Friday, September 28, 2007

Cinnamon Buns: Daring Bakers Challenge!

What a wonderful recipe for this month's Daring Baker's Challenge: Cinnamon or Sticky Buns from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. They smelled so delicious coming out of the oven! I couldn't sleep because of the lovely aroma--I just wanted it to be morning so I could have a bun! Thanks Marce (Pip in the City), for your choice!

I have to admit, I waited to the last minute for this month's challenge. I wanted to make both sticky and regular varieties but didn't leave myself the time. They were really very easy to make and assemble. I love Reinhart's recipes--they are so nice to follow and give great instructions. This cookbook makes great bread baking so accessible to the home baker. I definitely recommend it for anyone wanting to learn about yeast breads.

Although I think my grandma's sweet rolls are still my favorite, these rolls were very good. The dough was great to work with, soft but not sticky, slightly sweet, and had a hint of citrus that smelled amazing even while kneading it. Instead of the lemon extract I used Princess Cake Flavor, giving it a bakery taste with vanilla, butter, and lemon scents. Yum! I also used this flavoring in the fondant glaze that was drizzled on the warm buns. (I only made 1/4 of this glaze and it was the perfect amount--all of it would have been so overwhelmingly sweet.) I think orange would be wonderful too.

Just several notes for next time I bake them....I'll make them a bit smaller and place them closer than 1/2 inch apart--almost touching-- in a round cake pan instead of a baking sheet. My favorite buns were the soft ones on the inside that were really smushed up against their neighbors. Also, I will roll out the dough a little thinner. The recipe specifies 2/3 inch, but mine was closer to 1/2. I'll use more of the cinnamon-sugar mixture next time as well. I only used about half of the mixture and felt they needed a little more. Raisins would be tasty! And I must try these with all butter--I think the flavor of the dough would be richer.I look forward to trying the sticky buns! These rolls tasted and looked like they had come from a bakery. Thanks Daring Bakers! Another fun and yummy challenge! Check out all of the other delicious looking buns on the Daring Baker's Blogroll. Continue for Cinnamon Bun recipe.

Cinnamon and Sticky Buns
from Peter Reinhart´s The Break Baker´s Apprentice

Days to Make: One (1); Active/Resting/Baking Time: 15 minutes to mix, 3 1/2 hours fermentation/shaping/proofing, 20 - 40 minutes to bake

Recipe Quantity: Eight(1) - twelve (12) large rolls or twelve (12) - sixteen (16) small rolls


6 1/2 tablespoons (3.25 ounces) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 tablespoons (2.75 ounces) shortening or unsalted butter or margarine**
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon lemon extract OR 1 teaspoon grated zest of 1 lemon**
3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) unbleached bread or all-purpose flour**
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature OR 3 tablespoons powdered milk (DMS) and 1 cup water**
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (6 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar plus 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon)

White fondant glaze for cinnamon buns or caramel glaze for sticky buns (at the end of the recipe.)

Walnuts, pecans, or other nuts (for sticky buns.)
Raisins or other dried fruit, such as dried cranberries or dried cherries (for sticky buns, optional.)

Step 1 - Making the Dough: Cream together the sugar, salt, and shortening or butter on medium-high speed in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a large metal spoon and mixing bowl and do it by hand).Note: if you are using powdered milk, cream the milk with the sugar, and add the water with the flour and yeast.Whip in the egg and lemon extract/zest until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast, and milk. Mix on low speed (or stir by hand) until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium, mixing for approximately 10 minutes (or knead by hand for 12 to 15 minutes), or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Step 2 - Fermentation: Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

Step 3 - Form the Buns: Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter.

Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top with flour to keep it from sticking to the pin. Roll it into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Don´t roll out the dough too thin, or the finished buns will be tough and chewy rather than soft and plump. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 pieces each about 1 3/4 inches thick for larger buns, or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 1/4 inch thick for smaller buns.

