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Monday, July 4, 2016

Alpha Bakers: Blueberry Crumb Party Coffee Cake

Happy 4th of July everyone!

I have been a slacker-o of an Alpha Baker. I have no valid excuse, except that we have no AC and that makes me don't want to bake. It's currently 79 degrees in the house and I am hanging out in the kitchen typing this post. Yes we are surviving with a warm indoor weather. It is dry in CO so 79 degrees here is not the same as in more humid places like MN where Marie is or NY where Rose is or Singapore where Faithy is. Even so, I am not feeling like baking in this temperature.

But when I saw this cake in the post, I know I have to bake it. Marie said it well in her post that we all could agree that no one does sour cream cake as good as Rose. And it is blueberry season and they have been cheap and good ($3 for a 6 oz container of organic blueberries). So thanks to Marie for scheduling it in the summer!

I took a quick glance of all the ingredients before I went shopping for this cake. I know it will use sour cream and blueberries. I have the rest. When I got home, I saw that this cake feeds A WHOLE BUNCH of people - and it used 3 egggs, so naturally I am making 1/3. A quick google search of the volume of 13x9 pan indicates that I can use a 7 inch pan for a 1/3 volume.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Alpha Bakers: Rugelach

Unlike some of my Alpha Baker friends, I get pretty excited when I see recipes containing raisins. I love raisins. I would happily order, eat, cook anything with raisins in it, sweet or savory. 

Of course now that I've declared my love of raisins, I will tell you that I ended up making 1/2 recipe of these Rugelach without raisins. I wanted to try something different but I could not decide whether to choose the Chocolate Raspberry or Cran-Raspberry so I made a mixture of both. Mine is Cran-Raspberry Chocolate. And as you will see from the step by step photos below, I did not use seedless raspberry jam - the one we have is seeded and I don't bother straining them.

Everyone I shared this with love them and I had fun trying to pronounce Rugelach, which to me sounds very similar to Arugula and at some point when someone asked what it is, I happily answered: "Arugula!"

I've made the rugelach from Rose's Christmas cookie book back in 2012 (you can read the post here). I don't remember any details about that experience, only that it was positive and yummy. As I re-read my post back then, written by Jenn circa 2012, it sounds like I was confused by the explanation to roll the dough into a circle. Well, I can proudly tell you guys that I am not confused about this anymore so I think we can safely say that 4 years of baking since then have paid off? :)

These arugula rugelach are easy to put together and very yummy. I love that I can make the dough ahead as I made it one day then it sat in the fridge for a couple days. The combo filling is really good too, I can taste a bit of everything, though I think the chocolate overpower the cranberries a bit even though I didn't use the full amount of chocolate pearls. I think next time if I use chocolate at all I will only put a couple of pearl in each rugelach.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Alpha Bakers: Hungarian Raisin Walnut Tartlets

I love this pie. They are fun to put together, even though they take a heck of a lot longer than I had anticipated. The recipe reads pretty easy. Make 3x the recipe of a standard pie shell. I want to make 1/2 recipe so that means 1.5x recipe. Easy to figure out since the recipe is in grams. The pie dough came together pretty quickly. Then I read through the filling part and start mis-en-place all the parts, including roasting the walnuts. It does add a bit of to do the roasting, but I think using pre-roasted nuts adds so much more flavor in the baked result. Now the kicker in the process is the rolling of the dough. Having to roll and cut at least a dozen 4 1/2 inches circle takes FOREVER! I was glad I only made 1/2 recipe. In the end I had enough filling for 14 tartlets so I made 14 circles and had some dough leftover so they went to the freezer for future use. Btw, I now have 3 different pie dough leftover so I see a small pie in my future hehe.

I used 100% Whole Wheat Pastry flour in the dough and used almond milk instead of regular milk in the filling. We don't drink regular milk anymore so I have been subbing with almond milk and so far I have had no issue.

