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    Saturday
    Aug152015

    Perfect Peach Galette Rose's Alpha Bakers

    Splat 2 |splat| informal noun

      a sound of something soft and wet or heavy striking a surface: the 'perfect peach galette' from the 'The Baking Bible' made a huge splat as it hit the bench.

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    Splat!!!  So went the 'Perfect Peach Galette', with it's fresh peach topping and 'Perfect Flaky and Tender Cream Cheese Pie Crust'.

    I had the storage container ready for when the galette was cooled and lifted up the cooling rack to feel the bottom of the galette. Why I lifted the rack so high and so quickly I don't know, but there was "height and momentum" involved now.

    The galette flew off the cooling rack and hit the edge of the storage container on the way down.

    It flipped.

    It broke.

    It went splat!!!!  

    So I scraped up some filling and plonked it on a tiny piece of still intact pastry... ta-da... and that's today's photo.  

    It all started well enough I guess, it's still winter here so purchased imported peaches, American peaches to be exact *mental note to go plant a tree for carbon neutral ness!   

    The peaches were put into a pot of boiling water (off the stove top) for one minute. I did some extra peaches in case I needed them.  

    nude peach

    Skins slipped straight off once the peaches were placed in a colander and cold water was run over them.

    Peaches were then sliced, popped in a large bowl with sugar, salt and lemon juice to macerate. See all that juice? It was time to drain the peach slices of that juice. I got two thirds of cup of juice. 

    juice was put into microwave safe jug

    Butter is added to the juice and the mixture is microwaved (option is there to do it on stove top), until the juice mixture has been reduced to about one third of a cup.

    reduced juice mixture

    Reduced juice mix is spreadable... oh my, this tastes absolutely like the "essence of summer" or more accurately the "essence of peaches". 

    The peachy concentrate was added back to the peaches slices with cornflour, almond extract and gently tossed together. 

    all mixed and ready to be put aside so I can start the pastry

    Here comes bad idea two but it doesn't include a "splat!!", I thought since we did this exact same pastry a few weeks ago for 'ElderBlueberry Pie (with not blueberries)'....  I'd use the same photos/text. Yep, then I forgot to take the shaping part at the end but I can redeem myself with pie apple coming up in a few weeks... fresh photos and shaping for that post :) 

    For now here is the repeat of making the 'Perfect Flaky and Tender Cream Cheese Pie Crust'...

    Unsalted butter is cubed and then frozen. You can make by hand or with the food processor, I went with the latter.  The recipe is a rough puff pastry with a cream cheese/butter combo (rather than all butter or shortening/butter or lard/butter combination). 

    Your frozen chilled flour, salt and baking powder mixture is removed from the freezer and process it briefly the with cream cheese.

    The frozen butter then goes in for a whizz, cream and vinegar are added and the mix is processed until the butter is the size of small peas. 

    It still looks like crumbs, with visible small bits of butter... you are only using the food processor to cut in the fats/liquid. Remove mixture from the food processor in it's crumb form and pressed together, before wrapping and chilling.

    Time to roll... the mottled look showing the tiny pieces of cold butter. I rolled mine between two lightly floured pieces of plastic wrap. Envelope folded, rerolled, chilling happening too! 

    Ok I was supposed to have used a pizza tray but mine has holes in bottom and I thought it wasn't going to suitable. Instead I put a round of rolled pastry on a silpat, put the prepared fruit filling on base and folded edges over leaving exposed fruit in the center. Sprinkled sugar on dampened edges and baked. 

    No serving suggestions or opinions on end product today... but umm the pastry was nice, light and super flaky... I could tell from the distance the flakes travelled over the kitchen. Looking forward to the next bake where I won't be lifting any cooling racks!! 

    Happy Baking :) 

    How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    The Baking Bible available from Amazon and all discerning book retailers. 

    You might also be interested in Salt and Pepper Squid recipe.

    Thursday
    Aug062015

    Beer Bread 'The Bread Bible' Alpha Bakers

    Hmm, I need more experience "building a burger" but the home-baked beer bread buns make up for it! 

