Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
I spent this past Shabbat with one of my favorite people, S, in Tel Aviv. It had been way too long since I'd seen her, and I hadn't yet seen her new apartment, so I was really glad to see her. I asked her what I could bring her for Shabbat and one of the things she asked for was dessert. Knowing how difficult the decision would be for me, I asked her to be very specific and she obliged by telling me that she would like something with jam. Immediately, I knew the perfect recipe. I opened Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey to page 90 and there it was- the recipe for Blackberry Jamble Shortbread Bars. Except I made them Apricot Almond Shortbread Bars. And in half the quantity. But were they delicious and buttery and mm-mm good? You bet they were! The recipe feature ground almonds in the crust, to punch up the flavor. (I walked around the shuk and walked into some stores to ask if they had ground almonds. They said no but that they could grind some on the spot. Freshly ground almonds? Can't beat that!) I also had some leftover slivered almonds from the Golden Lemon Almond Cake, so those made an appearance here, too. As for apricot? It's just good. I thought it would be a nice, light accompaniment to the almonds. And I was right. S really enjoyed them and when she brought over the rest for lunch (I bailed because I was feeling waaay under the weather), she came home with an empty pan. Home run! Feel free to substitute any flavor jam and any kind of nut. This a terrific base shortbread bar recipe that just welcomes your imagination. If you're going to halve the recipe like I did, use a 9x9 inch pan and not an 8x8 pan. There will be a lot less wasted dough.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
awesome food that my sister makes. She made this awesome butternut squash pizza that I'm still craving as we speak. Anyway, she asked me to bring dessert and since the evening meal would be dairy, I had the leisure of making a dairy dessert. In truth, I really wanted something simple and clean and so decided to finally make the Golden Lemon Almond Cake from Rose's Heavenly Cake. It also helped alot that this cake is made with turbinado sugar as I have a massive Costco sized bag of it in my pantry and I'm trying to make a dent in it. I know I must be the last person in the world to try it, but I suppose better late than never. I made only two thirds the recipe and baked it in my kugelhopf pan which turned out to be perfect, with the exception of some browning issues. So easy to put together, this cake was moist beyond belief and pretty lemony, thanks to the abundance of lemon-sugar syrup brushed all over. My sister thought the cake was good and really moist, but noted that she didnt taste the almonds. Sadly, she couldnt really enjoy it because she got really sick Friday night and didnt want to take any more chances with food. I brought the cake back home though where the girls really enjoyed it and polished it off for me.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
the easiest chocolate mousse pie and chocolate chip cookies and inspired by my donut venture, I decided to make donuts again. Well, this obviously isnt a donut post. I made the mistake of baking a donut that was meant to be fried..... lesson learned! I had my roommate taste them and I decided they werent up to snuff. So into the bin they went. But what to make?! Fortunately, I had been browsing through my blogroll and noticed that the Heavenly Cake Bakers were making Financier Style Vanilla Pound Cakes. Bingo! Equipped with a pan that took me ages to find in Israel, I set out to making them. And these dainty little tea cakes were easy as pie. I was a bit nervous to bring a container of these meager looking cakes but then M reassured me that she loved the fact they were miniature. And so I was able to rest easy. The only thing I did differently from the recipe was to add a bit of vanilla bean paste to punch up the vanilla flavor. Oh, dont be alarmed when the batter curdles a bit. It's meant to be that way. Perfect with a cup of tea, these cakes are deliciously adorable.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Happy December! There's lots of excitement going on around here as tonight is the first night of Chanuka. To me, this holiday is family time and while it saddens me that for the fourth year in a row I will be without my family, I am consoled by the fact that I am in Israel lighting and celebrating with my girls. In any case, besides for all of the Chanuka hullabaloo, I've been baking a bit because I've been in and so had the time. I'd been meaning to make muffins for my roommates for breakfast-to-go as a means of finishing up the last of the buttermilk sitting in my fridge. I made these muffins, used up all the buttermilk, but sadly, these didn't make it to the end of the day and so there were none left for my dear roommates. At least they got eaten. So what did I make, exactly? I made Peanut Butter Muffins from KAF Whole Grain Baking. Delicious and (somewhat) nutritious, made with whole wheat flour. I made the recipe as is, initially opting not to make the glaze. When my first two tasters commented that there wasnt enough peanut butter flavor in the muffin itself, I quickly corrected that by whipping up the optional glaze. From then on, these didn't stand a chance. The recipe makes 12 nice sized peanut butter muffins and just enough glaze to top 'em all. You can choose to top these with chopped peanuts, but I think that garnish is more than necessary for these simple muffins.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
