Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘baking’ Category

During the summer I look forward to the weekend for a lot of reasons.  This weekend, in addition to my weekly visit to the local Farmers’ Market, I found time to do a little baking.

I’ve posted about baking biscotti here before, but today I am working on a new recipe, inspired by the incredible Amish Milk Polenta that Anthony and Carol Boutard produce at Ayers Creek Farm in Gaston, OR.

This polenta is amazing cooked up and served under a topping of garlicky greens and caramelized onions, but it’s also incredible as the background crunch in toasty hazelnut biscotti.

These biscotti are a true celebration of local Oregon foods — I also used fresh eggs from Sweet Briar Farms,

and Ken & June’s Oregon Grown hazelnuts.

Here’s the recipe — modified from one I found in Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking: From my home to yours.

Hazelnut Polenta Biscotti

makes 35-40 cookies

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½  teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup white polenta

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 cup turbinado sugar

2 large eggs

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ cups finely chopped roasted hazelnuts

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.  Add the polenta and whisk again.  Set aside.

Place the butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Start the mixer very slowly and increase gradually to medium speed as the butter and sugar mix together.  Mix for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs.  Continue to beat at medium-high speed for another 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well-mixed.

Beat in the vanilla extract.

Reduce the mixer speed to slow and add the flour mixture, mixing only until just combined.

Turn off the mixer and use a sturdy spatula to fold in the hazelnuts, mixing just to blend.

Scrape the dough into two rough logs on the prepared baking sheet.  Smooth them with your fingers (I usually have to wash my hands a couple of times as I do this, the dough is very sticky).  The logs will be pretty flat on top, and uneven.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the cookie logs are golden but still springy to the touch.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place it on a cooling rack.  Cool the logs on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.

Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut them into ½ inch slices.  Return the slices to the baking rack, standing up, side by side.

Bake the biscotti for another 15 minutes (at 350 degrees), or until they are golden and firm.  Transfer them to the rack to cool.

These cookies keep well, even uncovered, for about a week.  I usually put them in an airtight container.

I have trouble keeping these around — it’s hard to eat just one — I think you could easily double the recipe if you want to make a bigger batch.

Read Full Post »

It’s not on the James Beard Foundation website yet, but it’s official, Kim Boyce has won the JBF award for Best Baking and Dessert Cookbook with her wonderful 2010 book Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-grain Flours.

To celebrate that fact — and to express my delight that she has relocated to Portland — I decided to take some time this afternoon to bake something from the book.

One of the great things about Good to the Grain is that, in addition to the recipes, which range from sweet to savory and include things like pancakes, puddings and granola as well as breads, muffins and scones, Kim includes a lot of helpful information about each of the flours she uses.  So, if you are worried about baking with something like teff, you can count on Kim to allay your fears with the background information she provides.  When I first got the book, I was so inspired I immediately went out and bought a few whole-grain flours (in addition to the whole wheat all-purpose and bread flours I keep on hand anyway) so I knew I had graham, buckwheat and oat flours in my pantry.

Today I spent quite a bit of time flipping pages and reading about ingredients and techniques before settling on Oatmeal Sandwich Bread.  It’s probably not the most unusual recipe in the book (and not even one that requires any unusual flours, using only whole wheat flour, bread flour and rolled oats) but definitely the one that spoke to me this afternoon.

The recipe is straightforward and the instructions easy to follow.  I love the fact that Kim uses the autolyse method where you mix together all of the ingredients except the salt and let them rest together for 30 minutes before adding the salt and kneading the dough.  This allows the dough to begin to form gluten on it’s own (without kneading) and to more fully absorb the liquid.  All in all it creates moister dough, better texture and flavor in the finished bread, and also increases the life of the loaf.

The loaf that emerged from the oven smelled wonderful and tastes great.  The molasses and oatmeal both come through, as does the sweet, nutty flavor of the whole wheat flour.

So, congratulations Kim, on your well-deserved award!  And thanks for adding another recipe to my collection of favorite breads; I’ll be making this one again.

And congratulations also to my friend Betsy Amster, Kim’s literary agent and new Portland resident as well.

Read Full Post »

Inspiration

My sister-in-law Karen is frequently the person who inspires me in the kitchen.  (She’s also the person who inspired me to start this blog.)  Her kitchen is a spacious, family-friendly spot and the food that she creates is always tasty, and even really good for you.  I’ve spent many happy hours there, watching her cook and also cooking side by side with her.

Unfortunately, that kitchen is more than a thousand miles away from my own.  When we are not together, I often take inspiration from her blog, FamilyStyle Food.  And that’s where the inspiration for this post came from.

