Archive for April, 2010

This month’s bakers challenge was hosted by Esther from The Lilac Kitchen. She has chosen a traditional english pudding. What’s that you say?  A pudding to the Brits means many things. When my sister lived in England I visited her many times and discovered that they pretty much called all desserts pudding. I still have a recipe from a Waitrose magazine for a summer pudding, which is really just a bowl or mold lined with white bread and filled with fresh summer berries. The juices from the berries soaked into the bread and it was then un-molded a day later. Come to think of it, I must remember to try that one this summer… Then there is  the Christmas pudding, a kind of steamed fruitcake, but not my cup of tea.
As Esther says:
Some of you will know about the British and the word pudding but for those that don’t we use the word for many things:
1) Black pudding and white pudding a sort of meat and grain sausage. Black pudding uses blood as well as meat.
2) Pudding — a generic word for desert
3) Pudding — any dish cooked in a pudding bowl or pudding cloth normally steamed, boiled but sometimes baked.
4) An endearment i.e., “How are you today my pudding?”
The savory puddings have a pastry that is lined into the mold and then filled – steak and kidney pudding anyone? The secret ingredient in the pastry being suet, which is the fat found on the inside of a cow or sheep around the kidneys. Since I haven’t touched beef in at least 30 years I have opted out of making the suet version. They do make a vegetable suet  or you could use Crisco but I am going with a butter version sponge. 

I have used yellow mangoes in this recipe. They are also called Philippine mangoes and they are much tastier than the red or green mangoes that you normally find in a local supermarket. They are at every Asian market here and even in the Superstore. Try an international market or ask your produce man if he can get them. They are fantastic!

I was actually excited to try this as I have an old pudding mold that I picked up at a garage sale at one time or another. It has a tight fitting lid with it but to make sure I also covered the top of the mold with 2 sheets of foil before placing the lid on. If you are not lucky to own such a contraption, don’t fret, you can use an ordinary ceramic bowl. Just make sure that it is deep enough. Cover tightly with foil and secure with kitchen twine, leaving yourself a “handle”  made out of twine on top so you can lift it out when it’s done. I then used a metal steamer basket placed in the bottom of a big pot and added about 2 inches of water.Other than this step,  we are talking about one easy dessert to whip up. Alright, so maybe whip up isn’t the right phrase since you have to steam it for 2 hours, but the prep time is minutes. All you have to remember is to  replace some of the water every once and while so the pot doesn’t run dry.
In a saucepan over medium heat, add:
1 1/4 C  (10 oz, 285 g) yellow mangoes, diced
1/4 C (2 oz, 58 g) light brown sugar
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside

For the pudding:

1/2 C (120g, 4 oz)  Butter, room temp

1 C (120g) Caster Sugar or Superfine sugar

1 C ( 120g ) AP Flour

1 1/4 tsp Baking Powder

3/4 C (2.9 oz, 81 g) Desiccated(unsweetened)  Coconut

2 Eggs, beaten

1 tsp coconut extract

How To:

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift the flour and add to the creamed mixture along with the desiccated coconut and egg, a little at a time, beating well. Put the mango mixture in the base of a buttered 1.1 litre mold. basin, or bowl and pour the sponge mixture carefully over the syrup.Level it out with a small spatula. Cover securely and steam for 1 ½ – 2 hours. Turn out and serve as is, or with custard

As you can see, I covered it with foil  before placing the lid on it.

You can still easily try this with just a bowl, tightly covered

If you want to try one made with suet, just ask your butcher to get save you some.

There is a ton of info out there on steamed puddings, whether made with suet or not. Here is just a sampling:

Delia Smith shows you how to make suet pastry with step-by-step photos here:


Video of the whole process of making a suet crust pudding.

Video of making a steamed pudding:


A very good place to find recipes for many British puddings is the Pudding Club website http://www.puddingclub.com/.

Steamed Pudding: http://www.puddings.net/desserts/puddings/steamedpuddings/preparing.shtml.

into the pot it goes...