I also reduced the sugar by 10% in this recipe. Not that this recipe used a ton of sugar but raisins are really sweet. Even with the reduction, they are too sweet for my taste, so I ate 1/2 of them at a time. It is really good though. And my friends who I shared them with loved them. No mention of too sweet.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Alpha Bakers: Babka

I love bread making. I don't know why and can't really explain it. There is just something calming about it. Perhaps it's working with the dough part? Though now with stand mixer there's not much of active hand working on the dough vs. watching the machine working the dough. Lazy 21st century? :). In any case, I was excited to make this bread and was also excited to eat it and share it with some friends. I made 1/2 a recipe, using 6 cup bundt pan and I think I overbaked it by 5 minutes or something like that because it came out a bit more dry than I expect. It's still good though and none of my friends said anything to the contrary. Al in all, a win!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Alpha Bakers: Dutch Pecan Sandies

I am not a big fan of cookies, especially the roll cookies. They are just high maintenance, in my opinion. There's so much to do, you roll it out, cut it, move it to the baking pan, then if the dough gets too soft, it needs to be refrigerated before it can be roll out again. To me, the cookies have to be really good for me to go through all the steps. So when I saw this on the schedule, I was not very excited about this. Until, I opened the Baking Bible to the recipe page and saw:

Beurre Noisette.

There. I'm sold. I'm making this. Half recipe.

It turns out these cookies are high maintenance. It is so soft and tend to want to roll to be too thin. However, I do love working with the dough as it is quite malleable and easy to combine. I have made sugar cookies several times and in comparison these cookies are easier to work with (though I can say I do not like having to freeze them, that takes more time). The cookie dough is so good and the smell of pecan, muscovado sugar, and beurre noisette together created a very intoxicating smell. And yes I never would have guessed I would use the word intoxicating in a sentence, much less in a baking post. And btw, I did use the wrong sugar, supposed to use brown sugar but I ended up grabbing muscovado.

As for the taste, they are really really good! I did not regret making them and would probably make them again, though it will be for cookie-loving friends as the folks I tried to share them with gave the cookies an odd stare. Perhaps it's because they are not pretty like the cookies you see in bakeries or even places like Panera. But these are so good - I exclaimed. Somehow most of them were not convinced. Oh well, more for me. I still have a few in an airtight container and even hubby, who is vegan, has eaten a few.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Alpha Bakers: Coconut Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Ganache

"I don't like cupcakes."

That is what my friend told me when I mentioned it was the last thing I baked.

"They are basically cakes, just in cupcake form," is what I told her. I know this because I used to make all kinds of cakes into cupcakes form when I was baking through Rose's Heavenly Cakes.

"Yeah, but I don't like them. They are individually sized, with frosting on top and stuff," is the response I get.

Well no matter. I didn't make these for her. My other friends whom I shared them with thought they were yummy.

On a side note, I don't know what's wrong with things being individually sized with frosting. Isn't it the same with having a 9 inch cake sliced? Each cake slice is individually sized with frosting? The only difference with cupcakes is you have to buy the wrapper - which means spending some money on said wrapper. And if you want to be really precise, as Rose is, and as I try to be, you have to spend some time to weigh each cupcake individually so they are all even (which is my least favorite part of making cupcakes by the way). But it's not a big complain since I find cupcakes very cute so their cuteness way surpass my feeling against weighing each one individually.

End rant.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Alpha Bakers: Mini Gateaux Breton

To this day I still remember the Gateaux Breton that I made from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. I baked it on June 20th, 2010 (!!!) as a catch up post since I missed it on the baking schedule. It was funny to see this old photo and I still remembered where I took this in the house. This cake was a good memory - it was the first time I made or eat anything that has Gateaux in the name, and it was also the moment that I learned Gateaux is French for cake.

The version we are making now for the Baking Bible is a mini one. They look so cute in the book and I was very excited to make them. They are also super easy and tasty. And Marie, I made 1/2 recipe of this!

