Sunday, May 29, 2011

Vanilla Kipferl

I think I mentioned that when I was leaving America after Pesach, I cleaned out my mother's baking cabinets of things that I could use that were just sitting there. I took back a 7 pound bag of light brown sugar (working my way through!), a bag of chocolate chips, a few bars of chocolate, natural powder, and bags and bags of ground nuts. I thought I won the jackpot with the ground nuts but for a while at least they just sat in my kitchen cabinets. With my moving date fast approaching, I decided I had to make a dent in them somehow. I faintly remembered lots of cookie recipes using ground nuts in the KAF Cookie Companion, so that's where I started my search. I immediately settled on Vanilla Kipferl, an old-fashioned Austrian cookie (in fact, my brother in law commented that these were something his grandmother would make but I think he was just stirring the pot...) made with ground almonds (score!) and dipped in vanilla sugar, a full canister I happened to have sitting around. The dough came together really fast in the stand mixer and I let the dough chill overnight thinking I would bake them the next day. Wrong! I didn't bake these until Friday afternoon when I realized that I hadn't baked anything to bring for my sister. Thankfully, I remembered the kipferl dough and not wanting it to go to waste, started shaping them into their traditional crescent shape. For a recipe so simple and made from so few ingredients, these cookies really went and they were enjoyed by my sister and brother in law although let's just say my niece's tastes aren't nut inclined. These cookies are the perfect accompaniment to tea or or coffee but they'd also be right at home on a dessert table as well. Just make sure not to burn the bottoms ;)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chocolate Crusted Pumpkin Tart

Thumbing through my brand new copy of Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts, this chocolate crusted pumpkin tart immediately jumped right out at me. (The recipe is actually calls for a spiderweb design, making this perfect for Halloween. Since it is neither October nor do I nor my tasters celebrate Halloween anyway, I omitted the piping work.) Although pumpkin is traditionally an American fall dessert, courtesy of Thanksgiving, here in Israel, I do as I please, especially as fresh pumpkin is abounding in the shuk. I had the canned stuff at home and some leftover sour cream and so finally got to work making this. I made the spiced chocolate dough the night before in my mixer-- such quick work!! It chilled overnight until I was ready for it. The pumpkin filling comes together so easily- simply whisk up a bunch of things in a bowl and strain. A word on straining-- it is imperative to get a smooth satiny filling. Do not skip this step! The resulting tart, in my humble opinion, is pretty attractive. The contrast of the dark chocolate and orange really is beautiful to behold, or maybe that's just the baker in me. Again, there were some girls who felt like the spices in the tart were too strong. On the other hand, I had a couple who loved it and one who actually ate most of the tart over a few days because she really loved it. This all could be because I baked this in a 9 inch tart instead of a ten inch tart and so the crust to filling ratio was high, making the spices more apparent, so do as I say not as I do and go for the ten inch tart or feel free to dial back the spices in the crust and filling as you wish. One more thing- be sure to chill the tart before serving. Due to the dairy in the filling, the baked tart can come off as a bit slimy and the time in the fridge will firm it up for you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Monkey Bread

I promised you a Monkey Bread and I'm finally delivering on that promise. The only things I have to say are, this was worth waiting for and MAKE IT NOW! Redolent of cinnamon babka, this cake is made up of balls of sweet yeast dough coated in cinnamon and sugar. Just the smell is enough to drive you mad. Could you resist that? In true monkey fashion, this cake was actually devoured in mere minutes with girls begging me for the recipe at the end. The recipe itself comes from the new book, Baked Explorations but I adapted it slightly. For starters, I just threw in the margarine without melting it and let the dough do it's thing in the fridge overnight. Works like a charm for me every time. For the coating, I also used light brown sugar as that's what I had on hand. Assembling the cake itself is kind of fun. You just pull off pieces of dough, roll them into little ballies, dip and dump into a greased bundt pan. Then you can let it rise and bake or you can stash it in the fridge for next morning's breakfast, if you please. One pan, though, might not be enough, so consider making two. Or maybe that's just what I'll need to do with over seventy eager eaters around. I think I'd like to try a pumpkin variation or even a chocolate variation, so stay tuned for that. This Monkey Bread is being Yeastspotted!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rhubarb Ginger Buckle