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    Today is the monthly post for 'The Bread Bible' by Rose Levy Beranbaum and it's 'Beer Bread'. Porter or Stout give this bread a wonderful rounded flavour, a slight bitterness in the after taste and a somewhat more pronounced beer flavour around the crust. Yet, it's never over powering and will appeal to beer drinkers and non beer drinkers alike.  

    It's an adult bread and oh my it must be the best bread to serve for your BBQ entertaining. Delicious served with equally strong flavours, think well seasoned barbecued burgers, flat spiced mushrooms, bitey cheese, roasted capsicum dip and the like.  

    Sheeesh, you don't need a McDonalds build your own burger now, black beer burger buns all round!!! 

    I got a touch "tired" this week so a few less photos, but I've included the a YouTube video of Rose actually making the beer bread (6 minute 40 second mark) plus a few photos/serving suggestions of mine below. 

      

    This was a quick loaf to make with no starter required and about 2 -2/12 hours rising time. Yeast, malt, sugar, most of the bread flour and some wholemeal flour were combined, black beer was added then salt.

    I used a beer another alpha baker recommended, 'Coopers best extra stout' from an Australian brewery...., thanks Catherine from the blog plylliscaroline the stout was perfect. 

    I was using my stand mixer so 7 minutes of kneading and there it was, just as Rose described "putty-coloured dough". 

    The dough came easily from the mixers dough hook.

    The dough went away (well actually I put it away) to rise. After rising the dough was shaped, I divided my dough in half, made one half sized boule and four buns. Off it goes for another rise. You can slash the tops now with your favourite design, Rose has several with instructions in 'The Bread Bible'. Then off to bake. 

    Easy to shape this dough, ready for it's second rise. 

    Awww, the robust flavour of the beer bread reminds me of mum, bless her heart she loved a high tea on one hand but always partook in the opportunity to share a ploughman's lunch. I think she found it amusing that the traditional ploughman's lunch offended my sensibilities (no cutlery, rip apart bread and cheese and suck down a pickled onion!! wash it down with beer) and Mum did love a pickled onion! 

    Ploughman's lunch, perfect for casual get together. The pronounced flavouring of the beer bread pairs perfectly with aged bitey cheddar, apple and pickled onions of course. 

    You could skip a few steps, serve ploughmans cheese with your beer bread and a slice of apple. See how I used the word "slice". Ploughman's lunch is not an ancient British tradition, but rather a measure from the cheese board in the UK post rationing to promote the sale of cheese. So "forks", "knives" and perhaps even "little napkins" were around!!! 

    I prefer the vegan way with organically torn fresh beer bread topped with hummus and spiced marinated pine nuts.  

    Would I bake again? Yes, loved it.

    Would I change anything? No

    How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Bread Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    The Bread Bible  available from Amazon and all discerning book retailers. 

    You might also be interested in making: Fondant masquerade mask cupcake picks

    Monday
    Aug032015

    100 percent Whole Wheat Walnut Loaf Rose's Alpha Bakers

    100% Whole Wheat Walnut Loaf 'The Baking Bible'

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    Brrrr, baby it's cold outside! It's been hailing off and on all day and rumours of snow in a nearby suburb in the hills, I say "rumoured" because we do all get excited about even one flake of snow. 

    Walnut bread toasted (grilled) aged cheddar cheese sandwiches and pumpkin soup with a hint of orange, the perfect starter to ward off winter chills. 

    100% Whole Wheat (in Australia we say wholemeal) Walnut Bread is a fabulously flavoured versatile bread, lets get started.... 

    I started by making the dough starter (sponge), wholemeal flour, water, honey and yeast are combined. To make a vegan bread swap the honey out for golden syrup.   

    The mixture is whisked to incorporate air, it will resemble a thin batter. 

    Time to make the dough now with more wholemeal flour, *gluten flour and instant yeast are sprinkled over the sponge starter forming a blanket of flour. 

    An hour later and there is bubbles bubbling up through the flour. 

    Ok better toast and break up the walnuts now, 166 grams to be exact are toasted in the oven and the then the skins are removed. 

    Shhh, I cheated and used a photo of removing walnut skin from the Stilton Cheesecake story.

