Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Brioche, because this is the bread to bake if you have to wake up super early on a day off.

Brioche, buttery delicious brioche. The bread that seems to have a perfect use for everything. Good toasted, good plain, divine straight out of the oven. Easy to make, rich, always a crowd pleaser. Except that the first rise goes overnight, and the second rise takes 2-3 friggin hours so unless you’re planning on breakfast at like 10am the point of this joyous bouquet of flours is lost. The last time I made one of these I intended it to be for breakie, but we ended up snacking on it before lunch. But something has changed.

I joined U.S. Masters Swimming and I go to swim practice at 4:45 in the morning Monday through Friday. I took today off. I get home around 6:15 from swim practice and my baby girl wakes up at 9. BRIOCHE FOR BREAKFAST. So last night I made the dough in the mixer. If you have a nice stand mixer, this is a super great dough to make because it really latches onto the dough hook and spanks the inside of the bowl with gratifying thuds. For a LONG time. I think I let it knead for at least 10 minutes. It’s also super fun because once you add the butter the dough dissolves and comes back together as a much looser mass.

So after swimming, I walked straight into the kitchen, still in a freezing cold wet bathing suit, and hand kneaded the dough into little balls, set them in a pan, and went about my morning. About 30 minutes 聽before “go time” for the day I put it in a 375F oven and let it bake. It. Is. Delicious. Love me a brioche.

Also, there is something really cathartic about kneading bread, more so early in the morning. I felt like if this was my occupation I’d be okay with that. Making bread is noble. Bakers fulfill a necessary role in society. I wish I fulfilled such a necessary role. But dollars talk in America and if you want your kid to grow up with tons of opportunities you do what you’ve got to do. Maybe in retirement.

 

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Battenburg Cake

Baby is in bed, wife is out on the town with “the girls” and a sense of dread has settled over the country after inaugurating a reality tv host to be our president. What’s a man to do? Bake! FRIDAY NIGHT! And what kind of baking do you do at 9:00 pm? Cakes (which never seem to work out well) that require homemade marzipan (never done that before!) and toasted rice to be ground with a coffee grinder (WHAT?).

I’ve been wanting to make a Battenburg Cake for quite a while, but you know, when you have a toddler sometimes it’s a little bit difficult to get around to doing something a little more complex than normal when there’s absolutely no reason to do so. I mean, a Battenburg requires you to bake a cake, let it cool, cut it into strips, slather with jam, and wrap in homemade marzipan. Not things you can do effectively with a toddler “helping.”

Well, not terrible. Tastes good. #baking

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I used the recipe from聽Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, and I think it would have worked better had I a 7″ square cake tin. As it turns out we only had a 9″, so I think the batter was spread a bit too thin, resulting in more of a聽flattenburg cake than a Battenburg, but it still came out kinda pretty and tasted ok.

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I think the most impressive bit is how easy it was to make Marzipan. It just takes a ton of sugar and a couple eggs and ground almonds. WHO KNEW? (Mary Berry). So anyhow, I will get a smaller pan and my next one won’t be as flat, but I’m going to go ahead and call this a success right here.

BOOM!

Learning to Bake with daddyPrimate: Bakewell Tart

A co-worker’s birthday is always a good time to remind my team that they are glad they hired me. This time, though, a super sweet baklava, or a big ass kugelhopf wouldn’t do the trick. This coworker likes their food light, not overly sweet, and beautiful. Well fuck. That rules out a lot of what I make. A frangipane tart though, that’s always a crowd pleaser, and a Bakewell Tart isn’t overly sweet, I mean the crust is barely sweetened at all. That’ll do, pig!

Bakewell Tart fresh out of the oven for a coworker's birthday tomorrow. #baking

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So I made the crust, and it rolled out so beautiful and thin that I thought the whole thing was going to go to shit because I’ve never made a crust so easily. In fact, it seems like usually I should just use the rolling pin as a can opener because every time I get the thing out I have trouble, but not this time! I blind baked the crust and let it dry out nicely because as my gurl Mary Berry says,聽no one likes a soggy bottom.

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I made the filling before putting my little girl to bed, and when I went to pour it into the crust it didn’t pour. It was a big thicker than I remembered, and I really had to work at it to get it nice and even in the crust. As for the berries I had placed at the bottom of the crust…well…they moved to where they wanted to be and I had no choice in the matter.

In the end, though, the tart was well received by my coworkers. They’re still happy that they hired me. And I got to use my beautiful tart pan. That is success, my friends.

 

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Weihnachts Kugelhopf (Christmas Kugelhopf)…a daddyPrimate riff on a classic Kugelhopf

If you read my previous post about Kugelhopf聽you already know it’s a 15th century Austrian yeast-raised cake that’s not really cake but not really a bread either and somewhere in between in texture and flavor. Or maybe I wrote that post poorly. Well, mommyPrimate got a gift card to Sur la Table and bought a really beautiful “bundt” pan that looks a bit more like a kugelhopf mold to me, so I decided to have a second go at it. I got the recipe once again from Epicurious聽but somehow I got the magic right a little better this time.

