Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Finnish Pulla

I was supposed to post Ginger Bread Baby Cakes two weeks ago.. But, my cakes ended up being a disaster.. The only thing I could taste of them was the molasses.. No spice, no ginger, nothing.. Me throwing away any baked good means a lot.. They were that bad.. 

It is a different story with today's recipe.. I loved loved it.. It is called Finnish Pulla, and it is a mildy-sweetened bread spiced with crushed cardamom seeds.. It is kind of like Challah but with the wonderful aroma of cardamom.. Wikipedia says Finnish would usually serve it with coffee or at special occasions.. I had mine with Turkish strawberry jam, that I bought from Turkish grocery store here.. Both being delicious, makes the perfect breakfast item or dessert after a casual dinner..

Let's talk about the process: It is a yeast bread.. When the yeast is creamy I mixed it with milk, sugar, cardamom, salt and eggs.. Then some of the flour, then the melted butter, then the rest of the flour until it is stiff but not dry.. This is the most difficult part for me in any recipe, to decide how much flour is enough when they tell you how it should feel like.. I put 4.5 cups in total.. It was very stiff to mix at that point.. Then comes the kneading, followed by first rise and shaping.. The recipe calls for braiding and shaping it as a wreath, but I did 2 loaves.. After the second rise, I glazed the loaves and sprinkled with decorating sugar and almonds.. And put it into 375F oven.. The smell coming out of oven while baking is amazing.. Our place smelled like cardamom even the next day.. The bread is delicious with an intense cardamom aroma and pillowy texture..

This recipe is perfect breakfast bread and definitely a keeper for me.. I will bake it again and again when we have guests for breakfast.. If you want to try it, you can find the recipe at Erin's blog The Daily Morsel, or page 106 of Baking with Julia..

Thanks for stopping by..

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Best-ever Brownies

Today's recipe is Best-Ever Brownies.. The "Best-Ever" title is given them by the book, not me.. I liked them, they are really really delicious if you ask me.. However, I haven't eaten or baked enough brownies to decide these to qualify as best-ever.. 

The ingredients are usual suspects: flour, salt, butter, unsweetened & bittersweet chocolate, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs.. The stars of the show being lots of butter and chocolate.. The process is straight-forward but a bit more complicated than a normal brownie recipe: includes more whipping and folding..   Dorie says these tricks enhances the texture of the brownies which are supposed to be fudgey.. The recipe calls to bake them for 25-28 minutes, but to check them at 23 minutes mark to make sure not to over-bake.. I read a lot about how they need to be baked longer by other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers that I was pretty sure mine will not be done in time either.. So I checked them at 25 minutes and let them bake until 28 minutes is over.. Mine are a bit over-baked as a result :) Not gooey, but still moist and delicious.. I don't know why I did not have the same baking time issue, may be because I used 7x11inches glass baking dish??!! Who knows.. 

I loved loved how they taste, the recipe is for sure a keeper for me.. If you would like to give it a try, please visit Monica's blog: A Beautiful Mess.. Or check page 331 of Baking With Julia.. 

Thanks for stopping by.. Next recipe: Gingerbread Baby Cakes..  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Buttermilk Crumb Muffin

Today's Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) recipe is Buttermilk Crumb Muffin.. Like Popovers and Irish Soda Bread (that we baked previously with TWD), it is contributed to Baking With Julia (BWJ) by Marion Cunningham.. And like her other recipes in Baking With Julia, it is very simple, straight forward and tasty.. Simple home baking..

These muffins are basically a moist, soft cake flavoured with spices, and they have crumb topping.. The recipe is very easy to put together, and makes the perfect breakfast muffin..

I like the texture of these muffins, they are moist but not buttery, with crunch from the crumb topping.. They have perfect amount of sugar, not overwhelmingly sweet, and they are delicately flavoured with cinnamon and nutmeg.. I loved it, so did my husband..

If you would like to give these muffins a try, you can find the recipe at Alisa's blog: Easier Than Pie or at the page 207 of Baking With Julia..

If you would like to watch Marion Cunningham and Julia Child baking this recipe and more, click here and here..

Thanks for stopping by.. See you in two weeks..

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Bagels

After being absent for almost 2 months, I am back to blogging with a bagel recipe from Baking With Julia.. Writing anything is never easy to me, but today it feels especially difficult.. Here we go..

I never thought I would ever bake bagels at home, especially when I have a bagel store right next to the building I live in.. But I did, thanks to Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) group.. This is one of the reasons I love baking along with TWD.. It makes me bake the recipes that I would read through but never try by myself.. Especially after watching the youtube videos of this recipe (links are at the second last paragraph) and seeing how sticky the dough is, I would for sure be discouraged..