    With the dough hook fitted on my mixer, dough is mixed and then rested for 20 minutes. Back to mixing now with the addition of walnut oil, salt and toasted walnut pieces before going off to rise.

    The first rise. 

    The second rise. 

    After turning out the risen dough the dough is "dimpled" using your fingertips to get rid of air bubbles. The dough is shaped and put into prepared tin (I used four small tins instead of one large) and then off to rise for the last time before baking. 

    Over half way through last rise, almost time to go into the pre heated oven. 

    Baked, cooled and it's time to eat!!  

    It's not the "prettiest" bread but boy served fresh with blue cheese and pear and it's a wonderful combination of flavours. Plus it's easy to slice thinly, like what I used in the aged cheddar cheese toasted sandwiches paired with the pumpkin soup today.

    Oh, oh, oh mini loaves would make the best hostess gift, wrap the centre of the loaf with brown or baking paper, tie with kitchen string, throw in a chunk of blue or a bottle of red for a unique and welcome hostess gift.

    This bread is also great for vegetarians/vegans, high in protein, low GI and perfect to serve with your favourite veggie stew.  

    Also great "baker's treat"... toasted crusts of walnut loaf with French fine cut marmalade. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    *Gluten flour: we used gluten flour to promote rise and texture in today's bread. The gluten is in the whole wheat flour but the wheat germ is blocking the release so you use added gluten, a protein composite from wheat and related grains. This gives you not only extra "lift" in rising it also provides the characteristic "chew" we associate with bread. It's why you add various gums to gluten free bread trying to recreate the chew gluten provides.  Gluten flour is also used extensively in vegan and vegetarian cuisine to create seitan and in asian cooking for dishes such as like "mock duck". 

    Would I bake again? Yes, loved it for "something different to serve" factor.. plus tasted great. 

    Would I change anything?  I loved it as is, I would continue to bake smaller sized loaves. I'd like to try halving the walnut weight and adding either dried apricots or dried muscatel grapes for a fruit/nut loaf. 

     How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    The Baking Bible available from Amazon and all discerning book retailers. 

    You might also be interested in Amore Frangelico Truffles, rich in mascarpone and chocolate!

     

    Tuesday
    Jul282015

    ElderBlueberry Pie (with no elderberries) Rose's Alpha Bakers

    ElderBlueberry Pie (with no elderberries instead blackcurrants and blueberries) 'The Baking Bible'

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    Apparently elderberries grow well in Australia, so my local nursery man told me. Yet I have never seen one, an elderberry that is. All about elderberries on Wikipedia

    We love a savoury pie here, usually red meat but poultry, seafood and veg pies are also popular. Perhaps that is the reason we don't have a fruit pie culture in Australia, ummm "apple" you might have apple pie over winter or perhaps an aunt might whip up an apple/rhubarb pie.  Add in a mini fruit mince pie or three at Christmas and that's your dessert pie eating over for the year. We do like tarts and tarte Tatin but the double pie crust is a hard sell without the meat! 

    This is supposed to be a family sized pie, but I went with "mini pies" to give sample pies out for my first ever berry pie.

    Starting with Rose's 'Perfect Flaky and Tender Cream Cheese Pie Crust' recipe, butter is cubed and then frozen. You can make by hand or with the food processor, I went with the latter.  The recipe is a rough puff pastry with a cream cheese/butter combo (rather than all butter or shortening/butter or lard/butter combination). 

    frozen cubed butter

    It's cream cheese that creates a little magic with this pastry, but more on that later first you need to take your chilled flour, salt and baking powder mixture from the freezer and process it with cream cheese.

    The frozen butter then goes in for a whizz, cream and vinegar are added and the mix is processed until the butter is the size of small peas. 

    Removed from the food processor in it's crumb form and pressed together, wrapped and then chilled.

    Time to roll... the mottled look showing the tiny pieces of cold butter. I rolled mine between two lightly floured pieces of plastic wrap. Envelope folded, rerolled, chilling happening too! 

    Cutting my top pieces with love heart steam hole. 

    There is chilling/resting steps along the way here but I'm on to the elderberry (less) fruit filling now. 