Step 4 - Prepare the Buns for Proofing:For cinnamon buns: line 1 or more sheet pans with baking parchment. Place the buns approximately 1/2 inch apart so that they aren´t touching but are close to one another.For sticky buns: coat the bottom of 1 or more baking dishes or baking pans with sides at least 1 1/2 inches high with a 1/4 inch layer of the caramel glaze. Sprinkle on the nuts and raisins (if you are using raisins or dried fruit.) You do not need a lot of nuts and raisins, only a sprinkling. Lay the pieces of dough on top of the caramel glaze, spacing them about 1/2 inches apart. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag.

Step 5 - Proof the Buns: Proof at room temperature for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size. You may also retard the shaped buns in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, pulling the pans out of the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before baking to allow the dough to proof.

Step 6 - Bake the Buns:Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with the oven rack in the middle shelf for cinnamon buns but on the lowest shelf for sticky buns.Bake the cinnamon buns for 20 to 30 minutes or the sticky buns 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. If you are baking sticky buns, remember that they are really upside down (regular cinnamon buns are baked right side up), so the heat has to penetrate through the pan and into the glaze to caramelize it. The tops will become the bottoms, so they may appear dark and done, but the real key is whether the underside is fully baked. It takes practice to know just when to pull the buns out of the oven.

Step 7 - Cool the buns:For cinnamon buns, cool the buns in the pan for about 10 minutes and then streak white fondant glaze across the tops, while the buns are warm but not too hot. Remove the buns from the pans and place them on a cooling rack. Wait for at least 20 minutes before serving.For the sticky buns, cool the buns in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove them by flipping them over into another pan. Carefully scoop any run-off glaze back over the buns with a spatula. Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.

Toppings for the Buns:

White fondant glaze for cinnamon buns:

Cinnamon buns are usually topped with a thick white glaze called fondant. There are many ways to make fondant glaze, but here is a delicious and simple version, enlivened by the addition of citrus flavor, either lemon or orange. You can also substitute vanilla extract or rum extract, or simply make the glaze without any flavorings.Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon or orange extract and 6 tablespoons to 1/2 cup of warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the milk slowly and only as much as is needed to make a thick, smooth paste.When the buns have cooled but are still warm, streak the glaze over them by dipping the tines of a fork or a whisk into the glaze and waving the fork or whisk over the tops. Or, form the streaks by dipping your fingers in the glaze and letting it drip off as you wave them over the tops of the buns. (Remember to wear latex gloves.)

Caramel glaze for sticky buns:

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature.2. Cream together for 2 minutes on high speed with the paddle attachment. Add 1/2 cup corn syrup and 1 teaspoon lemon, orange or vanilla extract. Continue to cream for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.3. Use as much of this as you need to cover the bottom of the pan with a 1/4-inch layer. Refrigerate and save any excess for future use; it will keep for months in a sealed container.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

SHF #35: X Shaped Fig Cookies

Figs are the theme of this month's Sugar High Friday blog event, hosted by Ivonne from the lovely Cream Puffs in Venice. Great selection! I was excited because I have to admit, I've never baked with figs. So this was a treat--using a new ingredient for me. I had planned to go a local orchard and pick fresh figs, but I ran out of time and missed them for this year. So I chose these X shaped cookies from Baking with Julia.

These treats are a beautiful version of the classic fig newton. The filling combines figs, golden raisins, almonds, orange, chocolate, cinnamon, and rum--a wonderful combination when blended together. The soft dough is easy to work with and both the filling and dough are made in the food processor--easy! The assembly does take a bit of time but the rolled result is an enticing cross shaped cookie with a sweet figgy filling exposed on the inside. Nice! Perfect for an afternoon snack or with coffee for breakfast. A great first recipe using figs! Continue for X cookie recipe.

X Shaped Fig Cookies
adapted from Nick Malgieri, in Baking with Julia

The Dough

4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
4 eggs

Put the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse just to mix.
Add the butter pieces to the bowl and pulse 15-20 times to cut the butter in.
Add the eggs and pulse until the dough forms a ball on the blade.
Remove the dough and knead it briefly on a lightly floured counter until smooth.
Shape the dough into a log and wrap it in plastic wrap; set aside while making the filling.
(Don't clean processor--use it to make filling.)

