  They numbered one through thirty three.  A visual presentation perhaps? Yes!  Feeble attempt of drawing the dough into a cartoon strip began with La Biga and the journey there of. 

 The only thing I didn't do was to turn it into a three act Broadway play with the Rockettes singing and dancing their way through flour and yeast, flinging orange peel confetti. 

Act I
La Biga

Or as I like to call it Edible Silly Putty.  Seriously, was this what it was supposed to look like or was it a total fail?   I had no idea.  To The Google and landing on Youtube  featuring  Julia Child baking Italian bread with Carol Field, her biga looked as rubbery as mine so I carried on.  

Candied Orange Peel

Way back when I read a wonderful post on Kate's, of Kate Flour fame, delightful blog, A Merrier World explaining how to make orange peel.  It sounded intriguing.  The flavor turned out to be far superior to the very expensive imported Danish candied peel at the local Italian market.  It was messy but not difficult.
The biggest surprise was the mountain of pith produced from quite small oranges. 

Into a long soaking bath along with the raisins. Triple Sec (I used fresh orange juice), vanilla and the elusive Boyajian Orange Oil found at Sur Le Table, a most dangerous den of baking iniquity.  I walked in for oil and walked out with a marble pastry slab, pastry cloth set and oh ya, a triple oil pack.  Post Christmas sale=Too Good To Resist. A few tablespoons of the reserved liquid is saved to pour into the dough and it was so incredible, I couldn't bare to toss the rest.

Act II

Or the day I nearly lost my mind.  How many doughs are there exactly in this Panettone? THREE.  I finally figured out Panettone is sort of a transformer magic act, dough by dough.  Biga is the first on stage who then goes into a water, flour, egg yolk, golden syrup yeast concoction.  That's dough number two,  or  its professional stage name,  The Sponge.  
Next up, Dough Number Three, simply referred to as: Dough.  Flour, dry milk (what is up with the scarcity of dry milk in stores these days?), yeast and salt are mixed together and  poured over the Sponge, blanketing the starter sponge for an eventual trip to the refrigerator after a short warm respite.  

Insert swear word of choice I forgot the salt oh well let's just whisk it right on top of the dough.  

This poor dough, first it gets nice and warm and them BAM!  banished to the cold refrigerator for character building.    Out it comes for softened butter, egg yolks, more golden syrup and candied orange/raisin liquid,   eventually turning the very peculiar original Silly Putty Biga into a smooth and sticky dough, but dough none the less.This is where I panicked.  Was I supposed to let the cold dough warm up first?  Had not a clue but in for a penny in for a pound.

The alchemy continued until it all came together into a gorgeous golden dough.  The fragrant candied orange peel and raisins are sprinkled like pixie dust and a bit of folding tucks them gingerly inside.  Another lovely warm rest and banished to the cold once again, this time to set the butter lest it escape and make a run for it.  A quick and gentle knead to redistribute the yeast,  into an oiled coated baggy.


After a deep sleep with the fishes cocooned in a Ziplock bag, the citron studded dough is brought forth from a long hypothermia slumber and slowly resuscitated back to the land of the living with a warm rise in a steamy DIY  microwave steam bath sitting in the elusive almost proper sized paper mold. 

  Lo a miracle!  The dough rises and fluffs and begins to look like, well dough.  Real dough.  And so the dough graduates to the end goal; the oven which contains a new pizza stone (the imported $90 Panettone at the Italian deli is starting to seem like a good buy) because my ancient one is MIA, with ice thrown in a pan on the oven floor for a burst of steam.  Almost immediately orange begins to scent the air.  Thirty minutes in a foil tent is offered for protection against over-browning and a short time later, the Golden Orange Panettone is finally done.  Nice and warm, the leftover citron/raisin syrup seemed the perfect thing to brush over the crust.  

This Panettone has staying power and doesn't require being hung upside down to prevent collapsing like a souffle.  An eight hour rest and The Golden Panettone is ready .  It's better, much much better at 24 hours. 

 Rose's Panettone is milder, more refined than the commercial ones I am used to.  I loved making this bread, even though I was sleep deprived miscalculating rising times and tending to dough at 3 a.m., got dizzy trying to remember if it was time for a warm rise,  cool rise, first, second or fifteenth rise..  Actually making Panettone seemed way beyond my reach and so I buy them every year at Christmas from Trader Joe's..  The ingredients are essentially the same but that is where the similarity ends. I can't wait to make it again, doubling the amounts of candied orange peel and raisins and brushing it with the leftover orange syrup elixir. Drizzled with Lindt Orange Chocolate Sauce, thank you Faithy for the Lindt tip, and it is spectacular.

Final Curtain Call
Better known as OMGEEEEEE. Breakfast

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Candied Orange Peel

Quick run down should anyone else want to try Kate's (of Kateflour UK fame)  recipe found here for the Panettone..  There are not any weighed amounts for ingredients, it was a bit of a guess. My oranges were on the small side so I added an extra.  Using a spoon did not work for me but a small knife with a wavy edge did.  This was the "hardest" part of the entire process other than patience while the peels bubbled away in the syrup.  Near the end, it was difficult to tell how much syrup was left due to the amount of bubbles produced while simmering.  Taking it on and off the heat was the only way to tell.  She's not kidding when she says "Don't let it burn."  It would be very easy to burn at the end thinking there was more syrup underneath all the bubbles.

