Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bread Recipe Links for 2011

With only a few more days to go until it is 2012, I thought it might be nice to have the links for bread recipes all together in one place, so I just created a linked list at the Bread Baker's Dog recipe site.

Here is the URL: or click HERE

The recipes are broken down into categories that make sense to me (& I hope they do to you, too):
Bread with Wild Yeast which are bread recipes using sourdough starter

Bread with Yeast which are the non-sweet yeasted bread recipes

Flatbread - so far only a savory tart recipe

Made with Bread for things like French Toast and Bread Pudding that make use of already baked breads

Quickbread which is the non-sweet quick breads section

Rolls made with Yeast because I think that rolls should have their own category

Sourdough Specials for things like Pancakes and Waffles made with sourdough starter

Sweet Quick Breads for the sweet breads that are quick due to baking soda and/or baking powder instead of yeast

Sweet Yeasted Breads which are, of course, sweet breads made with yeast

I'll add other categories if I come across a recipe that doesn't seem to fit in these. I'm hoping to have some time soon to link the breads from years prior to 2011. In time there may even be separate pages for some of the other recipes I have a lot of in my index, like cookies or cake. When I do I'll post the link(s) here.

Hope you have a safe and happy New Year's Eve dear readers. Sweetie and I plan on a nice quiet one at home, just the two of us. I do have noisemakers to blow on when the New Year arrives to welcome it with silly sounds. I hope for myself that 2012 has more silly times and fewer stressful ones than 2011. No other resolutions at the moment.

Baby It's Cold Outside


Although we haven't had snow or sleet we sure have had frost and chilly nights. We're not talking about below zero or even single digit temperatures, so I'm not complaining, but I can tell you that when we came home last night from a long drive to visit Natasha and her family we were chilled by the time we settled in front of the fire (or, in the case of our daughter, chatting on the phone to her sweetie).

Time for a warming drink. Time for Hot Buttered Rum! This recipe is one I've had for over 40 years but have not made for a long time. I'd actually forgotten about it until we were talking about hot drinks the other day and K mentioned that she had enjoyed a hot buttered rum drink while out with friends. I didn't write down the name of the person who gave me the recipe, but I think it was a college friend. I've no idea where she got the recipe from, but it is a keeper.

One of the lovely things about this is that you make up the butter/sugar/spice mixture ahead of time. It really does go together quickly, especially if you already have some water boiling for tea or coffee or some other purpose. Making the butter mixture takes a little longer, but not much.

If I were a true mixologist I'd try to figure out some garnish to make it more interesting to look at. Maybe next time I'll add a cinnamon stick. There is bound to be a next time. The butter mixture keeps at least three months. (I suspect it might keep even longer if stored at the back of the fridge...I have vague memories of using the mixture one time after it sat for about 8 months back there. Maybe that's when I stopped making it!)

Two Minute Hot Buttered Rum
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 lb dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cream the butter until it's fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the brown sugar. Sprinkle the spices over the mixture and mix another minute to thoroughly combine.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

To make each serving: In a heatproof glass or mug place 1 tablespoon of the mixture. Add 1 and a 1/2 oz. rum and boiling water to fill the glass or mug. Stir and serve.

See how easy that is?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Vegan Cake for Christmas

I'm not a vegan, although I probably should be. If you know how to combine your foods to make a complete protein it's a very healthy way to eat. The good news is that there are absolutley delicious recipes I make that happen to be vegan, too.

Wishing each of you, dear readers, a happy holiday season and joy and prosperity in the New Year.

Counting my blessings this year takes some time because I've been very blessed. Loving friends and family are some of the biggest blessings one can have.

The day after Christmas we'll have a gathering of friends and family, with food and drink and conversation. One of the things being served will be this vegan spice cake, a variation on a Spanish Bar Cake I used to enjoy when I was a girl. It's based on a recipe in the Joy of Cooking but there are so many recipes in that cookbook that you may not have run across this one. Even though there will also be handmade cookies and Costco mousse cake as desserts, this one may be finished up first, it is so good. And yes Lynn, I did make some changes. But of course.

The texture is light for a fruit cake and the flavors are deep, dark and spicy due to the cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and lots of raisins. Let it cool before slicing it. Sweetie couldn't wait and so it crumbled on him a bit.