    Yep, it's winter here so it's frozen berries. Blackcurrants and blueberries were left to defrost over a strainer so I could use the juice in the next step. 

    A slurry is made with water and cornflour (I used the juice from defrosted berries and made up the extra with water). 

    Sugar and fruit is added to the pot, I added zest as elderberries would have added more tartness. Looking rather brightly coloured at this stage, but after a brief cooking time to activate cornflour (corn starch) the mixture is thick and dark. If serving pies warm the mixture will thin a little and at room temperature will thicken again. 

    Pie pan was lined with pastry, filled with berry filling, topped with pastry tops and baked. Lol, this is one of those"dang I thought I took photos of that bit" moments. But here is a pie! 

    Inside corner of pie showing the flakiness of the pastry even when rolled paper thin.

    Now back to the "cream cheese pastry magic". Normally once you re-roll puff or rough puff pastry you lose more of your "puff" each time your re-roll  ... however the cream cheese in this pastry is far more forgiving and allows you to re-roll many times and not lose the rise. Example above is fourth roll out of scraps and you are still getting this height after the pastry was "scrunched" and re-rolled. 

    Bread baking next Rose's Alpha Bakers bake.

    Happy Baking :) 

    Would I bake again? Yes and no... pastry yes... this would make a wonderful savoury pie crust. As a fruit pie no, but I do want to try other fruit pies from Rose's books there could be a "game changer" in there. 

    Would I change anything?  No, it tasted fine and I guess that's what a berry pie should taste like, I suppose, not sure ha ha.  

     How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    The Baking Bible available from Amazon and all discerning book retailers. 

    you might also be interested a fondant pie cupcake ... it has blackbirds :)

    Sunday
    Jul192015

    Kourambiethes Rose's Alpha Bakers

    Kourambiethes (Greek Biscuits) 'The Baking Bible'

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    Aristotle wore an icing sugar moustache. 

    With a portly build and chubby hands, I was trying not to stare at the child sized more like a four year old than the eighteen month year old his parents professed him to be. That's how it began, my first after school job babysitting Aristotle in the back of the Greek delicatessen. 

    It was pre Christmas rush, time for freshly baked Kourambiethes. Trays of snowy white crescents and clove dotted balls drifted past, aromas of spiced oranges and roses trailing in the air... then again, it could have been Aristotle's breath!

    Today's bake from 'The Baking Bible' is Kourambiethes (Greek biscuits/cookies), a light shorbread usually made with the Greek brandy Metaxa in the recipe (orange juice if going alcohol free), with or without nuts these are always delicious and never more so than Rose's recipe that uses whipped clarified butter.  

    The recipe starts with clarifying the butter. Lots of butter!!

    Cubed butter is melted.

    Foam can be skimmed off the top of melted butter as your going if desired, using a spoon or a small slotted spoon being careful not to remove too much of the butter.

    Butter is strained through the muslin to remove all milk solids. 

    Chilled clarified butter is unmoulded ready to be chopped, transferred to a mixing bowl with icing sugar.

    My butter weight was short, perhaps due the ummm, zillion (or at least six) folds I made in the muslin. I had to melt more butter to strain to make up weight. I used food safe muslin, using food safe muslin rather than fabric from a fabric store ensures no chemicals unsafe for human consumption are used.

    Oh, better toast the almonds... these are what Australian's call slivered almonds this may differ in other countries, but it's what I toasted and then chopped.

    toasted chopped almonds

    Ten minutes mixing and you have a white fluffy butter mixture, egg yolks, brandy, vanilla are added before the chopped toasted almonds are mixed in and finally the flour and baking powder.

    After chilling the biscuit mixture is shaped into balls (I made the traditional crescent shapes too).

    Often garnished with a whole clove, you see these cookies at Christmas time and Pascha (Greek Easter), though I have had them at Greek Weddings too. 

    Keeping with tradition, I added a whole clove to the center of the round cookies. Despite the "tooth ache drops" smell when you open your cloves pack it won't taste like that once baked, what you get is a lovely touch of spice and a gentle spice aroma. 

    Wish you could taste these, the texture is so light and airy! Don't forget to remove your clove :)

    Would I bake again? Yes, love the light airy texture the clarified butter brings.

