RLB Monkey Dunkey Bread

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This bread was so good! Another time when I thought wow, I couldn’t have bought anything better. I remember watching Martha Stewart make monkey bread on TV years ago, and thinking I should try it, but it looked like so much work I was scared off. Then I bought a couple of varieties and was disappointed. At best they were re-imagined sticky buns. So when this recipe appeared in the Alpha Bakers lineup I was ready for the challenge. As it turned out, it wasn’t even traumatic to make. It took time and a modicum of patience, but the fiddle factor was negligible.

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The flour, salt, yeast mixture is on the left, and on the right it’s mixed up and on top of the liquid ingredients, which are creating some seismic activity.

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Next it’s all mixed together with the dough hook until it looks like actual dough.

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The dough goes into a bucket to rise, and woo-hoo it actually rises -a lot! I’m always a little surprised when this step actually works.

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After spending some time in the refrigerator the dough is rolled out and cut into squares

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which are then rolled into balls, flattened and filled with chocolate chips. They were supposed to be filled with smaller chips, but I worked with what I had which I think made the process faster because I just grabbed a few chips and placed them in the middle of the dough, instead of measuring and arranging like I would have with smaller items.

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Finally the balls were formed and filled.

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They nestled in the pan, rose, and baked into the puffy bread on the right.

The baking happened while I was picking my daughter up at school, driving her friend home, buying cream to make caramel topping and picking up pizza for dinner. So it’s a minor miracle that the timing worked out.

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But it did, and many tummies were happy.

 

 

 

RLB Brandy Snaps

The recipe in The Baking Bible is for cannoli, but delicious as they sounded, the combination of a fruity, creamy filling and a short shelf life didn’t seem like a viable option for my family, so I opted to make the cookies alone.

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Here are the ingredients, first just butter and golden syrup, then everything together ready to cook in the microwave.

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Now the boiled ingredients + flour on the left, and the batter ready to pour onto the cookie sheet.

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Here are the cookies ready for the oven.

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out of the oven

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I even rolled a few just to see if I could do it. I got a couple to roll right, but it was tough. Eventually I realized that the raindrops spattering lightly outside might have something to do with my temperamental brandy snaps. Rolled or not, I found they go well with vanilla ice cream. If and when I have the appropriate dinner party I will make the filling and create cannoli!

RLB The Araxi Lemon Cream Tart

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Lemon and chocolate are a recurring theme in these Baking Bible recipes, that’s clear. I am glad that my kids both love chocolate, and one of them is particularly fond of lemon desserts, and tartness in generally. I realized just how much she likes tart foods when I brought her the baked extra filling from this tart and found her in the middle of finishing a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips. The lime-flavored tortilla chips were downstairs awaiting their turn on the savory snack list.

If you’re going to eat a lot of lemon-flavored desserts, this one should be on your list! I whipped through making the crust. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration since I had to refrigerate the dough a few times, but everything came together with minimal stress and effort. Almost before I realized it, I was pulling the baked crust from the oven.

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At that point I realized that I’d forgotten to put the pan on a baking sheet! Luckily no harm was done, and I remedied my oversight before adding the filling.

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Sugar, eggs and lemon juice combined in the process of making the filling. Then it was time for the handheld mixer portion of the production, something that has caused me trouble before. Half a cup of heavy cream wasn’t that much, but it was more than I’d tried to beat with my new mixer and bowl combination to date….

I think I figured it out! It’s not a perfect solution, but it worked pretty well. I folded the top of the flexible silicone bowl over the cream as I whipped it. A little cream spattered, but it wasn’t the torrent I’ve dealt with before.

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the cream is whipped! And still in the bowl, hurray!

After the cream was folded into the egg mixture and refrigerated, I placed the crust in the oven and poured in the filling.

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And here is the final product.

RLB Giant Jam Cookie, Or Someone’s Got to be Miss Personality

I saw the instructions for this cookie, which said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that making it look like the photo would require painstaking precision, and I thought d*mn, maybe I should just make little cookies, or skip the jam. Then I thought no, I just read Furiously Happy, and I’m going to make this yummy-sounding cookie, because I know it will taste delicious, and if it doesn’t look delicious because I lose patience with it, or I fail to read the instructions five times, That Is OK. I am going to make Rachel’s version of Rose’s Giant Jam Cookie, and everybody who eats it will enjoy it because let’s be honest, even a crumbling disaster of a Rose recipe is delectable.

So, on to the baking!

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The colors are a little off, but this is the turbinado sugar before and after being whirled in the food processor. I really liked the slight molasses tang the sugar gave the cookie dough. Two weeks after I made this cookie I made pain d’amande, an almond shortbread cookie with straight turbinado sugar. Huge difference! The pain d’amande had sugar crunchies along with the almond crunch because of the giant sugar crystals. Delicious in the shortbread, but I’m glad I chopped them up before I made this cookie.

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The dough was definitely crumbly after I mixed it in the food processor.

I had no raspberry jam, and my husband gets anxious when he sees too many half-empty jars in our fridge, so I used the strawberry and cherry jam that were already taking up door space to fill the cookie.

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See? Personality!

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I forgot that the pattern was one hole, one cutout on top, one hole, one cutout on top.

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It was really good.

RLB Marble White and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

with and without sponge collar

The cheesecake part of this cake was great. Super creamy and light textured. I had a moment of doubt post-baking, when I peeked in the oven at the cooling cheesecake which was still wobbling seriously, but when I returned from my outing to the “hipster mall” as my 17-yeart-old dubbed it, all was well.

I can’t say the same for the chocolate sponge, which burnt on the bottom, for reasons that I do not understand. The uneven side coverage was entirely my own fault. I was listening intently to an audiobook, so I skimmed the instructions on how to cut the sponge and improvised. Bad idea. I should know by now that I have to read these recipes through a few times without distractions.

Making the sponge proceded without a hitch. I had trouble finding alkalized cocoa, so I substituted regular, after research indicated flavor would be affected but leavening should be fine.

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Here’s the batter, and the completed cake, which looks just fine from the top. I think it might have fared better higher up in the oven.

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Here are the cream cheese and sugar ready to go.

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Here’s the white chocolate banana to flavor the cheesecake. I made a Costco run last week, and got more bananas than even my banana-loving family could consume. So after freezing a few for future use, I decided a banana-chocolate cheesecake would be just the ticket.

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The bananas combined with the cream cheese nicely. My substitution was part of the reason I was worried when I saw wobble in the oven, but it wasn’t a problem despite the higher moisture content of bananas vs white chocolate.

The final result is entirely respectable, excepting the leathery sponge crust…

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I will read the other blogs with interest to see what I should change to make the sponge come out right next time.