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    Thursday
    Feb162017

    Walnut Fougasse: Rose's Bread Bible Bakers 

                                                  walnut fougasse 

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    Not only have I mucked up the order of baking, the walnut fougasse is supposed to be the bake for March, I've used the wrong flour. I used strong (bread flour) when it was plain (all purpose) that was called for. Still a testament to Rose's 'The Bread Bible' recipe that I still ended up with delicious crisp, yet chewy, walnut studded bread. 

    Fogasse: the French cousin of the focaccia, often slashed to resemble an ear of wheat, I loved this bread, reminded me of a pretzel focaccia cross. 

    The bread today uses walnut oil. One of my favourite ever oils with it's fantastic deep nutty flavour perfect for salad dressings, toss through pasta and as a finishing oil. 

    The bread was started with flour and yeast that were whisked together, salt was added and whisked in. 

    I added my own fresh sage and lemon zest, the backyard lemon tree leads to lemon being in umm, just about everything. Lemon gives a faux sour dough quality to the bread too. 

    The lemon zest and sage were whisked in. 

    Scalded milk and a few tablespoons of walnut oil are added, first mixed to rough dough and then kneaded by dough hook fitted mixer or hand until you have an elastic and just barely sticky dough.

    You need coarsely broken walnuts at this stage. 

    The walnuts are incorporated by hand. 

    The dough formed into a ball is then coated in more walnut oil and goes off the rise for around an hour. 

    The dough is turned out, more walnut oil is added and again it goes off to rise. Again the dough is turned out and *more oil is added and goes off for a third rise.

    I rolled the dough in a rectangle, gave it a letter turn and it was covered to rest for 30 minutes.

    Yay!! up to the shaping bit, place your dough on prepared baking sheet, and roll or press it out into a 9x15 by half an inch oval.

    Measuring with my only ruler that has imperial measurements on it.  

    More walnut oil was brushed on and dough was slashed into head of wheat pattern.  Using your fingers to stretch open the pattern.  

    Final rise time now, about 15 minutes. Stretch open any gaps that have closed and pop the tray into your prepared oven. I sprinkled on sea salt flakes at this stage, love lemon, sage, walnut and salt combo

    A great center piece bread for a BBQ or your Easter table. Full flavoured and delicious unadulterated.

    A crispy crust plus pretzel chew, moist interior with a great walnut substance to it.  

    Warm I found the bread a little oily, and unsuitable for oil dipping and dukkah (I tried)... I would like to reduce the oil a litte next time I make it. Plus I would like try replacing the milk with water or a milk substitute as this would make a great vegan bread to serve with with hummus and charred veg.  

    Add a bottle of red and your all set. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    Today has been one of the 'Rose's Bread Bible Bakers' bakes where a group of fabulous bakers get together and bake from the pages of 'The Bread Bible'. The Bread Bibleby Rose Levy Beranbaum is available from Amazon and all discerning book stores.

    Know a 'Beatles' fan? You might want to make an octopus's garden cupcake for easter, don't we all?  

    Monday
    Feb062017

    The Browniest Cookies 

                                        the browniest cookies

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    Baking along with a talented group of bakers that are a part of ABC (Avid Baker's Challenge), this month is the 'Browniest Cookies' from Smitten Kitten. 

    Like all brownies it's easy to put together, chocolate is melted with butter and sugars whisked in.

    White sugar to creates the brownie crust and brown sugar to keep the cookies soft. 

    Eggs, vanilla, baking soda and salt are whisked in next, followed by sifted cocoa powder. 


    Flour is stirred in followed by chocolate chunks. I divided mixture in half and added half cup of fresh raspberries to the batter.  Both batters were then refrigerated. 

    The recipe calls for the batter to be scooped, I rolled in smaller 25 gram balls and slid the trays into the freezer for 15 minutes to insure they would keep their shape. 

    Resulting cookies are fudgy, with a thin crisp crust, definetly chocolately but did polarise the testers with the flavour.  They aren't overly sweet tasting cookies, but it was the touch of bitterness they bring with so much cocoa powder and unsweetened chocolate that some weren't keen on.  

    I drizzled melted chocolate on the raspberry ones and added love heart sprinkles for Valentines Day.  

    Tiny cookies won't crinkle as much due to chilling and the short bake time... about 6-7 seven minutes.

