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Monday, February 23, 2015

Alpha Bakers: Lemon Posset Shortcakes

How can a recipe that spans 5 pages and has 4 components be considered quick & easy? I was so confused. Especially this recipe calls for making beurre noisette, which I love. But it does make a lot of dishes. I have half a sink full of dishes by the time I finished the shortcake. I took a look at the Q&E list on page 545 of the book and it listed Lemon Posset Alma (page 116), a variation of lemon posset without the shortcakes as the quick & easy. Okay, now that makes sense. So the shortcake is a close cousin, once removed, of the Q&E Alma :).

We were supposed to get a snow storm this weekend. That is what the weather lady said. 4-8 inches on Saturday, additional 3-6 inches on Sunday. That's a lot of inches for the Denver area. They keep talking about it on the radio. I have a habit of doing groceries on Friday night lately. I am baking on Saturday after all, and there's always things to buy. Usually grocery stores is a bit sparse on Friday night, which is kinda nice. Not this time. It was worse than as Thanksgiving week. Parking lots are full. Shelves were half empty. I guess they were not prepared for the storm that is folks buying food to stock up for 2 days! (It is only 2 days people....)  But what they did have that I have not seen this year is Meyer lemon! How perfect is that. Like they knew we're making the baby lemon posset and the recipe calls for lemon. I was so excited to see Meyer lemon that I ended up buying 7 of them, and only used 1. I think they should last until next weekend so I'll have to think of something else to make. Maybe lemon curd?

In all the madness of gawking at the empty shelves, I forgot to buy eggs and heavy cream. I only have 2 at home, enough for 1/2 a recipe. Really. For once I want to make the whole thing and I have to make 1/2. Not happy. I am really lazy to go to the grocery store on Saturday just to get eggs. I was planning to hibernate: bake, knit, eat, sleep. So I proceed with 1/2 recipe and defrosted leftover heavy cream.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Alpha Bakers: Chocolate Pavarotti with Wicked Good Ganache

Cake design inspired by Hector Wong and Rose's latest out bakes post.

This is one of the recipes in the book that has no photos. I didn't know how to decorate the cake or what to aim for. I know I want to make 1/2 recipe of the cake *grin* and thought to decorate it by piping the ganache around the base. When I went to get my 6 inch round cake pan from storage, I saw this 6 inch heart shaped pan instead. I had completely forgotten I have this!!! I think I bought it somewhere along baking through Rose's Heavenly Cakes from a cake supply store in town. It's Wilton brand by the way and it's available on Amazon as well. When the cake cake out of the oven and the top was flat and the cake tall (1 5/8 inches), I remembered Rose's out bakes post last week and the Hector-inspired heart design, so I am proudly copying Hector's beautiful rendition.

This cake turned out a whole lot better than I had hoped for, especially since I didn't have the correct flour. I was so excited to see a King Flour brand of cake flour that I completely didn't realize it said "unbleached". That's not the same as bleached. I only realized this yesterday morning when I did mis-en-place for this cake. Well, I am way too lazy to make a trip to the store to get the correct cake flour, so I adjusted the flour by using 90% of the KA unbleached cake flour and 10% non-gmo cornstarch (Rapunzel brand). For those expecting a math lesson (I'm looking at you Monica :)), half recipe is 78 grams total flour - 70 grams of KA flour and 8 grams of cornstarch. For the leavening, it only uses baking powder. I had to check the recipe twice on the baking powder amount - I thought I read wrong. This cake uses a lot of baking powder. It makes my math difficult. 1/2 recipe would be 1 1/2 tablespoon plus 1/8 tsp. 1 tablespoon is equal 3 teaspoon (according to google), so I used 1 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon. Confused yet? We're not done. For the eggs, I have been buying Farmer's Hen House Organic Jumbo Eggs. Jumbo! It's not large or extra large anymore. Each egg is about 60 grams. I used the additional 10 grams for the liquid adjustment. Okay now we're done with the math lessons, hehe.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Alpha Bakers: Kouign Amann, revisited

For the catch up week, I made Kouign Amann.

I ordered some metal rings from Food Service Warehouse and wanted to try it out. These are actually listed as hash brown rings, which I find kind of funny that I bought them to bake Kouign Amann, but they are almost the right size - 4 inch x 1 inch (instead of 4 inch x 3/4 inch that Rose specified). I also like that they are cheaper than the usual pastry ring. I figured that if they can be used for hash browns means that they would withstand heat and would work in the oven at 400 degrees, but just to make sure I baked one of them by itself in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes - before using them for Kouign Amann. It stayed intact after 10 minutes so that's good.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Alpha Bakers: Swedish Apricot Walnut Bread

Aye, we are making full recipe this week, matey!

We are making this bread to celebrate Tu B'Shevat. As our fearless leader, Marie Wolf said, "we are nothing if not ecumenical in this group, and so it is not surprising that we mark Jewish Arbor Day." It's a day that is today's time is used to mark ecological awareness, trees are planted in celebration, and marked by eating things that grows on trees.

We got 6 inches of snow last night, so no tree planting this weekend. But we are going to eat this bread.

I love baking bread. It is right up there on my list of favorite things to make alongside cakes and pastries. Bread making is magical. You combine flour, salt, yeast, and water together. Mix it, knead it. Gluten formed. Place in a warm place and somehow it rise and double in size. And then you bake it and after it comes out of the oven it sings!!!

I bake Jim Lahey's No Knead Bread once a month for my husband. It's the same recipe every time and I have been making it for 3-4 years now. My version is slightly tweaked from the original recipe of 400 grams of bread flour. I use 320 grams of bread flour and 80 grams of whole wheat flour. I have all the steps down to a T and never gets bored making it. And every time it came out of the oven it made me so happy. The shape is always different, the cracks in different place. But I can always expect it to fill my kitchen with a wonderful smell and it sings every time.

This bread is pretty easy to make. It does require making biga 3 days before making the dough. But it doesn't take long to do. I made a couple of mistakes on this bread. I added the apricots to the dough with raisins and walnuts. And I rolled the dough the wrong side on the shaping part so my bread was higher and shorter.

I didn't do any altitude adjustment for this bread. Everything is feeling/behaving as described by the recipe. The dough was sticky/tacky. There's no leavening used for bread and I made no adjustment to the yeast or water.