Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chrysanthemums & bread machines

Hello everyone! I do believe Fall has arrived! The trees are losing their leaves, the chrysanthemums are blooming and the bread machine is back on the counter!

And to kick off this wonderfully cool weather, last night we had Beef & Barley stew and home made whole wheat bread!! Yup, the ice cream maker has been put away and the bread machine brought out. That is my way of saying, Fall is here and it's time for comforting warm foods for cold nights!

The beef & barley stew was just one of those made up things. You just sort of take stock of what you have and then chop, slice and use up. You really can't go wrong when you just wing it for stews and soups. And the thing I really like about making soups and stews is that you can let it simmer for hours and hours and it only makes it better at the end of the day!

But the best thing about Fall is the bread! I ADORE fresh baked bread! Straight out of the oven, sliced, buttered and oh my goodness! The bread crust is crunchy/chewy and the center of the bread is warm and buttery and slides down your throat! Oh my! Just thinking about it makes me want to go and cut another slice off and toast it and add a dab of jam on it!

Anyhowwwww. I have an old Sunbeam, 2lb. Expressbake bread machine. My honey got it for me way back in 1996 or maybe 97'. I didn't use it much back then. I wasn't a real big fan of bread machine bread. I didn't care for the way it looked when you took it out of the machine. And the texture always seemed to be off. But then I discovered the dough setting. That setting has totally changed my life! I now use that setting exclusively. Although I do have a Kitchen Aide mixer, I don't use it for making pizza crusts or bread doughs any longer. The bread machine kneads the bread and takes care of the first rise process with no hassles. And then I take out the dough and shape it and let it rise again and then bake it off. And it comes out perfect EVERY TIME!

Yesterday I made a whole wheat bread using a recipe that I had never tried before. I got it out of my "Bread Machine how to prepare and bake the perfect loaf" by Jennie Shapter, that Baby Girl gave me years ago! I followed the recipe, Light Whole-Wheat Bread, and then set it on the dough setting. When it was done, I took it out, shaped it and set it in the bread pan and let it raise again. Then I baked it at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

For those of you who would like to make this bread here is the recipe. I'm not sure how you would go about adjusting it, if at all, for those who will not be using a bread machine. But if you are interested in making this bread here is the recipe.

Light Whole-Wheat Bread

1 3/4 cups water
3 cups whole-wheat bread flour
1 1/3 cups white bread flour
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tsp. rapid-rise active dry yeast

1 Pour the water into the bread machine pan. If the instructions for your bread machine specify that the yeast is to be placed in the pan first, rexerse the order in which you add the liquid and dry ingredients to the pan.

2 Sprinkle each type of flour over in turn, ensuring that the water is covered. Add the sal, sugar and butter in separate corners of the bread pan. Make a shallow indentation in the center of the flour and add the yeast.

3 Set the bread machine to the basic/normal setting, medium crust. Press Start.
*Set the machine to dough setting at this point if you'd like to shape your own bread.*

At the end of the dough cycle. Turn out the dough and shape as you like it. Then set it aside in a warm place until dough doubles in size. At which time you may then place your bread in a pre-heated oven set at 400 degrees and bake for 30-35 minutes or until done.

For those of you who have a bread machine, do you use your bread machines for the whole bread or just the dough setting?

Hope everyone is planning on a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by! ;-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Babka and....

Hello everyone!

I have been a busy, busy girl! I'm in the middle of three major projects! (Major for me) I have been knitting baby girl things, I found a lovely and simple baby sweater that I only made three mistakes on! (sheesh) working on the baby bonnet made from silk hankies (not finished because I also worked on a baby quilt and quilt finger and silk hankies don't work well together.) I am currently working on the baby quilt for my granddaughter who will arrive in November (Yay!) AND.... I am working on a new vanity bench that I got off Craigslist a while ago! Phew!

So, I have no new pictures of the baby quilt I made for my niece. She did send me a picture of it but you can't really see anything of the quilt, just her adorable baby girl named Naomi! And I don't have pictures of my granddaughters quilt, sweater, bonnet or booties because I have absolutely NO natural light today. Just cloudiness and I didn't take any pictures of them when we did have nice, beautiful natural light all last week! ;-)

But, what I am going to do today is post the Babka recipe here instead. I had a couple of requests for said recipe and you know I'm all about being receptive to requests.... ;-)

So, here you go. And I hope that someday you will remember this recipe and make it because it is seriously delicious!