    The recipe today is similar to Martha Stewart's 'Chocolate Crackle' type cookies that we have made every Christmas for over a decade. The other Martha Stewart cookies that are brownie/crinkle like are the 'Outrageous Chocolate Cookie' we also make for holidays. 

    my step son made these brownie cookies for high school food tech in 2009   

    Today's cookies are good, but won't replace the Martha Stewart cookies in our Christmas repertoire. 

    Like a full cocoa flavoured cookie? get the full recipe for today's bake from Smitten Kitten 'The Browniest Cookies' 

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested in making Eric the Valentines Emu

    Friday
    Feb032017

    Year of the Rooster cupcake

                                           year of the rooster cupcake

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    After the Monkey and before the Dog, every twelve years comes the Rooster. 

    Year of the Rooster .... 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, and 2029.

    I find the Chinese horoscope so confusing! It is the year of the rooster, the fire rooster or the female fire chicken. The chicken puzzles me, a chook is not a rooster. I decided to go with the Rooster like the ones you see as Chinese prints adorning restaurants and my Dad's nursing home was rather fond of them too. 

    If your in Melbourne the Chinese New Year festival runs to the 12th of February at Crown Casino, lots of fun and celebratory goings on around town. 

    Making a Rooster.... 

    I made a simple shape from a 50% white modelling chocolate, 50% fondant. Toothpicks mark the leg holes.

    I cut feather shapes from orange fondant for around the neck and marked a centre line. Marked the body with crescent shapes. 

    Black fondant was rolled super thin (add some cmc if necessary) and cut into longer feather shapes. The shapes are then shredded along the edges. 

    The pieces were attached to the body with a light touch of water. Here I am starting to attach the comb and playing with placement of tail feathers. 

    Gold leaf was applied to cupcake with a brush small brush, lifting on small pieces and laying them on pre dampened surface. 

    The finished dry rooster was shaded in petal lustre dusts, gold, red and blue. Attached to the cupcake with toothpick legs for easy removal. 

    Happy Chinese, Lunar, Spring Festival time :) 

    You might also like Chinese chicken wings 

    Or back to year of the Dragon

    Sunday
    Jan222017

    Olive Bread: Rose's Bread Bible Bakers

                      

                                                  Olive bread 'The Bread Bible'

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    I love an olive baguette, stands to reason I was looking forward to baking Rose's olive bread. 

    Started with making a 'biga' (an Italian pre-ferment), it's easy, combine flour, a little instant yeast, a tad of optional malt powder with room temperature water.

    Stirred until smooth and it comes away from the side of the bowl.

    Placed in an oiled two cup container and covered for six hours, it's ready to use at this point or pop in fridge for up to three days. Mine was refrigerated for two days.

    Ready for the mixer now (instructions are also included for hand and food processor mixing in 'The Bread Bible'). Flour, more yeast, biga are mixed together with water until a rough dough forms.

    Rough dough mixed

    After a short covered rest, salt is added and the dough is returned to the mixer to be kneaded until smooth.

    Dough is covered and given a short time to relax before the olives are added. 

    chopped kalamata olives mixed with a little flour

    Dough is allowed to rise now until doubled in size. Shaped in a banneton or colander lined with a tea towel... and this the stage there is a slight hiccup, ok LARGE hiccup. 

    I go to preheat the oven and the electrics were out, I could light the gas with a match but I can't run the oven without the fan. 

    I stayed calm... ha ha no I didn't I had tears running down my face despite self talking to myself to "toughen up". I went and punched down the partially risen shaped loaf and froze the dough. 

    Oh the fuse box!! Apparently you are supposed the check the fuse box outside, which I did the next day. Even though the switch marked oven was on there was a random unmarked switch down... yep, oven back on YAY!

    Soooo, I defrosted the dough and baked it off in a batard (torpedo) loaf shape because it was faster. 

    Hmmm, I thought the dough didn't look right defrosted and reshaped, though apart from not getting as much crust as I expect I would have gotten without freezing... all was good, delicious in fact. Well flavoured, moist, light but with just enough bite in the texture. 

    Now the tomatoes... Nanna loved a grilled tomato and always made me grilled tomatoes on toast for breakfast, I liked them but like fresh too so I went a bit "Ottolenghi" and caramelised half the tomatoes in a pan, keeping the other half raw. Mixed together they top my olive toast. With a lemon olive dressing, baby basil and rough cut herbs, the best ever Sunday brunch on a hot summers day.