When I first saw rhubarb in the shuk, my mind immediately jumped to this recipe from Rustic Fruit Desserts. I searched the blogosphere for reviews on this recipe and sure enough, those who had made it gave rave reviews. And so, this Rhubarb Ginger Buckle moved to the top of the list. Thinking I needed sour cream for the recipe, I bought some only to later find out that I needed buttermilk. Instead of just swapping one for the other, I decided to use the rhubarb for something else. The other day, I came home with more rhubarb and buttermilk, all set to make the cake. The only problem now was that I didn't have any crystallized ginger for the crumble topping. Instead of leaving it out, I added some ground ginger to the top. I'm not going to lie, among the girls, this cake was hit or miss. I left a sign for them warning them about the ginger and that it might be too strong a flavor for some. Some absolutely loved it, and some really didn't care for it, declaring it interesting. I guess it all depends on how you feel about ginger. I enjoyed the top and my roommate from last year thought it was the best part. Truthfully, were I to make this cake again, I would use the crystallized ginger or put about 3/4 teaspoon of ground ginger in the topping. The cake itself is moist and tender from the buttermilk and the rhubarb is softened into tart deliciousness. This should be on your must bake list this rhubarb season.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sour Cream Pound Cake

The other day in the supermarket, I saw a full sized container of sour cream, not the ones that come in the small four packs. Pleasantly surprised, I randomly bought one. I thought it would sit in the fridge until I found a  use for it (I always think I have a million ways to use something, then I buy it and can't remember a single thing I had intended to make with it- go figure). I flipped open Carole Walter's book on coffeecakes and the like and picked out... the Sour Cream Pound Cake. This cake is no frills, just down home, simple but good, cake.  A dusting of powdered sugar would be welcome but not necessary. The crumb of the cake is wonderfully tight and velvety, each slice moist but with a crunchy crust. If you like pound cake, this cake is for you. If you don't, try toasting a slice and serving it with whipped cream and berries or ice cream. Maybe that will convert you. Oh, and you can tell that I'm sort of a pound cake novice as I served the cake upside down by accident. Only afterwards did I realize the rusting appeal of the top. Oh well. No one was the wiser. Most important tip ever: cut out a parchment circle to line the bottom of your tube pan. You'll thank me later.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake

The recipe for this coffecake-like cake comes from Baked Explorations, the second book to be put out by the guys behind Baked, the bakery. This book was waiting for me when I got to America and I was excited to bring it home and start baking from it, as I've had nothing but success with the recipes from the first book. The very first recipe to jump out at me was the Monkey Bread, as I've been looking for a recipe for it for ages. Alas, it wasn't the first cake I made. Instead, I turned my attentions to the humble Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake. The recipe is accompanied by a cream cheese frosting, but I decided that if I was starting simple, it would be simple all the way. What I love about this recipe is that it requires no mixer and is super easy to make. This cake is perfect for breakfast (it earns its place in that chapter) or with a cup of tea or coffee. My girls couldn't really tell what this cake was except that it was moist and delicious and studded with chocolate chips. Mine sadly sunk to the bottom, but I think they appreciated the layer of chocolate. I used quick cooking oats, as that's what I had on hand, so they disappeared into the batter. But if you want your oats to make more of an appearance, go with the rolled oats.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rhubarb Crumble Pie

It was obvious to me that the leftover rhubarb would go not into a cake or muffin but into another pie. (I have a thing for pies. I just never get bored of making them.) This time around, finding inspiration for a rhubarb pie wasn't difficult- I just turned to my brand new copy of the beautiful Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts. (Just as an aside, this book has mouthwatering recipes with stunning photos accompanying it. I'm hoping to make the chocolate-pumpkin tart next week....) In the "Rustic" chapter of the book is nestled a recipe for Rhubarb Crumble Pie. Rhubarb. Crumble. Pie. Three things I love in one glass pie plate. All I'm going to say about this pie is that I left it out for the girls during sign in and when I came to check on it later, all that was left was a tiny bit of pie crust. I guess the girls can't resist a seasonal pie, either. There's nothing difficult about this pie- make the crumble while the dough chills and make the filling while the completed pie shell is chilling. Ice cream wouldn't be amiss here, but I'd understand if you just wanted all rhubarb, all the time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Toronto Blueberry Buns, My Way

