When in Doubt…Leave it at 350

baking, cooking, and other adventures

Daring Bakers: Quick Bread February 28, 2012

Filed under: Quick Breads,The Daring Bakers' — pastrybrush @ 12:28 am
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The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lis stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

As it happens, I actually made my go to Banana Walnut Bread recipe just a couple of days ago. So this worked out perfectly 🙂

Mike had randomly hinted last week that banana bread would be yummy, especially since there were two very ripe bananas hanging out on the counter. One day when Mike was at work, I put Emma in her highchair and went about throwing all the ingredients for the bread together.

The greatest thing about quick breads is that they are quick 🙂

I didn’t want to have to wait all day for the bread to bake up. Well sometimes one hour feels like all day when you are hungry and just want one piece. So I decided to scoop these into a standard size muffin pan, made 11 muffins, and sprinkled them with a little sugar and baked them for 20 minutes.

Banana Bread
Source: Better Homes and Gardens: New Cook Book page 114

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (I used 1/2 tsp because I love cinnamon)
1 egg
1 cup mashed bananas (3 medium)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cooking oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 tsp finely shredded lemon peel (aka lemon zest)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1. Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of an 8x4x2 inch loaf pan; set aside. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients; set aside.
2. In another bowl combine the egg, bananas, sugar, cooking oil, and lemon peel. Add egg mixture all at once to dry mixture. Stir until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in nuts.
3. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degree F oven for 50 to 55 minutes or till a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove loaf from pan, cool on rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing. Makes 1 loaf (16 servings).



Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Scones aka Biscuits January 28, 2012

Filed under: Breakfast,Scones,The Daring Bakers' — pastrybrush @ 1:44 pm
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Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!


And everyone rejoices, YAY!

I guess in Australia and England these are called scones, but in North America we refer to them as biscuits. Scones, biscuits, I don’t care what you call them they are straight up yummy. This recipe was actually very easy to make and came together very quickly. I have learned over the years that when you make biscuits/scones there are two important things to remember, 1) work quick because you don’t want the butter/lard/fat to melt because they make your biscuits flakey, and 2) if you want some layer action, it is like making puff pastry, fold the dough over on itself a few times during the kneading process. Both of these things have helped me make scones/biscuits that are nice and fluffy.

These scones/biscuits turned out perfect. They had a nice fluffy texture, and rose to a perfect height. No crazy hard hockey puck biscuits here. I made up a batch and we had them with breakfast this morning. Without further ado, here is the recipe. I am being summoned by my little nugget, Emma, she isn’t happy that Mommy isn’t paying attention to her 🙂 Happy baking and eating.

Recipe Source: The challenge scone (biscuit) recipe has been especially formulated by Audax Artifex after a large amount of research and experimentation. It is designed to help you master the techniques involved in making scones (biscuits) exactly the way you like them.

Basic Scones (a.k.a. Basic Biscuits)
Servings: about eight 2-inch (5 cm) scones or five 3-inch (7½ cm) scones
Recipe can be doubled

1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter)
approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk
optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones

1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)
3. Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.
4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)
6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
7. Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.


Daring Bakers: Croissants September 27, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Breakfast,The Daring Bakers' — pastrybrush @ 7:18 pm
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The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

I have made croissants one time before and I learned A LOT that day.  The most important thing was too not chill the dough too long inbetween rolling it out because you won’t get the flaky texture you are looking for because the butter or margarine (whatever you are using) will crack and not spread in a nice creamy layer.  BUT if the dough is too warm it will come out the sides.  You have to work quick to get that happy medium.  For this recipe, I ended up making mini croissants because I was having a hard time with the dough shrinking….DAMN YOU GLUTEN!!!

The Croissants turned out very yummy, and they were a convenient breakfast for a couple of mornings for Mike and I 🙂

This recipe is very simple to make vegan: 1) use any non dairy milk to replace the milk, 2) Substitute Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks for the Butter, and 3) Don’t use an egg wash (I didn’t) (more…)


Daring Bakers: Candylicious August 27, 2011

Filed under: Ganache,The Daring Bakers' — pastrybrush @ 9:10 pm
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The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

This months Daring Bakers’ Challenge we were given the opportunity to try our hands at making candy.  The mandatory items were as follows:

You must make TWO candies

The first candy must be ONE of the following CHOCOLATE candies:

1) A truffle, dipped or not dipped in chocolate OR

2) A cut (square) dipped chocolate/bonbon OR

3) A filled chocolate/bonbon using a chocolate mold

The other candy can be any CHOCOLATE OR NON-CHOCOLATE candy you like

I wanted to try something new and maybe try my hand at the Fruit Gels, but they never came to pass.  Mainly because I didn’t have the right ingredients on hand.  Since we were given the option of a truffle and then any other chocolate candy, I decided to stick with the basics.  I made a basic dark chocolate truffle flavored with Kalua and rolled in cocoa power, and for my second candy I made the Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline Truffles, but used dark chocolate instead 🙂

Both turned out particularly yummy, but the Hazelnut Praline Truffle was by far the favorite because I am partial to Hazelnut and Chocolate.  Can we say Nutella? (more…)


Daring Bakers’: Fresh Fraisiers July 27, 2011

Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

I was actually really excited to make this recipe because 1) it is pretty and 2) I have the Tartine Cookbook and have been wanting to make something out of it for awhile 🙂  I decided to make this recipe over a two day period.  I was going to space everything out, but once I got started making the base components (which was easy) it didn’t take me long to complete it.

