September 28, 2008

lavish lavash

this month's daring baker challenge was definetly a challenge for me- with time. school started for both the kids this month and i'm working constantly and volunteering at school. something had to give and unfortunately it was these lavash crackers. shelleyfish was this month's host, and being an alternative db, this was to be vegan. for me, not much of a stretch since we pretty much eat vegetarian all the time and at one point i was a very good lacto-ovo veggie girl.
i had no problems with the crackers... except when it came time to get pictures. sometime between taking pictures of seth dressed in a cardboard rocket box and the crackers this morning, our trusty point and shoot olympus died. it's not totally dead, yet, but it has a bubble of liquid under the lens and the pictures are black, red, and blue. i took these pics with one of the kids' vtech cameras.
i made just a very simple apple chutney to compliment the cinnamon-sugar crackers: apples, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, brown sugar and butter.
thanks to shelleyfish for a nice challenge, and don't forget to check out the other thousand daring bakers!
The key to a crisp lavash, to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.


2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.


4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

September 27, 2008

I'm late! I'm late!

if you're reading this then i didn't get this month's challenge finished in time to photograph and post... check back again soon- i haven't missed a challenge yet, and i don't plan on starting with this one!

September 19, 2008

september song

"Oh, it's a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn't got time for the waiting game

Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November
And these few precious days I'll spend with you
These precious days I'll spend with you"

the words to this song has been in my head for... 19 days, and i suspect they'll be there for 11 more. things has been very busy around here and unfortunatly my poor blog has suffered. the kids are back to school, and back to their after school activities. as i said before, for our labour day family bbq, i made disaster cupcakes. i didn't intend to make "disaster" cupcakes, but i think that's what happened. i was pretty rushed for time and as i woke up the next morning, i realized what went wrong: i forgot to add the warm water! OMG! not since my salt cookies when i was a new teenager did i make such a mistake. o, wait... i take that back... i forgot to add the eggs in my danish braid... and a couple weeks ago i forgot to add the oil in the pizza dough. i really should start wearing my glasses when i bake.
once i realized what happened, it made so much more sense. they smelled good, tasted okay,but baked in less than half the specified time and were very dense. i may try it again one day.
one bowl chocolate cupcakes
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with liners; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla; mix batter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.
Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about one-third full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.a little buttercream and sprinkles, meh, i served them anyway...

September 08, 2008

lisa and aaron

just before leaving on our lac le jeune trip, i made 5 dozen cookies for lisa and aaron's wedding favours. i made my usual sugar cookie recipe, but i added a whole vanilla bean to the mixture. it was quite rainy that week and it took more than 24 hours for the royal icing to dry! yikes!my dining room table was covered in cookies! and the smell drove me nuts it was so nice, and i made just under 6 dozen (extras just incase of breakage during travelling, packaging, or me making a mistake with the monogramme).
congratulations lisa and aaron!

here's the cookies looking all pretty on the plates! lisa and aaron's photographer was david truss. i couldn't find a website or blog for him... but a nice shot, hey?!

September 07, 2008

i found my thrills...

on friday i took the kids berry picking at a couple of our secret locations and brought back many blackberries and many wild blueberries. sunday was grandparents' day and so we had most of the family over for a summer bbq party, and that means pie! i love making pie, and my favourite is apple. but apples are still coming (mostly) from new zealand (which is way too far for an apple to travel if you ask me) and the bc and washington ones still too expensive, so it wasn't an option. our neighbour loves blueberries, they were to attend the bbq as well, and we did just pick a whole bushel-full of them! i also made some cupcakes, but they were a disaster but i'll probably blog about those anyway. maybe.
i'd already recently made a blueberry pie so i thought i'd give another recipe a try. i chose to make martha's 4th of july blueberry pie. yes, i know it's not the 4th of july which is why i made a simple lattice top and not stars. i'm thinking i'll make some crazy top for my next pie, which will be apple most likely, close to thanksgiving which is only about 5 weeks away.
the kids helped me make this one, and i'm killing myself for not taking any pictures of them in their aprons all covered in flour!
* next time i'll add less lemon juice as it was too tart. but really, i may not make this one again because the retro pie recipe is much better and uses less berries- you could make 2 1/2 pies with the amount of berries in this one!!! 4th of july blueberry pie
martha stewart's baking handbook
all purpose flour, for dusting
your favourite pie crust for a double 9" shell- chilled in the fridge (i really should blog mine for you, lol)
8 cups fresh blueberries, picked over (about 4 pints)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp unsalted butter, but into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp heavy cream
roll out one disk of dough to a 12 inch round, fit into a 9" glass pie plate, pressing it into the edges. chill pie shell until firm, about 30 mins.
place blueberries in a large bowl; with your hands, crush about 1/2 cup of the berries, letting them fall into the bowl as you work. add the sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice; stir to combine. spoon mixture into chilled pie shell, mounding berries slightly in the centre. dot with butter. remove the remainder dough from the refrigerator and roll out and either cut shapes or strips to make the top.
in a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and cream. brush the entire surface of rim and lattice with egg wash, being careful not to let it pool. freeze or refrigerate pie until firm, about 30 minutes. meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, with the rack int he lower third.
place pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. bake until the crust begins to turn golden, about 20minutes. reduce oven temperature to 350F. continue baking, rotating sheet halfway through, until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling and have thickened, 40-50 minutes more. transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely. the pie is best eaten the day it is bake, but it can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.

September 05, 2008

lac le jeune

lac le jeune is located just north of merritt, and south of kamloops, with an elevation (of 1,280 metres) higher than the toll booth on the coquihalla (elevation: 1140 metres). the bc parks website describes the campsite as, "Nestled among an open stand of lodgepole pine, spruce and fir, Lac Le Jeune Park appeals to campers and anglers seeking an easily-accessible getaway spot." yes, very easy to get to, but because of the pine beetle infestation, many of the lodge-pole pines are long gone, which made hanging a tarp quite the challenge.
there was this really long wheelchair accessable wharf for fishing, that's even visible on google maps! we spent a few hours trying to catch fish......with no success. ah well... there's always next year.
we could hear the loons calling eachother all evening and morning, but the only wildlife we saw was these cows:even though it was totally freezing up there this past long weekend, we had a great time. derek's brother and his wife, shawn and shelley, came with us for the adventure. i think earlier in the season, this place would be great to camp!this is probably the best shot i took: