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    Entries in baking (56)

    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

    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. 

    Sunday
    Aug282016

    Cinnamon Raisin Loaf: Rose's Bread Bible Bakers

    Cinnamon Raisin Loaf 'The Bread Bible' 

    Join me on Facebook    Fondant and chocolate work coming up in September.   

    It's almost Christmas, or so said a facebook count down post this week and this cinnamon raisin loaf from Rose Levy Beranbaum would be just the thing for Christmas or an anytime brunch.   

    It started with making a sponge... flour, water, honey and yeast were whisked until a thick airy batter was achieved. 

    The "sponge" is a yeast starter. I did mine in the mixer. 

    Next flour, dry milk powder and yeast were whisked together and sprinkled over the sponge. 

    Off it goes now to ferment, for 1 to 4 hours. 

    Bubbles broke through the flour blanket at the end of the fermenting stage.

    Onto the mixer now where softened butter is added to the fermented flour mixture and beaten until a rough dough forms. 

    A short rest follows, for that dough that is, but you do have time to get a cup of tea now. 

    Back to the mixer, salt is added and the dough beaten to it forms a smooth and shiny ball. 

    Yup, another short rest here. 

    And back to the mixer to add the raisins. I used a mixture of sultanas and currants. 

    After the raisins are added your dough goes off for a couple of hours to do the rising thing. Time for much tea or maybe a yoga class now. 

    Back from yoga and it's time turn out the dough, form a rectangle, business letter fold the dough whilst maintaining as much air a possible.  

    Covered, the dough goes into the fridge for now for an hour to firm up. I left mine for 24 hours at this stage to develop flavour. 

    Make your cinnamon sugar mixture.

    The dough is rolled out to the specified size in the book, Rose's recipe makes two loaves I made many mini loaves because we know I just like "mini food". 

    Beaten egg is brushed onto the rolled dough, cinnamon sugar is sprinkled on leaving a border unsugared. 

    Roll up you dough, just like we did for the sticky caramel buns last month. Place your rolled dough into greased tins to rise for one to two hours. 

    Time to bake!

    When the loaves are removed from oven and still in tins, melted butter is brushed on. 

    Sssshhhh! You aren't supposed to cut your hot bread but here is the a hot mini loaf with the cut crust off, wanted to see if the spiral worked. 

    Fantastic texture in this bread! Toasts beautifully, however it does burn quickly so keep an eye on it.

    I served mine toasted with fresh cheese, berries and maple syrup but it was equally delicious toasted with butter. I liked it fresh and unadorned too reminded me of panettone, a nice one not the slightly dodgy ones the supermarket sells at Christmas. 

    Would I change anything? No, perfect how it was.  

    Want another flavour? Rose has a savoury version in the book and suggests you can leave out the dried fruit if preferred.  A friend suggested candied peel could be added, yes if you like peel go for it. I think chopped dried dates, orange zest and swapping out the cinnamon for cardamom would result in lovely loaf. A versatile enriched base dough suits many flavour combinations.  

    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 be interested in  A Trip to the Moon (French: Voyage dans la Lune) cupcake

    Sunday
    Jun122016

    Flaky Scones: Rose's Bread Bible Bakers

    Flaky Scones 'The Bread Bible' 

    Blame it on the Vegemite?? I'm feeling particularly like I'm from a foreign land, with these rich, flaky and moist (American) scones. The scones are nothing like the scones we, or the Country Women's Association bake in Australia.

    I found these scones far, far too rich with cream and butter for my palate. A country to country difference perhaps, after all I start my day with black salty yeast paste spread liberally on toasted bread.  

    The flaky scones began with whisking together flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb (baking soda), salt. I added the zest of a lemon too.  

    Chilled cubed butter was added by pressing with my fingertips to form large flakes. Cream was stirred in until the mixture was moistened and starting to come together in large clumps.

    Currants were then added and after a brief knead the dough was turned out onto a board.

    1. Sultanas 2. currants 3. raisins... the three mainstay dried grapes in Australia. Currants are my favourites! The first written record of the thin skinned tiny grapes was in 75 AD, making them one of the oldest raisin varieties. The currants I used today are from the Carina varietal, a tangy plump currant perfect for currant buns and scones.

    Back to the scone dough which is rolled out into a 8x12 inch rectangle.  

    The dough is folded in thirds, rotated, rolled out again this step is repeated three more times. Refrigerating between turns for 15 minute intervals if your pastry is becoming too soft and sticking. 