The process was not as difficult as I expected.. It starts with the usual suspects: flour, yeast, water, some vegetable shortening, sugar, salt, black pepper.. I stirred all with a wooden spoon until I couldn't anymore, and kneaded it on a floured surface with extra flour to prevent sticking.. My dough was not as sticky as the one in the  video although I used less than 5.5 cups flour, including kneading.. I don't know if it is because of the type of flour used (I used bread flour) or the temperature/humidity of our place.. But I was happy with not that sticky dough, no complaints.. Then, the dough rose for an hour, and then waited in the fridge overnight.. The rest is time consuming, but not difficult at all. I made rings from the dough, boiled them for couple of minutes, put them on a baking sheet dusted with corn meal and the toppings used, brushed with egg white wash and sprinkled toppings.. Lastly baked them in very hot oven for 15-20 minutes (the book says 25 minutes but mine baked much earlier than that).. The result: Home baked bagels coming out of my oven :)

I made 3 different types: 3 with sesame and poppy seeds, 4 with sesame, poppy and caraway seeds, and 2 with only coarse salt.. They look like store-bought bagels, all puffed up in the oven.. However, taste and texture of my bagels were different than store-bought ones.. Taste-wise: I like these much better, these were the tastiest bagels with a hint of black pepper.. Texture-wise: Mine were more bread-like than chewy like the real bagels.. I like the chewiness of real ones.. And the verdict is: I liked them.. If I have the time and patience, I will make them again when having guests for breakfast..

If you would like to bake bagels at home, visit this week's host Heather's blog, or buy the book Baking With Julia.. If you want to watch the video of the episode of Julia Child's show where Lauran Grovemen baked these bagels: click here (part1) and here (part2)..

Sesame-poppy seed bagel with cream cheese-lox spread.. 

Thanks for stopping by, see you in 2 weeks..

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Popovers

Today's recipe is Popovers.. According to Wikipedia "The popover is an American version of Yorkshire pudding and similar batter puddings made in England since the 17th century,[2] though it has evolved considerably.[3]It is selected for this month to honor Marion Cunningham, who contributed this recipe to Baking With Julia and has died in July 2012.. I had never eaten or seen these crispy outside hollow inside eggy bread before trying this recipe.. That is why, I don't know whether mine ended up being a good one or not..

I like that the recipe is as easy as it gets with the ingredients one always has at home.. You mix all-purpose flour, melted butter, salt, milk and eggs in a blender (I used food processor) and pour the batter into muffin or custard cups.. Then, bake at high temperature until they are puffed, browned and crisp at the exterior, and decrease the temperature and bake a bit more to dry the interior.. And they are ready to eat as soon as they come out of the oven.. My only problem with the recipe was the baking times mentioned in the book.. Although I took them out of the oven before the mentioned baking time was finished, mine were still over baked.. If I bake these again I will decrease the baking times for both temperatures..

They do not have any particular flavour.. I enjoyed my popovers with feta and honey right after I took the above picture.. The exterior was very crispy and inside was empty with some stringy dough right under the crust.. I don't know if it was supposed to be like that or is it because mine were over baked.. The book says the inside should be custardy, mine definitely was not..

If you would like to try this very easy recipe, please visit the blogs' of this week's hosts: Vintage Kitchen Notes and Bake With Amy.. Or buy the book Baking With Julia..

Thanks for stopping by..

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Plum Galette


This time I am late posting my Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) recipe.. We usually post these recipes on every other Tuesday and today is not one of those Tuesdays.. I have been eating a lot lately, and making a new dessert when there was no one else around to share it with me did not sound right prior to post date, so I postponed baking this beautiful galette when we were having guests for dinner.. And also, the original recipe is called Berry Galette and I replaced the berries with red plums because I love them and also because I had my eye on this gorgeous one made by Cafe Fernando - one of my favourite blogs - for a while.. So I combined 2 recipes, used the galette dough from Baking With Julia (BWJ) and used the filling part from Cafe Fernando.. The result was light and delicious.. Perfect summer dessert.. 

The galette dough is very easy to put together with the simplest of ingredients: all-purpose flour, cornmeal, butter, yoghurt (you can use sour cream or buttermilk instead), iced water, salt and sugar.. The tricky part is rolling out the dough.. Mine was very sticky although I chilled it overnight in the fridge, and it took me couple of rounds of freezer in/out to be able to continue rolling it to the size the book asked for.. Once it is rolled out to an 11 inch circle, I sprinkled the base with 1 tablespoon of sugar and I placed slices of plums in circles, trying to imitate the galette at Cafe Fernando's website.. I replaced the honey drizzled on top in BWJ recipe with 1 tablespoon sugar.. Folded the sides up.. Put pieces of butter (1tbsp total) on top as called in the original recipe and brushed the sides with water.. And baked until done around 35 minutes..

I was very happy with the result.. The crust is light, crunchy and tasty, and the filling is delicious plums sweetened just a a touch with only 2 tablespoons of sugar.. The end dessert is light and tasty, with a slight crunch from the corn meal - and also beautiful to look at.. I cut it with pizza cutter and served it with vanilla bean ice cream.. Everyone enjoyed it very much.. I will bake it again for sure, hoping that the dough will be nicer to me next time :)

If you would like to give this recipe a try, you can find it at the blogs of last week's hosts: Tomato Thymes in the Kitchen and Garden and The Kitchen Lioness.. Or refer to the book Baking With Julia..

