Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Thanksgiving-y Twist on a Haunkkah Classic

Thanksgivukkah has come and gone, but the memory lives on in our hearts, always. One of the nicest things about this holiday (other than my uncle lighting the turkey on fire - long story) has been the little reunion I threw for my camp friends on Friday, which was an excuse for me to buy way too much food, and of course bake shit. It was the perfect opportunity to bake shit than can only be eaten day-of, and that + Hanukkah = donuts, obviously. 

The other day I had some leftover cider, and I was looking for recipes for cider donuts (as one does) and came across a recipe on the wonderful Tartelette. They looked amazing, and lo and behold, they were! I had a hard time keeping the oil at a consistent temperature, but they still came out nice and crispy. I also didn't have an apple corer, but I used a fondant cutter, which made pretty circular star medallions, so score. Plus, the fact that they are made with apples basically makes them fruit, right? My main advice is be sure to whisk your eggs properly into the cider mixture, because mine scrambled a little bit and I had to strain them out. But they were super-delicious, even if they made me want to avoid oily food for the rest of the day, which was problematic when the latkes came along. Worth it, though! You can find the recipe here.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Go on the Pill

Our mom is a real second-wave feminist. She was in the first class of women at Yale, and attended Harvard Business School when it was only ten percent women. Plus, she's bad at cooking, which is the sure sign of a feminist, amiright? So when it came to picking this year's Halloween costume, I was inspired by her and her cohort. My first choice for a costume was Slutty Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the bun, the glasses, the dicky, and a dramatically shortened judge's robe), but believe it or not, they don't make judge's costumes in women's sizes. Take from that what you will. So in honor of the sexism of modern Halloween costumes, I went as the Feminine Mystique. And no, as not one, not two, but three friends asked me, that is not a character from X Men. God, weren't any of your moms second-wave feminists?! My costume entailed a 1950s dress, an apron, heels, pearls, a bottle of wine, and a plate of pill-shaped cookies. Like any good housewife, I spent the afternoon before the Halloween party making the cookies, but my time was somewhat limited, so the challenge was to find a sugar cookie recipe that did not involve freezing time, and also did not involve the cookies spreading. I used this recipe and it worked beautifully. Plus, it tasted great. I used lemon extract, and everyone at the party exclaimed in delight over the lemony taste of the cookies, which balanced out of the sweetness of the icing nicely. The other challenge was using flood icing, which I've never done before, but once I got the hang of it, it was pretty easy. You just add water to the icing, and you don't even have to pipe it on; if you outline your shapes first and then spoon a bit of flood icing on, it spreads beautifully, thereby saving you the annoyance of having to fill your piping bag. The cookies were a big hit, not least because the party was a hipster party in Asscrack, Brooklyn, where food is apparently not a thing that people provide. So everyone was very happy to see the cookies, and as the perfect housewife, I was very happy to hand them out while guzzling wine. Happy Halloween! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Ethnic Flavor: The Last Braid of the Year

Welcome back to the land of blogging, us! What, you didn't notice we were gone? Guess we're less important than we thought. 

Rosh Hashanah starts in less than sixty hours. Like all the pre-Purim holidays this year, it's crazy early (the first night of Hanukkah is on Thanksgiving, so get ready for turkey followed by jelly donuts - maybe jelly donuts filled with cranberry sauce?) One of the food traditions for Rosh Hashanah is that for whole month of Tishrei (the month that contains Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah), we eat challah that's round, instead of the traditional braid. This past Friday, I made challah for a nice, quiet dinner with Rachel and our dad, since our mom is in Los Angeles with Rebecca. I didn't have a lot of time to make it because I got home on the late side on Thursday night, so I was really happy to find a recipe that requires a lot less rising time than recipes that I've used in the past. It calls for letting the dough rise in a heated oven, which very much cuts down on the rising time. It's from the beautiful Entree to Judaism, a cookbook my friend Amelia gave me for my birthday, which features Jewish recipes from all over the world. The challah recipe actually was a round challah High Holidays recipe, but I braided it instead.

The other unusual thing about this recipe is that it calls for butter or margarine instead of oil. I used Earth Balance margarine, which is almost indistinguishable from butter, and we could really tell when we tasted the challah! Normally, challah comes in two flavor varieties--water (which is more bread-like) or egg (which is more cake-like)--but with this I think I've discovered a new flavor: buttery! It wasn't brioche-level or anything, nor should it be, but it was still extremely tasty and different. I halved the recipe for one loaf and didn't include the food coloring, but it still came out beautifully, in my opinion. Here's the recipe

7–8 cups bread flour, divided use
2 packages rapid rise yeast
1 1/2 cups water
2 sticks pareve margarine, butter, or 1/2 cup oil and 1 stick margarine
1/4 teaspoon yellow food coloring
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup raisins (optional)
Egg wash: 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water


In a large mixer bowl combine 6 cups of the flour and the yeast. Stir to combine.

Heat the water, margarine, food coloring, sugar, poppy seeds, and salt in a saucepan until very warm (140°F). Water should be uncomfortably hot to your finger but not hot enough to burn you. (It will feel like hot tap water.

Add the warm liquid mixture to the flour while the mixer is on low. As the liquid is being incorporated, add the eggs. Mix thoroughly.

Gradually add the remaining flour only until a fairly firm dough is formed. This process should take about 7 minutes whether you are using the dough hook on your mixer or are kneading it by hand. The mixture will be satiny smooth.

