Baking Bible Post: Cookie Strudel

dough rolled outrolled dough 1640x1228

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Appearances can be deceptive. It’s what’s under the hood that counts.

Pick your cliche, the question of the moment is which image is cookie strudel dough, and which is bread dough? They don’t taste at all alike, but the resemblance is striking.

The strudel dough wasn’t like most doughs. I read the instructions several times to be sure I was doing it right. Mash the butter and sour cream into the flour/salt mixture, that’s it? Really???!! Huh. Okay. The dough was a little sticky, but I figured that was why it got refrigerated before rolling out.

pecans in bowl
I weighed out the pecans while the dough cooled

pecans in pan

pecans and currants in bowlThen I toasted the nuts and added currants and cinnamon. When the dough was rolled and ready, I added apricot jam and the fruit and nut mixture.

dough apricotdough all toppings

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Here’s the baked log, which I let cool overnight, then sliced and re-baked, resulting in strudel cookies!

finished strudel

These will be eaten by my husband and me exclusively I’m afraid, because currants.

Baking Bible post: White Chocolate Club Med Bread

Ah, Club Med. I went on a Club Med vacation once. I still remember that bread, and doing silly dances and the relaxed feeling of being on a vacation where everything was taken care of for me.

I was looking forward to making the bread and getting a chance to relive that feeling just a little bit. I got to the dough phase without much trouble.

P1030908damp dough 1574x1180

It was easy to work with, and I set it in the dough bucket, and put it in the fridge to rise because I had to take a 24-hour break from bread baking. I was a little nervous about leaving the yeast unsupervised for so long. I was vaguely worried it would run out of sugar or get tired and the dough would collapse.

But no, the refrigeration slowed things down, and 24 hours isn’t that much in the scheme of things, so all was well. Here’s the risen dough in its bucket:

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The bottom of the black tape marks double volume, so it did just fine.

Next it was time to roll, fold, add the white chocolate, and fold again.

rolled dough 1640x1228 dough folded verticallychips on dough 2006x1503dough with chips 1161x869

I used white chocolate chips not bars of white chocolate because that’s what I had. It worked out fine, although I wonder if I would have gotten more chunks of chocolate if I’d used bars.

whole loaf up close 1689x1267
bread sliced with book 1789x1342 See the holes where the chocolate melted into the bread?

Still, the bread itself was delicious. Soft, very slightly sweet, with a great texture. My husband agreed, slicing himself an inch-thick slab for dessert.




Baking Bible Post: Fudgy Pudgy Brownie Tart

Fudgy is right! But first, the crust, a sweetened, chocolated –chocolatey? Anyway, pie crust with sugar and cocoa. This is the crust. As you see, I went a little bit whacko with the flour. The crust was so soft and malleable I was worried it would stick, so I floured everything heavily. Whether it was my heavy, floury hand or the crust itself, everything worked fine. Except that, as you see, I used a regular pie pan instead of a tart pan. I realized I had no tart pan at 2pm on Sunday afternoon, and the motivation to drive to the store and buy one just wasn’t there.

P1030881Flour much? Yes, I got a little carried away. On the plus side, my crust rolled out well, didn’t stick or break.

butter white chocolate before melting 2048x1536shaved chocolate better 2048x1536

White chocolate in a chocolate brownie tart? Okay, it’s there. Also lots and lots of unsweetened chocolate. This mixture gets melted, then flour and nuts are added.

batter with flour 2 1131x845chopped nuts 2048x1536resulting in a delicious nut-filled batter. I’d just made a batch of Mississippi Mud bars for book club. My daughter loved them so much she hid some so she could eat them without her sister noticing and giving her a hard time if she ate more than her allotment. Her only complaint was that there weren’t enough walnuts, and would there be enough walnuts here? I promised there would be.

pie raw 2 1946x1461
Walnut-studded pie, ready for the oven.

After the suggested time, I pulled the pie out. It was seriously underdone, and about 30 degrees C lower than it was supposed to be. So it went back in the oven for 15 minutes. Realizing my choice of baking pans had likely influenced my results, I also turned my oven up 50 degrees. The result:

pie whole

It looked a little overbaked in places, and I was worried because it was also firmer than it should have been. I took liberties with the recipe, and that’s always risky when you’re baking pastry.

pie sliceIt worked out, though as you can see! Fudgy indeed. As for pudgy, it’s a good thing the pie is so satisfying and flavor-packed that a small slice is plenty. 😉

Baking Bible post: Banana Split Chiffon Cake

I love the name of this cake. It conjures up childhood trips to the ice cream store where I’d gaze in awe at ice cream boats with three scoops of ice cream, three different toppings, whipped cream, and a banana to boot! I was never hungry enough to actually order one, but man they looked good.

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Here are my bananas in the food processor, getting ready for their makeover. They don’t look as good as bananas in a real banana split, but I knew they’d be yummy once they were part of a Rose Levy Beranbaum cake!

Now I am going to do some hand waving as I mix the bananas and the liquid ingredients, make the batter, beat the egg whites into a stiff meringue, add the meringue to the batter, and bake the cake….

The cake is in the oven now, and I have enlisted my 14-year-old to remove it from the oven when the timer goes off. Meanwhile I am off to the gym. I brought my phone in with me in case there’s a disaster, but she’s pretty reliable, I think it will be okay.

And it mostly is. I mean, well, look;

cake upside downcake right side up

I set the rack up for her before I left. I thought she’d leave the cake in the pan, but she didn’t. Maybe because the prongs on top of the pan made it hard to balance, I don’t know. Whatever the reason, the result was not entirely as intended. Poor cake! Even right side up it’s pulling itself apart. I admit I took advantage of the separation to sample a bit of cake before the whole thing was entirely cool. And it tasted fine, despite its homely appearance.

On to the toppings!

chocolate glaze and cake 1163x874chocolated glaze with cake

Here’s the chocolate glaze pre- and post mixing.

Next, I boiled the sugar and water together to make caramel glaze. All was well, and I was totally in control until the sugar hit the right temperature and had to come off the heat IMMEDIATELY. I’ve done this enough times before, I should have been prepared, but I wasn’t. Note to self: watch boiling sugar mixtures very carefully once they begin to start to approach the right temperature.

cake top view

I glazed the whole top of the cake, since chocolate is always a hit in my house, and saved the caramel for drizzling over the slices separately:

cake slice

Mmmm, bananas, chocolate and caramel, who can resist?