Learning from Bad Cookies

Interesting article on how to bake a better cookie.  I have certainly learned over the years.  This is good basic information
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1. Amount of Flour

Getting the flour ratio right is crucial to a nicely textured cookie. Too much and your cookie will be dry, crumbly, and chalky. Too little and your cookies will burn easily, spread a TON, and will feel greasy to the touch. Not good!

2. The Mixing Method

It is tempting to dump all your ingredients into a bowl and stir them together all at once. Surprisingly the results aren’t terrible, but the cookies were inconsistent in flavor. On the other hand, our over-creamed batch resulted in overly tough, puck-like cookies. Finding a happy medium between doing the most and doing the least is important for both the texture and flavor of your cookies.

Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies - Delish.com

3. Baking Powder

There’s a reason baking powder is never called for in cookies: Adding it results in cookies that have a Play-Doh texture and a vaguely chemical taste.

4. Eggs

You gotta have ‘em! Leaving them out will result in overly sweet balls of dough. Crunchy on the outside, doughy in the middle, and completely unsatisfying.

Soft & Fudgy Chocolate Chip Cookies - Delish.com

5. Sugar

Not enough and your cookies will taste more like shortbread, too much and they’ll be crunchy, burnt, and obviously way too sweet.

6. Bake Time

We’ve all burnt a batch of cookies, so you likely know the deal with over-baked cookies. They’re dry, crumbly, and come with a slightly bitter burnt flavor. Still edible, though! Under-baked cookies are doughy, soft, and slightly greasy. Luckily, if that’s your issue, you can pop ‘em back in the oven and give them a little more time.

Learning from Bad Cookies

18 Bad Baking Habits You Need to Stop

I found this article online and made a few corrections and additions, but it has great information.

These baking mistakes threaten your beautiful bundts, bread, and bar cookies. Here’s what you should do instead…

In cooking, you’re encouraged to riff: Edamame in your stir-fry? Sure! A splash of rice wine vinegar in your pan sauce? Why not! Curious about herbes de Provence in your chicken rub? Give it a whirl!

In baking, however, creativity should be directed toward what you decide to make and how you decorate it—not how you cook it. That’s because baking is a science; cooking is an art. Science has rules. Art? Not so much.

You don’t read the recipe.

As you do with any IKEA furniture, you should read through the steps and gather your tools before you start mixing and whipping. Otherwise, you might get started and realize you’re one short a cup of cocoa powder of what your recipe needs. Or worse, you’ll start mixing up the dough for the birthday party you’re going to tonight and then realize it’s supposed to chill overnight. Oops!

The fix: Pull your recipe up on your phone, or get it from your cookbook. Read the ingredient list, and assemble everything that’s listed. Then, read the directions. You can even go so far as to “pretend” each step. This way, you can double check you have every ingredient and every appliance or tool you need.

You decide to wing it instead of measuring the ingredients.

The “a little of this, a little of that” mentality may suit you well in cooking, but in baking, it could backfire. After all, consider this: cookies, cakes, and bread contain many of the same ingredients: eggs, flour, sugar, butter, for example. In the right ratios, they make a specific type of baked good. In the wrong ratios, they could be a disaster. That’s why it’s vital to measure every ingredient, from the flour to the tiniest bit of cinnamon.

The fix: Use your measuring spoons and cups. You need the right ratios to get the best results. Save the winging it for your salad dressing.

You don’t respect the comma.

Has the comma in “1 cup flour, sifted” ever confused you? What about the comma in “1/2 cup pecans, chopped”? The comma is telling you something very important. Do you know what?

The fix: The comma is telling you to first measure the ingredient and then perform the task. Measure the cup of flour, then sift it. Or measure the half cup of pecans, then chop them. There’s a big difference between half a cup of chopped pecans and half a cup of pecans that were measured, then chopped. It can dramatically affect your final result.

You use liquid measuring cups for dry ingredients (or vice versa).

Liquid measuring cups and dry measuring cups measure things differently. Though it’s not a significant amount, it’s enough that it could affect the texture of your final product.

The fix: Use wet measuring cups (typically, the glass type you pour from) for everything liquid: water, oil, honey, milk, molasses, corn syrup, etc. Use dry cups for everything else, from flour and sugar to chocolate chips and yogurt. With the dry cups, be sure to use a flat surface, like the back of a knife, to swipe across the top of the cup to remove excess before adding to the batter.