    My friends daughter Emma told me this week that high school Food technology does not let you make scones or muffins due to the processes being too simple, I would presume the lamination of these scones would make them the exception to that rule. What you are doing here is similar to making rough puff, trapping those steam producing cold butter flakes in the dough.  

    Now it's time for cutting, your pastry is trimmed and cut into 2 pieces measuring 4 inches by 12 inches. Rose calls for triangles, four in total to be cut from each piece. Scraps are re-rolled and cut. 

    I cut two round scones from the scrapes (the traditional shape of scones in Australia) with my vintage, well and truly vintage cutter. It wasn't only cooking I learnt at technical trade (alternative high school), I also had shop classes like woodwork and sheet metal... been using this scone cutter every since. 

    Bake!! The scones are baked on baking trays placed on a pre heated baking stone or tray in a hot oven until golden. The resulting scones are moist, flaky but yet "substantial", my Mum would have said "rib sticking". Deep golden bottoms and lightly golden flaky top with a moist and flaky interior, these scones are best eaten warm or reheated following Rose's instructions.

    Flaky scones might not be my cup of tea but they could be yours! That is the great thing about Rose's 'The Bread Bible' and the subsequent Bread Bible Bakers group, trying out new recipes and you're sure to find something for everyone.  

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

    Happy Baking :)  

    You might also be interested in a food processor White Chocolate Plastique recipe

    You might also be interested in something savoury with Shark Nuggets 

    Friday
    May062016

    Blueberry muffins: Rose's Bread Bible Bakers

    going, going, gone.  blueberry muffins. 

     

    Going, going, gone!!   Well, I've just eaten my first ever blueberry muffin which coincides with my first blog post for the brand new bread baking group... 'Rose's Bread Bible Bakers'.

    Same format as previously; once a month baking from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Bread Bible'. However, this time there is a few new bakers and we are starting earlier in the book.  I'm so happy to be involved, and looking forward to sharing my experiences. 

    Oh and the rest of 'The Lone Baker' blog will continue as per usual with chocolate, fondant and the like. 

    "It's a quick bread" 

    In Australia I don't believe we generally think of muffins as quick breads or something to have for breakfast... it's more "like cakes, but not as good"... or at least that's how I think of them. I could count the muffins I've eaten in my life on one hand, until today that is when I've started the "other hand" with these ....

    Blueberry Muffins

    It began with butter, sugar and lemon zest being beaten together until light and fuffy. Egg and vanilla were added. 

    Then flour was whisked together with baking soda (bi-carb to Australians) and salt. 

    Oooo I know people that don't do the whisk or sift step (you know who you are!). Whisking makes for an even bake if the raising agent is evenly incorporated. 

    The flour mixture plus some sour cream were then folded alternatively into the whipped butter mixture.

    The resulting batter is thick.

    Blueberries Ok they were supposed to be tiny in season Maine blueberries, instead in Australia as blueberries are out of season I've used large frozen blueberries. 

    Once I folded through my "land of the giants" blueberries in their frozen state as to not stain the batter too much. I then used to an ice cream scoop to portion the batter into muffin cases. 

    Nutmeg laced sugar was scattered over the top of the muffins. 

    Rose called for fresh nutmeg, I used my microplane to grate a little nutmeg.

    Nutmeg fruit photo courtesy of wikipedia.

    Nutmeg fruit, contains this seed... the red you can see is "mace", under the mace is a seed similar to a stone fruit... that's the part that is dried and sold as nutmeg. 

    Here just starting to fill the empty cake pan holes with water as Rose suggests. 

    Then they were baked, five minutes longer for mine because they contained frozen berries.

     

    Eating time, bite through the buttery sugar crust into the open textured but soft and moist interior, where you pick up hint of lemon and a burst of warm blueberry (mine were giant bursts of blueberry!!). The nutmeg flavour is more of a whisper than a shout but adds a bit of the "oh what is that flavour?"

    Loved the blueberry muffins warm, not so much cold, so I'd eat them quick or reheat later on. Rose has reheat instructions in the book.

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

    Happy Baking :)  

    You might also be interested in individual chocolate pavlovas

    or no bake Speculoos (Biscoff) tarts

    Sunday
    Apr032016

    Sacaduros 'The Bread Bible' Alpha Bakers

    Sacaduros:  crisp crusted, soft interior dinner roll with a burst of salty butter. 

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    “But he who dares not grasp the thorn Should never crave the rose.” -Anne Brontë

    Dang, I had a "dinner roll shaping problem" this week. These little dinner rolls are Rose Levy Beranbaum's favourites from restaurant 'Daniel' New York. Thanks to the 'Bread Bible' I got to make them, firstly lets see what they are supposed to look like ....

