Saturday, May 28, 2016

Daring Bakers May, Twist Bread

This month's project, hosted by Tandy of Lavender and Lime was twist bread, and I filled mine with smoked turkey sausage, roasted red bell peppers, mozzarella, basil, and oregano.



But it still worked out.

Smoked turkey sausage, roasted red peppers, basil, oregano, mozzarella.




Such a lovely crust. It made me happy.



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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Daring Bakers December: Gateau Pithiviers

For the month of December, Kat challenged us to make Gateaux Pithiviers.

Daring Bakers December: Gateaux Pithiviers
It's puff pastry filled with frangipane. And where there's frangipane, there's love and goodness.

Daring Bakers December: Gateaux Pithiviers
I made this a full-sized gateau pithivier, but I'm not baking that until Tuesday night for a dinner party, so I made a mini one for today's deadline.

Daring Bakers December: Gateau Pithivier

Daring Bakers December: Gateaux Pithiviers
The puff pastry, rolled and cut.

Daring Bakers December: Gateaux Pithiviers
The frangipane filling before chilling.

Daring Bakers December: Gateaux Pithiviers
The filling on the mini round before closing and crimping.

Daring Bakers December: Gateaux Pithiviers
Crimped into the traditional shape.

Daring Bakers December: Gateaux Pithiviers
And with the traditional scored top.

Here are shots of the regular size gateau after I baked it:
Daring Bakers December: Gateau Pithivier

Daring Bakers December: Gateau Pithivier

Daring Bakers December: Gateau Pithivier

Daring Bakers December: Gateaux Pithiviers
I made mini pain au chocolat with the leftover pastry, just wrapping up some chocolate chips in the lengths of dough.

Preparation time:
Puff Pastry:
Active prep time is about 30 minutes, followed by three or four five-minute spurts of activity.
Total time is at least several hours, but preferably a full day ahead of baking.

Active prep time is about 15 minutes.
Total time is several hours, but preferable a full day ahead of baking.

Assembling the Gateaux Pithiviers:
Active prep time is about 15 minutes.
Chilling takes about 30 minutes.
Baking takes about 30 minutes.
Start to finish, including baking and chilling time is 12 hours to 4 days.
Equipment required:
Mixing bowls, both large and small
Measuring cups and spoons
Kitchen scale (optional)
Pastry cutter, fork, fingers, or food processor
Rolling pin
Parchment paper
Baking sheet
Sharp knife
Pastry brush

Recipe 1:Gateaux Pithiviers

1 pound / 450g puff pastry (1/3rd of a batch if using the accompanying recipe)
1 batch of frangipane
1 large egg
granulated, superfine, or powdered sugar (optional)

Beat the egg well to make an egg-wash. Add up to one teaspoon of water, if necessary, to loosen the mixture up. Divide the pound / 450g of puff pastry in half, and return one half to refrigerator. Roll out the remaining half on a lightly floured surface. Using a plate or bowl approximately 8” / 20cm in diameter and a very sharp knife, cut out a circle of puff pastry. Carefully move the pastry to a silicon mat or parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush a ring of egg-wash around the outside of the pastry, but do not allow the egg-wash to go over the sides, as that will prevent the edges from rising prettily. Center the disk of frangipane on the pastry and place the baking sheet in the fridge to keep cool.
Roll out the second half of the puff pastry and cut a circle the same size as the bottom. Retrieve the Pithiviers from the refrigerator and place the top layer of puff pastry overtop. Quickly use your fingers to mush the two layers of pastry together without warming the pastry or allowing the filling to squeeze out.

Press two fingers of one hand into the pastry and use the back of a small knife to push an indent in between your fingers. Repeat all the way around the Pithiviers. This will form the scalloped edges Pithiviers are known for.

Brush entire top with egg-wash, again trying your best to not let the egg run over the edges. Starting at the middle of the pastry, draw long sweeping s-curves out to the edges. When you’re satisfied with your work, return to the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425°F / 220°C / Gas Mark 7.

Bake the Pithiviers for 10 minutes at 425°F / 220°C / Gas Mark 7, and then reduce the heat to 350°F / 175°C / Gas Mark 4 and bake for another 20-30 minutes. The top should be a dark bronze color, and the filling (which you won’t be able to see) should be set. At this point, you can sprinkle sugar over the top and return to the oven at 500°F / 260°C / Gas Mark 10 for a few minutes to develop a beautiful glaze. I burned it every time, so I just skip this step now.
Allow the Gateaux Pithiviers to cool completely before serving. The taste is a little nicer when it’s warm, but the texture is better when it’s a room temperature. This can sit on the counter for a day, but longer storage is attainable using your refrigerator.
Recipe 2:Puff Pastry

Makes three pounds / 1.35kg , only one of which will be used
Preparation time: 10 minutes


4 ½ cups / 560g all-purpose flour
1 ¼ pounds / 5 sticks /565g salted butter
1 cup / 240ml ice water


Put ½ cup / 65g of flour in a medium bowl or in the work bowl of a food processor. Cut one pound / 450g of butter into small cubes and thoroughly combine with the flour without letting the mixture warm up. If it starts to warm up at all, just toss it into the freezer or refrigerator for a few minutes until it’s cold again. Dump the mixture onto a piece of parchment paper and shape into a rectangle about 4 x 8” / 10 x 20cm wide. Wrap well and place in refrigerator to chill.