Preheat your oven to 400°F for 1 minute. Lightly grease a bowl with some oil, and turn the dough in the bowl to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the turned off oven until doubled in size, about 30–45 minutes.

Punch down the dough and divide in half or in thirds. Roll each piece into a rope about 15 inches long. Hold one end 2 inches above the work surface and wrap the rest of the dough around it to make a large coil. Pinch the ends together to prevent unraveling while baking. Place the formed breads on parchment-lined or greased cookie sheets, and let rise in the previously warmed oven until light and doubled, about 25 minutes.

Remove loaves from oven and reduce to 375°F. Brush the tops of the loaves with the egg wash and bake for 25–35 minutes, depending on the size of the loaves. When the bread is done, it will be golden brown and have a hollow sound when tapped.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Making the Bitter Sweet

Hi there! Rebecca is right, my absence from blogging has been inexcusable (although not as inexcusable as her failure to take a picture of our lovely lime meringue pie before it was gobbled up, ahem). I had such a wonderful time with her, Adam, Simon, and Leo in Los Angeles last month, but since then it's been back to real life, and back to baking.

Right now we're in a period of the Jewish calendar known as the Nine Days. This appropriately named period is the nine days leading up to the fast day of Tisha B'Av, a very sad holiday that commemorates the destruction of both temples in Jerusalem some two millennia ago. Among other restrictions, we don't eat meat during this time, because meat is considered a luxury that brings us happiness. The only time you can eat meat is if you've had a siyyum (i.e. if someone has finished a piece of learning), or on Shabbat. I promise, this random lesson in Jewish history and tradition gets relevant. 

So I decided to take advantage of it being Shabbat and made steak for some friends who were coming over for dinner, which meant I had to find a parve dessert, which could only mean one thing - Couldn't Be Parve! I was in luck because I found not one, but two recipes! One was for rhubarb sorbet; the other, for sugar cookies that Shoshana suggests you serve with it. The sugar cookies were good - they mostly tasted like sugar cookies, which is all you can ask for from a parve cookie. What I liked about them is that, unlike most butter-based sugar cookies, you don't have to chill the dough at all to get them to maintain their shape while they bake, so they're great if you're in a hurry, since the dough takes all of three minutes to throw together.

The rhubarb sorbet was fantastic. It was also very easy to make, as most sorbets are, but it was a lot creamier than I expected, almost more like ice cream. Rhubarb is one of those super-summery foods, and I've been making a lot of stuff with it this summer, I thought it was very appropriate for the occasion, because it's quite bitter, but dump a ton of sugar on it and it becomes sweet and delicious. The Nine Days are also bitter, but if you dump Shabbat on it...whatever, you know what I'm getting at. You can find the sorbet recipe here and the cookie recipe here

Sunday, July 7, 2013

BAKED Sunday Mornings: Malted Vanilla (and Chocolate) Milkshakes

An easy Baked Sunday Mornings recipe!  It has been super hot around LA this past week and so a recipe which requires no oven and results in a delicious milkshake makes it a prefect recipe for a hot summer day.  I promised my son a milkshake and he was holding out for chocolate, so I adapted this recipe a little bit, using chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla.  I still used the vanilla bean, so it had a nice vanilla, chocolate and malted flavor all mixed together.  If you are looking for a great milkshake recipe, I recommend this one.  It got the seal of approval from my five year old and from me!

You can find the recipe here and check out what all the other bakers did.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happy Happy Lemon Cake

I can't believe we haven't posted since May.   My life has gotten so crazy, and this is supposed to be a quiet season.  Oh well.  Can't say what Sarah's excuse is.  She came to visit us recently, and while we did bake a key lime pie, it got eaten so fast I didn't even get a picture.  I assume Sarah will chime in with a cupcake review at some point.

Anyway, enough excuses and on to this amazing lemon cake.  This is a cake that I made at the end of May for a co-worker's birthday.  Like most cakes from BAKED, it had about a zillion steps but it was so worth it.  Every single part of the cake was amazing and when they came together it was awesome.  One of the best lemon cakes I have ever had, let alone baked.  I did not have three 8-inch pans, as the recipe calls for, so I used two nine inch pans and cut the layers in half for four layers and it was great.

I highly recommend this cake, but only make it if you have time (you can make it over two days or so).  You will be rewarded for your hard work with total deliciousness.  You can find the recipe here.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ethnic Flavor: Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars for Shavuot

Shavout, the holiday where we celebrate receiving the Torah, is nearly upon us.    This is one of my favorite holidays, and not just because it is traditional to eat dairy foods on Shavout, but that does make it extra sweet.  One food that people love to eat on Shavout is cheesecake.  Although a plain, well made cheesecake can be delicious (and a poorly made one can be disastrous), I think cheesecake is the perfect canvas to experiment with other flavors.  This year, I decided to make these salted caramel cheesecake bars to bring to Shavuot services.  I have made them before and they were a huge hit, so I can't wait to see how people react to them on Wednesday.  They are a little bit salty, a little bit sweet and a little bit tangy with a buttery crust.  When you bite into one, the flavor just melds together in your mouth into one delicious bite.

If salted caramel cheesecake isn't your thing (and who are you??), then you can try any of these other cheesecake recipes.  

Wow, we love cheesecake on this blog.  Anyway, here is the recipe for salted caramel cheesecake bars.

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