Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm Baaaaaaaaaack

I'm finally back in Israel! That's right, last week I finally landed in Israel, overweight baggage full of books and baking equipment in tow. Overcoming jetlag has been the order of business and I don't think I'm faring too well. I'm sorry to have neglected this blog but I don't have internet in my dorm room which doesn't make it feasible to update. Worry not, I will keep baking and try to post if and when I can. So bear with me! Oh, and Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mocha Layer Cake

This weekend, my final one in America, was all about pleasing my dad. I made him his beloved potatonik (sort of like potato kugel but not), even freezing two mini loaves for him for when I'm not around, baked the Challot in a metal loaf pans to get height and the good browning he prefers and let him choose dessert. He requested something chocolate, mocha-ey. I thought that was a good idea as R's best friend S (sounding like Gossip Girl here!) would be over and she adores chocolate. My mother had suggested I make a seven layer cake of sorts among other things so when I found this Mocha Roulade cake I thought it'd be the perfect dessert. Especially since my cake stuck to the pan (I was out of parchment!) and the only way to salvage it was to cut it into four strips to stack and layer into a... four layer cake! Things worked out for my mother after all. This recipe is taken from an Israeli cookbook called More Chocolate by Ruth Oliver. Although in Hebrew, for all you hebrew speakers, this book features wonderful and recipes and absolutely stunning photographs. It is from the same "house" that puts out Al HaShulchan, Israel's leading gastronomical magazine. Anyway, I put together the sponge cake the night before. It was really easy and turned out to be exceptionally good not dry at all. The cream also was delightful and simple. I couldn't believe how easy it was- these are certainly recipes to be valued independently of their whole for other uses. The cream had great smooth texture and spread like a dream. I will say that my cake turned out a little lopsided as a result of the crumbling of the cake originally but who cares. No one was the wiser. I refrigerated the cake after assembly and I must say all the elements were perfect chilled. Cold chocolate cream... Mmm! All around the cake received great reviews from everyone.. My dad even finished his slice! Yes, that does mean something. My mother also gave it two thumbs up and started brainstorming variations... Stick some raspberry in there....etc etc. All good ideas. I think to enhance the mocha flavor which was really subtle, I'd either add some coffee extract to the batter or brush the layers of cake with some kahlua. In any event, it was a successful Shabbat dessert.... You know what they say.. Out with a bang!

Mocha Layer Cake
from Al HaShulchan

For the cake:
3 eggs
125 grams sugar
70 grams flour
35 grams cocoa powder
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
10 grams baking powder
2 tbsp cream

For the filling and topping:
500 ml cream
250 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped
35 grams cocoa powder
50 grams sugar
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
80 ml (1/3 cup) water

For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sift all of the dry ingredients into a bowl,

and stir well.

Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of your mixer and fit with the whisk attachment.
Beat around eight minutes on medium speed until the mixture is light in color and texture.

Add the dry ingredients to the eggs,

and gently fold them in to combine well.

Spread the batter onto a parchment lined sheet. Make sure the batter fills all the corners.

Bake about ten minutes until the cake is nicely brown and springy to the touch. Turn onto a towel dusted with confectioner's sugar to cool completely. Cut the cake width wise into four pieces. Set aside. If you're opting to make a roulade, roll the cake inside the towel and allow to cool completely.

To make the filling and topping, place 250 ml of the cream and the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan.

Cook over medium- low until everything is melted together into a smooth liquid. Allow to cool. Set aside about a third of this mixture for the topping of the cake.

While the chocolate mixture is cooling, place the remaining 250 ml of cream into a clean bowl with a cleaned whisk attachment,

and beat until stiff peaks form.

When the chocolate mixture has cooled, begin to fold the whipped cream in, a little at a time.

Here the cream is mostly incorporated,
and here it is fully incorporated, looking nice and silky and scrumptious.

