Flour Child Bakery opens in Virginia Beach!

My mom and I just opened a bakery in Virginia Beach!! "Like" us to stay updated! If you care to read our blog, it's flourchildbakery.blogspot.com.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Greek Restaurant Whole Wheat Bread

At the last Greek festival we went to my parents bought a 10,000 pound can of dolmades (am I exaggerating?). Dolmades, also called dolmas, are grape leaves stuffed with rice and sometimes meat, and they're packed in olive oil and lemon juice. They look like short, fat, slimey green slugs, but they are delicious!! Anyway, my parents bought what I consider to be the world's largest can of them! Then more recently, my mom came home with a GIANT tub of storebought tzatziki. Tzatziki is that deliciously creamy yogurt sauce that comes on gyros... Mmm oh yeah, that's the stuff! Normally I would prefer to make it myself, but how can I let 25 gallons of tzatziki go to waste? Am I exaggerating again??? Oh well. Stay with me.

So for like a week, I've been promising Josh that I'd make Greek food for dinner so we could put a hurting on all the dolmades and tzatziki we've acquired. I knew I wanted to make bread because every time we go out for Greek food the bread is always FABULOUS! At our favorite Greek restaurant, Orapax, I could seriously eat nothing but their bread! It's THAT good! I recently found the book, A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman at Ross for $6.99 (a major steal), and as I was flipping through it I found a recipe called "Greek Restaurant Whole Wheat Bread." My best memories of Greek bread are from a Greek restaurant so this recipe seemed perfect! Now, please excuse me while I step onto my soap box...

I'm usually not particular about where I get my recipes from. I do like them to be from trusted sources, but after that it doesn't matter at all. However, it's a totally different case when it comes to Greek recipes. I want them to be from cookbooks that are all about Greek food. This bread recipe is not from a Greek cookbook, and therefore it doesn't taste like any of the bread I ate while I was in Greece. And most importantly it doesn't taste like the bread I get at my favorite Greek restaurant. It is delicious, don't get me wrong. But it tastes like simple whole wheat sandwich bread. Nothing wrong with that, but there's nothing Greek about it.

As you can see, I take Greek food very seriously. I'm 25% Greek, my dad is %50 Greek, and his grandparents were Greek immigrants. I've also been to Greece, so I know what the food tastes like. I hold my Greek standards very high, and this bread just did not cut it for me. But if you want yummy whole wheat bread that makes great toast AND perfect tomato sandwiches, this is the recipe for you!

*Steps down from soap box...*

Click the photos for details of the step-by-step process:

One GIANT loaf of whole wheat bread... coming right up!! For breakfast, how about some toast with butter and raspberry jam!
For lunch, a juicy tomato sandwich with Dukes mayonnaise and LOTS of salt and pepper!
And for dinner, use it to mop up all that tzatziki sauce!Click here for chicken kabob recipe!

Greek Restaurant Whole Wheat Bread (from A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman)
Makes 1 large loaf
“Add a touch of white flour to mostly whole wheat and include a judicious use of olive oil and some honey, and what have you? A heavenly, rustic whole wheat bread. Mop up your Greek salad with it or smear halved garlic cloves on a thick slice, drizzle on olive oil, and lightly grill. Then add some feta slabs and partially melt. Top with sliced toma­toes, minced kalamata olives, salt, pepper, and a dusting of oregano.”
2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
2 tablespoons rapid-rise yeast
1 cup white bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons olive oil
4 to 5 cups stoneground whole wheat flour, all-purpose or bread flour, or mixed, preferably organic (I used 3 cups of whole wheat and 1 cup of bread flour)

Finishing Touch
Whole wheat flour, for dusting

Stack two baking sheets together and line top sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a mixer bowl, hand-whisk water and yeast together and let stand 2 to 3 minutes to dissolve yeast. Stir in white bread flour. Then mix in salt, honey, oil, and half of whole wheat flour. Attach dough hook and begin kneading on lowest speed of mixer 8 to 10 minutes, adding additional whole wheat flour, as necessary, to form a soft but firm, somewhat tacky dough.

