Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Very Late Christopsomos - BBA #2

My second week into the BBA challenge and I'm already late. In the span of one week, I have had out of town guests, a 100th birthday celebration (no, not mine), a dinner party for 14, and a visit from my youngest step-daughter (that was the best part of the week). I considered skipping this bread and coming back to it later but my OLDER sister said I had to bake them in order. (She always was a pest) Just kidding Terri. Truth be known, I was the pesky little sister that got into her make-up, her clothes and followed her everywhere. Somehow, she has forgiven me. (I'm guessing it's because senility is setting in ;) I love that she and I are doing this challenge together. (she is mustangterri in San Diego)

Anyway, onto the bread! We had the choice of three different variations of Artos: Greek Celebration Bread. I found the picture of Christopsomos very intriguing, so I choose it. However, after shaping mine, I noticed the author didn't use the dried fruits and nuts in his. He's such a cheater!

Typically, I wouldn't make a bread with raisins. It's just not my thing. But I'm married to a man who loves raisins in everything, so being the awesome wife I am, I made the sacrificed. ;-)

This bread smelled amazing from the moment the spices and zest were added to the flour.

I selected golden raisins, dried cherries and orange zest from a list of options for the bread and I used a barm instead of a poolish. I didn't have allspice or cloves on hand, so I used Anise, (Rick's favorite spice) I'm really going for the extra bonus points here. He'll probably think I put a dent in the car when he taste this. I glazed the bread with a simple syrup enhanced with honey and orange extract. I omitted the optional sesame seeds because I forgot.

I timed the bread to be ready to slice at the same time I knew Rick would be driving by our house on his way back to the office from a meeting. I asked him to swing by and pick up the bread for an afternoon snack for everyone. (it was enough bread to feed a small army)

So what did Rick think of Christopsomos? He ate 4 huge pieces and ruined his dinner! He said he would do it all over again given the choice. lol (now who's going for the bonus points?) He loved the orange zest but said the bread needed more raisins. (what did you expect from a raisin lover?)

Next: Bagels!

Friday, May 22, 2009


While viewing pictures on, Whoopie pies caught my attention. I had some cream cheese frosting I needed to use, so I decided to make Whoopie pies using my grandmother's recipe for red velvet cake.

I gathered all the necessary ingredients

Mixed them together

Then used a #30 scoop and plopped them on to the parchment paper.

I baked them for 10 - 11 minutes, let them cool, then filled them using a pastry bag and tip #23.
How were they? Very moist and sticky ....finger licking good. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Red Velvet Cake
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 (1-ounce) bottles red food coloring
1 ounce water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift flour, salt, and cocoa; set aside.

Beat shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well.

Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

Stir in food coloring, water and vanilla, blending well.

Add flour mixture to shortening mixture, alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes

Sprinkle baking soda over vinegar, fold into cake mixture.

Using #30 scoop, place batter onto prepared pans.

Bake at 375° for 10 minutes.

Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from parchment and cool.

Fill with your favorite frosting and eat.

Yields 21 Whoopie pies using #30 scoop

Other places to find Whoopie pie recipes:

Pumpkin with maple cream cheese

Chocolate with marshmallow

Wicked Whoopie Pies from IssaMac's

Friday, May 15, 2009

Anadama Bread - by the seat of my pants (aka: without a book)

BBA #1 Anadama bread.

My Bread Baker's Apprentice book is late. :-(
However, the recipe is posted here. :-)

Have you ever heard someone take a bite of an apple and it sounded so crisp that it grabbed your attention? Did you look in the direction the sound came from in time to catch the juice from the apple running down their chin? Did it make you crave an apple? When Anadama is toasted, it appeals to the auditory senses in the same way. It sounds crisp, light and yummy. (and yes, butter was running down my chin)

There are several popular myths about the origin of the name of this bread, which mostly take this form:

A fisherman from the New England area was abandoned by his wife. She took everything except cornmeal mush and some molasses. In his anger, he combined them with flour, water and yeast to make bread, all the while muttering, "Anna, damn 'er!". (close your eyes and picture a Bostonian pronouncing this... the R's are silent) Touching, eh?

This is a simple recipe of flour, yeast, polenta, golden molasses, and water. I couldn't find the golden molasses so I used Lyle's Golden syrup which I brought back from my trip to Ireland. This recipe is so simple that, for an old pro like myself (ha!), I decided to complicate things. I added 75 grams of old sour dough starter to enhance the flavor, an autolyse stage to cut down on the kneading and I baked the bread on a I had one.

The dough was pretty wet and I had to add extra flour to get the texture required.

