The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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dstroy

One I though I'd share with you guys: Bread maker  Vincent Talleu’s 10-minute pastry-making tutorial is quite entertaining. Loved watching all those shapes being made, and am a bit wowed by the "magic croissant cutter" tool.

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dstroy

This week has been the week of baking lots of Christmas cookies - this year I've been doing the cookie baking (Floyd's still in charge of supplying our dinner breads ;) Im nowhere near making those pretty sourdoughs myself!)


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Yesterday I made a big batch of Sour Cream Sugar Cookies. I didn't have any lemons on hand to add the rind so I substituted some lemon juice (and only after dropping it in did it occur to me that with the baking soda in there I might have been producing a volcano, but luckily nothing of the sort occurred and the cookies turned out delicious) and I separated the icing into different bowls and added some color and let the kids paint the cookies with little paintbrushes so they were nice and festive. I'd forgotten that the cookies grew a little bit, so they held their shape but did spread out a little.


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The exciting new thing I tried this year came about after an accidental purchase of too much Nutella. I'd not seen the double-jars I had hidden in the back of the pantry and had purchased yet another jar - well with all that Nutella something has to be done!


Someone sent me a link to this recipe and I decided to try it. The recipe there was a bit more uptight than my patience allows, so here is the slightly simplified version of what I made:


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Start with roasting the hazelnuts: I got a bag of shelled hazelnuts in the bulk section and spread them on a pan and broiled them until they were toasted. I used about 1 1/2 cups. Next, put them in a little food processor to chop them into little crumbs. (As it turns out, I'm hearing that most folks peel the skin off the nuts when they roast them - I didnt do this and think they taste fine, particularly with such a sweet cookie. I'm also finding that the skins are actually better for you - does anyone know why the norm is to peel them?)


Next, the dough:


Into the bowl of a mixer, beat until creamy a stick of butter and ½ cup sugar until it starts to get fluffy (I skipped the step of waiting to bring it to room temperature, but it didn't seem to matter - this helped too with not having to wait to chill the dough later)


Separate out 2 egg yolks, saving the whites in a smaller bowl for later use, and add the yolks in.


Add 1 tsp. vanilla


Then add 1¼ cups all-purpose flour,


1/8 tsp. coarse salt


and ¼ tsp. baking soda slowly until combined



Preheat oven to 325° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.


In a shallow bowl, mix the chopped hazelnuts with about 2-3 Tablespoons of sugar (to taste)


Roll the dough into small balls and then dip in the whites and then roll them in the nut mixture before placing them on the parchment with about an inch of space between them.


Squish a little hole in the center of each dough-ball to make a depression with a finger or little spoon, then bake for 10 minutes at 325° F


Remove and using a small spoon, squish the hole again, as it will grow a little bit puffy, before returning to the oven for another 10 minutes.


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Allow them to cool a few minutes then move them to a rack, fill with a spoonful of Nutella. (Microwave at 30 seconds to get the chocolate stuff melty and runny)


Throw them in the fridge for a bit to let them set a bit, but these are going to be goopy even cooled.


 


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dstroy

Stumbled across this link today and thought you guys might enjoy it:


 


Let It Dough! <-- Creation according to Dough


 


Admit it...you're all going to be playing a bit the next time you're in the kitchen, aren't you ;)

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dstroy

This year our daughter turned 6 and she wanted a "cake with rainbows...and also roller skates" because her birthday party was going to be at a skating rink with her friends.


I have seen various pictures of rainbow cakes on the internet for a while now and have been wanting for ages to have an excuse to try it, so I was happy to finally get a chance!



The "recipe" is really simple...it was just a matter of some extra time and lots of cleanup in the kitchen after. But so cool, and there were lots of ooohs and aaaahs from the kids when that first slice came out looking so unexpectedly beautiful!


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First, I wanted to start with a simple white cake. All the recipes I was finding in the books we have at home looked a little bit complicated, or they were more yellow cakes rrather than white, but I found a recipe online which I tripled to fit my big tube-pan that was super simple (and turned out to be really really yummy too) The original recipe was for a 9 inch pan but 3 of those worked out to be just perfect for my pan, even allowing for some batter-loss in this process when pouring this stuff into my cake pan.


