Saturday, December 22, 2012

SCONES- orange, cranberry and pecan



  

Orange-scented cranberry and pecan scones

 (Makes 12)

INGREDIENTS:

4 1/4
cups flour
5
teaspoons baking powder
1/2
teaspoon baking soda
1
teaspoon salt
1
teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2
teaspoon ground allspice
2/3
cup granulated sugar
12
tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1
cup dried cranberries (or use dried cherries)
1
cup coarsely chopped pecans
4
eggs
1
cup cold heavy cream
2
tablespoons grated orange rind
2
teaspoons orange extract
1
teaspoon vanilla extract

Extra flour (for sprinkling)


1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, allspice, and sugar. Scatter over the cubes of butter and, using a pastry blender or 2 round-bladed table knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the fat is large pearl-size pieces. With your fingertips, reduce the butter to smaller flakes for about 1 minute. Add the cranberries or cherries and pecans; toss well to combine.
2. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, heavy cream, orange rind, and orange and vanilla extracts. Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture and stir with a blunt knife to form a dough. Knead the dough in the bowl for 30 seconds. It will be moist.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

CIABATTA BREAD- using SOURDOUGH starter




 
Ciabatta bread it is very special to me. It remind me the time as a little girl, this is the bread we use to eat, my grandmother baking in the kitchen and I remember as a picture hooked in time, as I was singing... I was on a wooden horse and my grandmother baking... the perfect picture...
I didn't know that time how it was called, but seeing it in this book that we follow “The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread” By Peter Reinhart,   the recipe it is exactly as I remember.... crunchy and big holes in it!
Ciabatta in Italian means slipper and this is because the flat, bulky bread remind you as a slipper. In Romanian, (which is a Latin language) “CIUBOTA” means the same thing and this is how I remember easily the name of this bread.
Today, after I learn a lot about Sourdough bread from   “King Arthur flour Center” and I have a starter from them, that I maintain and care for, I am going to use it for ciabatta bread, instead of  using poolish.

Ingredients:

-        3 ¼ cups sourdough starter


-        3 cups unbleached white flour
-        2teaspoons salt
-        1 ½ teaspoons yeast
-        ¾ cups warm water. NOTE: I read in the “Bread Apprentice book” that if I add ¼ oil + ½ cup water this way the dough will be softer and tender that all water-only version.


Directions:

You knead the dough until become nice and silky. I use for this task the bread machine, or the stand-up mixer. Leave to rest 5-10 minutes.




It is very sticky dough


You should use a lot of flour and/or grease on your hand. You shape this dough in a very special shape: Cut the dough in 2 and each piece stretch long on the margins, your hand should be full of grease or a lot of flour, on the bench and on your hands in order to manage this sticky dough. 




Carefully fold in three, one on top of each other, so you have a long shape, flat bread.
Put corn meal on the cooking sheet which is lined with parchment paper. Or you can make a “bed” of a folded towel.
You keep the dough covered, 30-40 minutes, to rise.

After this time, slide on the baking stone, or put the parchment cookie sheet, to bake.

The oven should be pre-heated to 500F; put the bread into it and from time to time spray the oven walls with water, quickly, to steam the oven. You should repeat this process 4-5 times during the first 10 minutes, at 500F. 


After that you rotate the breads, and cool the oven to 450F for 10-20 more minutes, without using the steam method.
The bread should be nice, brown, and very hard on the back, and should sound hollow when you knock it with your finger. The more precise way would be if you have 200F inside of the loaf.


BONE APPETITE! or as we say in Romanian, "pofta buna "!!



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

VANILLA ICE CREAM: AT HOME, WITHOUT MACHINE, CREAMY AND FLUFFY.





I LOVE ICE CREAM! Did I already tell you? I love Ice Cream!
 
Every day I count my carbs and fats, so I can have my ice cream as a desert! Mango ice cream is my passion and in general, more fruity…., less sugary….it is all I dream of!

I am looking to find an ice cream that is low in fat/carb, but I have to like it! As I discover (in Italy!!!) GELATTA is a perfect fit for me: not so much sugar, fluffy and soft and many, many flavors. 

I am looking to make my own WONDERFUL ICE CREAM that I can make it at home, and know what the ingredients are!
I discovered this recipe, in “Crunchy, Creamy, Sweet” blog; the pictures were astonishing, but even more: no machine, only milk and sugar…. Should I believe it? Is it even good? Is it soft? Is it hard?, full of crystals?  as are all the ice creams that you make home from yogurt, milk, fruit????

Well!! NONE OF THESE!
It is a perfect, creamy, fluffy, ice cream:  is maintaining the same consistency and same taste even days after was stored in freezer!
 AMAZING!



 
Here is the recipe:
Ingredients: 

1 can (13 oz.) evaporated milk, with Vitamin D added
1 cup powder sugar
 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 


Directions:

1. Chill the milk in the fridge overnight. This is a very important step for this recipe.




2. Poor the evaporated milk in a bowl of a stand up mixer. Using the wire whip mix the milk for a short time (40 sec).



3. Add sugar and vanilla and whip until combined. The mixer becomes very foamy and fluffy.




4 Put the bowl in freezer for 1h.




5. Using the wire whip mix the frozen mixer for about one minute and put it back in freezer, for another hour.





6. Repeat this for 4 times: whip using wire whip, and freeze  for an hour.


This is when is ready to store in the freezer:



7. Poor in a container with a lid: one can evaporated milk, will give enough ice cream to fill 1qt of ice cream box.




8. Store it in freezer until you use it.

My surprise was that next day I found in freezer, a very fluffy ice cream, soft and pleasant, with a strong vanilla taste.



