Ricotta Bread

Although it is made with ricotta cheese, this bread does not have a strong cheese flavor like the cheddar cheese loaf. Here, the ricotta is used to impart moisture, structure and a very slight tang to the finished bread. It develops a well browned crust, but is still a very soft bread, suitable for sandwiches.

As you can see, this bread has a very dense and moist crumb. It was firm enough to shape into a free form round loaf like this, but it could also be baked in a standard loaf pan. That would give you more normal looking sandwiches.

This bread was delicious and moist, but was not really memorable to me. I’m not sure where I would choose this bread over others in the book.  There is a variation to this recipe that I will be testing out this weekend and will let you know if it has a more distinct flavor.

Out of respect to the author, I will not be posting any of the recipes unless I make significant changes to them. This recipe comes from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Classic Hearth Bread

This is the first recipe from the chapter entitled “Hearth Breads”. All of the breads up to this point were soft sandwich breads, flatbreads, or quick breads (which are really hardly bread at all…). The sandwich breads all had a higher percentage of fat (bakers percentage around 15% ) which keep them soft and moist, but the hearth breads have almost no added fat, which results in a crusty, chewy, artisan-style bread.

This is not the bread for turkey sandwiches and cinnamon toast. This is the bread to set on the dinner table and dip freshly torn chunks into balsalmic and olive oil, or to balance on the lip of a hearty bowl of soup. Peanut butter is not the friend of hearth bread, but fresh chevre and fig jam makes the perfect companion.

Creamy, tangy chevre and sweet fig preserves make a beautiful combo that stands up to this hearty, chewy bread. Add a cold glass of Pinot Grigio and this is my idea of a perfect lazy summer dinner.

Out of respect to the author, I will not be posting any of the recipes unless I make significant changes to them. This recipe comes from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Cupcakes for a Picnic

This weekend, I put together a picnic for myself, the Mr. , and his family for us to enjoy before a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Obviously, if I’m planning a meal, there needs to be dessert. One of the easiest ways to transport cupcakes is to pack them neatly into jars and put on the lids. This way they can roll around in the bottom of a tote bag until intermission and still be pretty and delicious.

To make cupcakes in jars you will need: jars with lids (these are Bonne Maman jam jars), cake (I baked a devils food cake in a 9×13 pan), frosting (I used swiss meringue buttercream – tinted pink) and a piping bag with tips (optional).

Even though these are “cupcakes” I baked the cake in a 9×13 layer. I pressed the top of the jar into the cooled cake and then cut through to get a jar sized round of cake. I split that into 2 layers and pressed one layer into the bottom of the jar. Pipe (or spoon) a layer of frosting. I used a 1M (large open star) tip to make the swirl. Then press the other layer of cake on top. Pipe or spoon more frosting on top. I’m still practicing my buttercream roses, so I topped them off with a pretty flower. I loved the look of the cake by Miette bakery featured on Bakerella HERE so that was the style I was going for in cupcake form.

Tie them up with bakers twine and forks, and you will be all ready to head out on your picnic without worrying about cupcakes sliding around and losing all their frosting! This method works with any combo of cake and frosting you like!

Here is my recipe for swiss meringue buttercream:

Ingredients:

4 egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar

1/8t cream of tartar (optional)

1 cup softened unsalted butter

1 cup softened salted butter

1t vanilla extract (or flavor of your choice)

Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the top of a double boiler (or heatproof bowl). Set this on top of a pan of simmering water and whisk until the mixture reaches 160F (use a candy thermometer – this will take around 5 minutes, maybe less). Pour the syrup into a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin beating. Add the cream of tartar if you have it – this acts as meringue insurance and can make it more stable, but is not absolutely necessary. Whisk until the meringue is completely cool and forms stiff peaks. Switch to the paddle attachement. Throw the soft butter in one tablespoon at a time. I like to use a mixture of salted and unsalted butter, but you could use all unsalted then add salt to taste. Add the flavoring of your choice and coloring, if desired. If at any point your frosting looks nasty and curdled, fear not! Just turn the mixer on high and beat it into submission. Yes, it will work. If your frosting looks soupy, you probably did not let the meringue cool enough. Just put it into the fridge for a few minutes then resume beating. This frosting is creamy and delicious and freezes beautifully if you don’t need the whole batch right away. Store cakes frosted with this in the refrigerator overnight, but take out and let it warm to room temperature for several hours before serving. Enjoy!

Savory Garlic and Herb Swirl Bread

Does this look familiar at all? This is the exact same bread as the cinnamon raisin swirl bread only in savory form. The base dough is the same, just omit the raisins and instead of sprinkling on sugar and cinnamon, use chapped parsley and thyme, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese. I think the cheese is to blame for the larger gaps in this bread, but it makes up for it with flavor.