Mrs Beeton of course had many suet based puddings in her book and thefoody.com lists many of them. Some are described as boiled but nearly all can be steamed in a bowl in the same way as the recipe given here including Staffordshire Fig Pudding: (http://thefoody.com/mrsbpudding/staffordshire.html), boiled raisin Pudding (http://thefoody.com/mrsbpudding/boiledraisin.html), Boiled Rhubarb Pudding (http://thefoody.com/mrsbpudding/rhubarbpudding.html), ginger pudding (http://thefoody.com/mrsbpudding/gingerpudding.html) and several more.

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For some reason I’ve been on a cookbook craze lately. While I am always reading one cookbook or another, I have actually been trying some of the recipes during the past few weeks. It’s surprising that there so many bad recipes out there in cookbook land. There is one I am going through now that I actually wrote to the editor with discrepancies within  the particular cookbook, once in the measurements and another with the photos. I am not saying what the title of the book is because there are some really good recipes in there as well and I wouldn’t want to give it a bum rap, but it was annoying to make a recipe based on the picture to have it turn out to be something completely different.

Meanwhile.. have I mentioned that I received a new digital scale during the holidays? I’ve wanted one for some time for baking bread and now realize how much I love it for everything!

my Kintrex digital scale

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t whip up almost any recipe without one, but it is true that every cup of flour measures (or I should say weighs) differently. A cup (by volume) of flour is almost 1/2 oz less if it’s sifted versus scooped.  Variations in flour weight can effect the outcome so the end result is never the same. If you want consistency, invest in a small digital scale and you will never look back.  You will be surprised at how inaccurate measuring cups can be. Keep in mind that it tends to be difficult to weigh small amounts on some scales which is why under 2 Tbsp it is usually given by volume. Anyway, that’s my latest thing…

Back to cookbooks. This recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, which is a visually stunning book with some really nice ideas in it. This is the first recipe I’ve made out of it so I can’t comment on the actual content yet, but we’ll see over the next 2 weeks how many I can get through. I did make some changes in the recipes which I will put next to the original recipe. Overall, this was a good cupcake but it didn’t taste very much like chai, which is why I made some revisions to it. See for yourself.

Warm over a stove and let steep together for 15 minutes:
3/4 C milk (6 oz) Milk
2 bags black tea (I used 2 bags of Chai)
Let cool completely

1 C (4 1/2 oz, 250 ml) all-purpose flour
1 C (4 1/2 oz, 250 ml) cake flour (not self rising)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

spices galore!

1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 Tbsp butter (2 oz) unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 C (6 oz, 187 ml) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temp

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F. Line the muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together both flours,baking powder, salt, pepper and spices.
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each one is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. If using a mixer, turn down to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the tea-infused milk, beating until just combined after each. At this point I also added 1/4 C sour cream to give it a tiny bit more  richness, but that is completely optional.
Divide the batter among the lined cups, filling each one 3/4 of the way up. I got 16 cupcakes out of mine.Bake, rotating the tins halfway through, until they are a pale golden, about 20 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and let cool completely.


1/2 C (4 oz, 115 gl) unsalted butter, room temp
8 oz (250 g) cream cheese, room temp (You could also use mascarpone cheese if you have any on hand)
1/4 C (2 oz) honey
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c (4 oz) finely chopped crystallized ginger

Blend the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the honey, mix again, then the ginger. This can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

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going back in the oven for their 2nd bake...

I cannot resist the urge to take a recipe and tweek it somehow to make it better (at least in my own mind). This is no doubt how all recipes are born and luckily chefs and bakers all around the world are continually doing this to create “new” and more interesting recipes for our ever-changing palettes. Which is also the reason why we love a simple dish as well – how about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a bowl of perfectly cooked pasta with marinara? 

For this recipe I only made one change, and it’s really just a matter of preference. The original recipe called for whole almonds and I opted for sliced. The only reason is that I find it much easier to slice them than going through whole almonds, to make a cleaner slice. So, it’s your choice to use what you want, or have on hand. Be sure to lightly toast them first to bring out their flavor. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, or until you start to smell them. Just don’t let them burn!!! If that happens you have no choice but to throw them away as they will taste burnt and bitter. 