Thanks for stopping by.. See you next week with Popovers.. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday With Dorie : Blueberry Nectarine Pie

Here is my first attempt to making an American fruit pie.. Although I had couple of hiccups with the dough, the making of pie was much easier than I thought it would be.. And the result worths the effort, it was a delicious summer pie.. 

I started the process on last Thursday by putting together the dough for flaky pie crust.. This part was very easy.. The crust uses combination of butter and vegetable shortening - to balance the flavor and flakiness.. This was the first time I used vegetable shortening in any recipe, it is such a weird ingredient.. Back to the process, the dough needs to be chilled for minimum 2 hours to as long as 5 days in the fridge.. I opted to leave it in the fridge until the next day.. Because I was going to have dinner guests on Friday and wanted them to have a freshly baked pie rather than 1 day old - which wouldn't be that disastrous either :)

Delicious blueberry
and nectarine filling..
Blueberry Nectarine Pie..
Then on Friday, I started rest of pie making by preparing the blueberry&nectarine filling.. Half of the fruits are cooked with sugar, lemon zest and some flour, and when it resembles a jam, you mix this with the uncooked fruits and lemon juice.. This filling was extremely delicious, like the best tasting jam ever.. Yummm..

Next is my worst nightmare, rolling the dough :) It was as challenging for me as I expected.. For some reason I can not roll dough into circles, my dough goes in weird directions with cracks on the sides.. That is why I could not get a circle in the size that the book asks for, both top and bottom crusts.. Which resulted in not having enough hanging sides - when fitted to pie pan - to crimp.. So, I decided to pinch top and bottom crust together, and then press with fork all over.. It was not that bad looking at the end..

Then comes the baking: I baked mine for 40 minutes.. Towards the end, some of my filling found its way out of the sealed crust to the baking sheet under the pie pan.. Well I had enough filling left inside, so no problem..

I did not taste the baked pie for hours and hours (the book recommends at least 30 minutes wait time before you cut into it), until the end of the dinner with our guests.. I think the pie delivers on everything it promises: a flaky tasty crust and a delicious filling, tangy&sweet.. This recipe was a success.. From my side, I confirmed again that - although I think they are tasty - fruit desserts are not my favourites.. I like creamy pies like coconut cream pie or lemon pie  much better..

For the recipe please visit this week's hosts: Liz and Hilary.. Or buy the book Baking With Julia..

Thanks for stopping by..

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Semolina Bread

Here is Semolina Bread from Baking with Julia.. According to Wikipedia, semolina is "the coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum wheat used in making pasta, breakfast cereals, puddings and couscous." In Turkey, we use semolina to make a dessert called Irmik Helvasi, which is one of my favourite desserts in the world.. Especially if it is served warm with vanilla ice cream.. So delicious.. I should post the recipe for it one day.. 

Back to the bread, as the name implies this bread is made with combination of semolina and unbleached all purpose flour.. It is very easy to prepare, but you need patience because there are three of 2 hours rising periods that you should wait for the dough to be ready for baking.. Preparation includes, mixing the yeast, warm water and some of the flour to create the sponge - wait for 2 hours.. Then, mix it with more flour and semolina until you have a smooth dough, it takes only five minutes.. I handled this part with hand mixer with a dough hook.. Put the dough into an oiled bowl - wait for 2 hours.. Then shape the bread and put it on a baking tray with parchment paper - wait 2 more hours.. Then, finally, ready to be baked for 35 minutes.. 

It smells great while baking in the oven, thanks to the yeast.. It has a tender crumb and tastes delicious.. This bread is definitely a keeper for me.. It is a type of bread I would be happy to be served at a nice Italian restaurant.. I ate multiple slices dunking into extra virgin olive oil with crushed chilies in it.. Yummy..

For the recipe, please visit blogs of this week's hosts: Keep It Luce and The Way to My Family's Hearth.. Or buy the book Baking With Julia..

Next recipe will be Blueberry and Nectarine Pie, sounds and looks delicious..

Thanks for stopping by..

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Hazelnut Biscotti

Being from the Eastern Black Sea coast of Turkey, where 75% of the world's hazelnuts are produced, I love hazelnuts.. It is the go to nut for desserts at where I am from.. Any dessert with them feels very homey to me, and that is why I was very happy to try these Hazelnut Biscotti from Baking With Julia..


The recipe is very easy to put together.. It may be one of the easiest that are in the Baking With Julia.. The only change I made to these biscotti was using dark rom instead of hazelnut liquor.. For the recipe please visit blogs of this week's hosts: Homemade and Wholesome and Baking and Boys.. Or buy the book Baking With Julia..  You can watch the episode of Julia Child's show in which they baked these biscotti from this link.. 

These hazelnut biscotti taste very good, just sweet enough with an intense hazelnut flavor.. And they are very very crunchy.. Mine turned out a bit harder to bite than I would like them to be, I think it could be because I cut them a bit thicker than recommended 1/2 inch.. They were great dunk into the coffee though :) 

Next recipe will be semolina bread.. Looking forward to trying it..

Thanks for stopping by, have a great day..