    Serious eats has a fabulous gallery of bread baskets in New York, including the bread basket from restaurant 'Daniel'. You can see the sacaduros front left, those round rolls were what I was aiming for. Mine didn't have the "petal like" pulled up sides you see pictured here. Even though I experienced "folding fail" the resulting dinner rolls are so incredibly delicious I can live with my misshapen little fellas.  

    Here we go...

    Three quarters of a dough batch from Rose's 'Basic Hearth Bread' was called for so I started by whisking together bread flour, wholemeal flour, instant yeast, honey and warm water for the sponge (dough starter). 

    Bread flour combined with instant yeast was sifted over the sponge and left to ferment. 

    Sponge bubbling through the flour topping. 

    I used my Kitchen Aid to beat the sponge, flour and added salt into a dough then off to rise once more.

    Cubed butter and salt are needed for the filling.

    Fleur de Sel French salt: distinctly moist and often used as a finishing salt. 

    I also made a flavoured butter by adding fresh coriander, garlic, chilli and grated ginger to softened butter. The butter wasn't whipped as in the standard compound butter technique but rather the flavourings were beaten in with a wooden spoon as to not incorporate excess air. Form the butter into a square and refrigerate before cutting into cubes. 

    Time for pinching off 33 gram balls of dough (Rose recommended one at a time, I did four at a time... maybe my downfall part) and gently flattened balls into discs.  A half inch cube of butter and a pinch of fleur de sel on top of the butter are placed in the centre of each flattened ball.

    And then I started talking about napkins:  I'm presuming the folds in the rolls were inspired by Escoffier's famous "rose" fold napkin technique, including "pulling" up pieces to form petals. 

    Shaping the rolls; pull two sides of dough out and fold bringing them to the centre to cover the butter without squashing it down, then pull out the other two sides and bring to centre. Rotating the dough so a pointed end is facing you, repeat the folds.  Then in the written instructions there is "for the last two pulls, take only pinches of dough". The diagrams don't have this bit in my Kindle version. I was confused and also my dough did not want to stretch for those final two pulls. I tried to force it (yep, ok shouldn't do that) and ended up with my misshapen rolls that were placed upside down in a tray of flour. 

    About a third of the rolls burst in the oven and the butter leaked, these were my "I bet I could stretch that dough with brute force" ones.     

    At the end I had sacaduros with super thin hard and crunchy crusts that gave way to light and fluffy interiors with bursts of salty butter. Shaping aside these are the best bread rolls I have baked, so pleased with crust and interior texture. The long oven pre-heat and other tips within the book are yielding excellent results. 

    Would I bake again? Yes, loved them. You could do so many different butters/flavours by changing herbs and seasonings. From a straight garlic butter to a lime zest black pepper butter, lemon and dill, black olive, or vanilla salt and butter to go with your scallops and white fish. 

    Would I change anything? Yes, I wouldn't do the flour on top step, messy stuck in lipstick eating. Ha, ha if I folded them correctly next time that would be nice.  

    How it works... joining the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Bread Bible'. I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible available from Amazon and all discerning book sellers. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested in Toblerone dessert in 30 minutes

    Sunday
    Aug232015

    Woody's Black and White Brownies Rose's Alpha Bakers

    Woody's Black and White Brownies (with a touch of green) 'The Baking Bible'

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    Stuart's Brownie Review Stuart's video brownie review Flickr. 

    Little Stuart is eight years old and has autism, each week he asks me "is it chocolate yet?" This week it is chocolate!! Woody's Black and White Brownies. 

    Stuart wanted to take the brownies to school tomorrow, so the we had to veto the bourbon in the ganache topping and no nuts (nut free school).  This caused an hour or three problem as Stuart kept repeating "the recipe says bourbon" but we settled on mint largely due to Stuart loving 'Peppermint crisp' chocolate bars. :)

    peppermint crisp bar a popular chocolate bar in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa... often used in desserts. 

    Chocolate and butter were melted in a double boiler and scraped into the mixing bowl of the stand mixer.

    Cocoa and sugar were added and mixed until incorporated.

    Eggs and vanilla were beaten in, the mixture became thick and glossy.

    Cream cheese was added and beaten until small bits remained and the mixture was spread evenly in the lined baking pan. I added a handful of choc chips, well just to surprise Stuart really. 

    Hmm, I wondered at this stage were you supposed to be seeing the little bits of cream cheese?

    Brownies were baked until the batter was set one inch from the edge.

