Wednesday, August 29, 2012

You don't know Babka...! (BBD#53)

There are so many on-line forums for cooks and bakers. I can't say I have explored many of them, but through the Daring Kitchen, I do learn about some. On of them is Bread Baking Day. As one who loves to both bake and eat bread, this is one that I kind of drool over from time to time. I even tried to participate a while back. There was a chocolate bread theme, and I made chocolate-chocolate chip challah. Yummy, and perfect for the event. But I never blogged it. So I didn't really follow through. But this month is different. Aunty Twin over at CMomCook is the host this month, and I really do like to support her. That and she chose a really yummy theme - swirly breads!
I decided to make a classic swirly bread for our family - chocolate babka.  Babka is a yeasted dough rolled and swirled with yumminess.  This is something I have made before, but this time I had the best helper - Little Miss and her three year old baking expertise!
I started the dough during rest time, and it comes together pretty much like any other dough, so no really fun pictures of that.  (I did use my usual substitutions - soy milk and margarine.)
Little Girl was super excited to punch down the dough:
And then she wanted to roll it into a square:
 I also let her measure and mix the chocolate cinnamon sugar filling (I did the chopping while she slept, though):
 Then the filling was spread onto the dough with expert hands:
 I handled the rolling part:
 And the twisting for swirly effect:
 She did take over with the camera when I put the loaf into the pan to proof:
 Baked and ready to show off it's inner beauty:
 Chocolaty swirls!!
 I love how the swirls look different depending on where you cut into the loaf:

Thanks, Aunty Twin, for the fun Day of Bread Baking!  I hope everyone else enjoyed their swirly breads as much as we did!

Chocolate Babka
adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4 cup warm vanilla soy milk(105° to 110°
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 7.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 2/3 cups), divided
  • 5.85 ounces bread flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • (I used all AP flour, as that is what I had in the house)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted margarine, cut into pieces and softened
  • Cooking spray
  • Filling:
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used 1/4 c. white, 1/4 c. brown sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • Streusel:
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon margarine, softened
  • Preparation:

    1.  Dissolve 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and yeast in warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and egg yolk. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 6 ounces (about 1 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour and bread flour to milk mixture; beat with dough hook attachment at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add 5 tablespoons margarine, beating until well blended. Scrape dough out onto a floured surface (dough will be very sticky). Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add 1.5 ounces (about 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).
    2. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let dough rest 5 minutes.
    3. Line the bottom of a 9 x 5–inch loaf pan with parchment paper; coat sides of pan with cooking spray.
    4. To prepare filling, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside.
    5. Place dough on a generously floured surface; roll dough out into a 16-inch square. Sprinkle filling over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edges. Roll up dough tightly, jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam and ends to seal. Holding dough by ends, twist dough 4 times as if wringing out a towel. Fit dough into prepared pan. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
    6. Preheat oven to 350°.
    7. To prepare streusel, combine powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, and 1 tablespoon softened margarine, stirring with a fork until mixture is crumbly; sprinkle streusel evenly over dough. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until loaf is browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool bread completely on wire rack before slicing.

    Monday, August 27, 2012

    Daring to do it: Filled Pate a Choux Swans

    (I am not at home right now, and I only have access to two pictures from this process...  Sorry!)

    One of the reasons I joined the Daring Kitchen was to stretch my abilities as a home cook and baker.  Another reason I joined was to have fun.  This month's challenge was the perfect example of both!!

    Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!

    Having made cream puffs before (remember the croquembouche challenge?), I was excited for a chance to make them again.  But swans?  I am not exactly adept with a piping bag.  And I was REALLY nervous about making something so delicate.  But Kat was an amazing hostess.  Her mandatory items for this challenge:  Make a crème-filled choux pastry in the design of your choice. Also mandatory is having a lot of fun doing it.  So I didn't have to do swans, but I did have to have fun.  That I can do!!
    So I made ladybugs.
    I dyed the choux pastry red, I filled it with dairy free chocolate pudding (Baby Girl has a milk allergy, I am lactose intolerant...), and I even added chocolate chip spots." title="pics thru 8-15-2012 070 by tinkrsh, on Flickr">
    " width="240" height="180" alt="pics thru 8-15-2012 070">I was really proud of how they turned out.  And we really did have fun.  Making them and eating them!" title="pics thru 8-15-2012 072 by tinkrsh, on Flickr">
    " width="240" height="180" alt="pics thru 8-15-2012 072">
    Thank you so much, Kat!  I really was going to attempt swans after the fun I had with the bugs, I just ran out of time...  But hopefully I will make them another time and still have a great time! 
    If you want to have some fun of your own, look here to see what my fellow Daring Bakers created.  It will blow you away!

