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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Panna Cotta

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

I got a little behind getting my challenge done this month. Bringing my Dad to chemo twice a week takes a big chunk of my time up. I also got hit with a flu or something that took me out for 2 weeks. I am proud of myself to be able to keep up on my BBA challenges and to have gotten my panna cotta done.

What I loved about Panna Cotta is that it is so fast and easy. I bet you could whip up a batch faster than if you bought one of those pudding mixes that you cook on the stove top.

For my challenge I did the very basic plain recipe but show how easy it is to make something so simple seem oh la la. I put it in a pretty glass and stuck a strawberry on the side of the glass. Pretty quick and easy and if one didn't know better, would think I was some sort of gourmet genius.

Mallory from A sofa in the kitchen has done research on all kinds of fun recipes and I will share them. You can see more amazing photo's of what the other daring bakers created at

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
pinch of salt


1.Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
2.Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).
3.Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
4.Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
5.Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.

Chocolate Panna Cotta
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups (480 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
½ cup (115 gm) (4 oz) sugar
¾ cup (145 gm)(5 oz) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) vanilla extract


1.Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for 2-5 minutes.
2.Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil.
3.Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
4.Transfer to ramekins, or nice glasses for serving.
5.Cover and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight

Coffee Gelée
Adapted from this recipe in Gourmet Magazine

2 cups (480 ml) good quality brewed coffee
1/4 cup (60 ml) hot water + 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold water
1/2 cup (120 ml) (115 gm) (4 oz) granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (3½ gm) (1/8 oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract


1.Place granulated sugar and 1/4 c. hot water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir until the sugar has dissolved.
2.Sprinkle gelatin over 2 Tablespoons cold water and let it soften 2 minutes or so.
3.Stir the coffee, sugar, hot water, and vanilla into a small metal bowl, add gelatin mixture and stir well until gelatin has dissolved. If pouring over Panna Cotta, be sure that this mixture is no longer hot, it will melt Panna Cotta if it is, let it come to room temperature.
Fruit Gelée
Recipe by Mallory

1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mango, blackberry, etc.)
*Note: Certain fruits interact with gelatin and stop it gelling like pineapple and kiwi etc.
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (3½ gm) (1/8 oz) unflavored powdered gelatin


1.Sprinkle gelatin over water.
2.Place fruit and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Now mix the gelatin into the strawberry mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved.
3.Remove from heat and allow to cool (close to room temp, again, if you're planning on layering on pouring on top of your Panna Cotta, a hot mixture will also heat up your chilled Panna Cotta).

Saturday, February 26, 2011

BBA Challenge: Cinnamon Buns

This weeks BBA Challenge was Cinnamon Buns. It was an interestings recipe as it had lemon zest in it and it was a recipe that you cream butter and sugar and then add the other ingredients. Most cinnamon bun recipes that I have made usually contain melted butter and the whole thing comes together with a dough hook.
The dough is mixed until there is the window pane.

The dough is put into an oiled bowl. I mixed the dough up at night-left it out while I slept and got up early. The dough had proofed and was ready to be shaped into the buns.

I rolled the dough into a square, covered it with butter and a cinnamon sugar mixture. I rolled the dough into a log and cut it into 12 pieces.

The dough was put on my rectangle stone and allowed to proof. I also got a shot of it in the oven after about 10 minutes of baking.

Then cinnamon buns come out of the oven and I drizzled the fondant/frosting over the top. The cinnamon buns were very good. I did not add the lemon flavor to the frosting as recommended. I agreeded with Chris that it would be too much. I could taste the lemon zest in the cinnamon roll which was different but overall no one thought it was awful in their. I would have to do some side by side taste tests with my current recipe to truly say what I think of this recipe.
Thank you Chris of for hosting our BBA Challenges!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

BBA Challenge: Ciabatta, Poolish Version

This weeks challenge was ciabatta bread. I did the poolish version. I let it ferment overnight. I think shaping the bread was a challenge and I'm not sure I did it right. My crumb didn't turn out right, no big holes. What did turn out right though, the flavor!! As I was taking the bread out of the oven I could smell the ferment, like a beer smell.
These are the before and after poolish pictures.

The dough was pretty stiff and I was unable to kneed it in my mixer so I did alot of hand work. I'm guessing that had something to do with my tight crumb. I even added about 3 extra Tbsp. water to the recipe.

I stretched the dough out and folded it and allowed it to proof.

I divided the dough in 3 and shaped it, allowing it to proof again.

I heated the oven up to 500 and used my pizza stone and pizza peel. I have a BIG cast iron pan that I put in the oven under the stone. For my first steaming I put ice in the pan, then I sprayed the water on the sides of the oven for my other steamings. I was very pleased with my crust hardness.

Out of the oven.

I couldn't wait, I sliced it after 25 minutes. Yum! Thank you Chris from for hosting our BBA challenges.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

BBA Challenge: Challah Bread

This weeks challenge was challah bread. It was one of those breads that when I saw it finished and it came out of the oven I had to pinch myself and wonder....did I just bake that?!! It must be something about the rise that it makes throughout the process. It is a bread with very spiritual roots. A symbolic bread of the Jewish faith. It is made for many of their holidays. It carries through to the Christian faith with its 3 ropes that are intertwined together representing, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Trinity.

I saw a loaf of this bread 2 weeks ago at a local bakery and it was beautiful. In my mind I had the standard of how it should look. Although I believe mine does not look like what I saw at the bakery, I am pleased with how mine looks!!
I kneeded the dough until I had a nice window. I did have to add more flour to the dough as I went along but it is dry and cold here in Wisconsin. The humidity and lack of does affect the flour. A seasoned baker needs to use the recipe as a guide and know the feel of the dough. Doing these challenge's is going to help me in this area.
I put the dough in an oiled bowl and allowed it to proof.

Once the dough proofed I kneeded it again for 2 minutes and put it back in the bowl to proof some more.

I divided the dough into 3 equal parts using a scale.

I rolled the dough out into 3 ropes and allowed them to sit for 10 minutes.

I braided the loaf. To do the braid I started in the middle and worked out to either end and tucked the ends under. I allowed the bread to proof. I brushed an egg white wash all over the bread and sprinkled the bread with poppyseeds. I read that the seeds represent the Manna from Heaven that God feed the Israelites.

The bread was baked on a stone. It took exactly 40 minutes to bake. Here it is hot out of the oven.

I was excited about the crumb! The taste is nice also. I think I will turn some of it into french toast today. Thank you Chris from for hosting our challenges.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

BBA Challenge: Casatiello

This weeks challenge was casatiello. It is an Italian type of bread. For my meat and cheese I chose pepperoni and provolone cheese. I purchased good stuff at Fraboni's the Italian deli here in town. Below are the before and after pictures of the sponge.

I mixed the dough until it was crumbly.

I added the meats and cheese. I diced both up based on what I read at Chris's blog.

I got a #10 can from work and used a small grocery bag to be my container.

I let the bread proof more in the can and then baked it off. My bread baked an extra 1 hour and 15 minutes more than what the recipe said. It made me wonder what I might have done wrong.

A picture of the crumb. I think next time I will need to mix the meat and cheese in better, it was not evenly distributed. Overall though, the bread was very good and I would make it again.