Wednesday, December 29, 2010

stollen



The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.
  
I was really pleased when I found out we would be baking Stollen for this month's challenge.  I had already decided to bake some up for the boys' to give to their teachers this year, so this challenge was very fortuitous! While I've baked Stollen before, I had never made the wreath, so I baked four regular Stollens as gifts and one wreath style for us to keep and eat at breakfast on Christmas morning.  
The recipe that was presented to us with the Daring Bakers did not contain marzipan, so I had to alter it a tad and rolled out some thin pipes of marzipan and set those onto the flat rectangle of dough prior to rolling.  I don't know about you, but Stollen just isn't Stollen without the marzipan!  

As it was Christmas morning, I had forgotten to take a photo prior to us diving into our breakfasts, so my apologies for not getting a photo of the wreath in its entirety.  But I can assure you, it looked lovely and it tasted even better than it looked!  Along with our fruit salad (hey - there has to be a little nod to a healthy breakfast even on Christmas day) bacon and mimosas, it was the centerpiece to a lovely meal with which to start our day.

Stollen Wreath

Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people


Ingredients

¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath
Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.


Directions:

Soak the raisins
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.

To make the dough
  1. Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
  3. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
  4. In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
  5. Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!
  7. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.
  8. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
    Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.


Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath
  1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
  4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. 
  5. Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder. 
  6. Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.
  7. Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. 
  8. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. 
  9. Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
  10. Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
  11. Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
  12. Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
  13. Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
    The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
  14. Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh - especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!
  15. When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.
  16. The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly.

Storage

The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.


The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar
  1. Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
  2. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
  3. One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap. 
 

Friday, December 17, 2010

oeufs en meurette (poached eggs in red wine sauce)



Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.


Let me say straightaway:  This is delicious!!!!  I have poached eggs many times before, so chose this recipe as I'd never made Meurette sauce. I must say, this is one delicious sauce.  I'm not ashamed to admit that licked my plate.  This does take some time to make, and the eggs are going to look really funky as you take them out of the wine and stock combination, but wow... this is so worth it!  After viewing the eggs, my 10-year-old was adamant that he was not going to try this dish.  But he did.  And his response?  "Oh.  This really IS quite good."  

If you have about an hour to spare, and you're looking for a new poached egg experience that is DEEEE-licious, try this.  It's not difficult, only a little time consuming.  Oh, and don't let the purple eggs freak you out.






Ingredients

8 eggs (size is your choice)
1 bottle red wine (750ml/25 fl. oz.)
2 cups (400ml/16 fl. oz.) chicken stock*‡
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
Bouquet garni (thyme, parsley, bay leaf)
½ tsp. (2 ½ ml/3g) black peppercorns
2 Tbl. (30 ml/30g) butter
¼ lb. (115g) mushrooms, sliced
¼ lb (115g) bacon, diced‡
16 pearl onions, peeled (200g/7oz.)
Vegetable oil for frying
8 slices of baguette, ¼” (6mm) thick
2 Tbl. (30 ml/30g) butter, room temp.
2 Tbl. (30 ml/20g) flour *
salt and pepper

*for gluten free make sure to use gluten free stock and gluten free flour
‡ for vegetarian use vegetable stock, and omit bacon.

Other notes on ingredients:
  • You can use salted or unsalted butter, you will just have to adjust your "salt & pepper to taste" accordingly.
  • As this is a Burgundian dish, a full-bodied red wine like a pinot noir is a great wine to use for this dish. Anne Willan recommends a fruity red wine. She also notes that you can make ouefs au mersault. Mersault is the famed white wine region of Bourgogne, and is generally made using chardonnay grapes, so it would be ok to choose a white wine if you want. No matter what wine you choose, make sure it is not too dry nor too sweet.  I had a bottle of chianti on hand, so used that and it turned out lovely.
  • As this is a To make a bouquet garni, just take the herbs (a few sprigs of each) and tie them together into a little bundle. Since the sauce will reduce for a while, it’s ok if you don’t have the fresh herbs – there will be time for flavor to come out of dried ones (for ex. fresh bay leaf may be hard to find). Alternatively, if you don’t have a way to tie them, you could just add the whole sprigs/bay leaves to the sauce and then just make sure to remove them when the sauce is done reducing.
 