The Filling

One 12 oz package dried Calimyrna or Mission figs (I used a 9 oz bag)
1/2 cup unblanched almonds, toasted
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup plump golden raisins (I used about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup candied orange peel, diced (I didn't have this and used zest, juice, and pulp from 1 orange)
2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup dark rum (I didn't have this--used 1/2 t rum extract)
1/2 t cinnamon

1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt, for egg wash
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting

Remove stems from the figs and cut the figs into medium-size dice. (Figs and raisins should be moist; if not, plump them with boiling water before using.)
Put all filling ingredients into the bowl of the food processor and pulse with the metal balde until the mixture is finely chopped.
Scrape the filling onto a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper. Shape it into a rough log; divide into 12 pieces.
Position oven racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 350 degrees.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Working with one at a time, on a lightly floured counter, roll the dough under your hands to form an 8-10 inch rope. Pat it out into a 3 x 8 or 10 inch rectangle.
Run a spatula under the dough to make certain it hasn't stuck to the surface.
Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash.
Roll a piece of filling to the same length as the dough; place it in the center of the dough.
Pull the dough up around the filling,k making a seam, and roll it into a cylinder, lengthening the dough a little as you roll.
Cut the roll into 2 or 3 inch pieces.
Place a cut piece of dough vertically in front of you, seam side down, and make two 1-inch long cuts, one from the bottom, the other from the top, toward the center.
Use your fingers to separate the slashes and create an X-shaped cookies.
Transfer the cookies to the prepared pans and repeat with remaining portions of dough and filling.

Bake cookies for 15-20 minutes, or until just slightly browned, in 2 batches. Transfer to racks to cool.
Before serving, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My Zucchini Orange Walnut Bread

Growing up, zucchini bread was always a staple at my grandma's house. She either had one in the oven or in the freezer. She frequently made hers with pineapple, which made a moist loaf, or with raisins. I've adjusted my recipe several times and decided on a very good loaf made with walnuts and applesauce. But this time, I fine tuned the recipe again and YUM! The results were wonderful! I'm really quite proud of this loaf. :)

It is so light and tender for a zucchini bread. I used pastry flour instead of all-purpose, a great substitution for low-fat baking. Cutting back on the fat, I used part applesauce and this time added part buttermilk for the liquid ingredients. And for a new twist on the flavor, I added orange zest. It really went nicely with the cinnamon and walnuts. So moist and delicious!! Continue for Zucchini Orange Bread recipe.

Zucchini Orange Bread
by Rose

3 cups pastry flour**
1 t salt
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder

3 t cinnamon
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
Zest of one orange
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 t vanilla
2-3 cups zucchini (I usually go with 3)

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare 2 loaf pans for baking.
Combine first five ingredients in large bowl; whisk or sift to distribute.
In a separate bowl, mix sugar with orange zest, rubbing the zest into the sugar with your fingers until fragrance is released.
Add sugar-orange to other dry ingredients and mix.
In another bowl, combine liquid ingredients; add to dry flour mixture.
Mix until just combined.

Add zucchini and walnuts, fold in just until mixed in, and pour into prepared pans.
Bake at 325 for one hour.

** I make my own: 4 c all-purpose + 2 1/4 cup cake flours = 6 1/4 cup pastry flour)--good for low-fat baking.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes

You would never know that these moist, chocolaty cupcake bites are so low in fat--no butter or oils! The secret? Pureed dates. I love these! Dutch-process cocoa and bittersweet chocolate give them an intense flavor and you don't even realize you're missing out on butter. The dates are boiled and pureed in the food processor. The entire recipe is made in the food processor, and is a snap to make. They're lovely topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a strawberry! Enjoy! Continue for Mini Chocolate Cupcakes recipe.

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes
Gourmet, August 2003

Makes 12 mini cupcakes (double recipe to make 24)

1/3 cup water
1/3 cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon confectioners sugar for dusting

1. Special equipment: a mini-muffin pan with 12 (1/8-cup) muffin cups, preferably nonstick

2. Preheat oven to 325°F.

3. Bring water and dates just to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, then transfer mixture to a food processor and add cocoa powder and chocolate, pulsing once to combine.

