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Posts tagged ‘Home’

Proofing Bread Dough

A reader has asked me to further explain the term “proofing” used in my post Honey White Bread.

In my own words, proofing is the second rising of your dough. It works better at a warm temperature, so many cooks proof their bread dough in a warm (not very warm though!) oven.My oven has a proofing feature, so it does the work for me. However, if your oven doesn’t have that feature, merely turn your oven on for a few moments, then turn it off. This should make the temperature inside your oven around 100 degrees F… perfect for proofing your bread dough.

Also, please take a look at this video which further explains “proofing.”

 

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Honey White Bread

I love making this bread because it smells so beautiful, and because it tastes really good too!

Normally I wouldn’t do something like bread for a New Year’s Eve recipe, but since Madison county is covered in ice, and it’s now snowing, I decided that a nice homey bread-baking recipe is in order.

What really makes this smell so wonderful is when you scald the milk with butter, honey and salt. I like to use desert honey because it has such a wonderful taste and smell, but any honey will do. (List of ingredients plus all instructions are put together at the bottom of this post.)

Ingredients –

2 cups milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup honey
2 tsp. salt
2 cups water
11 cups bread flour (approximately)
2 pkgs. active dry yeast

1/4 cup lukewarm water, 110 degrees F
1 tsp. sugar or honey

Grease four 9-inch loaf pans.

Combine milk, honey, butter and salt in a saucepan.


Bring to scalding temperature – nearly to a boil, at 185 degrees F.

Put the scalded mixture into a bowl and add the 2 cups water. Add 1 cup flour. When the mixture has cooled to lukewarm, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup water with sugar or honey. Let sit to proof, approximately 5 minutes. When the yeast is foamy, it is ready to add to the lukewarm milk mixture.

Add the rest of your flour, or enough to make a workable dough and knead for 10 minutes, or five minutes in your stand mixer. Both are pretty satisfying… if you have a stand mixer, it means you don’t have to do the kneading yourself. If you don’t have a stand mixer, or if you truly enjoy the process of kneading, then you get the pleasure of taking out your frustrations on bread dough!

Place dough in a large bowl which has been greased or sprayed with PAM. turn the dough over so that the top of your dough has a slight coating of grease or PAM, then allow to rise in a warm place until approximately double in size. I put mine in the oven because I have a “proofing” option.

When the dough has risen, punch it down. Trust me, it’s very satisfying. Let it rise again. Evidently I had some pretty active yeast, because my second rising worked remarkably well!

After your second rising, divide dough into four loaves, placing the loaves in your previously greased pans. Again, allow to rise until nearly double. While the dough is rising preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. When your loaves are ready, bake in preheated oven for approximately 1 hour until they are a crusty brown and sound hollow when you tap on the top of the loaf. Remove the loaves from the pans and cool them on racks. Enjoy your beautiful homemade bread!

HONEY WHITE BREAD

Ingredients –
2 cups milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup honey
2 tsp. salt
2 cups water
11 cups bread flour (approximately)
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water, 110 degrees F
1 tsp. sugar or honey
Grease four bread loaf pans.
Combine milk, honey, butter and salt in a saucepan. Bring to scalding temperature – nearly to a boil, at 185 degrees F. Put the scalded mixture into a bowl and add the 2 cups water. Add 1 cup flour. When the mixture has cooled to lukewarm, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup water with sugar or honey. Let sit to proof, approximately 5 minutes. When the yeast is foamy, it is ready to add to the lukewarm milk mixture. Add the rest of your flour, or enough to make a workable dough and knead for 10 minutes, or five minutes in your stand mixer. Both are pretty satisfying… if you have a stand mixer, it means you don’t have to do the kneading yourself. If you don’t have a stand mixer, or if you truly enjoy the process of kneading, then you get the pleasure of taking out your frustrations on bread dough! Place dough in a large bowl which has been greased or sprayed with PAM. Turn the dough over so that the top of your dough has a slight coating of grease or PAM, then allow to rise in a warm place until approximately double in size. I put mine in the oven because I have a “proofing” option. When the dough has risen, punch it down. Trust me, it’s very satisfying. Let it rise again. Evidently I had some pretty active yeast, because my second rising worked remarkably well! After your second rising, divide dough into four loaves, placing the loaves in your previously greased pans. Again, allow to rise until nearly double. While the dough is rising preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. When your loaves are ready, bake in preheated oven for approximately 1 hour until they are a crusty brown and sound hollow when you tap on the top of the loaf. Remove the loaves from the pans and cool them on racks. Enjoy your beautiful homemade bread!

Honey White Bread

How to temper chocolate

I just read The Pioneer Woman’s latest blogpost – Chef Lia’s dark chocolate truffles. She does some amazing things with chocolate, but one thing that stuck with me was the necessity of tempering your chocolate. This of course led to a Google search, which led to Youtube.

And so dear readers, here is Jacques Torres explaining how to temper chocolate, all in his wickedly delicious French accent.

Secret Red Velvet Cupcakes

 

So what’s the secret?

Other than the fact that they’re really really good, really moist, and REALLY filling? The recipe is semi-homemade… and my 10 year old found the recipe in a free Kraft recipe booklet, while browsing through our hometown market! And it’s so easy to make, she can do it!

 

 

Ingredients –

2 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups sour cream

2 egg whites

1 pkg. red velvet cake mix (I love Duncan Hines… personal preference though!)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat 2 oz. cream cheese, and sour cream in large bowl with mixer until blended.

(Mimi chose to do it by hand)

Add egg whites and cake mix; mix well.

Scoop into cupcake pans (I used the paper liners, but you can also spray the cupcake pan with cooking spray).

