Sunday, December 27, 2009

holiday blur

every holiday season it is the same; hurried, frantic and a total blur. we gather the gang and drive to kentucky to spend it with the cousins (they come here for thanksgiving, you may have seen the trash can turkey posts on my other blog). after weeks of preparations it seems that we finally get to enjoy the day and relax but it is now the morning of the this point i usually promise myself to get started earlier so i can enjoy the season. this year, i almost did it. most of my shopping was done before thanksgiving because i had started doing things in september-honestly. then i caught a horrible cold and there went the head start. i was sick for more than a week and i recovered just enough to get the trash can festivities underway. once again, i was in panic mode in december...

one of the highlights of the month, the opportunity to bake gingerbread cookies and assemble a house for the daring bakers december challenge. The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.
my husband the practical joker and more proof that i cannot take him shopping with me. he rearranged the manger in macy's...lauren the snowgirl is now being showered with gifts from the three wise men while mary and joseph look on.

back to the daring bakers. when i saw that we would be doing a gingerbread house, i didn't know what to say. i love to build the houses, i've done it a few times for competitions and even come home with a blue ribbon but i also knew i wouldn't have the time or the energy. when i had my bakery, i stumbled upon a great set of cutters that when used would make a lovely tree that could be decorated. we sold hundreds of them! every year, i make at least a couple of them to take to kentucky. knowing my limitations and the requirements of the challenge, i decided to just make the trees. the challenge allowed for us to use gingerbread dough made from scratch, i used my own recipe which i will not post here because it is part of a book i am working on, and any template as long as we included it. my trees do not have a template since you just use the cutters.
this is the set of cutters, there are 5 stars in graduated sizes. my set came from the boston mountain copper company in arkansas about 9 years ago but apparently wilton now makes a similar item. several years ago, i contacted boston mountain and asked them if they still made the cutters and they did but that was probably 3 years ago and i do not know if they still make them since i couldn't find the set on their website. they may so if you are interested, contact them. the cutters are very well made and definitely worth the money.
you simply cut out 5 of each size and then stack them up to make a tree. here are the stars for two different trees.

using royal icing, pipe an outline on each star and stack them so that they are staggered and not lined up -this gives you the tree shape. start with the largest star and work your way up to the smallest. if you like, you can sprinkle colored sugar, non pariels or other decorettes as you go.

this one is for our neighbors, i sprinkled crystal sugar and snowflakes on it as i went, that didn't show up in the photo very well though.

for ours, i went back over every point and put a drift of snow-i am making this for kids after all.

the finished tree. it is important to use a level surface and a steady hand with the icing or you may end up with trees that look like staggering drunks-rather like mine...

the two trees side by side before they were wrapped up in a cello bag with ribbons.

here's hoping that you all had a merry holiday! happy new year to all.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

all mixed up

another bread baking day is upon us, #24 in fact. this month's challenge was to bake a mixed bread; in other words, use more than one type of flour to make the bread. not a difficult thing to do, every market has a few different flours to choose from. the difficulty comes in which flours to choose-oh the endless possibilities...what's a baker to do? earlier this summer, i made a grape starter for bread and i have been using it on a regular basis and that is where i decided to start. next it was the flour choice and to do this, i went to the fridge. it seems that i have been collecting flours of all kinds and i had plenty to work with!

the first loaf was a combination of bread flour and semolina flour. it made a nice loaf with a slight yellow hue. it was delicious with salads and hummus.

in my flour collection, have a nice variety of corn meal/flour. organic blue corn meal, corn meal masa for tortillas and a roasted yellow cornmeal are just some of them. blue corn meal is one of my favorite things to bake with and i have used it in things ranging from biscotti to corn bread to a spiced caked so bread seemed like a natural choice. however, i decided to take it one step farther by combining the three together in the loaf of bread.

once again, i used my trusty grape starter and the result was a lovely loaf with a slight crunch and a slight red/purple hue.

generally, i do not post recipes on my blog. as a cookbook author, i know all about the consequences of people giving away your recipes and the lack of royalties. most importantly, i know that many people do not give proper credit when posting recipes. i have seen my name mispelled and my co-authors name omitted completely. since i have had such success with this recipe, i will post it and hope that others will enjoy it as i have.