Place the first cake layer on to your serving platter and generously ice with the cream. Repeat with the remaining cake layers. Ice all sides if desired.

Top the cake with the reserved chocolate mixture. Refrigerate once the topping has set if not serving right away. Oh, and enjoy this one! It is super delicious!

Pizza Sauce Bread

Yes, Pizza Sauce Bread. It was the most creative name I could think of for this bread that smells and tastes just like pizza sauce. I made this bread for this month's Bread Baking Day (my first!), the theme being Colored Breads. I had been wanting to make a tomato based bread for a long time, so I decided that this would be as good a time as any. This recipe is one I adapted from some place on the internet and I'm glad I can say that I made it my own. The tomato sauce turned the dough a nice salmon color with flecks of dark green or black from the Italian seasoning. The finished product is a lovely burnt orange. What can I say? I take my inspiration from Crayola. Putting together the dough was amazingly simple, requiring barely any effort at all. It's a wonderfully fragrant and soft loaf that is pretty good all by its lonesome. I can't really think of what toppings would be appropriate... other than cheese... then it would really be Pizza Bread. With the success of this bread.. I'm kind of feeling inspired.....

Pizza Sauce Bread

8 ounces tomato sauce (I used Tomato sauce already flavored with basil and oregano)
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp Italian seasoning
some sourdough toss off-- about 1/4 cup
1 3/4 tsp yeast
Flour as needed

Place the tomato sauce, water, sugar and oil in a bowl.
Add the salt and yeast,

Italian seasoning and sourdough toss off to the bowl,

and stir reallllllly well to combine and dissolve it all.

Begin adding flour to the batter until a soft dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface,

until smooth. Shape into a ball,

and place it in a clean, greased bowl to ferment until doubled in size. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen this may take anywhere from an hour to two hours.

Once the loaf has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a sandwich loaf.

Place it in a loafpan for its final proof.

When the loaf has almost doubled in size, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake about 30-45 minutes until the loaf has browned well on top and is wonderfully fragrant. Give it some extra time if you're not sure. The underside of the loaf should be well browned, too.

The final product in all its orange glory. Immediately turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Slice and enjoy!Thanks Boaz for a wonderfully inspiring Bread Baking Day!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blueberry Pancakes

Oh, how I spoil my little sister, R. Last time it was banana pancakes and this time it's these from the King Arthur Flour site. Maybe I don't mind because it involved baking and testing new recipes or perhaps because I'm leaving her soon and I won't be able to spoil her even if I were inclined to. Or maybe because I offered to make Blueberry. Pancakes. Now, if I'm being honest I'd never had them before but I had nice large berries in the fridge to use up before they'd go bad and R needed brunch so.... These were so good! They baked up nice and light and golden with that yummy, familiar pancake flavor and strong burst of blueberry flavor. That made it a homerun especially since blueberry isn't my favorite berry. They were super easy to whip together. For simple transfer of batter to skillet, I used a muffin scoop, which made nice large cakes. The only thing I'd caution is to make sure that they are thoroughly cooked as I found that it was still slightly undercooked around the blueberry area. Serve with maple syrup, real please, or as I like to enjoy them.. plain!

Blueberry Pancakes

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp oil
3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir together with a whisk.

Combine the wet ingredients and pour them over the dry mixture.

Mix together, taking care not to overdo it. Allow the batter to rest while you preheat your pan.

Drop the batter onto the pan in a bit less than quarter cup-fuls and top with a few blueberries. Flip to cook on the other side.

R's brunch!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cranberry Scones

There were a bunch of factors involved in the decision to make these scones. One was the fact that I've been craving the flaky, crumbly, not too sweet goodness that is scones for quite some time now. Second is the two bags of fresh cranberries that I picked up from my local grocery. I didn't know that I'd actually use them but I saw them for the first time and so grabbed a couple of bags. Who would resist that? I immediately stashed them in the freezer for someone else to use. I remembered seeing a recipe for Cranberry Scones in A Passion for Baking, the only all-purpose baking book I have with me until I return to Israel next week-- can't wait!!! These were a breeze to put together, replacing milk for the cream. Shaves some calories and besides, cream isn't always on hand for impulse baking. Other than that, the recipe was quite simple to put together. The dough was a bit tricky to handle, so in the beginning I cut circles out but when that failed I resorted to a cookie scoop to scoop the rest. I quite like the result... a bit lumpy, a bit craggy looking... just like I remember. Did I mention I burned a couple? Yea. So those ended up in the trash but the rest were really good. I didn't realize just how tart fresh cranberries are-- I was a cranberry virgin before, and they really are eye squintingly tart. The baking made them less tart in a soft, pleasing manner. However, I did find that the cranberries that stick out of the top remained tart, so be wary. These would be great with some jam.. I'm not a fan of butter, for breakfast. I hope to make more scones soon. So little effort, but so worth the end result.

Cranberry Scones
adapted from A Passion for Baking

3 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup butter or margarine cut into chunks
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3- 1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups frozen cranberries, chopped

Ruby red jewels. So pretty!

Place the dry ingredients in a bowl. Whisk to combine.

Add your desired fat,

and rub in the pieces as if you were making pie crust.

Add the eggs, vanilla, and milk, and stir until a wet dough is formed.

In come the cranberries!

Fold into the batter; the berries tint it a nice pink.

I started cutting out the dough... but then resorted to the cookie/muffin scoop method which I like better.

You can tell which scones were formed using which method. Here they are ready to bake.
Preheat your oven to 425.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes until they are golden. Be careful not to overbake..

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mary Williams' Coffee Cake with Streusel

Coffeecake. Simple, homey, comforting and delicious even without that cup of brew. My weekly search for Shabbat baked goods ended with coffeecake. And I'm so glad it did. I suggested it to my sister who was over with her husband and kids and she responded with a resounding, MD LOVES coffeecake. Well that was enough for me. As it turns out, everyone else loves it too and it received raves. I wonder why I never thought to make coffeecake before as it can do triple as breakfast, a simple but in no way plain dessert, and delightful accompaniment to that afternoon cup of tea.This recipe comes from Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters, one of my latest additions and a book I was dying to try something from. This book is a collection of recipes that was gathered from old cookbooks and manuscripts and gives a wonderful overview of the things housewives way back when used to whip up. I'm glad I stumbled upon it on a trip to Costco and even more glad I finally put it to use. I was initially afraid of how it would turn out because due to my ditziness, or maybe all the distractions from the delicious nieces, I doubled the flour and not all the other ingredients. Thankfully I realized my mistake, as the amount of liquid would not have compensated for all the dry ingredients so I quickly doubled up on everything else. Not gonna lie, I was too lazy to make the streusel topping again. The cake baked nicely in the pan even doubled which I would do again but would certainly make at least a double streusel recipe. I also ran out of brown sugar and substituted regular sugar for the topping which resulted in a deliciously crisp top crust, a feature of the cake I really liked. Really, this cake had no downside and is slowly disappearing.

Mary Williams' Coffeecake with Streusel
from Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters

For streusel:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp cold margarine or butter
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk, or non dairy substitute
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350. Line and grease an 8 inch square pan.

In a small bowl, place the sugar, flour, and cinnamon.
Stir well.

Cut in butter

until you have formed pieces the size of small peas.

Add pecans and stir. Set aside.

In another bowl, place the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Stir to combine.

Cut in the margarine or butter until small pieces are formed.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Be careful not to overmix though!

Spread half of the batter in the pan,

and top with half the streusel. It does look a bit anemic, I know. Gently spread the remaining batter on top,

and sprinkle with remaining streusel. Bake until a beautiful golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Test with a toothpick or a knife and make sure it comes out clean.

Take a test pieces for yourself and enjoy!!