The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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turosdolci's picture
turosdolci


You ask, what could be more decadent, and I say absolutely nothing. Cartellate are traditionally made during Christmas. They are traditional Pulgiese fried pastries, filled with roasted almonds, honey, spices and chocolate.


They are a holiday cookie and although mostly made at Christmas time, they are our star dessert on our Thanksgiving table. They just seemed so suited to a beautiful Thanksgiving dessert table. 


These cookies are a labor of love and not easy to make, but the good news is that you can place the shells in a brown paper bag and keep some for Christmas.


http://turosdolci.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/traditional-holiday-cookie-cartellatecluster-are-filled-with-honey-nuts-spices/ 



 

turosdolci's picture
turosdolci


The preparation of the “Torta di Biscotto di Nozze” is by far one of the most important jobs of all in Italian weddings. Members of the family prepare biscotti for weeks for that important day. Layers of different biscotti are arranged in a pyramid and decorated with icing covered with "Confetti" and ribbons - it sits in a place of honor on the main table.



http://turosdolci.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/a-wedding-biscotti-caketorta-di-biscotto-di-nozze/





turosdolci's picture
turosdolci


In Italy desserts are often flavored with honey, chestnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts and almonds. Cantucci originated in the Tuscany and it is thought that they were flavored with almonds from Prato. They can be found in every pasticceria in the Tuscany. Cantucci are mostly eaten with a glass of “Vin Santo” a sweet wine. Many restaurants serve small almond biscotti with coffee and some will have a bowl of them on the table at all times. It is probably the most well-known and popular biscotti in Italy.


Following is our family recipe for cantucci. Make a full recipe and stored in a metal container, they will last a few weeks. They can be frozen up to two months – they defrost very quickly. You will always have biscotti to serve with coffee when friends drop by. 



If this link doesn't connect, go to http://turosdolci.wordpress.com



http://turosdolci.wordpress.com/2009/08/01/almond-biscotti-“cantucci”-recipe/




 


 

 

cookingwithdenay's picture
cookingwithdenay


Have you ever developed an original recipe? Most people think it is some long drawn out process, but remember you are not Pillsbury test kitchen with thousands of dollars and test kitchen cooks to address ever question or issue.


When you find a recipe that is good, reliable and consistent...that's a keeper. If it is not, you have a couple of choices. Rework the recipe, refine it so it works, put it in the "to-do" pile for a later date or toss it. What you do depends on how much time you want to devote to recipe and only you can answer that question.


As you test, and retest, you will find a pattern to the process and it will fall into an everyday groove. I would suggest that you schedule time each month to test or at least review the recipes you are working on. Remember it's not just about recipes, this is a listing of products you can enter into contest, feature in a magazine or newspaper, include in a future cookbook or sell in your home-based bakery. When your bakery is up and running and a local journalist ask...may we have a recipe to attach to your story? What will you say, no they are all secret...


Always have a dozen or so recipes that are uniquely yours that you don't mind sharing...just in case.


You may also want to place a recipe in your marketing materials...not that people will prepare them necessarily, but to show you are open to sharing your knowledge and skill. You are a great baker and this is not the time to be shy!


Now with that said, you don't have to give out your best recipes, just things you don't mind sharing. Give it some thought.


There is an old saying, there is nothing new under the sun, and it is so true. It is easy to add a new twist to something, but food companies spend millions to create new products, it's a real challenge; but every once and a while an independent culinary innovator comes up with a unique and inspiring food, spice or taste. Take a look at what is missing out there on the grocery shelves... get creative. I would love to see an alternative to buttercream frosting, but I have not yet figured out what it should be, something sweet, creamy and not made with all that fat.


 

ArtisanGeek's picture
ArtisanGeek

Well, I had a birthday party to go to (pool-side at my Brother-In-Law's house) and I wanted to do something a little different than the standard birthday cake...so I decided to make a giant chocolate chip sandwich cookie. It's about 12 inches in diameter and contains about a pound each of semi-sweet chocolate chips and white chocolate chips. At the end of the mix, I fold in about 4 ounces of walnuts. The cream filling consists of powdered sugar, egg white, shortening, and vanilla. The cookie dough is from a recipe you can find on any Toll-House chocolate chip bag. Its baked a little on the soft side so it slices like a cake. This one didn't last long after this photo was taken....it was devoured in short order!


Giant Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookie

davidg618's picture
davidg618

(You can, if you wish, skip all my mutterings. The recipe is at the bottom.)



My little Welsh grandmother was a gentle soul with streaks of stubbornness, impishness, and independence just below the surface. Born in Wales in the 1883 she sailed to America, with her coalminer father and her mother in 1894. By the time I knew her only her baking, and a light lilt in her speech hinted her origins; she had become American, through and through.