Super Simple White Cake:


cream together:



  • 3 cups white sugar

  • 3 sticks of butter (1 1/2 cups)


then add:



  • 6 eggs

  • 4-6 teaspoons vanilla extract (honestly I got distracted at this part so it could have been as little as or as much as)


mix the dry ingredients and add to the batter mix:



  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 5 1/4 teaspoons baking powder


And the original recipe said to mix this in last, but Floyd told me that I was going to burn the gears on his stand mixer if I didn't add the liquid in so I mixed the milk in right away after adding the dry stuff and it worked out just fine.



  • 1 and 1/2 cup milk


OK so now we have the batter - next comes the fun part!


Divide into a bunch of different bowls and color with food coloring. I happened to have a stash of "neon and pastel" color gets on hand as well, from previous decorating projects, so this cake got the entire color spectrum from the rainbow!



 


Next we start pouring our batter, one color at a time, into the well greased tube cake pan - one on top of the next.


 



I wasn't perfect with it - just tried to have some of each color as even as I could get it across the top of the last layer.


When I was done pouring all the different colors, it looked like this:



Next it went into the over at 350 degrees (F). The original recipe had something like 30-40 minutes for a 9 inch cake pan, but since this was tall and more it took more like a little over an hour. I just kept checking it to see when a toothpick came out clean.


The cake came out looking like this: (By the way I have never figured out how to make a cake not crack like this, but *shrug* it's also a great excuse for extra frosting, and we are big fans of the creamcheese frosting so....)



Now the cake needed to cool and I wasn't going to frost it until the morning of the party, so this gave me time to make the roller skates out of marzipan, using some of those color dye gels while I had them out. I learned my lesson from the Lego cake from last years birthday cake for my son so and made sure that there were enough roller skates to give one to each kid:



I made some flowers with the stuff I had left-over too.


Now the next morning I made a big batch of the super delicious cream cheese frosting and instantly took care of any cake-crack blemishes and then piped the rest on for decoration.


(Frosting:


2 packages of 8 oz cream cheese + 2 cups confectioners' powdered sugar


2 packages of 8 oz. cream cheese + 2 cups powdered/confectioner's sugar - whipped with an electric beater until smooth.
Then add 1 cup heavy whipping cream and beat again until you have a spreadable consistency - DO NOT OVERBEAT! (I made butter one time letting that mixer go too long! haha)






Now look at this! Is this not the neatest thing?:



 


 

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dstroy

"Le Pain" by comic artist John Martz


 


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dstroy


I made a sweet treat yesterday for an afternoon snack.


 


Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes about 12 cupcakes
1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I think I'd maybe like to try this with about slightly-more-than-half cake flour and the other half regular flour next time)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
just over 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into little cubes
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix until combined.
3. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
4. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla.
5. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients to dry ingredients gradually; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
6. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about two-thirds full.
7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.
8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercream

Makes enough for 12-15 cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
about 3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
color if desired

1. Cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Mix on low speed adding the sugar, milk, and vanilla;
mix until light and fluffy.
If necessary, gradually add more sugar to reach desired consistency.


The colored sprinkles are REQUIRED, I am told, at least according to the kids. So don't forget those too. ;)

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dstroy

Time for my semi-annual birthday cake update, right? This year's cake for my son was LEGO themed!


 


I guess I never posted last years cake -my son was super-into his Mad Magazine Spy-vs.-Spy comics and asked for this theme on his cake. I was really busy with planning the event which was at a roller skating rink, so the only thing I really did was to buy a plain undecorated sheet cake and decorate it to make it match.



This was the result. (The wick of the bomb was a curly candle - the best part was when my son went to blow it out, dad (Floyd) popped a paper bag behind them all. You should have seen the kids jump!)


 


This year, the boy has become a Lego-maniac. Naturally, a Lego cake seemed to be in order.


