Sunday, January 15, 2017

Spinach Quiche per Hanaa

There really isn't much I have to say about this recipe. 
I made two extra ramekins for a friend, as well as a 7" x 7" Pyrex. 

followed the recipe from Hanaa, using all her ingredients, and cheeses except that my Jack cheese did not have Jalapeño. I wrung out the drained, frozen chopped spinach well in cheesecloth. All ingredients were placed into one bowl and mixed well.

I baked the ingredients at preheated 400 degrees [not convection] on a cookie sheet with Silpat. When it began to get brown around the edges, and appeared to be setting after 23 minutes, I removed it. Even after cooling, however, it was still a little moist for my taste, and I realized that a crust would have made a dramatic difference for me. As it was, it kept bringing back to my mind the old Stouffers's frozen spinach soufflé so I found I didn't enjoy the consistency, although the multi-cheese flavors with the spinach were enjoyable.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

'Luxury Valrhona Illanka 63% Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee'

Although I made this recipe in December, and yet again later in December for some Christmas presents, I could not forget Rose's recent remarks about Valrhona's new chocolate, Illanka 63% from Peru, that had caught her attention in a ganache at a party late last year, and which she wrote glowing reports about on her blog. Rose called it 'enticing' and 'creamy and well-balanced, it is intensely chocolaty with an enticingly fruity finish that makes me want to reach for more.' She explains that the chocolate is made from very rare white cocoa beans called Gran Blanco found in the Piura region of Peru ... My imagination now had been piqued. Rose does have a way of doing that as we all happily realize!

So, recently, when a dear friend revealed that her daughter will be celebrating her 18th birthday on 13 February - I immediately thought, what a fine time to try this new, lovely chocolate coated on Rose's favorite chocolate butter crunch toffee recipe. And more fun still, this young lady just happens to love to bake and appreciates things of this nature. 

Immediately, I called Valrhona since overnight delivery is what they require for this chocolate that must come from them directly. It arrived in a flash the next day . . .  in all its fruity, fragrant glory! 

You will notice here, I had acquired a probe ChefAlarm after I last made the toffee. It was helpful this time by more easily alerting me to the temperature with its flexible wire clamped to the pot during the necessary consistent stirring.

Since I have posted this recipe before with other chocolate, I will just insert a few photos here of the toffee preparation. Nothing changes about that.

          And so, finis! Now on the evening of 10 January, my first batch of  'Luxury Valrhona Illanka 63% Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee' is packed and ready to go to California in the morning -

                         ~~~~~  Happy Birthday Katie!!!!!  ~~~~~ 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Triple Lemon Velvet Bundt Cake

   This lovely, special new recipe gift from Rose and Woody was baked by me Christmas Eve for a Christmas dinner present for my friend. 
   The reaction today from my friend after dinner is as follows:

"Your cake is a 5-Star!! My whole family sends thanks. Pictures have been sent to your email. Yum de la Yum!"

     Needless to say I was very happy to see the golden interior!
   To bake this cake, since I do not have an Anniversary pan, or any large bundt, I decided to use my 10-cup wreath pan, and bake 5 cupcakes in silicone along side. 
   The recipe was straight-forward, as Rose's recipes are. I used White Lily Bleached AP flour. After 9 lemons zested, I had collected only 12 of 18 grams of zest so I then also added 1/2 tsp of lemon oil in with the vanilla.  
   The batter was so fluffy that, even with an ice cream scoop, I could hardly manage to get the extra into the 5 silicone muffin cavities, as well as having a hard time smoothing it into the intricate wreath pan, all the while being terrified of taking too long, lest: dreaded Bubbles appear. And so, when I looked through the oven door window, you can imagine my reaction to what I beheld:


   My first thought was, "Now, what am I going to send to my friend for her Xmas dessert?"  I waited and I watched. At fifty minutes it was verrrrrrry brown. I pulled it out, poked it with the wire tester, and syruped it with one-third of the lemon syrup I had prepared.


   After cooling 15 minutes, I placed the cake on the serving tray and brushed the top and sides with the remaining syrup. As it cooled, it turned a dark gingerbread color. I was mystified.
Add caption
         It was very dark. I am still  mystified. Perhaps someone can figure out some chemical imbalance?

  Lemon Glaze came together very nicely. The cake cooled, and was wrapped in plastic wrap overnight. In the morning for some reason I tried to pipe plaid bows on the wreath, but wasn't too successful due to my own inadequacy. So, holding my breath, I dusted it with a bare mist of confectioner's sugar just as it left for my friends' Christmas dinner. I still didn't know what color the inside of the cake was. Fortunately her pictures reveal a lovely lemon interior!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Red Velvet Rose

When I received an invitation to a party on Christmas Eve I immediately  made a decision to bring the gorgeous Red Velvet Rose cake!

This stunning velvet cake is always loved by all and it is not difficult to make with the help of the marvelous rose pan.


