Lemon Loaf Cake {TWD-BWJ}

This is the second April recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie. Unlike the pizza rustica, which involved mixing and rolling crust, making filling, and shaping a lattice topping, the lemon loaf cake was a quick batter that went from bowl to oven in about 5 minutes. In fact, the most complicated part of the whole thing was denuding the lemons.

The cake baked up beautifully and smelled fresh and lemony when it came out of the oven.

I served the lemon cake for dessert after a dinner of the pizza rustica. Both were big hits with my family.

Our hosts for this week were Truc of Treats and Michelle of The Beauty of Life. Visit their blogs for the recipe. And check out the TWD main page to see what everyone else thought of this recipe.

Advertisements

Irish Soda Bread {TWD-BWJ}

Although I’ve recently had to cut back on my baking/blogging commitments, I’ve been toying with joining the second round of Tuesdays with Dorie since it was announced. I bought the book Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan a while ago but hadn’t made anything from it yet. So when a group was announced to regularly bake recipes from the book, I was sorely tempted to join. What finally tipped the scales was the fact that there would only be two recipes per month, and members are only required to post one of the two. A once a month commitment fits even my schedule, so I decided to jump in.

The other thing that helped me decide was the second recipe for March: Irish soda bread. I love Irish soda bread and make it regularly, especially around this time of year. In fact, by the time I saw this pick for March 20, I had already made two soda breads: one from a Bob’s Red Mill mix and the other Irish whiskey soda bread from my friend Michele’s blog. I ended up taking these loaves to work, where they were both big hits, so I needed to make another loaf for home for St. Patrick’s Day. What better way to ease into TWD than baking something I was going to make anyway?

This is a very simple recipe. There are only four ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. The dry ingredients get whisked together, then the buttermilk is stirred in and the whole thing is formed into a loaf. After slashing the top of the loaf with the traditional cross-shaped pattern, it goes into a 375°F oven for about 50 minutes.

This loaf baked up beautifully and looked like a traditional soda bread. We had already had dinner by the time I made it, so I ate a piece of the bread with butter for an evening snack. It came out a bit dry for my liking. I didn’t check the temperature of the loaf during or after baking, so I’m not sure if it overbaked or if that texture was to be expected. There is almost no fat in the bread, so I’m not surprised it came out kind of dry.

As far as the flavor goes, it was just so-so. The buttermilk gave it a nice tang, but otherwise it was a bit bland. Of the three soda breads I made this week, this came in third in both flavor and texture. Others have reported liking it more than I, so I might try it again sometime. But for now, it’s definitely not a contender to become my go-to soda bread recipe.

The Modern Baker, by Nick Malgieri {Review}

“If you have an oven, you need The Modern Baker.”  ~ Maida Heatter

First published in 2008, Nick Malgieri‘s cookbook, The Modern Baker: Time-saving Techniques for Breads, Tarts, Pies, Cakes, and Cookies, has just been reissued in paperback.

Like most home cooks, I own a lot of cookbooks. Some I turn to all the time; others I rarely touch. The Modern Baker never leaves my kitchen.

This book contains over 150 recipes, both sweet and savory, with everything from quick breads to savory tarts to cookies, cakes, and pies. I have been baking from it for about a year and a half, and even started the Modern Baker Challenge to encourage others to bake with me. In that time, I’ve made — and blogged about — almost 100 recipes. (If you want to read any of the blog posts, use the search box on this page to search for {ModBak}, the tag I use in all my Modern Baker posts.)

I have really come to appreciate the clarity with which the recipes are written, how easy they are to follow, and the consistent results I get when making them. But what really sets this book apart from other cookbooks is the way Nick takes the mystery and intimidation out of baking. Through his helpful, step-by-step instructions and photos, he shows how to make perfect pie crusts, “instant” puff pastry, bakery-quality cakes and pies, and company-worth tarts.

I originally picked up The Modern Baker in hopes that I could finally overcome my mental block when it comes to pie crusts. As comfortable as I am in the kitchen, both with cooking and baking, I had never been able to make a decent pastry crust. It wasn’t that I didn’t try; I just could never seem to get it right. My dough would be gooey or too dry, and when I baked it, it would turn out tough or dry and crumbly. So I was delighted when I made Nick’s quick pastry crust and it turned out perfect the first time. And the second. And the third. And every time since.