I started off with marzipan, because I'd seen the professionals make stuff out of fondant and I can't stand the taste of that stuff - to me, it's like someone mixed marshmallows with wax candles. The little potato shaped marzipan balls are particularly tasty, so I went ahead and got a bunch of those and did some smashing until they became claylike, and then put them in little plastic sandwich bags and added various food coloring gels to mash in. Then it was just a question of painstakingly playing with the resulting clay, and wishing I had some sort of Lego mold which I'd seen some folks mention but which I couldnt find around here (though I dont know that it would have worked with the sticky marzipan anyway!)


 





If I were to do this again, I'd make one Lego minifigure for each invited guest, because that would have saved a lot of arguing at the time when cake cutting came! Every single kid really wanted one of the little guys. ;)


For the cake, I made a very very basic chocolate cake which always comes out really tasty when I use the good chocolate cocoa.


Basic Chocolate Cake


(This is for a 1 layer, 9 inch round pan - for the cake I made, I used this recipe x3, 2 for the larger 9x13 pan, x1 for the 3 mini-loafs)



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (I use Drost - it makes a difference to splurge on better cocoa)

  • 1/4 tspn salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 cup milk

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

  • 1/4 cup butter

  • 1 egg


To make, combine all the dry ingredients, mix till well blended. Then add the milk, vanilla, butter and mix on low until combined, then beat on medium for about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat 2 more minutes. Pour into pan and bake at 350 for 30-35 min (for 9 inch round pan) or until toothpick comes out clean.


Remove right away and let cool before icing.


 


I made one large sheetcake in a 9x13 pan and then split a single-layer recipe into 3 small sized loaf pans, giving me some extra cake to work with. The third loaf got destroyed when I tried to get it out of the pan - oops! But it gave me bits to work with and some extra to eat when I was done!)



Then I just split the cake up into a tiered tower, using little bits of cut cake to make them into stacked "lego blocks".




Then it was just a matter of frosting, which probably would have worked better with a less fluffy icing than the cream cheese/whipped cream frosting which I used (though that was non-negotiable because the family definitely loves that frosting best) and arranging the little guys and blocks on top.


That frosting recipe, by the way, is simple:


Take 8 oz cream cheese and 1 cup confectioners' powdered sugar in a mixing bowl, and whip with an electric beater until smooth.
Then add about 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream and beat again until you have a spreadable consistency.


I doubled that for the amount of cake used here.


The only non-edible bits were the candles, including a figure-8 one I found at the last minute.






Add candles, and voila!



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dstroy

We have added Irish Shortbread cookies to our collection of holiday treats, the other favorite around here being the Magic Squares - although this recipe we've also called "Zoo Cookies", because they used to have these amazing cookies at the zoo, always expertly decorated to look like various zoo animals, which I admit to having gone sometimes with the cookie being the prime attraction. Then they seem to have quit selling them there, so I had to find out what sort of cookies they were to satisfy the occasional craving. Having found out what they're made of, I now know why they tasted so good, so we have to limit how often they get made. ;) I realized we've been making these regularly now and I've never posted the recipe, so I'm correcting that now.



Irish Shortbread


Ingredients:
2 cups butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour.

Method:
Bring butter to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Cream the butter until it is the consistency of whipped cream.
Beat in the sugar. Add salt. Add flour in 4 portions (one cup at a time) mixing well after each addition.
Turn out onto a floured board and pat or roll to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. (Dough was crumbly so required squashing to make it feel clay-like)
Cut into shape desired with a cookie cutter.
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Wait till cookies are mostly cooled to ice.

Royal Icing

3 Tablespoons Meringue Powder (I can't find this stuff anywhere so I use some creme of tartar powder instead)
4 cups confectioners' sugar (about 1lb.)
6 Tablespoons warm water*
Add flavoring such as vanilla, almond, lemon, or whatever you like (I use vanilla)
Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
Recipe makes 3 cups.

NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.
* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.



We like to put out small bowls of icing with some food gel coloring and some clean paint brushes and then the kids do our decorating for us.



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dstroy

Not a bread post - but I'm going to post my girl's birthday cake here anyway, cause you know...I do it every year.


This year my daughter requested "kittens playing with yarn" on her cake. She's fond of marzipan so I decided to do some sculpting with the sweet almond paste as a cake topper.