Directions:

1. Heat wine and stock together in a large pan and poach eggs a couple at a time for 3-4 min. Yolks should be firming but still a little soft. Set them aside.

2. Add the veggies, herbs, and peppercorns to the poaching liquid and let the sauce simmer until reduced to half volume. This will become the meurette sauce.

3. In a separate large skillet, melt 1 tbs. (15ml/15g) of the butter on medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms until soft and then set aside. Add in another 1 tbs. (15ml/15g) butter and the bacon, frying until browned, then set aside on a paper towel. Turn down the heat to medium, add in the pearl onions and sauté until softened and browned. Then drain off the fat and add the bacon and mushrooms back to the pan and set aside off the heat for the moment.

4. In a medium skillet, heat a few tbs. of oil and then fry the baguette slices until browned on each side. Add more oil as needed. Set the fried bread (croûtes) on a paper towel and then place on a baking sheet in an oven that is set to 200F/95C/gas mark 1/4 or whatever your lowest setting is to keep them warm.

5. Blend 2 Tbl. (30ml/30g) butter and flour together to form a paste of sorts that will be used as the thickener for the sauce. Whisk this into the reduction sauce until the sauce starts to thicken.
Strain the sauce over the skillet of mushrooms, bacon and onions, and return the skillet to heat, bringing to a boil. Season with salt & pepper to taste, then set aside again.

6. Reheat the eggs by placing them in hot water for a quick minute. To serve, plate a poached egg on top of a croûte, and then ladle some of the mushrooms/bacon/onions and sauce on top. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

crostata con la crema (crostata with pastry cream)



The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.


This was a nice, straightforward challenge this month which I enjoyed.  I found the recipe came together nicely and was quite quick to put together.  I also enjoyed that it involved ingredients that I already had at hand.  The boys gave it their thumbs up which is always a bonus!  I will be making this again.

Pasta frolla
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar (see Note 1) or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar
  • 1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • grated zest of half a lemon (you could also use vanilla sugar as an option, see Note 2)
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
 
Note: Superfine sugar is often also referred to as ultrafine, baker’s sugar or caster sugar. It’s available in most supermarkets. If you cannot find “superfine” sugar, you can make your own by putting some regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender and letting it run until the sugar is finely ground.

 

Making pasta frolla:
  1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.
  3. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).
  4. Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
  5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
  6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
  7. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.
 


    Crema pasticcera di zia Lucia
    Ingredients:
    • 2 extra large eggs 
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 500 ml milk
    • 3 strips lemon peel about 3" long and 1/2" wide (using a potato peeler to cut the strips makes it easier to avoid cutting the white part of the lemon)
    • 3 tablespoons pastry (or unbleached regular) flour
     
    1. Pour the milk into a pan, add the lemon peel and warm up to well below boiling point. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is bubbly. 
    2. Sift the flour over the egg mixture and beat briefly until it is incorporated. 
    3. Temper the egg mixture with a small quantity of milk, then slowly add the rest of the milk, mixing with a wooden spoon. 
    4. Pour the mixture into the pan and set it to very low heat, stirring at least every couple of minutes. When the froth on the surface disappears completely, the crema starts to feel slightly thicker. From then on stir almost continuously. 
    5. When the crema reaches boiling temperature and thickens, cook briefly (1-2 minutes), then remove the pan from the heat, remove the lemon peel, place the saucepan in a cold water bath, and stir the crema to bring down its temperature. 
    6. While the crema cools down, stir it every now and then to prevent the formation of a film over it.