4. Let cool 2 minutes, then add brown sugar, egg, vanilla, baking soda, and a pinch of salt, then purée until smooth. Add flour and pulse just until incorporated.

5. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray. (If pan is not nonstick, line sprayed bottoms with rounds of wax paper, then spray paper.)

6. Spoon batter into cups, dividing it evenly, and bake in middle of oven until a wooden pick or skewer comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes.

7. Cool cupcakes in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack (remove wax paper, if using) and cool completely, right side up. Just before serving, sprinkle tops lightly with confectioners sugar.

Serving size: 3 cupcakes
177 calories and 4 grams fat.


An Indian Meal: Beigan Bharta, Spiced Cauliflower, and Laila's Spiced Fresh Beans

I really enjoy Indian food. Houston has some great restaurants but it's fun to cook some of my favorites at home. My wonderful friend Laila has really spoiled me--she always brings new dishes for me to try or has me over for chai and snacks. She also shares her recipes with me. Thanks Laila! Yum!

Perusing various blogs, I found a great monthly blog event, Think Spice. This month, mustard seeds have the spotlight. Naturally, I thought of Indian cuisine and decided to make two of Laila's dishes, spiced cauliflower and beans, that are spiced with brown mustard seeds. I love the "pop" that they make in a hot pan. :) Both of these dishes are really nice. In addition to mustard seeds, the cauliflower is spiced with cumin, tumeric, coriander, and kitchen king masala powder--giving it a nice heat. This recipe is also great with potatoes and peas.

I love these spiced beans with freshly shelled black-eyed peas that are available for a large portion of the year here in Houston. Laila brought back a special spice blend from India that she has ground when she is back home. It has over 20 different ingredients (I'll try to get a list from her--or at least a sampling of the key spices). And it is good! It's not very hot, but has a very nice flavor. As with the cauliflower, brown mustard seeds and cumin are toasted in a hot pan to start off the recipe. Pop!

Beigan Bharta does not have mustard seeds but I absolutely love eggplant and this is probably one of my top favorite Indian dishes. And so I had to make it to go along with the other dishes! This recipe is great--easy to make, and so flavorful, and the perfect amount of heat. My mouth is watering! Continue for Beigan Bharta, Indian- Spiced Cauliflower, and Laila's Spiced Beans recipes.

Beigan Bharta

2 large eggplants
2 small green chilis (thai/asian), very finely minced (I used 1/2 of a serrano today)

1/2 onion, very finely diced or pulsed in food processor
2 garlic cloves, very finely minced or processed to paste (can use 1t garlic paste)
1 teaspoon ginger paste (approx. 1/2 inch grated ginger if using fresh)
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (don't use a mix--straight chili powder, cayenne is ok)
1 teaspoon salt
3 roma tomatos, pureed in processor/blender or finely diced
2 tablespoons half and half (or any cream/milk)

2 tablespoons cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground coriander seed
1/2 lime, juice

1. Bake eggplant until soft: Drizzle with EVOO and place cut side down on baking sheet and bake until tender--scoop out flesh and reserve. OR if you don't mind the skins, cut eggplants in slices, drizzle with oil, bake, and use entire eggplant.
2. Heat several tablespoons oil in saute pan.

3. Add green chilis, onion paste, garlic paste, and ginger paste. Cook over medium hi, constantly stirring. (I like to put my onion, garlic, ginger, and chilis in my mini-chop and puree them together, then add to saute pan).
4. Add cumin, red chili powder, and salt.
5. Cook until onion is very soft, adding several tablespoons of water to pan to prevent charring and add steam.
6. Add tomatoes and half and half.

