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Archive for October, 2011

No Recipes today, just wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween. Here are a few pictures of some of the cookies I have been decorating for the season. The skull in the bottom right hand corner is actually a 3D white chocolate mold filled with gumdrops. I got the mold for $1.50 (!!!) at Michaels the other day; it is made by Wilton.

I also found these super easy to use transfer sheets for $1.49. It contained 8 transfers, so I thought that was a really good deal. These were purchased at Winner’s, which is the Canadian equivalent to TJ Maxx or Marshalls. The message here? always be on the lookout !!

What I really love about these is that ANYONE can do this- no previous experience necessary. What’s better than that? Baking from Scratch couldn’t be easier when you find fun decorating tools like this. Bake on!

Now off to prepare the little one for tonight…..

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Povitica

This months Bakers Challenge was hosted by Jenni from  The Gingered Whisk. She chose a fabulous eastern european  holiday bread called Povitica. I was really excited for this challenge since I attempted it last Christmas and wasn’t that excited over the results. I now know why.

Last years attempt

The secret to this amazing bread  is in the final rolling and assembly of the bread. It must be stretched paper thin and then you can roll it any number of ways to get exciting patterns on the inside when you slice it. I loved it so much I made it three different ways. The first go was filled with cream cheese and raspberries. It was like a yummy danish. The 2nd go was a savory version filled with carmelized onion, cheddar cheese and bacon. The entire loaf was devoured in one sitting by my husband and his friend! The 3rd go around was filled with a black cocoa paste, dark and chocolately without being sweet. All were divine and I will definitely be making this again (and again).

The recipe provided makes a staggering amount of dough, providing you with 4 loaves. I made the 1/2 and 1/4 versions, much more manageable for me (otherwise I would eat all four!). To get the full recipe please go to Jenni’s site to retrieve it. The traditional filling is made with ground walnuts so be sure to try that as well. The method to make the half and quarter batches are the same, just measure out your ingredients accordingly.  This looks long and complicated but I promise, it really isn’t complicated at all. Just read through everything before making it. Bake On!…

Carmelized Onion, Cheddar and Bacon

Half Batch Dough Ingredients (Makes two loaves each 1.25 lbs/565 grams)
To activate the Yeast:
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/4 ½ gm) Sugar
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/1½ gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
¼ Cup (60 ml) Warm Water
1 Tablespoon (15 ml/7 gm/¼ oz/1 sachet) Dry Yeast

Dough:
1 Cup (240 ml) Whole Milk
6 Tablespoons (90 ml/85 gm/3 oz) Sugar
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/9 gm/1/3 oz) Table Salt
2 Large Eggs
¼ Cup (60 ml/60 gm/½ stick/2 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
4 cups (960 ml/560 gm/19¾ oz/1¼ lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided

Topping:
¼ Cup (60 ml) Cold STRONG Coffee
1 Tablespoon (15 ml/14 gm/½ oz) Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter

Quarter Batch Dough Ingredients (Makes one loaf 1.25 lbs/565 grams)
To activate the Yeast:
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/2¼ gm) Sugar
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml/¾ gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Warm Water
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/3½ gm/0.125 oz/½ sachet) Dry Yeast

Dough:
½ Cup (120 ml) Whole Milk
3 Tablespoons (45 ml/43 gm/1½ oz) Sugar
¾ Teaspoon (3¾ ml/9 gm/0.17 oz) Table Salt
1 Large Egg
1 tablespoon (30 ml/30 gm/¼ stick/1 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz/0.62 lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided

To Activate Yeast:
 In a small bowl, stir together the specified amounts above and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 5 minutes

To Make the Dough:
 In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.
 In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk,  sugar, and the salt until combined.
 Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and half of the flour. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick.

 Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces if you are making the half portion.
 Place into an oiled bowl (s) , cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

 

Chocolate version

Fillings

Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling

1)
1 1/2 Cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons corn starch mixed with 4 teaspoons cool water
juice of 1 lemon

Bring the raspberries and sugar to a boil over medium heat; let gently boil for 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch water mixture and stir continuously for another 2 minutes. It will thicken slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Strain through a fine sieve to remove the seeds. Set aside.

2.)
8 oz block Cream Cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
1/2 Cup granulated sugar

Blend all together until smooth. When ready to assemble, spread the cream cheese mixture gently over the dough with an offset spatula. Repeat with the raspberry filling.

