Monday, February 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' February Challenge- Quick Breads

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

Quick breads and muffins are something I make regularly and so I decided to experiment a little bit. Following are the pics of my creations.

Chocolate Oatmeal Muffins, are a whole wheat and oat muffin as found in the Dietitians of Canada's Simply Great Food Cookbook. They are a favorite around here and both kids and hubbie alike enjoy these, and I like them because they are healthy.

This a Joy of Baking.Com Chocolate Banana bread.
I omitted the walnuts and used 1/3 cup of milk chocolate, white chocolate and dark chocolate chunks instead, for a whole cup of chocolate rather than the 1/2 they called for. The first day, I thought this was an okay bread, I would have liked a stronger chocolate flavour, but the longer the bread sat, the more the chocolate flavor developed. 2 days after being made I thought this bread was at its best. It didn't last longer than two days with my crew.

Finally, I made a quick bread of my own creation. I tend to be a rule follower, but figured that since I make quick breads frequently, I would experiment a little. This is my third attempt at a pineapple quickbread. It uses brown sugar, maraschino cherries, fresh pineapple puree and is topped with a broiled coconut frosting. I was attempting to evoke in a quick bread the flavors I love in a pineapple upside down cake. While this is the best of the three attempts, I still have some playing around to do with this recipe. I still think it needs a stronger pineapple flavor.

I'm thrilled to be a part of the Daring Baker's forum and look forward to many more challenges!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Colonial Williamsburg and Pretzel Rolls

Simeon and I took off for a few days and visited some friends in Va. While we were there, we took advantage of Colonial Williamsburg's homeschool days. We had a blast, learned tons and I definitely want to go back. One of the highlights for Simeon was the bakery. What's not to love about fresh baked goods. His favorite treat was the pretzel rolls. I came home determined to figure out how to make my own. The result was delicious. Once cooled they tasted just like the ones we bought at the bakery. The only change I would make is to make the rolls smaller. The recipe recommended 4 oz rolls. I made 3 ounce rolls, and I would make them even smaller, possibly as small as 1.5 oz each.

Pretzel Rolls
The Dough
2 and 3/8 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 cups milk, slightly warmed

Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

The "Bath"
7 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons baking soda

Mix all dough ingredients together in a stand mixer. Mix with paddle attachment until it forms a ball and then mix with dough hook. I found that I had to add flour until my dough came together, was no longer sticky and quite stiff. I added maybe another 3/8 of a cup, but I can't be sure. I did it gradually until the dough looked right. Let dough rise in mixer bowl, covered with plastic wrap for an hour in a warm place.

After the first rising, punch down dough and shape into balls. Place rolls onto well greased cookie sheet and let rise 15 minutes.Preheat oven to 400*F.

While rolls are rising, mix the "bath" ingredients together and bring to a rolling boil. Once the 15 minute rise is over, poach 3 rolls at a time for 1 minute. I flipped my rolls over after the initial 3o seconds. Place on greased cookie sheet.

Once all rolls were poacheed, I used a serrated knife to make two slashes in each roll and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake in the oven until a deep dark brown. It took my rolls 20 minutes. It may be a little more or less time. Keep an eye on the rolls, burnt pretzels would be so sad.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Croissant and Pain au Chocolat

A few weeks ago a friend mentionned that she really enjoyed some pain au chocolat that I had made a couple of years ago. I started thinking about croissants, and so bit the bullet yesterday and decided to make some. This particular friend was coming over for tea this morning, and so I decided to indulge both of us with a little sweet and flaky goodness.

When I had made croissants before, it took them forever to rise, and I had some pooling of the butter both during the proofing and the baking process. After a little research online I discovered that my layers of dough and butter were probably not even enough AND that I was proofing in too warm an environment. Keeping those two things in mind, I worked on my dough and today, my pastry was perfect, with no pooling of butter whatsoever.

My croissants were a little on the small side, and probably could have been shaped better, as they ended up a little mis-shapen to say the least. As for my pain au chocolat, the chocolate was at the bottom of my pastry and melted out in the baking. I think that came from having too much chocolate for the size of the pain. I think I could get the chocolate in the middle of the pastry next time by starting to roll my rectangle and then placing the chocolate midway before finishing the roll.

Regardless, I think it was a wonderfully sweet way to start our day and plan which seeds we are going to buy for our gardens this summer.