This week I decided to have another go at ciabatta. The last time I made it went alright, however I didn’t leave it in the oven long enough to get a nice golden brown crust, and the dough was so thin the bread was tiny once it baked up.
This time I divided the dough in 2 instead of 4, and took it out based on color, not time. It turned out beautifully. What a terribly wet dough, though. It’s difficult to work with without knocking out all of the air. I didn’t need it to be perfect, just good enough to thicken a ribollita for dinner. That’s what it did, and it did so beautifully.
I think the next time I bake it will have to be something a bit more ridiculous, like a charlotte russe, or a povitica. Perhaps that will inspire greatness.
The grand finale of the Great British Baking Show as shown in the US (last year’s version, for my British Friend) featured a challenge of baking traditional British cakes. Given my complete lack of success with Victoria Sponge, I felt inspired. I used mommyPrimate’s new book as the recipe was slightly different than Paul Hollywood’s, well the ingredients were the same, however the process was a bit difference.
While I didn’t get a domed top, I at least didn’t get a saggy middle. I think the domed top will happen when I either adjust the recipe to make just a touch more batter or use smaller tins. At any rate, it’s delicious. I’m slightly concerned about the fresh strawberries I used for the filling (along with strawberry jam) turning into, uh, fermented strawberries before we can finish the cake, but if we don’t put all of this butter and sugar into our systems I guess it’s okay.
Is this a Victorious Sponge? I’d say yes. Seeing as it took 4 tries, and probably about $15 worth of butter/flour/sugar to finally get a decent result, I think I’ll call it a Pyrrhic victory.
Pro-tip: When only 7/10 of the biscuits you’ve baked turned out aesthetically pleasing, put those biscuits on top of the bucket. People will assume the others were damaged by clumsy hands snatching cookies. 😉
Having not baked much new in a while, and having a good excuse to take something in to work after a four day weekend, I thought a great exploration of my cultural heritage would be shortbread. Blah blah blah emotional spiritual bullshit blah blah blah heritage blah blah blah. Butter. There was lots of butter.
mommyPrimate recently got Tanya Burr’s “Tanya Bakes” and so far everything we’ve had out of it has been super primo, so I thought I’d give her shortbread biscuits a go. She said the dough was crumbly in the book. She was totally right. I had a bit of a hard time rolling it out and cutting it. It’s making me rethink my idea for a shortbread advent calendar.
At any rate, you can’t really go wrong with shortbread. Mainly because butter buffers out every bad decision you could make. My boss was the first one to stop by my desk, her boss the second. Score. Cookies area subtle form of bribery. Just a little way to pay someone off so they like you a little better. Before leaving for the day yesterday, 3 days after these cookies arrived and left faster than a model can change clothing between runway walks, my boss stopped by my desk and said. “I tried to wait until the afternoon to eat the cookie, but then I looked at the expanding puddle of butter on the napkin it was sitting on and I knew it was too good to wait.”
Shortbread, you’re not easy to work with, but you do your job well. When your job is to fish me out some compliments at work.
Now to finish my first cup of coffee this morning.
Continuing my why wasn’t I born Greek baking saga was pretty easy. Baklava was a huge success, family and coworkers were duly impressed. It was delicious. While my mother-in-law was in town we had planned to grill, but that was canceled by a torrential downpour. One thing that didn’t get cancelled was my Greek Yogurt Cake, or apparently in greek, Yiaourtopita.
This cake was interesting. The recipe I used from mygreekdish.com was fairly straightforward, but it called for self-rising flour and baking powder. I thought the two didn’t go together, but whatever. Per the recipe I started out by whipping egg whites into a meringue, then I folded in the dry ingredients, set it in a cake tin, and popped it in the oven.
When I was done it popped right out of the tin, and cooled off. It was dense, like a pound cake (another english-name for this cake is Greek yogurt pound cake apparently) and was a well balanced sweet but not too sweet. The lemon and orange zest gave it a nice fresh scent.
Now, if you’re less interested in the cake than in the continuing saga of my Greek obsession, you’d be amused to know that we’re redoing the front yard. While shopping for flowers for our new flower bed, I found a 5′ tall or bigger statue of Atlas holding up the sky. The sky was a planter box. I was willing to drop the $$$ to buy this thing, but mommyPrimate (who is wise and responsible) managed to distract me away from it with her fine understanding of distraction.
Baking in the morning is generally not something I do, because who the hell can do anything precisely before about 6 cups of coffee? Well, my mother in law was in town last weekend and she’s a delightful little lady who apparently sees my instagram posts and wanted baked goods.
About the same time, mommyPrimate had just started a new job, and she had a few things to get done on Saturday. Funny enough, the only time anyone can focus meaningfully on anything is when babyPrimate is napping, so mommyPrimate needed the morning to work. As luck would have it, she had a plan for breakie already that was basically a frittata and scones, so I said, “Don’t you worry mommyPrimate, I will handle this!” Then I guzzled my coffee and got to baking.
So scones are actually damn simple. I quickly put the dough together, formed it into a circle, brushed the top with egg, and popped it in the oven.
When this came out of the oven I felt like I’m basically a fucking magician. They were a little lighter than scones I’ve had in the past, not too sweet…delightful.
Scones are a go!
I’ve always thought there was something kinda noble about a plain old baguette. It’s super simple as far as ingredients go, but packs such a punch of flavor that it can stand up to your tastebuds without any help from butter or jam…and when you add butter and jam omg. But I always thought they would be super difficult to make.
So I got out my good old friend Paul Hollywood’s book and got to work. Flour, yeast, salt, water, mix mix mix, rise rise rise. Bake bake bake.
What I ended up with looked nothing like a baguette or even a demi-baguette (because let’s get real, you need a freaking HUGE oven for full sized baguettes. But it tasted like a baguette, and was just a few minutes away from the perfect crust.
Next time I will nail it, because j’adore les baguettes!!!
Last week I made gyeran bbang, the delicious little egg muffins you can buy on the street in Korea. This week I wanted them again, but noticed that there was also bacon and cheese in the fridge, so I did what any responsible daddy would do, and decided to go off the rails.
I cooked the bacon and prepped up the gyeran-bbang batter (but with way less sugar this time), dumped my egg in the center of each loaf, sprinkled on the bacon, and then covered that shit with shredded cheddar cheese.
14 minutes in the oven at 400F, and out they came.
Guess what. DELICIOUS.