Shape dough into a rounded mass in mixing bowl. Spray inside of bowl and dough lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Cover entire mixer and bowl with a large clear plastic bag (I just covered the bowl with plastic wrap). Let rise about 45 to 90 minutes until almost doubled. (To speed this up, boil a cup of water in the microwave. Leave the bowl of dough in the turned off microwave with the hot water for about 30 minutes, or until doubled.) Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate. Shape dough into an oval and place on prepared baking sheets. Spray dough lightly with nonstick cooking spray and dust with whole wheat flour.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise 45 to 70 minutes until dough is quite puffy (This only took about 30 minutes for me. At this point I slashed the top of my dough. The recipe doesn’t say to do it, but it makes it prettier to look at!).

Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake bread 15 minutes; then reduce oven temperature to 350°F and bake until it is well browned, another 20 to 30 minutes (I did 25). Cool on baking sheets (I cooled mine on a rack to keep the bottom crust from getting too soggy).
“For the fullest flavor, use organic whole wheat flour for this recipe, if you have it, as well as Greek honey, Greek olive oil, and Greek sea salt.”—A Passion for Baking

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ina Garten's (Toasted) Coconut Cupcakes

UPDATE: I wrote this entry when I was the only one who had tasted the cupcakes. The concensus from the wing-nighters is that these are the BEST cupcakes so far! One wing-nighter had this to say: "Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!" :D If that's not proof enough that this is a winning recipe, I dunno what you want... a sacrificial lamb? No thanks.

Strawberry cupcakes won the poll... but as you can see this post isn't about strawberry cupcakes. Well, what had happened was... It started raining before I had a chance to go out and find local strawberries. And the strawberries at the grocery store were from Florida. This time of year I can get beautiful strawberries that were grown only 10 minutes from my house. I wasn't going to settle. No offense, Florida. Anyway, if you voted for strawberry cupcakes, please direct your complaints to The Rain. Thanks!

On the other hand, if you voted for coconut cupcakes, feel free to direct all your exuberant exclamations to ME! Thank you! Thank you! *Takes a bow* You like me! You really like me! (Am I too young for that joke??) Excuse me, let me get myself back together. These cupcakes are the SHIZZ! They are sort of a re-imagining of Ina's coconut cupcakes. I made them with toasted coconut (for Josh! Am I a good girlfriend or what!). I also used buttermilk powder instead of buttermilk. I cut the recipe in half, but I used 3 eggs instead of 2 1/2 (the original recipe calls for 5 eggs). These are fantastic! The toasted coconut flavor really comes through. The almond extract is a good co-starring flavor, but it doesn't steal the spotlight. And the cream cheese frosting... well that needs no added explanation. These are definitely a 5 all the way across my ratings board! :D
Can you smell that yummy toasted coconut?? My favorite step...
...Creaming the butter and sugar until FLUFFY!
After the last addition of flour, I like to finish mixing by hand.
The recipe says to fill the cups to the top. I NEVER do that, but I decided to try it on 4 cupcakes...
The cupcakes I did not fill all the way to the top came out looking nice.
The full cups overflowed a bit and looked like mushrooms.
Ohhhhh yeah......
I urge you to add this to your "to-bake" list. The toasted coconut sends you straight into nirvana!
Ina Garten's Coconut Cupcakes (halved and with minute changes)
Makes about 16 (The original recipe says it makes 18-20, half would be 9-10... umm who are they kidding?)

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
3 eggs (original recipe calls for 5, half would be 2 1/2...)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used 2 tablespoons of buttermilk powder mixed into the dry ingredients and substituted 1/2 cup of water here)
7 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut (toasted, if you like; to toast, preheat the oven to 375F. Spread coconut evenly on a cookie sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Stir the coconut and bake for 5 more minutes. Keep an eye on it because it burns quickly.)

1/2 pound (1 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, room temp (I prefer to make mine with cold cream cheese)
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 3 1/2 ounces of coconut (I took into consideration that my toasted coconut would have less moisture and therefore weigh less. I only added 2 1/2 ounces of it to the batter. And I crushed it with my hands to allow the flavor to spread more evenly throughout the batter).

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes (Mine were done at 19 minutes), until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Overall rating on a scale of 1-5
Moistness: 5
Tenderness: 5
Frosting: 5

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Suggestions for Video Topics???