    Would I change anything? Yes, I like stronger flavours so I would add either rose water, orange water and orange zest. Salt... I'd add salt, all a bit sweet. Spices; would be nice with nutmeg, cardamom or experiment with teas and coffee. Break with tradition and change the nuts, have a peanut Greek biscuit, pipe on chocolate or perhaps top warm pistachio biscuits with freeze dried cherry dust. 

    How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    The Baking Bible available from Amazon and all discerning book retailers. 

    You never know when you will need to make a fondant toe... a Cinderella stepsister toe cupcake

    Sunday
    Jul122015

    Molasses Crumb Cakelets Rose's Alpha Bakers

    molasses crumb cakelets 'The Baking Bible'

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    Golden Syrup is treacle, black molasses is a treacle and yes, "treacle" is a umm "treacle'. For today's Molasses cakes I'm using treacle... confused? Lol, sometimes it's like that baking from country to country. Lets look to Wikipedia for 'Treacle is any uncrystallised syrup made during the refining of sugar.' 

    treacle and golden syrup are acidic and that acidity reacts with the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) in the recipe resulting in your cakes rising. 

    treacle comes in different grades from a bitter black molasses to the usually charcoal filtered mellower and sweeter tasting golden syrup.

    Today's molasses cakelets are the same type of cake that in Australia your Nana baked using recipes left over from "harder times" where you may not have had eggs, butter and the like but always seemed to have a supply of treacle for cakes and puddings.  UK chefs still bake up a range of treacle baked treats, including treacle tart (golden syrup with loads of fresh lemon zest) to cocoa rich treacle cakes. Nut and date fruit loaves are still sold in supermarkets in Australia, egg and butter free they are vegan like today's cakes.

    I still bake these for my Dad, spiced date fruit loaves made in the distinct round sealed end pipe pans. 

    And you know who else knew all about treacle? The dormouse of course in Alice in Wonderland speaking of the three girls young girls living in the treacle well----

    `What did they live on?' said Alice, who always took a great interest in questions of eating and drinking.

    `They lived on treacle,' said the Dormouse

    These cute molasses cakelets are quick to make and are perfect for an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea, as part of a high tea or served warm smeared with butter and a strong cuppa on Sunday afternoon. They are quite sweet, so try serving with lemon tea to balance the flavour.   

    A quick batter to prepare, a sugar, oil, flour mixture has some removed and set aside to become the crumb topping. Treacle was added to remaining mix with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and boiling water.

    Into a jug for easy pouring into prepared mini muffin tins.

    Reserved "crumb" mixture tops the cake batter, baked for eight minutes.

    Slightly springy (usual for this type of cake) at first bite, gives way to soft and fluffy interior.  

    Happy Baking :) 

    Would I bake again?  yes, can't have enough quick pantry recipes... bonus they are vegan. 

    Would I change anything?  The sugar crumble, I wouldn't use it every time as it adds more sweetness than I prefer. I would freeze the topping mix to be added to oat fruit crumble topping and dip the tops of the small cakes into dark chocolate instead. Citrus zest and spices could also be added to the cake batter for a change or nut/choc chips/dried fruit would also work. 

    How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    The Baking Bible  available from Amazon and all discerning book retailers. 

    You might also be interested in gingerbread custard icecream. 

    Monday
    Jul062015

    Fourth of July Cheesecake Rose's Alpha Bakers 

    Today's post is Fourth of July Cheescake 'The Baking Bible' or "how I can wreck an amazing cheesecake with bad blueberries'

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    Ahhh I know better, I do, I do, don't use fruit/veg out of season.  And yet I went ahead and used the most expensive and awful winter blueberries with glass half full "oh, maybe it will be ok" mentality. It wasn't, ok that is.

    But, but, but it was the Fourth of July bake and kind of had to be (well did) have to be red, white and blue.

    I tasted the fresh blueberries, a locally grown winter crop. I was sad, they were bad (so I say apparently chanelling my inner Dr. Suess), that's when I decided to halve the recipe. Because we all know half a bad tasting blueberry topping is better than a full size???? Yep, I know doesn't make sense but at the time...