It is my strong belief that pears are the most underrated, delicious fruit. Apparently they pale in comparison to the apple. I'll admit that they are a bit unassuming, but if you take a bite out of a perfectly ripened pear, you'll discover its mellow sweetness and be won right over. So why are there so few pear recipes to be found? I honestly have no clue, but I think we should change that. A couple days ago, there were pears served for dessert at dinner and a whole container was left behind. So I gathered the pears in the hopes of making something with them. Most of my pear research was fruitless (pun intended!) until yesterday when I found a recipe for a simple Pear Crisp in Carole Walter's Great Pies and Tarts. It pretty much fit the bill until I realized that I didn't have enough pears and had to add some.... apples (sad face) to make up the difference. This crisp was easy to make- it comes together in just minutes, and disappears in about as much time. Even in these not so cold days here in Israel, a warm fruit crisp is quite comforting. The only major things I changed were omitting the fresh lemon juice because I was out and not melting the margarine for the topping, opting instead to just rub it in. One less dirty dish to wash. And there you have it- Pear and Apple Cranberry Crisp for those who were not out celebrating Thanksgiving.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Admittedly, here in Israel, I don't celebrate Thanksgiving like Americans do in America. Cheesy as it sounds, there's much to be thankful for every day and we have feasts like these every weekend on Shabbat. So to me, Thanksgiving and all its trappings are unnecessary for me. Not so for the girls. I went to Neve Daniel last night to babysit for my niece while she and her husband were at a wedding and I came home this morning to see my bed covered with signs begging me to bake pumpkin pie. They were so cute that I couldnt resist them and so today, I did indeed bake the pumpkin pie you see here for my creative girls. (In the process, I sliced my finger open when I opened the can of pumpkin, but I soldiered on. No biggie.) The recipe I used was from my newly acquired Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts that I found in a used book store. I made her pate brisee recipe and used the leftovers to cut out small circles to decorate the crust with because I don't have any leaf cutouts. The filling is simple and the only changes I made to the recipe were to use half turbinado sugar and half dark brown sugar instead of all brown sugar and non dairy cream instead of dairy. That's it. Baked for about an hour, cooled for about an hour while I napped, and then served perfectly sliced slices to my eager girls who were so excited and thankful that I actually took the signs seriously and made them pie. That, my, friends, is the magic of giving.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
One of my closest friends and her husband came to visit Israel this week and I had the greatest pleasure of spending an entire morning with her, just catching up on our lives. We walked around town, window shopping and picking up odds and ends, checking out shoes, and scarves and hats. A good friend, she put up with me popping into all the used book stores that I saw. She was the one responsible for this latest find, the now out of print The Jewish Holiday Baker, by Joan Nathan. This is a book I've wanted but couldnt get and here it was, in almost mint condition for only 45 shekels. The day just kept getting better. Naturally, the first recipe I chose to make was The Ultimate Challah. I know I rave about all the challot that I made, but these really are The Ultimate Challah of the sweet persuasion. This recipe will now be my go to sweet/egg challah. I just couldnt stop eating it, especially the middle parts which were slightly doughy. The dough kneaded so beautifully and braided so easily; they held their shape beautifully- just look at how they turned out. They also kept really well into Shabbat afternoon. These really are challot to be proud of and they'll probably grace many a table. This recipe uses only one kilo of flour but yields three nice sized loaves. Feel free to double it if desired. Don't be surprised if things are quiet on the challah front from here on out... These challot have been Yeastspotted!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Yeastspotting! See you there!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