Do try this at home. It contains no eggs, butter, or milk but you do need a non-dairy butter substitute or butter flavored shortening. It's not diet food, but is also less rich than a lot of the desserts that will be served this holiday season.

Vegan Spice Cake with Citron, Candied Orange Peel and Dates
Based on Eggless Milkless Spice Cake in the Joy of Cooking

1 1/2 cups water
3 cups raisins
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup (one stick) non-dairy margarine or butter-flavored shortening, melted
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup chopped candied citron
1/4 cup chopped candied orange peel

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease well and flour a 9 - 10 cup Bundt pan. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan stir together the water, raisins, brown sugar, margarine/shortening, cinnamon, allspice, salt and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir gradually into the boiled ingredients until the batter is smooth (I transferred the boiled ingredients into a stand mixer bowl and used the mixer to mix in the dry ingredients.

Stir in the almonds, dates, citron and orange peel to distribute evenly in the batter.

Transfer the batter, which will be somewhat thick, into the prepared pan and even the top. Tap the pan a few times on the worktop to settle the batter. Bake in the preheated oven for an hour. Check to see if it is done by pushing a toothpick into the middle of the baked batter. If it comes out clean or with a few crumbs sticking to the toothpick it's done.

Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes on a rack. Turn out onto a serving plate and cool completely before serving. Can be decorated with a drizzle of melted white chocolate or with a drift of confectioner's sugar put through a fine screened strainer.

Serves about 16

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Christmas Tale of Bread Baking

Time has passed in the Land of St. Honore', as it does everywhere. Hearing the Angelus church bells ring out in the early morn over the snowy winter land, twelve year old Elias knew it was time to start the surprise for Grandfather. He had plans to spread good will through his baking. Christmas was coming and it was time his Grandfather knew that he had, indeed, inherited the family talent for baking.

Thirteen years ago his mother, the princess, had chosen his father, Ian, as a husband because his baking made her happy.

Elias's grandfather the king also enjoyed a fine baked good and had been hoping that the baking gene, so prized in the Land of St. Honore', had been passed on to Elias because his mother was a better baked good eater than baker.

Although Elias enjoyed the comportment and manners training that was part of his education and really appreciated access to spirited horses since he loved to ride, he truly loved spending time in the kitchen with his father learning the ancient secrets of butter and eggs, sugar and flour. Recently his father had been given a gift of quantities of candied orange and lemon peel. He had just the recipe to make good use of them.

The day before he had gathered his ingredients and started the candied peels to soak in their rum bath. Although the recipe looked fine he was going to change a few things. He preferred to mix together all of the dough ingredients (except for the soused fruit) and let it chill overnight for extra flavor. In the morning he could knead in the fruit and shape the loaves.

For Christmas the tradition is to use a richer dough than usual, so to the flour and yeast he added milk, eggs, butter, citrus zest and spices. All of that butter fat meant that the dough wouldn't rise as much, but since Elias planned a shaped set of loaves that was OK. The overnight chilling would still add flavor.

So now he was returning from his early morning visit to church and he was looking forward to the warmth of the kitchen. He retrieved the dough from the cooler, tipped it out on a floured board and punched it down. As the dough warmed he found it easier to spread the dough out on the board and then he spread the rum and fruit mixture over the dough, rolled it all up, then kneaded it to distribute the fruit.

As he kneaded the dough he leaned down and really appreciated the fragrance of the fruit and spices. After dividing the dough into three pieces, he shaped each one into a batard, then used a large dowel to create an indentation, slightly off center. One piece was flipped on top of the other and lo and behold! Stollen. Once the loaves had been proofed for about two hours they were ready for the oven. After baking to a golden brown he brushed them with clarified butter and gave them a generous coating of superfine sugar so they looked snowy.

Don't let anyone tell you that stollen, the lovely fruited yeast loaves of Christmas from Dresden, Germany, is supposed to be hard and dry. These loaves were fragrant with spice, zesty with citrus and rum, tender and moist and sweet. Elias knew that the stollen he had made as a gift for the king would be enjoyed because he enjoyed his own loaf very much!

A big thank you to Susan of Wild Yeast for this delightful take on stollen and congratulations to her on her special day. Hope you enjoyed the story above. It's been a while since I visited the Land of St. Honore', where baking is a birthright.

