Recommended Baking Adventures April-May 2015

This year has been very intense so far– and one of the more intense events was being let go from my amazing job. This has given me the time to challenge myself in many ways, and to bake more! Some favorites are listed below.

We hosted our first Passover Seder this year, which gave me the opportunity to try some delicious recipes. During the week of Passover, observers refrain from consuming leavened bread, and many other items. For dessert, I made a dairy-free, flourless chocolate torte. It was delicious and beautiful.

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We went traditional for the main course, selecting a brisket recipe from the New York Times. It was a ton of fun to use our gorgeous brazier, and the meat turned out splendidly! The photo is from about half way through the five hour bake time. By the end, the plums were completely disintegrated. We went ahead and made it the day before, warming it during the service. The timing worked out very well!

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For Christmas this year, I received a bundt pan. I rarely make cake, but have been looking for an opportunity to use the bundt pan all year. Birthday season did the trick! My first bundt was a Lemon Ginger version from Martha Stewart– yum! I increased the amount of ginger again by half, added a few drops of lemon oil, and was pleased with the flavor. I also made a small, round version of it with part of the batter, as I’d read that the batter makes a little too much and overflows pans. It was a good idea. I have a 12 cup bundt pan and it would have overflowed.

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Last, but not least, I received two banneton baskets for shaping bread for my birthday. I had a ton of fun trying it out! I used the basic loaf recipe from James Beard, using half bread flour and half whole wheat flour for the dough. After the first rising, I kneaded and then placed the dough in the banneton:

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After the second rising (brushed with cold water, sprinkled with salt, and cut):

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I hope to start my next professional adventure soon, but have enjoyed the opportunity to play in the kitchen!

 

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Recommended Baking Adventures March + Early April 2014

In the last couple of months of graduate school, work is ramping up and I’m finding solace in the kitchen.

Some favorites from the last month or so:

I’ve continued to play with Beard on Bread by James Beard, and took another shot at his Home-Style White Bread, but added a few tablespoons of zatar spice, my new favorite thing. It was nice to have some extra seasoning in the bread, and I’ll plan to add at least 3T next time to make an impact.

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Pi day was a great excuse to make pie. We made a butternut squash pie with a basic pie crust from Mark Bittman. It was a hit! No need to return to pumpkin pie– butternut squash is just as good.

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On a whim, we tried cheesy biscuits for a dinner party and ended up making a substitution for the buttermilk. Though they didn’t really rise, they were delicious and cheesy. We’d definitely try them again without the buttermilk substitution.

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Inspired by lovely spring weather, I decided to make a variation of Mark Bittman’s Poblano Custard with peas and parmesan. We didn’t get a good shot of the final result, but it was interesting and tasty. Super easy with only 5 ingredients, and coincidentally kosher for passover. I foresee trying another variation next week.

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My latest James Beard Recipe: Buttermilk White Bread. This recipe actually uses whole wheat flour. It make a very large loaf, which is great for sandwiches. I think I’ve finally figured out the water temperature for yeast. Thank goodness.

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