    Happy Baking :) 

    Today has been one of the 'Rose's Bread Bible Bakers' bakes where a group of fabulous bakers get together and bake from the pages of 'The Bread Bible'.

    The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum is available from Amazon and all discerning book stores.  

    You might also like Little Lemon and Lime Lamingtons Australia Day January 26th.   

    Wednesday
    Jan042017

    "Levy's" Real Jewish Rye Bread: Rose's Bread Bible Bakers

    "Levy's" Real Jewish Rye Bread 'The Bread Bible'

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    Rose speaks of in 'The Bread Bible' that she likes rye bread 'studded with constellations of caraway seeds' and apparently I do too!! 

    Ahh that moment your loaf of bread is so awesomely "perfect" and you are so excited and then realise it's hard to get people enthusiastic over a loaf of bread, but "dang" this was my perfect loaf, turning the corner, light bulb type moment in bread making.  

    It started with me making a sponge (a starter), bread flour, rye flour, instant yeast, sugar, barley malt syrup and warm water all go in bowl.

    Then it's mixed until it forms a smooth batter bubbly with air.

    Ok, we are up to whisking the remainder of the bread flour with more instant yeast, caraway seeds and salt. The flour mixture was gently spooned over the sponge and covered with plastic wrap for night in the fridge.

    Next morning there was much bubbling coming through the flour blank and after coming back to room temperature I used the kitchen aid (there is instructions for hand mixing) to knead.  

    The resulting dough was placed in a raising container and allowed to rise for a couple of hours. Once risen the dough was shaped into a rectangle and given a business letter turn before going off for another rise.

    I'd already decided I wouldn't use the cloche to bake the bread as another bread bible baker mentioned the loaf was large and I too wanted smaller slices so a batard loaf seemed right. 

    Almost all went wrong at this point as I was following Rose's excellent video on how to shape a batard (torpedo) loaf when I realised my loaf was too long for the baking sheet. I did the thing known as "emergency squashing the ends", which you shouldn't do, but do pre measure your baking sheet.  

    *note my dough was dimpled because it's a rye bread, ditto I didn't spritz with water... and I have started with squashing the ends in this photo ha ha!

    Into my preheated (hot) oven, I placed my loaf on a silpat lined baking tray onto the already heated baking tray in the oven. Ice cubes were added to another tray in the bottom of the oven to create steam. 

    TAAA DAAA!! Ok don't judge it's acutally a dodgy phone pic.. with a ruler next to it to show the length, this is my life I'm sending out photos of my bread to friends.

    And the interior, it wouldn't be a message to my friends if I didn't include "and look at the inside!!" pic.

    I am seriously happy with this texture and flavour of this bread, well seasoned it's a just eat alone bread and made wonderful sandwiches but I thought I'd show you one of the things I do with the "close to the end" bits.

    I make "salad crisps" from bits of homemade bread. Slice as thinly as you can, it's ok if you get odd shaped pieces. Lay out your thin bread slicees on a lined baking tray and either brush lightly with a neutral oil (didn't want to interfere with caraway flavour) or spray with cooking oil and bake in a hot oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Sprinkle with sea salt is desired. Perfect to add a textural element to a salad of fresh pickled red radishes, smoked salmon, avocado and some assorted "leaves". 

    Happy Baking :) 

    Today has been one of the 'Rose's Bread Bible Bakers' bakes where a group of fabulous bakers get together and bake from the pages of 'The Bread Bible'.

    The Bread Bibleby Rose Levy Beranbaum is available from Amazon and all discerning book stores. 

    You might also be interested in a little bit of retro with Honey Joy Cupcakes

    Sunday
    Dec182016

    Perfect Christmas Stollen - ABC

    Carrots for the reindeer, a shot of rum and "Perfect Christmas" Stollen for Santa. 

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    Baking along with a talented group of bakers that are a part of ABC (Avid Baker's Challenge), this month 'Perfect Christmas' Stollen. 

    This is gorgeous, the stollen that is... moist, light and aromatic, a far cry from the one you pop in your trolley at the supermarket each year.

    Starting with making the "sweetener" a mixture of sugar, lemon and orange zest that along with homemade marzipan can be made many weeks ahead if desired. 

