Archive for March, 2012

After participating in last months Bread Baking Day, which was hosted by Lisa, I decided to do it again this month.  The challenge?… bread made with eggs. Hosting this month is  Astrid, of Paulchens Foodblog?!  (she was also the host of the BBB this month). Spring is a natural for egg breads with many choices of  ethnic  Easter breads and  challah to pick from. I almost went with Paula Peck’s Polish Babka from the The Art of Fine baking, which calls for 16 egg yolks, but had to change direction after realizing I only had 13 eggs and didn’t feel like going out to the store. Instead, an Italian Easter bread, originating in town of  Civitavecchia, which is a small port town not far from Rome. The recipe is from The Italian Baker by Carol Field, a wonderful book that would make a great addition to anyones library. I loved how it had port, ricotta, and aniseed in the recipe. As usual, I was not prepared and didn’t have a few of the key elements. Like port. Or Ricotta. I really need to get my act together. Moving on… I do have Calvados (which is a favorite of mine) and I have cottage cheese. Hmmmm, will this work?  So I took 1/2 cup golden raisins and soaked them in the calvados about 1 hour before starting this and figured I might as well change it a little more since I was at it. The outcome was a fragrant loaf with a dark, slightly crisp crust with a soft, fluffy interior. Tomorrow’s breakfast= sweet bread french toast!

The original recipe makes 2 tall domed loaves but since that is too much for this small household I have halved the recipe. If you have a digital scale this is the perfect time to use. It is much easier to weigh everything than figuring out what half of 3/4 cup flour is!



2 teaspoons (5 g) active dry yeast
1/4 Cup (60g)  warm water
3/8 Cup (50g)  bread flour (yes, this is half of 3/4 cup)
Mix the yeast and water together; let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in the flour to make a thick paste. cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour.


1 1/2 Cups (210 g) unbleached AP flour
1/8 Cup (25 g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
5 large egg yolks
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (37 g) ricotta, pressed through a fine-meshed sieve (or cottage cheese)
1/4 cup port or rum (or calvados)
1/2 cup golden raisins (soaked in the liquor stated above)
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon crushed aniseed
grated zest of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick (4 oz/115 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg white, beaten, for glazing

Place the flour, salt, sugar, eggs, egg yolks, and the sponge  in the bowl of your mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat for 7 minutes, half on medium, half at high. Add the ricotta, liquor, aniseed, raisins, lemon zest and cinnamon and beat into the dough. Cut the butter into 8 pieces and place on top of the dough. Cover the dough, leaving the butter on top, with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled (about 2 hours).

Beat in the butter with the dough hook until smooth,about 5 minutes.

The “dough”  at this point is more like sticky cake batter and that is what it should be like. Pour it into a well buttered 2 quart souffle dish. Cover with plastic wrap again and let rise until it reaches the top of the mold, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 400 F 30 minutes before baking.

Brush the top with the egg white. I also sprinkled it with swedish sugar. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 F. Bake for an additional sixty minutes until golden brown.


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Is is just me, or has anyone noticed how hard it is to find good rye bread anymore? Well, not anymore, with the help of this great recipe from the Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown. It was chosen by Astrid, of Paulchen’s Foodblog?! for this months Bread Baking Babe challenge earlier this month. Since I am a new “buddy”, we get until the end of the month to complete it. Of course, I waited until the last minute, but only to post about it in this case. I made this over a week ago to rave reviews by my husband and little girl. This is one fine bread.

The dough is made in 2 stages. You begin by making a batter and letting it rest for 45 minutes

Then you add the remaining ingredients and knead away. You can do this by hand but thank god for my old Kitchenaid!

I made a few  slight changes to the recipes. First, it called for the zest of 2 oranges but when I started to make this I realized I didn’t have any! So to improvise I used meyer lemons (and the juice as well). While it was rising I noticed on the bag of rye flour that it said that lemon juice naturally improves lightness and volume in rye bread!  The recipe  calls for whole wheat flour at the end for kneading, which I did not need. I live in a dry climate and usually have to cut back on the flour department anyway. I also didn’t have an entire cup of dry milk powder so I used half milk powder and half potato flakes. All wonderful in the end!

