Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TWD—Baking With Julia—Blueberry Nectarine Pie

Blueberry Nectarine Mini Pie 4

Blueberry Nectarine Mini Pie

Tuesdays With Dorie—Baking With Julia this week was a pie.  I made the pie crust for this pie last week.  It chilled in the fridge for a few days.  I thought I was going to get the pie made on Saturday, then Sunday, then yesterday it was then or I wasn’t going to get it done in time.  It worked nicely to already have the pie crust dough made.  I was excited to see how the dough rolled out.  I’ve tried so many pie crusts over the years and some really are hit or miss.  Dorie said with this recipe that it will be one you’ll always want to have with you and use. 

I followed the filling recipe almost exactly, except that since we have a freezer full of blueberries, I used frozen blueberries even though the recipe suggested fresh ones.  I also added an extra cup of frozen blueberries to the mix, using four cups instead of the three.  I did use fresh nectarines, using only two as each one cut up was a cup.  I decided to do more of a dice on the nectarines as I didn’t want slices of it throughout the blueberry pie.

Nectarines   While the blueberry/nectarine filling cooled, I started rolling out the crust.

Blueberry Nectarine Filling

The dough was quite sticky and no matter how I tried, it stuck to the counter every time I tried rolling it out and lifting it up to put in the pie plate.  Grrr.  Never fear—I decided to try making mini pies and hoped I’d have better luck with smaller amounts of dough.  It actually got to where the more the dough became closer to room temperature instead of cold that it was easier to work with.  I thought that was strange since it is usually preferred that a pie dough be cold when you’re working with it.  Maybe I just hadn’t made the dough the right consistency before chilling it?  At any rate, I starting rolling out four inch pie crusts and placing them in my two mini tart pans and two mini cake pans and ended up with four great looking mini pies. 

Blueberry Nectarine Mini Pie 2 I decided to just bake one pie and the other three are in the freezer.  My parents are coming to stay a weekend in two weeks before they go on a mission for our church for a year.  They will be serving in Omaha, Nebraska which we think will give us great reason to go visit our Midwest friends and see them within the next year.  Anyway, I decided my mom would love her own mini pie, since she doesn’t eat chocolate and that is often included in the goodies I make.


TWD--Blueberry Nectarine Pie 7-30-12

I played around with different edges to the pies.  After being so frustrated with the dough, it became much nicer to work with the more it was “played with”. 

Blueberry Nectarine Pie 3

I baked one pie for about 35 minutes.  When I scooped all the filling in to each pie, I did not add all the extra filling juice that was there, it seemed like a lot.  Probably since I’d used frozen blueberries.  The pie that I baked turned out great.

Mini Blueberry Nectarine Pie

So glad I made the TWD recipe this week.  If you’d like the recipe, our hosts this week will have them on their blogs.

Liz at That Skinny Chick Can Bake made a great looking lattice for her pie.

Hillary at Manchego's Kitchen made her pie with blueberries, raspberries and nectarines and made a crumb topping.

Have I ever mentioned I like pie?

Yep, I do. ;)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Perfectly Fudgy Brownies

Dark, Fudgy Brownies (pwd. sugar and corn syrup) 7-8-12

Perfectly Fudgy Brownies

I’ve sure been in a blogging slump.  Not sure exactly why, but I know we all go through that.  It’s certainly not because I haven’t been baking.  Got that part down.  I just haven’t been motivated to sit down and write.  But I’ve really wanted to get these brownies written down because they were very good—and my new camera arrived and I think the photos of the brownies are great, just basic, but they look good! ;)  I have much more to learn about my camera and photography in general though.   On to the brownies--

I was intrigued by this brownie recipe I ran across on Cooking.com, which is actually a brownie from Eating Well Magazine.  First of all, it is called Dark Fudgy Brownies, but I’ve chosen to call them Perfectly Fudgy Brownies because the recipe actually gives you the option of using regular cocoa or dark cocoa and I’ve made them trying both and my favorite are the ones I made with the regular cocoa.  Call them what you will, they really are of a perfect fudgy texture, but brownie-like in every way.  You can get the original brownie recipe on the two links, but I’ll give you the recipe as I made them.  I thought it interesting that the recipe gave you an option of using butter or oil when each would make a difference.  I used butter and since I liked these so much they way I made them, I doubt I’ll try them with oil instead.

Another thing that caught my curiosity to try the brownies was that they have powdered sugar and a little corn syrup and I wanted to see if that made a difference to other typically fudgy brownies.  If you’re intrigued and interested, too, I think you should give these brownies a try.  They were certainly eaten rather quickly at our house.

