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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

BBA Challenge: English Muffins

This weeks BBA challenge was english muffins. I have never made them before and never even knew how it was done. This was exciting. I will admit, they tasted good but they were not perfection. Read along and learn from my mistakes.

I kneeded the dough and let it rise. Then I was going to equally scale the dough but I dropped my scale and broke it. Guess I need to purchase another one. I had to eyeball my dough balls. This recipe makes 6 english muffins. Once I had my balls made I put them on a cookie sheet with wax paper that is sprayed with oil and covered with corn meal. I then sprayed the top of the balls with oil and covered with corn meal. I allowed the balls to proof.

Once the balls were proofed they were put in my cast iron skillet to fry up. I had my pan too hot. The book said to cook them 5-8 minutes per side-I would have burnt them bad. So one side of my english muffins looked real burnt but the other side looked much better. I decided to keep the burnt muffin pictures to myself. I baked the muffins and my gut was that they were not ready but I had already let them go about 6 more minutes then the book said so I pulled them. My gut was right-they were doughy in the middle. Next time I will have the fry pan at a med-low heat and I won't use my cast iron pan-it just doesn't heat even. My muffins still tasted really good. I toasted them up which took care of some of the doughiness.

Thank you Chris from for hosting our challenges.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Filled Meringue Coffee Cake

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

I made both these versions for the challenge. I have shown the pictures of Ria's version as I thought the Indian spices were so unique. I definatly will be making this again!!

FILLED MERINGUE COFFEE CAKE Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake Ingredients For the yeast coffee cake dough:

4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour

¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar

¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt

1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast

¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk

¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)

½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature

2 large eggs at room temperature

10 strands saffron for Ria’s version (Saffron might be hard to find and it’s expensive, so you can substitute with ½ - 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom or ground nutmeg. Or simply leave it plain like Jamie’s version)

For the meringue:

3 large egg whites at room temperature

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the filling: Jamie’s version:

1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts 2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Ria’s version: 1 cup (130 g / 5 oz.) chopped cashew nuts 2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar ½ teaspoon garam masala (You can make it at home – recipe below - or buy from any Asian/Indian grocery store) 1 cup (170g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips ( I used Ghirardelli) Egg wash: 1 beaten egg Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes **Garam (means “hot”) masala (means “mixture”) is a blend of ground spices and is used in most Indian savory dishes. It is used in limited quantities while cooking vegetables, meats & eggs. There is no “one” recipe for it as every household has a recipe of their own. Below, I am going to share the recipe which I follow. 4 or 5 sticks (25 g) Cinnamon Sticks (break a stick and open the scroll) 3 ½ tablespoons (25 g / less than an ounce) Cloves, whole 100 g. (3.5 oz.) Fennel seeds 4 tablespoons (25 g / less than an ounce) Cumin seeds 1 ½ tablespoons (10 g / less than half an ounce) Peppercorns 25 g (less than half an ounce) Green Cardamom pods In a small pan on medium heat, roast each spice individually (it hardly takes a minute) until you get a nice aroma. Make sure you stir it throughout so that it doesn’t burn. As soon as each spice is roasted, transfer it to a bowl to cool slightly. Once they are all roasted, grind into a fine powder by using a coffee grinder, or pestle & mortar. Store in an airtight container and use as needed. I made the splurge and purchased saffron and the spices. I mixed the dry together then added the wet and let it proof. Once the dough had proofed I rolled it out. I whipped up the egg whites and spread it over the dough and added the spices, nuts and chocolate.

I rolled the dough up and formed it into a circle and cut slits into the dough. I allowed it to proof and then I baked it at 350 for about 45 minutes. I sprinkled powdered sugar over the whole coffee cake once it was out of the oven.

Both versions of the coffee cake looked the same uncut but once cut into the version on the white plate is Ria's and the other cut is Jamie's version. Both were excellent. Thank you for such a fun challenge!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

BBA Challenge: Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread

This weeks challenge was Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread. I was really pleased with how it turned out. I got a nice window from the dough. I then mixed the craisins and walnuts in. I did toast the walnuts before I added them to the dough to help cut some of the bitterness that walnuts can give off.