The puff pastry is another breakthrough in this book. It mixes up in minutes and doesn’t require rolling in butter in “turns” as in most puff pastry recipes. After mixing the ingredients in the food processor, you pat it out, fold it over itself envelope style, roll it up, and pop it in the fridge. And the resulting puff pastry surpasses anything you can buy. Since I discovered Nick’s technique, I always have homemade puff pastry in the freezer. And the book has taught me countless ways to use it.

If you fancy yourself a cook, but have always been intimidated by baking, you need to own this book. And if you are a seasoned baker and want to find some new, streamlined techniques for the recipes you love to make, you’ll find them here. Even if you’ve never tried your hand at homemade bread or layer cakes, you will feel like a real baker after trying just a few recipes.

In fact, whatever your level of baking experience, you will learn amazing tips, techniques, and tricks from Nick Malgieri and The Modern Baker.

Pumpkin Cornbread {Recipe} {Autumn Roundup}

When my friend Di announced that she was hosting an Autumn baking roundup, I signed on right away. This is my favorite time of year, and I love the flavors of the season. I wasn’t sure what I would make (the theme is “Handmade Loaves”), but I knew I’d find something appropriate to the Fall weather.

I actually came up with this recipe the other night when I was gearing up for the Pumpkin Dinner Roundup that I hosted last week. I had already made and blogged my recipe for that event, Stuffed Pumpkin. But I got the idea to try a cornbread featuring pumpkin, and I thought about changing my Pumpkin Roundup post if it worked out as planned. That’s when I remembered Di’s roundup and decided to submit this recipe for that event.

Like most cornbread recipes, this one begins by mixing the wet and dry ingredients separately, then combining them and mixing briefly before spreading in a pan.

Pumpkin Cornbread

 Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

 Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Grease 8×11 ½-inch pan with spray oil.
  2. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in large bowl until well mixed.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk eggs, then add pumpkin, butter, and maple syrup and mix well.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until evenly moistened. Spread batter in pan and smooth top.
  5. Bake cornbread for 25-30 minutes, until firm to touch and cake tester inserted in middle comes out clean.

Yields 8-10 servings.

This was a delicious cornbread, and paired especially well with chili. I ate it warm on the day it was baked, and it had a definite pumpkin flavor. It reminded me of pumpkin bread, although not as sweet. I tried more the next morning and was surprised to find that at room temperature it tasted more like a traditional cornbread. I could hardly taste the pumpkin.

So, warm or room temperature, this is a great cornbread. And perfect for a cool Fall day.

Cream Cheese Scones {Bake!}

This week’s Bake! selection is from our newest baker, Glennis, who chose these simple, delicious scones for her first pick. And a great pick it was.

The dough consisted of flour, sugar, baking powder, cream cheese, salt, butter, eggs, and milk, and came together very quickly in the food processor. After mixing the dough, I dumped it out on a floured board, kneaded it a few times, and divided it in two.

I shaped each piece of dough into a circle about six inches in diameter, then scored each one into six sections.

Although the recipe didn’t call for it, I topped each scone with sprinkling sugar. I baked the scones at 425°F for 20 minutes, let them cool a bit, then divided them.

I served the scones with red currant jelly. They were moist, not as crumbly as many scones, and really delicious.

This was such a simple and quick recipe. It took just over half-an-hour start to finish. Definitely one to make again and again.

Salted Butter Break-ups {FFwD}

Breaking up is easy (and tasty) to do.

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was another quick and delicious treat. Like the savory cheese and chive bread we made a few weeks ago, the dough for salted butter break-ups came together quickly. The ingredients — flour, sugar, sel gris (grey sea salt), unsalted butter, and water — are mixed in the food processor in a matter of seconds.

After mixing the dough, I pressed it out into a rectangle, which I then wrapped and refrigerated for a few hours.