You dip your measuring cup into the flour.

Dipping a measuring cup into a bag or jar of flour packs the flour into the well of the measuring cup. It may seem like the easiest way to scoop flour, but you’re actually getting more flour than you really need. Too much flour will turn into dense bread, hard cookies, and stiff cakes.

The fix: You need the same amount of flour each time to get consistent results, and you can do this in two ways: The less accurate option is to use a spoon to lightly scoop flour into a dry measuring cup, then use a flat edge (like a knife) to level off the flour. The most accurate way to measure flour is with a digital scale. A cup of all-purpose flour should be 130 grams.

You don’t preheat your oven.

We’ve all been there: You’ve just finished rolling out a tray full of cookie dough only to realize your oven is cool as a cucumber. So to save time, you turn the oven on and just stick the pan in any way. Bad idea. The quick and sudden heat is an important part of the baking process. If the dough heats slowly, you may have a mess on your hands.

The fix: If you realize the oven isn’t pre-heated when you’re ready to bake, just let the dough or batter sit while the oven heats up. Most ovens can be heated in about 10 minutes time. If you’re working with a temperature-sensitive dough, pop it in the fridge until the oven is ready.

You’ve never measured your oven’s temperature.

I have some bad news: Your oven could be lying to you. Just because it says 350°F doesn’t mean it really is. That means your brownies or pastries may not bake properly because your oven could be too hot, or even too cool. And 25°F in one direction can make a big difference in the final product.

The fix: Invest in an oven thermometer. Hang it from the grates in your oven the next time you turn it on. Let the oven pre-heat fully, and then see what the thermometer says. That will give you an idea of how correct your oven is—and how you need to adjust the oven when you bake in it.

You substitute baking powder for baking soda.

They might share a similar name, and they even look similar out of the box. But baking soda and baking powder are quite different. Baking soda must have an accompanying acid (lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, for example) to activate it; baking powder, on the other hand, has that acid already. If you use the wrong one, your baked goods will take a hit.

18 Bad Baking Habits You Need to Stop

PECAN PIE CHEESECAKE

I am not a big Cheesecake fan, but I do LOVE Pecan Pie, so this combination just might be beyond wonderful. Test it out and let me know what you think.  I will be trying it later this month.

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INGREDIENTS

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST

      • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
      • 1/3 cup sugar
      • 8 tablespoons butter, melted

PECAN FILLING

    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 pinch salt

INGREDIENTS

CHEESECAKE FILLING

      • 24 ounces cream cheese
      • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
      • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
      • 4 large eggs
      • 1 cup heavy cream

PECAN TOPPING

    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
    • 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, chopped
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream
    • 1 pinch salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Press evenly into bottom and halfway up the side of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes; set aside to cool.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons butter. Add 1/2 cup light brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to bubble and sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dark corn syrup, 1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. Pour into prepared crust; set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, 1 cup light brown sugar and flour until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined. Add 1 cup heavy cream and stir until well combined. Pour over pecan pie filling and place springform pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 60-70 minutes until cake jiggles slightly when moved or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn off oven and leave the cake in for 1 hour, then remove from oven and let cool completely.
  4. To Make the Pecan Topping:

DIRECTIONS

  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and cook until bubbling, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, 1/3 cup heavy cream, and pinch of salt. Let cool to room temperature then spoon over.
  2. cooled cheesecake. Slice to serve or store refrigerated.

 

PECAN PIE CHEESECAKE

Perfect Pie Crust

This wonderful article is from a King Arthur Flour Blog that I receive via email.  I wanted to share all this wonderful information with you all.

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 9.12.56 AMChoose your ingredients carefully.

The simplest pie crust includes just four ingredients: flour, salt, fat, and ice water. Each needs to work seamlessly with the rest to produce a top-notch crust. Let’s look at these key ingredients.

Flour

You can make pie crust with several types of flour. That said, the lower the flour’s protein level, the more tender the crust.

