Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Plum-Blueberry Upside Down Cake

As I was browsing for recipe books in our local bookstore, I stumbled upon a copy of David Lebovitz's  book, Ready For Desserts.  I'm not at all familiar with any of his recipes but I have seen his name mentioned a number of times here in the food blogosphere.  So out of curiosity, I bought the book even though the front cover was slightly damaged from which I thankfully got a small discount :-)  I also decided to buy it because this book has a recipe for Marjolaine cake (which I really, really love) as well as a good variety of desserts that make use of fruits that were once rarities over here such as persimmon, blackberries, and passionfruit.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Floating Sesame Loaf

This floating sesame loaf is the second bread that Hanaa and I made for our bread baketogether (BBT) which is adapted from the book, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck.  This is so unlike the other breads that I've made before in that it requires you to dunk the ball of dough in a pot of cold water and wait for it to rise to the surface before removing.  Even after making this bread, I actually still don't know exactly what this procedure does to the dough -- Does it contribute something to the dough's gluten development?  Is it done only to provide more hydration and a thick crust?  All I know is that the dough ends up floating because of the carbon dioxide released by the yeast.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Whole Wheat and Sprouted Grain Bread

The first time I ever sprouted seeds (mung beans to be exact) was for a Biology experiment in High School.  It amazed me to see how these seemingly lifeless grains suddenly awaken to new life with just a mere soak in water.  Fifteen years later, seeing this transformation is still incredible to me and I felt like a kid again doing a fun science experiment in the kitchen.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TwD: Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

It's another round of TWD baking and I'm glad that these Chocolate Truffle Tartlets  -- one of the delicious recipes found in Dorie Greenspan's Baking With Julia -- was chosen very early in the game because I can say that I have now found a gem of a dessert that I will be making quite often! This is a truly intense and insanely chocolaty tart that bursts with varying flavors and textures with each bite.  In fact, you get a different flavor component from each square inch of the tart thanks to the chunks of white and milk chocolate and the crunchy almond-flavored pieces of amaretti di sarrono cookies mixed into the luscious dark chocolate filling.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

GCC: Fresh Egg Fettuccine with Norcina Sauce

I got pretty excited when I saw that the Gutsy Cooks Club menu lined up for this week would entail me to make my very own fresh egg pasta noodles.  I used to make my own pasta before especially lasagna noodles but I admit that laziness too often gets in the way of making these on a regular basis and really, the convenience of using store-bought pastas is just way too tempting not to mention that they seem to last FOREVER in the pantry.  But I must say though, on a personal level, that I have yet to encounter a commercial brand of pasta that can compare to the amazing taste and texture of fresh homemade pasta.  There's just nothing like it!  Sure, you're limited to the shapes you can make (obviously due to the limitations of your pasta maker) but what I really like about making my own is that I can control exactly how thick I want my pasta to be.   I always get disappointed with the quality of lasagna noodles I get from the store -- oftentimes they're too thick which obliges me to pre-cook them (even if the package instructions say there's no need to) as layering them uncooked makes the noodles absorb a lot of the sauces, resulting in a very dry lasagna.  With fresh lasagna noodles, they are layered immediately after pressing them.  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Oat Bran Broom Bread

This is another delicious and healthy bread that I made a few days ago from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads.  I've been having such great results making breads from this book that I'm tempted to bake through all of the recipes! Well maybe not all -- a whole wheat panettone doesn't sound appealing to me at all LOL.  I believe there's something about using a soaker and biga and leaving them to ferment for at least 8 hours (thus going through a gradual autolyse period) that allows for the development of flavors and enzymes which makes a very good loaf of bread.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Old-fashioned Raisin Bread

Hanaa (admin of ABC and also my email buddy :-P) and I started doing a bread baketogether recently where we would both bake the same bread recipe over a weekend and then share our baking experiences through email and our respective blogs.  This delicious raisin bread would be the very first bread of our baketogether which Hanaa picked from Nick Malgieri's blog.  Raisin bread is one of my favorite breads to munch on so I was really excited to finally learn how to make this at home instead of settling for a store-bought version.  And I must say that this recipe is way better than any store-bought raisin bread that I've tried.  It's that good!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Crazy For Rose's Heavenly Cakes Round #2

Clockwise from bottom left: Woody's Lemon Luxury Layer Cake,  Dulce de Leche cheesecake,  Moist Chocolate Raspberry Genoise, Genoise Tres Cafe, A Taste of Heaven, and Blueberry cheesecake

I baked a few delicious cakes that I got from Rose Levy Beranbaum's cake books for my mother-in-law's family reunion last Saturday and I was told that these cakes were a hit!  I asked my husband, who attended the event, to bring home a few thin slices of each so I could have a taste since it was the first time I ever made these.  Now, after eating all of them (during breakfast I might add LOL) I could now say that they were really good and I know now which ones I would be baking again and again.  I made Moist Chocolate Raspberry Genoise, Genoise Tres Cafe, and Woody's Lemon Luxury Cake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes and another genoise from RLB's Cake Bible called A Taste of Heaven which is her version of a Swiss favorite called Zuger Kirschtorte.  All of the cakes were a little tedious to make and were also in a way a gamble for me since I pretty much have zero experience in making genoise.  But given how well-received the cakes were and how appropriate they were to the formality of the occasion, I'm glad I took the risk!  I am also thankful that I got the chance to practice making genoise and understand the complexities involved in creating these fragile cakes.  When it comes to these cakes, definitely practice makes perfect.

Here are the pics of the cakes as well as my feedback regarding taste, etc.  I wasn't able to take detailed photos of the steps in making each of them (obviously due to their fragile nature) but I did have a little fun with the decor...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

TwD: White Loaves

The members of the online baking group Tuesdays with Dorie have just finished baking their way through all the recipes from Dorie Greenspan's amazing book "Baking from My Home to Yours" and this year, the founding members, Laurie and Jules (who has the recipe for this bread posted on her blog), have decided to bake through another one of Dorie's fascinating cookbooks, "Baking with Julia."  This book contains over 400 pages of delicious recipes (both sweet and savory) as well as a ton of information about baking that would be especially helpful to the novice baker.  Browsing though its pages and seeing the variety of baked goods that we are to make twice a month is making me really excited to start this adventure!  I am quite certain that we will stumble upon recipes that will be new favorites in our households.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Multigrain Struan

The first time I stumbled upon a version of Peter Reinhart's Struan bread was in his award-winning book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. He named it "Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire" in BBA because it really is quite an extraordinary multigrain bread -- you get at least 5 kinds of fiber-dense and nutrition-packed whole grains all in one delicious loaf! The great thing about this bread too is that you can use virtually any kind of grain that you like or available to you -- just make sure to follow the exact proportions listed in the recipe for the grains as well as pre-cook the larger kinds (like rice) prior to soaking. In his version of the struan found in his book Whole Grain Breads (which is also the version I made here), PR made it even a lot healthier by using 100% whole wheat flour instead of the usual unbleached all-purpose flour and also gave the option of using soy milk or rice milk instead of buttermilk or full fat milk/yogurt for the soaker.

RHC: Heavenly Coconut Seduction Cake

Despite living in a country practically surrounded by coconut trees, I don't recall ever eating coconut cake in any shape or form. Coconut and its byproducts have been mainly used here to create sweet native delicacies like pies (made with lard dough) or thickened and caramelized with either rice or certain root crops like cassava. I don't think coconut cake has ever caught on here or is even a dessert indigenous to countries where coconuts thrive the most. Well, not here in the Philippines anyway. I will even be bold enough to assume that this cake is purely a western concoction. But please do correct me if I'm wrong! :)