I would love to take a bread baking class so that I can learn how to knead the dough, do a window pane test and shape loaves correctly. I'm just not one of those people who can pick up a book, read about it, then execute it like I've been doing it all my life. (and people who are like that really get on my nerves...opps, sorry Rick..I really do love you... here, have a piece of bread) To learn, I need someone in my face, showing me step by step ...and I need hands on. So if you're in the Memphis area and want to give a free class... let me know. I'll take you to a great BBQ joint for payment. :-)

Because the loaves would have been branded by the heating elements if I used the middle shelf, I baked my bread on a lower shelf then suggested. I know Peter said not to use ice but I ignored him (shocking, I know) and I tossed 6 pieces of ice into the hot iron skillet located at the bottom of my oven (a trick I learned from Rose Levy Beranbaum) It wasn't my fault I didn't use simmering water...I didn't have my book yet...I didn't know...don't kick me out of the group. Perhaps I'll follow directions to a tee next time. (um...probably not)

The first loaf baked in 32 minutes! When I checked the internal temp, it was 200 degrees! It exceeded the required temperature by 10 degrees! I know, I know... I need an oven thermometer. But I can't find one I can read. (yes, I'm almost 50 and I didn't eat my carrots while growing up) If you know of a good thermometer, that is super sized ...please let me know. Why isn't this a feature on ovens? A nice LCD reading of the actual temperature in the oven with a toggle button so you can read the exact temperature at each rack level. I think I'm on to something here...but I digress.

To bring the oven temperature back up to bake the second loaf, I turned the oven up to 400 degrees. Yes, you are correct.... I forgot to turn it back down to 350 when I popped the pan in the oven. I discovered the error of my ways when I rotated the pan 180 degrees after 20 minutes of baking and it looked done. I checked the internal temperature (157) and with my vast bread baking experience, (notice this is my first and only post on bread) I decided it needed to bake for 7 minutes more. Why 7? I have no idea... but 7 minutes later, the internal temperature was 200! Obviously, that's my lucky number today.

What amazes me is that no matter what I did to this recipe, the taste and texture didn't suffer. The bread was soft, moist and delicious. I'm going to call this a no-fail bread recipe. If it survived all the antics I put it through, it'll survive anything!

Click here if you want to see a world map where the Bakers live. (it takes a minute or two to load. Go get some coffee, take the dog for a walk, then come back to view it) Sorry... I tried to embed the map but it kept messing up. (yes, I have no idea what I'm doing)

Baker's from all over the world uniting to bake together. Brings a tear to the eye, doesn't it? Can you picture us all stretched across the world, holding hands and singing... (to the tune of "I'd like to buy the world a coke")

"I'd like to buy the world some flour and leaven it with love,
Bake buns and rolls and marbled rye and Anadama loaves.
I'd like to teach the world to knead in perfect harmony,
I'd like to buy the world a couche and keep it company.
That's the real thing.
Anadama bread
What the world wants today.
Bread Is the real thing"
(If you're under 30, you may not know that song)

If I haven't scared you off, I'd love for you to join us. (no, you don't have to shave your head or drink the kool-aid) Just get your hands on Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice", post pictures of your bread on Flickr and put a link to your pictures in the comment section below.

Next week: Artos-Greek Celebration Bread

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chocolate-Pistachio Marzipan Spirals

For our second bake-off using one of Rose Levy Beranbaum's cookbooks, we chose to do something from her "Rose's Christmas Cookies" cookbook. The rules offered a lot of latitude. We could choose either a bar or a filled cookie. It didn't dawn on me until after I tasted these that they weren't technically a cookie but more of a candy. (the fact that I didn't have to turn on my oven should have clued me in on this)

The most time consuming step was shelling the pistachios and the most difficult step was getting the skins off of the pistachios. However, none of these task were daunting or impossible. Baking the pistachios for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven help in removing the skins.

To make the marzipan, I processed the pistachio nuts, powdered sugar, corn syrup and glycerin in a food processor until in formed a dough, then I kneaded it for 3 minutes.
If you’ll notice, my marzipan is VERY green. The recipe said to use just a dab of green paste. I stuck my toothpick half-way into the paste and used whatever food coloring clung to it. I almost added more coloring because the green doesn’t come through until you start kneading it. Thank goodness I didn’t add more!
I'm sorry I don't have a picture of the marzipan rolled out. My sister called me while I was doing this step and I forgot to take pictures. I rolled the marzipan between two sheets of plastic wrap to 1/16th of an inch then spread chocolate ganache on it. I placed the ganache covered marzipan in the refrigerator for 10 minutes for the ganache to firm up then rolled it up like a jelly roll, painted it with egg white then rolled it in chopped nuts.

At first bite, the brute force of the chocolate is dominant overall but then as the marzipan melts on your tongue the chocolate mellows and there is a subtle pistachio finish. Very interesting indeed.

