Monday, December 15, 2014

TBB - The Ischler

The Ischler that almost never was. It was this week's baking challenge for Rose's Alpha Bakers. Such bad timing for me! I've been battling a really nasty cold all of last week, I really dislike roll-out cookies, and I dislike sandwich cookies even more because for the amount of work you put in, you're only getting half the number of cookies. I deliberated skipping this week's challenge. Then my brain went into problem solving mode: "are there any kind of shortcuts that can be made?". Well, I could make half the recipe, skip any kind of fruit, use the chocolate ganache leftover from the Eclairs I made recently, and use almond meal from the freezer so I wouldn't have to mess with the extra steps of finely chopping the almonds (Trader Joe's sells unblanched almond meal). And so, my "quick(er)" version of The Ischler was born :o)

Ganache dipped Ischler with toasted and chopped almonds

And then I went overboard with shapes, dipping, and chopped almonds.

Did I mention overboard? It did look pretty though!

Monday, December 8, 2014

TBB - English Dried Fruit Cake

This is my inaugural recipe for a new bake along called Rose's Alpha Bakers. We will be baking our way through The Baking Bible by the queen of baking, Rose Levy Beranbaum. I had the honor and pleasure to be one of the recipe testers for the book. Rose was kind enough to mention us by name in the acknowledgement section of her book, which is totally awesome!!!

Unfortunately I missed last week's official inaugural recipe which was the Kouign Amann. You can read all about the other bakers' adventures in Marie's round-up post. But I won't let that spoil the fun for this week's English Dried Fruit Cake. I don't recall ever eating fruit cake. It's usually too dense for my liking or doused with some sort of alcohol. And since not a lot of people speak kindly of said cake, I didn't miss eating it or bother baking it.

And then Rose developed this fruit cake recipe. I was immediately intrigued by the unusual batter preparation technique which has you cook some of the ingredients on the stove.

Does that look like wet sand?

One bonus: no mixer required. Everything is done by hand. It's also easy and quick to make. I was heating up leftovers for dinner while whipping up the batter for this cake. One more thing... Even with all my substitutions and not using any of the recommended cake pans, it turned out awesome!

English Dried Fruit cake baked in my new vintage Bundt pan :o)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

ABC - Dark Chocolate Eclairs

This is somewhat of a bittersweet blog post. Not only is it the last ABC blog post of this year, it's also the last recipes post from this year's recipe source, King Arthur Flour. For this occasion, I chose something special, a French pastry called Eclair. These pastries are so versatile. After they're baked, they can be filled with all sorts of flavored pastry creams, or simply whipped cream.

King Arthur Flour has the recipe on their website as well as step-by-step pictures for making the pastry.

Eclairs and cream puffs filled with dark chocolate pastry cream and chocolate glaze

As I mentioned in my last blog post, starting January 2015, we will be baking recipes from the wonderful blog, Scientifically Sweet, written by food scientist Christina Marsigliese. I am very much looking forward to that :o)

If you'd like to join the ABC bakers in their monthly baking adventures, please go to the ABC blog for more information.

Monday, November 3, 2014

ABC - Cranberry-Pumpkin Rolls

I can't help but love Fall. The changing of the colors around us, brisk weather but not too cold (except for late last week where the temps dipped below freezing, brrr), and of course baking with apples, pumpkins and lots of spices. Last month's Cinnamon-Apple Twist Bread was a big hit with the ABC bakers. This month we moved on to another Fall favorite: pumpkin. Although pumpkin played a big role in these dinner rolls, let's not underestimate the other side kicks: craisins (and for some of us, golden raisins too), and lots of warm spices like cinnamon, ginger and cloves. I'm talking about this month's Cranberry-Pumpkin Rolls. They're soooooo good! Thanks to a tip from my ABC buddy, Paula, I doubled the spices in the recipe, which transformed these dinner rolls into something even more fabulous.

They may look humble but these babies pack a big flavor punch!

This is making me feel a bit sentimental. All (well, mostKing Arthur Flour recipes have been so good to us these past two years. But, as the song goes, "every new beginning comes from another beginning's end". I'm sure this won't be our last time baking KAF recipes in our kitchens. But for right now, I won't say goodbye yet. I'm very much looking forward to making next month's Chocolate Eclair recipe. Are you?

With that, I have an announcement to make. Starting in January 2015, we will be baking recipes from the wonderful blog, Scientifically Sweet, written by food scientist Christina Marsigliese. Her recipes are awesome, and I really dig her scientific approach to baking (yes, I'm a nerd, if you didn't know already).

If you'd like to join the ABC bakers in their monthly baking adventures, please go to the ABC blog for more information.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ghriyba - Moroccan shortbread cookie

Ghriyba is a childhood favorite cookie of mine. This Moroccan version of a shortbread cookie has a wonderful melt-in-your-mouth texture which I really love. It's typically enjoyed with a glass of hot Moroccan mint tea :o)

There are many version of this Moroccan cookie. The kind I will be sharing with you today is made with finely ground almonds and golden flax seeds. Traditionally, this kind is made with almonds and sesame seeds, but since I'm allergic to sesame seeds, I used flax seeds instead, which works great.

I challenge you to "go Moroccan" and give these cookies a try. You won't be disappointed :o) If you do, I would love to hear how you liked it.

Nice crackly top!