By the way, I know this is a baking post, but I just started a sweater I'm very excited about so that's why it's in the picture :).

Monday, February 8, 2016

Alpha Bakers: Pizza Rustica

We are finally baking Pizza Rustica - YAY!

I have wanted to make this since the book came out. I had even thought to ask Marie to put this on the schedule last year, because I really want to make it. But then I keep forgetting to send the email or post a comment about it (I guess that means I don't want it that badly). In the end, I never sent a request and figured oh well, I'll just wait for it to come on the schedule. And now it's here. And it's sort of good timing too. I've been sick for 2 weeks and when I felt better last weekend I decided to bake this a week ahead.

I don't know why I want to make this, since I'm not a big fan of things with a lot of cheese. I don't have anything against cheese, just don't find food with mainly cheese as filling very interesting. I think the name intrigue me. Pizza Rustica. Sounds very elegant and yummy. Also, the picture in the book makes it look so appealing. At any rate, I want to make it for the sake of making it and not really much for eating it.

And Marie, I made the full recipe. It was not by intention. I had written down the ounce amount of ricotta, mozzarella, and soppressata that I need for a 1/2 recipe. But there is no such thing as small portion of ricotta or mozzarella at the grocery store I went to, so I ended up buying and making the amount for a full recipe.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Alpha Bakers: Irish Cream Scones

I am beginning to realize that the easier the recipe is, the more disorganized I become. Especially on recipes that are tagged Q&E. It's like it's screaming at me: "hey, I'm easy, you can whip me up in no time and still have the rest of the day left to do whatever."

In the case of this recipe, I skimmed through the recipe a few days before the weekend, was pleased to discover that I have all the ingredients on hand. No need to buy additional stuff from the store. I also decided to make the full recipe, since these are scones (bread-types) and can be frozen and I have friends who was complaining that I always make cakes and should make more bread/pastry type things so I proceeded with full recipe. And while prepping the ingredients I realize that I am 3 oz of cream short. And I don't have any lemons. Or honey. Rats.

In my defense I have long given up buying honey, just because I buy them, use 2 tablespoon, then the bottle of honey sits in the pantry, where it slowly and surely crystallize until 3, 6, 9 months later when I need it and it's hard as rock. In the rock-crystallized state it's usually still usable, provided we use it in warm beverage or baking. But it's not really something that we can pour over bread or toasted bread. And crystallized honey is not pretty. Considering it's freaking expensive to purchase, I decided that we will just support the fair trade agave bottle business that cost a 1/2 of what honey cost and does not crystallized. Having said that, I have a sad-looking bottle of maple syrup that fortunately have not crystallized but been in the pantry for a year now.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Alpha Bakers: My Chocolate Chip Cookies

Finally! Chocolate Chip Cookies from Rose!

I made this recipe in November 2014 (that felt like super long ago). This is again, one of the recipes I test for high altitude baking, for Rose's Heavenly Cookies class at Craftsy. I was really excited to see this cookie on her list since I wanted to make it ever since the book was published - but I was trying to be a good Alpha Baker and not bake ahead. Coincidentally, about a month before The Baking Bible is out, I craved Chocolate Chip Cookies. I couldn't find a recipe for it in any of Rose's other cookbooks so I baked from a recipe I found on the internet. I don't remember which recipe I made. It was not memorable. So not memorable that I didn't even bother to take photos of the cookies.I should probably have taken note of the website so I know not to make it again. But now that I have tried Rose's version, let's just say the search is over. I would not need to try any other Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe. 

This is an easy recipe, Q&E for Rose's standard but it does require an extra step for you to make beurre noisette. Anything made with beurre noisette taste good, in my opinion. I like the explanation in the book that to make this cookie lactose-tolerant, to throw away the milk residue (it's called something different in the book but I don't have it near me to check). I wonder though that whether it makes it completely lactose-free, but then you'd have to take out the chocolate chip cookies since it has milk, so then the cookie become walnut cookie? (do you follow my odd logic?).