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Surprise! Pie

    I love pie.  I am not sure what it is, but I just love almost anything in a crust.  When it came time to decide what this month's Sourdough Surprise would be, it turned out that pretty much all of us had pie on the brain, and we were all excited to play with this one.  The recipe was pretty basic, subbing in sourdough starter for the liquid.
    The dry ingredients:
     All wrapped up and ready to rest:
     Ready to roll:
     The three year old wanted to poke the holes in the crust.  She did a good job, don't you think?
     Pre-baked pie shell:
     I was a little concerned about the cracks, I had decided to make a dinner pie - quiche - and I didn't want egg custard dripping everywhere!    As it turns out, I had no reasons to worry:
     Yum.  Broccoli, cheese, onions and eggs in a sourdough crust.  So.  Good.
    The crust was great.  Crispy but tender, great flavor but not overpowering...  I was so pleased!
    There was only one thing I was sad about - that I only made the one pie this month!!  No worries.  Sourdough pie crusts will be used again.  For lots of different types of pies. I can't wait!!
    I hope you made your own pie this month, and I hope you'll link it up for all of us to see!!

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    Daring to do it: Cornmeal

    When I saw the heading for this month's Daring Cooks challenge, I have to admit I was a little wary.  Were we supposed to grind our own corn?  What was interesting about a cornmeal challenge?  Luckily, Rachael was our host, and she was well prepared for just that sort of question...

    Rachael of pizzarossa was our August 2012 Daring Cook hostess and she challenged us to broaden our knowledge of cornmeal! Rachael provided us with some amazing recipes and encouraged us to hunt down other cornmeal recipes that we’d never tried before – opening our eyes to literally 100s of cuisines and 1000s of new-to-us recipes!

    Rachael provided us with some absolutely amazing ideas for recipes using cornmeal.  She really made me realize that I was pretty much ignoring a kitchen staple which I had in my kitchen just to dust under breads and pizzas.  While I didn't use any of her recipes, her inspiration, guidance and support were inspiring.  I wanted to make so many dishes, but sadly only made two...
    My first was "fried" green tomatoes and squash.  But baked, not fried.
    The breading - cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper:
    The breading station - veggies, eggs and breading:
     The finished product:
    This was good.  Not as good as I had hoped, but I think that is because I was not very generous with the seasonings.  Lesson learned for next time.Next I made something which I had been curious about for a long time - polenta.  Also known as cornmeal mush.  But polenta sounds fancier, so let's go with that.  I also decided to go with fried polenta, since I knew that was something I had never done.
    One part cornmeal (seasoned with salt and pepper) stirred into three parts boiling water:
    Cooked polenta formed into a well sprayed dish to set:
     Cut up and ready to fry:
     Crisping up nicely in the pan:

    Up close.  Yum:
     "Dressed" with sauteed veggies and tofu:
    If the "fried" great tomatoes were only ok, this fried polenta was amazing.  I really liked it!  In fact, I am so excited to add it to my regular rotation.  It had great texture, great flavor, and can be seasoned and paired in so many ways!  Loved it!
    Thank you, Rachael, for making us take a closer look at an ingredients which I had sadly taken for granted!  It was so much fun to play an learn with you!
    If you want to see what amazing dishes were created with such a "simple" ingredient, take a look here!

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    Fresh Picked and Pulled Apart

    When we bought our house a couple of years ago, one of the cool bonus features was this:
     Yup.  A peach tree.  Why this was so awesome to me is a little uncertain.  I have no clue how to properly care for a peach tree, and I have never historically been a huge peach eater.  But I was excited about it anyway.  I mean, just look!
    So when my sister over at CMomCook told me about a new bread baking forum which this month is featuring breads make with summer fruits, I knew I would have to participate!  This new forum is called Twelve Loaves, and is designed to encourage more of us to bake at home.  Which is something I totally believe in, so I am really excited to see where it takes me!  A big thanks to Lora from Cake Duchess, Jaimie from Life's a Feast and Lisa from Parsley, Sage & Sweet (a personal fave in the food-blogging world!) for creating this fun new challenge, and for encouraging such creativity.
    With a summer fruit bread challenge and beautiful, home-grown peaches in hand  I was ready.  Well, sort of.  I was originally thinking I would make  peach monkey bread, going from the strawberry monkey bread Auntie Twin had made.  I made the sweet bread dough and had it proofing, then we went out to harvest.
     It was around then that I decided to do something other than monkey bread.  Putting our heads together, Auntie Twin and I came up with the idea to make peach pull-apart bread.  Yum.
    I cooked down the pealed and chopped peaches with some brown sugar and cinnamon:
    This was then mashed into gooey goodness.
    The sweet dough was rolled out and covered with cinnamon sugar:
     The peach mash was then spread over the dough:
     Using my pizza cutter I cut rows of dough, which then stacked and cut into rectangles.  The rectangles were then (quite messily) put into a well sprayed loaf pan:
     Into the oven to bake.  When the house smelled too good to wait, the bread was taken out to cool.
    I then drizzled the loaf with a cinnamon vanilla glaze:
    It took a LOT of restraint to wait until after dinner to dig in!!  But it was so worth the wait...
    If you want to take part in the Twelve Loaves fun, check out Lisa or Lora's blogs for full rules and details.  And don't forget to add yourself to the linky!