Biscotti may not be the prettiest of cookies to look at, but who says things have to look pretty to taste great? This is another fantastic recipe from The Craft of Baking. The flavors work so well together and the cornmeal adds just the right amount of texture to it. Simple, but perfect. 

a quick grind in the mortar and pestle for the anise seeds

1 C ( 3.5 oz, 100 g) blanched sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1 C  (4.3 oz, 120 g) sugar
1/2 C (4 oz, 114 g) butter
2 tsp anise seeds, ground
2 eggs
1 1/2 C  ( 6.75 oz, 195 g) flour
1/2 C ( 2.25 oz, 65 g) corn meal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C ( 4.8 oz), 135 g) dried cherries 

Beat the butter, sugar and ground seeds until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time,scraping down the sides of the bowl in between each addition. Whisk together dry ingredients then add to wet. Stir in the cherries and almonds. 

shape into logs before baking

 Shape into 2 logs and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, then slice and lay cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 250 for 1 hour 

enjoy with a cup of coffee

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Happy Spring!

We’ve had a very busy morning already. As soon as my daughter Scarlet woke up, she was ready to go and look for easter eggs. After finding her basket I was able to get things ready for our brunch at our friends house. I popped some cherry white chocolate and blueberry 7 grain scones that were in the freezer into the oven and set about making some frosting for the cupcakes.  I made the cupcakes last night and since it it spring (or I should say springtime in the Rockies, it was still 2C this morning) I went with Coconut Raspberry cupcakes. The bunnies are made out of chocolate and are so easy and fun to do. You just need some chocolate melts (I am using Wilton), a few disposable plastic piping bags (or parchment paper), a piece of acetate and a drawing of your choice.
You just need to remember that you are working in reverse so put your colors down accordingly. These bunnies having only three colors of  brown, pink, and white.
Lay the acetate over your drawing and pipe a drop of pink for the nose. Then outline the rest in the dark chocolate. 

Let this set for about 10 minutes then pipe in the pink to the inside the ear. Again, let this set for about 10 minutes.  Get the bag filled with the white chocolate and pipe over the entire picture making sure that it touches the outline all the way around. Let it sit until dry (at least an hour) and you are done! Once you flip these over the side that was against the acetate (which is now you front) is now all smooth, nice and shiny. 

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I recently had the book The Craft Of Baking out from the library and had the chance to try a few of their wonderful recipes. The author is the former pastry chef from the NYC restaurant Craft (worth the visit if you are there). One of the best recipes in the book is the cream scones- really outrageous. This is my variation on their recipe….

You need some type of 7 grain oatmeal cereal. I am using Wheat Montana old-fashioned 7 grain cereal but I am sure something similar would do the trick. I ground some in my coffee grinder to make it a flour. While many people have a separate grinder for these type of things, I do not. So, I put a half slice of bread, torn up, into my grinder and whirl it a few seconds and then dump out the crumbs. This cleans out your grinder of any residual coffee grounds and/or odors. I do this step before and after I use it for something else.


1 C All purpose flour
1/2 C ground 7 grain cereal
3 Tbsp whole 7 grain cereal
1 Tbsp ground flax-seed
1 Tbsp whole flax-seed
1 /4 C + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp cold unsalted Butter, cut up into small pieces
1 C heavy cream (34-36%)
1 tsp real vanilla
1/2 C dried blueberries, soaked in water for 5 minutes then drained

To Brush on top of Scones: 2 Tbsp cream and 1 Tbsp sugar

Mix together the dry ingredients and then add the butter. Put the entire bowl into the freezer for 5 minutes. Take it out and mix on low with your stand mixer (or by hand) for 3 minutes, or until the butter resembles very small pebbles. Add the blueberries, vanilla, and cream and mix until it just comes together. Put it out onto a lightly floured counter and pat into a circle, approximately 7 inches round and 3/4 inch thick. Slice into wedges –  I usually make 12 but that is up to you. Place these into the freezer for 15 minutes while you pre-heat your oven to 375 F.  Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and lightly brush each one with some cream and then a sprinkle of sugar. Bake for 20 minutes.

You also have the option of not baking them and keeping a batch in the freezer. After about 45 minutes in the freezer just place them in a ziplock bag and bake when needed. Place the frozen scones right into a hot oven and add another 5 minutes to the baking time. This is a great option so you can always have some on hand. I have 3 different varieties in my freezer right now!

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