Using the same mixing or processor bowl, combine the remaining four cups / 500g of flour and ¼ pound / 115g of butter until well combined. Again, do not let the mixture warm up. Place your bowl in the fridge anytime the butter starts to feel soft. After combining, add the ice water slowly, and stir until mixed. Dump the mixture onto a clean and lightly floured counter and knead until the dough is smooth, approximately three or four minutes. Wrap well and place in refrigerator to chill for at least 15 minutes.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll into an approximate 10” / 20cm square. Remove butter mixture from refrigerator and place on top of dough. Fold top third of dough down over the butter, and then fold bottom third of dough up to form a packet.

Roll the rectangle back out to the original dimensions, trying to avoid having any of the butter creep out the edges. If the dough is feeling warm, return to the fridge for a few minutes to firm up. Fold the dough into thirds again, and roll in a perpendicular direction to your first fold. That is, your open ends become your new edges, and your old edges become your new open ends. Fold into thirds once more, wrap well, and chill for at least ½ hour. You’ve completed your first two turns.
Remove the puff pastry from the fridge, roll out, fold up, roll out, and fold up. Remember, anytime you think things are warming up, you’re butter is seeping out, or you’re getting otherwise frustrated, just throw the whole thing in the fridge and walk away for ten minutes. You’ve now completed four turns. Wrap up well and chill again. Indentations in the dough can help you keep track of the number of turns you have made.

Repeat the previous instructions to complete six turns in total. You now have a gorgeous slab of puff pastry. Wrapped up well, it will store in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for several months.
Recipe 3:Frangipane

Makes enough for one Gateaux Pithiviers
Preparation time: 10 minutes

1 ½ cups / 100g blanched almonds (or 1 cup / 100g almond meal from a packet)
1/3 - 1/2 cup / 65 - 100g granulated sugar, depending on sweetness level you prefer
4 Tablespoons / 55g butter
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
zest from one lemon or ½ an orange or 2 tangerines (tangerine is my favorite)
2 Tablespoons / 30ml Armangac or Rum (rum is traditional, but I like the Armagnac much better)


Toast almonds on a cookie sheet under a broiler (oven grill). Using a grinder or food processor, process the almonds until finely ground. Combine with all the other ingredients until well mixed. Form into a 6” / 15cm disc, wrap well, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Daring Bakers November: Cheesecake crumble pie

For the month of November Krista & Nicole of "Two Cups of Sugar." challenged us to make our own version of cheesecake crumble pie.

I made a blueberry cheesecake with walnut crumble.

I served it at my annual Fall Dinner, so I didn't get a proper beauty shot, but there it was in all its glory, and my friends told me they enjoyed it. I think I overbaked it a bit, but it was hard to test. The telltale sign should've been how it sank a bit toward the end of baking.

This was shortly after I put it in the oven--it should've looked about the same by the time I took it out.

The blueberry cheesecake filling, ready to go.

You bake the cheesecake first before adding the topping. At first I thought maybe the crumble weighed the cheesecake down and smushed it, but the filling was also just a bit drier than I like it. Then again, all the other cheesecake crumble pies look the same except for the one in the hostess' actual recipe, so there could've been a glitch somewhere.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Daring Bakers October: Macarons

For the month of October we got to take on one of many bakers' deepest, darkest kitchen nightmares : macarons. Our talented bakers Korena from Korena in the Kitchen and Rachael from pizzarossa made the intimidating task of mastering these French beauties a breeze

I failed this recipe three times this month, twice in the French method and once in the Italian.

Daring Bakers October: Macarons
This was the first fail--vanilla bean in the French method. I tried again the second time, but again, it failed.

Daring Bakers October: Macarons
Here are the chocolate macarons in the Italian method that I tried to make just tonight in an effort to redeem myself. Again, a fail. *sigh*

I've made macarons before, successfully. I made them the last time we made them with the Daring Bakers, and those didn't turn out so well, either. One time I made them , and they kind of turned out. Twice, even.

I know my egg whites were overbeaten every time, but for some reason, they were drying out before I could get all the liquid egg white incorporated. It was so frustrating, watching this happen as it was happening. Part of the problem may have been using eggs that were too new. Part may have been trying to reduce the recipe to 2/3 for each time I made the French method. In the Italian method. I think I had too much of the egg white in the meringue mixture and not enough in the almond mixture, all while starting with egg whites that were just overbeaten. I'll have to go back and compare notes to times my macarons have actually come out. It wasn't all a loss, though--I gave the vanilla macarons to my friends, branding them as the Italian cookie bruitti ma buoni. I haven't decided yet what to do with the chocolate shells.

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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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