Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December 2009 Daring Baker's Challenge

This month's baking challenge was a gingerbread house. I have never in my life made one of these before, and let me tell you, it was not easy. It definitely took a while to finally complete it. I'm not sure if it is something I would ever do again, but we shall see. For now, i'll list the challenge below and my completed project.

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

I wasn't too fond of the recipes for the gingerbread, so I am posting an alternate I liked much better, and it was fairly tasty too.
Victorian Gingerbread House
"Cookies for Christmas" edited by Jennifer Dorland Darling
(you will need to make this recipe 2x for enough gingerbread)

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 Tbsp. vinegar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
(Do not double the recipe, make 1 recipe gingerbread two times)
In a large mixing bowl: beat the shortening on high for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat until combined. Add the molasses, egg, and vinegar and beat until combined. Mix in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time until you can't mix anymore in with mixer. If needed, mix the remaining with a wooden spoon. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or longer, until the dough is easy to handle.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Pick a pattern and cut the shapes out out of the paper. Grease flat baking sheets, or the back of baking sheets with cooking spray. Roll the dough on the pans, out to 1/4-inch thick. Place the pattern over the dough, making sure there is 1-inch spacing between the dough cut-outs. Cut around the patterns with a sharp knife, removing the excess dough. Make sure to cut out the windows if you have them. Do not thrown away the patterns, they will be reused. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned and the centers are just firm. (You may have to bake longer, depending on your actual oven temperature.) Place the patterns back over the dough and trim again. (The dough does expand quite a bit, thus the need for this step.) Bake the dough for an additional 3 minutes more, or until very firm. Cool 3 minutes on the pan. Loosen the bottoms of the gingerbread pieces with a spatula. Cool completely on the pans. Then transfer to wire racks. Repeat this process with the remaining dough and pattern pieces.
Use royal icing as your glue to put the house together. I used the directions from King Arthur Flour's website, entitled "Building A Gingerbread House" with Susan Reid.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Honey Wheat Bread fast

I definitely was in the experimenting mood this weekend. I decided to make up a bread recipe that would be a semi-quick bread.

Honey Wheat Bread recipe by Katie of http://cookinginatinykitchen.blogspot.com

1 rapid rise yeast packet (2 1/4 tsp.)
3 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (+1/2 to 1 cup more)
1 1/2 cups luke warm water
1/2 cup quick cooking oats

Lightly grease a large bowl and set aside. Combine water, honey and yeast, gently stir to mix. Let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes. It should be foamy on top if the yeast activates properly, if not, start over. Meanwhile, whisk together the wheat flour, oats, salt and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour. Pour in the water mixture all at once and stir until mixed. Add more flour until the dough is not super sticky. Turn out onto a floured board. Knead, adding more flour as needed, for 10 minutes. Add enough flour, so that you can lightly touch the dough and not come away with a souvenir. Shape the dough into a ball and put into the prepared bowl. Cover loosely with a light cloth.  Let it rest in warm place for 1 1/2-2 hours or until doubled. Punch the dough down and let rise again about 1 hour more. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Form into desired shape, place on a oiled baking stone, again cover with the cloth and let rise again about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt some honey and lightly brush on top of dough, use scissors to cut 2-3 slashes in the dough. Lightly sprinkle quick cook oats on top. Bake for 30 minutes, but keep an eye on it. When the bread has browned on top, and sounds hollow when lightly tapped, you are done. Take it out of the oven and place the bread on a wire rack to cool.


I am finally getting around to posting this recipe. I decided to try my own version of the classic Madeleine. It is really good with a simple lemon glaze: lemon juice and powdered sugar.

Madeleine recipe by Katie of http://cookinginatinykitchen.blogspot.com

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup superfine sugar (granulated sugar processed in coffee grinder/food processor)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
a few drops of lemon extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 whole jumbo eggs
1 jumbo egg yolk
pinch salt
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Sift all the dry ingredients together. In a 2nd bowl: whisk eggs and add lemon and vanilla. Once butter is cooled, whisk into the eggs. Gradually blend butter/egg mixture into flour, gently fold in until just mixed. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Melt 1 Tbsp. butter and brush a 12 Madeleine mold, and then flour the mold. Divide the batter evenly among the molds. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cakes are lightly browned on the edges. Gently tap the mold on a table and slide onto a dish towel. Turn over so the pattern is on top. Let cool completely, then lightly dust with powdered sugar.
Optional to lightly glaze with lemon mixture.
Best day of, otherwise they freeze very well. If you do decide to freeze them, hold off on glazing until after thawed. You can take them out about 30 minutes before you are ready to eat them.
There should be a slight bump on the underside of the cakes.