Monday, June 27, 2011

Strawberry shortcakes

        buttermilk biscuits
+      strawberries
+      whipped cream
+      mint                        
awesome summer dessert

Makes 8-9 cakes

For the biscuits:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup butter, cold, cut into pea-sized pieces
1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk, plus additional for brushing

For the confit:

1 quart fresh strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
1-2 tablespoons water
Peel of 1/2 apple

For the whipped cream:

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar

Small bunch of mint

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add 1 cup buttermilk. Using your hands, quickly fold the dry ingredients into the buttermilk until a sticky dough forms. You may need to add more buttermilk.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Gently fold the dough over itself 3 or 4 times to create layers. Press the dough out to 1 1/2-inches thick and cut with a floured 3-inch biscuit cutter. Lay the biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with buttermilk. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until risen and golden brown.

While the biscuits are cooking, de-stem the strawberries and cut them into quarters. Set aside a few strawberries to use as a garnish for later. Toss the rest of the strawberries in the sugar, water, and apple peel, then place in small pot and cook on simmer for 20-30 minutes.

To make the whipped cream, use an electric mixer to whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla together until desired consistency is reached, 3-4 minutes.

Cut the biscuits in half width-wise, then position one half on a plate. Place a healthy serving of strawberry confit on top, then a dollop of whipped cream, then some fresh strawberries, if desired. Position the other biscuit half on an angle, add a sprig of mint, and serve!

Biscuits adapted from Tyler Florence. Errything else by me!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Red velvet in a jar

I know they don't look that appetizing, but these red velvet cupcakes in a jar are sure delish. It's surprising that they use as little cocoa powder as they do, because the cake itself has a really moist, rich, chocolatey flavor. It came out even better than I thought, actually, considering I tweaked the recipe a bit (don't kill me, Martha). And you can take them on picnics, too. That's pretty awesome.

For the cupcakes:

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup hot (but not boiling) water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons white vinegar

For the frosting:

12 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter cupcake rounds; dust with cocoa, tapping out excess. Set aside. Whisk together flour, salt, and cocoa in a medium bowl; set aside.

Mix sugar and oil on medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk until combined. Add eggs one at a time; mix well after each addition. Mix in food coloring and vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with flour, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

Stir together baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl. Add baking-soda mixture to batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds. Mix in the hot water until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 18 to 23 minutes. Let cool completely in pans on wire racks. Using your fingers, take one cupcake and crumble it into tiny crumbs to be used as a garnish for later. Set aside.

While the cakes are baking, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, mix together the softened cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract. Add the confectioner's sugar in batches until the frosting comes together and there are no lumps. Let cool in a refrigerator until the cakes are ready to frost.

Use 12 or 16 ounce mason jars to can the cupcakes. Start by cutting each cupcake in half width-wise. Spoon a teaspoon of frosting into the bottom of the jar to act as glue to prevent the cupcakes from moving around. Position your first cupcake half on the bottom of the jar. Now, using a 3 ounce scoop, put a rounded scoop of frosting on top of your cake half. Add the second layer of cake, continuing with a second rounded scoop of frosting on top. Depending on the size of your jar, you can add a third cupcake layer, followed by a third scoop of frosting. On the top of each jar sprinkle a small bit of cupcake crumbs from the cupcake you set aside earlier. Top with a jar cover and take to go, or keep it cover-less and eat immediately! Can be stored air-tight for up to 3 days.

Cake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Wedding Cakes

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wildberry croissant bread pudding

I have a lot of trouble being still. Lying down, sitting in a chair, standing in a line; you name it. Tanning is especially hard. On top of my Irish complexion (thanks, Italian genes. why did you fail me?), the act of tanning has always been really difficult for me. But obviously I try. I try really hard. Every time I go to the backyard and lay down my towel I tell myself this will be the time. It's like some sort of pep talk or something. This will be the time that I learn to appreciate the joys of mindlessly laying still, in the sun, getting my glow on, tanning.

