Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lemon Loaf Cake. Just OK.

Well, as other bloggers mentioned, this is good, but needs a little something. It's just kind of bland. People suggested adding more zest and the juice of the lemons, a glaze on top, etc. Not sure I would make this again. However, on the positive side, it was exceedingly simple and fast to make, so if you need a quick pound cake, this may be your ticket. Oh, and my kids did really enjoy it, but I think they are just thrilled that I'm baking.

Of course, I did have a magic baking moment. the recipe says to "whisk together the eggs, sugar, and salt for just a minute, until foamy." I whisked for exactly a minute and nothing was even remotely foamy. I'm thinking, this is yet another baking technical term that I obviously don't get. I turned away to chop up my zest and when I turned back, waa-laa, my egg mixture was foamy. It's magic. Gotta love chemistry. Yay!

In my attempt to get more active with Tuesdays with Dorie gang, I did nominate two recipes for May baking. I also looked on one of this week's host websites,, and she had the most beautiful food photos, so I posted her link here. Let me just say that her baked items look amazing! I definitely need to work on adding pictures here to bring these things to life.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pizza Rustica. Not a Fan Favorite.

Let's just say the Pizza Rustica was not a hit in my family. While the crust was tasty, we all thought the filling left something to be desired. I guess not everything can be fabulous.

I have to say, though, that dough is no longer freaking me out. I'm still not sure my mixture ever "resembles a fine cornmeal" because it seems lumpier than cornmeal, but it comes out tasting fine, so I'm good with that. My dough did form a lovely ball on the Cuisinart blade so that was exciting!

As you can see from the photo, my lattice work on top definitely could of used some additional love. I am just not patient enough to make it perfect. Martha Stewart will not have to move over because of me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rugelach. Lekvar, What?

OK, for all you fine people out there who have no idea what lekvar is, join the club! From Merriam-Webster, "it's a prune butter used as a pastry filling (origin Hungarian)." Now you know. Baking with Julia called for prune or apricot and even gave us the recipe and option for making the lekvar ourselves. Let's just say, I am not that ambitious, as the Rugelach itself turns out to be pretty time consuming. One other thing about lekvar, if you look for it in your grocery store in the jam section, good luck. I tried several markets and could find no such thing. I went with the fancy, French apricot spread.

For my first attempt, I used walnuts, almonds and pistachios for the mixed nuts, and medjool dates and cherries for the dried fruit. I made the pastry yesterday and I only got as far as making the jelly-roll today. Looking forward to baking them tomorrow!

Here's the condensed version of how to make Rugelach. Layer butter/cream cheese pastry, apricot lekvar, cinnamon-sugar, mixed nuts, dried fruit and roll. After chilling the rolls, cut them into pieces, roll them in cinnamon-sugar-nut mixture and bake. Yes, it takes some time. I'm finding out that baking teaches you patience which is not my strong suit but getting stronger with every recipe.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Chocolate Truffle Tartlets. OMG!

Seriously tasty treats here. I missed the required Tuesday, February 21, because I was hanging out on a beach in Maui (so sad), but I did make the tartlets the following day. Glad I chose not to skip entirely, as they did not disappoint! The Chocolate Dough was a pain, but I survived it (might of cheated and added extra water to get it to hold together). My favorite line in the recipe was "beat the yolks and sugar until the yolks thicken and form a slowly dissolving ribbon..." I'm sorry, but it seems to me that ribbons are for packages or hair, certainly not for yolks. Not sure my yolks were ribbon-esque, but I must of done something right since the filling was exceedingly yummy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

White Loaves. There's a First Time for Everything.

So here's the thing. I've always thought making bread is a bit intimidating. What with the yeast, the perfect water temperature, the kneading and rising, and the kneading and the rising. Seriously. Something is going to go wrong. But I figured, I'm in this group, if everyone else can do it then so can I. I read the recipe. I read the Baking Basics on all the different variations of yeast and flour. I buy the loaf pans and the King Arthur flour and the "active dry yeast" as opposed to the quick rise version. Wow, for something that is basically just flour and water this is already complicated.

This morning, I'm doing my thing in the kitchen and I'm on the first directions under Mixing and Kneading. I mix my yeast with my 107.4 degree water and sugar and it tells me to wait 5 minutes until the yeast is creamy. What the heck does creamy yeast look like? After 5 minutes the yeast looks no different then it did before. Should I wait for something more magic? Bubbling, hissing, what? I have no idea. I soldier on thinking this is probably never going to rise... my yeast mixture is not creamy.

My next problem is that I am supposed to keep kneading until my dough is "smooth and elastic." Can someone explain to me what that means? How smooth? Like a baby's butt? How elastic? Like a rubber band? My dough is not like a baby's butt or a rubber band. My Kitchen Aid is finally get some use, though, so at least it is happy!

I can't tell you how excited I am after the First Rise and my ball of dough actually does double.

Loved the patting into rectangles part and the folding and the plumping. Now were having some fun. I plop the dough into my lovely new loaf pans. Ok, so it's California and it's not that cold here, but there is still no place in my house that is 80 degrees. 80 degrees? I need 80 degrees for the next rising. It's cloudy and rainy. No rays of sunshine anywhere. Should I turn on the heater and put the dough on the vent? I decide to preheat the oven a bit and use that. Yes, I am a complete yahoo here.

I go away for an hour and wa-la, my dough is bursting out of the pan in the perfect bread loaf shape! Woohoo. I can make bread. Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

I call my friend Dona (who is also in TWD) and brag away about how lovely my loaves are and that the rising actually worked, etc. We decide that we should take some pictures to put on our blog. So I remove my lovely loaves from where they are rising in the oven and plunk them on the counter (plunk is the operative word here) so I can take a lovely photo. I can't say I was gentle. I was NOT gently, ok. My loaves promptly fell just like the cake does when you aren't gentle. My bubble just burst.

I could not bake my fallen loaves right away because I now had to schlep kids around to activities. I'm thinking I'm kind of hosed anyway, but I put the loaves back in their rising place and leave. When I come back, the dough has drooped over the sides of the loaf pan.  It's an un-risen, ooey, gooey mess.

Hey, after all this work I have to bake the darn things, right. I cut off the droopy, ooey, gooey part and stick them in the oven. Let's just say they did not look pretty. But according to my family who loves me even when I'm grumpy because my homemade bread is a failure, it is pretty good.

I can only get better, right?!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tuesdays with Dorie, Here I Come.

Alrighty then. I created my first blog (teritwd) so I can bake with the Tuesdays with Dorie gang. This is the second round of TWD (though it's my first round) and we will be making recipes from Baking with Julie by Dorie Greenspan. I was inspired to do this when I heard Dorie interviewed on NPR. I'm excited!