Please visit the other Bread Baking Babes (links found at right) to enjoy their beautiful stollen posts. I'm including the recipe below so you can see what should have happened. My experience was pretty much the same as Elias'. I also chose not to use confectioners' sugar on the finished loaves. The superfine sugar was enough sweetness.

Do consider baking these for yourself and your gift giving. You can be a Buddy by sending Susan an e-mail with a link to your post and/or a description of your baking experience and a photo of the finished bread(s). You have until Dec. 29th but I encourage you to make these in time for Christmas.
Of course I'm sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting. Merry Christmas Susan!

(Adapted from San Francisco Baking Institute)

Yield: 1500 grams (3 loaves, more or less)

• Candy and dry citrus peel: 12 hours or more (can be done ahead)
• Soak the fruits: 12 hours
• Mix and ferment sponge: 12 hours (can be simultaneous with fruit-soaking)
• Mix dough: 20 – 30 minutes
• First fermentation : 30 minutes
• Pre-shape, rest, and shape: 30 minutes
• Proof: 90 minutes
• Bake: 30 minutes

Sponge Ingredients:
• 120 grams flour
• 80 grams water
• 0.1 gram (small pinch) instant yeast [or 0.13 g active dry, or 0.25 g fresh]

Soaked Fruit Ingredients:
• 130 grams raisins
• 75 grams dried cherries (or more raisins)
• 61 grams candied orange peel
• 92 grams candied lemon peel
• 82 grams slivered almonds
• 34 grams rum

Final Dough Ingredients:
• 348 g flour
• 53 g milk
• 25.3 grams (2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) instant yeast [or 18.6 g osmotolerant, or 31.6 g active dry, or 63.3 g fresh]
• 8 g (1-1/3 t.) salt
• 8 g (2-1/3 t.) diastatic malt powder (omit if you don’t have it)
• 51 g sugar
• 50 g egg (about one large egg)
• 5 g grated lemon zest (one average lemon)
• 5 g grated orange zest (one small orange)
• 1/3 t. of each of these ground spices: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, allspice, nutmeg
• 273 g unsalted butter, at room temperature (should be pliable)
• all of the sponge
• all of the soaked fruits

Finishing Ingredients:
• clarified butter
• fine granulated sugar
• powdered (confectioner’s) sugar

1. Toss the soaker fruits with the rum in a medium bowl. Cover and leave at room temperature for about 12 hours.
2. Meanwhile, combine the sponge ingredients in another medium bowl. Cover and ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, combine all of the final dough ingredients except the soaker. Mix in slow speed until all the ingredients are incorporated.
4. Continue mixing in medium speed until the gluten reaches full development. The dough should come together around the hook and should no longer stick to the sides and bottom of the bowl. This could take about 20 minutes or more, but will depend on your mixer.
5. Add the soaked fruits and mix on slow speed just until they are evenly distributed through the dough.
6. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered container. Cover and ferment for 30 minutes at room temperature.
7. Turn the dough onto the counter. Divide into three pieces, or however many you would like. Pre-shape the dough into balls and let them rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
8. To shape each loaf: Form a blunt-ended batard and dust it lightly with flour. With a thin rolling pin, press down firmly, separating about 2/5 of the dough from the other 3.5. Roll out the flap of dough connecting the sections so it is about 2 inches wide. Flatten the larger section slightly with your hand, then fold the smaller section over to rest on the larger one.
9. Place the loaves on parchment-lined baking sheets (two per sheet) and slip them into a large plastic bag with a bowl of warm water. Proof for about 90 minutes, replenishing the water when it cools.
10. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 on convection setting or 400 on regular bake setting. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
11. Bake for 10 minutes, open the oven door briefly to allow any remaining steam to escape, and bake for another 20 minutes. If you do not have convection, you may need to rotate the position of the baking sheets halfway through the bake to ensure even browning and keep the one on the lower rack from burning on the bottom.
12. While the loaves are still warm, brush them with clarified butter. Dredge them in fine granulated sugar, brushing or shaking off the excess.
13. To finish, sift powdered sugar over the loaves.
14. Cut when completely cool. You can leave the stollen out overnight to let the loaves dry and the sugar crust up a bit.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Quick Raspberry Hazelnut Bar Cookies

A great cookie for bringing to a cookie swap or to work or pot luck isn't always easy to find. This one combines two flavors that go well together; hazelnuts and raspberries. It is also pretty easy considering that you get 3-4 dozen cookies (depending on how small you cut the bars). They do take an hour to bake but the preparation time is relatively short if you don't skin the hazelnuts. I think that King Arthur Flour company may sell hazelnut flour which would work well in these. I did toast and skin the hazelnuts which took some time. Those thin nut skins seemed to fly over the counters even when the nuts were inside of a tea towel. Fortunately I did that part the night before.