7. Add eggplant and cilantro and coriander.
8. Mash eggplant as it cooks--don't add water.

9. Cover and simmer.
10. After finished cooking, squeeze juice from 1/2 a lime over and stir.

Indian-spiced Cauliflower (or potatoes or peas)

1 head cauliflower (3-4 cups)
1/4 teaspoon brown mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 onion, diced very finely (or pureed)
1 tablespoon tomato paste, heaping tablespoon
1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon kitchen king masala powder (heaping teaspoon)
2 tablespoons cilantro

1. Heat oil in pan on high.
2. Add mustard and cumin seeds; toast.
3. Add onion and brown, stirring constantly until soft.
4. Turn heat to low. Add tomato paste; stir.
5. Add salt, tumeric, coriander, masala powder; stir. Add a bit of water to make a paste.
6. Add cauliflower (or potato) and mix.
7. Add cilantro.

8. Add several tablespoons water; cover and cook on low until soft.

Laila's Spiced Fresh black-eyed Peas or Beans (very small red beans)

1 pound fresh black-eyed peas (about 2 cups)

1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 small onion, very finely chopped or processed into paste
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, red chili powder (or to taste)
1 teaspoon Laila's spice mix (very generous teaspoon)
1 teaspoon sugar

2 Tablespoons flaked, unsweetened coconut blended in blender --optional (I like it without)
salt, to taste

1. Warm 2-3 tablespoons oil in saute pan. Add mustard and cumin seeds. Cook until they "pop" over medium high.
2. Add onion and brown well.
3. Add beans; stir; add spices. Saute.

4. Add enough water to cook beans (approx. 1 cup) and barely cover, or a bit more. Cover pan with a plate and add water to top of the plate.
5. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are done, 45 min. to 1 hour. (The longer the better--let's the spices meld)
6. Serve with rice.


Lemon Puff Pancake

What a nice breakfast treat! I have had this recipe from King Arthur Flour stashed away for a while and decided to try it this morning. It was so light and delicious--part pancake, part crepe, part popover. And so simple! A batter of eggs, milk, flour, and lemon and vanilla extracts were baked in a buttered skillet and then topped with a spritz of lemon juice and powdered sugar. No standing over a hot griddle or flipping pancakes--I like it!

I was rather surprised when I took this large puff out of the oven when it was finished cooking. The batter had puffed up the sides of the skillet and in the middle. It was funny looking, but tasty! It was great topped with strawberries and without also. I loved the lemon juice. My husband took half of it and ate it like it was pizza. :) Continue for Puff Pancake recipe.

Lemon Puff Pancake with Berries
King Arthur's Baker's Catalouge

3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) butter, melted
1/2 cup (2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
small pinch of nutmeg
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon lemon oil, optional
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of half a juicy lemon)
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Pour the melted butter into a 12" skillet with ovenproof handle, or a 10" square pan. Yes, the size of the pan matters. Too small, it’ll overflow. Too large, it won’t puff as high. Try to find a pan or ovenproof skillet whose square-inch cooking surface is about 100 square inches.

Whisk together the flour, salt, nutmeg, sugar, milk, vanilla, lemon oil, and eggs till fairly smooth.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake the pancake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until it’s very puffy and golden, with deeper brown patches. Remove it from the oven, and sprinkle with the lemon juice, then the sugar. Cut in squares, and serve immediately, garnished with fresh berries, if desired.

Yield: 4 generous servings.


Black Beans and Rice

Beans and rice is a staple in our home. There are so many variations and bean/vegetable combinations that it never gets tiring. And so economical and healthy! Tonight I made my standard black beans, seasoned only with onions, garlic, peppers, salt, and tomatoes. Such basic ingredients yet so flavorful! Sometimes simple is really nice.

For my rice, I usually toast a bit of garlic and rice in a saucepan until fragrant, before adding water to cook. Today I added green onions also. This really enhances the flavor of the rice and the garlic is great with the beans. I love garlic! I really like these beans with smoked sausage also but opted for no meat tonight. Continue for Basic Beans recipe.

Basic Black Beans

1/2 onion, finely chopped
about 3 cloves minced garlic
1 green pepper, chopped (I used 2 mild hatch chilis tonight; red is also good)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans black beans**

Heat a little oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the onion and cook several minutes.
Add garlic and pepper and cook until soft.
Add tomatoes, salt, and beans.
Cover and simmer until heated.