  • Pastry flour (8.0% protein) will yield a delightful fork-tender crust, though its dough is a bit delicate and tricky to handle. Use pastry flour if you’re a confident pie baker.
  • All-purpose flour (11.7% protein) will make a moderately tender crust whose dough is easy to handle and roll out. Use all-purpose flour if you’re less sure of your skills; you can move up to pastry flour when you’re ready.
  • Our Perfect Pastry Blend, with its 10.3% protein, offers the tenderness of a pastry flour crust with the easy handling of all-purpose dough.
  • Whole wheat flour makes a crust that’s noticeably grainy, due to the flour’s bran; it’ll also be less tender than either all-purpose or pastry flour crusts. Whole wheat pastry flour is both lower protein and more finely ground, and will produce a more tender, delicate crust than standard whole wheat flour.
  • Gluten-free crust requires gluten-free flour and a gluten-free crust recipe. We don’t advise simply substituting GF flour in your favorite non-GF crust recipe.

Why is fat so important in pie crust?

Tenderness and flakiness are the hallmarks of a great crust. How do you attain both?

It’s all in how you combine fat with flour. By working part of the fat into the flour thoroughly, you coat the flour’s gluten with fat; this yields a crust that’s tender, rather than tough. Leave the rest of the fat in larger pieces, and it separates the wafer-thin layers of flour/water that make up the bulk of the pie dough. As the pie bakes and the fat melts, these layers stay separated; we perceive them as flakiness.

We’re big fans of our All-Butter Pie Crust. But an all-shortening crust has its proponents, as well. See our comparison of the two: Butter vs. shortening: the great pie crust bakeoff.

Fat

Shortening. Butter. Lard. Oil. Each of the three solid fats will yield reliably tender, flaky crusts, so long as you combine them with the flour using the correct technique. An oil crust will be more tender than flaky.

  • Vegetable shortening yields a crust that holds its shape well in the oven. For a pie with the sharpest-looking crimp, use shortening. It is downside? Shortening lacks flavor, and an all-shortening crust may taste flat.
  • Butter makes a flaky crust that’s packed with wonderful flavor. Due to its water content, it also makes a “loftier” crust; as the butter melts it gives off water that turns to steam, which in turn separates the layers a bit, yielding a slightly puffy crust. We prefer unsalted to salted butter, as it’s generally fresher; it also lets us control the level of salt in the crust more precisely.
  • Lard, rendered from pig fat, has a higher melting point than butter or shortening; thus it yields an extra-flaky crust (though the flakes are small in size, rather than large). It also gives pie old-fashioned diner-style flavor.
  • Vegetable-based oil, including olive oil, makes a crust that’s somewhat hard to handle; without the “plasticity” of solid fat, it tends to crumble as you roll it. Also, an oil crust will be only marginally flaky — but very tender.
Which fat should I choose?

If you choose a solid fat, make sure it’s cold! Chunks of cold fat in pie crust dough are your ticket to a flaky crust.

We find that a combination of butter and shortening, like that in our Classic Double Pie Crust and Classic Single Pie Crust recipes, makes crust that’s easy to handle: flaky, tender, and full-flavored.

Salt

Salt is added to pie crust dough for one chief reason: flavor. While it does strengthen the flour’s gluten just a touch, making the dough easier to roll out, its basic role is heightening the flavor of the flour and fat, and thus the crust overall.

Does it matter if you use sea salt, kosher salt, or table salt? Only to your measuring spoon. The coarser the salt, the more space it takes up. All of the pie recipes on our King Arthur Flour site are written for plain table salt. If you use a coarser salt, you’ll want to add more than the recipe calls for, to taste. You’ll also want to dissolve coarse salt in some of the water from the recipe, to make sure it’s fully dispersed throughout the dough.

What about that vodka trick?

You may have heard about substituting vodka for water to make an extra-tender crust. Since vodka is alcohol, the theory is it won’t toughen your crust like water can. In our experience, vodka makes pie dough slightly easier to roll out, but doesn’t result in any appreciable difference in the baked crust’s flakiness or tenderness.

Ice water

Water mixed with flour gives pie crust dough the structure it needs to hold together. The amount of water you use is critical; too much, and you’ve made a sticky mess. Too little, and the crust won’t hold together, or will crack around the edges as you roll.