A couple of weeks ago, I went into the school's kitchen to talk to the cook about something and I left with about five jars of unopened blueberry jelly. He said he needed to use them up before the end of school and was hoping I would so something with them. For days the jelly sat on my kitchen table while I brainstormed recipes that I could make with them. Crumble bars? Been there. Jam shortbread bars? Done that. Finally, it hit me- Marcy Goldman has a recipe for Toronto Blueberry Buns. That is exactly what I was going to make. These classic buns are made with a fresh fruit filling, but I decided to rework the recipe a bit to fit my needs. So I used most of the blueberry jam and swapped out shortening for the butter, as per their original recipe, anyway. I'm not going to lie, these would have been sublime with fresh blueberry filling but alas fresh, or even frozen, blueberries cost a pretty penny. Anyway, this recipe made plenty of gargantuan buns. Feel free to make them smaller. They were so large that girls took halves. They didn't disappear until last night, when I cut the remaining buns in half for them and plated them. Lots of girls loved them in their entirety, and some loved the pastry but were skeptical about the filling. I was totally with them on that, but feel free to use a better jam or your own homemade blueberry filling. Either way, you should give these a try. While a bit time consuming to shape, they are fun to make. A couple of technical notes: I made my dough the night before and stashed it in the fridge. Although the dough doesnt rise much, it was easier to work with when cold. Also, I scaled my dough at 3 ounce pieces. They made large buns. Feel free to dial them back to 2 ounces each. These buns are off to Yeastspotting!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Spring has finally arrived! I'm not sure it's made up it's mind that it wants to stay, as the weather keeps changing back and forth, but it certainly is here! You know what that means... more fruit-centric desserts. It's no secret that I much prefer making fruit based delights over the heavier chocolate or butter laden ones and now that the season is changing and the best that nature has to offer has arrived, there is simply no reason not to. When I went to the shuk last week, I noticed that the rhubarb was back and I couldn't resist buying a bundle. Sadly, strawberries are on their way out, but there are still some to be had at a bargain. Once I scooped up a bundle of rhubarb, I quickly snatched up a kilo of strawberries and headed home, pie very much on the brain. Strawberry and rhubarb is a classic combination; the sweetness of the berries mellows out the tartness of the rhubarb resulting in pie heaven. Even though it's my idea of heaven, I wasn't sure how the girls would take it, some having never heard of rhubarb before. I decided I didn't care- the pie was going to get made! I opened my copy of Luscious Berry Desserts to find a simple, straightforward recipe and got to work. I omitted the lemon juice as I didn't have it on hand, but be sure to add the cinnamon. It's just a slight amount and although you might think it has no place in a pie like this, it works. In the end, I needn't have worried because the pie tasted delicious and the girls loved it. My roommate, who had never before had rhubarb, kept going back to the pie, concluding that it was amazing. I'm sure you all have your own tried and true recipes for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie but might this post encourage you to get into the kitchen and start baking? I hope so. Happy Spring!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Oldie but Goodie: Chewy Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies

Odd choice of title? Allow me to explain. Back when I started baking in high school, this was one of the first cookie recipes that I made. Again. And again. Simple to prepare, but they were that good. After that year, this recipe, which comes from the Hershey files, took a backseat. It was only when I came home from Pesach with a canister of natural Hershey's cocoa and plenty of American brown sugar in tow that I was inspired to pull this recipe out for the girls. The name of these cookies perfectly describe them. They are wonderfully chewy, with a slight crispness on the outside from the coating of cinnamon and sugar. Let me just say, they do not disappoint; the girls really raved about them, one going so far as to tell me that I made her night. One recipe doesn't really make enough to feed all the people who are going to want these so I advise you to double or even triple the recipe. What I love about these cookies is that they bake up nice and crackly and pretty much uniform in appearance. The only thing holding these back from being super duper fast is that the dough has to firm up the fridge for about an hour. If that's a deterrent, well, you're seriously missing out.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Israeli Bageleh

Two weeks ago, I spent our last out Shabbat with the girls in one of Israel's four holy cities, Tzfat. Recalling from last year that the food wasn't all that great, I decided to make my own bread. Since this was a last minuet decision, I needed something quick. While I was pondering what to make, it hit me to make regular pita. This thought led me to my beloved A Blessing of Bread by Maggie Glezer, which I've used extensively in the past but haven't touched in a while. Flipping through the pages, I saw this recipe for Bageleh, a ubiquitous bread here in Israel. These breads are made with her pita bread base, shaped as bagels, dipped into sesame seeds and flattened. Anything with sesame seeds is a winner in my book. I used the KitchenAid to put these together and the mixer made quick work of this dough. It turned out wonderfully soft and silky. They are immediately shaped and coated with water, dipped into sesame seeds and allowed to rise. Once they rise, they are flattened with a rolling pin, allowed to proof again and then baked on a baking stone. My breads lack the glorious color that commercial ones have because of the lack of sugar added (lack of fermentation time also doesnt help here) and the fact that there's no egg wash here. Nevertheless, these breads score major points for deliciousness. I enjoyed them throughout Shabbat plain or dipped into "salatim" or dips but feel free to slice them in half and use them for sandwiches. Below is the full recipe, but I only made half. This recipe has been Yeastspotted