    "Hmmm" (this was me thinking), I don't have a half sized cheesecake pan, ok I would go with the mini cheesecake size like what I used for the Stilton Cheesecakes a few weeks ago... then I'd have the cooking time too.

    Divided (with a calculator, don't judge!!)

    Half the recipe makes exactly twelve mini cheesecakes. I prepared the pan, shortening on bases, disc of non stick baking paper and cooking spray the sides.

    exactly 12

    Half the red velvet cake batter ready to spread/baked in a flattish pan.

    I used a cookie cutter to cut cheesecake bases.

    Followed the rest of the recipe as in the full sized cheesecake by brushing bases with raspberry jam. Joined the base to the cake, made the dreamy creamy white chocolate frosting.

    Blueberries were bitter, yet tasteless with an "accidentally ate a garden weed" after taste. I made a compote with some of the blueberries hoping for sugar magic, there was no magic :( Now had blueberry compote that matched the fresh berries, it was bitter, yet tasteless with an "accidentally ate a garden weed" after taste.

    I spooned some compote onto frosted cheesecakes and topped with three whole berries (I only had 12 berries left whole) and got a friend to taste (keeping in mind I already knew berries were bad but there is always hope taste tester will love it!!!!)... yep, they didn't love it. A smiley face when they tasted the cheesecake and a "pulled face" when they got to berries.  

    Good news only enough berries for four cheesecakes and taste tester was appeased by taking the "naked" remaining cheesecakes home.  

    The cheesecake it's self is amazing, rich yet light in texture. The recipe is unusual with a higher proportion of sour cream to cream cheese and it's many egg yolks what you have is a "custard" a "cheesecake custard". A definite do again, ummm when it's summer here and blueberries are in season. 

    Australia Day is January 24th and our flag is red, white and blue too... perfect cheesecake for our summer celebration. 

    To see the full sized cheesecake with it's lovely blueberry topping 'Faithy' one of the other alpha bakers version here 

    Happy Baking :)

    How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what bread I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    The Baking Bible  is available from Amazon and all discerning book stores.

    Would I bake again? Yes, I want my step son (a passionate cheesecake lover) to try it. Definetly for Australia day too, the light texture is surprising and sure to be a hit. 

    Would I change anything? I will invest in a half sized cheesecake pan... American cheesecakes are huge compared to what we usually have here.  

    You might also be interested in making a fondant raven or crow for Poe

    Thursday
    Jul022015

    Prosciutto Ring

    proscuitto ring; a coarse rustic bread just waiting to be ripped apart. 

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    This is my first monthly post for 'The Bread Bible' by award winning cookbook author Rose Levy Beranbaum. 

    Excited by the opportunity to learn more about bread baking, my Grandfather and Great Uncle were both Master Bakers that owned their own bakery in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. The bakery sold cakes, pies, pastries but were especially known for their bread. My Great Uncle taught/lectured at the culinary university in Melbourne, particularly on the subject of wheat production. 

    I never met my Grandfather who died before I was born, some say that my love of baking is in my genes. I believe it's belng raised hearing about tales of the bakery from my Dad and Aunt that sparked my love of cooking. 

    20 years ago I ate some salami ... yep, and in 2009 my step son made chocolate bacon for a school exams and I tried that, but since this is my first bread bake from 'The Baking Bible' I'm commited to the "meat" for this loaf. Lets start with the lard. 

    Lard:  despite its reputation, lard has less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat, and less cholesterol than an equal amount of butter by weight. Unlike many margarines and vegetable shortenings, unhydrogenated lard contains no trans fat.  wikipedia

    With the resurgance of traditional British recipes for the last decade (which I love!!) and favour with chefs world wide, the demand for good quality lard continues. The neutral flavour, high smoke point, lower saturated fat product is produced from swine fat. Often combined with butter to produce light and crispy pastry, lard is tradionally used in fruit studded Welsh and Lardy cakes to crispy roast potatoes.

