Friday, May 30, 2008


After a recent trip to NYC, my friend Molly and I were lamenting the availability of good bagels in Morgantown WV. We both had a few truly great bagels in New York. they are available everywhere and toasted with cream cheese, they are the best.

So I decided to make a batch and see if I could make some good ones.

I have to say, that like any yeast bread, bagels are very satisfying to make. I love the smell of yeast rising and baking. My house smelled soo so good. I did an overnight cold rise in the fridge and baked them on day two. I made plain and some with toasted sesames on the top.

This picture is taken when the bagels are in the water bath being boiled for a minute. This step gives the bagel the chewy outside texture and only takes a minute to do.
I only made a dozen. I used the recipe from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. I love Julia Child and Dorie Greenspan and this is a great cookbook. The bagels recipe is on pages 87-90. It is to long to type out, but this is a great resource and anyone interested in baking should get this book. I liked her advise to throw a few ice cubes in the bottom of your 500 degree oven when you put your bagels in to bake. It creates steam and helps the texture of your bagels while baking.
These bagels have come out of the water and I have brushed on some egg/water and coated them with sesame seeds. On my baking stone I put down some cornmeal the prevent the bagels from sticking. I like the added texture too.

Everyone should make bagels. They taste so good fresh and are no harder to make than bread.

My bagels had no real hole in the middle. In the recipe it says to make big holes before boiling and I thought I did, but after baking they were just indentations. Good for sandwiches though. These bagels were eaten so quickly that no sandwich got made with them.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

TWD-Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

This weeks Tuesday with Dorie recipe picked by Madam Chow of Madam Chow’s Kitchen has chosen… Pecan Honey Sticky buns. The buns are made with Dorie's wonderful brioche dough that we made the Raisin Snail's with a few months ago. Last time I had some trouble with the dough, combining the butter, but this time I softened the butter a bit more and used the bread hook and it was much easier to make. I froze half the dough to use later. My mom used to make pecan buns all the time when I was growing up and I love the flavors of pecans, cinnamon and honey syrup. My moms recipe was just a traditional yeast bread dough. I love the brioche dough in this recipe.

The syrup was easy to put together and I cut down a bit on the pecans. I love pecans but thought the amount in the recipe would overwhelm my kids.

The pecan buns can out great. The brioche dough melts in your mouth and the cinnamon filling was perfect.

I took some over to friends and they both said "Oh My God!" when they bit into them.

I will definitely make these again.

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

Makes 15 buns
For the Glaze:
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces1/4 cup honey1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces)
For the Filling:
1/4 cup sugar3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar1 tablespoon ground cinnamon3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Buns:
1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight)
Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this).
To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out as best you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinkle over the pecans.
To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.
To shape the buns: On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glaze recipe accordingly).
With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they're very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.
Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns have doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.
Getting ready to bake: When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven.
The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful - the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.
What You'll Need for the Golden Brioche Dough (this recipe makes enough for two brioche loaves. If you divide the dough in half, you would use half for the sticky buns, and you can freeze the other half for a later date, or make a brioche loaf out of it!):
2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons)1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour2 teaspoons salt3 large eggs, at room temperature1/4 cup sugar3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm
What You'll Need for the Glaze (you would brush this on brioche loaves, but not on the sticky buns):
1 large egg1 tablespoon water
To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can-- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. (After this, you can proceed with the recipe to make the brioche loaves, or make the sticky buns instead, or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)
The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.
Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)
Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.
Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

TWD- Traditional Madeleines

Up until this weekend, I have never made Madeleine's before. I love there shape and have always wondered about the texture and the flavor of these cookies. Well first off I would have to question if they are really cookies. They seem more like cake or muffins to me. Not that that's bad, but not at all what I was expecting.

My first batch came out overfilled and the shape did not seem like a Madeleine, but more like a strange muffin. The bottoms had OK shell imprint.

So my next batch I made sure to fill way less in each , but forgot to spray the pan so they were really hard to get out. These I tossed on some sugar. My last batch I overfilled again, and dipped the corners in a lemon icing.
I did get nice "humps" on the backs of the cookies. And they are very tender and springy. I was just disappointed in the edges. Maybe its the pan! Or maybe I just put to much batter in each mold.

Also in half of the batter I added the spices and it is a very nice flavor with the lemon.

I will be making more of these and trying different flavors. I am going to make the chocolate stuffed ones next I think.

Traditional Madeleine's
Source: Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Working in a mixer bowl, or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl. Working with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of Madeleine's. (For convenience, you can spoon the batter into the Madeleine molds, cover and refrigerate, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge; see below for instructions on prepping the pans.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 12 full-size Madeleine molds, or up to 36 mini Madeline molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Or, if you have a nonstick pan (or pans), give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If you have a silicone pan, no prep is needed. Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.
Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don’t worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven’s heat will take care of that. Bake large Madeline's for 11 to 13 minutes, and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and release the Madeline's from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant Madeline's from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.
If you are making minis and have more batter, bake the next batch(es), making certain that you cool, then properly prepare the pan(s) before baking.
Just before serving, dust the Madeleine's with confectioners’ sugar.
Makes 12 large or 36 mini cookies

Serving: Serve the cookies when they are only slightly warm or when they reach room temperature, with tea or espresso.

Storing: Although the batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, the Madeleine's should be eaten soon after they are made. You can keep them overnight in a sealed container, but they really are better on day 1. If you must store them, wrap them airtight and freeze them; they’ll keep for up to 2 months.

Monday, May 12, 2008

No TWD but Magnolia Bakery in NYC

I am going to have to skip the Florida cake chosen by Dianne of Dianne’s Dishes this week. I took a long weekend and went on a trip to New York City with my son and friend. I surprised him with tickets to a My Chemical Romance concert at Madison Square Garden. He was soooo happy. I decided I wanted to taste a famed cupcake from the Magnolia Bakery. This is a small storefront on Bleeker street in Greenwich Village. On the day we ventured out it was very rainy but found the bakery and each picked a cupcake from the self serve available. They were very yummy and brightened our day.

When ever in NYC make an effort to stop at the Magnolia Bakery. They also have the cutest t-shirts that say "Cupcakes Make You Happy" on the front and the bakery decal on the back. I got on in chocolate brown!

Oh and I do have Madeline pans so I am so excited to make these for next Tuesday!

Friday, May 2, 2008

TWD- Peanut Butter Torte

This weeks recipe's by Elizabeth of Ugg Smell Food has chosen…Peanut Butter Torte on pages 282-283. Wow it was an amazing one. Everyone who took a bite loved this over the top torte.

Oh my! This is one recipe to be remembered. The taste of this peanut butter mouse is so good it is hard to put into words. The addition of the cinnamon and coffee adds a wonderful yet subtle dimension to this over the top good torte. I don't know anyone who would not like this dessert.

I made baby cakes instead of a 9" torte and they are so cute and delicious. I gave a few to neighbors and friends and they feel in love. Make this one and make it often.

Peanut Butter Torte
1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
2 ½ c. heavy cream
1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ c salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy)
2 tablespoons whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
Getting ready: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Crape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.
Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.
Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.
To Finish The Torte: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.
Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and , working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.
Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.
When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Update on Polenta Cake

I just wanted to add a photo of my cut cake and comment on the flavor. I added thyme to my cake as Dorie suggested and was very pleased with the results. It compliments the over all honey flavor nicely. It was just enough to add another dimension with over powering or making it savory. I would recommend adding the thyme or even rosemary or lavender to this cake in the future. Also serving it with the sweet creme fraiche and fig jam was really excellent.