Bake 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting –

Cream 1 pkg. (3 oz.) cream cheese with 1/4 cup butter. Add 3 cups powdered sugar, 1 Tbs. milk and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

Beat until smooth.

Frost – and don’t forget the sprinkles!

 

Trader Joe’s Giveaway Winner!!

The winner of my first-ever giveaway is… Tiffany Merical! Congratulations Tiffany!

I asked Tiffany what her favorite food is, and she said quiche! I hear Trader Joe’s has some pretty good quiche in their frozen food section… but… (I’ve heard they’re really small. Disappointingly so!). Tiffany has had my quiche… she’s one of the lucky people (or so they say) that has been the recipient of my cooking. So in honor of my first-ever giveaway, and Tiffany’s favorite food, I’ll be posting my quiche recipe here… later today.

Velvety Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

Julia Child, Miami Book Fair International, 1989

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been in the mood for something rich, intense and chocolate. I’ve had this Julia Child recipe for Reine de Saba (chocolate and almond cake) that I’ve been wanting to make, and I wanted to adapt it to be gluten-free. Why? Because I know some people with gluten intolerance. Because it’s Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, and… being a food adventurer… I just wanted to!

With me and Mimi (daughter #3) relaxed and on the threshold of a 5 day Thanksgiving vacation, I decided to tackle it. I got out Mastering the Art of French Cooking and plunged in.

Ingredients –

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate melted with 2 T rum or strong coffee

1/4 lb., or one stick, softened butter

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3 egg yolks

3 egg whites

pinch of salt

1 T. granulated sugar

1/3 cup pulverized almonds

1/4 tsp. almond extract

1/2 cup rice flour

Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the chocolate and rum or coffee and either slowly in a double boiler,or at 10-second intervals in the microwave. Watch closely in the microwave – chocolate can burn very easily.

Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture.

Beat in the egg yolks until well blended.

Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed;

sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.

With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, then stir in the almonds, and almond extract. Immediately stir in one fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter. Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites and when partially blended, sift on one third of the flour and continue folding. Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated.

Turn the batter into the cake pan, pushing the batter up to its rim with rubber spatula. Bake in middle level of preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2 1/2 to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle plunged into that area comes out clean; the center should move slightly if the pan is shaken,and a needle comes out oily.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse cake on a plate or rack. Allow it to cool for an hour or two, it must be thoroughly cold if it is to be iced.

I have to admit… Mimi and I didn’t wait for the cake to cool. She didn’t want to. I didn’t want to. We were wanting instant gratification. We sliced the cake and ate it warm. This cake *sounds* moist when you cut into it. It’s one of the homliest looking cakes I’ve ever seen.  Without any icing or nice presentation, it should be called Ugly Cake. But one bite tells an entirely different story… the beauty lies within. The cake is intensely chocolate, velvety, rich, smooth… almost unctious. If you choose to do icing, I’m including Julia’s chocolate-butter icing recipe. She also recommends pressing a design of almonds over the icing. Maybe I’ll put icing on it next time.

Glacage au Chocolat (Chocolate Icing)

Ingredients –

2 ounces (2 squares) semi-sweet baking chocolate

2 T rum or strong coffee

5 to 6 T unsalted butter

Melt the chocolate and rum or coffee and either slowly in a double boiler,or at 10-second intervals in the microwave. Watch closely in the microwave – chocolate can burn very easily. Beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time. Then beat over a bowl with a trace of ice cubes and water to cover them until chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading  consistency. At once spread it over your cake with a spatula or knife.

 

The Chestnut Cafe – Earlham

As many of you probably know, I live in a small town. A *real* small town. So when I was at the grocery store yesterday and picked up our local paper, imagine my surprise upon reading that a new cafe had opened up in Earlham (125 S Chestnut Ave.), and had totally flown below my radar!  I not only felt scooped, but pretty oblivious as well. So bright and early this morning, I ventured uptown to check it out. Janet at the grocery store let me know that the hours are 6:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., and that they served breakfast until 11:00, so I decided to do breakfast.

The outside of The Chestnut Cafe is much the same as other businesses in town. It is housed in a turn-of-the-century building with a brick facade and BIG windows. I stepped inside and was greeted first by a gorgeous interior. Authentic pressed tin ceiling, white plaster walls and black and white photographs of things small town people and farmers like. A lot. Old well pumps, a barbed wire fence and fencepost. Very classy. Like a piece of Court Avenue in Earlham!

The owner of The Chestnut Cafe, Michele Brant, greeted me warmly. I ordered from their breakfast pastry menu… a cinnamon roll and a diet Coke, please. I introduced myself and asked about doing a blogpost. Ms. Brant came over, sat down with me and chatted for a few minutes. I already love this place!

Michele and her mother Beverly Mills run the cafe, as well as taking orders for baked goods (*see below). Bev is known in the Des Moines area for her Bev’s Cakes. A trip to Bev’s website told me that she uses the freshest ingredients possible, and can make any occasion cake… wedding, birthday, anniversary, graduation, and any kind of “fun” cake you can imagine! (And they love Elvis!)

A few hours later in the day, I was feeling the need for a little something to eat, so I went back to the cafe for lunch. They have a create-your-own style sandwich menu, along with the soup of the day and several (non-fried) side dishes. My sandwich was very good, as was the camaraderie. I can see The Chestnut Cafe filling a social meeting-place need in Earlham. I ran into several people I knew during breakfast and also lunch. That makes me happy and kind of nostalgic, because the location of the cafe used to be the beauty salon… also a social meeting place (of sorts) back in the day. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

*Baked goods available to order – Muffins, Cinnamon rolls, Scones, Cookies, Bars and Cupcakes

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