Tuesday, December 18, 2012

TWD: Finnish Pulla

Oh my, but this is a fabulous recipe.  It's a sweet, but not so sweet bread.  It made the house smell AMAZING.  We are cardamom lovers in this house, so I was looking forward to this one.

I started this morning.  The dough was simple to put together.  I used my stand mixer to do the kneading.  I am lucky to live near a fabulous spice shop called The Spice House.  They have cardamom seeds that have already been shelled.  It's lovely because it retains potency that ground cardamom loses, but I don't have to break open all the pods.  Win!  I have a dedicated spice grinder, and after a quick whir I was ready to go.  

I was pretty happy for the P & Q this week.  I saw that some other folks had played with the rising time some, so I was fairly confident about walking away for a bit.  I made the dough, let it do the first rise, and then shaped it.  It was so silky and so easy to roll and braid.  After shaping, I put it in the fridge for a few hours.  After it came back to room temperature, I let it rise for another half hour or so and then baked it off.  I chose to make two smaller loaves instead of a round.  One was coated with pearlized sugar and almonds and one with just sugar.

They are a gorgeous golden brown.  As of this writing (9:00 pm Chicago time) all of one loaf and most of the other are already gone.  I will say that there seven of us eating it, but still.  It's great on its own, but we also discovered that it's amazing with a small amount of nutty, sweet cheese (Sartori) melted on top.  

I will be making this again.  The friends who are over and helping us to eat it have threatened me if I don't.  My photos absolutely do not do the bread justice.

 Here is the version with almonds.

 This is the sugar only loaf.

Sliced and ready to be eaten.

The Boy gives his sign of approval.

Go visit Erin's blog for the recipe (You want to make this).  Or go buy the book already!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

TWD: Gingerbread Baby Cakes

We are major ginger lovers at this house.  I can't wait for the fall when ginger abounds (though, I'll eat it at any time of the year)  Anything ginger usually disappears pretty quickly.  I make gingersnaps, lebkuchen, and gingerbread on a regular basis, so I was pretty sure this would be a hit as well.  I was correct.  This is some SERIOUS gingerbread.  With the high ratio of molasses and the hit of black pepper, this was not for the (ginger) faint of heart.

These were ridiculously easy to put together.  Dry ingredients in one bowl (the surprise addition of powdered espresso and cocoa powder added more flavor dimensions) and liquid in the other.  Quick blend, and done.  I was a little surprised at the amount of molasses.  My favorite gingersnap calls for twice the flour and half the molasses.  I also realized that I didn't have fresh ginger, so I subbed minced candied ginger.  I used my mini bundt pan, which makes 12 mini cakes.  There was enough batter left over for one three inch cake.  These took longer to bake than I expected.  Mine baked for a total of 28 minutes with the mini cake taking about eight minutes more.  The house smelled delicious throughout, so the longer baking time was ok.

This is a very good gingerbread.  It was suggested to me that a dollop of creme fraiche and/or lemon curd would be lovely.  These did beg for hot chocolate or something just a little sweet.  I will certainly file this away as a possibility for future baking, but we have a few favorites that would take precedent.  I will say that these minis were a perfect size.  I think too much more would have been a little overwhelming.

Go see the recipe and better photos at Karen's Kitchen Stories.