I stumbled on the recipe for this cake while I was thumbing through Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey, looking for a way to use up some of the buttermilk that was sitting in my fridge. I succeeded with this one because not only does it have buttermilk in the cake but it has buttermilk in the frosting too. I was also excited about it because this cake reminded me of a Texas sheet cake, you know the one with the cracked chocolate frosting over a huge chocolate sheet cake? Well, I've always wanted to make it and I figured this was as close as I was going to get. Since we had a meeting coming up, I figured why not bake this easy cake. Assembling both was pretty simple and straightforward, with a lot of dirty, chocolately dishes to deal with in the end. Other than that, and the fact that I didnt bother really measuring the sugar for the frosting, just added by sight, there's not much to say in terms of the baking. How did it turn out? Well, already by looking at the color of the finished cake I knew it wasnt going to be as chocolately as I hoped. Instead, this moist cake became a vehicle for what everyone deemed an amazing frosting. Although, people did think the frosting was rich and the cake was not so that they formed a good balance. I think the frosting will go in my back pocket and either I'll use a different cake recipe to go beneath, or just add some dutched cocoa powder to the cake to replace some of the flour.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
PER-FECT with a cup of coffee.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
As I mentioned in previous posts, pop's is here in Israel visiting. Yesterday, we spent the day doing errands in town, visiting the shuk, but mostly just spending time together. He leaves Thursday... not too excited about that. But let me tell you about this Challah. Once I knew that we were spending Shabbat together, I immediately wanted to bake challot. Nothing new right? You see, my dad and I have an interesting relationship when it comes to challah. I've been baking challot for about six or seven years, starting way back when I was in high school. Those were my early baking days and I knew nothing about bread at all. The recipe I made every week was a honey whole wheat, not necessarily the best loaves to make when you're starting out. Sure enough, my loaves would come out dense and shapeless. I would bring them to the table and my dad would lift one up and start swinging it as if it were a baseball bat. He used to crack many a joke at their expense. Sad times. I always say, it's lucky that I didn't take offense and quit challah baking because these days, my challot are light and fluffy and beautifully braided. I havent really been around New York enough to show him that my challot are really good so I jumped at the chance. Of course, there was a lot of pressure on to make sure that these wouldnt flop. For some reason, I decided to try another new challah recipe and this week, it was Jeffrey Hamelman's Challah from his awesome book, Bread. I made only half a recipe because we were only going to be four adults and two was more than enough. The only adjustments I made were to round up the sugar and oil to a full tbsp and to use Israeli all purpose flour. I also glazed the breads with egg white, so as not to be wasteful. How did they come out? They were just barely sweet with a nice chewy, if a bit dense, texture. The crumb was nice and yellow and the breads held up in the oven and sliced like a dream. These were perfect with savory toppings as well, which in my book, always adds a few points. Once more, these loaves are headed over to Yeastspotting!
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Earlier this week, my dad, sister, brother in law and niece piled into my sister's car and drove way up north for a day trip. The plan was to go to Caesaria and then visit some family on the way back. In between, we went to Ikea and got lost quite a bit. But Caesaria was the highlight. Beautiful, clean beaches.... so relaxing and so beautiful. Since we were having such a long day, I figured I should bake something for the road. I decided to make the classic Fatwitch brownie. Now, I should have known that no one eat them- my father eats candy, my sister had a cold and couldnt taste anything, and I pass on the sweets these days. My brother in law had a couple but that still left me with plenty of extra brownies. So I brought them home and cut them in half for the girls. They had smelled them baking all the night before and couldnt have then so they were more than happy to devour what was on the plate. A few notes about the brownies themselves. The recipe calls for a little more than 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Thinking this wouldnt be chocolatey enough, I subbed two tbsp dutch cocoa powder for two tbsp of the flour. When the brownies came out of the oven, I thought they were going to be cake like, but as they cooled, they settled into a dense fudgy brownie that actually looked quite like the picture. I cut the brownies into twelve humongo ones, so you might want to cut them into sixteen squares. Overall, I think these brownies are right up there with the Baked ones, also known as my favorite brownie. So that's not too shabby.