I let the dough proof then divided the dough into 3 larger ropes and 3 smaller ropes. I rolled them out into logs.

I took the large ropes and did a 3 braid then I did the same to the smaller ropes and placed the small braid on top of the larger braid. I egg washed it and let it proof.

Once it had proofed I baked it in the oven and I checked for doneness by checking the internal temperature.

I really like how the double braided loaf looks. Thank you to Chris from for hosting our challenges.

Irish Soda Bread

Being the daughter of Rose McNerney I believe qualifies me to bake Irish Soda Bread. I understand that the original soda bread recipes did not contain raisins and such but being the daughter of an Irish Mom also qualifies me to say...the Irish were not known for their cooking. It's OK, my Mom will not be offended, she knows. So when the St. Patricks Day celebration arrived I used to cook the traditional cornbeef and cabbage which my Irish Mom claims she had never heard of nor had until I told her about it. So I wonder how Irish the whole meal really is. Anyway, this is my version of soda bread-I took some different recipes and researched and invented my own. I used to make it at some bakeries I worked at and this recipe was featured about 4 years ago in the Wisconsin State Journal in which I was given credit for the recipe.

Irish Soda Bread

1 2/3 Cup Buttermilk
1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp baking soda
3 Cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 Cup Raisins or Currants
1 tsp Caraway Seeds

Add dry together then add the wet and stir together. Form into a ball and put on the baking sheet. Brush the dough with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 about 45 minutes.

Mix the dry in one bowl and the wet in another and combine it. Mix with a spatula until it it forms a ball. Put the ball on a baking sheet. Brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar ontop of that. Cut a cross into the top of the dough ball. Bake at 350 for approx. 45 minutes. Enjoy it warm with butter!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

BBA Challenge: Corn Bread

This weeks challenge was corn bread. It was actually some of the best corn bread I've ever tasted. It was moist. It reminded me of a funny story....About a decade ago I was a weekend baker at a place and we made this awful muffin. Us bakers coined the muffin the sawdust muffin. The owner liked the muffin, they were healthy. One day the owner was not there to defend her recipe and a customer complained about the muffin. The manager came back and let us bakers have it and brought us a muffin and had us try it and told us how awful it was. Well....that was what it was suppose to taste like...sawdust. I realized from this that the baker is only as good as the recipe she is given. So how does this story tie in with corn bread. I have made corn bread in the past and it was dry. Now I wasn't me, a bad corn bread was the recipe!! Ah....confidence gained.

This recipe was easy-I soaked the corn meal overnight and then added all the ingredients into the bowl. I mixed by hand with a spatula, poured the batter in the pan and sprinkled the batter with bacon, and baked.

Thank you Chris from for hosting our BBA Challenges.

Friday, March 4, 2011

BBA Challenge: Cinnamon, Raisin, Walnut Bread

This weeks BBA Challenge was Cinnamon, Walnut, Raisin Bread. I was very happy with how it turned out. The one thing I would do different next time is to toast my walnuts before adding them to the dough to give them better flavor-I spaced that out today.

The recipe in the book calls for using a paddle first-I have found that I am just going to stick with dough hook as the paddle gets filled with dough and it is hard to get it off. I mixed the dough to almost full window then I added the raisins and nuts. It was quite the task to get the raisins and nuts distributed into the dough. I had to hand mix and use the hook for about 10 more minutes. I have a picture of the window pane with the nuts and raisins.

I put the dough in an oiled bowl and allowed it to rise.

I scaled the dough out into 2 equal pieces.

I was rushed today to get my bread done so I invented a home proof box. I usually run my dishwasher and leave my bread onto of the counter over the dishwasher for warmth but I had this idea of once the dishwasher was done and slightly cooled I put my bread into the dishwasher to get a proof box like rise. I know, I know, proof box use is not the best but I was in a hurry.

When my bread came out of the oven I brushed the loaves with melted butter and sprinkled cinnamon sugar over them.

I am very pleased with how my bread turned out. Here is the crumb shot. Thank you Chris from for hosting our BBA challenges!!