And I fail every time. The first minute, maybe two, I'm ok. I say to myself ok, this is totally doable. Relax, Sar. But, no. Fail. Suddenly my mind is racing through this, that, and the other thing. I wonder if the new episode of Weeds went up online yet... Ooh, wouldn't it be fun to learn that Regina Spektor song on piano?... I wonder what color I should paint my nails next...... It's horrible! I just can't do it!

Obviously today I tried to lay out. It's such a gorgeous day who wouldn't want to just chill in the sun? Well, apparently not I. Five minutes in and I'm thinking about what I can bake next for the blog. Two minutes later and I'm in my car going to the grocery store in search of some croissants and a can of sweetened condensed milk.

4 large croissants (or 8 mini croissants)
1/2 cup wildberry (or any other berry you prefer) preserves
3 large eggs
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Teensy dash cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

Cut croissants in half lengthwise. Spread about 1 tablespoon of preserves on each half. Replace tops, and cut croissants into small strips. Place strips in baking pan. Dab remaining preserves on top.

Whisk eggs, then whisk in milk, water, butter, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour mixture over croissants. Press croissants into liquid if necessary. Let set for 5 minutes.

Bake until a knife or pick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 45 minutes). Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar or whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe adapted from Smucker's.

Mojito cupcakes and a new leaf

 Yesterday was my last day of work at the bakery. It was the best goodbye ever. Here's a little recap...

First off, boozey cupcakes. Why didn't I think of that? You know who did? Manager Emily. She made them for my last day. It was the most adorable thing.And just to clarify, by boozey cupcakes I'm talking rum cream cheese frosting with a rum and rum extract cake. Oh, there's mint, too. And lime. So pretty much this is a cocktail in a cupcake. (Sidenote: why did I never go to Sweet Revenge when I lived in the city? Stupid, stupid...)

I also got a card and this picture from Chef Scott. I about keeled over laughing.

It's a fennel bulb. Because I'm Fennel. He said he almost drew a ginger root because I'm also ginger, but apparently ginger root is harder to draw. No matter, I've already hung the picture up in my hallway. It's too amazing not too.

Gahh I'm going to miss work. I love(d) it so. The one benefit I see to this new change is that now I'll be able to work more on the blog and do more of my own baking. Let's see how that goes... wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Monkey bread tulips

... are quite possibly the cutest little guys out there. I have to admit, they're not too photogenic, but I can't convey enough how amazing they are. Mom rarely likes a recipe that's not her own Katharine Canfield Cookies or the occasional brownies. But this time she actually took the time to proof her own batch of dough and we made the recipe a second time together (yes, aww so cute mother/daughter bonding). They are surprisingly easy for a yeasted recipe and we super enjoyed them. I have to say, it's a Top 5 Broma Recipe right here. Yessir.

Also, I totally owe credit to Sofra because they gave me the idea based on their morning buns, which are out of this world.....

Makes 12 tulips

For the dough:

1 cup warm milk (about 110 degrees)
1/3 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package instant (rapid rise) yeast
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for surface work
2 teaspoons salt

For the coating:

2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk 

Note: I got my tulip molds from work. If you can't find them at your baking specialty amazing everything store, normal cupcake molds will do just fine!

Place rack in middle-low position of your oven, making sure that there are no racks placed above it. Spray bundt pan generously with nonstick spray.

In a microwave-safe bowl, mix milk, water, melted butter, sugar and yeast. Place flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the dough hook attachment to mix them together. With machine on low, slowly add the milk mixture. When the dough begins to come together, increase speed to medium and continue to mix until the dough is shiny and smooth. If the dough is too wet and isn’t coming together, add 2 to 4 additional Tablespoons of flour (stop the machine once to scrape sides if you need to); this should take 6 to 7 minutes. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and work with your hands a little bit to form a smooth, round ball. Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray. Place dough in the bowl and spray the top lightly with nonstick spray as well. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel. Turn your oven on 400 degrees and let it warm up for 1 minute. Turn it OFF. Turn ON the oven light. Place your covered bowl of dough into the warmed oven until the dough doubles in size- 50 to 60 minutes.