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : French Strawberry Cake

Our new recipe with Tuesdays With Dorie is French Strawberry Cake.. I have had my eye on this recipe since I got my book.. It looked so simple, elegant and tasty to me.. It is tasty and elegant and all but not as simple as it looks.. At least wasn't for me..

My version of French Strawberry Cake on the cake stand I made at my pottery class.. 
It starts with making the Genoise that will be the base for the cake.. The ingredients are very straight forward: just eggs, cake flour, sugar, vanilla extract and butter.. There is no leavening agent as you can see, so the cake gets its height from whisking whole eggs and sugar for a long time until the mixture triples its size.. My Genoise batter was doing fine until I added the butter, and then it collapsed.. I hoped for the best that it would raise again in the oven, but NO.. It stayed flat and sad.. It was max 1 inch tall.. My husband asked me if this was the first layer of my three layer cake :)) It looked impossible to divide to three layers.. I will give Genoise another chance in the future, hoping that I will do better with the folding in the second round..

Secondly, I cleaned and sliced my strawberries, and mixed them with sugar (I used 1/4 cup of sugar), and left at room temperature to become mushy and delicious.. This is the filling for the layers, together with the whipped cream..

Then comes the whipped cream.. It was very easy to prepare and very tasty.. Just sweet enough, with beautiful vanilla scent..

Oh, it was a challenge to divide my skinny cake into layers.. First, I decided I will go with only 2 layers.. When I tried to cut it in the middle, I ended up with such a skinny layer that I decided I will go for 3 layers.. Well, top layer was like a paper and middle layer's 1/8 does not exist :)..

Anyways, with this disaster behind me, I filled the layers with strawberries and whipped cream, and tried to do my best for icing the cake.. Which wasn't easy with my uneven layers.. So, I decided to cover them all with chopped pistachios, because it would cover the imperfections and because I love the taste and color of pistachios.. I think they add a festive look to any dessert..

After my cake waited two hours in the fridge, I took these pictures and tasted.. It is light and delicious, perfect summer dessert.. Unfortunately, my Genoise was not only skinny, the bottom layer was very dense as well.. I will definitely try to tackle Genoise recipe again, and hopefully will succeed the second time..

As a conclusion, I like how this recipe tasted and that it is so open to variations.. You can use another simple/dry cake recipe as a base, or other fruits of your liking, and the whipped cream recipe is so versatile and can be used with variety of desserts.. At the end of all my struggles, the sliced cake does not look so bad :) Bon appetit to us!

Looks better than expected :)
For the recipe please visit blogs of this week's hosts, Sophia and Allison : Sophia's Sweets and Think, Love, Sleep, Dine, or buy the book: Baking with Julia..

There will be three recipes in July.. All look delicious.. Stay tuned..

Thanks for stopping by..

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Oasis Naan

Today is my birthday.. Number 33.. I really enjoy my 30s but still amazed at the speed of the years passing by.. Well, since this is the youngest I will be for the rest of my life, serefe (cheers in Turkish) to my new age and things it will bring :)

The picture below is the main reason of my blog post for today.. A type of flat bread called Oasis Naan.. Apparently these type of flat breads are very common in Central Asia..

This recipe is very easy and fun to make.. I made the half recipe, and it makes four Oasis Naans.. 

  • You mix instant dry yiest, warm water and some of the flour in a bowl with a wood spoon, add salt and rest of the flour, and stir until you can't.. Put the mixture to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes until it makes a smooth and workable dough.. (I really enjoyed kneading this soft dough, it is very easy to work with)..
  • Next, put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.. Leave it for 2 hours to rise.. Mine rose beautifully at the end of 2 hours..
  • Then comes the baking part.. You divide the risen dough into four and roll them into small disks (I think I made mine bigger than the actual size), prickle the centre with fork (I think I overdid this part, even my sides are flat), and lastly sprinkle with salt, cumin seeds and green onions.. Bake for 6 minutes in a very hot oven (500F).. The book (Baking with Julia) says cook it on stone heated in the oven, I used bottom side of my cast iron pan.. It did the trick..

I am happy that I tried this flat bread, I really enjoyed the process.. It tastes great, very simple.. Reminds me of small version of a type of flat bread we have in Turkey called Pide.. Although I found mine a bit on the dry side, I enjoyed my products with some meze (small plates of hummus, feta, goat cheese stuffed red peppers) and definitely will bake this recipe again.. It is a keeper.. I believe the dryness is due to me rolling them out too thin..

For the recipe please visit blogs of this week's hosts, Maggie and Phyl : Always Add More Butter and Of Cabbages & King Cakes, or buy the book: Baking with Julia..

The next recipe will be French Strawberry Cake.. I am so looking forward to trying it..

Thanks for stopping by..

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday With Dorie : Pecan Sticky Buns

Here is another recipe from Baking with Julia.. Pecan Sticky Buns..

Close up of the buns, fresh out of the oven.. 
I started baking this buns on Friday around noon and pulled the tray out of the oven exactly at 3.30 am Saturday.. It takes a long time to prepare them with all the waiting times for chilling and rising of the dough.. I halved the whole recipe, since we don't need 14 buttery sticky pecan buns for two of us.. And also using +5 sticks of butter for the whole recipe was unacceptable to me.. 