Christmas Kugelhopf proving on the counter. #baking #proveyourself

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When I made the dough this time, I don’t think I got the milk quite as hot. I may have had a little bit of a yeast die-off last time from too-hot liquid ingredients. I also put blobs in the pan (which I sprayed with coconut oil and floured pretty aggressively) by hand instead of dropping it in like a comforter in a washing machine. Once the blobs were in, I aggressively smoothed out the dough with a lubed up spatula (Lubed Up Spatula, by the way, is the name of my new band.) I let it rise for two hours.

Risen! #boom

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After a two hour prove it looked like this. BAM. I credit the success of this prove to my lucky tea towel that has my daughter’s name on it. There is no other secret to my success. So, now that the dough had risen, I tossed it in a 400 degree F oven for 15 minutes, slid some foil on top, and let it go another 20 minutes. It was soft and bounced back when I touched it with my finger, and a wooden skewer inserted came out clean.

Cool down faster I want to decorate you and go to bed! 馃槾馃槾馃槾#baking

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After about 3 minutes or so I tipped it out of the pan and it came out cleanly. No idea how that actually happened. I credit dumb luck, the lucky tea towel, and the liberal application of coconut oil and flour on the pan. Now, while this beautiful beast cools down a little, I’ll tell you about why it’s a Weihnachts Kugelhopf instead of just a Kugelhopf.

Basically, we didn’t have a bunch of sultanas lying around, but we DID have a bunch of fresh cranberries. And oranges. So I tossed in whole fresh cranberries while it was mixing, and flavored it with orange zest. Cranberry and orange is about as wintry of a flavor combination as I can come up with. Christmas is in two weeks. BOOOOM! Weihnachts Kugelhopf. I bet your mind is BLOWN right now.

Cranberry orange kugelhopf with candied cranberries and oranges #baking #cakes

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Now, to decorate this beautiful lady of a cake, I candied fresh cranberries and mandarin orange slices by boiling them in simple syrup for about an hour and cooling them in the fridge. I dusted the cake with icing sugar, then creatively placed the candied fruits in the crevasses. This may very well be the most spectacular baked good I’ve ever brought into this world, AND I WILL TAKE IT RIGHT BACK OUT.

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The texture of this kugelhopf came out MUCH more pleasantly than the last one I baked. It’s similar to what you would expect if an angel food cake and a brioche had a baby. It’s soft, light, spongy, but not too sweet. It’s wonderful, and its rightful place is at breakfast, I think.

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If you’d like to try to bake one of these, use the recipe I linked above, and swap out the raisins with fresh cranberries. Your taste buds will thank you.

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Festive Panettone Pudding

Like the B没che de Noel, this Festive Panettone Pudding has become somewhat of an advent tradition since my dad passed away/baby was born. As I’ve said before, as soon as Christmas time rolled around after becoming a father, I felt the drive to become the most Christmas Tradition laden family on the planet. At the same time I was burying my grief over the loss of my dad in delicious holiday foods.

Ye Olde Panetonne Bread Pudding #baking @sortedfood

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The good men of Sorted Food really caught my eye with their Chocolate Panettone Pudding, which I renamed聽Festive Panettone Pudding because, well, cranberries. I love these tart bitter little shits in everything at this time of year. They’re also the聽only food on the traditional North American holiday table that comes from North America. CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE. This bread-pudding style of dessert strikes me as very British Isles, too. ANCESTRALLY APPROPRIATE. And it calls for a Panettone. ADVENT APPROPRIATE. It’s a very appropriate dessert for this time of year.

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Basically, you take 8 eggs, 聽(4 whole, 4 extra yolks), 2 tbsp of sugar, orange zest, and cinnamon, whisk that shit right up with 250ml of cream, then rip up and dunk the panettone in it and toss it in a pan. Crush up some chocolate (whatever you have leftover from your other holiday baking) and toss a handful of fresh cranberries in it, then goosh it all up with your hands until it’s a dense, muddled mess. Then pat it down into your baking dish and let it sit for about half an hour. Once that’s done, toss it in a 400F oven for 20-25 minutes, pull it out and serve it. DELICIOUS AND EASY.

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You can even make it after the kids are in bed because it doesn’t call for a mixer. It would probably be good if you poured some booze on it too, but I’m not sure what kind would be best. Anyhow, go over to Sorted Food, watch the video, try the recipe, thank me later.

Learning to Bake with daddyPrimate: B没che de Noel

Okay, making a B没che de Noel isn’t a new thing around my house. I decided this should be a tradition in 2014, when I realized that as a (then new) father, I needed to take Christmas over the top always so that my kid(s) would have the most magical winter memories聽EVAR.

Behold, the 2014 (and my first ever) B没che de Noel!

