Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Venturing into Danish...

Well I tried and was successful at croissant dough now it was time to venture into the world of Danish dough.  The techniques for working with the dough is pretty much the same as croissant but there are more turns resulting in more layers.

Once again I have used Joe Pastry's recipe and techniques for making these Danishes.
The recipe can be found here.
The laminating process is here.
Now the fun part - shaping/baking.
The icing.

I made a triple recipe of the dough. Since the laminated dough can be frozen why not make extra?  Then you have some ready for yumminess to be made!

Here is my dough with the block o' beaten butter laid out and ready to go.  (Please don't take note that my block of butter is not sitting on the dough in the correct orientation. I picked it up and turned it the correct way and forgot to retake the photo ha!)

After the resting, turning and refridgerating the dough was split into three pieces.  Two pieces were wrapped ( boom, boom, pish ~ pretty fly eh?! O.o ) and put into the freezer.  The last piece I rolled out to get ready for becoming awesome.  Now Joe says to give the pastries an added goodness to spread a layer of buttercream frosting onto half the dough.  Well I could have made buttercream up for this but I was feeling a bit lazy and had in the fridge some cream cheese frosting.  Figured what the heck live dangerously - case in point the attempt at rapping!  So the cream cheese frosting was spread onto half of the pastry sheet.

Folded the dough over and trimmed up the edges.  Got out my ruler and...

...cut strips about 1/2 an inch wide.  This actually got a bit tricky as the layers of dough slid around because of the frosting.  I don't think I put too much on but it wasn't a stiff frosting, it was left over from cinnamon rolls.  So it was that luscious gooey cream cheese frosting. 

I waggled the strips like the instructions said and I used one set of fingers to hold down and end and the other palm to twist the strip and you roll it.

What is that hand saying? Well it is saying "oh my goodness what a mess these are making!  The frosting is gooing out all over the place!"

Well we have come this far hands just make the knots!
Knots be made.

Well I'll be... they aren't looking too bad.  
I ended up with 21 knots of doughoo (technical word for the dough that is filled and covered/rolled in gooness.)  The odd number is the reason for my spacing.

Used plastic cups to hold the wrap up off of the knots.  Into the refrigerator for an overnight rest.

In the morning I took them out and let the rolls sit on the counter for about an hour.  To come to room temperature and finish the puffing.
Now it was time to add the jam.  I took a picture of what was going into the rolls.  Then changed my mind on flavors.  Just imagine that the Triple Berry actually says Blackberry and we are all on the same page.  
And yes these are my home made preserves. :)

Top to bottom we have Blackberry, Bing Cherry and Peach Apricot.  Time to give them an egg wash and into the oven for a nice bake for about 15 minutes.

Out of the oven and just hanging out on the rack waiting for their 'mwah' kiss of extra yum.
& There they are with the "five finger" icing drizzled all over them.  Not too much - just enough to take them over the top.


Peach Apricot

Bing Cherry

Now I know you can do it ~ go make some Danishes!



Here's a quick and savory post for y'all.

I had a ton of spinach!  My kids prefer fresh to cooked so there was no way we were going to eat it all before it died so we decided to make pesto.
The reason it is called DJ's pesto is because we made sandwiches with him in mind with the pesto.  Grilled turkey & swiss with the pesto spread on the inside of the bread slices.  He gave a big thumbs up to our new sandwich.

DJ's Pesto
by My Sister's Table


6 slightly packed cups fresh spinach leaves, washed, dried and larger stems removed
2 slightly packed cups fresh basil leaves, washed, dried and larger stems removed
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarse chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
a fresh lemon for juice
3/4-1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Put the basil and half of the spinach into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times until the leaves are just about chopped up. Add the rest of the spinach and the walnuts, garlic, cheese, a pinch of salt, couple of grinds of pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice - watch out for seeds! Pulse until you no longer have large leaves.

With the processor running slowly pour in the oil. Start with the lesser amount of oil. Once that is incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl, pulse a couple more times then check to see if you want more oil. Our house prefers it a bit drier so the lesser amount is perfect.

This will make about 2 cups of pesto.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Classic

Cake Slice Baker time!
This month from the Vintage Cakes cookbook we got to choose from Banana Cake with Coffee Walnut Buttercream and The Classic.  I choose the Classic with the Fudge Frosting.
The Classic is described as ~ An all-American birthday cake! The sunny yellow layers, surrounded by rich fudge frosting will sweeten any special day.

I have to admit that while doing my mise en place for this recipe I kept thinking - my gosh there are way too many ingredients for a simple classic cake but let's try it!

Preheat your oven.
Prepare your pans... I am making cupcakes with this one. 
Sift together your dry, measure out your wet, crack your eggs and get your butter sugar creaming.  

A tip for you , especially when using a stand mixer, crack your eggs into a measuring cup with a pour spout. It is much easier to pour them into the mixing bowl when it is running.  You will find that each egg will pour in as an individual so the "add one egg at a time" is not difficult at all.

Butter and sugar creamed, oil and vanilla streamed in, and eggs mixed in one at a time.  Time to mix in your wet and dry ingredients alternating between the two.

When whipping cream use a large, chilled bowl along with a large whisk.  Tilt the bowl several times during the whisking.  These key pieces to the whipping puzzle will make for a quick job.