Chocolate Babka

Makes 3 loaves

1 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees
2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups plus a pinch of sugar
3 whole large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature plus more for bowl and loaf pans
2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped*
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Streusel topping (see below)

Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined, set filling aside.

Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans; line them with parchment paper.
Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside.

Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece.

On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.
Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling. (When shaping the babka, twist dough evenly throughout the length of the roll a full 5 to 6 turns.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes. (The babka can be prepared up to step 8 and frozen for up to a month before baking. When ready to bake, remove from freezer; let stand at room temperature for about 5 hours, and bake.)

Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve.

Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.

* After chopping the chocolate into moderately sized chunks, I used the food processor to pulse the rest of the chocolate in two batches to small bits. It saved a lot of time!

Streusel Topping

Makes 3 3/4 cups

1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch.

And there you have it. This is a Martha Stewart recipe and it is absolutely, dangerously delicious! I do hope you all will find a time to make it!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blogger comments and food

Hello everyone! So, I only just realized that I had comments that had never gotten posted. So sorry about that. I am not sure what happened, but I finally got around to looking at my comment moderations page and wouldn't you know it, there were comments I hadn't seen before!

So, I believe all comments have been moderated to date. Phew!

Now, on to one of my favorite things..... FOOD!

I have not been very good about blogging the foods that I have been making. I generally try new recipes every week. And then there are those days when I just go with the tried and trues. Well last week I saw a recipe for Rice noodles with beef gravy (kwaytiow neua sahp). It's a Vietnamese dish and it was AWE-SOME! I found it at Sidewalk Shoes. I had the foresight to paste the recipe into Evernote so I was able to make the recipe. And I'm glad I did because this one is a keeper! It was super YUMMY!

I LOVE fish sauce! Seriously! It's not the best smelling thing you'll ever open a cap to. But, boy howdy it sure does something special to the taste of a dish! There was really only one bad thing about this recipe. And that was that it tasted so good that we, my honey and I, both had seconds! You know how it is, you're stuffed, full to the gills, but you just want more of that taste in your mouth so you grab a second helping. That was us with this dish. Seriously, yum-o!

Now, here is something I made last Friday! And it took ALL DAY FRIDAY to make this!

What you are looking at is a Chocolate Babka! It is what is left of the three loaves I baked last Friday! I got this from Goop which is a site I subscribe to and I get weekly e-mails with all kinds of interesting things. Like one week it will be about fashion or another week about restaurants in various cities. Well, last week it was about Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Lunar Calendar Year. And to help with the celebrations you could serve something like, Rugelach, or Honey Apple cake or Chocolate Babka. Well, they had recipes for all three of these sweets that I mentioned. But the one that captured my attention was the Chocolate Babka because of the Jerry Seinfeld Show! We used to watch that every week. And now we enjoy watching the re-runs every evening. Anyhow there is an episode where Jerry and Elaine are invited to a friends house and they decide to go to the bakery on their way to the get-together to pick up a Chocolate Babka. They end up not getting the Chocolate Babka because the person before them had gotten the last one! So then Jerry and Elaine find out that there is another Babka! A Cinnamon Babka. Of course, it's not the Chocolate Babka that they had their heart set on. In their eyes the Cinnamon Babka was an inferior Babka. But, they couldn't go to the get-together empty handed! Of course there is more to the episode but you get the important part which was..... The Chocolate Babka!

So, anyhow, when I saw the recipe, well, I knew I had to make it. I've never seen a babka before, other than on the Sienfeld Show and even then they don't give you a very good shot of it. So I wasn't too sure about what I was doing. But the recipe was pretty easy to read and understand. It just took ALL DAY to make!

Let me tell you what! I now understand why Elaine and Jerry made such a big deal over that Babka. I made three loaves (that's what the recipe made) and when we took a bite, it was LOVE AT FIRST BITE! It is chocolate in bread that also had a nice little crunch from the streussel topping! OH MY GOSH! There were alarm's going off in my head! I knew this was going to kill any resolve I EVER had about eating less! If I didn't get these loaves out of my house.... Well, it would be the death of me! So, I gave a loaf to my neighbors across the street! I gave half a loaf to my next door neighbors! Then I gave a half a loaf to our friend and Choir Director! She has two small kids that are rod thin and can get away with eating this bread! We also gave half a loaf to Baby-Girl but she left our house and forgot it so we gave it to another friend of ours! We ate half a loaf. And if we hadn't given the others away when we did, we'd be eating them right this second!

And man let me just say, Chocolate Babka is wicked good!