The only problem with this recipe for me is the eternal raspberry-seed removal from the syrup. I have two food mills and even the smallest disc doesn't do the work. I also was given a KA attachment that I haven't even figured out how to use. So, it was once again back to the strainer. Another problem that I always have is the amount of puree that I get. It is never enough. This time I substituted some Tiptree Seedless Raspberry Jam. Hence the sheen.  I guess doubling the packages of frozen sugarless raspberries would obviously be the best answer to obtain more puree. A better food mill might be the answer for the seeds as well, and I would appreciate it if someone recommends one, or better solution. Thanks.

         Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year!!!!!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas Stollen - for Avid Bakers Challenge group

Oops - I added the dusting sugar after pictures since wanted to show the loaf after buttering
Baking the Christmas Stollen was an odd experience for me because I did not understand bread baking, had never used a dough hook, kneaded by hand, or learned how to proof. So, although I was very lucky in the result, there are still many questions and solutions for me to find answers to. I have already purchased the ingredients for my next one, however.

The 'sweetener' and the almond paste were easily made about a week ahead of time and they kept well in the fridge. I used caster sugar with Red Mill super-fine Almond Flour from blanched whole almonds for the almond paste with a dash of Rose Water and egg.

My problem arose when I had to make the dough. I used White Lily flour, Dr. Oedker Instant Yeast. Knead the dough? Hmm. I eyed the Kitchen Aid, got out the dough hook and attached it. I didn't even know what speed to put it on. Finally, after starting with speed 2, I moved it up to 3 and then to 4 which I supposed was too high because it was deteriorating into slush. I quickly took it back lower. Finally, I got the dough pushed into a more workable form on the hook, and with my hands and it seemed 'satiny' but sticky, so I took it out using a flat utensil to push it from the sides of the bowl. I formed it into a ball and added the fruit. I knew I was very lucky in this part of it all. 

Love my funny bread tool - $9.98 at Amazon
My electric stove immediately resisted being set for 86 degrees or any low heat at all. Hmm. I quickly turned it off and used the small amount of heat that had begun to form inside. Later, after preheating to 375' for baking, I just sat the bread on top of the stove on a rack with a foil dome for the final proof.
I had soaked golden raisins, currants and a few cranraisin fruit in rum for three days and drained it. Now I added it above. Here it is being proofed in warm oven. 
The real problem probably lay in the fact the dough was too moist or I should have added some flour to it in rolling it out because it became very thin so that when I lay in the log of almond paste the top was really too thin to cover and I had to stretch it. I was very lucky not to have it split. But this is one of the things one knows to look for next time. I had read to be sure the top was not thin, thicker than bottom layer, but I didn't listen. Now I can see how far across Hanaa's loaf goes, and now know where that pressing down must go. I also see that my log of marzipan is huge and hers is not that large in diameter. 
   But the fact remains that it turned out to be beautiful, and the people I shared it with really enjoyed it. Personally, I am liking it and my husband as well. So, the small piece that is left will most likely be gone tonight. Lol!                              

This was actually very thin across the top.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Kouigns Amann

This is a lengthy, multi-tasked recipe. So, first I resurrected my requisite 8 metal rings from the storeroom, but I could not locate a sheet pan of the right size so I used only 6 rings on a smaller sheet pan. I attempted to find the highest fat butter recommended: Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery Cultured 86%. My grocers did not have it, but I did find, and did use, Organic Valley European Style Cultured Butter 84%. This was a good thing. The King Arthur Bread Flour I had on hand as well as Dr. Oetker Instant Yeast and Caster Sugar.

Mis en Place

The instructions are clear  in the mixing of the dough and then it rests for 30 minutes covered.

My apartment kitchen is very small with one door opening and no windows. It is only ~4' x 8'.  When the lights and the oven are on, it is very hot. To keep the butter from melting during these folding turns was almost impossible, but I did the best I could to follow the turning and chilling, and as hot as it was when rolling and folding, frankly I was pleased that it came out as well as it did.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Luxury Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee

 I took advantage of the experience of our other Alpha Bakers' posts to approach this endeavor. Marie was mystified by the wide range scale of amount of chocolate called for in the recipe and finally decided upon half the amount which was 225g. [divided 112/113g].  From the looks of her results, that sounded good to me! She used brown sugar, but I happened to have some Light Muscovado so that worked out well. The other required ingredients presented no problem. I bought some blanched almonds, and proceeded onward with Vicki's "Happy Stirring" notes ringing in my ears.

I mixed the Light Muscovado Sugar in the pan with the requisite corn syrup, butter and water with a wooden spoon.

I love using my father's old wooden mallet ;  )
Weighed out, chopped, and divided the chocolate to be sprinkled to melt on top and bottom of the hot toffee.

I used blanched almonds and toasted them first. After cooling they were divided into two bowls for tops and bottoms of the candy.

Once this mis en place was complete, putting the toffee together was also simple.

The Silpat had been readied for the hot toffee and it was poured on and smoothed out:

           However, I began at 6: pm and it is now 1: a.m.  Long stirring and constant temp checking was more tiring because I had started so late. Actually, I used Rose's caramel pot and think I would have been smarter to use a larger pot and to have doubled the recipe since I want to give it for little gifts. 
            But all is well that ends well, and the toffee has now been delivered to three happy people!