**Often, I use dried beans: Soak overnight with a bay leaf. Cook with water (and sometimes I like sausage) in a large stock pot or all day in the crockpot. Saute vegetables and add to beans along with the tomaotes after they haved finished cooking. Simmer about 15-30 minutes to combine flavors.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Plum Clafouti

I just love clafoutis! And there is nothing simpler to bake! This light, eggy dish is traditionally made with cherries but a variety of fruits are excellent as well. Peaches and nectarines are nice. My first experience was with plums, so I always think of this treat when plums are in season. The sliced fruit is layered on the bottom of your pan, sprinkled with brown sugar, and then drowned with an egg, millk, and flour mixture. The fruit rises to the top while baking, making a beautiful finish! The fruit really shines, so it's important that whatever you choose to use is ripe and flavorful. This makes a nice dessert but we like it for breakfast, slightly warmed with a large cup of coffee.

I just saw a savory clafouti on the gorgeous blog La Tartine Gourmande that I must try. It's a zucchini, corn, and goat cheese clafouti. Delicious!!! Beatrice Peltre published this in the Boston Globe and the recipe can be found here. Her photography and food styling is amazing--it's a great blog to check out. Continue for Plum Clafouti recipe.

Plum Clafouti
King Arthur Flour's The Baker's Companion

3 cups sliced plums (or other fruit)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 t salt
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 t vanilla extract (or almond, or 1/2 t each)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Thoroughly butter a 10-inch round pan or skillet.
Arrange the sliced plums on the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with the brown sugar. (Fruit will form a double layer--there will be more fruit than a single layer.)
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.
In a small bowl, combine the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat until thoroughly combined, then gradually whisk into the flour mixture, smoothing out the lumps.
Pour the batter over the fruit in the prepared baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serving size: 1 slice (8 servings)
168 calories, 2g fat


Monday, September 3, 2007

Revisit: Light and Fluffy Pancakes

It's a holiday! Enjoy a nice leisurely breakfast with multiple cups of coffee and relax. I love it. I made my favorite pancakes today and included lemon zest from half of a lemon to the batter--perfect! They're my new favorites again! (Click here for the original post and recipe.)


Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Happy Labor Day! It's been a rainy day here in Houston and perfect for slow-cooking pulled pork. I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Simply Recipes, and it is really, really good. The pork butt is marinated and simmered in a tangy, sweet, slightly spicy sauce. After several hours, the pork shreds easily and is added back to the sauce after it has reduced. It has a great flavor and is so tender! Yum! I absolutely love pulled pork and Elise, you were right--this is the best! Continue for Pulled Pork recipe.

Pulled Pork

1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 pickled jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons of Chipotle chile powder OR I used 1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce and 2 t of the sauce and it was perfect.
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 lbs of pork butt, trimmed of excess fat
Hamburger buns

1 Purée all of the sauce ingredients (everything except the bay leaf, the pork and the buns) in a blender until smooth.

2 Put sauce, bay leaf, and pork into a large pot and add 1 quart of water. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer, covered, turning frequently, for 2-3 hours or until the meat pulls apart easily with a fork.

3 Remove from heat and cool pork in the sauce. When cool, remove the pork from the sauuce and shred into small pieces. Set aside.

4 Reduce the sauce by two thirds (This is important--the sauce will thicken and taste less vinegary) . Add the pork back to the sauce. Serve hot over open-face hamburger buns.

Serves 6 to 8.

If you have extra time, marinate the pork in the sauce overnight or for several hours before cooking.


Multigrain Sandwich Loaf

I'm so excited about my new Peter Reinhart cookbook, Whole Grain Breads! This was my first recipe and it really turned out well. It has a wonderful texture and great whole grain flavor. It is just perfect for sandwiches. Whole wheat breads are often too dense and heavy tasting, but this one is very nice!

