Tuesday, October 27, 2009

TWD: Cherry Fudge Brownie Torte

First off, I'm typing on the husband's computer, so I have no photos. They are on my computer. The one with the crashed hard drive. Keep your fingers crossed that the data recovery magicians can pull off a miracle.

On to the food! Want to know what's a really good idea? (Other than backing up your computer. Often.) Reading the recipe. It's helpful. It tells you little things. Things about saving four ounces of chopped chocolate to add at the end. Things about the mousse part needing at least four hours to chill. Oy.

This ended up being a really rich brownie cake studded with cherries and a hint of rum. It was slightly fussy. The chocolate and butter needed melting. (only seven ounces of chocolate!) The dry ingredients needed blending. The cherries needed boiling and flambeeing. And then it all needed to be mixed together.

Mine baked for about an hour. It came out cleanly from the pan. I sprinkled some powdered sugar on top and served it as is. I think that the mousse would have been tasty, but this was really rich on its own. The extra chocolate melted in added to the richness, I'm sure.

Thank you to April of Short + Rose for picking this recipe. Go to her blog to see what this should look like. Hmmm, I seem to be saying that a lot lately....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'm writing a new feature for the TWD site!

So excited! In an effort to spice up the TWD site a bit, the moderators asked for some suggestions and volunteers to help add content. I'm writing a feature (name! I need a name!) on ingredients and kitchen tools. Those you love, those you don't know how to use, those you need to expand on a bit, and those you covet. Go check it out. I post the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month.

Any ideas or suggestions for the feature? (column? post?) let me know!

Monday, October 19, 2009

TWD: Not this week

Sorry folks. If you came here looking for Sweet Potato Biscuits, you will be disappointed. I got to spend a glorious weekend away with the husband, and other people did all the cooking for me. Baking is a little more than I could get to right now. Once I climb over the mountains of laundry, I might be able to get back to the kitchen.

Go visit Erin's blog to see the recipe and what these delicious biscuits look like. I'll be back soon!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TWD: Allspice Crumb Muffins

I was really pleased to see this recipe this week. I love dessert. A lot. But it was nice to see something that I could (without guilt) serve the boy and the girl for breakfast. Not that pudding doesn't make a nice breakfast....

Anyway. I was excited by the comments from the other bakers. Most really loved it and praised the flavors and simplicity. As an added bonus, it was chosen by my internet friend, Kayte. She has amazing taste, so I knew this would be a winner. I really enjoy her blog. (Grandma's Kitchen Table) The boy and I set out making them this afternoon.

It was an easy recipe. Three bowls. One muffin tin. First up was the streusel. It was basic - butter, flour, brown sugar, and allspice. Dorie likes fingers for blending. I like my pastry blender.

Cutest sous chef ever.

Then comes the muffin. It's your basic formula. Wet ingredients get quickly blended into the dry ingredients. The muffins were scooped. (By the way, if you do not yet have an ice cream scoop for muffins and cupcakes, get one!) I got 12 muffins in the tin and two extras. The streusel was strewn on top. Here's where it got a little... off. I had more streusel than muffin top. But since I love the stuff, I put it all on anyway. Into the oven they went. Lots of good smells in my kitchen.

And out they came. Not so streusel looking. It's more like there's a sugar crust on top of the muffins. It's not a bad thing, but I was disappointed. They are not pretty. They did taste good, though. I wasn't bowled over as some of the other bakers were. I think they're good, but there needed to be more of something. Cinnamon maybe? I know that allspice was supposed to be the star here, but I didn't get a whole lot of the flavor. I think if I was to make this recipe again, I would add in some pecans or something. Maybe a bit less butter as well. There was a small puddle of butter in each of the muffin wells after I had taken the muffins out.

Dorie's notes say that the flavor intensifies overnight, so maybe in the morning the flavor will be more pronounced. The other tasters in the house enjoyed these. Maybe it's just me.

Here's one of the extra muffins. It was in this cute little heart-shaped foil pan. Here it is from the bottom.

Ooops. Here's a lesson -- don't over fill your muffin cups!

