June 29, 2008

once, twice, three times a braidy

i don't consider myself an expert baker, nor do i think of myself as a novice either. there aren't many recipes that i've tried that are truly a challenge for me, which is why i joined the daring bakers...

...7 challenges in, i finally hit a challenge. now, when i say it was a challenge, i mean i didn't get it right the first time. or the second. it sort of happened with the cheesecake pops, but that was just me being too grossed out over getting my hands messy. i hate that. this time, however, i just forgot everything i've learned about yeast. i make pizza dough just about every week with the kids and know that dry active yeast needs to proof in a warm liquid and a dash of sugar. that's how my mom taught me based on her 40 years of making the same dough. i read the recipe many times and as i put the yeast in the cold milk and started up the mixer i completely ignored that wee little voice in the back of my head...
"it's not going to woooorrrrkkk!" said the voice.
i looked in the bowl of milky yeast and re-read the notes, "yes, it should work, that's what the recipe says."
"you're doing it wrong," the voice replied.
"shut up," i said, and went on to the next step.
the first round didn't rise, and i knew it wouldn't. luckily, it was a relatively inexpensive failure. albeit a tasty one.

the second time i totally forgot to add the eggs. i didn't notice until after my last turn and i was flipping the page. too late to turn back and add them, so just for fun, and practice i decided to make croissants:

the third time, i knew i had it right. i warmed up my milk and proofed the yeast, and i didn't forget the eggs. from the first rolling, the dough was wonderfully soft and behaved like i thought it should: strong and springy, and i didn't have to really push my rolling pin like i was steamrolling asphalt. with each 30 minute resting period between folds, the dough rose slightly and retained it's great texture. while it was proofing in my oven with the light on it rose even more. i couldn't believe it. i used only one egg for the wash- omitting the extra yolk. whilst the braids and eggless croissants were baking, i was treated to the most delicious smell imaginable. i bake a lot but have never smelled anything so fragrant!
in the end, the only real difference that i found between the dough that i forgot the eggs and the one with them, was the colour: the eggs made the dough a little yellow (i did have to add a bit more water to get the dough to stick together during mixing though.), and it was a little harder to roll it out. the fillings i chose were "pink ladies" apple (recipe below) and fresh cherry for the first failed round, "royal gala" apple (i like apples) and chocolate-cranberry-coconut for the final sucessful batch. thanks to kellypea of sass & veracity and ben of what's cooking? for a great challenge and don't forget to check out the other daring bakers here!
Makes enough for 2 large braids
1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)
For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.
Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough
For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.
1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Makes enough for two braids
4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 - 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

*note to self: always listen to the voice in the back of your head!

June 27, 2008


i made this campfire cake for my friend's daughter. she was hosting a sleep-out-in-refrigerator-boxes party and thought a campfire theme would be great. after some research on the good ole interweb i found two possible ways to make the cake: make a "normal" cake and have pretzels and candy on top creating the campfire; or make the cake the actual campfire. the latter is what i decided upon.

on some magasine's site (i can't remember which one) i had found the idea and they used 2 store bought pound cakes with the corners trimmed off. that just wasn't going to cut it. then i remembered the buche de noel. that would be perfect. i did take their idea of melting life savers for the fire. i couldn't find any doughnut holes so i grabbed some bridge mixture and tossed them with some icing sugar for the coals. sponge sheet cake
adapted from williams-sonoma CAKES