I was going to tell the process step by step - and started to do so - but it was taking forever with all the 'do this and rest the dough for xx minutes/hours' again and again.. So, I decided to only highlight the changes and mistakes I made compared to the original recipe..

- I halved the brioche dough recipe and made no alterations in the ingredients.. The only thing that did not go as planned was that the flour coating on my sponge did not crack as obviously as the one in the book. It worried me for the rising of the dough for the next steps, but everything went well with rising so my yeast was alive.. This brioche dough part alone takes like 10 hours preparation time, all the waiting times included..

- I do not have a stand mixer.. I used hand mixer for making the dough.. Thankfully my hand mixer survived this heavy duty..

Instagram by Ferda
- You laminate already buttery brioche dough by dotting the rolled out dough with butter.. I decreased the butter amount by 1/4 stick here.. 

- I made couple of mistakes during rolling the dough with the fillings.. Firstly, I did not brush the top of the rolled dough with the egg, which lead to it opening up while baking.. Secondly, I did roll it from the long side (long side of rectangle being in front of me), which gave me skinnier and taller rolls when cut into pieces..

- I decreased the amount of butter smeared on the baking pan by half (from 1 stick to 1/2 stick).. I can not even imagine how buttery it would be if I used the full measure.. 

- The last stage before baking is rising of the rolls in the pan, and mine did not rise enough to touch each other (the book says it should).. I assume it was because I rolled them from the wrong side of the rectangle.. 

- Finally, I baked it 5 minutes less than the recommended time, because the top was getting dark.. This resulted in no caramelization of sugar and butter on the bottom of the pan, the brown sugar stayed grainy rather than becoming a glaze.. 

Overall, these pecan sticky buns are tasty.. But not delicious, heavenly or out of this wold type of tasty that I would go into this much effort for them again, or consume this much butter for them.. I expected a softer and tastier dough, and more caramelized topping from them..

For the recipe please visit blogs of this week's hosts, Lynn and Nicole : Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat and Cookies on Friday, or buy the book: Baking with Julia..

The recipes that are going to be baked in June are not decided yet.. I hope they will be much lighter than May's recipes, and use a lot of summer fruits..

Thanks for stopping by.. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Hungarian Shortbread

For some reason I did not realize this recipe was due today, but thought it was for next Tuesday.. When I realized last night that it had to be posted today, I was not sure that I would make it on time, because I had other plans for today and also I was trying to eat healthier until the weekend in order to compensate all the goodies I savored last weekend :) Then, my sense of responsibility kicked in, and I couldn't let myself be late for this one.. The result, my diet did not go well with 2 sticks of butter in this treat.. It was worth it though..

I was really excited to try this recipe from the moment I went through the recipes when I first got my Baking with Julia book.. Simply because I love rhubarb and I love a dough that does not need special treatment and rolling.. And this recipe is perfect: you make the dough with a mixer, divide into two,  freeze both, then grate the frozen dough before you bake.. Just perfect :) 

Baking with Julia version of Hungarian Shortbread has home-made rhubarb jam sandwiched in between two layers of shortbread.. I was a bit scared of the amount of butter that was used in the recipe - whole recipe calls for 4 sticks of butter.. I halved the recipe to decrease the butter consumption (I know it is the same amount of butter per slice, but it just did not feel right to consume 4 sticks of butter for one recipe) and baked it in 8x8 inch square pan instead of the recommended 12x9 pan.. It smells delicious while baking, and tastes divine.. Melting in your mouth, buttery, soft and crumbly shortbread with sour, not too sweet rhubarb jam in between.. The jam can be substituted with any other type, just make sure that it is a tangy one to compensate sweetness of the shortbread.. 

The recipe is very straight forward and easy to put together.. As mentioned, it has the easiest dough process with such a great result.. Preparing the rhubarb jam takes like 15 minutes.. Mine was a bit watery after 10 minutes simmering, which was recommended time by the book.. So, I boiled it a bit more to get rid of the remaining water.. Still, I was not impressed with the taste of it, it tasted kind of bland to me by itself (within the shortbread it worked perfectly).. I did not follow the book's instructions about dusting the shortbread with confectioner's sugar right after taking it out of the oven, but waited the dish to cool down before dusting.. I did not want my confectioner's sugar to melt and disappear over the hot shortbread.. 

Conclusion: I loved how this recipe tasted.. It is definitely a keeper.. And is open to variation in terms of filling.. Couple of hours after baking, photographing and tasting my product, I was thinking why my shortbread was thicker than the pictures from other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers' blogs and my jam layer looked thicker, then I realized that although I halved the dough recipe I prepared rhubarb jam with the full measure, and used it all.. Well, it tastes good, that is what matters, right :)

For the recipe please visit blogs of this week's hosts, Lynette and Cher : 1smallkitchen and The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler, or buy the book: Baking with Julia..

See you in two weeks with Pecan Sticky Buns.. Another recipe with tons of butter in it.. Looking forward to trying though.. It uses brioche dough, and baking brioche is in my to do list for a while now..