You’ll notice that there’s usually very little water in pie crust. Your goal is to use just enough to create a flour/water matrix that’ll hold its shape, but not enough to potentially make the crust tough. In addition, using ice water helps the fat remain cold and solid; and the colder the fat when you put the pie into the oven, the greater the chance for flakiness.

Why is it important to keep the fat cold?

Flour and water combine to form thin layers (flakes) in pie dough. The chilled fat in the unbaked dough keeps its thin layers of flour/water separated; so long as that fat is cold, the layers stay separate. When the pie finally goes into the oven the fat melts; but the space where the fat was remains, yielding layers of flakes: flakiness.

Other Ingredients

You may have seen pie crust recipes calling for an egg, milk, buttermilk, vinegar, lemon juice, or sugar. All of these add-ins have their own minor effect on the dough.

Egg, milk, and buttermilk add protein, which enhances browning and tenderness. Egg also makes a sturdier crust, one with more body; bakers will often use an egg in pies they want to serve outside the pan.

We used to think that lemon juice or vinegar “tenderized” the gluten, encouraging it to remain un-elastic and making the dough easier to roll. As it turns out, the small amount of these acidic liquids added to pie crust dough doesn’t really do anything one way or the other — though there’s no harm in using either, if that’s what you’re used to.

Sugar enhances both flavor and browning when added to pie crust dough. When sprinkled atop the oven-ready pie, it offers a bit of crunch, as well as pretty shine.

How to make great pie crust.

You’ve got the recipe. You’ve chosen your ingredients. Now let’s put everything together and make a tender, flaky pie crust, a worthy vessel for your favorite filling. Below, see step-by-step directions for baking a basic pie crust using our Classic Double Pie Crust recipe.

  1. Step 1

    Start with our Classic Double Pie Crust recipe. Add the shortening to the flour, using a pastry blender, fork, mixer, or your fingers to work everything together until the mixture is evenly crumbly.

  2. Step 2

    Cut the butter into pats, and work it in. Leave some of the butter in larger, pea- or marble-sized pieces. This will create space between the layers of pastry, which translates to flakiness in the baked crust.

  3. Step 3

    Stir in 4 tablespoons of the ice water. Then add additional ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until the dough starts to become cohesive and form clumps.

  4. Step 4

    Transfer the crumbly dough to a piece of parchment. Squeeze it into a ball. If it’s dry and chunks break off, spritz the dry parts with additional ice water.

  5. Step 5

    Use the parchment to press the dough together until it’s cohesive. Fold the dough over on itself three or four times to bring it together. This will create layers, which translate into flakiness.

  6. Step 6

    Divide the dough into two pieces; the bottom crust should be larger than the top. Flatten each piece into a disk, then roll like a wheel to smooth the edges. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

Perfect Pie Crust

Raspberry Tartlets

IMG_7137For my Beef Wellington Dinner party, we had a red theme going so along with my Beet Soup I made some little Red Raspberry Tartlets.  It didn’t take long and they tasted delicious served with a little Brandy and powdered sugar in the whipped cream.  I love America’s Test Kitchen Pie dough, so made a double crust recipe.

The most important thing in a pie crust is to not use too much liquid or to work it too long.  So pulsing it to mix together the butter and shortening works as it is fast and does not warm up the dough.  Doing it by hand from then on makes it perfect.

IMG_7138

Foolproof Pie Dough for Double-Crust Pie

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

We wanted to make pie dough that was tender, flavorful, and consistent. Since water bonds with flour to form gluten, too much of it makes a crust tough. But rolling out dry dough is difficult. For a pie dough recipe that rolled out easily, we use a unique mixing method that “waterproofs” much of the flour so that it can’t be hydrated and form gluten. We also use some vodka, which is just 60 percent water, and therefore produces less gluten. It contributes no alcohol flavor, since the alcohol vaporizes in the oven.

INGREDIENTS

2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
½ cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces

IMG_7154

I use this rather than Crisco or Lard and it always comes out beautifully.  I keep this in the freezer so it last longer and is cold when I need to use it. 

¼ cup vodka, cold

I keep a small bottle in the freezer just for making pie crusts.  

¼ cup cold water

INSTRUCTIONS

FOR ONE 9-INCH DOUBLE-CRUST PIE

Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor—do not substitute extra water. The alcohol is key to our recipe; if you don’t have vodka on hand, you can use another 80 proof liquor. This dough will be moister and more supple than most standard pie doughs and will require more flour to roll out (1/4 cup must be used to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter).