I'm on my out to get sushi with Josh, so I'll just let the video do the talking in this post! ;D

Thursday, May 21, 2009

5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

Earlier today, I was checking my e-mail and noticed this fun looking recipe from my aunt. It's a recipe for making chocolate cake in the microwave. I'm a big fan of those Betty Crocker Warm Delights microwaveable cakes when I gotta have chocolate cake in 1 minute or less! This recipe looked pretty interesting, and I knew it was be a fun video topic! That's about all it was... I'll let you watch the video to see what I mean. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Thanks to your success stories, I tried it again with a few changes. I used self-rising flour and regular cocoa. I mixed it in a bowl first and poured it into the mug. I definitely recommend using the dark cocoa. Regular cocoa just doesn't have enough flavor. Also, unless you have a weak or old microwave, you don't need to cook it for 3 minutes. This time I only cooked mine for about 2 minutes. And let it cool! I know you want to eat it warm, but the texture changes drastically when it's cooled down! When it's hot, I gave it a 5 out of 10. When it cooled down I'd move that up to a 6.5 out of 10! Not much... but hey! It's a freakin microwaved cake! ;P

5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake (courtesy of The Internet by Al Gore... haha see what I did there?)
4 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 egg
3 Tbsp milk
3 Tbsp oil
3 Tbsp chocolate chips (optional)
Splash of vanilla
1 large coffee mug (microwaveable)

Add dry ingredients to mug and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil. Mix well.
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract. Mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug. Don't be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little and tip out onto a plate, if desired.
Eat! (This can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous.)

"Bubby's" Asparagus-Cheddar Quiche

A few weeks ago, I picked up Bubby's Homemade Pies at Ollies for only $9.99! This book has been on my Amazon wishlist for quite sometime, so I was super excited! If you live in near Tribeca or Brooklyn in NY, you probably know all about Bubby's Pie Company. I live in VA, so the closest I'll ever get to one of "Bubby's" pies is if I make one myself! The first pie recipe I chose is actually a quiche. It's asparagus season... not to mention Asparagus Month AND Egg Month here in the U.S.! Asparagus is super cheap right now, and Josh and I love it. This recipe was great! Slightly salty in my opinion, but nothing that couldn't be fixed next time around. My parents went gaga over it. My mom came into my room with her mouth so full she could barely speak. She gave it two thumbs up!

The only advice I have to give about this recipe is about the baking time. My oven usually cooks faster than most recipes, so I was surprised when it took almost 50 minutes for my quiche to fully bake through. The recipe warns against over baking, so I was afraid to keep baking it. I took it out while it was still very wobbly. I let it cool for the suggested 20 minutes, and when I went to slice it the center was still very wet. I preheated the oven again, this time to 375°F. I let it bake for 10 more minutes. I'd say the quiche is done when the top starts to turn brown and a knife inserted near the center comes out with none of the wet egg mixture on it. I only let it cool for 10 minutes this time, and it was perfectly set when I sliced it. The melted and cooled cheese on top makes this quiche hard to slice neatly. Hence why there are no pictures of the sliced quiche. It wasn't pretty! ;D

I love the feel of making pie pastry by hand, but a food processor is just so quick and simple! After pulsing a few times...
After adding the water the dough will still look somewhat dry, but you will should be able to form it into a disk without it crumbling apart. This picture is after I let it rest in the refrigerator.
Roll it out to about 12 inches and trim it. Roll it a little larger if you want a crimped edge on your pie.
I like to roll over mine with the rolling pin to cut off the excess and sort of "seal" it to the pie plate.
Like my pie weights? Yeah, those are pinto beans!
In retrospect, I should've par-baked this a little longer. The bottom was still soggy after I baked the quiche.
For the quiche, saute some chopped onions.
Blanch some asparagus.
Dress it all up and get it ready for the oven!
Tada! Mmm... look at that melty cheese! (Btw, this picture was taken when I took the quiche out before it was done (oops!)... It was slightly more brown on top when it was finally finished.)
ASPARAGUS-CHEDDAR QUICHE (from Bubby’s Homemade Pies by Ron Silver and Jen Bervin)
“This is a light luncheon quiche to showcase the pencil-thin new spring asparagus.”

Pastry for a 9-inch single-crust pie, par-baked and cooled in pie tin (recipe follows)
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, root ends snapped off
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups finely diced yellow onions (‘tis the season to use Vidalia!)
1 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt (I'd reduce this to 3/4 teaspoon next time)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg
2 cups grated sharp white Cheddar cheese, divided

To par-bake the crust: Refrigerate the fully formed, crimped, uncooked crust for at least 20 minutes. Before baking, dock the bottom of the entire crust with a fork. Line the inside of the crust with parchment or foil and fill it with dried beans or pie weights, spreading them evenly all the way up to the top edge. Bake at 450° F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the edge looks blonde and lightly blistered. The bottom of the crust will look partially cooked and there may still be some translucency to the dough. Carefully lift out the liner and weights. Cool the crust completely on a rack or trivet.