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Lemon Loaf Cake

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is Lemon Loaf Cake.. I like citrusy desserts and I like dry cakes - I mean cakes without icing or glaze or anything, the cakes similar to the ones I grew up eating that were served with Turkish tea.. That is why I was very sure that I would like this cake a lot.. The result is: "Not as good as I thought it would be".. On the one hand, I like that the lemon zest flavor coming through beautifully with every bite and I like that the sugar amount in the cake is just enough, not too sweet.. On the other hand, I found the cake a bit too dense and dry.. It is not a cake to eat by itself if you ask me.. That is why I served it with vanilla flavored sweetened whipped cream and some berries to our dinner guests on last Sunday.. It worked very well that way and was enjoyed by us and our guests..

The recipe is very simple: Whisk eggs, sugar and salt until foamy, whisk in the grated lemon zest, mix in flour and baking powder to the eggy mixture in 3 additions, whisk the heavy cream, and lastly fold in the melted butter.. That is it.. Then bake for 50-60 minutes.. Below is how my cake looked just out of the pan, with a beautiful yellow crack on top.. And it smells amazing while baking, thanks to grated zest of 3 lemons.. 

Conclusion: Although very easy and tasty, I found the cake too dry and dense to my taste.. I don't think I will be baking it anytime soon.. 

For the recipe please visit blogs of this week's hosts, Michelle and Truc:  The Beauty of Life and Treats, or buy the book: Baking with Julia..

Coming in 3 weeks: Hungarian Shortbread.. Looking forward to that one because it has rhubarb jam in between two layers of shortbread and I love love rhubarb.. 

Thanks for stopping by :)

Update: I have couple of slices of this cake in the freezer, and just ate a slice toasted.. It is delicious toasted, much better than fresh.. It can be eaten by itself with tea, coffee or spread your favorite jam or nutella on top.. Yummy.. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Pizza Rustica

During the month of April, we will bake two recipes for Tuesdays With Dorie: Pizza Rustica for the first half of the month and Lemon Loaf Cake for the second.. Below is my experience with Pizza Rustica..

Contrary to its name, Pizza Rustica is not actually a pizza.. It is a pie with a slightly sweet crust and a ricotta based filling.. Original recipe from Baking with Julia makes the filling with 3 types of cheese (ricotta, pecorino romano, and mozarella), eggs, prosciutto, chopped parsley and freshly ground black pepper.. I wanted to make a vegetarian version of it and replaced prosciutto with kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes, 1/4 cup of each.. Thankfully, the substitutions worked out well.. One thing to say about filling making process is I put ricotta on a strainer with paper towel on, for 1-2 hours, and kept it in the fridge to drain the excess liquid in it.. I believe otherwise the filling can get watery.. 

To be honest, I was not very excited to try this recipe, due to my scare of pie crust preparation and rolling.. One of the great things about baking with a group is that it forces me to try new recipes that I wouldn't have the courage by myself.. Pizza Rustica is one of those for me..

Instagram by Ferda : My pie crust
My dough making started a bit problematic.. Instructions in the book explains how to make the dough in a food processor and I have a very small one.. Since I did not want to risk failing to do it by hand, I used my tiny processor anyways.. When I put all the dough ingredients listed, it got full to the top.. The book says pulse the mixture until the dough makes a ball around the blade.. And, this did not happen in my case due to over-crowded food processor..

So, I had to put the crumbly mass on to a floured surface and kneaded it (or try to knead it) until it resembled a smooth pie dough.. I chilled the wrapped dough in the fridge for couple of hours before rolling.. It was very easy to roll - unlike what i expected :) - and I was very proud of myself when I pushed my pie crust into the pan.. It was the first time I made a full pie :)

Then came putting the filling over the crust, and rolling the remaining dough to make crisscross decoration strips.. This part went well other than my stripes not being identical and failure to make basket design :)     

Instagram by Ferda : Ready to be baked
And the rest is baking it until the top is golden brown, which became golden very quickly and the edges got a bit darker, but did not burn.. It was difficult for my husband and I to wait until the next morning to taste it because I wanted to take pictures of it using daylight before eating into it.. We ate it both on Saturday and Sunday for breakfast.. The verdict is we "liked" it..

Conclusion: The recipe was easier than it seems, and the end product is good-looking and tasty.. It makes a great brunch or lunch dish with a side salad.. The crust is beautifully flaky and slightly sweet.. It can be used with sweet fillings or variation of savory fillings.. I enjoyed the combination of the sweet crust and saltier filling, but it was too much ricotta blandness for my taste.. I am not sure if I will go back to this recipe anytime soon when there are so many new ones to try, it was tasty but not out of this world tasty for me.. 

For the recipe please visit blogs of this week's hosts, Emily and Raelynn : Capital Region Dining Blog and The Place They Call Home, or buy the book: Baking with Julia..

Looking forward to meeting you in two weeks with the next recipe for TWD: Lemon Loaf Cake..

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Irish Soda Bread

This week's recipe for Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) is Irish Soda Bread.. And it is possibly the easiest recipe there is in Baking With Julia (BWJ)..