    Today's bread is a "lard bread" but is also brushed with bacon fat. Here I am making wet-rendered bacon fat, this is how you make lard too. Bacon fat is put in a saucepan (or slow cooker if you are making a lot) and boiled with water until the fat releases/melts. On cooling I skimmed the bacon fat off ready to be remelted to brush on the loaf. 

    wet-rendered bacon fat

    The prosuciutto loaf contains three meats, prosucitto, pepperoni and hot sopressata (a dry salami). Rose suggests baked ham or even turkey ham can be substituted if desired.

    I used prosuciutto, salami and bacon... because I had bacon meat left over from producing the bacon fat. 

    prosuciutto, probably should have been cut a little thicker than this

    salami I used... couldn't anything close to hot sopressata without going to the city to get it

    Flour, yeast, black pepper and barley malt syrup were combined before salt, warm water and lard are added. All done in the KitchenAid, but there is hand and food proceesor instructions in the book too. 

     lard brought to room temperature is spreadable and in fact is still used in parts of europe as alterative to butter.

    Dough once meat has been added.

    The dough is rested briefly before rolling into a sausage shape and formed into a ring and brushed with cooled melted bacon fat.

    Bake in a hot oven, before reducing heat and transferring directly to baking stone for further baking, the kitchen aroma reminded me of the local pizzeria. Once removed from the oven the loaf is then brushed with bacon fat again and left to cool.

    Taste, well it's surely "meaty"... the bread itself is fabulous, serve this rustic loaf as part of antipasto platter, accompany with a green salad and you have a picnic brunch, lunch for the family or a light dinner with a bottle of red to wash it all down. 

    Would I bake again? Yes, I can imagine using up leftover Christmas ham etc in this bread for a boxing day brunch perhaps.

    Would I change anything? Oh, I'd love to give a vegetarian version a try. Charred grilled veg, little pesto... maybe some pinenuts too. Sundried tomatoes, feta and kalamata olives would be good too... add a handful of fresh herbs. 

    How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what bread I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Bread Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

     The Bread Bible  available from Amazon and where all good books are sold.

    You might like Toblerone Dessert in 30 minutes. 

    Tuesday
    Jun302015

    Sugar, Sugar … White Sugar Chart

                                   Love bite 'The Simpsons' cupcake

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    Years have gone by since I last saw an episode of 'The Simpsons', yet I nevertheless felt a sense of melancholia at the news Season 27 will see Marge and Homer legally separate... but hopefully it won't be for long. 

    Homer made me think of donuts, donuts made me think of icing and icing made me think of white sugar... so here we are a white sugar chart.

    1. White sugar (granulated) 2. Caster/Castor (superfine) 3. Pure icing sugar (pure confectioners sugar) 4. Icing sugar mixture (confectioners sugar with corn starch) 5. Pearl sugar (sugar nibs, hail sugar) 6. Snow sugar (snow powder) 7. &  8. Sanding sugar 

    1. White sugar (granulated), the most commonly used and versatile sugar of the bunch and in a pinch you can process granulated sugar into caster or icing sugar. White granulated is the sugar that you will use in much of your cake baking. With an approximate granule size of 0.5mm (0.19 inch) white sugar is the perfect size to aerate you cake batters. Use it to make toffee/pulled sugar work, caramel, cookies, confectionary and to sweeten your latte when you have decorating fatigue! 

    white sugar is used to make dropped sugar work (how to make toffee toppers here

    2. Caster sugar (superfine), is a used extensively in UK, Australian, New Zealand baking. With an approximate granule size of 0.35 (0.13 inch) it's what you use when you need your sugar to dissolve quickly, don't want to develop a sugar crust or need to dissolve in a cold liquid such as cocktails or punch. Using caster sugar in pavlovas will prevent the weeping that can occur with undissolved sugar crystals. 

    caster sugar is used in the blackberry bash meringue (recipe here)

    3. Pure icing sugar (pure confectioners sugar). I use this the most in cake decorating, it's what I use to make my icings, for dusting, piping and for rolling fondant out on. Pure icing sugar is granulated white sugar ground to a powder, it has no additives so is perfect for royal icing work, and sets to a firm finish when making a heated glace icing. It is however "lumpy" without the additives to separate the tiny granules and will always need to be sifted.

    glace icing like I used today in the Love bite cupcake and this raspberry cupcake (recipe here)