Blanch the asparagus in salted boiling water until tender (This only takes about 1 minute). Drain it and shock it in cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside to cool and dry off.

Melt the butter in a medium skillet and sauté the onions until golden; remove from the heat. Whisk together the cream, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a medium bowl and add the onions.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Line up the asparagus by the tips and cut off the tips whole. Slice the rest of the stalks into ¼-inch pieces. Put the asparagus in the bowl with the eggs and 1 ½ cups of the cheese. Mix well and pour into the pie shell. Arrange the tips concentrically on top and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup cheese.

Bake on a lipped baking sheet for about 30 minutes, or until the center is set and jiggles slightly when shaken gently. Do not overbake. (My oven usually cooks faster than most recipes, so I was surprised when it took a lot longer for my quiche to fully bake through (about 45 minutes total). It’s done when the top starts to turn brown and a knife inserted near the center comes out with none of the egg mixture on it.)

Cool the quiche on a cooling rack for at least 20 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

“The butter gives this crust flavor and the shortening makes the dough a little easier to work with because of its higher melting temperature. It's an appealing choice for economy and convenience, and its forgiving nature makes it an easy dough to work with in production baking. This dough is a good choice for fried pies because it holds up so well and has good buttery flavor.”
4 to 5 tablespoons ice cold water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
3 tablespoons cold shortening

5 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
4 tablespoons cold shortening

1/2 cup ice cold water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
6 tablespoons cold shortening

Measure out the flour (unsifted) by leveling off dry measuring cups, and add the flour to large bowl. Add the salt to the flour and give it a quick stir to combine evenly.

Use cold butter, measure out the amount you need, and then coat the cold, solid stick with the flour in the bowl. Using a dough scraper or a long butcher knife, cut the butter lengthwise in half, and then lengthwise in quarters, coating each newly cut side with flour as you go. Dice the butter into 1/4-inch cubes (or 1-inch sticks if using a food processor). Break up any pieces that stick together and toss them all to coat them with flour. To use lard or shortening, chop it into 1/4-inch pieces (1-inch pieces for food processor method) and add them to the flour. Break up any pieces that stick together and toss them all to coat them with flour. (If it is a warm day, chill this mixture briefly in the freezer before continuing.)

HAND METHOD: Using a pastry cutter, press the blades through the mixture, bearing down repeatedly like you would to mash potatoes. Repeat this gesture until the largest pieces of fat are the size of shelling peas and the smallest are the size of lentils (none smaller). Do not get overenthusiastic here: this size range makes for excellent flakiness. Re-chill if necessary.

FOOD PROCESSOR METHOD: Add the flour, salt, and butter mixture to the food processor and pulse it a few times. Do not use the continuous ON setting for pastry. To get the fat to cut in evenly you must stop and angle the entire food processor to give its contents a jostle by shaking and tilting it every couple of pulses. Pulse the mixture until the larger fat pieces are the size of shelling peas and the smallest fat pieces are the size of lentils. Do not overmix. Watch closely-it typically takes less than 10 quick pulses to get there. If you have a few bigger chunks of butter in a mixture that is otherwise perfect, dump the mixture into a large bowl and cut the bigger chunks down to size by hand with a pastry cutter so that the whole mixture remains consistent for flakiness. Transfer the fat and flour mixture to a bowl and chill it. Do not use the food processor to add the water to a pastry crust. Always mix in the water by hand.

When adding the water, begin with a fully chilled flour and fat mixture and ice cold water. Be judicious, even stingy, with the water. Do not add all the water at once; it must be dispersed into the mixture incrementally. Add water two or three tablespoons at first, quickly tossing the mixture with your hands after each addition with light upward motion to distribute the water evenly throughout it. Work the dough as little as possible.

Continue adding little bits of water at a time. When there are no floury bits anymore—just little comet like cobbles that don't quite cohere—slow down and sprinkle or flick water in at this point. One drop can make the difference and bring it all together. The balance can shift quickly from crumbly to wet. To test the dough for consistency, lightly pat together some dough the size of a tennis ball. If the ball crumbles apart or has lots of dry looking cracks in it, the dough is still too dry; let it break apart. Add a drop or two of water to the outside of the ball and work it just a little. If it holds and feels firm and supple, mop up any remaining crumbs, with the ball—if they pick up easily, the dough is probably wet enough. If they fall back into the bowl, you might need a touch more water. The pastry should be just a little bit tacky when you touch it.

