Sunday, September 27, 2015

Daring Bakers September: Irish Soda Bread

For the month of September Meredith from the Poco Loco Olsons challenged us to experiment with soda bread.

I made a very simple loaf and served it at a dinner party. I just needed a little loaf, so I halved the white soda bread recipe.

Daring Bakers September: Irish Soda Bread
Irish soda bread.

Daring Bakers September: Irish Soda Bread

Daring Bakers September: Irish Soda Bread

Daring Bakers September: Irish Soda Bread

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Daring Bakers August: Gluten-free seed and nut loaf

For the August challenge Susan from The Kiwi Cook dared us to make Seed & Nut Loaf – a super-healthy and gluten-free alternative to standard wheat-based bread.

Here's my loaf! I'm in the middle of moving and am having to really pinch my pennies, so I found a recipe that I'd only need to buy a couple of ingredients for since I had the rest on hand--a cross between and, which are both essentially the same recipe. I used pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, some oats, olive oil, and eggs. I love nuts, but I'm afraid this wasn't my favorite. I liked it a bit better after a smear of pandan jam. I think my palate would be happier if I saved my walnuts for chocolate chip cookies, though. ;)

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Daring Bakers May: Lamingtons

For the May challenge Marcellina from Marcellina in Cucina dared us to make Lamingtons. An Australian delicacy that is as tasty as it is elegant

Daring Bakers May: Speculoos Lamingtons
Instead of covering my lamingtons in the traditional grated coconut, I crushed some speculoos (spice cookies, e.g., Bischoff) and rolled my chocolate-coated cubes in the resulting crumbs.

Daring Bakers May: Speculoos Lamingtons
I needed to make pound cake for another project, and I baked the leftover batter in a loaf pan to cut into cubes for this challenge. Then I made the traditional cocoa powder-based dip and crushed up my speculoos.

Daring Bakers May: Speculoos Lamingtons
I really should've crushed more speculoos to make sure the crumbs stayed neat, but I knew I'd end up with too many after I was done, so I had clumpier crumb covering toward the end. The first few, at the top left, came out fine, though. The row on the right has only had a couple rolled in the crumbs.

Daring Bakers May: Speculoos Lamingtons
Final product! It made just enough for my little family.

Daring Bakers May: Speculoos Lamingtons

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Daring Bakers April: Focaccia di Recco

For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch

I wasn't in the mood to work with yeast, but luckily, April and Sawsan included this recipe for focaccia di recco from Academia Barilla.

It's essentially a very thin pie filled with cheese. It's supposed to be filled with Crescenza or Stracchino cheese, but I couldn't find either, so I just used mozzarella.

After mixing the simple dough and letting it rest for an hour, you roll half of it into a very thin circle. I cut the recipe in half because I didn't want a giant focaccia, but either I rolled it too thinly or the biggest baking sheet I own was just barely big enough to contain it.


Simple shredded mozz.

You roll the second half of the dough out and put it on top of everything. Then you undertake the comical challenge of pinching all the way around this giant round of dough a few times, in mortal fear that if you don't, cheese will leak out of some side hole and desecrate your already kinda freaky deaky oven floor. Then you just toss your hands up in the air and fold the outer edges in--desperate food origami. Then snip little holes into the top crust all over the place to vent the steam.

Paint olive oil over the top and sprinkle down some sea or kosher salt.

Laugh when your steam holes fail and your focaccia does its best Jiffy Pop impression.

Rest assured, it will retain maximum puffiness once you take it out of the oven. Long after you take it out of the oven. No worries--stamp it out with a clean dish towel as if it were on fire, and it will flatten out with only a minimum of saggy, deflated poofs here and there.

Pac-Man approves!

This is a simple and easy recipe and comes together quickly, hour-long rest aside, and it would be fun to play with other fillings. This is a keeper!