 

1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

STEP-BY-STEP

Key Steps to Foolproof Pie Dough

1. MAKE A FAT AND FLOUR PASTE:Completely blending part of the flour with all of the butter ensures a consistent amount of fat-coated flour in the final dough.

2. ADD MORE FLOUR: Pulsing in the final cup of flour ensures a consistent amount of uncoated flour in the final dough.

3. ADD WATER AND VODKA: Sprinkling with water and vodka ensures even distribution. No need to skimp—unlike water, vodka won’t make the dough tough.

Making Foolproof Pie Dough Without a Food Processor

If you don’t have a food processor, you can also prepare this recipe in a stand mixer: Start by bringing your butter and shortening to room temperature. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar to bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on medium-low speed until just combined, 4 to 5 seconds. Add butter and shortening to mixer and mix on medium-low speed for another 15 seconds, until dough starts to form around paddle. Scrape down sides of bowl and paddle with spatula. Add remaining cup flour and mix on medium-high speed until dough has broken into smaller pieces, 2 to 3 seconds. Empty contents into medium bowl and continue recipe from step 2.

The Tart Part

The tart part for this is very simple. Make or buy the best raspberry jam you can find. Put it through mesh, to remove all the seeds.  Put a little in each baked tart.  I baked on the lowest rack at 350 degrees, cover with parchment and pie weights and cook about ten minutes, checking for a light brown color.  Arrange the biggest raspberries in a pretty circle and heat the remaining, now seedless raspberry jam and over the the raspberries.  Wha La – easy tart for desert.

Raspberry Tartlets

Back to Baking & Soups Galore

Soups and Fall seem simultaneous. It is cold outside with a few snow flurries and I am looking out of the kitchen kneading bread and stirring soup.  This just makes my heart sing.  I some days wish I had a group of friends I could just call and say “Soup’s On”, please come on over.

I started making a lot of soup when I had a restaurant on Bainbridge Island in the 90’s.  Every day I would make a new soup, so there was always something different to try. I honestly wish there was a local restaurant that would do the same.  Most local restaurants have the same menu (and soup) day after day, month after month, and unfortunately year after year.

A little behind in my posting, but not in my cooking, so today I will add the recipes of the last week or so starting with yesterday.  IMG_6679

As a child on the weekends we often had Campbell’s tomato soup and a burnt grilled cheese sandwich (on Wonder bread). As an adult, the idea is appealing, but not the ingredients, so several years ago I started making my own tomato soup.  I don’t always use the same recipe (and now really don’t use one at all), but the ingredients must be fresh and wonderful for it to be tasty.  I love how it looks in the pot after it has been pureed.  Doesn’t that just look inviting!

This is what I did yesterday and scroll down for the Paul Hollywood Savory Brioche Couronne (bread with ham & cheese)

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Ingredients

10 Roma tomatoes

1 onion

A couple cups of home-made Chicken stock

1 tbsp of EVOO

3 – 5 garlic sliced thin ( I like garlic, so always throw in a little extra)

Hand-full of fresh oregano from my herb garden

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 cup or so of chopped basil

1 stick of butter ( oh yeah, that adds to the flavor)

1 cup or so of half & half or whipped cream

Fresh reggiano parmigiano for the top

Sour cream for the top  and I added chives for color (but just a little)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine quartered tomatoes, onions, whole garlic cloves, oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon sugar in large roasting pan. Roast, stirring once or twice, until tomatoes are brown in spots, about 11/2 hours. Let cool 5 minutes. Working in two batches, process roasted tomato mixture in food processor until smooth. (Pureed mixture can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.)

2. Put the mixture back in the pot, add the chicken stock, basil, oregano, butter and cream and simmer a few minutes.  Taste it and add salt & pepper to your taste.

3. Put in a pretty bowl and top with sour cream and a little shredded parmesan.

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Ingredients

 

 

Back to Baking & Soups Galore

Bergers – Style Cookies

IMG_6583

Bergers-Style Cookies

Saw this recipe in Cooks Country Big Thanksgiving Cookbook and since I have book group coming tonight, thought this might be fun to serve.  I probably should put some spider legs on them, since Halloween is right around the corner, but I think I will be civil and boring today.  But these cookies are mouth-watering relish!  I just had one with my coffee for breakfast!  Yummy!