The second recipe I tried from the Fatwitch cookbook was the Oatmeal Cherry Bars. Except I didn't have cherries, I had craisins. And once you have oatmeal and craisins, there needs to be white chocolate. So in the white chocolate chips went and out came Oatmeal Craisin White Chocolate Bars. I figured since their drop cookie counterparts are always so successful, these should be, too. And they were. I came home that night to crumbs and more compliments for these than the White Chocolate Bars. These bars are much easier to make than cookies because it doesn't involve creaming, the fat is melted and the rest is just as simple as stirring everything together with a spoon or spatula. Be sure to let these cool for an hour lest they fall apart on you. Don't worry if the cookies feel to hard to cut through, a bench knife should do the trick. These would double nicely as a quick breakfast for those in a hurry.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Now that the holidays are over and SFW is in full swing, our weekly meetings with our sweets loving director M have resumed. I asked her what she wanted for the meeting and she immediately responded, anything with chocolate. Of course. But I was running low on eggs and so my options were narrowed significantly. Thankfully, I remembered that shortbread is made without any eggs and it is so simple to make. I used the Chocolate Shortbread recipe from the KAF Cookie Companion (they have a whole chapter devoted to shorbread) but decided to take a page out of Carole Walter's cookie book by opting to dip the shortbread sticks into chocolate melted with a bit of oil. The only thing I did differently was bake the cookies in one 9x13 inch pan instead of two 9 inch pans and from there cut them into sticks. If you're going to dip into chocolate, or white chocolate, make the recipe ahead of when you need it because it takes ages for the chocolate to dry. That didnt deter anyone from eating them at the meeting. I left the rest of them at home while I went to meet my dad and came home the next day to an emptied tray. And compliments. Fudgy and chocolately. Obviously they weren't fudgy but I think dutch process cocoa just does miracles for baked goods. So there you have it, delicious chocolate shortbreads.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
There is A LOT of posting to be done and very little time right now. My dad finally came to visit (!!!) and we spent all day together up north. I'm exhausted right now but taking the time to update before I go spend Shabbat with him at my sister's and fall even more behind. Anyway.... My friend S took a trip to America and of course I used that as an opportunity order books.... have I mentioned this already? Anyway, when I spent Shabbat with her in Tel Aviv, I picked them up. One of the books I ordered is the newly released Fatwitch Bakery Cookbook. I immediately began reading through them and mentally bookmarking recipes. So far, I've made three which I'll eventually get around to telling you about. I made these White Chocolate Bars the same night as the Oatmeal Craisin Bars, left them for the girls and went off to see my dad. When I got home the next days, both plates were completely emptied, save for a few crumbs and some plastic wrap. The White Chocolate Bars were easy to make although they look nothing like their picture. They were thin, golden brown bars that were sweet from the white chocolate. The top was nice and crackly and cooked in less time than the recipe stated, so watch them carefully. It's possible that beating them more would give them more height. But the girls were happy and so was I. Except when they called these blondies. Which they are obviously not. See for yourselves.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
I spent Shabbat in Tel Aviv with one of my closest friends S, who just up and moved there. Besides for the fact that it was SWELTERING over there and I didnt cool off until well after I returned to Jerusalem, I really enjoyed spending it with her and seeing the city and meeting some of her friends. Obviously, I was going to use the opportunity to bake challot and this week's recipe comes from KAF's Whole Grain Baking book, which I realllly like, if you didnt know that already. The original recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour, but as I have no idea what that is in Israel, I went ahead and used regular whole wheat. The dough needed more flour than the recipe stated and instead of using white flour I used whole wheat which accounted for the resulting density in the loaves. Thankfully, the loaves, while on the denser side, were not at all dry. The braiding held beautifully and the flavor was nice and hearty a bit nutty with a lovely sweetness from the honey. I kept going for more, although between you and me, when it comes to bread, that's not too difficult. When I get around to it, I'd like to try this again with more white flour in the recipe and see how it turns out. Until then, these challot are off to Yeastspotting once again!