Sourdough Bread
adapted from How to Bake by Nick Malgieri

1 cup water
1 cup starter-any kind
2 cups bread flour-can substitute as much as 1 cup of another flour
combine in a bowl and cover it. allow it to sit and ferment for at least 8 hours and as long as 36 hours at room temperature.

to the sponge, add:
2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 cups to 1-3/4 cups bread flour
mix together and turn out onto a floured surface. knead the dough by hand adding flour as needed for at least 5 minutes and up to 10 minutes. place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it and allow it to rise until doubled, at least one hour.

preheat the oven and baking stone if you have one to 500 F. at this time, place a baking pan in the bottom oven if you want to have steam during the baking process. turn the dough out of the bowl and shape it into a tight ball. place the dough, seam side up, in a floured basket or a cloth lined bowl that is also floured and allow it to rise until doubled-about an hour. turn the loaf onto a pan or a bread peel that is sprinkled with cornmeal. place the bread in the oven, toss some ice cubes on to the pan, reduce the heat to 450F and bake for 20 minutes. reduce the heat again to 350F and bake until a thermometer reads about 210F, this could take 20 minutes and as long as 35 minutes. the bread will be nicely colored. cool completely on a rack before slicing.

good luck and have fun! thanks to idania for a tasty challenge! be sure to check back here for the round up

Monday, November 23, 2009

wrong, just wrong...

somethings should just be left alone. not all of the ideas we have are meant to be realized, some should be laughed at and others immediately forgotten. take that photo for example. honestly, what were they thinking??? as if fruitcakes don't have it hard enough, now they've been twinkified. real fruitcakes all over are crying out for help, "somebody save us, please stop them. haven't we suffered enough?" help us stop the madness, bake a real fruitcake today!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

for your entertainment

it's been a hectic couple of weeks. we had one home sick with mono of all things. work has been busy-it's that time of year again and my assistant quit too. darry has be completely stressed with his job-the evil forces are at it again and then there is the lousy weather that just makes things dreary. i managed to miss a pie challenge because i simply forgot what day it was but considering the cholesterol angle, maybe that is not so bad for me right now. there hasn't been enough laughter in the house, well there was that one day when the cat got her head caught in an empty tissue box. darry put some catnip in the box to see what she would do and she stuck her head in it and then proceeded to run, bumpercar style, all over the hallway in reverse no less. what a sight it was, big black cat with a pink tissue box stuck on her head backing up into walls and what not and careening off of them. poor kitty...we laughed so hard i think i did pee on myself.

honest, we only did that one time. she wasn't dumb enough to fall for it a second time. anyway, when i walked into the living room last night, the light was hitting the chair at the right angle and i saw an interesting pattern in the ultrasuede. look at it and see if you can identify it-it made me giggle.

yep, you guessed it-a big butt!!! not mine, darry's and the amount of detail was amazing. right down to the stitching on the pockets of his levi's. unfortunately, that didn't come out in the photo.
devon's response-man, dad has a big butt! the detail is hilarious. you can see the belt loops, seams, stitching on the pockets and the outline of the leather tag on the back that lists the size.
it's the little things that make life amusing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

my cholesterol free life...

honest, i've been trying real hard to get this new diet under control. actually, it has been easier than i thought-once i've read the cholesterol content of most things, i am afraid to eat them! i have drastically reduced my intake of things like butter, cheese, milk and meat, let's not forget egg yolks. i have even begun to measure out servings especially in the morning when i drink coffee. as much as i hate to say it, i am a true coffee junkie and i just cannot give up the half and half either. so now when i pour my one cup, i measure the half and half before i add it. the worst part for me so far, sweets. i miss having some sort of sweet treat after a meal. my first thought was how will i participate in all of the baking challenges? bread baking has been easy so far; for world bread day, i made a loaf of sourdough bread-no fat in there! then i saw the challenge for the daring bakers and i was sad, how could i participate and not eat any of the results? unless...

the 2009 october daring bakers' challenge was brought to us by ami s. she chose macarons from claudia fleming's the last course: the desserts of gramercy tavern as the challenge recipe.

so there i was grinding my hazelnuts and contemplating a filling when it hit me, if i leave out the filling i can actually eat them!!! sorry folks but the dietary necessity of my life won over the challenge and i did not make the mandatory filling.

my cookies weren't perfect little mounds like the almond flour macarons but i will attribute that to the dull blade in my robot coupe. the cookies were sweet and light but a poor choice for a rainy day which is all we seem to have here anymore! i would definitely try this again but with something different like toasted coconut or cocoa powder.

my apologies to our hostess, ami for not filling them but i had a legitimate reason and i can at least eat them now!