The magazine has lots of interesting information, suggestions and the other recipes look good too. I might have to try the Dutch Apple Pie or the easy Fish & Chips.  When I make a pie and only eat one slice, I take it to my local fire station so it can be enjoyed and not thrown out.  They seem to look forward to the treats I drop by.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

This Baltimorean cookie has gained a cult following thanks to the 1/2-inch layer of fudgy chocolate frosting perched on its cakey, lightly sweet vanilla cookie base. For our version, we creamed butter with sugar and used cake flour instead of all-purpose to create a soft, fluffy cookie base. For the signature sweet-yet-ultrachocolaty frosting, a combination of milk chocolate chips and Dutch-processed cocoa gave us the best chocolate flavor; heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar helped us nail the correct texture. Keeping the frosting between 90 and 100 degrees (which makes it the texture of thick brownie batter) ensured that it was easy to mound a hefty 2-tablespoon helping onto each cookie.

Read More

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

Makes 24 cookies ( I only got 16)

COOKIES

2 cups (8 ounces) cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg white
1 ½ tablespoons heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

FROSTING

3 cups (18 ounces) milk chocolate chips
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ⅔ cups (5 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 ¼ cups (5 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

The consistency of the frosting should resemble that of a thick brownie batter. It should mound and slowly spread over the cookies. It’s OK if some of the frosting drips down the sides of the cookies. If the frosting’s temperature drops below 90 degrees, it may become too thick to spread. To bring it back to its proper consistency, simply microwave it at 50 percent power in 5-second intervals, whisking after each interval. Our favorite Dutch-processed cocoa powder is Droste Cocoa.

1. FOR THE COOKIES: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in bowl; set aside. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

2. Add egg white, cream, and vanilla and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions until incorporated, scraping down bowl as needed.

3. Working with 1 heaping tablespoon dough at a time, roll into balls and space 2 inches apart on prepared sheets, 12 per sheet. Using your moistened fingers, press dough balls to form disks about 1/4 inch thick and 2 inches in diameter. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are just beginning to brown around edges, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cookies cool completely on sheet.

4. FOR THE FROSTING: Once cookies have cooled, combine chocolate chips, cream, and salt in large bowl. Microwave chocolate mixture at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, 1 to 3 minutes. Whisk cocoa, sugar, and vanilla into chocolate mixture until smooth. (Frosting should be texture of thick brownie batter and register about 95 degrees.)

5. Flip cookies on sheets. Spoon 2 tablespoons frosting over flat side of each cookie to form mound. Let cookies sit at room temperature until frosting is set, about 3 hours. Serve. (Cookies can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

Bergers – Style Cookies

Summer Peach Cake

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So easy and SO yummy.  I was looking through one of my America’s Test Kitchen books and saw this.  The peaches in the store looked so inviting, I added Peach Schnapps to my pantry and with the help of Claire, my granddaughter peeled the peaches.  it was so worth the work.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

To achieve the right texture for our Peach Cake, we sprinkled the peach slices with sugar and baked them in a very hot oven until they lost most of their moisture. Tossing the cooled peaches with crushed panko bread crumbs sopped up the gooey, viscous film that the peaches had acquired in the oven. (The panko gets incorporated into the cake as the peach cake cooks.) Adding some peach schnapps to the batter boosted the peach flavor and gave us a peach cake recipe that could be made even with not-so-perfect peaches.

5 tablespoons peach schnapps
4 teaspoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
cup panko bread crumbs, finely crushed

INSTRUCTIONS

SERVES 8 TO 10

To crush the panko bread crumbs, place them in a zipper-lock bag and smash them with a rolling pin. If you can’t find panko, 1/4 cup of plain, unseasoned bread crumbs can be substituted. Orange liqueur can be substituted for the peach schnapps. If using peak-of-season, farm-fresh peaches, omit the peach schnapps.

 

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable oil spray. Gently toss 24 peach wedges with 2 tablespoons schnapps, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar in bowl; set aside.