Visit my fellow DBers' various focaccia, yeasted and unyeasted, with all types of toppings and fillings, by clicking through to our blogroll.
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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

One of my friends hosts Phoenix's own Cupcake Camp--a free event where bakers of all pedigree bring free cupcakes to feed cupcake lovers of all ages. I contributed orange creamsicle cupcakes and mini olive oil cupcakes, both with cream cheese frosting. I used Giada DeLaurentiis' olive oil muffin recipe, and as with all her recipes, this is a keeper, but I really loved the orange cupcakes. I did add a splash, less than a quarter of a teaspoon, of orange extract for the aroma, and left out the Grand Marnier.  Sweet Orange Cupcakes w/Orange Butter Cream Frosting

Servings - approx. 22 cupcakes   Serving Size - 1 cupcake w/frosting   Points Plus per Serving - 6 Points+

Calories - 214.7,   Total Fat - 7.2g,   Carb. - 35g,   Protein - 2.7g,   Fiber - 0.3g

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup low fat buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup FRESH squeezed orange juice
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 TBS Grand Marnier (optional)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
zest from one large orange

For the frosting:
5 TBS unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 oz. of 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
pinch of kosher salt
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 TBS orange juice
1 TBS Grand Marnier (optional)
1 tsp. orange zest


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two standard sized muffins tins with paper liners.  (you will get approx. 22 cupcakes from the batter)

2. Sift into a large mixing bowl, the flour, salt, and baking powder.  With wooden spoon, mix in the granulated sugar.

3. In small bowl or 4 cup glass measure, combine the buttermilk, oil, 1/2 cup orange juice, eggs, Grand Marnier(if using), and vanilla extract.  Pour the mixture into the middle of the dry ingredient bowl.

4. With electric mixer, mix batter on low speed until just combined.  Turn mixer up to med/high and beat for 2 minutes.

5. Add in the orange zest from one orange and stir into batter with wooden spoon.

6. Fill each liner approx. 3/4 of the way full.

7. Bake for 18 -20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and the cupcakes are done.  Remove to wire rack to cool.

8. While cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting by whipping the butter, cream cheese, and salt up until it is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).   

9. Add in confectioners sugar one cup at a time, beating after each cup. Whip until fluffy and smooth.      

10. Frost each cooled cupcake with frosting.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Daring Bakers March: Tarte Tatin

For the March Daring bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.

I jumped at the opportunity to bake with one of my favorite fruits, Bosc pears, to make a pear tarte tatin.

The dough is luscious.

I used a melon baller to core the pears so they didn't end up too badly mangled. I didn't need a big tarte tatin, so I used a smaller saucier in which to cook it.

The caramel was pretty stress-free, although I was afraid of burning it while cooking the pears in it--true to the recipe's word, the caramel showed no signs of burning even after 15 minutes on the heat. I needed an extra pear for the center, but since I didn't have one, I just threw in some blueberries so the crust wouldn't sink too much.

After resting the dough in the fridge, I rolled it out and used my pot lid as a template for the dough--easier than using the hot pan where the cooked pears were cooling.

Trimmed with the excess, which I sprinkled with sugar and rolled out a couple of times and then baked along with the tarte tatin for a treat.

If you follow the crust recipe to a t, it's delicous--airy, buttery, tender.

Once the pears had stopped steaming, I put the crust on--I didn't have to wait for the pears to cool completely.

Baked to golden-brown! Now to let the caramel to stop bubbling before the scary trick where I flip it into a plate.

All done!

A modest slice.

This recipe is fairly quick and easy, and the result was one of the yummiest things I've baked in a long while! It's definitely a keeper.

Tarte Tatin Rough Puff Pastry
Makes one 9″ tarte, serves 8-10.
Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini. Makes one single pastry crust.

In a medium bowl, combine:

1 cup (250 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
¼ tsp fine salt

Cut 2/3 cup (160 ml) (5 oz) (140 gm) unsalted butter, cold, into small cubes and add it to the flour. With a pastry blender (or two table knives) cut in the butter until the mixture in crumbly but even, with pea-sized pieces of butter. Make a well in the middle and pour in ¼ cup (60 ml) ice cold water. Toss the flour/butter and water together with a fork until the dough starts to clump together.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface – don’t worry if there are still pockets of dry flour. Gently knead and squeeze the mixture a few times just enough to bring it together into a square (a bench scraper is helpful for this). Be careful not to overwork the dough: there should be visible bits of butter and it should still look very rough.

Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10” (25 cm) long. Fold the bottom third of the dough up into the middle, and fold the top third down, like you are folding a letter. This is one fold. Turn the dough a one quarter turn so that one of the open edges is facing you, and roll out again into a 10” (25 cm) rectangle. Fold again – this is the second fold. Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times, for 5 folds total. Your dough will get smoother and neater looking with each fold (the pictures show the first and fifth folds).

If your kitchen is very warm and the dough gets too soft/sticky to do all the folds at once, chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes between folds. After the fifth fold, use your rolling pin to tap the dough into a neat square. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for a least 1 hour, or overnight.

For Bosc pears

I used 4 pears to make a smaller tarte tatin, although five would've been ideal to have a pear bottom for the flower's center. For a large skillet, you'll need up to 8 pears, and this recipe is for that amount.

Core and peel pears--I used a melon baller to core them. Toss them in 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice so they don't brown.

Place 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cardomom, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in skillet, and heat until it's a caramel-brown color. Then toss pears in to coat, and arrange into the final pattern you want the pears to take after you flip it. They should be cut-side up. Cook for about 15 minutes, and set aside until the pears have stopped steaming. 

To bake the tarte tatin

Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, and trim it into a circle about 1” (25 mm) in diameter larger than your saucepan. Lay it over the filling, tucking in the edges between the apples and the sides of the pan, and cut a few steam vents in the pastry. Place the saucepan on a rimmed baking sheet (just in case the filling decides to bubble over the sides) and place in the preheated moderately hot 375˚F/190°C/gas mark 5 oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, increasing the oven temperature to moderately hot 400˚F/200°C/gas mark 6 during the last 5 – 10 minutes of baking if the pastry isn’t browning properly.

Remove from the oven and let sit just until the caramel stops bubbling. Immediately place a serving platter (slightly larger in diameter than the saucepan) over the pastry. Wearing oven mitts, grab hold of the saucepan and platter and quickly invert everything to unmold the Tatin onto the platter. If any of the apples stick to the pan or come out of place, rearrange them with a spatula.

Remove from the oven and let sit just until the caramel stops bubbling. Immediately place a serving platter (slightly larger in diameter than the saucepan) over the pastry. Wearing oven mitts, grab hold of the saucepan and platter and quickly invert everything to unmold the Tatin onto the platter. If any of the apples stick to the pan or come out of place, rearrange them with a spatula.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Daring Bakers February: Siopao

The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.

And of course, that's me! I hosted this month's challenge, and I'm going to cut and paste it the way it was presented to my fellow DBers.

Hi, I’m Julie from One-Wall Kitchen, and I’ve been a Daring Baker since October 2007, but this is my first time hosting a challenge. Because we’re all likely to be coming off from baking holiday sweets for the past two months, I thought it would be nice to bake a very easy, simple, savory meal that you could potentially put together on a weekday night with the right prep. This month’s challenge is to bake siopao, a savory, filled bun using a no-knead bread recipe.

 Notes:  For those needing a gluten-free recipe, I couldn't find a no-knead recipe, but I did find several recipes using rice flour. These siopao are usually steamed. Here's a link to the recipe:

Mandatory Items: You must make and bake filled buns.

Variations allowed: Fill with any sweet or savory filling you'd like. I've included a recipe for a typical Filipino filling, but anything can work as long as it's not too wet. Filipino sweet fillings can include jams such as pandan jam or ube halaya.

Preparation time:  3 hours, including resting time for dough and preparing savory filling.