    Assembling and baking the crostata con la crema:
     
    1. Heat the oven to 350ºF.
    2. Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, unwrap it and cut away ¼ of the dough. Reserve this dough to make the lattice top of the crostata. Refrigerate this dough while you work on the tart base.
    3. To help roll the crostata dough, keep the dough on top of the plastic wrap that you had it wrapped in. This can help rolling the dough and can also help when transferring the dough to your pan. You can also use parchment paper for this. However, you can also roll the dough directly on a work surface if you prefer.
    4. Lightly dust the top of the dough and your work surface (if you’re rolling directly on a work surface) with flour. Keep some flour handy to dust the dough as you go along.
    5. If the dough is very firm, start by pressing the dough with the rolling pin from the middle to each end, moving the rolling pin by a pin's width each time; turn the dough 180 degrees and repeat; when it softens, start rolling.
    6. Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8th inch (3 mm) thick.
    7. If you used the plastic wrap or parchment paper as rolling surface, flip dough over the pan, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the plastic wrap.
    8. Trim the excess dough hanging over the edges of the pan. Press the remaining dough around the border into the sides of the pan making sure the border is an even thickness all the way around.
    9. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places.
    10. Take out of the fridge the reserved pasta frolla you had cut away earlier. Roll it with your pin and cut into strips or use cookie cutters to make small shapes (this is not traditional, but it looks cute); or roll with your hands into ropes.
    11. Instead of jam or fruit preserves, cover the bottom of the crostata crust evenly with the pastry cream.
    12. Use the prepared strips or rolls of dough to make a lattice over the surface, or decorate with the cut shapes. (Note: You can use dough scraps to make cookies: see the Additional Information section for some pointers)
    13. Brush the border and strips of dough with the reserved beaten eggs. You can add a drop or two of water to the beaten eggs if you don’t have enough liquid.
    14. Put the tart in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
    15. After 35 minutes, check the tart, and continue baking until the tart is of a nice golden hue. (Note: Every oven is different. In my oven it took 45 minutes to bake the tart until golden.)
    16. When done, remove the tart from the oven and let cool. If you have used a tart pan with a removable bottom, then release the tart base from the fluted tart ring. Make sure the tart is completely cool before slicing and serving.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    individual chocolate soufflés


    Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Soufflés as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided two of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website.



    I've made soufflés before, but it had been awhile, so I was pleased to see them as our challenge this month.  I made both a savoury and a sweet soufflé, but I wasn't pleased with the crab and artichoke creation.  The flavour was only okay, and it didn't have the rise I was hoping for.  So I dusted off another recipe and tried individual chocolate soufflés instead.  Success!

    The annoying part was trying to take pictures of them before they started to fall.  I did my best!



    Individual Chocolate Soufflés
    (recipe adapted from The America's Test Kitchen "Family Baking Cookbook")

    1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped course
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into four pieces
    1 tablespoon espresso (or 1 T strong instant coffee mixed with 1 T water)
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    6 large egg yolks, room temperature
    8 large egg whites, room temperature
    1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
    2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar


    1.  Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease eight 6-ounce ramekins.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar into the ramekins and shake to coat evenly; tap out any excess.  Set the ramekins on a large baking sheet.

    2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave in a large bowl, stirring often, 1 to 3 minutes.  Stir in the espresso, vanilla and salt and let the mixture cool slightly.






    3. In a medium bowl, whip the egg yolks and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture triples in volume and is thick and pale yellow, 3 to 8 minutes.  Fold the egg yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture (this is the soufflé base).  Thoroughly clean and dry the beaters.

    4. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar together with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip the whites until soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute.  Gradually whip in the confectioners' sugar until the whites are glossy and form stiff peaks, 1 to 3 minutes.

    5. Fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the soufflé base until almost no white streaks remain.  Fold in the remaining egg whites until just incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly among the prepared ramekins, wiping any filling from the rims with a wet paper towel.