My grandfather died the year I was born, leaving my grandmother a widow. She spent the rest of her life living with her oldest daughter, Alice, also a widow due a horse drawn milk wagon falling on her husband, who was the duo’s bread winner. She held a good paying job. They lived comfortably, and quietly—until the grandchildren started to arrive. I was the third grandchild born amid six—two each among her other three children—and the first boy, fathered by her oldest son: oldest son of the oldest son. I came to learn that gave me important status in the Welsh culture that shaped grandma. She spoiled me rotten. Childless, Alice spoiled all of us.



Grandma was grateful to Alice for providing hearth and home, but refused Alice’s money to pay for gifts for her grandchildren. To earn money—a necessary tool to spoil grandchildren—she marketed her crafts. She tatted doilies; crocheted doll clothes; made stuffed dolls from working men’s tall, white socks; and she baked. The Third Welsh Congregational Church's white elephant and bake sales were her initial outlet store. By the time I could drive, she had nearly twenty loyal customers throughout the city. I was her delivery boy.  Every Thursday, after school, I drove to Grandma’s house; loaded the family car with bagged, wax paper wrapped loaves—white and whole wheat—and drove her route. The smell leaking from the bags was my teen year’s drug of choice. I got high sniffing bread once a week.



Her prices, for the times, were expensive: fifty cents a loaf, but no customer complained. Wonder Bread’s predecessors sold for about eighteen cents a loaf in the stores. Despite the city’s highly immigrant population, European style breads were missing from the shelves of local bakeries. The phrase “artisan breads” wouldn’t be invented for fifty years.



In the month before Christmas, and only for “special” customers, she also made Welsh cookies—$1 dollar a dozen.



A brief tutorial: England and Wales had many mines: tin, lead, and coal, Miners worked hard, and needed energy to keep going. Mine owners were cruel despoilers. (Ref: watch How Green was my Valley 20th Century Fox, 1941—I find fictional references contain much more imaginative examples than those in nonfictional references.) Miners carried there lunch and snacks into the depths of the mines, and ate lunch on the job.



Tin mines are especially hazardous, tin ores contain arsenic compounds. Tin miners can’t risk touching their food with their dirty hands. To the rescue, the Cornish pastie: a pot roast en croute; eat the innards; throw away the crust. Live for another day of mining.



Coal is mostly carbon, just like we are. A little coal dust never hurt anyone (discounting Black Lung), right? Welsh coal miners carried Welsh cakes in their pockets; loaded with lard (more about lard, later), and butter, and sugar the cakes were packed with energy almost as dense as that in the dynamite used to harvest the coal: energy to mine more coal, or run like the devil when the roof starts falling (see above reference.).



I haven’t the slightest idea what lead miners ate in lead mines (can’t find a reference.).



Welsh Cakes: the recipe.



The original recipe, complements of Aunt Alice. Grandma’s eyesight had failed by the time I asked for the recipe. Alice only sent the ingredients. I was flattered she had assumed I knew how to assemble them. The inelegant, heavy-handed printing is my notations. Trivia question: What the hell is saleratus? (Answer below.)



Ingredients


12 cups    all-purpose flour (51 oz.) (More may be needed to achieve a stiff dough)
¼ tsp.         Salt (if you use unsalted butter increase to 1-¼ tsp.)
4 cups        sugar
1 lb.         Butter
1 lb.        Lard
6        eggs
½ tsp.    nutmeg (I like the flavor of nutmeg, reduce to a ¼ tsp. if you choose, but don’t leave it out entirely)
1 lemon    zest (Grandma always used lemon, orange doesn’t have it for me.)
2 tsp.    Vanilla
1-½ tsp.    baking soda (answer to Trivia question.)
2 tsp.    cream of tarter
4 tsp.    baking powder
1-½     cup currants (I substituted dried cranberries once, delicious but not tradition!)


Directions


Let’s first get the lard issue out of the way. I had coronary artery bypass surgery twenty years ago. Subsequently, I tried, over and over again, to reduce the fat in this recipe. I failed. Every attempt was a disaster. Then I tried substituting butter for the lard; better, but the texture was heavy. Like good pie dough's flakiness, this recipe benefits from the lard. Trust me; don’t waste your time experimenting. Besides, I think you should really challenge your Lipitor once in a while to keep it at peak performance. Incidentally, most supermarkets carry lard; you will find it where Crisco is displayed, not in the refrigerator section.



Cream the butter, lard and sugar until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time, nutmeg, lemon zest, and vanilla and combine thoroughly.