Friday, October 1, 2010
Things have been happening so fast in terms of holidays that it's hard to keep up with posting. I turn around and it's Erev Shabbat again. While I'm waiting for my laundry to finish its cycle, my challah dough to rise and my episode of Top Chef Just Desserts to load, I figure I'd post this tart that I made last week, when the first days of the holiday began. As previously mentioned, I offered to bake for my sister and this is the tart I made. The recipe for this Plum and Almond Tart comes from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert and couldnt be easier to make. My sister called this tart simple but good. I thought it was beautiful and "simple" to be a compliment because it fits right into the premise of the book, recipes that are simple but fresh, using few ingredients but highlighting them at the same time. Making this tart is as easy as dumping a few ingredients into a food processor and slicing some fruit. If you dont believe me, check out the photos...
Monday, September 27, 2010
Last week, I decided to head into Geula, one of Jerusalem's Hassidic neighborhoods. I had never before really appreciated it, as the culture it so different from mine, but these days I just find it fascinating. So off I went, to find some clothes, and just wander around and explore a bit. I did end up finding a dress and a blouse! and picking up some music, for some reason Im obsessed with Hassidic music... it's beautiful... Go figure. Anyway, while I was wandering around, my eye caught a Croc store. After going in without buying anything, I noticed a health food store. Now, there are some stores, like book stores, that I just can not resist going into. Health food stores are under that category because you just never know what you're going to find. And besides, lots of our conventional baking ingredients in Israel fall under the category of health food. Like maple syrup. Dont ask-I suppose it's just not so common here. And you can tell by its hefty price tag. So in to the store I went. I browsed around a bit and then noticed an entire back section of the store where they stocked all of their flours. Let me just say, was I surprised. They stocked every flour that I have ever wanted to lay my hands on but didnt think they had in this country. I came home with oat flour and... BARLEY FLOUR!!! and spelt flour as well. But they had everything! This store in Geula is a well kept secret and let me say, I will be going there ALOT. So naturally, what was one to do with all this flour? Get to whole grain baking, that's what! And so I went home and pulled KAF's Whole Grain Baking off the shelf and got to researching. Flours in hand, I bookmarked many recipes. I should say here that I decided to boil down the remaining apples to applesauce and I used most of it in a recipe that I had my eye on. Only I should tell you that it is very adapted and doesnt really resemble the original recipe. The original recipe is for Cinnamon Apple Bars with a PB Glaze but I didnt have cinnamon chips, I omitted the glaze and my girls told me they couldnt taste the applesauce but loved the spiciness. And so I dub these, Whole Grain Spice Bars. One of my girls called these bites of deliciousness and my roommate kept remarking on its moist texture. I was nervous about these because they were so crumbly. Perhaps they need to be held overnight before cutting. Turns out, my nerves were unwarranted. So there you have it. Bars that wont win any prizes for their humble looks, but delicious (and whole grain!) nonetheless.
Yeastspotting, once again!