The process is: Mix flour, salt, baking soda, buttermilk in a bowl, with a fork. Transfer to a floured surface to knead for 1 minute and make a ball.. Bake it for 50 minutes in the preheated oven.. Wait until it reaches room temperature to eat.. Do you know any bread recipe easier than this? At least I never knew baking a bread could be this easy before..

The original recipe uses unbleached all purpose flour and gives the option of adding raisins for a non-traditional (according to Dorie Greenspan) Irish soda bread.. After reading comments on TWD blog about the recipe being open to improvisation in terms of additional ingredients, I decided to make 2 versions of it: One with all purpose flour and raisins - following the original recipe, and second one with half all purpose half whole wheat flour, with 1,5 tablespoons caraway seeds.. Result: They are both delicious but very different than each other.. First one is soft, white and sweet with the additional raisins (which I boiled in water for 2 minutes, drained and dried before using for the bread), second one is brown, heartier and flavored generously with caraway seeds.. They both have substance and texture to support variety of toppings for open-faced sandwiches..

With all purpose flour and raisins..
With half all purpose half whole wheat flour, and caraway seeds.. And also baked in cast iron skillet.. 
BWJ says that this bread is only good for day one and gets rock hard afterwards.. I was positively surprised that it was not the case.. I baked them on Friday, tasted a piece when cooled to room temperature, wrapped with plastic wrap and kitchen towel.. We, my husband and I, ate our bread both on Saturday and Sunday for breakfast.. Although not as good as fresh, I am happy to say that the bread keeps for 2-3 days, locked in sealed plastic bags at room temperature.. They are also good toasted..

Below are pictures of our delicious breakfast items with home-made Irish soda bread.. We ate raisin bread with butter and apricot lekvar (thick dried apricot paste with lemon juice and almonds - from rugelach recipe) and some crushed almonds on top, and the other one with dill-cream cheese and smoked salmon, topped with some fleur de sel..

Raisin Irish soda bread with butter and apricot lekvar..
Caraway seeds Irish soda bread with dill-cream cheese and smoked salmon..
Conclusion: This recipe is so easy and open to variations, I will for sure bake it again and again.. And I recommend you to try it even if you don't consider yourself a baker or are scared of baking a bread.. It is very easy, and eating bread you baked is so satisfying.. You can watch the video of the Irish soda bread episode of Julia Child's TV show, from this link..

For the recipe please visit blogs of Carla and Cathleen : Chocolate Moosey and My Culinary Mission, or buy the book: Baking with Julia..

Looking forward to meeting you in two weeks with the next recipe for TWD: Pizza Rustica..

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Rugelach

The first recipe of March for Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) is Rugelach.. According to Wikipedia, it is a Jewish pastry of Ashkenazic origin.. Baking with Julia (BWJ) version of it is made with cream cheese dough and filled with very thick dried fruit butter (called lekvar), nuts, dried fruits and cinnamon sugar.. The end-product is big, sweet, flaky, nutty and delicious rugelach..

Surprisingly (although my husband is Jewish), I had not tasted rugelach before.. The first thing I did before tackling baking them was to buy some from a bagel store, in order to have an idea about what to expect.. The ones I bought from the store were tiny, soft and tasty.. After tasting variety of fillings, I decided to make mine with apricot lekvar (BWJ gives you prune or apricot lekvar options), almonds, walnuts and raisins.. and of course cinnamon sugar, which is a must..

Overall, I found the process of baking the rugelach easy.. But it requires patience with all the wait times to chill the dough.. I divided the tasks to be completed into 2 days: On Thursday I prepared the apricot lekvar, prepared the dough, rolled and filled the rugelach, and left the rolls in the fridge overnight.. On Friday, I sliced them, coated with cinnamon sugar-nuts mixture and baked.. Here are my comments on the steps:

Instagram by Ferda :
Preparing the apricot lekvar
     - Apricot lekvar: is very easy to make and delicious.. Paste of dried apricots, brown sugar, lemon juice and almonds.. BWJ says it goes well with brioche, croissants and toasted whole wheat bread.. I think they would also be a very good condiment on a cheese board.. I will try when I have company next time..

     - Cream cheese dough: comes together very easily, and also easy to roll.. It is soft but not sticky.. And delicious and flaky once cooked..
     - Fillings: listed in the recipe are too much for the amount of dough.. If I spread total amount on the rolled dough, it would be impossible to roll-up.. I ended up using only half of the lekvar, cinnamon sugar, and raisins..

     - Rolling-up: was not very easy even though I did not use total amount of fillings.. It might have helped if I put the dough back in the fridge for a bit and cool down in between rolls, since it gets more difficult to deal with when it stays out of the fridge for a while..

Instagram by Ferda :
Slicing the rugelach
     - Slicing: was piece of cake because I left the rolls in the fridge overnight, and they were solid when slicing..