Mix the flour, salt and other dry ingredients; whisk to distribute evenly.



Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add the currants. Work gently, only until a homogenous, stiff dough is formed; don’t overwork it.



Note: the original recipe calls for milk if the dough feels too stiff. That’s never happened for me. I always need to add a bit more flour to achieve the desired stiffness.



If you are making the whole recipe—I never make less than a half recipe—divide the dough into four equal pieces, roll into balls, and flatten into 1 inch thick discs (just like pie dough). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours. (I sometimes leave it overnight.)



Work with one disc of dough at a time, leaving the others in the refrigerator. Roll out evenly to ¼ inch thickness on a lightly floured board. Cut out cookie size circles. (I use a 2-3/8 inch diameter biscuit cutter; Grandma used a Welch’s grape jelly glass)



Preheat your griddle. I use an electric, non-stick griddle, with the temperature control set to 350°F. For a stove top griddle, or a nonspecific heat knob equipped electric grill, you’ll just have to experiment. Start with medium. On a non-stick surface no oil is needed, and I highly recommend you use a very light coating (an oiled, paper towel wipe) on other surfaces only if needed. (I make pancakes on a seasoned cast iron griddle with no oil, and no sticking. I think I did the same with Welsh cakes in long past years.)



Fry until deep golden brown on both sides, turning once. Cool thoroughly. Expect a light, almost flaky texture, and a clean taste with hints of lemon and nutmeg.
This recipe makes about 10 dozen. The cakes freeze very well.



One final experiment NOT to try: Do not try baking Welsh cakes; even my dogs wouldn’t eat them!


Sorry, I don't have a picture of the final product. I'll post one in December.


Update:


Here is the promised pictures. We started our annual Christmas cookie bake today.


Rolled out, and cut.



Six or seven minutes on a side at 350°F.  An electric grill sure beats the top of a wood-fired stove Grandma learned on.


Ready for Christmas.


David G.

gothicgirl's picture
gothicgirl

Poted on www.evilshenanigans.com on 4/20/2009


If given the choice of any dessert I want, I almost always pick the cookie.  I adore them.  During the Holidays I tend to eat and bake so many cookies that I get a little tired of them and I can't stand to make them until Spring is fully underway. 


Almond and Chocolate Filled Butter Cookies


These cookies have a delicious secret hidden in them.  A mixture of ground almonds, mini-chocolate chips, vanilla sugar, and cinnamon.   I love little suprises like this in my desserts.  People always think you slaved to make something so impressive, but I must confess ... these are so easy to make!  The dough is supple and easy to work with, and they hold the filling well. 


Fresh From the Oven 


Once baked they maintain their shape well, and once cool completly are sturdy little things.  The dough is not terribly sweet, it is more like a pie dough than a cookie dough in many aspects, so the dusting of powdered sugar is a welcome addition.  If you do not want to roll or dust your cookies, and often I feel that step is one step too many myself,  feel free to add a tablespoon or two of additional sugar to the dough.


These cookies are crisp, buttery, delicate, and remarkable good.  They keep for as many as five days in an air tight container on the counter.   


Almond and Chocolate Filled Butter Cookies 


Plus, they just look darn pretty!


Almond and Chocolate Filled Butter Cookies   Yield 36 cookies


Dough:


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar (or 2 tabplesoons sugar with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla)
1 cup salted butter
2 tablepsoons milk
1 tablespoon water


Filling:


1/2 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup vanilla sugar
3 tablespoons mini-chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons water


Powdered sugar for dusting


Heat the oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.


Filling 


Mix the almonds with the sugar, chocolate chips and water.  Mix well and set aside.


Making the Dough Dough


In the bowl of a food processor add the flour, cinnamon, sugar, milk, water, and butter.  Pulse the mixture until it forms a ball.  You may need to add up to an additional tablespoon of water.


Dough Rolled into a Log Roll the Dough


Roll the dough into a log about 18″ long, then cut into 1/2″ slices.  Roll each slice into a ball.


Starting the Cup Formed into a Cup  


Take one ball of doug, press your finger into the center, then shape the ball into a cup. 


Filled CupPull the Edges InPinch the SeamAll Rolled Up  


Fill each cup with a little of the filling then pinch the dough closed.  Roll gently between your palms to round the ball and place seam side down on the prepared pans.  Repeat with the remaining dough.


Ready to BakeFresh From the Oven  


Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly golden.  Cool completly on the pan.


Almond and Chocolate Filled Butter Cookies 


Roll in powdered sugar before serving.


Almond and Chocolate Filled Butter Cookies

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