So hurry up and head over here for this very tasty recipe.

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The March Baker’s Challenge was hosted by  Sara and Erica from Baking JDs. Since they are both from San Fransisco, they chose a popular sandwich bread called “Tiger” bread. It is also commonly known as Dutch crunch bread. In the Netherlands, where it supposedly  originated, it is called  tijgerbrood or tijgerbol (translation: tiger roll). Per wikipedia, “On 31 January 2012, the UK grocery chain Sainsbury’s renamed the product “giraffe bread” after a letter written by a three-year-old named Lily Robinson, suggesting the alternative name. Sainsbury’s stated that “In response to overwhelming customer feedback that our tiger bread has more resemblance to a giraffe, from today we will be changing our tiger bread to giraffe bread.”

Learn more about the history of Dutch Crunch bread, particularly in the Bay Area, here, here, and here.

 Whatever you want to call it, it is a very delicious soft white bread with a distinct crunchy and flavorful topping. The topping is made with yeast (for flavor) and rice flour (for crunch). It bakes up with a beautiful, crackly pattern on the top that you will just love to look at (then eat!). I have made tiger rolls a few times this year but was interested when fellow DB’s didn’t have access to rice flour and made their own. Since I had used up the last of my rice flour on the first batch, I was eager to go this route on my second go. It was  incredibly easy with the aid of my coffee grinder. I first cleaned it out by putting in 1/2 slice of bread and grinding it. This will pick up any coffee bits still left in the chamber. Then I tossed in the white rice and let it grind for about 30 seconds. Then, proceed with the recipe as usual. Conclusion? I loved it. It thought it was so much “crunchier” than using the extremely fine milled store-bought rice flour. This will definitely be the way I go from now on.

The recipe for the topping is the one provided by Sara and Erica.  The bread recipe is adapted from Bake! by Nick Malgieri  (such a great book), which I thought provided a softer roll.I also added a touch of potato flakes for moistness. These make excellent buns for burgers and are best eaten within one day of baking (they freeze great as well)

Tip:  Allow sufficient time for both risings. If you hurry now, your bread will be tough and dry after baking.

 Since I love baking bread, all I can say is have fun. Bake On!


Please note that you should not make the topping until the bread is almost done with its final rising.

* if using homemade rice flour you will need to adjust the quantity and add more until you get a paste- like consistency.


2 tablespoons (2 packets) (30 ml) (15 gm/½ oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (105-115º F) (41-46°C)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (240 gm/8½ oz) rice flour (white or brown; NOT sweet or glutinous rice flour) (increase by 1 cup or more for home-made rice flour)


1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a whisk; beat hard to combine. The consistency should be like stiff royal icing – spreadable, but not too runny. If you pull some up with your whisk, as shown below, it should drip off slowly. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes.

Perfect White Bread

Makes two 9 x5 x5 inch loaves or six large  rolls and one loaf or 12  large rolls. The weights given below are based on 1 cup flour being 4.25 oz

6 1/2 Cups  (26 oz) bread flour (I never have bread flour so I also put in 3 Tablespoons vital wheat gluten)
3 Tablespoons potato flakes
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 3/4  Cups (14 oz) milk, scalded
1 Cup (8 oz) warm water, about 100 – 110F (no hotter)
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 1/4 oz) active dry yeast

Stir the flour, sugar and salt together; set aside

Stir the butter into the hot milk and set aside to cool to room temperature.

about 20 minutes later….

Place the water and yeast into the bowl of your electric mixer. Give it a good whisk to make sure the yeast is dissolved; let proof for a few minutes.  Pour in the cooled milk and butter mixture.

Using a large rubber spatula, stir in half of the flour mixture. Stir the in the balance in 3-4 additions, until there is no longer any unmoistened flour.