Last spring when Karen and the rest of my family were visiting Portland (during the International Association of Culinary Professionals annual meeting) she brought home a recipe from Portland chef Greg Higgins for walnut taralli.  She said they reminded her of something she had eaten growing up in Providence.  I was tempted.

Then we all got the flu and the thought of those biscuits flew far from my mind.  Until a few weeks ago, when Karen posted about them on her blog.  The thought of making them was back with a vengance, and this afternoon, while S was out doing errands and I was listening to the local NPR fund drive (yes, really), I decided to give them a try.

One of the great things about these biscuits is that they are really easy to make.  You mix the dough, let it rise, roll out and shape the taralli,

and bake.

Voila, crunchy little nuggets that taste great with cheese, or a drizzle of olive oil and some salt,

or just plain.

Chef Higgins’ recipe can be found here.  I made Karen’s version, with fennel seeds and 1/2 whole wheat flour; here’s her recipe,

Toasted Walnut Taralli

  • 4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups stoneground whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup finely ground toasted walnuts* (grind in food processor)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing on taralli

Using the dough hook on your standing mixer, stir together the yeast, flours, walnuts, salt and fennel seeds.

Add 1 cup of the water and mix at medium-high speed until the dough starts to come together. Slowly add more water as necessary (turning down the mixer speed as you do so) until you have a smooth, moist dough. It shouldn’t be too wet or sticky, so keep your eyes peeled. Depending on the humidity and your flour, you might need a bit less water. (in Portland, today I needed only about 1 ½ cups of water)

Put the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover and let stand until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 3 or 4 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Punch the dough to deflate and turn it out onto a sparingly floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.

Working with one piece at a time, cut each into balls about the size of a walnut. Roll and stretch each ball using your palms into ropes about 6 ” long. Bring the ends of the rope together to make a ring, tucking one end inside the other and pinching together.

Arrange the rings on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between.

Brush the rings with oil and bake until golden and firm, about 30 minutes.

Remove to a rack and cool. The taralli will crisp up more as they cool.

*toast the walnuts for 5-7 minutes at 350 degrees.

Store at room temperature in covered container.

Makes about 5 dozen taralli.

I highly recommend that you give them a try.


Read Full Post »

One of the things I do to get inspired to post on my own blog is read other blogs, especially food and knitting related blogs.  I have a few favorites (some of them are listed in the right-hand column — take a look) that I check regularly.

The other day during a brief break at work (it’s been really busy there lately so there haven’t been many breaks), I checked out Heidi Swanson’s blog 101 Cookbooks.  I love her site because it is so beautiful and because the food is always good.

The recipe she posted last week caught my eye right away.  The photo of the finished loaf cake was striking, the recipe looked like something I could make with ingredients I had at home, and I haven’t baked in a while.

Of course, I did have most of the ingredients, but I also had some bananas that needed to be used and I didn’t have any garam masala in my spice drawer.  Heidi suggested that bananas could be substituted for the roasted winter squash in her recipe, and encouraged bakers to use other spices if they had no garam masala.

I mashed one very ripe banana (happily that gave me exactly the 1/2 cup I needed), and decided to use Chinese 5 spice to replace the garam masala.

The cake turned out really well (though it needed a bit less time in my oven than the original recipe called for — my loaf was fully baked in about 45 minutes).

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Read Full Post »

Whole wheat bread

When I lived in Maine I baked bread almost every weekend.  I started because it was such a long drive to a good bakery and I kept it up because there is really not much that makes me happier than the smell of baking bread or the taste of a fresh loaf.

Now that I live in Portland where there are amazing bakeries on just about every corner (well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not much) I find I don’t get around to baking as often as I used to.  Last weekend, though, the urge came upon me and I pulled out one of my favorite baking books:  The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book.

The book opens automatically to the recipe I have made most often — a simple whole wheat and buttermilk recipe that has never failed me and that can be used to make beautiful loaves that are perfect for everyday toast or sandwiches or rolls elegant enough for company.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Bread

(adapted from the Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book)

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

½ cup warm water

¾ cup very hot water

¼ cup honey

1 ¼ cups cold buttermilk

4 ½ cups whole wheat flour (all purpose or bread flour is fine)

1 cup white flour (all purpose or bread flour is fine here too)

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

2 – 4 tablespoons butter, cut in to small pieces

1 large egg

1 tablespoon half & half

Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside until foamy.

Mix hot water, honey and buttermilk in a small bowl or measuring cup; the final mixture should be lukewarm.  Set aside.