Perfectly Fudgy Brownies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, adapted from Eating Well Magazine

3/4 cup (90 grams) all purpose flour

2/3 cup (73 grams) powdered sugar

3 tablespoons (15 grams) natural cocoa powder

3 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped, plus 2  1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (divided use)

1  1/2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) unsalted butter

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar

1  1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup blended with 3 tablespoons lukewarm water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8x8 baking pan with foil with the edges overhanging on the sides.  Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Combine together in a medium sized bowl the flour, powdered sugar and cocoa powder.  Stir with a whisk to sift.  Set aside.  Combine the 3 ounces of chocolate and the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir just until melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat and stir in the granulated sugar, corn syrup mixture, vanilla and salt until well combined.  Add the egg and stir quickly until it is well incorporated.  Fold in the dry ingredients and combine well, then add the walnuts and remaining chocolate just until blended.  Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 22-24 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.  Let cool completely on a wire rack for at least 2 hours.  Remove the brownies from the pan and peel off the foil.  Cut into squares.

Dark Fudgy Brownies

   Dark Fudgy Brownies (They look similar!)

These are the brownies I made exactly the same as the recipe above, but I used a dark cocoa.  These were almost just as good, I just liked the ones with natural cocoa a little bit better.  That said, Kevin decided he preferred the dark cocoa brownies.  I would certainly make these again.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Refrigerator Rolls and Cinnamon Rolls with Potato Dough—Secret Recipe Club

Refrigerator Potato Rolls

Refrigerator Potato Rolls

Refrigerator Potato Cinnamon Rolls, July SRC 6-30-12

Cinnamon Rolls with Refrigerator Potato Dough

For the Secret Recipe Club this month, I once again had a great time browsing through my randomly assigned blog, Cooking Mimi.  Micha’s blog is full of so many great recipes and tempting photos.  I tend to be drawn to the baked goods (surprise!), but I really need to give some more meals a shot in these Secret Recipe Club assignments, because mmm, they look so good.  Check out the Slow Cooker Pizza, Enchilada Stuffed Shells, or Chicken Tortilla Casserole to name just a few of Micha’s most popular recipes. 

While looking through all her baked goods, I ran across the Refrigerator Rolls she posted a couple years ago.  I have seen bread dough that has potatoes in it before, but had never tried it and decided it was time.  I mean, come on, I’m an Idaho girl, what is up with not making rolls with potatoes before?

My mixer and I “whirred” up the dough in no time, after I first cooked a potato and mashed it.  I love getting everything out and measured and ready before actually starting a recipe—makes baking so much more enjoyable—and really helps someone like me, who often just starts a recipe without having ever read it through the first time.  The only negative thing I’ll say about this refrigerator dough recipe, though there are some who wouldn’t consider this a negative thing, is that it is certainly not low in fat and sugar (for a bread dough), that and it’s made with regular white all purpose flour.  Don’t get me wrong—my family prefers everything with flour to be that way.  It’s just that I, myself, don’t/can’t eat it.  I do splurge once in a while, but I really do try not to eat white flour and I’ve tried cutting back on fats and refined sugars.  Doesn’t stop me from baking away and spoiling those around me.  Lucky ducks. ;)

Refrigerator Potato Roll Dough

The dough has risen and is ready to “play with”.

The recipe makes quite a lot of dough and I planned to use half of it right then for rolls for dinner and refrigerate the other half for making cinnamon rolls.  And that’s just what I did.  The rolls came out beautifully.

Potato Rolls

I tasted a bite of one roll for dinner the night I made them.  They were good.  Good enough that the rest of the family ate them all up!  I tucked the other half of the dough into the fridge to save for cinnamon rolls, as planned.  Two days went by before I remembered that I needed to use that dough and make those cinnamon rolls.  I had no objections from anyone at home.

Cinnamon Rolls ready to bake

Cinnamon rolls ready for a short bake in the oven.

After rolling the dough out flat into a rectangle, I spread it with softened butter (I actually used Bestlife, which is a healtier 50/50 buttery baking stick.).  I then sprinkled it liberally with brown sugar and lots of cinnamon.  The dough was rolled up and sliced into perfect cinnamon rolls.  Do you know the trick to slicing bread dough?  Use thread or non-mint flavored dental floss.  Put it under the dough with the size of slice you want, bring it to the top of the roll and pull the two ends across from each other and through the dough.  It slices perfectly without smashing each roll as a knife often does.  Try it if you haven’t!

Cinnamon Rolls

Iced cinnamon rolls ready to eat!

After the cinnamon rolls baked and slightly cooled, I iced them with a simple concoction of powdered sugar, butter, a pinch of salt, some vanilla and cream and milk.  The icing was just drizzled on with a spoon.

SRC-July Refrigerator Potato Cinnamon Roll

Couldn’t resist a bite, but a bite was all I had.  Lucky boys, they fought for the rolls enough that I even had to cut the last rolls into thirds!  Half the dough made at least 16 rolls, it might have been 20—I can’t recall and didn’t write it down.