 

Chocolate filling

3 Tablespoons black cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons dutch process cocoa powder (if you can’t get black cocoa just use all dutch process)
1/2 Cup (4 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 Cup (4 oz)  heavy cream
1/4 Cup (4 oz) butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar and  cream. Make sure to get out any lumps. Add the melted butter, espresso powder, and salt. Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally. Let this cook for 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside to cool completely.

To Roll and Assemble the Dough:
 Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly). Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches (25½ cm by 30½ cm) in diameter. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 ½ ml/4 gm to 7 gm) of melted butter on top.I did not do this step as instructed. I own a very large plastic cutting board (20 x 26 inches) which worked perfectly for this and the dough did not stick to it at all.
 Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer. As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking. When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath. This is actually pretty easy to do

Spoon filling (see below for recipe) evenly over dough until covered

Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll, or the way I prefer, rolling in at each end until they meet in the middle. Experiment to your heart’s content! Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced. Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
 Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark.

Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Turn down the oven temperature to slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter. ( I did not do this for the savory version)
 Check the bread at 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, still in the bread pan. Remember, the bread weighs about 2.5 and it needs to be able to hold its own weight, which is difficult when still warm and fresh out of the oven. Allowing it to cool in the pan helps the loaf to hold its shape. It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife

Notes:
• You do not need to use an electric mixer for this recipe, but you can prepare the dough in one in you prefer.
• Scalded milk is an important step. It used to be used to pasteurize milk, so if your milk is raw, please make sure you do this step. If your milk has been pasteurized, scalding the milk will help to make the bread tender.
• The recipe calls for using a sheet on top of your workspace. This is not necessary, but you will find that it was easier to roll out the dough with one. The dough is very sticky, and using the lightly floured sheet helps to keep the dough from sticking too badly. It also helps that you can move the sheet around as you work, and you can also move to a clean area of the sheet for each loaf that you roll out. You will also find that you will be able to roll the dough out thinner with the use of a sheet. The sheet is also used for rolling the Povitica up, but again, it is not necessary. And all the dough and filling goo washes out perfectly, so no problems there! If you decide not to use a sheet, a pastry scraper will come in very handy when you roll up your dough.
• There are two ways that you can roll the dough up. If you watch this video , you can see that the sheet is lifted and used as momentum for rolling the dough up. This technique takes a bit of finesse, but I encourage you to try it out. However, the dough can be rolled up by hand, like you would if you were making cinnamon rolls.
• There are several different ways that you can finish off your loaves before baking it. You can use either egg whites or melted butter,  or brush it with strong coffee and sugar like in the original recipe.

Raspberry Cream Cheese

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Eggnog Pumpkin Angel Biscuits

Busy baking? Yes
Lazy blogger? Always
I swear, I’ve been baking. We had a small army of tomatoes from the community garden so I made a pate brisee dough, placed half in the freezer for a later use, and rolled the other half out and into a tart pan. No need to blind bake with this one. I brushed the bottom of the shell with a smoky red pepper spread, then a layer of ricotta cheese (mixed with a few egg yolks and some grated parmesan), and topped the whole thing off with layers of thickly sliced tomatoes. It was baked in a 375 oven for 40 minutes, till it was hot and bubbly. Soooo good for dinner with a tossed salad. Oh, and did I mention all of the Halloween cookies that I am getting ready? That will be a post for next week….

I still had some pumpkin puree left over from the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie that needed to get used. I kept thinking that I would make a pumpkin cranberry bread pudding, but I just was not in the mood for something sweet (what???). Angel biscuits are what I made instead. I am calling these Eggnog pumpkin angel biscuits since I just started making these and realized I didn’t have buttermilk for the liquid, but what I did have in the fridge was eggnog! It’s been a long time since I made these so I can’t give an actual taste comparison but I can tell you that they are outstanding when made with eggnog. There are many reasons to love these biscuits. You can whip up the dough the night before and wake up the next morning and bake them fresh out of the oven. I actually did it two ways. First I made the dough, placed it in the fridge for 1 hour, rolled it out, cut them and placed half in the oven for dinner. The other half (already rolled,cut,and  brushed with butter) in the fridge over night and baked them the next day. Equally delicious. these are also great because they are not sweet so they are great with some butter and jam,  as a cream cheese/jam sandwich (which is how my daughter likes them), or filled with smoked  Bavarian sausage (which is how my hubby liked them). I think they  would be great with sliced brie and pears…