2. Cut remaining peach wedges crosswise into thirds. Gently toss chunks with remaining 3 tablespoons schnapps, remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in bowl. Spread peach chunks in single layer on prepared sheet and bake until exuded juices begin to thicken and caramelize at edges of sheet, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer sheet to wire rack and let peaches cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

3. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. Whisk brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and eggs together in second bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter until combined. Add sour cream, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract; whisk until combined. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

4. Transfer half of batter to prepared pan; using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle crushed bread crumbs evenly over cooled peach chunks and gently toss to coat. Arrange peach chunks on batter in even layer, gently pressing peaches into batter. Gently spread remaining batter over peach chunks and smooth top. Arrange reserved peach wedges, slightly overlapped, in ring over surface of cake, placing smaller wedges in center. Stir together remaining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and remaining 1/8 teaspoon almond extract in small bowl until sugar is moistened. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over top of cake.

5. Bake until center of cake is set and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool 5 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

STEP-BY-STEP

Peach Cake Run Amuck

Things aren’t always that peachy with most peach cakes.

PROBLEM: Fruit that isn’t fruity
HOW TO SOLVE IT: Macerate peaches Unless you’re working with the best farm-stand fruit, peaches are notoriously bland. To boost fruity taste, we macerate the peach wedges we’ve reserved for shingling on top of the cake in peach schnapps and a little sugar and lemon juice.

PROBLEM: Soggy fruit sinks to bottom
HOW TO SOLVE IT: Roast peaches Roasting the peach chunks destined for the batter concentrates their flavor and drives off moisture, so there’s not as much to weigh them down or to flood the cake.
PROBLEM: Wet, gummy crumb
HOW TO SOLVE IT: Toss peaches with panko Tossing the roasted peach chunks with bread crumbs helps absorb any remaining sticky juices, ensuring a cake that’s moist, not soggy.

RECIPE TESTING

Keep Your Peaches Out of the Cold

Keeping peaches in the fridge might seem like a good way to prolong their shelf life, but unless the fruit is ripe, the cold temperatures can turn their flesh mealy. Storing the fruit at or below 40 degrees deactivates an enzyme that breaks down its pectin during ripening. If this happens before the flesh is ripe, the pectin will remain intact and the flesh texture will be mealy. The lesson: Store peaches on the counter.

Summer Peach Cake

Soda Bread is tasty!

IMG_5978

Going through Paul Hollywood’s Bread cookbook, I skipped a couple pages, as I did not have all the ingredients.  (will shop today) This soda bread looked so much better than the dry soda bread I have purchased for St. Paddy’s Day.  With a little butter, this is wonderfully rich and tasty.

Ingredients

– 250g plain white flour

– 250g plain wholemeal flour

– 1 tsp salt

– 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

– About 400ml buttermilk (If you don’t have this on had, keep the dry mix that you can add to milk or water and have the same effect)

Soda Bread

Makes 1 small loaf
Bake 30 minutes

Ireland’s most famous bread is made with two of the oldest foods, wheat and buttermilk. The acid in the buttermilk reacts with the bicarbonate of soda and creates the rise. If you have kids, do teach them how to make soda bread, because it’s great to be able to put a loaf on the table within 45 minutes. Once you’ve mastered it, try adding some grated Wexford cheese (vintage Irish Cheddar) and chopped raw onion to the dough.


1.Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas6. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

2. Put the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre and pour in half the buttermilk. Using your fingers or a round-bladed knife, draw the flour into the buttermilk. Continue to add the buttermilk until all the flour has been absorbed and you have a sticky dough. You may not need all the buttermilk – it depends on the flour you use.

3. Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface, shape it into a ball and flatten it slightly with the palm of your hand. It is important to work quickly, as once the buttermilk is added it begins to react with the bicarbonate of soda.

4. Put the dough on the baking tray. Mark into quarters with a large, sharp knife, cutting deeply through the loaf, almost but not quite through to the base. Dust the top with flour.

5. Bake for 30 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Eat on the day of baking – or toast it the next day.

Paul Hollywood’s Irish rarebit recipe

Paul Hollywood's Irish rarebit recipe

Soda bread was popular long ago in Ireland, especially in rural areas where a regular supply of barm (brewer’s yeast) wasn’t always accessible to the home baker.

Here I’m giving you an Irish spin on Welsh rarebit, using Irish cheese, spring onions and a splash of stout. Rarebit is one of those great comfort foods that can be thrown together at the last minute. The mixture also keeps well in the fridge, so you can have it on standby for a quick lunch or supper.

Ingredients

Metric
Cups
Imperial
  • 150 ml full-fat milk
  • 1.5 tbsp plain flour
  • 400 g strong Irish Cheddar, grated
  • 160 g medium-fine white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 120 ml Guinness or other stout
  • 2 medium egg yolks
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 6 slices of soda bread
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 cup watercress, to serve
  • 5.3 fl oz full-fat milk
  • 1.5 tbsp plain flour
  • 14.1 oz strong Irish Cheddar, grated
  • 5.6 oz medium-fine white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 4.2 fl oz Guinness or other stout
  • 2 medium egg yolks
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 6 slices of soda bread
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 cup watercress, to serve
  • 0.6 cup full-fat milk
  • 1.5 tbsp plain flour
  • 14.1 oz strong Irish Cheddar, grated
  • 5.6 oz medium-fine white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 0.5 cup Guinness or other stout
  • 2 medium egg yolks
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 6 slices of soda bread
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 cup watercress, to serve

Details

  • Cuisine: Irish
  • Recipe Type: Main
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Preparation Time: 5 mins
  • Cooking Time: 10 mins
  • Serves: 6

Step-by-step

  1. Preheat your grill to high. Warm the milk in a saucepan until almost simmering, then whisk in the flour. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. The mixture should be smooth and slightly thickened.
  2. Add the grated cheese and stir over a low heat until it has melted. Add the breadcrumbs, mustard powder and stout. Continue stirring over the heat until the mixture comes together and leaves the sides of the pan.
  3. Tip the mixture into a bowl and leave for a minute to cool slightly, then add the egg yolks and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until well combined. Stir in the spring onions.
  4. Toast the soda bread on one side. Spread the rarebit on the untoasted side and place under the hot grill until bubbling and golden brown. Add a grinding of pepper and serve, with watercress on the side.

Extract taken from Paul Hollywood’s Pies & Puds, published by Bloomsbury. Photography by Peter Cassidy.

 

Soda Bread is tasty!

Making pizza

Like most families, my family love pizza.  It is such a simple easy dinner to make.  I like to make Margarita Pizza as it uses simple elements and tastes wonderful.  I serve with a salad using lettuce from my garden this time of year.  The pizza dough is from Paul Hollywood’s Bread book and is simple and simply wonderful.

Recipe for Dough

For the pizza dough

  • 250g/9oz strong white flour, plus extra for flouring
  • 5g/¼oz salt
  • 30ml/1fl oz olive oil
  • 5g/¼oz fast-action yeast
  • 180ml/6fl oz water
  • semolina, for dusting (optional)
  • Method

    1. For the pizza dough, mix the flour, salt, olive oil, yeast and water together in a bowl.

    2. Turn the dough out onto an oiled work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cut off a small piece of the dough and stretch part of it as thinly as you can. If you can see the shadow of your fingers through the dough – the light should shine through the dough like a window pane – without the dough tearing, it is ready to prove.

    3. Shape the dough into a ball and tip into a bowl.

    4. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for an hour.

    5. Divide the mix into three balls. Roll out on a floured surface into circles. Place each circle on a flat baking tray or a plastic chopping board dusted with semolina (so the pizza can be easily transferred to the oven later).

    6. Place a pizza stone or an upturned baking tray into the oven and heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 (in a non-fan oven).

    7. Add the topping of your choice and cook for 10 -12 minutes.

I like to make a very simple marinara sauce:

Ingredients:

1 can chopped tomatoes (low sodium)

5 cloves garlic, chopped finely

1/4 cup olive oil

Oregano and thyme from my garden

Salt & pepper

I cook this for about 20 minutes, then puree, so it is very fine.  I put it on top of the pizza within about 1/2 inch of the edge.  I top with small/good fresh mozzarella balls and cut basil.  I think you should use what ever amount makes you happy and looks good.  I then cook, as described before for about 10-12 minutes in a hot oven.  I do use a pizza stone and put it in the oven to heat first, then add the pizza on a pizza pan on top.  Makes the crust on the bottom cook to perfection.

Making pizza