The next day a little over three sticks of unsalted softened butter whirled around in the mixer with some sugar, a couple of eggs, a little flour and those hazelnuts. Two thirds of the batter became the cookie base and then two cups of raspberry jam made the inner layer. I added a little more flour to the rest of the dough to make it easier to break up the dough for the topping. A gentle pat across the topping and into the preheated oven they went. Very quickly my house smelled fantastic!

Hazelnuts and raspberries not only taste good together, they smell wonderful together. The bottom crust is firm and just a bit crisp on the bottom and you can really taste the hazelnuts. The raspberry preserves make the top part of the cookie moister and a bit chewy. The topping firms up as it cools, so you'll get a nice bit of crunch with the topping, sweet moistness with the raspberry, then a morsel of hazelnut and crispness.

Took some of these to my class Monday night and they were a hit. I'm sad that the in-person part of the class is finished because the people were really nice and the teacher is wonderfully funny and fun. The final project and final exam are still to come but I'm sort of looking forward to them to see how much I learned about InDesign and page layout.

Some more of the cookies went to the P.E.O. Christmas party today and they were enjoyed by many. What are you waiting for? These will be welcomed wherever you take them...even the short walk to your own TV area or dining room.

Raspberry Hazelnut Bars
from The Best of Fine Cooking Cookies
Yields about 4 dozen bars

13 oz. (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus a few tablespoons more (more or less) for the pan
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 lb. (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
7 1/2 oz. hazelnuts, toasted and chopped (1 2/3 cups)
2 cups raspberry preserves, seeded or seedless

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and mix just enough to incorporate. Add the hazelnuts and mix until just blended.

Press about two-thirds of the mixture into the prepared pan. Spread with the raspberry preserves and then crumble the remaining dough on top (I added additional flour to make the dough a bit more crumbly and also refrigerated it for 1/2 hour. If you are doing this, don't preheat the oven it once you take the dough out of the fridge.) Pat the dough gently to settle the topping.

Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 1 hour. Put the pan on a rack to cool. Cut the bars into even 1 1/2-inch squares.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Getting Ready for Party Time

One of the hallmarks of December is the onset of Party Time.

Some years there are more parties than others, but these days the guests are often encouraged to join in the fun by bringing something to share. If you are holding a party you might be looking for some good food to welcome your friends with. This classic really does taste better freshly made and most people find a creamy, tangy bowl of guacamole hard to resist, especially if there are some salty tortilla chips or crisp veggies to dip into it.

The good news if you are making it for a party is that it goes together pretty quickly. Do allow an hour or so for the flavors to mingle. Don't plan on making it too far ahead...certainly not the day before...since avocado tends to darken over time, even with the addition of the lime juice to slow down that process.

If you know that the folks who will enjoy the guacamole like things hot and spicy, do add hot sauce or more cayenne pepper. If you aren't sure, be kind and just do a light sprinkle of cayenne over the top of the bowl for color and an hint of hot. Then enjoy the party!

Fresh Guacamole Dip
2 ripe avocados
1 small tomato, chopped in small pieces
1 green onion, chopped in small pieces
juice of 1 lime
1 -2 teaspoons finely minced cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
salt & pepper to taste
a sprinkle of cayenne pepper over the bowl when serving...a little for many, a lot if you know your guests/friends like it hot and spicy

Peel the avocados and remove the pits. Mash the avocados in a medium bowl. I like mine a bit chunky, but you can mash it a lot for a smoother dip.

Stir in the tomato, onion, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, yogurt and mayonnaise.

Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Let the dip sit for at least an hour to mingle the flavors. If you need to hold the dip longer than an hour, cover with plastic wrap, with the wrap sitting directly on the contents of the bowl, and refrigerate.

Sprinkle on the cayenne pepper. Serve with tortilla chips or crisp veggies to dip in the guacamole.

Recipe can be doubled or tripled for a large group of people.