Monday, September 20, 2010
This Shabbat the High Holy Days culminated in the observance of Yom Kippur. Not only is it a commandment for Jews to fast on this day of atonement and teshuva, but it is a commandment to eat the day before as well. And so, before the fast comes in, Jewish families everywhere sit down to a proper meal. As we were once again going to be in SFM and eating our meal there, I decided to make a single challah to enjoy. I figured that even if we were going to be fasting on Shabbat itself, I might as well make one anyway and of course try a new recipe in the process. :) This week's recipe comes from the Macrina Bakery and Cake Cookbook and isnt it a stunner? The dough was easy to put together and handled beautifully. I let the dough ferment overnight in the fridge and shaped and baked the next morning. The recipe calls for only 2 1/4 cups flour (plus more as needed to make a firm dough, as per my tastes) and so two eggs indeed makes it a bit rich. With three tablespoons of sweetener, it was sweet but not too sweet and it was nice, soft and doughy in the center, just like I like it. The final bread also has the most beautiful color and varnish that I've seen on a bread in recent memory. Overall this challah was YUMMY. As for the shape? It's deceptively simple. You make a three strand braid, elongate it slightly and knot it. Done. Sending this over to Yeastspotting!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
This year, one of my girl's presented me with a serious food challenge. She is the first girl I have met in my time here who has a gluten allergy due to a disease called colitis. I flipped out when I heard that! How on earth do they manage to stay away from all things bread?! I may only allow myself bread on weekends and holidays, but to have to go without bread forever??? To me, it's inconceivable but if it improves someone's health and quality of life.... I also felt bad that while everyone else can eat my baked goods, she can't. And so, I decided that I would make her some gluten-free goodies. Not all the time, but as a special treat, now and again. And so I conducted a ton of research and found out a lot of fascinating things about celiacs and gluten free baking. I became possessed by the research, scouring blogs and various web sites for promising recipes, finding many promising leads. So I went to the health food store in search of xantham gum, the one ingredient without which all of this gluten-free baking couldnt be done. Lo and behold, there in the Israeli health food store my eyes spotted the words (in Hebrew) "ksantam gam" and below it in English, xanthan gum. Bingo! I then proceeded to stock up on some gluten-free flours. The first thing I made her were brownies, as they are simple and chocolate- a good gluten-free choice. They were not only simple but well-received, if a bit fudgy and gooey. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever heard anyone complain about that.... My next challenge was bread. I remembered seeing a blog on the KAF Baker's Banter and went back to theirs. It looked really good and so I set out to make it having all of the ingredients on hand. Let me just say- gluten-free is a whole other ball game! It was refreshing not to worry about over beating the flours but it was also oddly goopy but didnt really stick to much. It was a really cool experiment. I gave A, the girl I'm baking for the loaf with the warning that gluten-free is not my niche and it's not my fault if it's bad. She took a piece off while it was hot and said that it was pretty good for gluten free. Afraid to taste it, I declined but then thought better of it later. I had her bring me a piece and I thought, that was it really good. I wouldn't even say good for gluten-free. I liked it! It was kind of nutty and a bit sweet... I was a fan. I would definitely make it again. The only changes I made were to use a bit of white rice flour instead of all brown, margarine instead of butter, and soy milk instead of regular and I used a hand mixer. This is impossible to make without some sort of electric mixer. Consider yourself warned. This bread is off to Yeastspotting!
Lots to catch up on the blog and now that Yom Kippur is behind us, (more on that later) I'm going to get started. In the spirit of having to use leftover fruit.... One of my girls generously gifted me with two browning bananas. I thought, that's so sweet... but what the heck am I going to do with them?! And so they sat on my counter for a few days, getting nice and brown, until I found this recipe in KAF Whole Grain Baking, a book that I had been revisiting and scanning for some gluten-free inspiration (more on that later, too!!) This recipe for simple banana bread is tucked away at the back of the book, why I'm not sure, but it spoke to me anyway. Firstly, it calls for all whole wheat flour, I used regular and not white whole wheat. Also, in addition to some brown sugar, the recipe calls for honey. I must say that this is the EASIEST banana bread I can recall making. It came together in less than five minutes. I added chocolate chips instead of walnuts because the whole wheat was too virtuous. And because E likes it that way. Anyway, my eager tasters pronounced this amazing and delicious. I'm guessing the whole wheat didnt interfere at all :) My only caveat is to bake this baby through! Mine was a bit underdone in the center. You might get thrown off by the dark coloring, but if you're nervous, tent the top of the loaf with foil.