Refrigerator Potato Rolls and Cinnamon Rolls, adapted by Katrina, Baking and Boys! from Micha at Cooking Mimi

1 package active dry yeast (or 2 ½ teaspoons)

½ cup warm water

2/3 cup butter or margarine (I used Bestlife 50/50 buttery baking sticks)

2 large eggs

1 large or two medium potatoes (which was about 7 ounces or 200 grams after peeling and cubing)

6-7 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

¾ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk (I used 2%)

egg and water mixture for brushing on tops of rolls before baking, optional

Peel and cut the potato into cubes. Cook in small saucepan with the potato completely covered with water. Once cooked, drain and mash the potato. Measure out one cup of mashed potato, if there is any of the potato left, eat it. ;)

Heat the milk in small saucepan until bubbles appear around the edges (scalding) and let it cool. While the milk is cooling, put the ½ cup warm water, yeast and 2 teaspoons of sugar in a medium sized bowl until it is foamy, about 5 minutes. Place the milk, potato, and ½ cup sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until smooth, then add the butter/margarine, eggs, salt and one cup of the flour. Mix well. Once the yeast mixture is foamy, add it to the mixing bowl and mix well. Then add the remaining flour a cup at a time until a soft dough is formed. (You might not need 7 cups—the original recipe called for 5-6 cups, but I ended up using quite a bit more than that.) Let the stand mixer knead the dough (with a dough hook) for 8-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Or knead it by hand for the same amount of time.

You may then refrigerate all or some of the dough to use at a later time. Store it in a greased bowl, covered. If you are using it right away, put it in a greased bowl, covered and let it sit on the counter at room temperature for about an hour, until it is doubled in size. Shape into rolls and place them on a greased baking sheet. Let the rolls rise, covered lightly with a damp towel for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

For cinnamon rolls: Roll dough into a rectangle shape (doesn’t have to be precise), about ¼ inch thick. Spread softened butter evenly on the dough. I used about 2 ounces, or ¼ cup. Sprinkle generously with brown sugar (1/2 to 1 cup). Sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll up the dough using the longer side. Once it is all in a rolled log, slice the log into individual cinnamon rolls using thread or unflavored dental floss. Place each roll on a baking sheet that is coated with cooking spray with four rolls to each short row on the sheet. You don’t want them too close together as they will rise. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth and let rise for about 30 minutes. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Let cool until warm. Spoon icing in a drizzle over the baked cinnamon rolls. Makes about 16.

Simple Cinnamon Roll Icing, by Katrina Baking and Boys!

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons butter, softened

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

2-4 tablespoons cream*

2 tablespoons milk*

*You could just use all milk if you’d like, adding it a tablespoons at a time until it is the desired consistency. Combine all the ingredients in a mixer or medium sized bowl and blend until smooth. Adding the milk/cream a tablespoon at a time until the icing is the thickness you’d like.


I am so happy I finally made rolls with potato in the dough, it really does make for a nice, soft, flavorful roll.  Try it out sometime.  Glad to have found this recipe and yet again another great blog from the Secret Recipe Club!  Check out everyone else’s revealed recipes below.  *On a side note—I’m SO done taking photos on my cell phone, which I have been doing for the last month or so.  My camera broke, still under warranty, and after sending it in for repair, the company decided they’d rather not fix it and gave us a voucher to buy a new one.  I just happily received my new camera and can’t wait to get to know it better (it’s a different one from the previous one).  Yeah for better upcoming photos! ;)


Tuesday, July 03, 2012

TWD—Baking With Julia—Hazelnut Biscotti

Hazelnut Biscotti 7-2-12

Well, aren’t I the lucky one—I get to be one of the hosts for today’s Tuesday's With Dorie recipe from Baking With Julia.  When I saw that biscotti was one of our recipe this month, I threw in my vote to host because I love biscotti.  I was happy to be chosen to host.  I’m hosting along with Jodi of Homemade and Wholesome.  Check out her biscotti, she’ll have the recipe posted, too.  I’ve mentioned before, but the “old” shows of Baking With Julia are on my local PBS station every Saturday and I record them.  It is so great to see some of the episodes where we are making or have made the recipes I’m watching on the shows. 

From simple and well-worded directions for getting the skins off the hazelnuts by boiling them in water and baking soda, to the cookie dough coming together easily with a bowl and spoon, these biscotti are great!

One word of warning though, and I’m just saying this hypothetically—don’t use cornstarch instead of baking soda when boiling the nuts—the skins simply won’t come off.  Okay, okay, so I did that.  I was surprised to see that the cornstarch congealed and was just strange.  I’ll spare you the photos I took all the while not realizing I wasn’t supposed to use cornstarch but baking soda.  Here’s the boiled hazelnuts with baking soda in the water.  Just as the recipe indicates, the water will turn black when they are ready.

boiled hazelnuts to remove skins easily I thought removing the skins after the nuts were boiled was the most tedious and annoying part of the recipe, but it still wasn’t that bad. 