    6. Secure a strip of foil that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray around each ramekin so that it extends about 2 inches about the rim.  Bake the souffs until fragrant, fully risen and the exterior is set but the interior is still a bit loose and creamy, 10 to 14 minutes.  Serve immediately.






    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    let's go nuts for doughnuts!

    This month, I had the pleasure of hosting the Daring Bakers' challenge.

    I must admit all sorts of options were running through my mind when I was asked to host. Should I try something really fancy? A real show stopper? Instead I decided to keep things simple, but hopefully offer up something that perhaps some people wouldn’t think to try making on their own - doughnuts!

    Doughnuts can be quite simple to make and really don’t require a lot of special equipment. However there are a large number of varieties and many cultures have some version of a tasty fried dough such as beignets, crullers, fritters, Sufganiot, and krapfen, just to name a few.

    In Canada (my home) doughnuts are quite popular, and apparently Canadians consume more doughnuts per capita than anyone else. Considering the multitude of Tim Horton’s shops in this country, it’s not too hard to believe. 

    Doughnuts generally fall into two categories: yeast and cake. Yeast doughnuts take a little longer as naturally one has to allow for rising time, but they create a lovely, fluffy and airy doughnut. Cake doughnuts are also popular and the batter allows for many different variations. 

    Some people may be a little timid of deep frying. Don’t. The most important thing is to be sure that you have everything at hand and are ready to go. Preparation is key when making doughnuts. It is important the oil be the correct temperature so that your doughnut is nice and crispy on the outside. If the oil is not hot enough, your end product will be too greasy. If too hot, they’ll cook too quickly on the outside and you may have an uncooked doughy centre.

    The challenge was simply to make doughnuts! Daring Bakers could decide if they wanted to make a cake or yeast doughnut. I included recipes for two types of yeast doughnuts (one filled) and two types of cake doughnuts.

    I encouraged everyone to try both a cake and a yeast doughnut, and I strongly encouraged them to get creative with toppings and fillings. The sky was the limit! I suggested they feel free to dip them in chocolate, sprinkle them with sugar, or fill them with preserves, custard, or whatever appealed to them.

    Recipe Source: I am including four recipes:
    The raspberry jam bomboloni recipe is a Kate Neumann recipe:
    http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/raspberry-jam-bomboloni

    Note: I recommend placing your uncooked doughnut on your slotted spoon first and lowering it into the hot oil that way to reduce the chance of injury. Also, try to always turn the spoon away from you to reduce the chances of oil splashing back up.

    Preparation time:
    See recipes for prep/rising/cooking times for each.

    Equipment required:
    • A Dutch oven or deep skillet (I prefer using a Dutch oven to reduce splatter)
    • Deep fry thermometer, candy thermometer or any thermometer that will withstand and measure temperatures of up to 380 degrees
    • Metal slotted spoon, metal slotted spatula or tongs (do NOT use plastic - it will melt!)
    • Cookie sheets or a wire rack lined with paper towels to allow doughnuts to drain
    • Electric hand mixer or stand mixer, or a bowl and a spoon if you are able to utilize a lot of elbow grease
    • Doughnut or biscuit cutters or you can use a glass and a piping tip for the center
    • Pastry bag (if you choose to make Bomboloni or any filled doughnut) or a squeeze bottle with a good tip that will poke a hole in your Bomboloni. Another way to fill a doughnut is to use the tip of a sharp knife to poke a hole in the doughnut and then use a ziplock bag filled with filling and cut on one corner to fill the doughnut.
    Yeast Doughnuts:
    Preparation time:
    Hands on prep time - 25 minutes
    Rising time - 1.5 hours total
    Cooking time - 12 minutes
    Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size

    Ingredients
    Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
    Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz (can substitute butter, margarine or lard)
    Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ oz
    Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
    Eggs, Large, beaten 2
    White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
    Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
    Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ oz
    All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + extra for dusting surface
    Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)

    Directions:
    1. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
    2. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
    3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
    4. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
    5. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
    6. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
    7. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
    8. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
    9. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
    10. Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
    11. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).
    12. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.



    Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Cake Doughnuts:

    Preparation time:
    Hands on prep time - 25 minutes
    Cooking time - 12 minutes
    Yield: About 15 doughnuts & 15 doughnut holes, depending on size

    Ingredients
    Sour Cream ¼ cup / 60 ml / 60 gm / 2 oz
    All Purpose Flour 3 ¼ cup / 780 ml / 455 gm / 16 oz + extra for dusting surface
    White Granulated Sugar ¾ cup / 180 ml / 170 gm / 6 oz
    Baking Soda ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
    Baking Powder 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
    Kosher (Flaked) Salt 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz (If using table salt, only use ½ teaspoon)
    Nutmeg, grated 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / .3 oz
    Active Dry Yeast 1 1/8 teaspoon / 5.6 ml / 3.5 gm / .125 oz
    Buttermilk ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoon / 210 ml / 225 gm / 7 ¾ oz
    Egg, Large 1
    Egg Yolk, Large 2
    Pure Vanilla Extract 1 Tablespoon / 15 ml
    Powdered (Icing) Sugar ¼ cup / 120 ml / 65 gm / 2.3 oz (Used for decorating and is optional)

    Directions:
    1. In a small stainless-steel bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, heat the sour cream until just warm.
    2. Heat the oil to 375°F/190°C.
    3. Over a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg; make a large well in the center. Place the yeast in the well; pour the sour cream over it. Allow it to soften (if using packed fresh yeast), about 1 minute.
    4. Pour the buttermilk, whole egg, egg yolks, and vanilla extract into the well. Using one hand, gradually draw in the dry ingredients. The mixture should be fairly smooth before you draw in more flour. Mix until it is completely incorporated. The dough will be very sticky. Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour.
    5. Sift an even layer of flour onto a work surface. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of flour. You don’t want the doughnuts sticking to your counter. Scrape dough out of bowl onto the surface; sift another layer of flour over dough. Working quickly, pat dough into an even 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness. Dip cutter in flour and, cutting as closely together as possible, cut out the doughnuts and holes. Place holes and doughnuts on a floured surface. Working quickly, gather scraps of dough together, pat into 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness, and cut out remaining doughnuts and holes.
    6. Drop three to four doughnuts at a time into the hot oil. Once they turn golden brown, turn them and cook the other side. Cooking times may vary, but with my oil at 375 °F/190°C, I found they only took about 20 to 30 seconds per side.
    7. Once cooked, place on a baking sheet covered with paper towels to drain.
    Sift powdered sugar over doughnuts and serve.








    Bomboloni:
    Preparation time:
    Hands on prep time - 35 minutes
    Rising time - 1 1/2 hours plus overnight
    Cooking time - 10 minutes
    Yield: About 32 Bomboloni

    Ingredients
    Water, Lukewarm 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon
    Active Dry Yeast 3 ¼ teaspoon (1.5 pkgs.) / 16.25 ml / 10 gm / .35 oz
    Honey 1.5 Tablespoon / 22.5 ml
    All Purpose Flour 3 cup / 720 ml / 420 gm / 14 ¾ oz
    Milk 3 Tablespoon / 45 ml
    Egg Yolk, Large 6
    White Granulated Sugar 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 75 gm / 2 2/3 oz + more for rolling
    Kosher (Flaked) Salt 2 teaspoon / 10 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
    Butter, Unsalted 3 Tablespoon / 45 ml / 42 gm / 1.5 oz
    Canola Oil 3 cup / 720 ml / (Or any other flavorless oil used for frying)
    Raspberry Jam, Seedless ¾ cup / 180 ml / 300 gm / 10.5 oz (or any flavor jam, preserves, jelly)