     - Baking: was tricky.. There was definitely a learning curve for me there.. I baked the first batch for 25 minutes as recommended, but did not double the baking trays since I only have one.. And that batch of rugelach got overcooked - dark and dry.. I thought if this was it, this recipe definetely did not worth the effort.. Then, I baked the second batch for only 20 minutes, and they were golden and delicious.. Everything promised in the book.. And yes, they definitely worth the effort :)

Conclusion: I was pleasently surprised with the end result.. My rugelach were delicious.. I will definetely bake this recipe in the future, and play around with the fillings.. I still have to try the prune lekvar, which - I heard from My little yellow cookbook - is delicious.. And also, my husband liked them a lot too with the disclaimer that they were not the traditional rugelach.. They are better :)

You can find the actual recipe at page 325 of Baking with Julia, or from this week's hosts' blogs: The Urban Hiker and My Baking Heart.. 

Coming in two weeks : Irish Soda Bread :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

Here comes the second recipe I baked for Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) : Chocolate Truffle Tartlets from Baking With Julia..

I baked these tartlets for the Valentine's Day dinner that I prepared for my husband.. And it was a big success within our small (2 people) family.. I don't know what we were expecting but we could not stop raving about how good it tastes after every bite.. As soon as we finished eating, I even called my friend who is also baking with TWD at the blog myyellowcookbook to tell her that this recipe is amazing.. It is very rich in chocolate (as one may guess - 4 different type of chocolate goes in it from cacao powder to white chocolate) but not too sweet with a very melting in your mouth texture but also has crunchy bits inside from biscotti and also a cookie like crust.. Well, best of everything :)

Instagram by Ferda: Preparing the crust 
From the start I was a bit intimidated by the recipe, mainly because I had not made pie crust before and this calls for 6 small ones.. I started the recipe with preparing the crust.. Making it in the food processor seemed much easier so I opted for that.. Mixing the ingredients was very easy with the food processor, but unfortunately my crust stayed very crumbly even after chilling it in the fridge for half an hour.. I guess I should have included couple more teaspoons of iced water as mentioned by some of the bakers in TWD blog.. Learning number 1 for the next time : May need to include a bit more iced water if the crust is too crumbly.. Because it was impossible to roll my very crumbly crust, I pressed it down my tartlet pans as you would do with graham cracker crust.. It turned out fine, crust was more cookie like than tender because of this change..

Instagram by Ferda: Fresh out of the oven
The filling is a very decadent combination of 70% chocolate, butter, a lot of (8 to be exact) egg yolks, a bit sugar and vanilla extract.. Then as if this was not enough, white chocolate, milk chocolate and biscotti pieces were folded into the batter.. The amount of my filling was more than sufficient to fill six 4 inch tartlet pans, and I overfilled the tartlets as I hate throwing away food.. The result was mushroom like tops for the tartlets.. Learning number 2 : Do not fill the tartlets over the crust level..

Although it was not easy to wait, I did not taste my tartlets until the end of our dinner.. Conclusion: these chocolate truffle tartlets are heavenly.. Not too sweet, but rich, smooth and crunchy, with white chocolate and milk chocolate explosions in your mouth (mine were still a bit melted inside), and almond flavor coming thru with the biscotti pieces in it.. It satisfied every expectation that we had from the dessert course, and one was enough for both of us.. And also it went perfectly with the last sips of Australian Shiraz that we were having for dinner..

I saved one tartlet in the fridge for the next day and froze the rest.. My observation is that even though they still taste rich and delicious after refrigerating and freezing, they lose their melting in your mouth texture..

I will definately bake this recipe again when I have some guests over.. For now I am using the stock in my freezer when needed/craved :)

For the recipe, please visit the blogs of this week's hosts: A Whisk and A Spoon, spike.does.stuff, Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats and cookbookhabit. Or Page 382 of the 'Baking With Julia'.

Looking forward to posting the next recipe in two weeks..

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie : White Loaves

There is a blog called Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD), where a group of bakers from all over the world had been baking through Dorie Greenspan's "Baking From My Home To Yours" book from 2008 to end-2011. As of today, they started baking through another book of Dorie Greenspan's; "Baking with Julia" (BWJ), and I decided to join them in this round. I will be baking something new from BWJ every other other week, and posting here on Tuesdays..

The first recipe is White Loaves.. This was the first time I baked bread at home.. It is fairly simple to make but you need patience to wait two 45 minutes for rising of the dough, and another 45 minutes to bake it.. And since I do not have a stand mixer it was very tiring for my right arm to use hand mixer with dough hook for +15 minutes.. But then, when it started baking in the oven and released that fresh bread smell all over my house, it all worth it..

The recipe makes 2 loaves, but I halved the recipe to make only one, since it would be too much delicious white bread at home.. The result was great, I had a honey-brown colored 4,5 inches high white bread, crunchy on the outside and substantial texture inside.. It is a kind of bread you would be happy to get at a high-quality restaurant or a bakery, and it is even more enjoyable knowing that you baked it yourself.. BWJ says slices would be great for toasting, I will freeze the remaining slices to make grilled cheese sandwiches in the weekend, can not wait..

Only the hosts for the week are allowed to post the recipe, so I can not give the recipes in my blog but will give a link to their sites. Here are this week's hosts: Slush and Someone's in the Kitchen.. The recipe is given in the latter one..

Have a great day!