Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Midnight Mocha Pie in Cafe Au Lait Crust

Warning : If you're not a fan of coffee and gooey things, this pie is not for you. This unassuming pie before you is the whole grain Midnight Mocha Pie in Cafe Au Lait crust from King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking and it shouts mocha. I've been wanting to try it and try my hand at making a whole grain crust and I finally had all the ingredients on hand. I put it together two nights ago and let my girls dig in last night. This is a take it or leave it kind of pie- either you like coffee or you don't. The girls who don't like it didn't appreciate this pie but the girls who did really thought it was delicious and told me so. So there you have it in terms of how it was received. Some notes about the pie itself.. As I said, I really wanted to try my hand at whole grain crust and making it was no different than a regular one. The crust features barley flour, oat flour and regular flour. I must not have let it chill long enough because it broke on me when trying to put it in the pan. No harm done, because all you do is patch it back together. The filling comes together fast and then bakes in forty five minutes although my center wasnt jiggly as the recipe indicated. In any case I let it chill overnight in the fridge. The center was still a bit gooey the next day, but I'm not sure anyone really minded. The changes I made were the result of pure laziness- in the crust, I just added the espresso and cream instead of dissolving it, and in the filling I didnt have coffee liqueur so I just added more cream and about 1/2 tsp of coffee extract.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mostly Pear and Apple Cranberry Crisp

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

Pumpkin Pie

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

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread

I spent a wonderful Shabbat with friends in Bar Ilan. It had been a very long time since I had been there and seen them so it was about time. They asked me to bring something and of course I volunteered to bring challot, the ones I just posted and I told them that if I had time, I would bake dessert also. One of the desserts I made was this Gingerbread, into which I tossed some chocolate chips. As it turned out, since no one relied on me, someone else made dessert thus allowing me to bring back a full pan of gingerbread to my ravenous girls. One of my girls kept coming back for more cake, which is always complimentary. A few words about this cake. You may notice  some dust on the pan but that isnt dust. It's flour. This cake, from Bakewise, is mixed DIRECTLY in the pan. There are chocolate versions of this cake, I believe to be called Wacky Cake. The dry ingredients are placed in the pan, whisked, topped with the wet ingredients, mixed and baked. And there you have the easiest gingerbread ever. The recipe calls for vinegar, ostensibly to act as the acid to aid the baking soda's rise. I didn't have any on hand so I omitted it. This very well may be the reason that the cake turned out wonderfully dense and moist as well. Overall, quite the success given the circumstances.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Jewish Holiday Baker's Ultimate Challah

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

Apple Butter Monkey Bread

The apples are FINISHED! There are none left! And all because I just decided to throw them into a pot and  turn them into apple butter. Problem solved! (I've learned my lesson- no more apples!) What to do with the apple butter, you ask? Make Apple Butter Monkey Bread! This recipe is adapted from one from the Macrina  Bakery Cookbook. When I saw it, I thought, brilliant! Monkey bread and a way to get rid of those annoying apples. It took me a while to actually get to making it because boiling down the apples is a bit of a process. I slightly adapted her dough recipe and decided to shape the monkey bread to be more monkey bread like, instead of using her suggested method. I also totally forgot about her topping for the end bread and I also considered making a glaze for it, but I just got too lazy. This bread made my room smell so glorious and fall-like. (Although here in Israel, with the lack of rain and cold, it's still summer. In November. I call it schizo weather.) The way I shaped this was just to roll jelly roll style, cut into small pieces and dump them into the pan. I just let the girls rip away large pieces. I'm pretty sure it was a big hit based on how fast it disappeared... This bread is going to Yeastspotting! See you there!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cherry Lattice Pie

I've been wanting to make a cherry pie for AGES and last week, I finally did. When I say AGES I mean I've been thinking about it for at least a month. For me, that's a long time for a baking itch to go ignored. In fact, the jars of sour cherries that I picked up on a whim have been sitting on my pantry shelf just waiting for me to put them to use. Eventually, I couldnt think of any reason not to, laziness not withstanding, so I set about making the pie crust. I was very excited to try my hand at making a lattice, and using Rose's Pie and Pastry Bible as my guide, everything about making this was as easy as.... well, you know. As with the apple galette, I  used the flaky pie crust which yields enough for a bottom crust and a lattice. Pie crust is pretty much easy to make, its just the waiting time that makes the process seem long and dragged out. As for the filling..... it is definitely not the season for fresh cherries here in Israel so I used the canned sour ones that are packed in syrup. I drained them very well and reduced the sugar a bit so it wouldnt be too sweet. Add some thickener and salt and almond extract, leave to macerate as long as you can and you have fresh cherry pie filling, not that gunky stuff from a can. The lattice was soo fun to make and it's so easy, pretty much just over and under and done. The whole pie is put into the fridge to chill the fat so that the crust holds up and doesnt fall. And then it gets baked. And then devoured. I allowed the pie to cool for a good three hours but after that, it was a goner. And I mean, in less than five minutes. Gone. All my work. I heard it was delicious so I'm not complaining. It seems I have a thing for pies, so I'm not going to wait too long before I make another...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mountain Meadow Chocolate Fudge Cake