    The marizpan is simply ground white almonds, sugar and lemon zest mixed with water.

    Dried fruit is soaked, then drained. I used hot water with a splash of rum to soak mine.

    The dough starts by making almost a sponge, an enriched starter of half the flour, yeast, egg yolk and warm milk. *Link to full recipe and the end of post.

    After 30 minutes, the other half of the flour, salt, prepared sweetener and softened butter are added. The KitchenAid does it's thing now and kneads the dough for 5-7 minutes (or 10 to 15 by hand) until you have a soft and supple dough. 

    The lovely Hanaâ from Hanaâ's Kitchen recommended the following you tube video on how to easily incorporate the fruit into your dough. The video is in Dutch, fast forward to the 1.15 point to watch the fruit being rolled in... and it works!!

    Starting to fold and roll the fruit into the dough. 

    Sprinkling the last of the fruit to be rolled into the dough. 

    The the dough is rolled into a ball and allowed to rest, covered and in a warm spot for 20 minutes. 

    After that the ball is shaped into a loaf and you guessed it, loosely covered, put in a warm spot and rests for 20 minutes.

    Now you add some egg (and butter if you wish) to your marzipan, your marzipan is then rolled into a sausage shape.

    Your loaf shape is now rolled and the sausage of marzipan lain down the center, fold, press to seal and bake.

    Once out of the oven you can brush the baked stollen with melted butter and sift over some icing sugar. I used snow sugar which is great for when you are shipping sugared baked goods or just need the presentation sugar to last without having to go into sweet over kill sugaring the top again.

    The Avid Bakers Group (ABC) is using the recipes from Weekend Bakery... here is the *link to the full stollen recipe.

    Happy Baking :)

    Want to know more about snow sugar and white sugars? I write about them here.

    Or feeling more like gingerbread custard ice-cream?

    Saturday
    Dec102016

    King Parrot

    the king parrot

    Awww, I'm loving this wild King Parrot that has taken to "visiting" the decking outside my kitchen each day... brightens the baking morning :) 

    Friday
    Dec092016

    Rich and Creamy Ginger Scones: Rose's Bread Bible Bakers

    Rich and Creamy Ginger Scones 'The Bread Bible'

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    Scones. Ginger Scones. Rich and Creamy Ginger Scones!! 

    These little suckers live up to their name, they are "rich and creamy" and certainly ginger-y with ginger coming from two forms "ground and candied".

    Australia has a history of ginger farming/production, dating back to pre world war one.

    early photo of ginger cutters working for Buderim -Queensland Australia

    I love Australian Buderim candied ginger in all it's forms.

    I used the middle one today, glace ginger for the 'Rich and Creamy Ginger Scones'.

    You needed super cold cubed butter and chilled cream whipped to soft peaks to start today's scones.

    cubed butter ready to go into the freezer to chill

    Flour, baking powder, salt, ground ginger, turbinado sugar, lemon zest are whizzed together in a food processor before the cold butter is added for another whizz until the mixture resembles fine meal. 

    The flour mixture is tipped in a bowl, where you add the chopped ginger pieces, make a well and add the whipped cream.  The resulting dough is briefly kneaded and chilled before cutting.

    Ahhh I here comes the Australian bit, I just don't understand the trianglular shape of American scones so I'm going "British" and I cut small round ones instead of triangles. 

    I froze my rounds at this point because I had to have perfect "round" shapes ha ha. The little pieces of chilled butter in the dough will result in the light, short and melt in the mouth quality of the finished scones. 

    I didn't put extra sugar on top of the scones before baking as I was going to be serving with peach fruit preserve. 

    Scones are baked in a hot oven until evenly browned but still soft and moist inside. They are the first scones I've eaten that literally melt in your mouth they are so tender. I love the flavour of these, even though they a bit on the "too rich" side for me I can imagine them being popular for a brunch or afternoon tea served with plenty of black tea and lemon. 

    Today has been one of the 'Rose's Bread Bible Bakers' bakes where a group of fabulous bakers get together and bake from the pages of 'The Bread Bible'.

    The Bread Bibleby Rose Levy Beranbaum is available from Amazon and all discerning book stores. 

    Happy Baking :)

    You might also be interested in Aunty Clare's chocolate frog grog.  