This would be a great dessert to make in the summer time because you do not have to turn your oven on. But the best thing about the Chocolate-Pistaschio Marzipan Spiral is you can make them several weeks or months in advance. They store very well in the refrigerator or freezer. I plan on serving them on May 22nd at a get together at our house. I love foods that you can make ahead of time. It reduces the stress of entertaining!
You'll have to be a member (free) of Rose's forum to read what the others made. Join then click here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chicken Salad

I needed to make chicken stock this week but was short on time so I ran up to Costco and bought one of their rotisserie chickens. All I needed for the stock were the bones so I pulled all the meat from the chicken and used some of it for chicken salad. It was awesome!

In a small bowl, I mixed
1/3 cup Dukes Mayo
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 T olive oil
2 T sugar
1 T tarragon
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 tsp each)

In a larger bowl, add the diced chicken, chopped celery (1 stalk), chopped sweet onion (1/4 cup), chopped bread& butter pickles, and red grapes. Pour the dressing on top of the chicken mixture and toss gently.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge

A group of food bloggers and home bakers have joined together and taken on the challenge of tackling every recipe in this book (in order as they appear). The idea for this challenge was the brainchild of Pinch My Salt, an excellent food blogger I've been following for awhile.

If you love baking bread and would like a learning challenge, please join our group. The last day to join the group is this Sunday. Go to Pinch My Salt BBA Challenge for the details.

For a preview of the book, which include many recipes, click here.

If you want something a little less formal, we can have our own mini BBA challenge (Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge)! Anyone interested in taking part can post on my blog in the comment section under each post. Once you have made your bread and taken a few photos, add the links to your photos, comments on how your recipe's turned out, changes you made in the original recipe, or tips you learned along the way to improve the recipe. (There are many free sites you can use to upload your photos to so you can share them, including Or include a link to your blog so we can pop over and read about your experience.

I'm not an experienced bread baker so don't feel intimidated to join in and try. I'm looking forward to being pushed into learning and this challenge will certainly give me the opportunity to do so. Although the group itself has no set rules or schedule, I am going to TRY and complete one recipe from the book each week. I will post the monthly schedule of the four recipes we will tackle each month, and anyone that wants to take part can. It will be informal, so if you can only do one or two recipes a month, no problem. I'll create a new post each week for each recipe, and post photos and a description of my results.

I cannot post the specific recipe itself for you without permission from the author, so you will have to have your own copy of the book to join in. You may buy your own copy, or borrow it from your local library (or friend's bookshelf!).

The date of completion for the first recipe will be May 17th to allow those interested in joining enough time to get hold of the book. We will be progressing through the book from front to back, so the first month's schedule will be as follows:

Anadama Bread (p. 108): Finish by Sunday, May 17
Greek Celebration Breads (p. 111): Finish by Sunday, May 24
Bagels (p. 115): Finish by Sunday, May 31

I've heard the book is a great primer for many artisan breads any home baker can recreate within their own kitchens. I hope that you want to join me in this challenge which will make the journey much more fun, as well as help to keep me on track as well!.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I'm Foodgawker Worthy!

Foodgawker accepted one of my photos! I'm so excited!

After reading ButterYums post on "Foodgawker Worthy?", I thought I'd give it a try too and submitted a picture from my post "Cupcakes for a Baby Girl"

Either click on the title above or here to see the picture on Foodgawker. Check out all the other photos while you are there by clicking on "home" in the upper left corner. They're amazing! By clicking on any of the pictures, it takes you to that person's blog site so you can get the recipe or read all about the process. What a great idea!

What are you waiting for? Go check it out! LOL :-D

Friday, May 1, 2009

Wilton Cake 2 Class

I forgot to take a picture of my final cake before Rick took it to work. Luckily, his friend's cell phone had a camera and he snapped a few pictures for me. Thanks, Tony! The cake was a red velvet cake (old family recipe) with a crusting cream cheese frosting I found on cake central.

In this class we learned how to make flowers using Royal icing and a plaque (bird) using color flow. We had to bake just one cake for this class which took a lot of stress off. Cake1 wore me out because we had to make a cake every week. I had no idea how much frosting it took to frost and decorate a cake! My goodness!

I have to confess, I couldn't get the hang of making mums. I don't know why, but I'll just leave that to someone else to make. All the other flowers were fun to make.

This was my favorite one to make. It's a primrose. I used tip 103, 14 and 1
These are Victorian roses made with tip 97

Here are my pansies. I didn't realize I had left off the two shorter petals on top of the yellow until 3 days after they had dried. Oops. Luckily, no master gardeners were there to eat the cake. :-D
The final cake also consisted of rose buds, violets, daffodils and daisies.

It took me forever to do the basket weave! I used tip 47. I used the smooth side for the vertical piece and the serrated side for the horizontal piece. Another lady in the class used tip 23 for the basket weave. I think I liked it better. The rope border was easier to do than I thought it would be.