I debated about spraying the cake rack with oil for drying but didn't know if it would affect the flavor.  I should have lined the pan underneath with plastic wrap as some fell through and hardened.  Covered with plastic wrap they dried overnight resting on the rack/pan combination.

I was afraid I hadn't made enough and was shocked to find it weighed exactly the right amount.  Still, extra would not have been a bad thing.  The flavor is far superior to the expensive imported Danish brand the Italian deli has and I'm very fond of those.  This was a surprise.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Black and Blueberry Pie Do Over with Dairy Free Crust

This second Black and Blueberry pie is made with Rose's suggestion of draining the frozen berries, reducing the juice and mixing in the cornstarch until absorbed by the berries.  I needed a pie dough that is dairy free.    King Arthur's site had one made with oil.  The dough was incredibly oily which made me wonder if it could withstand the bubbling berry juices.

I decided to pre bake the shell and a disk for the top, bake the berries on their own, cool and then pour them into the shell.  The berries were prepped to Rose's instructions then poured into a nine by thirteen glass pan and covered with foil, with a few slits cut to mimic a crust.  Completely winging it, I baked it at at 325 degrees until the instant read thermometer reached 212F 100C after about thirty minutes.  Success!  The juices were perfectly thickened.

 I'm not sure this is going to be my go to dairy free crust but it's a start.  I will say one thing, this berry filling is such a hit with everyone.  Personally, I would love it as jam with morning tea and crumpets.

Huzzah!  No soupy juices! 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Black and Blueberry Pie

The Black and Blueberry Pie from Rose's Baking Bible is subtly flavored with just a hint of lemon.  It wouldn't seem possible that such a simple thing could elevate a berry pie to extraordinary flavor, but it does.
Thanks to Monica's coaching,  I put everything dough related in the freezer, including the king size Cuisinart, in the hopes I would have success with Rose's cream cheese pie dough.  Looks can be deceiving; it is super delicious if not rustic by my hand.  No matter, I never met a pie dough I didn't like, the thicker the better.  My brother and I used to plead with our mother to make extra pie dough and roll it out with cinnamon and sugar.

I had an unexpected visitor.  This four year old granddaughter has baking in her Italian genes. She promptly pulled up a chair to measure cornstarch; organic, non GMO cornstarch.  After hearing what Rose had to say about it on the San Francisco panel video, I felt fortunate to find a box at my regular grocery store.

And this is where the picture taking stopped.  It was all I could do to keep up with my  assistant dynamo as she furiously zested lemons, squeezed lemon juice,  weighed sugar, stirred the berries please don't flip them on the floor,  etc etc etc.  I started hearing Diane Keaton's voice from Baby Boom but there's still not a drop of Amaretto in the cupboard..... 

On to the rolling.  It was a bit dodgy at first but with a bit of  perseverance,  it finally reached the requisite diameter.

I can't believe this mini Brio rolling pin is over thirty years old,  has been used by five children and is still as good as new.

With foil protecting the edge, into the oven it went and the look on this child's face when she saw the finished pie was priceless.  I lifted her up onto the counter to admire her handiwork but all she wanted was to lightly touch the crust.  The heartbreaking thing is being extremely dairy intolerant, she can't have any and begged me to make one without butter.  So that is my mission, in between keeping La Biga alive and well for the Panettone.

Unfortunately, the juices did not set.  I have reviewed each step to make certain I didn't skip one but remembered them all.  I have no idea why this has happened.  Any thoughts or suggestions for next time because there will be a next time?  Juicy or not, this pie is delicious as proclaimed by my son who could not wait for it to cool and dipped a spoon into the slit for a taste of the bubbling juice.

Pouring the juice out and microwaving turned it into a delicious thickened sauce.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Chocolate Cuddle Cake

Truly a stunning trio of flavors come together in Rose's Chocolate Cuddle Cake.  The amazing thing is each could stand on their own; the cake would be fine left plain with a dusting of powdered sugar, the ganache rivals any chocolate truffle and the caramel whipped cream is to die for.  Isn't there something called a Fool in the British dessert repertoire? This caramel whipped cream would be the ultimate Fool with fruit gently folded in.

A fairly easy cake, however I remembered the rose nail but forgot the cake strips.  No matter, the entire thing flipped out of my hand as I was putting it in the oven and landed on the kitchen floor. I've never had such a peculiar thing like that happen before.

Remembered the cake strips for the second try but forgot the rose nail.  

I seriously expected a massive sunken crater in the middle but there wasn't one, only a minor crack. 

Part one finished, I took Faithy's advice and made the ganache in the microwave.  Easy Peasy.  Came upon a great Lindt chocolate sale and stocked up.  I used an 85% mixed with milk chocolate for the ganache. Not quite sure what that equals in chocolate math.

With these two components finished, it was time to call it a night and try the caramel in the morning lest I burn down the kitchen.

Making caramel takes patience. Lots and lots of patience.

Once cooled and added to the whipped cream, oooo lala, perfection! 

I felt better after reading Evil Cake Lady didn't use gelatin since I'm out of agar agar.  It set up fine.

Total curiosity to see how it measured up.  Anything not flattened on the floor was good in my book.  Since the cake was wrapped and spent the night in a chilly garage, it read 12 C.  The ganache warmed up in the microwave to 24C and went on easily with the back of a large spoon.  I figured when the warmer ganache hit the cooler cake it would set and it did.   I made a rim around the top for the "cuddling" of the caramel whipped cream and grated the rest of the milk chocolate over the top. 

Loads of compliments with this cake!  

Wonder why this is called a Fool?  It's really good!