Place onto your mixer, and using the dough hook, beat on medium for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Turn the mixer on again and beat for another 2 minutes.

Get out a large bowl and lightly oil it (I spray mine with PAM). Place the dough into the bowl and turn it over so that now the top is also oiled. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until it has doubled in bulk. At a room temperature of 75F, it should take 1 hour. My house is always cooler than that so it takes about 1 1/2 hours. Use your eyes, not the clock for best results.

Invert the dough and turn it over, pressing to deflate the dough. Place it back into the oiled bowl and cover again for a second rise, again , about 1 hour.

After the second rise, turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and divide in half. You are now ready to shape your bread.

If making  two loaves of bread, gently pull and stretch each piece into a rough 8-9 inch square. Tightly roll it up toward you jelly roll style,pinching the edges together to seal when you get to the end. Place seam side down into a greased loaf pan and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

If making rolls, divide into 6 (if using half batch) or 12 equal pieces. Round each piece of dough by placing it under your cupped palm and firmly rotating your cupped palm in a small clockwise motion. Arrange the rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Make the crunch topping. After the topping has rested, stir it down and evenly spread it on the rolls/bread with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Get it all around but don’t overload it or it will puddle underneath. Continue to let rise until ready to place in the oven.

For loaves:
Bake for 45 minutes or an internal temperature of 200F.

For rolls:
Bake until firm and golden, about 20 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack.

This is the first batch using store bought rice flour in the topping:

First batch using store bought rice flour for topping

This is the second batch using homemade rice flour:

The second part of the challenge was to create a one of a kind sandwich, which I forgot to do. But, I would like to think that everything I make is one of a kind (ha!)

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This was my little girls birthday cake. My “little” baby is now 6 years old and all I can think is that they were the fastest six years of my life. I guess I should purge all of the baby clothes that are in  boxes down in the basement. I want to, I just can’t. We only wanted one child and I’m perfectly okay with that , besides, it’s too late for that now, but seriously, these past six years have been so much fun. I am a stay at home mom and way proud of it.  Every day, at some point, is a fun play date. It could be headband making (which we just finished doing) or a dance party in the living room. Sometimes it’s a fashion show or rock painting. Not that it’s all pretty, there are plenty of times when we just butt heads; a little girl can be very opinionated and downright defiant. But I am only going to discuss the good times today. Like her birthday party. Like how we had 6 six-year-old girls over for a pajama/pizza/Barbie movie party (and survived). We decided to do the home party this year since it’s too darn expensive to rent out places to go and I feel like I can’t keep up with the expectations. Gosh, when I was a kid I think I had one birthday party. Every other year it was just my parents and sisters around the kitchen table singing Happy Birthday around a small, homemade cake after dinner. Nowadays, every kid has to have a party every year. Well, from now on, it’s at the house with just a few friends. So there (I’ll be interested to see if I keep my promise over the next few years). Bake On!

This delicious cake was made using fruit puree. I wasn’t so interested in just breaking out the food coloring (not that I’m against it), but I wanted the cake to have flavor, which food coloring does not have. Only the bottom two layers have a drop of pink color added to make them pop a little. All the fruit that has been so lovingly frozen in the freezer came in very handy for this. Three fruits were the base: strawberry, raspberry and cherries.  Each fruit puree was made separately and only took about 10 minutes. Take about 2 cups frozen of your berry choice and bring to a boil on the stove with a splash of water. Cook for about 2 minutes and then whirl in a mini processor or blender until smooth. Pass through a five sieve to get out any seeds or in the case of the cherries, skin. Place the fruit puree in separate containers and cool completely.  Since raspberry was my middle color I needed more fruit so I cooked up 3 cups. Read on… Now that there are three base colors it’s time to combine them to make some more shades of pink. Take 3 tablespoons of the strawberry and mix it with 3 tablespoons of raspberry in a separate bowl, then take three tablespoons of raspberry puree and mix it with 3 tablespoons of cherry puree (again, in a separate bowl).  You now have 5 shades of pink.

the top layer is plain white cake
strawberry: shade# 1
strawberry/raspberry: shade# 2
raspberry: shade #3
raspberry/cherry: shade#4
cherry: shade #5

Now on to the cake… You will need 5 bowls besides your mixing bowl  so you can add the fruit puree’s.This is made with a 6 inch cake pan. I have two so I can bake 2 layers at a time, but if you only have one that is fine. It will just take longer to get all the layers baked.