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mommy's Pesach Banana Cake

I know Pesach is a long way behind us, but I had all of the ingredients at the ready for this cake so I decided to bake it anyway. Besides, in this case kosher for Pesach means gluten-free, and when you know people who are living the gluten-free lifestyle, this is a cake to make any time. This cake is in the style of sponge/chiffon cakes, except in this case, there is no oil. That's right- except for the yolks, this is a fat-free cake. The bananas, sugar and yolks are sufficient to keep this cake moist and the beaten egg whites contribute their usual light-and-fluffiness. My mother likes to add some vanilla sugar to the batter but I just made do with vanilla extract. This cake is not only delicious, but to me, sentimental as well. My mother bakes this cake, along with her chocolate cake, every Pesach and in the years I've been home, I've been right alongside her, helping to fold in the whites. I hope it becomes a mainstay in your homes, too.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lemon Glow Chiffon Cake

This cake has gotten such short-shrift, it's not even funny. This was the cake I baked for dessert the Shabbat before I went home. I figured that if I didnt take the time now to tell you all about this cake, it would get lost in the shuffle of this blog. And that's just not right. This Lemon Glow Chiffon Cake from the Cake Bible is a soft, fluffy, sponge-cake like, cake. It's ethereally light and delicate that would perfectly complement a cup of tea. Since it was just me and S, the cake had barely a slice taken out of it by the end of Shabbat. Slowly, when the girls got wind of it, it disappeared, and to raves, no less. What would have gone to waste made some people very happy. Although this recipe appears in the Cake Bible, I used Rose's technique from her latest book and baked the cake in a springform pan with a flower needle/pin inserted in the middle. It worked beautifully; my cake didnt sink. To me, chiffon cakes are extremely underrated. Now with my new mixer, making them will be a snap- stay tuned for future chiffon cakes!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Soft Cheese Bread

I've still not recovered from my jetlag enough to pull out my new mixer and bake (I haven't slept a full night since I've been back-ugh!) so I'm going to keep catching up on older posts. Hope y'all don't mind too much. 
I made this Soft Cheese Bread the weekend before I left (same time as the Struan) in honor of S who loooves  cheese. This bread was my tribute to her. Once I knew I wanted to make a cheese bread, I had to decide what kind of cheese to put in it. Considering I don't like cheese or know anything about selecting them for bread, I figured this would be a tough one. I went in to the supermarket and asked the cheesemonger for his recommendation. He told me to avoid all of the strong French cheeses as he thought they'd overpower and overwhelm the bread. So Parmesan was out. Disheartened, I bought some sliced yellow cheese and a log of Mozzarella. What else could I do? I was definitely not about to buy blue cheese. (Tried eating that once; let's just say it did not go over too well.) I made the dough the night before and so assembly the next day was a breeze. The bread itself is delicious, with such a soft texture; the onions add the most delicious flavor- reminiscent of the onion rolls we used to get in the summers from the Heimishe bakery. Definitely have to experiment with adding onions to bread! I tried to avoid the cheese parts but S loved the bread, so in her honor I declare this bread a winner. Thankfully, this loaf made the room smell very good instead of... well, like  stinky cheese. This loaf is headed off to Yeastspotting!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spiced Cake Donuts

I'm pretty sure these donuts were the very last thing I managed to make before I flew to New York. This recipe comes not from the adorable book Doughnuts (I wish I could bake more from it but I don't have a fryer!); it's the recipe that accompanied one of the donut pans that I bought at the beginning of the year. Figuring that any recipe that comes with a product must be tested well, I decided to bake them for the few girls who were still here. These donuts are lightly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and so I decided that they would be best topped with cinnamon and sugar. Given that they only have 1 tbsp of fat in them, these are best eaten as soon as they are made, although they probably won't even make it to the next day. And although you  skeptics might be right that these are just little cakes disguised as donuts, the donut shape is pretty darn irresistible. These come together really easy with just a whisk, so there's no reason not to make them. If you don't have a donut pan, try making them as mini muffins.