All of the base components are pretty straight forward to make: Sugar Syrup, Pastry Cream, and Chiffon Cake.  The only thing that would seem different is that you make the pastry cream in advance, but you wait to finish it (add the gelatin and the whipped cream) until you are ready to assemble your fraisier.  I say this because you want the pastry cream filling to firm up after you put the fraiser together and not before because the consistency of the filling would not be the same.

I also don’t advise using all of the cake.  The cake for the recipe baked up so high that I knew it wouldn’t fit in my mold and the proportions of cake to filling would be completely off.  To fix this I sliced the cake into thirds and only used the bottom and middle slices.  I saved the top for a snack 🙂

On day two, I assembled the fraisier.

While assembling the fraisier, I had some concerns about using almond paste for the topping because of the high content of almonds, the oils in the paste would break down when being handled.  Which is what ended up happening while I was mixing red coloring into the paste.  I would recommend using marzipan for this, the only difference between the two products is that the marzipan has more sugar which makes it easier to form and roll out 🙂  I used the almond paste and it just didn’t look right on top of the cake.  I ended up pulling off the almond paste and rolling out white – vanilla fondant for the top, which made it look much more elegant.  You actually don’t have to do either, the cake looks just as pretty dusted with powdered sugar and topped with a strawberry.

As of typing this I have yet to unmold the Fraisier because we are taking it to my in-laws for dessert.  I plan on unmolding it there and taking pictures, which I will post tonight.  Hopefully nothing goes wrong and it turns out pretty :crosses fingers:

UPDATE: The Fraisier turned out great and everyone loved it 🙂



Daring Bakers’: MARQUISE ON MERINGUE May 31, 2011

Filed under: The Daring Bakers' — pastrybrush @ 2:18 pm

The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

The two mandatory items in this challenge were to make the marquise and the meringue.  The ladies also provided recipes for Tequila Caramel and Spiced Almonds.  Because I wanted to make this as simple as possible for me I only made the two mandatory items.  I was actually pretty surprised at how easy the recipe was to make, well easy for me.  All of the techniques used in the recipe I have used at various times while making different desserts.  So something that I thought was going to take forever actually didn’t.  The longest part of this recipe is waiting for the Chocolate Marquise to solidify in the freezer.

I really enjoyed making and tasting this dessert because the marquise was sweet but the cocoa powder it is rolled in mellowed it out and the meringue added a nice sweet creamy texture to the dessert.  I definitely see why the meringue is required for this challenge because the dessert wouldn’t taste complete without it.

For the Chocolate Marquise and the Chocolate Base, I made half a recipe.  For the meringue I actually made a quarter recipe.  Below is the full recipe, so if you only want to make 1 8 x 8 pan of marquise just half the recipe 🙂



Daring Bakers’: Maple Mousse in an Edible Container April 27, 2011

Filed under: The Daring Bakers' — pastrybrush @ 9:16 pm
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The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

So the rules for this challenge were as follows: 1) We had to make one of the two Maple Mousse recipes provided (I have listed the one that I used below), and 2) we must make an edible container for the mousse to be presented in.

As soon as I read the rules, I knew exactly what I was going to do.

Of the many cookbooks that I have, I actually have a few that are strict pastry and plated desserts.  One that has always drawn my attention was a bowl made out of chocolate.  It is actually made by taking a small balloon, blowing it up, and dipping it in melted chocolate.  Once the chocolate has set you can remove the balloon.  The easiest way I have found to do this is to just pop it 🙂  I actually had a bit of trouble with dipping the balloon in the chocolate because the bowl I melted the chocolate in wasn’t big enough.  In the end I just spooned the chocolate over the balloon and them smoothed it out in a swirl pattern with the back of the spoon.

The maple mousse was pretty straight forward to make.  At first, I was only going to make half a recipe, then I discovered that I only had 1/4 cup maple syrup.  Which is just enough for 1/4 of a recipe.  I decided that 1/4 of a recipe was perfect, even though I knew my containers wouldn’t very full.  The recipe came together without a hitch, and when the mousse was set I piped it into the chocolate cups.  The flavor of the mousse was very nice.  My first thought when I saw the recipe is that I didn’t want the maple to be too strong of a flavor, and it actually was perfect.  You tasted the maple, but it wasn’t overpowering at all.  Definitely a mousse recipe that can be modified for any type of flavor that you like 🙂

Maple Mousse:

Source: Adapted from Jaime Oliver is not my boyfriend

• 1 cup (240 ml/ 8 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
• 4 large egg yolks
• 1 package (7g/1 tbsp.) unflavoured gelatine
• 1 1/2 cups (360 ml. g/12 fluid oz) whipping cream (35% fat content)

1. Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).
3. Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.
4. Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.
5. Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
6. Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.
7. Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.
8. Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your edible containers.