Wet dough may seem easier to work, but because the extra water overdevelops the gluten it makes a really tough crust. If your pie dough is stretchy (glutinous) and quickly retracts when you roll it out, chances are you have added more water than you need and your pastry is overworked. If your dough is quite sticky, soft, and wet, it is better to pitch it and start over.

Dough can feel like it's holding together because the butter is melting. If at any point the dough ceases to feel cool to the touch or the butter pieces feel melty, soft, and warm, put the whole mixture in the freezer until it's cooled down again—about 10 minutes. It's impossible to gauge the water ratio accurately if the fat is melting into the flour.

If you're making a single crust, shape the dough into one round ball with your hands. If you're making a double crust, divide the dough into slightly uneven halves and shape each half into a ball—the larger of which will be for the bottom crust, the smaller ball for the top. Cover each ball tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least half an hour to relax and slow the gluten development and re-chill the fat. In practical terms, this cold rest makes the dough easier to roll out.

No-Knead: Everyday Oatmeal Honey-Raisin Bread

Usually, I don't ever have any tasty drama to go along with the tasty recipes I post. This post will change that! I made this bread last week, and if any of you follow me on Twitter you might've seen my constant tweets about my oven being a brat! It all started when I tried to make soft pretzels. One minute the oven is working fine, proofing dough on the "warm" setting, and just being awesome. Then an hour later when I go to preheat it... NOTHING! No beautiful orange glow in the bottom, no silent roar of gas pumping up the heat... NOTHING! So I call my dad, I'm almost in tears. I have these perfect balls of dough all portioned out and ready to be turned into pretzels, but no oven to bake them in. He says he'll have to order a part to fix it, so I put all my dough back into a bowl and stick it in the fridge (praying that pretzel dough will survive the chill). About an hour later, I'm just curious and I flip the oven on. What do you know! The freakin thing comes on as if nothing was ever wrong. HELLO!?!?! WHY!?!? Thank you, oven, for being a jerk! I baked the pretzels, and they came out fine. That post is coming later, much later.

So the next day... or was it a few days later? I can't even remember now. Anyway, some time later I made the dough for this no-knead bread, not even thinking about my oven being a little on the psychotic side. I made the dough a day ahead. The next morning I got up at 9am to add the raisins and put the dough in the pan for the final proofing. When I'm ready to preheat my oven... of course you've probably figured out where this is going... I turn the knob and wait... and wait... and wait. I turn around and look at this perfectly risen bread in the pan on the table. I almost cry! All this work, and it's going to be ruined! Then a lightbulb comes on in my head. NEIGHBORS! They have ovens! Surely, their ovens must work! So my mom gets on the phone with our closest neighbor, and he's siked to help. Josh had spent the night at my house, so he's there and walks with me to the neighbor's house. He's holding the umbrella, I've got the almost over-proofed pan of dough. Did I mention it's pouring down rain? It's practically a monsoon. In the time it takes us to walk about 50 feet, we are both soaked. It seems like umbrellas are about as reliable as ovens, but I digress.

It's time to make a long story short. I baked the bread in his oven. It turned out delicious, and I owe my fabulous neighbor, Doug, and HUGE thanks! You're a life bread-saver! ;D

EDIT: It seems I left out an important bit of information! My dad fixed my oven! My oven and I are starting to work on our trust issues. Give us time, and I'm sure we'll be back to our old selves*! (*=not a word)

The dough looks much like a batter at first.Sorry I didn't get many picures of the bread-making process. As you can imagine, I was under a lot of stress, thanks to my oven! Here's the end result... Mmmm!
I know this recipe seems like a lot of work, but it's actually not. It's very simple, and you can adjust the times to suit your schedule. The end result is fabulous, and you'll be so proud of yourself! :D

Everyday Oatmeal Honey-Raisin Bread (from Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads by Nancy Baggett)
Yield: 1 large loaf, 12 to 15 slices
“Because this dough includes cinnamon, which contains a yeast inhibiting chemical, the recipe calls for slightly more yeast than normal.”