    Directions:
    1. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, mix the water, yeast, honey and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (160 gm) of the flour. (Alternatively, whisk the ingredients by hand.) Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 1 hour.
    2. Return the bowl to the mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Add the remaining 1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons (260 gm) of flour, along with the milk, egg yolks, 1/3 cup of granulated sugar and the salt. Mix at low speed until blended, then add the butter and knead at medium speed until silky but sticky, about 5 minutes; the dough will not pull away from the side of the bowl.
    3. Using an oiled spatula, scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
    4. In a large saucepan, heat the canola oil to 360°F/180°C. Line a rack with paper towels. Fill a shallow bowl with 1/2 inch (12 mm)of granulated sugar. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough a scant 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick. Using a 2-inch (50 mm) round biscuit cutter, stamp out rounds. The original recipe said to not re-roll the dough, but I did and found it to be fine. Fry the rounds, 4 to 5 at a time, until they are browned, about 4 minutes (mine only took about a minute each – try to go more by sight). Be sure to keep the oil between 360°F and 375°F 180°C and 190°C. Drain the bomboloni on paper towels.
    5. Roll them in the granulated sugar.

    Filling Directions:
    Fit a pastry bag with a plain donut tip (or a 1/4-inch (6 mm) tip) and fill with the preserves (you can also use a squeeze bottle). Poke the tip three-fourths of the way into the bomboloni and squeeze in the preserves, pulling the tip out slightly as you squeeze to fill them as much as possible. Serve warm.




    Pumpkin Doughnuts:
    Preparation time:
    Hands on prep time - 15 minutes
    Chilling time - 3 hours
    Cooking time - 10 minutes
    Yield: About 24 doughnuts & 24 doughnut holes

    Ingredients
    All Purpose Flour 3.5 cup / 840 ml / 490 gm / 17 ¼ oz
    Baking Powder 4 teaspoon / 20 ml / 24 gm / .85 oz
    Table Salt 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
    Cinnamon, ground 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
    Ginger, ground ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
    Baking Soda ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
    Nutmeg, ground ¼ teaspoon / 1.25 ml / 1.5 gm / .05 oz
    Cloves, ground 1/8 teaspoon / .6 ml / ¾ gm / .025 oz
    White Granulated Sugar 1 cup / 240 ml / 225 gm / 8 oz
    Butter, Unsalted 3 Tablespoon / 45 ml / 42 gm / 1.5 oz
    Egg, Large 1
    Egg Yolk, Large 2
    Pure Vanilla Extract 1 teaspoon / 5 ml
    Buttermilk ½ cup + 1 Tablespoon / 135 ml /
    Pumpkin 1 cup / 240 ml / 285 gm / 10 oz (Canned pure pumpkin or fresh cooked and pureed pumpkin – DON’T use pumpkin pie mix!)
    Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)

    Powdered Sugar Glaze:

    Powdered (Icing) Sugar 2 cup / 480 ml / 250 gm / 9 oz
    Whipping Cream (About 32% butter fat) 4 Tablespoon + more if needed / 60 ml

    Directions:
    1. Whisk together the first 8 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until blended (the mixture will be grainy and not smooth). Beat in egg, then yolks and vanilla. Gradually beat in buttermilk; beat in pumpkin. Using rubber spatula, fold in dry ingredients in 4 additions, blending gently after each addition. Cover with plastic; chill 3 hours.
    2. Sprinkle 2 rimmed baking sheets lightly with flour. Press out 1/3 of dough on floured surface to 1/2- to 2/3-inch (12 mm to 15 mm) thickness. Using 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) -diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds. Arrange on sheets. Repeat with remaining dough in 2 more batches. Gather dough scraps. Press out dough and cut out more dough rounds until all dough is used.
    3. Using 1-inch (25 mm) diameter round cutter, cut out center of each dough round to make doughnuts and doughnut holes.
    4. Line 2 baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Pour oil into large deep skillet to depth of 1 1/2 inches (40 mm). Attach deep-fry thermometer and heat oil to 365°F to 370°F (185°C to 188°C). Fry doughnut holes in 2 batches until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Fry doughnuts, 3 or 4 at a time, until golden brown, adjusting heat to maintain temperature, about 1 minute per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Cool completely.