Now, there are two ways to bring this together. You can mix it altogether in a food processor, or you can use a pastry blender. You know, it’s that half circle tined tool that you might not be sure of what to do with it. It’s perfect for cutting butter into flour. Unfortunately mine broke a while back , so I used the food processor, but I would never hesitate using that handy tool and you shouldn’t either. Bake On…

EGGNOG PUMPKIN ANGEL BISCUITS

Yields 17 large biscuits or 24 small biscuits

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 Cup  warm water (about 100 F)
5 Cups All purpose flour
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 Cup eggnog (or buttermilk)
1 Cup pumpkin puree
1 Tablespoon melted butter (for brushing the tops)

Dissolve the yeast in warm water in a small bowl; set aside .

Whisk together the flour, sugar, pumpkin-pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl (or food processor). Cut the butter into the flour mixture  using your processor (or pastry blender) until your butter pieces are incorporated, but you want to see several small pea size pieces sprinkled throughout. That is what gives you a light and flaky biscuit. If you are using a processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree and the buttermilk until smooth. Add it to the flour mixture along with the yeast mixture. Stir everything together until just moistened. Like all biscuits, you want to use a light touch at this stage of the game.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour (or overnight).

Preheat your oven to 450F. Spray two 10 inch cake rounds with PAM (or use a large baking sheet).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured workspace and knead a few times. I said a few – don’t manhandle it. Roll it out to 1/2 inch thick and cut with a 3 1/4 inch round cutter (or 2 inch for smaller biscuits).Gather up the scraps and reroll it. Place the biscuits in the prepared pans. Brush the tops with a little melted butter and bake until golden, about 12 minutes. Serve warm with butter or cold with sandwich meats/cheese. Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Pie (Happy Thanksgiving!)

Great people, Great conversation, Great food = The Perfect Canadian Thanksgiving.

It’s the simple things in life which bring the most happiness. Sitting around the table with my loving,gorgeous husband , our happy, creative daughter (who just happens to be beautiful), our family, our friends, sharing laughs and a fine meal. It’s these times that I treasure most.

On the menu for our Thanksgiving feast:

Pork loin stuffed with dried peaches

Peach stuffed pork loin, carrot souffle, stuffing, shredded brussel sprouts with bacon and hazelnuts, cranberry sauce, and last but not least, pumpkin pie with calvados ice cream. The adult cocktail was a mix of pear vodka, ginger simple syrup, pear nectar, and a splash of sparkling apple cider. Topped with a few frozen cranberries it was a real fall treat. The little one was more than happy with a glass of egg nog (non alcoholic, of course).

Pumpkin pie is one of those desserts that we only seem to have once a year, but then you wonder, why? It really is so good, it should get more respect on the pie ladder. Maybe this year it will.

PUMPKIN PIE

Makes One 9 inch pie

Filling:

2 tablespoons All-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
zest of 1 small orange
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons molasses
2 Tablespoons corn syrup
1 1/2 Cups (12 ounces) canned pumpkin
In a large mixing bowl, mix everything together until completely smooth and blended. Cover and place in the fridge overnight to let the flavors meld and mellow.

Pie Crust:

1 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Cup toasted, ground pecans
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tablespoons shortening
4 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
3-5 Tablespoons ice-cold vodka or water

In a food processor, place the flour, ground pecans, salt and shortening. Whirl until the shortening is in fine bits and evenly distributed. Add the butter and now pulse the machine just until the butter  is mixed in but still in fairly big bits |(that = flakey pastry). You do not want to overwork the dough or it will become tough. Add the cold liquid and pulse just a few times more. Dump it out onto a clean work surface , gather it into a ball, flatten it slightly into a disk shape and wrap in plastic. Chill for 30 minutes.

Roll out the into a 12 inch circle and transfer to the pie plate, trimming any excess away. You can use this for leaf decorations like I did, if you wish. Crimp the edges and place the dish back in the fridge for 30 minutes.

 Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 450 F.

Take the crust out of the fridge, pour in the filling, and bake on the bottom rack at 450 for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 F, switch the pie to the middle rack,  and continue to bake for another 35 minutes. If the crust starts to brown too quickly, cover it with a bit of foil. Let cool completely. Enjoy!

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