I made this #chocolate #baileys Yule log for the family #CHRISTMAS baking day tomorrow #food #foodporn

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It was rich, the sponge was a little dry, and I’m pretty sure that when I presented it to my family they found it all a bit much since it wasn’t an existing tradition. To be fair, my dad had聽just passed away and our Christmas baking event that year was the saddest on record. I believe I decorated my gingerbread men to look like the dead characters from Game of Thrones.

Fast forward one year. My 2015 B没che de Noel was inspired by the Great American Baking Show, you know, the cheap knockoff of the British masterpiece that still thankfully stars Mary Berry. I made a sponge, it didn’t work, I made another, it did. I was afraid to roll too tightly and PLOP, the cake unrolled, leaving one big round lump of a log without a pretty swirl inside sitting on a pile of whipped cream.

My large and in charge and ugly B没che de Noel for 2015 #food #foodporn

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2016 has been a little different, though. I actually learned how to bake this year. I started with easy breads, I’ve dabbled with cakes, and had more success than failure all around. I actually understand which dry ingredients are raising agents, and the basics of how to put things together to some extent. I haven’t used a box or a mix in a year, and making things from scratch doesn’t intimidate me in the least. I’d like to think I’ve even learned a little bit about style.

I started to look for a recipe, I usually use the Sorted Food recipe, but I did have a look at Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, only to turn away in disgust at the idea of chestnut puree. I would have looked at Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake, however it was across the room and I had just run a half marathon. I decided at that point that I would make two, one for work, and one for home, and change the flavors and decor a bit.

BEHOLD the 2016 B没che de Noel(s)!

My “home” B没che de Noel this year was a Swiss Roll filled with Irish Whiskey spiked whipped cream, with two snowflakes stenciled on top in icing sugar. No buttercream icing this year. In the past I’ve found it quite heavy and it makes the cake a bit too rich. Especially in combination with the whipped cream filling.

My “work” B没che de Noel was the same sponge, but rather than a boozy whiskey filling, it had vanilla whipped cream, and a single snowflake stenciled on top.

I’ve become slightly famous at work for baking things that people don’t normally bring to “potluck” events. I guess most people don’t want to mess with yeast or measuring ingredients. So much the better. Eat my baked goods. Be impressed. Give me a raise! Amirite?

Three years on, I’d say this B没che de Noel tradition is going strong, and I think this year’s edition certainly demonstrates that I’ve learned a bit more about baking than I ever knew before.

 

 

 

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Cinnamon Rolls (explicit language)

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The U.S. presidential election has left me bitter and my language this post will be spicier than normal. Who knew that half of the country was so hateful, or at least so indifferent to hate? We need sweetness right now. Sweetness and kindness. The kind of basic sexual healing that can only come from a fucking warm ass pan of cinnamon rolls.

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I had never made cinnamon rolls before. They always seemed way too motherfucking labor intensive. When I started baking about a year ago, I never really considered them. They’re not my favorite thing. There’s really nothing glamorous about a cinnamon roll. They’re the pumpkin spice latte of pastry, in the sense that they smell nice and I want them about once a year, but when I get them I realize it’s too sweet and I never really liked it in the first place.

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So, daddyPrimate, what the fuck is with the post about cinnamon rolls if you don’t even like them. What the hell kind of moron are you?聽Cinnamon rolls aren’t about the taste, or the smell, though both of those are nice. Cinnamon rolls are something you bake for someone else. You bake them for someone else because they’re fucking labor intensive, a total pain in the ass, and going to that much trouble says “I聽really love your ass.”

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It happened to be mommyPrimate’s birthday a week ago. You know, before the election instilled the bitterness of a thousand grapefruits in me. I wanted to say聽“Hey babe, for breakfast I made you a big plate of聽I LOVE YOU”聽and I knew damn well that meant cinnamon rolls. I distinctly remember one birthday where I woke up and mommyPrimate聽was making cinnamon rolls and I was like “THAT IS LOVE.” So I found a recipe, and got to work at 11pm. We get up earlier now, so I started earlier.

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Making the dough was easy. It rose well. It rolled out just fine. The filling was super simple. Cutting it and putting it in the pan was a little messy but whatevs. I was afraid it would聽overprove聽as it rose overnight, or that it聽wouldn’t prove because it was going to sit in the fridge. When I woke up in the morning though, it had filled the casserole dish with delish looking, perfectly plump cinnamon rolls. I let them sit on the counter for a bit as I made coffee, and popped them in the oven.

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When they came out they were beautiful. I iced them with a quick homemade cream cheese icing and we nommed right into that shit. Easy. Peasy. If a bit tedious. I’d say this world could use a little more love right now, so maybe you should get up off your equally bitter ass, get your mixer ready, find an easy recipe for cinnamon rolls online, and make them for your S.O. for breakie tomorrow. Let’s sweeten this world up together.

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Peace.