2 3/4 cups (13.75 ounces) unbleached white bread flour, plus more as needed
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats or quick-cooking (not instant) oats
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/4 teaspoons instant, fast-rising, or bread machine yeast
1/2 cup clover honey or other mild honey
2 tablespoons corn oil or canola oil, plus extra for coating dough top and baking pan
1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon ice water, plus more if needed
1 cup dark raisins, rinsed under warm water, then drained well and patted dry
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon mixed with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar for garnish

FIRST RISE: In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, oats, cinnamon, salt, and yeast. In another bowl or measuring cup, thoroughly whisk the honey and oil into the water. Thoroughly stir the mixture into the bowl with the flour, scraping down the sides and mixing to blend well. If the dough is stiff, stir in enough more ice water to soften it slightly; the dough should not be dry or overly stiff, as the oats draw up moisture. Brush or spray the top with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. If desired, for best flavor or for convenience, you can refrigerate the dough for 3 to 10 hours. (For convenience, I refrigerated mine for 8 hours.) Let rise at cool room temperature (about 70°F) for 12 to 18 hours. (I sat mine out overnight for 12 hours.)

SECOND RISE: Stir the dough vigorously, adding in the raisins until evenly incorporated. Stir in enough more flour to yield a hard-to-stir consistency. (I think I added about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups of flour. It was still sticky, but very hard to stir.) Using an oiled rubber spatula, fold the dough in towards the center all the way around. (I didn’t do this. Instead, I floured my hands and shaped the dough into a tight ball.) This organizes the gluten for shaping the dough into a loaf. Invert the dough into a generously greased 9 X 5-inch loaf pan.
Brush or spray the top with oil, then using an oiled rubber spatula or fingertips, smooth out the surface and press the dough evenly into the pan. Using a well-oiled serrated knife or kitchen shears, make a 1/2-inch deep slash lengthwise down the loaf. Cover the pan with nonstick spray-coated plastic wrap.

LET RISE USING ANY OF THESE METHODS: For a 1 1/2- to 3-hour regular rise, let stand at warm room temperature; for a 1- to 2- hour accelerated rise, let stand in a turned-off microwave along with 1 cup of boiling-hot water (I used this method, and it took about 50 minutes for me); or for an extended rise, refrigerate, covered, for 4 to 24 hours, then set out at room temperature. When the dough nears the plastic, remove it and continue the rise until the dough extends 1/4-inch above the pan rim. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar garnish over the top.

BAKING PRELIMINARIES: 15 minutes before baking time, place a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 375°F.

BAKING: (At this point, I gave my neighbor instructions to bake it for 35 minutes, then cover with foil and let it go for only 20 more minutes. When I got to his house, the bread was already cooling, so I didn’t get a chance to check the internal temp. But the bread was VERY brown so I knew it was done, maybe slightly overdone.) Bake on the lower rack for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the loaf is well browned. Cover with foil, and continue baking for another 30 to 40 minutes more. Begin testing occasionally with a skewer inserted in the thickest part, until it comes out with slightly moist particles clinging to the end (or until the center registers 208° to 210°F on an instant-read thermometer). Bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer to ensure the center is baked through. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn the loaf out onto a rack; cool thoroughly.

SERVING AND STORING: Serve cool, or toasted; the bread doesn't slice well until completely cooled. Cool thoroughly before storing in plastic or foil. Keeps at room temperature for 3 days. May be frozen, airtight, for up to 2 months.

VARIATION: OAT-WHOLE WHEAT HONEY-RAISIN BREAD—Instead of 2 3/4 cups white bread flour, use 1 3/4 cups white bread flour (plus more if needed) and 1 cup whole wheat flour.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Cake Slice presents: Mile-High Devil's Food Cake w/ Brown Sugar Buttercream

This month, The Cake Slice bakers made the Mile-High Devil's Food Cake from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes. We had a choice to make either a 7-minute frosting or a meringue buttercream, both of which are flavored with brown sugar. Of course I chose to make the meringue buttercream (I made it Swiss-style instead of following the Italian-style instructions in the recipe, as I am the self-proclaimed "Queen of SMBC!"). I made this cake at my cousin Stephanie's house while I was in North Carolina for Mother's Day. We LOVE to bake together, but she lives so far away that we hardly ever see each other. Making the cake was supposed to be a joint effort, but I did all the work while she took pictures. She's lucky I love her so much! ;P