Peeled and roasted hazelnuts

After making the dough, two cookie dough logs are put onto a baking sheet.  The recipes suggested that with the sticky dough you flour your hands.  I got mine a little wet with water instead.  I have done this before with biscotti and liked how easy it was to form the logs. 

Hazelnut Biscotti ready to bake

The first bake of the biscotti went off without a hitch!


Hazelnut Biscotti first baked

After cooling for a short time, I sliced the “logs” into half-inch pieces.  The biscotti were placed on a wire rack and baked for ten minutes in their second baking.

Hazelnut Biscotti after second bake

The biscotti really was enjoyable enough as-is.

Hazelnut Biscotti

The biggest surprise to me with these is that Kevin (who hates crunchy cookies) has been eating them dunked in milk and said they are actually pretty good.  I’m glad he likes them so I don’t eat them all. ;)

And of course, if you know me, like many of you know me, I just couldn’t leave well enough alone and I couldn’t leave chocolate out of these—or off of them.  Drizzle, drizzle!

TWD-BWJ Hazelnut Biscotti 7-2-12

Here’s the recipe--

Hazelnut Biscotti, from Dorie Greenspan, Baking With Julia

Makes about 4 dozen biscotti.  It’s the baking soda in the dough that gives these biscotti their wonderful open, crunchy texture.  Although they’ll tenderize over the course of a few days (if they last that long), just-baked, they’re exceptionally dry and crackly.  It’s also baking soda that makes easy work of the usually pesky job of peeling hazelnut—they’re boiled in a baking soda bath and emerge ready to shed their skins in a flash.

This recipe can be doubled and the choice of nuts varied.  You can make the biscotti with almonds, pistachios, or even peanuts; you can add raisins, or try chocolate chips.  And you can make the dough easily either by hand or in a mixer with a paddle.  If you choose the mixer, whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl, beat the liquid ingredients and sugar in the mixer, then add the dry ingredients to the liquid and continue with the recipe.

2 cups water

3 tablespoons baking soda

2/3 cup unblanched hazelnuts

1  2/3 cups all-purpose flour (200 grams)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico, or brandy (I used Torani Hazelnut flavoring syrup instead of liquor—Katrina)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup sugar (150 grams)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Preparing the nuts:  To skin the hazelnuts, bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the baking soda and the nuts, and boil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the water turns black.  To test if the skins have loosened sufficiently, drop a nut into a bowl of cold water and rub lightly against the skin—if the skin just slides off, the nuts are ready to go.  Turn the nuts into a colander and run cold water over them.  Slip off the skins, toss the nuts onto a towel, pat dry, and transfer to a jelly-roll pan.

Place the pan in the oven and toast the nuts, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until evenly browned.  The best way to test for total toastiness is to bite into a nut—it should be brown to the center.  Remove the nuts from the oven and cool.  Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

When the nuts are cool enough to handle, coarsely chop them and set them aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and reserve until needed.

Making the dough:  Put the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk just to blend.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, liqueur (flavoring), vanilla, and sugar.  Add the dry ingredients to the liquid and stir with a wooden spoon to mix.  Add the nuts and continue to mix, just until well incorporated.  (Since the dough is stiff, sticky, and hard to stir, you might find it easier just to reach in and mix it with your hands.)

Flour your hands and life half the dough onto one side of the parchment-lined baking sheet.  Pat and squeeze the dough into a chubby log 12 to 13 inches long.  Don’t worry about being neat or smoothing the dough—it will even out as much as it needs to in the oven.  Repeat with the other half of the dough, leaving about 3 inches between the logs.

First baking:  Bake the logs for exactly 35 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes.  At this point, the logs can remain on the pan overnight, if that’s more convenient for you.

Second baking:  Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices, cutting straight across or diagonally.  (You can make the biscotti thinner or thicker, as you wish, and adjust the baking time accordingly.)  Lay the biscotti on their sides on a cooling rack—you may need to use a second rack—then place the cooling rack in the 300 degree F oven, directly on an oven rack.  (Baking the biscotti like this allows the oven’s heat to circulate around the cookies, so there’s no need to turn them over.)  The cookies may need to bake for as long as 15 minutes, but it’s a good idea to start checking them after about 10 minutes.  When the biscotti are golden brown, dry, and crisp, remove the cooling rack(s) from the oven.  Let the cookies cool to room temperature before packing them for storage.

Storing:  The cookies will keep in an airtight container for about a month.

Contributing Baker—Alice Medrich