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

Banana Feather Loaf

As I mentioned in one of my more recent posts, I hadnt been feeling well in the last couple of days. I thought I was better yesterday but was unexpectedly hit with a wave of nausea. Anyway, the staple food item of someone sick is toast. Now, I love bread but as I watch what I eat I reserve it for Shabbat only. I decided however, that being sick was a case for leniency. The only catch was that I didnt have any bread around. The likelihood is that I wouldnt have touched store bought bread anyway because after baking my own for so long, store bought just wouldnt do. As it happened, I had one lone banana left sitting in my fridge and it hit me that this would be THE perfect time to make Rose Levy Beranbaum's Banana Feather Loaf. So I got to baking. Wow, was I impressed. This bread is dangerously good. Living up to its name, the crumb of this loaf is indeed very light and extremely moist. Its crust is crunchy and crisp and so good. The bread retained the fragrance of banana and while some banana flavor remained in the crust, it was gone by the next day. I made this as a regular sandwich loaf with no steaming and no stone. I also omitted the milk (no dairy bread!) and used oil instead of butter or margarine. Sometimes, I think it pays to be sick. This bread is going straight to Yeastspotting!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Banana Split Coffee Cake

I like bananas. I buy them by the bunch from the Shuk. Invariably, they all go bad before I can eat them all. And so I bake with them. A quick sweep of this blog will show you that I've baked ALOT of banana baked goodies so it's a miracle that there are still original recipes to try. This latest one is the Banana Split Coffee Cake from King Arthur Flour's Baking Companion. Essentially it is a banana chocolate marble cake. Banana and chocolate are a classic combination but more than that, it used buttermilk (needed to use up) and oil (healthier!) so this really was a winning recipe. Nothing too complicated here- just mixing half the batter with melted chocolate, half the batter with mashed banana and layering. I didnt bother with the glaze because I was just too lazy, but it was fine without it. I might make one if I were bringing this to a party or a meal but my girls were none the wiser and perfectly content to eat any cake at all. Thankfully, I had little trouble unmolding this bundt from its pan, due to the large amount of PAM I sprayed the pan with. The cake was moist and soft and wonderfully good. One of my girls called it heavenly. This cake really lives up to its name and would be
PER-FECT with a cup of coffee.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Aunt Dot's Dutch Apple Cake

Today is a bit of an off day for me.... I didnt sleep well last night because I wasnt feeling well.. and still this morning, no change. Needless to say, I slept the morning away... and most of the afternoon also. I figured I'd blog a bit, but I haven't gotten around to it until now. It's five eight thirty p.m. I hate being sick. Anyway, last night, before I came down with whatever's bugging me, I managed to turn out two cakes, one being this apple cake. This recipe comes from Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters, a book of baking recipes collected from old cookbooks or pamphlets. Being a fan of finding cookbooks, both old and new, in used book stores, this book, with all of its recipes and their accompanying stories, is extremely appealing to me. This is only the third recipe I've made, but so far so good. Back to the cake. I'm not entirely sure what makes this cake Dutch but it was a snap to put together, the most difficult part being  peeling and slicing the apples. Scented with vanilla and topped with cinnamon sugar, it was light and pretty and moist. The only changes I made were to use cream instead of milk which added a level of richness, because that's what I had on hand and to bake this in my springform pan. Love those pans! Really though, this cake couldn't be simpler and will help you make a dent in your apple supply...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mama's Challah

Another weekend, another Challah recipe. I spent this past Shabbat by my sister in Neve Daniel and she specifically requested that I make challot. Never one to turn down a request to make challot, I pulled out Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters to make their Mama's Challah. Here are my notes on this recipe. I used one kilo and the recipe yielded two giant challot and one nice sized roll. I used 1 tbsp instant yeast instead of two packages of quick rising. I used the three tablespoons of sugar but found it barely sweet so next time would add at least another. Also, I used the one tablespoon of salt called for but would up it by at least another half. The dough really handled beautifully- it kneaded and rolled like a dream. The final breads had amazingly fluffy texture-- a trademark of good kneading and good challah. I omitted the seeds from the top but I think they would add a lot to this recipe.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Caramel Brownies

Finally. Caramel brownies. I've been waiting and waiting to make these. I've searched every candy store that I see for mehadrin caramel candies so I could make them but have found none. So when I bought a jar of dulce de leche for a birthday cake and needed to use some of it up, I thought, it would have to do in place of caramel candies. (It should be noted, that dulce de leche is much simpler to work with than the candies..) In the end, it worked remarkably well. I gave a few to my sister who stopped by as a birthday treat and served them at our weekly meeting. The general consensus was that these were caramelly and delicious and... simply divine. I'm pretty sure that means these were a hit. I adapted this recipe from the Fatwitch Cookbook recipe for Caramel Witches. I dolloped on the dulce de leche and swirled it around. Next time, I'd swirl a bit less so that there would be pockets of caramel or I'd consider pouring half the brownie batter, spreading with caramel and topping with the remaining batter. Either way, you'll have people begging to scrape the pan clean.... Now.. what to do with the remaining dulce de leche....