2/3 cup cake flour
pinch of salt
4 large eggs, separated, plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. in a 10x15x1" jelly roll pan butter, parchment and butter again. dust with flour and tap out the excess. sift the flour and salt together in to a small bowl. set aside.
in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 5 egg yolks and 1/3 cup of the sugar. beat on med-high speed until the batter is thickened and pale yellow and falls back on itself like a ribbon when the beaters are lifted, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. transfer the yolk mixture to a large bowl; clean and dry the mixer bowl thoroughly.
beat the egg whites in the clean bowl of your mixer, now fitted with the whip attachment, on medium speed until foamy, about 1 minute. increase the speed to med-high and continue beating until the whites are holding soft peaks when the whisk is lifted, about 2-3 minutes. turn the mixer to medium and add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar 2 tbsp at a time. after all the sugar has been incorporated, beat for 1 minute more to have stiff peaks.
using a rubber spatula, pile 1/3 of the egg whites on top of the yolk mixture and begin folding. the first addition will lighten the batter. add the remaining egg whites on top of the mixture and fold them in. still using the spatula, fold in the flour mixture in 4 additions. the batter will be light and foamy.
pour the batter int the prepared pan. bake undisturbed for 12 minutes. if the cake looks set and the surface is lightly browned, tough the top gently. if it feels firm, insert a toothpick in the centre. if it comes out dry, the cake is done. if it comes out wet or with crumbs clinging to it, bake for another 2 minutes.
using pot holders, carefully transfer the sheet cake to a wire rack. let the cake cool int he pan until cool to the tough, about 25 minutes. the cake will shrink slightly as it cools. run a thin knife along the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake, keeping the knife pressed against the side. invert a wire rack on top of the cake and invert together. lift off the pan and discard the parchment. using both hands, carefully the turn the cake top side up. the cake is now ready to be filled and rolled.

chocolate american buttercream
1 cup butter, room temperature
4-6 cups confectioner`s sugar (depends on how sweet you want it)
1é4 cup cocoa powder
1é4 cup milk (or more if you added more sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract

beat all ingredients in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth and creamy. scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula.

June 24, 2008

mmm, canada

i got an email from jasmine of confessions of a cardamom addict to participate in a food blogging event. this was the first event i had been invited to and was very excited to participate. we could participate in both, or only one part of the event. i decided to do both.
ì`ve lived in bc for over 12 years now and the one thing that i`ve grown to love out here is salmon. wild sockeye salmon is by far my favourite, but any salmon will do. i try not to buy farmed salmon, but it`s not always possible. one day i was watching kitchen nightmares (original british version) and he was making crab cakes. they looked beautiful. i`m sure they tasted great, but i`m not a huge fan of crab. and then the light bulb went on... salmon!salmon cakes

1 pound fresh salmon 1/2 bunch of cilantro (or flat leaf parsley if you're not a fan of cilantro), finely chopped 1 red onion, diced 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced (or to taste) juice of 1 lemon 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1/2 cup bread crumbs 1 tsp salt salt and pepper to taste and a drizzle of olive oil.
preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. place the salmon in an oven safe dish and season the fish with salt and pepper to taste, drizzle with 1 tbsp of the fresh lemon juice and the olive oil. cover with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes. turn the oven off and let the fish rest in the warm oven for 5 minutes. take the salmon out of the oven and once the fish has cooled a bit more, "flake" the fish with a fork. mix the remaining ingredients into the salmon and form "cakes" with your hands or a large cookie/ice cream scoop. cover and refrigerate until you're ready to cook them. i use my griddler, but you can cook them up in a frying pan, too. serve on a bed of lettuce or in a bun like a burger!and of course you'll need a nice canadian wine. i picked up a bottle of rigamarole strictly for the uber cute label. i'm a sucker for stuff like that. turns out it's a very nice wine. i'm not a wine geek and normally i can't smell the "oaky-ness" or "the sun must have been shining whilst the birds flew overhead," you can smell it's fruity. it's label says: "why is it such a rigamarole to simply find a great dry white? the puzzling complexity of terroir, oak ageing, vintages and those ridiculous descriptors is just too much. save that mental energy for calculating the time it would take to harvest our grapes with hedgehogs..." love it! and bonus, it's from bc's beautiful okanagan valley.