Fold in your lovingly beaten whisked cream.  Be gentle and the lightness of your cake will be your reward.

A three-tablespoon size scoop works well for filling a standard cupcake with minimal mess.

I baked the cupcakes for 21 minutes with a swap/rotate halfway through the bake.  As you can see my 1939 oven has a bit of an evenness issue.  We will be seeking therapy for it soon.

I would have to say this is not the optimum recipe for cupcakes as it did not bake up with a nice dome but rather flat and spread out.  Which resulted in a few cupcakes becoming tasting volunteers.

Onto the frosting.  Heat your cream and sugar until it just starts to simmer.  Pour over the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes.

Whisk the mixture until it is well mixed and the chocolate is completely melted.  Place the bowl on a rack to allow for even cooling.  

For a nice airy frosting, place the cooled mixture into your mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy.


This frosting is a breeze to work with making it one of my favorites - you can't go wrong with ganache!

I decided to fancy up these cupcakes since I was taking to to a get together.  First I made some curls.  I only made a few because they weren't being team players.

So I moved onto piping free form squiggles.  Much easier.

Let those set for a few and then slid a off set spatula under them and they came right off the wax paper.  Simply laid the decorations on top of the frosting and poof! In-sto-pres-to fancischmany!

The Classic can be found in the cookbook Vintage Cakes.

*My side notes... in the original recipe for the frosting it calls for the bowl to be covered after pouring the heated cream over the chocolate.  I would not advise this because of the condensation that will occur on the covering and may get into your mixture.

I got pretty good reviews on these cupcakes.  The cake was light and airy.  The most common complaint was overall a bit too sweet.  Maybe if the frosting did not have the sugar in it or used a bittersweet chocolate instead.
I find it interesting to have made this recipe this month since I have been reading up on high ratio cakes.  A good bite (pun-ish) of information on high ratio cakes can be found at Joe Pastry.


Visit the other Cake Slice Bakers here.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cheese-Filled Sweet Braid

I get it!!

I completely understand now why bakers are up so early.  Because then they actually get their brunch braid done before lunch time!  I was up plenty early but didn't decide to make this until around nine o'clock in the morning.  Maybe I should have had more than one cup of coffee.  O.o

Ingredients into the mixer.  Mix, switch to hook and knead for about 5 minutes.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for about an hour.  It won't get all big a sassy but will be puffy and quiet.  
Divide the dough in half and roll out one piece.

A ruler and pizza cutter will come in handy with the next steps.

First cut out the first "strips".  You won't want these to bulk up your ends.

Now you want to cut strips on the two sides.  I wasn't measuring!  Want perfect go to Ikea. I was just using the ruler as a spacer and straight edge so my braid wouldn't be completely special.

Once I cut the wide strips I went back and cut in between to create skinnier strips.

Added the filling and fold in the end caps.  This is kind of important, if you don't do this the goo will be all over your baking sheet.

Time to start braiding!  Oh wait that would be complicated and it isn't.... just criss cross the strips.

I found the dough got stickier as it sat while I criss crossed and took pictures.  I tried to be smart and use my pastry scraper to get the last couple of strips up off the parchment.  Yeah ummm that didn't work. I've had easier time of getting the darned 3m stickum strips off the wall!

The last strip just gets tucked under the end.  Not too shabby!

When doing the second one I got smart and used the edge of the ruler to imprint a line from one end to the other to use as a guide for how far to cut the strips.

This braid I left the strips wide. The criss crossing went much quicker and I think I like the look a bit better.

End tucked.

Let them rest and then brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with sparkle sugar.

Baked and cooling.

Smel-o-net where are you?!

These were tasty but it just seems to need something.  Maybe next time I will add a little bit of fruit.  KA's recipe calls for Fiori di Sicilia or vanilla.  The Fiori di Sicilia would be very good but my son is not a fan of the flavor so I opted to use the vanilla.

Cheese-Filled Sweet Braid
~ adapted from the King Arthur recipe ~

2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 ounces lukewarm water
4 ounces lukewarm milk
2 ounces butter, softened
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, lightly beaten
12 3/4 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 1/2 ounces sugar
3 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla

The following are KA's directions. I have made comments in them on how I executed the bread and italicized the comments. 
Dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients, and mix and knead them together -- by hand, mixer or bread machine -- till you've made a soft, smooth dough. I used my mixer.  First mixing with the paddle then switched to the dough hook, kneading for about 5 minutes. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it's puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).

Filling: While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by mixing all of the ingredients together till smooth. Chill till ready to use.

Assembly: Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and divide it in half. The oil didn't work for me.  The dough was very sticky so I used flour and the dough behaved much better.  Roll each half into a 12 x 8-inch rectangle. At this point I moved the rolled out dough to a sheet of parchment paper.  I am not sure I would have had success moving the braid once done without destroying it. I cut my strips using a pizza cutter before spreading the filling onto the dough. Spread half of the filling lengthwise down the center third of each rectangle. Cut 1-inch-wide strips from each side of the filling out to the edges of the dough. Fold about an inch of dough at each end over the filling to contain it, then fold the strips, at an angle, across the filling, alternating from side to side.

Baking: Allow the braids to rise, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, till almost doubled in size. Brush with a glaze made from 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water, and sprinkle with sparkling white sugar, if desired; then bake the braids in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and cool on a wire rack. Yield: 2 braids.