 White Cake Base

3 cups (12 oz /247.5 g) Cake Flour
1 2/3 cups (11 3/4oz/333 g) sugar; superfine sugar is best
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (6 oz/170 g) unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs whites plus 1 whole large egg
1 cup (8 oz/227 g) full-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Prepare a 6 inch cake pan (s) by lightly spraying with vegetable oil (such a PAM) and lining with a round piece of parchment paper.

Mix all of the dry ingredients on slow speed to blend. Add the soft butter and mix until evenly crumbly, like fine damp sand. It may form a paste,that’s okay.Add the egg whites one at a time, then the whole egg, beating well after each addition . Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream  with the vanilla and almond extracts. Add this mixture, 1/3 at a time, to the batter. Beat 1 to 2 minutes after each addition, until fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Measure out six ounces of plain batter into a prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Measure out 6 ounces (3/4 cup)  five more times into your separate bowls. Add 6 tablespoons of each of your various fruit purees to each six oz bowl of white cake batter; you  now have  five various shades of pink batter. At this time if you feel you would like any of them darker in color add a touch of food color.

Okay, if you are lucky enough to own more than one six-inch cake pan, than you can bake two (or more) layers at a time. If not, wait until the first layer is done, let it cool for 5 minutes and then flip it out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Turn the hot cake pan upside down and run under cold water for a few seconds to quickly cool down the pan. Wipe out the inside of the pan, regrease and paper.  Repeat until all six layers are done.

This cake was frosted with swiss meringue buttercream with 1/4 cup leftover mixed puree added to it. Each layer was topped with a thin layer of buttercream then  I piped a border “dam” around the outer edge to seal in the contents. Then I spread about 2 tablespoons low sugar raspberry jam (I used Presidents Choice Blue Line from Superstore) inside the dam . Top with another layer and repeat until all the layers are done.

Even though this cake is small, it is very tall, so I inserted a wooden skewer ,cut to size, right down the middle of the cake to keep the layers from shifting. You can also use a straw. Place in the fridge for one hour to set up.

Coat the cake with a crumb coat, place back in the fridge for 1-2 hours, then finish off with a final coat of buttercream.

For the ice cream cone top:

After baking my six layers, I still had a small amount of batter which I baked, cooled, and crumbled up. It was then mixed with a little bit of buttercream and made into a paste.  This is what everyone commonly knows as a cake pop, only this was a giant cake pop. I rolled the mixture into a ball (make sure your hands are impeccably clean!!) the size of a scoop of ice cream and inserted into a sugar cone. Be sure to flatten out the bottom so it can sit evenly on the cake. Place in the fridge to get cold.

Chocolate Ganache

6 oz dark chocolate
6 oz heavy whipping cream

Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil on the stove top and pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for 3 minutes then whisk until it is creamy. Set aside at room temperature to set up while the cake is chilling in the fridge.

Later on….

Take the cake and ice cream cone cake pop out of the fridge. Pour about half of the ganache onto the top of the cake, and using a small offset spatula, spread it around the entire top letting it drip down the sides. Now take the cake pop cone and dip the “ice cream” part into the balance of the ganache, coating all sides. Set it down onto the top  of the cake; the ganache is still wet so it will meld into each other. Sprinkle with confetti sprinkles if desired. You can either keep it out of the fridge at this point if you are serving it the same day or else placed the entire cake back in the fridge for up to two days.

The white cake recipe is adapted from this amazing recipe. I adjusted it based upon adding the fruit puree. Use the original recipe if you just want to bake a great white cake.

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