I rolled the chilled dough out between layers of plastic wrap to about 5 x 11 inches. Then I brushed the dough with egg wash and made a cross-hatch pattern in the dough à la peanut butter cookies. I baked the dough in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, until it was crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

After cooling the break-up, I placed it on the table whole, and we kept breaking off pieces all evening as we passed the table. I expected it to be like a thick cracker, and the saltiness of it was certainly reminiscent of homemade crackers I’ve made. But the sweetness and thickness of it were definitely more cookie-like. I would call it more of a salty cookie than a sweet cracker. And neither of those descriptions may sound all that appealing, but trust me when I say this cookie/cracker was addictively delicious.

So call it what you want. But definitely call me when you bake this recipe. I’ll be right over.

Cornmeal Buttermilk Waffles {ModBak}

This is one of those recipes that seems a little strange at first — cornmeal in waffles? — but after you try it, you find yourself going back to it again and again. In fact, I’ve already made this recipe three times. Well, actually I’ve made the batter three times but have only baked the waffles twice. Let me explain.

Back in September, before we got to the Yeast-Risen Specialties section in the Modern Baker Challenge, I was in the mood for waffles. I don’t make waffles very often; in fact, it had been at least a year or two since I had made them at home. I order them out sometimes, but we just don’t do them at home. But I decided to make them one weekend, and I knew there was a waffle recipe coming up in the next section of The Modern Baker, so I thought I would give it a try.

This is a simple recipe, which takes only a little bit of planning, as the batter has to be mixed up the night before you plan to bake the waffles. To make the batter, I mixed yeast into warm milk in a mixing cup. Then I combined flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. In another bowl, I beat eggs, melted butter, and buttermilk. (I had the buttermilk in the freezer from the last time I made cultured butter. Since I found out that buttermilk can be frozen, I almost always have it on hand.)

I combined the wet and dry ingredients, mixed it well, and put the batter in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, I got the batter out of the refrigerator and stirred it down. It had just about doubled in volume and had a sweet, tangy taste. I was the first one up, and I thought I would surprise the rest of the family with fresh, hot waffles when they got up.

I checked the cupboard for the waffle iron but didn’t find it. I figured it must be in the basement, where I store kitchen supplies and equipment that I don’t use very often. I dug around downstairs but couldn’t find it there, either. I went back and forth between the kitchen and basement, looking everywhere I could think of, but I never did find it. So, I didn’t surprise anyone with breakfast that morning. In fact, I ended up throwing away the batter.

Fast forward to last week. I was talking to two of my co-workers at the office. I asked Margy if she had a waffle iron. She did, so I told her if she would bring it in Friday morning, and Mark would bring syrup, I’d supply the waffle batter so we could have breakfast. They were both a little leery of the idea of cornmeal in waffles, but my reputation as a baker and chef meant they would give me the benefit of the doubt and try these waffles.

So that evening, I mixed up another batter, put it in a lidded pitcher, and chilled it overnight. The next day, we set up our waffle station in the kitchen area at work and started baking. The waffles came out very thin, which I think was mostly a function of Margy’s ancient, and very heavy, waffle iron. We all agreed: these were great waffles. The cornmeal gave them just a bit of crunch and a nice, slightly nutty flavor. Mark and Margy told me about their misgivings, but both said these were delicious and very flavorful waffles.

That was Friday. On Saturday the girls and I went to the outlet mall to do some shopping. As always, I snuck away to Le Gourmet Chef “just to browse”. I was wandering the aisles, when this caught my eye:

Now, I know my old waffle iron is around the house somewhere. But this is a Belgian waffle maker. And it’s the kind like they have in hotels that flips over. How cool is that? Needless to say, it found its way into my shopping bag, along with some K-cups, a nutmeg grinder, a set of conventional and odd-sized measuring cups and spoons, and a roasting pan for the Thanksgiving turkey.

I, of course, had to justify buying another waffle iron, so I made another batch of batter Saturday night, and we had waffles for breakfast on Sunday morning.

I was surprised at how light and fluffy these waffles came out compared to the ones we made at work. They puffed up just like you would expect a Belgian waffle to do.

They were as good on Sunday as they had been on Friday. I may not make always make these when I want waffles, but this is definitely a recipe I will make many times in days to come.

They were certainly worth the expense of a new waffle iron — as if I needed an excuse to buy something new for the kitchen.