    Saturday
    Dec032016

    Faux Gingerbread Mushrooms 

    faux gingerbread mushrooms, gold dusted ferrero rocher balls and chocolate shards. 

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    You're planning on making a Bûche de Noël (Yule log) for your Christmas centre piece? Add some quick and easy forest---y charm with faux gingerbread mushrooms and gold dusted chocolates.  

    You will need Pfeffernüsse, the small spiced gingerbread cookie. I've used store bought but you could use homemade. 

    Put a little melted white chocolate on the back of a cookie, using a skewer drag through the white chocolate from outside edge inwards to create the mushrooms "gills", remove any excess chocolate from the centre with the end of the skewer. Put the cookie to one side to dry and repeat. 


    Once the chocolate is dry, with a small brush dust cocoa powder or brown cake dust (I used both) to colour and shade your mushroom cookies. 

    Roll a piece of marzipan (or modelling chocolate, or fondant) into a snake shake and cut lengths for stems. Attach stems with a tiny bit of white chocolate, allow to dry and add shading colour if needed.  All done :) 

    Add a golden touch to your truffles or bought chocolates...

    I've use ferrero rocher balls.... unwrap your chocolates and using a soft brush dust your chocolates with gold cake decorating/food dust.  

    Chocolate shards for surrounds: Spread tempered chocolate on a piece of non stick baking paper. Roll it up whilst still melted and pop in fridge to set, unroll and it will break into shards ready to use. 


    I went with a sprinkling of crisp freeze dried raspberry pieces for colour and a burst of flavour, they are a last minute addition as they soften fairly quickly when exposed to air. We used fresh blackberries and tiny fresh strawberries with last years cake. 

    Cacao nibs (often sold as cocoa nibs) are a nice addition for a more adult palate, crunch and a little bitter. 

    Happy baking, don't forget the Christmas bling :) 

    Tuesday
    Nov292016

    Pumpkin buns with salted maple butter -ABC 

    pumpkin buns with salted maple butter

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    I was invited this month to bake along with a talented group of bakers that are a part of ABC (Avid Baker's Challenge) and how could I resist when I saw it was pumpkin dinner rolls shaped as pumpkins!! 

    almost as magical as turning a pumpkin into a carriage, these pumpkin buns today are adorable.

    You could be thinking Halloween or Thanksgiving for these cuties but my first thought was "fairytales"...more than a little Bippity Boppity Boo.  Imagine these as part of a fairy tale wedding or a princess party for the little ones. 

    The buns are a little sweet, but not too sweet to be considered savoury or sweeten them further by sprinkling with sugar before baking.

    Ainse or aniseed flavours the buns or there is an option to use pumpkin pie spice with it's pronounced cinnamon overtone. 

    grinding the aniseed

    We don't have tinned pumpkin puree in Australia so I had to cook my pumpkin and puree, I used a traditional Queensland variety though I suspect butternut pumpkin (squash) would have sufficed. 

    Then bread flour, instant yeast, salt, water, pumpkin puree, egg, honey and spice are combined with a little extra water added if needed... I didn't need any, wet pumpkin I guess.  Softened butter is now beaten in. *Full recipe link at end of page*

    The resulting dough is soft, smooth and easy to work with... a tiny bit sticky but not in a troublesome way the dough goes away to rest and rise.

    Shaped into 12 round rolls (you could bake them just like this if mini pumpkins aren't your thing), and eight cuts are made around the rolls not going all the way to the center. The centre you make a hole all the way through so there is place for your "stem" at the end. Off for another rise now. 

    I didn't add the extra sugar topping, nor the egg wash, I prefer breads a little less sweet.  Pecan halves are cut length ways to create the stems and are inserted after baking.

    Baking time is relatively short and then you have the most light, fluffy yet moist buns.  

    I loved these buns, you don't pick up much in the way of pumpkin flavour but the aniseed lends a sweetish note reminiscent of childhood aniseed lollies more than the night you downed all those black Sambuca shots.

    Salted maple butter: there is salted maple butter to serve with buns, ok a bit too delicious this mixture of salted butter and maple syrup. 

    The full recipe from the ABC bake can be found on Weekend Bakery .com 

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested an original Brothers Grimm version of Cinderella and make yourself a "fondant toe" cupcake. 

    Or how about four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.