The recipe calls for making the layers in 8-inch pans. We made ours in 9-inch pans, and the batter rose perfectly to the top. If you make these in 8-inch pans, make sure they are at least 2 inches deep! It was quite an experience trying to make the Swiss meringue buttercream without my stand mixer. Stephanie's stand mixer only came with the paddle attachment, so I wasn't sure the SMBC would come together without the whisk attachment. However, it IS possible! After heating it over the double boiler, we poured it into the bowl of the stand mixer and beat it with a hand mixer on high until it was cooled. My arms were about to fall off because it took about 8 minutes! At this point, it was still soupy, not at all like the thick, marshmallowy consistency you get when you whip it with the whisk attachment in a stand mixer. We attached the bowl to the stand mixer with the paddle attachment and turned it on high. I didn't think the paddle would fluff up the meringue, but it did! After a few minutes, it became fluffy just like if we had used the whisk! We added the butter (only 2 1/2 sticks, because that's the amount I usually use for 5 egg whites). It did it's usual "curdle-before-magically-transforming-into-perfect-frosting" thing. Then, not only did I bake the cake... I got stuck frosting the cake... my least favorite part of cake-making! It was well worth the struggle because the cake was SO DELICIOUS! It was slightly more dense than other devil's food cakes I've made. I'm chalking that up to the brown sugar. But it was perfectly moist and soft. And the buttercream rocked, of course! I couldn't believe how quickly the cake got eaten. We made it Saturday, and by Sunday afternoon people were fighting for the last slice!

Pretty much the only chance I get for face time on my own blog is when the camera is in Stephanie's hands! So here I am, pouring the batter into the pans! ;D Of course we toothpicked all three layers to be sure they were done!
And here's me again, *ahem* looking slightly less attractive, while eyeballing the level of the cake... We had a little trouble with this one!
Action shot!! Nice photog skills, cousin!
And here's my our finished cake! If you can't tell, I'm more of a "no frills" person when it comes to decorating cakes...
And here it is on Saturday night after my mom and aunt Michelle got hold of it!!
Mile-High Devil’s Food Cake (from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne)
Makes an 8-inch 3-layer cake

1 cup unsweetened cocoa, not Dutch processed
1 ¼ cups hot water
3 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 2/3 cups cake flour*
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
9 ounces (2 sticks + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup cold water
[*1 cup cake flour is equal to ¾ cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons of cornstarch]

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans (We baked ours in 9-inch pans, and they almost overflowed. Make sure your 8-inch pans are tall!). Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper and grease the paper as well.
Place the cocoa in a medium bowl and add the hot water. Whisk until smooth and let it cool to room temperature. (To speed this up, whisk the cocoa into ¾ cup hot water. Then add ½ cup cold water to cool it down.)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low blend to combine. Add the butter and the dissolved cocoa. Then raise the mixer to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and cold water until combined. Add this liquid to the batter in three additions scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Divide the batter among the three pans.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a cakes tester inserted into the almost comes out clean. (Our 9-inch cakes were done at 25 minutes.) There should be a few crumbs attached still. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes. Then invert and remove parchment paper and cool completely on a wire rack.

Brown Sugar Buttercream
5 egg whites
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
¼ cup water (We omitted this)
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (We reduced this to 2 ½ sticks)

(We made our buttercream using the Swiss meringue method-- Whisk the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 6-8 minutes, or until mixture is fluffy and cool to the touch. Switch to the paddle attachment. On medium speed, add butter a few tablespoons at a time. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture becomes very thick and smooth, about 3 minutes.)
Place all the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer; set aside.
In a heavy medium saucepan combine the sugar and water. Cook over medium heat stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then bring to a boil without stirring and cook until the syrup reaches 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Begin beating the egg whites on medium low speed. Slowly pour in the syrup making sure not to hit the beater. Increase the mixer speed to medium high and beat until the meringue has cooled to body temperature.
With the mixer on med-low add 1-2 tablespoons of butter at a time. When all the butter has been added increase the mixer’s speed to medium and beat until the mixture looks curdled or separated. Continue to beat until the icing comes together again looking like soft smooth whipped butter.

Assembling the cake:
Place one layer flat side down and cover it with 2/3 cup of the frosting. (We used ½ cup frosting between each layer. We had just enough leftover to frost the top and sides.) Top with second layer and repeat process. Top with third layer and frost the sides of the cake.