You can really take this theme as far as you choose to go with it. Think of flavors that go well together and then pair them up within this bread. Chocolate chips and peanut butter, bacon and blue cheese, cheddar and chives,  it’s really open. Just remember, mix any large additions into the dough and not into the swirl.

Experiment! Come up with your own savory or sweet combinations and try mixing them into a loaf of white bread!

Out of respect to the author, I will not be posting any of the recipes unless I make significant changes to them. This recipe comes from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and is available at bookstores everywhere or possibly in your local library.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

This cinnamon raisin swirl bread is another variation on the classic white sandwich bread from The Bread Bible. The crumb is dense but very tender, and the cinnamon sugar swirl adds a spiced sweetness to the entire loaf. Compared to other cinnamon raisin breads, this recipe calls for the raisins to be mixed into the dough, as opposed to being included in the swirl. This small difference helps prevent large gaps from forming in the swirl, creating holes in the slices of bread. I would recommend this method for any other large add-ins you could include in your bread, such as walnuts or other dried fruits. There may still be some gaps, but this will help minimize them.

Make sure to oil your loaf pan well, because any errant raisins that find their way to the surface will stick to the pan and make it difficult to remove cleanly. I’m happy to say that this was another excellent recipe and disappeared very quickly in our home! Seems like the biscuit disaster is an isolated incident so far.

Out of respect to the author, I will not be posting any of the recipes unless I make significant changes to them. This recipe comes from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and is available at bookstores everywhere or possibly in your local library.

Nyan Cat Cake – Old School Style

First, if you don’t know what nyan cat is, please take a moment to review the following material, otherwise this cake will just be a lot less entertaining.

From wikipediaNyan Cat (also known as Pop Tart Cat)[1] is an internet meme, referring to an 8-bit animated gif of a flying cat with the body of a cherry Pop-Tart, leaving a rainbow behind the cat; or to a video of the animated ​.GIF​, set to a remix of the song “Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!”[1].”

This is the original video

See Knowyourmeme.com for more info.

Cute huh? You can Nyan Forever or listen to Nyan Dubstep and buy all kinds of nyan merchandise  .

I love internet memes, and all kinds of nerdy things in general, so I wanted to immortalize the nyan cat in cake, but I didn’t want to use fondant or make a crazy 3-d cake. The nyan cat is in 8-bit, so I wanted to keep with the old school feeling and make a grocery store style cake, complete with piped shell border and buttercream roses.

This cake was so incredibly fun to make. Those are my first buttercream roses ever.  How’d I do? I think I’ll keep practicing, but I love the old school style they give the cake.

What flavor is nyan cake? Funfetti of course! You can make any white cake into “Funfetti” by adding about 1/6 cup of sprinkles to the cake batter. I used “classic” American style buttercream for the icing (recipe HERE). I prefer meringue buttercreams in general, but this holds up better for all the piping work.

Enjoy! Nyannyanyanyanyanyanyanyanyanyanyanyannya!

Biscuits, Four Ways

There are four biscuit recipes in The Bread Bible. From the top left: Angel Light Biscuits, Butter Biscuits, Touch of Grace Biscuits, and Sweet Potato Biscuits. A few weekends ago, I made all of them. This is kind of a hard post to write, because honestly, I am less than impressed and probably won’t be making any of them again.

From top: Touch of Grace, Butter, Angel Light and Sweet Potato. Rose makes the butter, angel light and sweet potato biscuits with a strange secret ingredient: hard boiled egg yolks. She says they improve the texture, but I’m sorry to say I really didn’t notice a difference, it was just kind of a pain to clean the egg yolk out of the sieve you have to mash it through.

Overall: the butter biscuits are a biscuit made with butter as the fat and leavened with baking powder. They tasted fine, but they weren’t better than the recipe I’ve made a hundred times from the Joy of Cooking, and they were a lot more complicated to make.

The Touch of Grace biscuits were just awful. I honestly think that it must be my fault because there’s no way they could have been this bad. They were made with shortening (like my beloved Joy of Cooking biscuits) and also leavened with baking powder. It was a much wetter dough that was supposed to rise in the oven. They didn’t for me, but like I said, I blame myself for these.

The Angel Light biscuits were made with butter but they were leavened with both baking powder and yeast. These were delicious, but because of the yeast and the multiple rise times, it took over 6 hours to make them. They were good, but I can’t imagine myself going to that much effort for a biscuit.