 For you: vanilla ice cream, bone appetite!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

THE SOURDOUGH "STARTER": LOVING, MAINTAINING AND CARRYING.



“Sourdough starter” it is a frightening, confusing, amazing word for a POOR BEGINNER BAKER…..This is why, my friend and I we went to this class “sourdough bread” to go step by step over the procedure. If you look around in internet, there are many, many posts, tips, advices, personal experiences and so on. This confused us even more.

We went to this class in Vermont, KING ARTHUR FLOUR CENTER and it was a great teacher. We understood what’s all about sourdough. We kneaded, baked and ate a lot of bread and butter, it was a lot of fun, that day!!!
We came home with a small amount of their starter: 4oz., she gave it to us.  

MY NOTE:
THERE ARE MANY METHODS TO START “THE STARTER” http://www.kingarthurflour.com/tips/sourdough-primer.html
YOU CAN BUY IT OR YOU CAN RECEIVE IT AS A GIFT FROM A FRIEND!


Once we get it home, we have to maintain this “sourdough starter”: it is a small task, and you chose: keep on kitchen counter and feed every day, or refrigerate and maintain=feed, twice a week.

Sourdough is yeast dough: to keep the yeast alive and potent, you have to feed, or maintain. Room temp is the preferable environment for the starter: you can keep it refrigerated, but you have to feed twice a week.  Deep freezing is not a method of choice: as the teacher said, what you prefer: to have a heart attack and be saved or NOT TO HAVE A HEART ATTACK! 

The feeding process is adding equal amount of white, all purpose, unbleached flour and warm water:  4oz. flour (= a cup of flour, very loose, not leveled, and not pressed)  + 4 oz. of warm water (= half of cup)



 This way you have 2 cups of "starter", that you can maintain at room temp, or covered with plastic wrap, refrigerated.

 
Next feeding time you discard one cup (or use it in a recipe) and add (=feed) the remaining starter, with 4oz. flour + 4 oz. warm water.




 











  










Daily maintaining "the starter", at room temp:

If you want to bake bread every day, feed the starter, once a day, as follow:
       Stir the starter well, removing all, but 4 oz. Add 4 ounces of water and 4 ounces of flour, stir well until smooth, and cover with a cloth.

Maintaining your" starter" in the fridge:

If you feel, feeding and baking everyday is too much, you can  feed the refrigerated "starter" twice a week, as  above:
       Stir the starter well, removing all, but 4 oz. Add 4 ounces of water and 4 ounces of flour, stir well until smooth, and cover with a cloth.
        Allow the starter to work at room temp, at list one hour, before putting back to refrigerator, for another 3-4 days.





Now the notion of "fed" or "unfed" starter that you find in some recipes,  become clearer: 

"unfed starter" is the  discarded starter, or the starter just before is the time to feed;

"fed starter" is the starter that you feed and keep  at room temp at list  6 hours, to have   enough time for yeast to feed and divide, multiply.






All this process is a step to make a SOURDOUGH BREAD. If you understand the process you can manipulate the starter to your desire, to get a sour or not so sour bread.....

That means that is up to you, to bake a bread as sour as you like it... If you use this method that I described it here, the bread is almost not sour at all, but it became fluffy, crunchy and  chewer because of presence of sourdough starter added to the dough.





A starter left on a counter in a very hot kitchen ( around 85F and up) will ferment like crazy and you can use it as a sour starter at a certain point, or you have to feed very frequently to prevent to became overripe: very bubbling, sharp smell.


 History:
 
http://www.angelfire.com/ab/bethsbread/WhatisSourdough.html

"While sourdough starters and bread made from starters has been around for thousands of years, the term "sourdough" has a pretty short history. It is an American term that came into use during the California Gold Rush days of the late 1800's.
Before the advent of commercial bakers' yeast, the folks who traveled and settled the Western U.S. in the 19th century carried starters with them for making bread.  Over time, it was discovered that starters from St Francisco area produced bread with a unique and particularly sour tang. Thus the starters and bread from that area because known as "sourdough". "
  

 
Understanding the microbiology of the “STARTER”:
The wild yeast, which grows on top of grains, fruits and vegetable, is present into the flour and this process of "STARTER" is a benefactor of co-existence of the wild yeast and Lactobacilli in the "Sourdough starter".
In a healthy sourdough starter, they both are feeding on the sugars (the starch) from the flour, with a different end result that is beneficiary to each other.
The  lactobacilli create an acidic media from lactic and acetic acid end product that is very beneficiary for the wild yeast to grow and act as "an antibiotic" for other organisms. For instance the commercial BAKER YEAST can't live in such an acidic content.

The wild yeast end products are a bit of ethanol (alcohol) and some carbon dioxide (which is what causes the bread to rise).

LINZER TART

As a child my mother would make this tart and she was very happy to tell us that is a very famous Austrian tart  named after the town...