Irish Soda Bread Muffins {ModBak}

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about the Quick Breads section of The Modern Baker is that the breads really are quick. For example, in the 15 minutes it took to bake the ginger scones, I mixed up the butterscotch scones and had them ready to go into the oven as soon as the ginger scones came out.

So even though I usually save my baking for the weekends, the other night after work I decided to throw together Irish soda bread muffins. I got back from walking the dog at 7:30 was relaxing in my chair by 7:50, having mixed up the muffins and cleaned the kitchen. Yes, kids, when Nick Malgieri says “quick”, he means it!

This simple recipe consists of flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, caraway seeds, unsalted butter, sugar, egg, buttermilk (I substituted buttermilk powder and half-and-half), and currants. After assembling the ingredients, I lined the muffin tin with paper liners and preheated the oven to 350° F.

Next, I mixed the dry ingredients (other than the sugar) in a bowl, then whisked the butter and sugar in a separate bowl. I mixed in the egg, then half the cream, half the flour mxture, then the rest of the cream. I tossed the currants with a little flour, added them to the batter, then folded in the rest of the flour.

I found that an ice cream scoop was the perfect size to fill the muffin tins. I baked the muffins for 30 minutes, then cooled them in the pan.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this was another wonderful recipe. The muffins were delicious — slightly sweet and very flavorful. I especially enjoyed them with a little butter and fig preserves.

Triple Chocolate Scones {ModBak}

This is the 11th recipe, and the last of the scones, in the Modern Baker Challenge.

As the name indicates, these scones are loaded with chocolate. They have Dutch process cocoa, milk chocolate, and bittersweet chocolate. The three combine to make these scones rich and deeply flavored. Surprisingly, though, they are not overly sweet.

As with Real Welsh Scones, Ginger Scones with Almond Topping, and Butterscotch Scones, the dough is mixed up quickly in the food processor. The milk chocolate, sugar, and cocoa are pulsed a few times, then the flour, baking powder, and salt are added, and the mixture is pulsed again before adding the butter and pulsing until it resembles coarse corn meal. Finally, the bittersweet chocolate, egg, and milk are added and pulsed a few more times.

I finished kneading the dough on a Silpat, divided it into three pieces, and formed each piece into a sphere. I cut each sphere into four wedges and placed the wedges on a baking sheet. Although the recipe didn’t call for it, I sprinkled each scone with turbinado sugar, both for a little additional sweetness and for appearance.

The scones were baked at 400° F for about 17 minutes.

They were moist, gooey, very chocolately (of course), rich, and delicious. These scones just barely edged out the ginger scones as my favorite scones in the book. In fact, they rank near the top of my list in the whole Quick Breads section.

If you’ve been thinking of giving The Modern Baker (the book and/or the Challenge) a try, start with this recipe. It will make a believer out of you.

Butterscotch Scones {ModBak}

The 10th recipe (out of 15) in the Quick Bread section of The Modern Baker is Butterscotch Scones.  

  

I mixed up these scones while the Ginger Scones were baking. It took almost exactly as long to prepare these scones as it did to bake the ginger ones.  

First, I mixed the dry ingredients in the food processor.

Then, I added the butter and pulsed to mix.

Finally, I added the eggs and milk.

After the final mix in the food processor, I turned the dough out onto a Silpat, kneaded it four or five times, then divided the dough into three pieces. I patted each piece into a round, then divided the rounds into four wedges.  

  

I baked the scones for 15 minutes, until they were well-browned.  

  

As with the ginger scones, I ate these scones fresh from the oven. I wasn’t exactly disappointed with the taste, but compared to the ginger scones, they weren’t quite as flavorful. As I reread the recipe while preparing this post, I realized that I had used unsalted butter, which may explain why the scones seemed to be lacking in flavor.  

Even with unsalted butter, however, they were worth baking (and eating). I will make these scones again, with salted butter next time, to see how they taste when they are made correctly.

Updated 5/26/2010:  I baked these again tonight, this time using salted butter. I could tell even before I baked them that these would have a true butterscotch flavor. And they did not disappoint. If they were good before, this time they are excellent. Every bit as good as the ginger scones, which I absolutely loved.

« Older entries