    Next was making the white chocolate custard base that would be a compontent of the white chocolate buttercream. I used small callettes so I didn't have to cut chocolate into pieces.

    I had never made a custard from melted white chocolate and butter until this recipe, interesting technique. 

    White chocolate and butter are melted over a double boiler.

    Whisked eggs are added and cooked until slightly thickened (you have custard), it's then strained and cooled.

    white chocolate custard ready to be cooled

    Butter is whipped until creamy, custard gradually mixed in. Beaten to stiff peaks form and covered and popped away for a couple of hours. 

    Frosting is them rebeaten briefly and vanilla added.

    Time to spread frosting on cooled brownie base. 

    Next up "dark chocolate ganache glaze", cream and chocolate are melted together (there is bourbon in this bit if you are using) and ganache is spread on frosting. I sprinkled the crushed peppermint crisp chocolate bars on top at this stage. 

    The brownies are back to fridge now to chill at least one hour before unmoulding and slicing.

    Straight from the fridge the texture is like this. The brownies are much easier to slice. Once returned to room temperature the white chocolate frosting is extremely soft and will squelch out as you bite. I'd like a firmer white layer more in line with denseness that is "a brownie". The brownie base is great, fudgy without being cloying. You can still see the little pieces of cream cheese, not sure what that is about but hey "it's good'.  

    Stuart studying his brownie, he absoloutely loved them... as did his Dad.

    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.

    Would I bake again? All the elements yes, but not together. Great tasting brownie. Great tasting white chocolate custard frosting. Just not the two together.  

    Would I change anything? Yes, I would make the brownie base alone and top with ganache. Maybe incorporate the cream cheese fully because it's not visually appealing.

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

    You might also be interested in chocolate twirly swirly decorations 

    Monday
    Aug172015

    Tiesen Sinamon (Welsh cinnamon cake) cupcakes

    Tiesen Sinamon (Welsh cinnamon cake) cupcakes

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    Ahhh ha ha, I love this metal Welsh dragon my step son Daniel gave me from his recent travels to Wales. 

    Wales; with a dragon on their flag, it's the birth place of my Uncle John, home of Dr. Who and according to fairy expert Janet Bord (is too such a person!!) the little folk abound in Wales.   Welsh flag

    Tiesen Sinamon is traditionally a round cinnamon cake topped with raspberry or apricot jam and spread with meringue. The cake is returned to the oven to brown the meringue. Here favourite my little one bowl cake recipe is spiced with cinnamon, filled with raspberry jam and topped with fluffy meringue (7 minute type) frosting before torching.  

    Tiesen Sinamon (Welsh cinnamon cake) cupcakes ... the one bowl method used here results in cake similar to the original Tiesen Sinamon texture. By all means substitute your go to buttercake cupcake recipe and add cinnamon if desired.  

    Preheat oven to 180C/350F 

    Line two 12 cup trays with paper liners (the small patty/fairy cake size... this a UK size, old Australia size and smaller than US cupcake)

    Ingredients

    125g butter (4.4oz) softened

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    2/3 cup (150g) castor sugar (superfine)

    3 eggs  room temperature

    1 1/2  cups (225g) self-raising flour

    1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 

    1/4 cup milk (60ml) room temperature

    Method

    In your mixer bowl with flat beater blade attached, beat butter, extract, sugar, eggs, sifted flour, cinnamon together & milk on low speed with an electric mixer until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium & beat for 3 minutes until smooth and pale in colour.

    Drop spoonfuls of mixture into the paper liners. Bake about 20 minutes. Allow to cool in tins for 5 minutes removing to a wire rack to cool.

    Fluffy Frosting
    Makes 3 cups
    • 1 cup white sugar (granulated)
    • 4 large egg whites

    Directions
    1. In the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar and egg whites. Place the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, and whisk until the mixture feels warm to the touch and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.
    2. Return the bowl to the mixer stand. With the whisk attachment, whip on high 
    3. until cooled, about 8 minutes. Use immediately.

    *If the weather is humid, you may need to beat the frosting for an additional minute in each step to stiffen it.

    Use a good store bought raspberry jam or make your own.... Raspberry Jam recipe Traditionally raspberry jam is "loose" (wetter) than say ummm "apricot". If you prefer a firm set jam use pectin sugar as per instructions. 

    To Serve

    Cut a small hole in to the top of each cooled cake. Fill the cavities with about one teaspoon of raspberry jam, top with a blob of meringue frosting (use a star piping tip if you prefer a less rustic looking cupcake) torch with a kitchen blow torch.  

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested in Raspberry and Orange Gluten Free Friands

    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

    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