Mix flours and salt and place in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Using the dough hook and mixing at medium speed, slowly add yeast/water mixture and buttermilk mixture to the flour.

After all of the liquid has been incorporated, stop the mixer and let the dough sit, covered with a towel, for about 20 minutes.  This will ensure that the flour absorbs all of the liquid.

Restart the mixer and knead on low to medium speed for about 15 minutes.  The dough should be sticky, but should pull away from the sides of the bowl.  If it does not, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time (mixing well after each addition) until it does.  You want this to be a soft dough, so be careful not to add too much additional flour.  Add the butter in small pieces as you near the end of the kneading time.

Shape the dough into a rough ball and place it in an oiled or buttered bowl.  Cover and let rise for about 90 minutes or until you can poke it with a damp finger and the hole doesn’t fill in again.  Gently turn the dough and let rise again, this time for about 45 minutes.

Shape the dough into two loaves and place in oiled/buttered loaf pans.  Cover and let rise a third time.

This dough should rise quite a lot in the pan, so feel free to let it go for at least 45 minutes, if not more.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Whisk egg and half & half together and pass mixture through a small sieve until smooth.  Brush loaves with egg mixture and place in the middle of the preheated oven.

(If you want to make rolls, this recipe will make 9 large or 15 small ones.  Shape the dough into balls after the second rise and let rise again as above.  Brush with egg and half & half mixture.  Bake the rolls at 400 degrees for 15 -20 minutes.)

Bake loaves for 55 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped.

Cool completely on a rack before slicing and eating.

Read Full Post »

Whole wheat banana muffins

I am sure I am not the only person who keeps finding herself with over-ripe bananas lying around in a bowl.

When I’ve found myself in that situation in the past, I usually make banana bread.  Today I wanted to try something different.  I had just come across a link to a recipe that Mark Bittman had posted in February for Whole Wheat Muffins that used mashed bananas as one of the ingredients, and they looked perfect.

The recipe uses supplies most of us have in the pantry all the time (you can substitute regular whole wheat flour for the whole wheat pastry flour MB recommends) and take about 10 minutes to mix up.  The hardest part is filling the muffin cups with the batter — and then having to wait for the muffins to bake.

MB suggests that they are best eaten warm, so I tried one right out of the oven.

It was delicious.

Hard as it was to resist, I managed to save a few for later.

Read Full Post »

summer berry shortcakes

This week we are on the road, exploring the coasts of southern Oregon and northern California.  I’ll post some pictures when I have some.

In the meantime, here’s this post about the most delicious little berry shortcakes I made last week after finding incredible boxes of raspberries and blackberries at Zupan’s.

A quick search through my baking cookbooks led me to this lovely book, Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert, and a recipe for Buckwheat Shortcakes.  I couldn’t resist (and just happened to have some organic buckwheat flour in the pantry).  The cakes turned out perfectly — light and not the least bit chewy — and were the perfect complement for the tart berries.

Here’s the recipe.

buckwheat berry shortcakes
(adapted from Alice Medrich’s book Pure Dessert)

prepare the shortcakes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 oz) all-purpose flour
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (1.7 oz) buckwheat flour
¼ cup sugar
1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder (sift it if it is lumpy)
3/8 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
a little extra cream (the dregs from the bottom of the measuring cup are fine)
2 tablespoons coarse granulated sugar (or turbinado sugar)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with two layers of parchment paper (to protect the bottoms of the shortcakes from browning too fast).

In a large bowl thoroughly whisk the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Make a well in the center and pour in the cream (reserve the measuring cup).  Use a rubber spatula to gently mix the dry ingredients into the cream, mixing just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the dough looks rough and shaggy.  Gather the dough into a ball and knead it gently against the sides of the bowl five or so times until it just holds together and the bowl is fairly clean.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and pat it into a 6 inch square about ¾ of an inch thick.  Trim the edges, using a sharp knife and quick stokes so as not to compress the dough, for the best rise.  Cut the dough into nine squares.  Place biscuits at least one inch apart on the baking sheet.  Brush tops with the cream remaining in the measuring cup and sprinkle with the coarse granulated sugar.

Bake until the biscuit tops are golden brown, 12 – 15 minutes.  Cool on a rack.


prepare the filling
1 cup heavy whipping cream
sugar to taste
2 -2 ½ pints fresh ripe berries

Whip the cream in a chilled bowl, sweetening lightly to taste.

Sweeten berries with sugar to taste (if using strawberries, slice them first).


assemble the shortcakes
Slice each cake horizontally in half.  Place the bottom halves on serving plates and top each with  scoop of berries and a dollop of whipped cream.  Cover with the cake tops.  Serve!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: