Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ABC: Glazed Apricot-Plum Galette

I don't normally see fresh apricots being sold in our supermarkets over here even during peak season so I was all set to turn Abby Dodge's Glazed Apricot-Plum Galette from her book The Weekend Baker into a peach- or nectarine-plum galette instead.  It was such a lucky coincidence though that as I was scouring the shelves for fresh fruits a few weeks ago, our supermarket, to my delight, had an abundant display of very fresh apricots that I couldn't resist buying some right then and there.  Even the plums were rather plentiful so by the time I got home, I had all of the fruits needed to make the galette which is also ABC's recipe for the month of August.  I was a little unsure of how well these fruits would keep in the fridge so I decided to make the galette a few weeks in advance.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Diabetic-Friendly and Gluten-Free Chinese Almond Cookies

 I am thankfully, neither diabetic nor gluten-intolerant but it just so happened that the recipe that caught my attention as I was browsing some of my recipe books was for these Chinese Almond Cookies made purely with brown rice flour, thus becoming gluten-free, and sweetened with only diabetic-friendly coconut sugar replacing all the sucanat/brown sugar originally called for in the recipe.  Since I eat Calrose brown rice on a daily basis, I had a lot on hand and milled my own flour using my hand-cranked grain mill which, by the way, took me what seemed like HOURS to finish.  I thought that milling only 2 cups of brown rice would be an easy task but I underestimated how hard the grains were and was only able to turn the crank close to 5 seconds each time.  The good thing about that snafu though was that I was able to get a good arm workout from it! :-)  If you're also milling your own brown rice flour for this recipe 3/4 - 1 cup of grains would suffice.

The cookies were really delicious with a nice sandy texture from the brown rice and just the right sweetness from the coco sugar.  This was so easy to make too -- well only if you don't count the milling part LOL -- and because of the lack of gluten in the brown rice flour, it's not sensitive to over-mixing as well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TwD: Semolina Bread

 This Tuesday's Baking with Julia recipe and the second TWD bake for the month of July is the Semolina Bread by contributing baker Nick Malgieri.   This is the second bread recipe of his that I've made the first one being his Old-Fashioned Raisin Bread which my entire family loved.   I've also made various kinds of semolina breads before but this is the first time I made a version that makes use of only commercial yeast via the "flying sponge" method where all the yeast called for in the recipe is already added to a mixture of equal parts flour and water, allowed to ferment for about two hours, then eventually added to the final dough mix.  I must say that I'm loving this sponge method in bread baking because of how super quick it is to whip up unlike other pre-ferments like a biga or poolish that takes about 12 or more hours to ferment.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Granola Bars with Brown Rice Syrup

The first time I ever ate a granola bar (the commercial kind), I was so put off with its taste and texture that I never touched nor ate a single granola bar since then.  There were just a few things about it I didn't like--the weird chewy texture of it that hurt my jaw, the overt sweetness that made my throat sore, and the combination of flavors and ingredients that just didn't appeal to me.  It basically had this promising look of so much healthy goodness but in reality, it's just a glorified candy bar loaded with so much unhealthy sugars that eating a Snickers bar actually sounds a lot better.  Having that unpleasant taste experience ingrained in my mind, I obviously never felt inclined to make my own granola bars.   But as I was reading the pages of The Green Market Baking Book to look for recipes I could make with the bags of mixed dried fruits I have sitting for the longest time in my pantry, I couldn't help but eye the recipe for granola bars because of all the healthy ingredients that are in it (flax meal, almonds, etc) as well as the replacement of all the unhealthy fats and refined sugars with better ones (which is what the book is all about) like brown rice syrup for the brown/white sugar and extra virgin olive oil for the butter.  I got so curious with this recipe that I definitely had to make it and it certainly helped that I had all of the ingredients already in my kitchen. Well, except for the brown rice syrup which I had to buy at a Korean grocery store that's just walking distance from my house.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Oatmeal Bread

I admit, I was half-expecting these oatmeal loaves (from Hamelman's Bread) to turn out disastrously as I was plagued with so much doubt and uncertainty while I was making the dough.  Whenever I make pan breads, the dough is oftentimes very slack and slightly tacky while this one was actually very stiff (though a little sticky because of the honey) causing me to wonder if I should've added more water to the mix.  After going through a few bread baking failures recently, I didn't want to risk another one by altering the formula even if it meant just adding a little water.  A little dissuaded, I still pressed on though and even did an overnight bulk fermentation which is an optional step in all of Hamelman's straight dough breads.  Come morning, the dough was even stiffer for obvious reasons but it certainly wasn't an encouraging sight for me and I was even tempted to throw all of it away and start all over again.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pain aux Céréales

This is another delectable bread that I made from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking which is flavored by a combination of sesame and flax seeds in both the crust and crumb.  The formula makes use of a pâte fermentée, making up almost 40% of the final dough.  Interestingly, the formula also calls for the addition of diastatic malt powder which I believe could have been omitted though it didn't state that this was optional.  I found the bread to be slightly on the chewy side because of the addition of DMP so feel free to use less of it or completely omit it if you don't have any on hand.

Chocolate Mixed Berry Trifle

Taking advantage of the abundant supply of berries in our supermarket, I decided to make a mixed berry version of Rose Levy Beranbaum's Chocolate Raspberry Trifle for a get together I had with my family last Sunday.  The recipe is from her book Rose's Heavenly Cakes and this one is really perfect for all those who love chocolate and fruit dessert combos which everyone in my family apparently does.  I used a combination of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries totaling the same amount of raspberries required in her recipe (sans the topping) which is about 6 1/2 cups.  Everything about this trifle is truly exceptional--the Chambord syrup-soaked chocolate genoise (which I've made before for Rose's Chocolate Raspberry Genoise), the super-rich creme anglaise, the raspberry-flavored whipped cream and even the way the layers are beautifully exposed in the trifle bowl, showing all of these delicious components stacked together into one very irresistible cake.