The recipe starts the day before baking with a biga (starter) and a soaker that contains the whole grains. Reinhart gives the baker options on ingredients, allowing for personal taste and variation. I really like this about his recipes. You can make many slightly different loafs all from the same basic recipe. It does make it important to weigh your ingredients though, instead of measuring by volume--especially with the whole grains. Volumes can differ greatly depending on which grains you use. Weighing is so nice with baking, allowing for much better reproducibility.

I made this loaf largely an oat bread, choosing to use steel cut oats for the cooked grain, along with oat bran and rolled oats. Cornmeal, whole wheat, and flaxseeds rounded out the whole grains and I used buttermilk and brown sugar (also options in the recipe). In the soaker, I used a combination of whole wheat and bread flours. Very nice! I'm excited to try new variations of this loaf soon. Next time I make brown rice, I'll save some for bread! Continue for Multigrain Sandwich Loaf recipe.

Multigrain Sandwich Bread adapted from Whole Grain Breads Makes 1 large loaf

28.25 g whole wheat flour
28.25 g unbleached bread flour
56.5 g cornmeal
56.5 g rolled oats
42.5 g cooked steel cut oats
7 g oat bran
7 g whole flaxseeds
4 g sea salt
170 g buttermilk

Mix all of the soaker ingredients together in a bowl for about 1 minute, until all of the flour is hydrated and the ingredients form a thick, porridge-like dough.
Cover loosely with plastic and leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours (I actually moved mine to the fridge the following day and made my bread the next day--it's good for 3 days in the fridge.)

227 g unbleached bread flour
1 g instant yeast
142 g filtered water, at room temperature

Mix all of the biga ingredients together to form a ball of dough. Using wet hands, knead the dough in the bowl for 2 min. to be sure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed and the flour is fully hydrated. The dough should feel very tacky. Let the dough rest for 5 min., then knead it again with wet hands for 1 minute. The dough will become smoother but still be tacky.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover tightly, and refrigerate for a least 8 hrs. and up to 3 days. (I used mine 36 hrs. later).

2 hours before mixing the final dough, remove the biga (and soaker if it's been longer than 1 day) from the fridge.

Final Dough
all of the biga
all of the soaker
28.5 g whole wheat flour
5 g salt
7 g instant yeast
42.5 g brown sugar
1 T unsalted butter, melted

Using a pastry scraper, chop the soaker and the bigan each into 12 smaller pieces. Sprinkle some extra flour over the pre-doughs to deep the pieces from sticking back together.
Combine the soaker and biga pieces with the other ingredients except the extra flour and stir vigorously for about 2 min., until all of the ingredients are evenly integrated. The dough should be solft and slightly sticky.
Dust the counter with flour, then toss the dough in the flour to coat. Knead by hand for 3-4 min., incorporating only as much extra flour as needed, until the dough feels soft and tacky, but not sticky.
Form into a ball and let it rest for 5 min. while you prepare a clean, lightly oiled bowl.
Resume kneading the dough for 1 min (I kneaded mine for 5 more min. to pass the windowpane test--gently stretch a piece of dough to see if it will hold a paper-thin, translucent membrane). Dough will have strength yet feel soft, supple, and very tacky.
Form dough into a ball and place in the prepared bowl, spraying lightly with oil. Cover loosely with plastic and let rise 50 min (45-60)--1 1/2 times its original size.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured counter and form it into either a loaf or a batard shape (I made a batard this time but think I like this bread as a loaf).
Coat loaf lightly with a beaten egg white, and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Mist top of dough with pan spray, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise for 46-60 min. (50), until it is about 1 1/2 times its original size.
Preheat oven to 425. For my freestanding loaf, I prepared oven for hearth baking: pan of water on the very top rack and preheated baking stone.
When the dough is ready to bake, place it in oven, pour 1 cup of hot water into the steam pan, lower the temp. to 350, spray sides of oven with water and bake for 20 min., spraying oven walls at 1 and 2 minutes.
Rotate the loaf 180 degrees and continue baking for another 25 min, until the loaf is a rich brown.
Transfer bread to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 1 hour before serving.