    Glaze Directions:
    1. Whisk powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons whipping cream to blend. Whisk in additional cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, to form medium thick glaze.
    2. Can be made up to 3 hours ahead.
    3. Add doughnut holes to bowl of spiced sugar and toss to coat.
    4. Spread doughnuts on 1 side with powdered sugar glaze.
    5. Arrange doughnuts, glazed side up, on racks. Let stand until glaze sets, at least 30 minutes.



    Saturday, September 25, 2010

    sugar cookies

    The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

    For this challenge, we were allowed to pick a theme of our choice but it had to relate to the month of September.  For my cookies, I decided to choose "autumn" as the theme.






    Basic Sugar Cookies:
    Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies
    ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
    3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
    1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
    1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
    1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

    Directions
    • Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
    creamy in texture.
    Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during
    baking, losing their shape.

    • Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
    Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
    • Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
    • Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
    • Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
    Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.
    • Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
    • Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
    • Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
    Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
    • Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
    • Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
    • Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
    Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in some cookies being baked before others are done.
    Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
    • Leave to cool on cooling racks.
    • Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
    Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated cookies can last up to a month.



    Royal Icing:
    2½ - 3 cups Icing / Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
    2 Large Egg Whites
    2 tsp Lemon Juice
    1 tsp Almond Extract, optional

    Directions
    • Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
    Tip: It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and grease free.
    • Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
    Tip: There are 2 amounts of icing sugar, the lesser amount is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add even more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need.
    • Beat on low until combined and smooth.
    • Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.
    Tip: Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.



    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    reduced sugar apple butter

    The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation. 


    Reduced Sugar Apple Butter Recipe

    I used used sweet apples from my neighbour's tree, so the need for sugar was reduced. 


    5 pounds apples
    1 cup apple cider or water
    1/2 cup sweetener such as honey, agave syrup or sugar to taste (I only used a few tablespoons of agave syrup as my apples were quite sweet to begin with)
    1 tablespoon cinnamon 

    1/2 teaspoon allspice 
    1/4 teaspoon cloves


    1. Wash apples well and remove stems. Cut apples into quarters or eighths and remove cores. Note: I ended up peeling the apple at this step.
     
    2. Combine unpeeled apples and cider in 8-quart (about 7 1⁄2 litre) saucepan. Cook slowly and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until apples are very soft (falling apart).



     
    3. Position a food mill or strainer securely over a large bowl. Press cooked apples with cider through the food mill or strainer to make a pulp. Be sure to collect all the pulp that comes through the food mill or strainer; for example, scrape any pulp clinging under the food mill into the bowl.


    (My apples were very soft at this point, so did not need to do this step.  I simply mashed them with a potato masher)
     
    4. Combine pulp with sweetener and spices in an 8-quart (about 7 1⁄2 litre) saucepan. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently.

     
    Note: A stick blender was used to mix the spices and creates a smoother apple butter. Also, when cooking down the apples, you want to leave the lid ajar or use a splatter screen. This will allow for evaporation. Another trick is to support the lid by laying two wooden spoons across the top of the pot.



     
    5. To test for doneness, spoon a small quantity onto a clean plate; when the butter mounds on the plate without liquid separating around the edge of the butter, it is ready for processing. Another way to test for doneness is to remove a spoonful of the cooked butter on a spoon and hold it away from steam for 2 minutes. It is done if the butter remains mounded on the spoon.