    4. Icing sugar mixture (confectioners sugar). Hate sifting or have young cake decorating kids? This is the icing mixture for you with no lumps, fuss or need for sifting. Soft icing sugar mixture is comprised of 96% cane sugar and 4% tapioca or maize starch in Australia. You cannot use icing sugar mixture for royal icing work as the starches can develop mould. The starches also inhibit "setting" that you get with heated pure icing sugar. 

    pure icing sugar and soft icing mixture

    5. Pearl sugar (nibs, hail sugar), is a popular European sugar. Pearl sugar is resistant to melting so you will see it used topping brioches, choquettes and yeasted buns. My step son Daniel and I love this sugar for it's crunch and the touch of sweetness that it adds without being overly sweet. 

    6. Snow sugar (snow powder, everlasting sugar). Another popular European sugar, snow sugar is the sugar you use at Christmas for your stollens, snowy Christmas cookies and the like. Shipping your aunt a batch of cookies? snow sugar will ensure they will be as white and snowy as when you packed them. Perfect for stencilling too as your pattern won't disappear. Ingredients in snow sugar differ a little brand to brand, the one I use has a little cornstarch, dextrose and vegetable fat added to pure icing sugar.  It has a less sweet mouth feel than icing sugar alone. 


    pearl sugar used in recent brioche post 

    snow sugar is perfect for Christmas stollens and stencilled sugar designs

    7. and 8. Sanding sugar, coarse white sugar available in different grades. With a sparkly finish, sanding sugar is used for decorating cakes, cookies and sprinkled on raw shortbreads/butter cookies before baking. Sanding sugar comes in a wide range of colours to suit any occassion including Halloween!! 

    black sanding sugar glistens on Halloween cupcake

    Happy Baking :)  

    Monday
    Jun292015

    Praline Pecan Meringue Ice Cream Sandwiches Rose's Alpha Bakers

    Praline Pecan Meringue Ice Cream Sandwich 'The Baking Bible'

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    A quick, easy and gluten free go to ice cream sandwich biscuit (cookie) today. 

    I've made brown sugar meringues and meringue ice cream sandwiches before, but it's the combo of brown muscovado sugar and toasted pecans in these cookies that instantly turns a scoop of ice cream into a portable ice cream sundae.

    The recipe called for light muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar, my local Woolies had light and dark muscovado on special this week... and I thought I got one of each, but nah I grabbed two dark muscovado's by mistake so dark it is.  

    If you haven't used muscovado before, it has a wonderful aroma and unique treacle-y flavour that is unmatched in the world of sugars. 

    Start by toasting your pecans, then leave half whole and chop the rest into small pieces.

    Muscovado sugar and egg whites are whipped until thick and light, the cooled pecans are folded in. I divided the mixture as this stage and added choc chips to one half... just because, well "chocolate" hello!  

    Scoops are put on your lined baking tray and gently shaped to discs with a spatula. 

    Baked, cooled and filled with your favourite ice cream flavour, home made or store bought. Rose includes a recipe for 'Rose Blend Ganache Piping Glaze' for topping the ice cream sandwiches, a lovely white/dark ganache mixture that I didn't pipe I more did the "strewn" thing... delicious either way.  

    Think of pairing the biscuits with salted caramel ice cream, bourbon banana for a banana foster ice cream sandwich, chocolate (of course), burnt caramel fig ice cream, coffee (not the sweet Vietnamese coffee type, but rather an Italian espresso type to counter cookie sweetness) or just a scoop of classic vanilla. 

    The meringue mix can also be baked as cookies, just bake in scooped shape for chubby, light and crisp with squidgy centres.  

    Would I bake again? A definite yes!! Loved these cookies, with only three ingredients (or four if you add chocolate) we all need a quick pantry staple cookie. Fabulous they are gluten free.

    Would I change anything? Umm, if I added chocolate I would use a darker higher cocoa ratio variety to play against the sweetness... otherwise no.  

    How it works... now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a week I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    Happy Baking :)

    The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum is available from Amazon and where all good books are sold. 

    And for something totally different...  Squid ink grisini recipe.  

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