the other half of the blogging event was held by jennifer of the domestic goddess and was right up my alley... a sugar high! one of the best memories of my childhood was going to a sugar maple farm up in kleinberg (ontario) when there was tonnes of snow on the ground. i remember the worker pour the hot syrup on the snow in a line and rolling it back onto a popsickle stick. to this day, i think that was the best maple syrup i have ever had. to me, nothing tastes like a sweet canada than maple syrup. MAPLE COOKIES
2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened 3/8 cup packed light brown sugar 1/4 cup maple syrup (the real thing!) 1 egg 1 teaspoon cream of tartar 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 3/8 teaspoon salt
Into medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar together; set aside. in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. add egg and maple syrup. add remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Shape dough into ball; wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough 1 hour or until easy to handle. Preheat oven to 350*F. On lightly floured surface, with lightly floured rolling pin, roll 1/3 of the dough at a time 1/8 inch thick, keeping remaining dough refrigerated. With floured 3 1/2 inch maple leaf shaped cookie cutter, cut dough into leaves. Place cookies 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet (or use parchment lined sheets.) Bake 10 minutes or until golden. With pancake turner, carefully remove to wire racks to cool. Repeat until all dough is used, greasing cookie sheet each time.
2 cups (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter, softened pinch salt (extra fine if you have it)1/2 teaspoon maple extract1 teaspoon vanilla extract1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup
Beat the confectioners’ sugar, butter, and salt together. Mix in the maple flavoring and vanilla. Add the maple syrup a bit at a time, until the filling is a medium-soft, spreadable consistency (the filling should hold its shape). Drop a teaspoonful of filling onto the flat side of a cookie. Top with another cookie, placing the flat sides toward each other. Let the cookies sit for several hours to let the frosting set up, so the cookie halves don’t slide around on one another. Store in airtight containers for several days or freeze for longer storage.

June 22, 2008


i ordered some pint sized business cards and stickers (still yet to arrive) from moo. for 20 bucks american you can create 100 business cards, 99 of which can have different photos. i chose 6 or 7 different pics of my baking for my cards and stickers. there's many other items you can customize, or use their stock sets. the cards have a really nice matte finish and are half the height of the size of regular business cards.
i can't wait to get the stickers!
thanks moo!

June 20, 2008

cookie fun

i had some sugar cookie dough left over and this afternoon the kids rolled it out, cut out their selected shapes, baked them and then covered them in royal icing and coloured sugars. look at that guy above with that grin. i turned around for 1 minute to grab the camera and i found about a cup of flour on the counter... for rolling, of course. can't have that last couple ounces of cookie dough stick to the pin: of course it ended up all over the place, but it wouldn't have been much fun if it hadn't.

here we have some serious rollers. silicon, wood, and marble.

it was a super fun afternoon, and i have to remember to let kids be kids and make a mess... as long as they help clean it up ;)

June 14, 2008


well, i made it. 100 posts. i can't believe i found enough to talk about for 100 posts. june has been a very busy month with school ending and so i offered to make a cake for the teacher's appreciation luncheon at our daughter's school. i made my standard chocolate cake recipe (below) that i found on allrecipes.com many moons ago. it's very moist and has a wonderful crumb. i use it for regular cakes, cupcakes-both regular and mini sizes, and bundt pans. which is what i made. my dad brought me a castle shaped bundt pan a couple weeks ago and this was the first opportunity i had to use it where i didn't have the leftover cake laying around the house. i also made cookies for all the teachers and support staff and VP's and the retiring principal. unfortunatly i didn't get any pics of the cake. or the cookies. ah well... next time!
dark chocolate cake
2 cups boiling water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 3 - 9 inch round cake pans. In medium bowl, pour boiling water over cocoa, and whisk until smooth. Let mixture cool. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at time, then stir in vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture. Spread batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool.
*the only things that i have done differently the last few times i have made this is to substitute milk for the water, and not boil it. i also sifted the cocoa powder with the flour and other dry ingredients. the results are the same and you don't have to wait for the cocoa water to cool.

June 13, 2008

small business???

i've been thinking a lot these days about starting up my own cookie store. well, not just cookies, but cupcakes, too. and cakes. but i like candy, too. o, and i love coffee. maybe a cafe type thing. we only have one in our neighbourhood currently and rumour has it that a starbucks will be moving into the building that is taking forever to be finished. i think it started in 2004 and is still not yet completed! i really like the idea of cupcakes! but i don't like that you really can't sit and enjoy them there. i also don't like getting up too early. i know, sucks if i want to be a baker.
i'm completely obscessed about the idea and i'm overwhelmed... anyone out there know where to start?