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Another year at SFW means more of our cook's delicious meals which means more leftover fruit at mealtimes. And you know what that means. Into the oven they go. This month, the fruit of choice has been apples. I've been collecting a few apples at a time a couple of days ago finally put them to use. As with the bananas, it's been hard to find new and exciting but girl-friendly ways to use them- how many apple cakes, pies, and crisps can you make? If we were talking crisps, my roommate from last year would say ALOT but.... it was time for something else. And so, the research began. I liked the idea of apple bars and found a few promising recipes in the cookie books on my shelf. The recipe I settled on was the Dutch Apple Pie Bars from the King Arthur Cookie Companion. Of course, I couldnt leave it completely alone. Instead I made some alterations based on my laziness these are time consuming as it is!) and what I had, or didnt have, on hand. How did they fare? First of all, I objectively dont know how you can go wrong with a bite size apple pie. And indeed, I left them in my room, untouched, and returned to a mostly empty pan- see picture below. The compliments I received on them were glowing-- these homey bars were quite a winner. The apples are cut in a dice, and the long bake softens them up into a nice smooth filling. The girls really loved them. Keep an eye on how much sugar you add, a couple of girls commented that they were a tad too sweet. So what did I do differently? Well, I omitted the cream from the filling, the almond extract from the topping, and instead of melting the margarine for the topping, I just cut it in to the flour to make a more crumbly topping. Feel free to do it either way.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Happy New Year! Jewish New Year, that is! We got back from a long three day stay in Shaalvim where we spent Rosh HaShana and Shabbat. It was intense and difficult what with wakeup and all, but the davening was beautiful and meaningful, even at 630 in the morning! This Shabbat was also E, my roommate and friend's twenty third birthday. (I'm sure not the best way for her to spend it...) I told her awhile back that she could choose anything she wanted for her birthday and she said banana bread with chocolate chips. To me, that's not a birthday cake... but for her birthday, her wish was my command, so I started collecting bananas and when they had gone bad, I froze them. I knew that there was no way things would be fresh until her birthday so I told her that the cake would have to be earlier. I dont think she was too bummed. So what did I make? Certainly not banana bread! I didn't have chocolate chips on hand and instead improvised something alot better which I think will become a signature. I decided to go with a banana cake baked in a 9x13 pan and topped with chocolate streusel. I have made streusel topped banana cake before, but I think the chocolate streusel was a stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. I recalled that the Tuesdays with Dorie group had just made a banana cake that was extremely flexible so I started there. I also remembered that Carole Walters had a recipe in her most recent book for chocolate streusel. And so, I put them together and this happy marriage became E's birthday cake, which she loved. It took a while for this to get finished because we kept it secret and it was also dairy, so people who had eaten meat couldnt partake of it. But it was finished the next day and everyone who had thoroughly enjoyed it, leaving but a few crumbs left in the pan.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Feeling stressed on Sunday, I knew that the thing that would relieve it all would be a good bake. But what to bake? That question always seems to add another layer of stress. One of the second years encouraged the peanut butter option. Seriously though, I have encountered more peanut butter and peanut butter baked goods last year and in the last month than I have in my life. It seems all these girls like to eat is peanut butter anything. Anyway, with a jar of peanut butter in hand, I set out to do some research. This was a particularly hard call to make seeing as my M.O is generally not to repeat recipes but once you've made PB everything, it's quite difficult to avoid. Still determined to bake, I flipped away through my cookbooks finally setting on a recipe from Paula Deen's Just Desserts. This is a book I picked up many summers ago and have kept on the back shelf until now. This is its first use. The original recipe makes a huge pan of peanut butter bars with a glaze. I, who can't leave well enough alone, decided to switch it up a bit. I omitted the glaze and the oatmeal from the recipe and instead added a full sleeve of chocolate sandwich cookies. My thinking that the marriage of peanut butter and chocolate is a winner led to the thought that who doesnt love a sandwich cookie? Boy, were my instincts good on this one. Not only did these run off the plate, some girls had as many as eight cookies! These were truly loved and I think that this is going to become a signature cookie for me. I will say that the cookies should be chopped on the smaller, less chunky side to ease spreading into the pan. This batter was a bit difficult to spread but is totally doable. The result is a generously sized batch of thin and chewy bites of peanut butter deliciousness.