Equipment needed:

Utensils for filling of choice--mine included: a chef's knife, cutting board, sauté pan, and a spatula for the pork filling and a chef's knife, baking sheet, medium-sized mixing bowl, a sturdy soup spoon, and large, sturdy fork or potato masher for the squash filling

Large mixing bowl
Wooden spoon
Plastic wrap
Knife or bench scraper
Large baking sheet
Parchment paper
Pastry brush

Recipe 1: Siopao Dough and Siopao
Original recipe in volume (cup & spoon) measurements
Servings: 12 large buns


1/4 ounce (7 gm) (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast (1 packet )
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) warm water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) melted butter
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
4 to 5 cups  (20 oz to 25 oz) (560 gm to 700 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 egg for egg-wash for the buns
  1. Mix yeast, water, sugar, melted butter, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  1. Slowly mix in flour until it's fully incorporated and you have a shaggy, very tacky dough, but not wet and sticky.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for up to an hour in warm place until doubled. While dough is rising, you can make your filling if you haven't already pre-made it to let it cool (see recipe below).

  1. Punch down dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Depending on how much flour you added, it will be somewhat tacky to pretty tacky. Fold it over several times and shape it into a smooth ball, then divide into 12 equal pieces.
  2. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it into a disc about 6 inches (15 cm) wide.
  3. Place a heaping tablespoonful of filling into the center of the disc, wrap the dough around the filling, and firmly pinch it closed over the top of the filling.

  1. Place filled buns on a baking sheet and loosely cover them with plastic wrap. Let them rest for 1 hour. On the top sheet, you can see where a lot of my dough was too thin. Those were the first siopao I made, before I worked out the technique.

  1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.

  1. Beat 1 egg in a small bowl for egg wash and brush on top of each bun. In the photo, you can see that I decided not to risk baking the busted siopao as freestanding buns, so I put them in a small oven-safe dish to bake up as a loaf.
  2. Bake buns for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm. In the photo, some of my pandan filling leaked out a small hole, but most stayed inside. That's a reminder to make sure there are no holes in your buns!

For a sweet filling, I used pandan jam from the Asian grocery. Pandan comes from a leaf used throughout Southeast Asia for flavoring.



Recipe 2: Siopao Savory Filling (Pork Asado)

Servings: 12


1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable or olive oil
1 lb (½ kg) ground pork or pork shoulder, cubed
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce
1 tablespoon (15 ml) oyster sauce (or hoisin sauce if that's what you have handy)
1 tablespoon sugar (optional--Filipinos like the sweetness)
1 star anise
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon (15 ml) cornstarch
1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water

  1. Heat oil in skillet.

  1. Sautee yellow onion, then add garlic and cook for a minute.

  1. Add pork and brown it in the skillet.

  1. Add soy sauce, oyster or hoisin sauce, sugar, and star anise and cook filling until pork is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Keep an eye on that star anise because you'll want to remember to remove it or shove it aside before you fill the siopao--it isn't nice to eat.

  1. Place cornstarch and water into a small bowl and stir with fork or small whisk until cornstarch is dissolved.

  1. Stir cornstarch mixture into filling and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Then remove from heat and cool before making the siopao.

Recipe 3: Winter Squash filling


3 to 5 lbs (1-1/3 to 2-1/4 kg winter squash (pumpkin) (I used a turban squash)
Olive oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped nuts of choice
1/4 cup (60 ml) grated hard cheese, such as Romano, cotija, or Parmesan


  1. Preheat oven moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.

  1. Quarter your squash and rub cut edges with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt.

  1. Roast the squash for 40 minutes until very soft, and use a sturdy spoon to scoop the flesh into a bowl. Discard the skins.

  1. Mash the squash with a sturdy fork or potato masher. Allow the squash to cool. Sprinkle as much of the chopped nuts and cheese as you'd like into the mash and stir them in. Use 1 to 1-1/2 rounded tablespoons of filling for each siopao.

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:

Store leftovers in the fridge for no more than 4 days and reheat for 30 seconds in the microwave. You can also store baked siopao in the freezer, individually wrapped airtight, and reheated in the microwave for 60 to 90 seconds. I'm not sure how well frozen, unbaked siopao will thaw because the filling is moist and might ruin the integrity of the dough as it goes through its long thaw and final rise.

Additional Information:

My mom taught me to just pinch the edges of the dough disc together to close the siopao, and then she'd steam it steam-side down, but many Filipinos use a Chinese style of pleating their siopao and steaming it pleat-side up, like this: at minute 12:12. I think seam-side down works well for baking, but you could experiment with baking your siopao pleat-side up. Read more!