The Sweet Potato biscuits were exactly the same as the Angel Light biscuits, but they contained mashed sweet potato. These tasted even better, but I still don’t imagine myself making another 6 hour biscuit recipe.

The butter biscuits were delicious with cherry preserves and more butter with Sunday breakfast, but I still prefer my old Joy of Cooking recipe, or even the recipe on the back of the baking powder can. The butter biscuits were also more difficult to make.

Sorry Rose, up till here I’ve really liked everything, but I’m just not a fan of the biscuits. I think I’ll stick to the breads.

Out of respect to the author, I will not be posting any of the recipes unless I make significant changes to them. This recipe comes from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and is available at bookstores everywhere or possibly in your local library.

Cheddar Cheese Bread

This bread is a glorious combination of basic white sandwich bread, sharp cheddar cheese, and cayenne pepper. It disappeared at lightening speed even though every time I brought it out, Penny would run over to the kitchen and give me the biggest brown sad-eyes in the world.

Why don’t you ever share?

Please, stop the guilt! Dogs really love cheese.

Anyway, this bread has the most fantastic sharp cheese flavor balanced with a little spicy kick from the cayenne. Want the secret ingredient to almost all cheese recipes? Add a teaspoon or so of mustard. Dijon is preferred, but I used yellow in this and it was still amazing. Almost like adding coffee to chocolate, mustard has a way of really enhancing the cheese flavor in a dish.

Everything was great with this bread until I realized something was missing. Sometimes I can get a little carried away…

That’s more like it! Melted cheese on top of spicy cheddar cheese bread. If you want to be like me and guild the lily on this one, I recommend topping a slice with more cheddar cheese (or another full flavored cheese like Gruyere – skip the american this time) and placing in under the broiler for a few moments.

Delicious.

Please, when you bake cheddar cheese bread of your own, you must use sharp or extra sharp cheese. I chose a orange sharp cheese because I like the look of the orange bread, if you don’t care about that, a white cheddar would work just as well. Whatever you do, don’t use mild cheddar! It has no flavor and the bread won’t be nearly as good. Don’t be afraid of sharp cheese!

Next time, and there will be a next time, I plan on making this into dinner rolls and adding sliced jalapenos. There could also be bacon, but I make no promises. Someone needs to throw a dinner party that I can bring these to!

Out of respect to the author, I will not be posting any of the recipes unless I make significant changes to them. This recipe comes from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and is available at bookstores everywhere or possibly in your local library.

Meet Penny!

I usually try to keep to the subject of baked goods here, but I need to show off our super cute, newly adopted dog, Penny! I’ve waited my whole life to have a dog, and my lease finally allows it, so here she is! Penny was waiting for us at a local animal shelter and is the sweetest little dog you could hope to meet.

Poor thing was brought in as a stray, so they had no information on her, including her name. They started calling her Penny at the shelter, so we decided to stick with it. She still doesn’t understand that it’s her name. We’re working on teaching her. She’s a Corgi mixed with Lab and possibly some other breeds. They guess that she’s around 5 years old.

She makes it very difficult to bake/take photos because she stares at me like this the whole time.

“I can haz cookie?”

I made some cookies to celebrate Penny’s debut to the internet. These are dog bone shaped cookies for people. Penny has plenty of treats just for her 🙂

I’m a bit new to decorated sugar cookies, I’ll work on it…

But, they are so delicious! I used this recipe from Sweet Sugar Belle. It made some of the most delicious sugar cookies I’ve ever had. The only thing I did differently was, I chilled the dough before rolling. It’s July and I don’t have air conditioning, I needed some insurance.

Welcome home, Penny!

Zucchini Bread with Walnuts

Just a quick post today to share some zucchini bread I made a few weeks ago. I keep putting off posting it because I wasn’t really impressed by it, plus it’s not the world’s most photogenic cake. Also, I’ve been very busy this week with something I will be announcing here on Monday, so be sure to come back for that 😀

Zucchini bread is in the same family as carrot bread  and banana bread, in that it’s dangerously close to being a cake. This mildly sweet cake/bread is oil based (no butter) and leavened with baking powder, not yeast. It’s quick to throw together and have in the freezer for breakfast later in the week. Something handy I learned from this, is that when you bake with walnuts, toasting them lightly in a dry skillet before adding them to the batter will stop them from turning that horribly unappetizing blue color when baked. Be careful when toasting them and never walk away from the pan. They go from toasted to burned in about five seconds.

 

That’s all for today, be sure to check back on Monday for my big announcement 🙂

 

Out of respect to the author, I will not be posting any of the recipes unless I make significant changes to them. This recipe comes from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and is available at bookstores everywhere or possibly in your local library.