Monday, September 6, 2010
As I mentioned in the previous post, when I asked my sister what she wanted me to bring her for Shabbat she said Orange Almond biscotti. Apparently, she had a craving. Unfortunately, I couldnt get my hands on oranges in time to make them so I asked her for an alternative suggestion. Without missing a beat she said, Chocolate Almond Biscotti. My response? Excellent choice. And so I popped open the Cookie Companion to the chapter devoted solely to these beloved Italian cookies and chose the recipe simply titled, Chocolate Almond Biscotti. Easy to make, biscotti are a twice baked cookie that are perfectly suited to a dip in your morning coffee, or whenever you're in the mood for a crunchy bite. The only suggestion I can offer is to chop the almonds on the smaller side so that they don't tear up the cookies when you're trying to slice them.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Another weekend, another challah. I spent this weekend at my sister's in Neve Daniel. It was so nice to spend a relaxing weekend away from work with her and family. Not to mention how cute my niece is.... Anyways, I asked what I could bake and she requested biscotti, as she had a craving, but more on that later. I also offered to bake challot, for reasons that readers of this blog know about already. (Anyone getting sick of seeing challot on the blog?! Don't answer that...) The recipe I chose this week is from the King Arthur Baker's Companion, my well loved and often used go-to baking book. I hadn't planned on using the recipe from here but stumbled upon it when I was looking for biscotti recipes and I figured, why not? This is the second recipe that I have seen thus far that uses a sponge. Let me say, this is quite untraditional. Normally, everything goes into a bowl at once. The sponge ferments for about forty five minutes, so really it was not a big deal at all. After that, everything goes into the bowl. The dough was a pleasure to knead and rose nicely also. It braided nicely as well and aside for my too tight braiding, the loaves were beautiful. I had never before used an egg white glaze but it works pretty well, although the result is more matte than with an egg yolk finish. As for the challot themselves, I really liked them. Alot. For an egg challah, they were not overly eggy at all and although there was more sugar than Im used to for this amount of flour, it wasnt too sweet either. It also had a nice doughy flavor that I havent had in a while. The texture was terrific, nice and fluffy and oh so delicious. It seems that I'm becoming an egg challah convert..... The recipe indicates that this makes one loaf, which would be quite large. I made one large six stranded loaf and one smaller three stranded loaf. Braid as you please! And check out this week's Yeastspotting!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Inspired by The Brownie Project where one blogger posts about her adventures with brownies (I should have a Challah Project! Hmmmm) I planned to make brownies for the first in Shabbat. Except I wanted to make brownies with chopped cookies in them. However, my roommate, who went shopping for my ingredients, returned cookie-less. And so, it was plain, regular brownies for Shabbat. Delicious ones, according to all the tasters, but not what I had in mind. So when I went shopping with my sister for her baking adventures and I found imitation Oreo cookies, I snagged a couple of packages and brought them home. These brownies would be made! Fast forward to yesterday when I had to get ready for another wedding. (The wedding was awesome, by the way. Casual and relaxed with a great band, great food, great friends and great weather!) Before I got ready for the wedding though, I decided to whip up a small batch of brownies, as I only had two eggs left! I noticed on The Brownie Project that its author, Megan, had tested these brownies and in searching for a brownie recipe for Shabbat noticed them too (but rejected them for some reason). It seemed like a promising choice and indeed this recipe was perfect for what I was looking for. So yesterday I pulled Desserts by the Yard off the shelf and got to baking. These brownies are pretty standard in technique- beat eggs and sugar, and melted chocolate and margarine, fold in flour. I folded in a bunch of chopped cookies and spread them in the pan. I think I underbaked them because when I cut them they were insanely fudgy. I popped them into the fridge and instructed my roommate to serve them at curfew while I was at the wedding. One of the second years told me I outdid myself with these. Indeed, I came home to an empty plate. I suppose that speaks for itself? Make these- they live up to their name.