Thanks Kayte for the change of pace. Go visit her blog to see the recipe. Or go buy the book already.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

TWD: Split Level Pudding

I have discovered the joys of homemade pudding. The chocolate pudding that we last made for Dorie was amazing. Sad to say, this one did not give me the same joy. It was a layer of ganache covered with a layer of vanilla pudding. It sounded delicious, and I was eager to make it.

The ganache was fine. What could be bad about heavy cream and bittersweet chocolate? The pudding layer was not so fine. Dorie's recipes call for her pudding to go through a round in the food processor. From my experience and from what I've read from other members, it does something to the pudding so that it doesn't set up as well. Although it spent about six hours in the fridge, my vanilla layer never quite set.

Here's the other thing for me. I didn't like the two layers. When it comes to pudding, I want a really rich chocolate or a really strong vanilla. The vanilla didn't shine through enough. The overwhelming flavor was the chocolate, which to me sort of defeats the purpose. Ah well. Maybe I'll just try the vanilla part without using the processor and without the chocolate. I will say that the boy and the girl liked it a lot. They ended up stirring the chocolate and vanilla together, so it negated any layers anyway.

Here's dessert for the family.

Ready for a spoon....

As close to a "layered" shot as we got. No layers here.

Here's what the boy and girl ended up doing. The liquidity of the pudding did something to the ganache layer, so it was pretty soft as well.

Thank you Garrett of The Flavor of Vanilla for choosing the recipe this week.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


So here's my post about challah. Challah is a traditional Jewish egg bread that is served on Shabbat and most holidays. It tends to be lightly sweet with a fine crumb. I make it about twice a month. I'll make two challahs, use one for dinner one week and freeze the other for the next. I make a simple braid most of the time.

Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year. (Literally - the head of the year). This holiday calls for a round bread. We eat round challah bread to symbolize the circle of the life and the cycle of a new year. It's not hard to form, but it does take a little practice. And a good visual.

My favorite recipe is a pretty basic one. Make the dough, let it rise, form the braids, let it rise, bake. This year I tried something a little different. I made the dough one day, and then I let it rise in the fridge for about 18 hours. Then I formed it and followed the rest of the rising/baking steps. It was good! It was a little sweeter than usual. I think it's because the yeast and the honey in the recipe had plenty of time to interact. The second rise also took a bit longer. No big deal. The dough was amazingly easy to work with when it was cold. This may now be my go-to method.

Here are the two challahs that I made last weekend:

Traditional braid - top and side view.

Any hints as to what I can do about the un-egg glazed parts in the middle? I think it rises more after I've put it in the oven. Re-glaze after a few minutes?

Here's the round woven version:

Top view. Shiny!

Side-ish view. Shiny!

Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it yourself.


1 scant T or 1 envelope active dry yeast (I use instant yeast from KAF)
3/4 c. warm water (1/2 c. now, 1/4 later)
1/2 t. sugar
3 eggs
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 T. vanilla extract
3/4 t. salt
4-4 1/2 c. flour

Stir together the yeast, 1/2 c. water, and sugar. Proof for 10 minutes (if not using instant yeast-otherwise, just add ingredients) Beat the eggs with the honey. Add 1/4 c. warm water, oil, vanilla, and salt. Add the yeast mixture. Blend well. (I do this with a whisk in the bowl of my stand mixer) Add 4 cups of flour to the bowl. Using a dough hook, blend until all flour is absorbed. You want a slightly sticky dough. If it's too sticky, add the remaining flour until it is a desired consistency. Knead on medium speed for about 4 minutes. Alternately, you can do it by hand for about 10 minutes. Place in lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise until double - about 1-2 hours. (This is the step that I did overnight. I covered it and left it in the fridge for about 18 hours. Worked great!) Gently deflate dough and divide into two portions. Divide first portion into three sections. Roll them out until they are about 1" thick. Squeeze the dough together at one end and braid as you would hair. Squeeze the dough together again at the other end. Place on Silpat or parchment lined sheet. Repeat with second half of dough. Cover and let rise again - about 1 hour. (If you've done the overnight rise, the dough may take a bit longer to warm up and rise) Preheat oven to 375. Just before baking, brush dough with a wash made of one beaten egg and 1 t. water. You can sprinkle it with poppy or sesame seeds if you wish. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden.

Did I mention that challah makes amazing bread pudding and French toast? I'm just saying...