The cake was chocolate, with the cream cheese and whipped cream frosting that I discovered when making that delicious Guiness cake I last posted about here, with a little dye to make it pink and turn it into "string"




 


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dstroy

So, as you all already know, World Bread Day happens to coincide with Floyd's birthday. This year, I decided to try the recipe that qahtan had posted here in this forum a while ago (which keeps coming up in discussion) for the Guinness Stout chocolate cake.


I was a teeny bit intimidated actually, because the measurements are in weight rather than in cup measure units, but I pulled out Floyd's bread scale, which to date I had never used for anything beyond weighing the occasional package, and I decided the recipe sounded too good not to make the time to learn now.

I thought you might find amusing the endeavors of a complete baking newbie in attempting this recipe. Floyd's the baker around here, not me - I am on the site all the time but usually I am just clearing out spam and checking out the new recipes (to ask Floyd to bake later, heh) or keeping track that threads don't start spiraling out of hand. Most of the bakers jargon and knowledge, however, tends to go over my head.
I did learn a few key points during the course of baking, here's a rundown of the kitchen chaos that occurred. I'm pretty sure that Floyd is way better at keeping the messes minimal, because I think I spent more time cleaning the kitchen than I did in actual cooking.



The cake, however, turned out phenomenally, despite my lack of baker's experience. We give this one two thumbs up, all the way around!

Proceedure:


I dropped two sticks (8oz) of unsalted butter into the mixing bowl and added the 12 oz soft dark brown sugar, which measured out to about 1 cup of well packed sugar and got it mixing.
In a second bowl, I beat 4 eggs, and then I added them into the main cake batter in the mixing bowl.

Then I made my first mistake, which was when trying to figure out what 8 oz of flour measured out to, I put my third mixing bowl on the scale and started to pour directly from the flour bag, which landed about a quarter of the bag in the bowl and a lovely white cloud of the stuff in my face and hair. Eventually I managed to scoop out the extra flour until the scale showed the right amount in there and then I mixed in the 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

The recipe then calls for you to 14 fl oz stout Guinness and the only size of beer I could find was a larger bottle. I'm not sure if I did it right, but I didn't find a measuring cup with ml measurements, so I ended up zeroing the scale on another bowl and then pouring the beer in until it weighed the 14 ounces.
This turned out to be pretty comical when I then added 4 oz of Droste cocoa, because the stuff is really expensive so I didn't want to have cocoa powder flying everywhere, but when I tried to stir it into the beer, the mixture began to froth and bubble and eventually this too turned into a spectacular mess.

Eventually though, I got the cocoa and flour stuff into the mixing bowl and got it all into a goopy consistency (though I also learned the importance of remembering to switch off the mixer before lifting the beaters to scrape the sides of the bowl - this piece of "education" earned me some artistic chocolate messes splattered on the cabinet, ceiling, and walls!)


Then I then poured into a slightly-larger-than 9 inch spring form tin which I'd buttered well.


That went into the preheated oven at 350F for a little over an hour until a toothpick inserted in the cake came out clean.



But despite all my amateurishness, the cake cake out splendid.



Topping:


I had read that some FreshLoafers really liked "naked" or whipped cream only toppings on this cake, but I couldn't bear to not have something with it, so I found a recipe for a cream cheese icing with whipping cream that was absolutely perfect for this cake.


Take 8 oz cream cheese and 1 cup confectioners' powdered sugar in a mixing bowl, and whip with an electric beater until smooth.
Then add about 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream and beat again until you have a spreadable consistency.



And I forgot to add the grated chocolate that qahtan had recommended into my mix before putting it into the baking pan, so I ended up using it as decorations on top. (The heart outline was done with chocolate syrup.)



A few candles on top and we were ready to serve!



Happy Birthday Floyd!


 



This cake was so amazingly rich and dark. No taste of beer, the kids were amazed and didn't believe us when we explained that there was beer in there. I've never made anything like it before. This is some serious chocoholic dream material!



Thank you, fellow FreshLoafers, for the recipe! This was a great one!

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