When dough is almost done rising, prepare the ooey gooey coating. In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, melt the butter. Set aside.

Remove dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch square. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 256 pieces (cut the square into 4 pieces and then cut each piece into 16 pieces. Further cut those pieces into 4 pieces). Roll each piece into a ball and place on a large cookie sheet. Douse the cookie sheet in the melted butter and, using your hands, roll the butter evenly so each piece is coated. Then sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the buttered balls, again spreading things evenly until each ball is coated in a healthy dose of butter and sugar. Evenly distribute the balls into 12 buttered cupcake molds. (If you can find tulip molds at the store, more power to you. Just give them a quick spray with oil and you're ready to go!) Cover the cupcake pan with a clean dish towel, and place back into the warmed oven to let the dough balls rise for another 50 to 60 minutes (they should get puffy and rise almost to the top of the pan.)

Remove the pan from the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the dishtowel. Bake about 30 minutes, until the top has browned and ooey gooey caramel is bubbling around the edges. Cool in the pan for 2 to 3 minutes. Let sit in cupcake pan for a few more minutes to cool slightly before glazing.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, use the whisk attachment to mix powdered sugar and milk. Continue to mix until lumps are gone (scrape sides of the mixing bowl, if needed). Spoon glaze over the top and sides of the monkey bread.

Serve warm and eat with your bare hands!
Recipe adapted from Recipe Girl

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tahini Toast!

Manager Heather's boyfriend Finn is obsessed with Sofra's tahini toast. So when they discontinued it two months ago he was devastated, to say the least. Then one day I received this Facebook message from Finn:

               "Tahini toast. I've been a bit crestfallen since Sofra discontinued
               this. If you ever happen across the recipe and decide that you'd
               like to go into business selling it -- the toast, I mean, not the 
               recipe -- then I will be your first through fifth customers.

               Think about it.


How could I resist that? I had to make it. So I went to Thao the Baker and got the recipe (sidenote: Thao the Baker is awesome). Heather picked up some Tahin Helvasi, and I made a trip to Iggy's to get the best loaf of brioche I could find, and voila! Tahini toast! It's great because it appeals to the sweet-lover, the salty-snacker, and everyone in-between. It's carb-y and sugar-y and filled with protein (ok maybe not filled, but at least it's got something...) and and AND it's a straight-up Sofra recipe! Come on, now, how often do you get to make something from a Sofra recipe. Never, I bet. So here's to toast!

Makes 8 slices

For the tahini spread:

1/2 cup tahini halva (like this Tahin Helvasi)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
2 eggs

For the bread:

1 pullman loaf of brioche bread

For the simple syrup:

2 cups sugar
2 cups water

For the topping:

3/4 cup sesame seeds
confectioner's sugar, for dusting

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Cut the brioche into slices, about 1 1/2 inches thick. A standard-sized loaf will produce about 8 of these big slices. Set aside.

In a medium pot, combine water and sugar for your simple syrup. The syrup will be ready when the sugar crystals dissolve completely into the water. Allow to cool slightly.

In a food processor, combine the halva, sugar, flour, salt, butter, and eggs until combined. Set aside.

Using a cup measurer, pour 1/4 cup of simple syrup onto each slice of bread, coating the bread evenly. Next, spoon about 3 tablespoons of tahini spread onto each slice, again spreading evenly to coat. Last, sprinkle the entirety of the sesame seeds over each slice. Bake on a well-greased cookie sheet for 30 minutes on one side, then flip and bake for another ~30 minutes, as needed. The goal is to get both sides nicely toasty and golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire cooling rack, then sprinkle with the confectioner's sugar and serve!