     
    6. Pour contents into desired storage container or multiple containers and process accordingly. 



     
    The Finished Apple Butter

     
    Apple Butter is often used as a spread. However, apple butter can also be used as a condiment (pork chops or in marinades) or as an ingredient to an apple quick bread.

     
    Freezing

      
    You can use a freezer bag where I expelled as much air as possible and minimized the gaps in the bag. Freezer bags work well for storage since they can lay flatter in the freezer than containers.
     
    With a container, you need to ensure you have “headspace”. Headspace is the gap between the food (or liquid level) and the top of the container. Typical, headspace when freezing foods is 1/2 “ (1.27 cm) for straight sided containers. As mentioned previously, water expands when freezing. The headspace allows room for expansion.

     
    Thawing: The best method (Food Safety) is to thaw in the refrigerator for a day. Cold water, 70F (21C) or lower, can be used for as quicker way to defrost. The frozen food is submerged under running water. An alternative to running water is to change the water every 30 minutes. If you need an even faster method to defrost and you plan to cook the food immediately, the microwave is another method (of last resort).

     
    Boiling Water Canning

     
    For our challenge, apples are high acid foods. Golden delicious apples have an approximate pH of 3.6. Boiling Water Canning is an appropriate method of preserving apple butter.
     
    Apple Butter processing information: Headspace when canning apple butter is 1/4 “ (0.64 cm)

     
    Processing Time: 15 minutes for altitude of 0 ft (0 m) to 1,000 ft (305 m) 20 minutes for altitude of 1,001 ft (305.1 m) to 6,000 ft (1828.8 m) 25 minutes altitudes above 6,000 ft (1828.8 m)

     
    For boiling water canning, you need a pot that is high enough to cover the jars with at least 1” (2.5 cm) of water. Also, a rack, to prevent thermal shock, is used to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot. Any type of rack will work – a tea towel, a trivet, tying together unused bands... etc.

     
    Jars are filled using a wide mouth funnel. A plastic bubble remover is run along the sides of the jar, in an up and down motion, to remove air pockets. Headspace is measured to 1⁄4" (6.5mm). The top and side of the jar are wiped down with a damp paper towel.

     
    Lids are placed in a pan of hot water (180F or 82C) to soften the sealing compound. The lid is seated, centered on the jar and the band is screwed on. The purpose of the band is to hold the lid down, but not too tightly. Air from the jar needs to escape into the boiling water.

      
    Screw down the bands only until finger tight.
     
    The jars are lowered into the hot water canner. Water temperature is about 180F (82.2C). The water level is checked to ensure there is at least 1” (2.54 cm) of water above the jars. Next, pot is covered and heat turned to high. When the water comes to a boil, the timer is started (15 minutes). The heat can be lowered as long as the water remains at a boil.

     
    After the 15 minutes are up, the whole canner is removed off the burner and uncovered. Jars are left in the canner for 5 more minutes.
    After 5 minutes, the jars are lifted out level. The temptation is to tilt the jars to drain the water off the top of the lids. Do NOT do that! You don’t want to contents of the jar to running under the seal.

     
    Jars are placed on a dish towel to minimize thermal shock and allowed to cool for 12 to 24 hours. While the jars are cooling, you may hear a ping or a pop from the lid as it seals. That ping is a good sound.

     
    After 24 hours, test the seal. The lid should be bowed down (concave), when you press down the lid should not move or pop up. Also, try lifting the jar by the lid only. The lid should stay on if properly sealed. The final thing is to look at the lid to see if there are any cracks or debris caught between the jar and the lid.

     
    Storing – Once the integrity of the lids have been checked, it’s best to store the jars in a cool, dark space. The rings are removed. The rings have done their job of holding down the lids in the boiling water canner and are not needed for storage.

     
    Remember to check the lid before you open a jar. If the lid has become unsealed during storage or the lid is bulging, throw it out. If the food has mold, become oddly discolored or has an off odor, throw it out.

     
    The canned apple butter can easily store on a shelf for one year.