Friday, October 16, 2009

world bread day, 2009

today is world bread day and to celebrate the day, i baked a loaf of my demo garden sour dough bread. this is the first year that i am participating in the event and to be honest, i can't think of a better reason to bake bread. lets get this party started...

this week, i received the results of my annual exam, specifically my blood test. have you noticed that no matter what, numbers rule? at least for me they do and the numbers in question are not good. never in my life have i been truly over weight for very long and i'm not the least bit overweight at this moment. i do go to the gym regularly and i try to behave, food wise that is. but it seems that i have a cholesterol count that is unacceptable and needs to come down. last year i was told that my triglycerides were way out there, over 300 and my cholesterol was 217. a list of suggestions was given to me and away i went. this year, the triglycerides were down to a normal reading of 145-an impressive feat. unfortunately, the cholesterol was up to 224...that's when the family history questions started and i could see a prescription in my future. nothing like a little controversy to get you going in the right direction. you see, i am not willing to let a pill do the job for me. i told the nice nurse that i was sure this was the result of some poor choices and i would make some changes.

one of the changes i have made, less meat/fat and more whole grains. in my demo garden sour dough bread i used some white whole wheat flour so i could hide it from the finicky family members. the only thing in this bread is the starter, water and flour-bread flour and white whole wheat. in my haste to make the bread before dinner, i forgot the salt! honestly though, aside from rising faster, it really didn't matter. sure, the taste was a little bland, but if you slather the bread with something or dip into something, it really doesn't matter.

don't worry, the slathering was with hummus. a nice cholesterol free and fiber rich choice that left me sated and guilt free! after a few days of this new diet, i am really beginning to adjust. it presents a new challenge-adapting recipes to eliminate the bad fats and add fiber and good fats. but what kind of baker would i be if i was afraid of a challenge?

celebrate world bread day and bake some bread. while your at it, celebrate life and be good to yourself with some healthy choices. see you at the gym! thanks to zorra for hosting this year's world bread day and check out her website in a few days to see the roundup of participants.

Monday, October 5, 2009

she's how old???

it surprises people to learn that i have a daughter in college. why, i am not sure, i am not exactly fresh out of school myself and on close examination, it is getting tougher and tougher to pass for less than is alix's 20th birthday, it is also my father's birthday. that was one year that i didn't have to worry about sending him a gift, it doesn't get much better than a first grandchild as a birthday gift. we celebrated this years day a day early since alix is busy with school and she asked darry to make her stuffed peppers and for me to make a cake. since i wanted to take part in the bread baking buddies challenge of steamed buns, i made those too.

the recipe for the xiang cong hya juan bao or chinese flower steamed buns called for chinese flour. how vague...first up, we headed to our favorite and closest asian market, K&S World Market.

when ever a recipe calls for asian ingredients, we start here. as for asian flour, we had many to choose from and if only we could read in japanese, chinese, korean or any number of asian languages.

after looking at many bags of flours, we settled on this one. it is indeed chinese and as you can see, it is even recommended for buns. what makes it so special is a mystery since most of the information is in chinese. i can say this though, it is very white which suggests bleaching and that will help with tenderness and it is very fine and silky another indication that this is a low gluten flour.

i did my best to follow the recipe, no extra water was used and i gave my rolling pin a good beating with this dough. the chives came from the garden and so did the peppers. we had a bunch of mild banana peppers that had turned a deep red color.

since i was skeptical that the buns would be any good, i also made a batch of steamed buns using a recipe from the old classic cookbook, the key to chinese cooking by irene kuo. i have always wanted to make steamed buns and thought this might be a good time to try them. i made a filling with chicken, andouille sausage, greens from the garden, peppers and traditional asian seasonings found in most steamed buns. the dough is a little different than the flower buns, it has more leaveners and is kneaded rather than rolled to develop the gluten.

we had picked up a bamboo steamer just to make the buns. this was the first attempt at steaming the buns. sorry to say they didn't turn out very good. they needed to proof longer and steam longer too. the second batch was better but honestly, a little bland. my husband, mr. condiment, suggested a dipping sauce and that helped with the lack of flavor.

here are my chicken & sausage buns in the steamer

honestly, these were better than the flower buns. with everything in the filling and the sauce, we ate more of these. it was a fun challenge and i look forward to making this type of dish again. since i have about 4 pounds of flour left, i will definitely do something with them. the key to success, longer proofing and longer steaming at a lower boil.

my thanks to karen for a truly challenging recipe and for helping me to provide birthday party entertainment!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

not so daring now is it?

when i joined the daring bakers i had visions of exotic baked goods that would help me hone specific skills or just be so different from the usual baked goods that they would be fun to make. i hoped for challenges that would teach me as well as entertain me. so far, that hasn't been the case. the only one that was even close was the lasagna challenge with home made pasta and i still say that isn't baking but let's not go there now. when i saw this month's challenge, i wasn't thrilled. another item that i really didn't think was something that i would enjoy making because it was too much like jobs i've held in the past.
the september 2009 daring bakers' challenge was hosted by steph of a whisk and a spoon. she chose the french treat vols-auvent based on the puff pastry recipe by michel richard from the cookbook baking with julia by dorie greenspan.

so there i was in the kitchen rolling and folding and rolling and folding and all the while thinking of anything but vols au vent. i recalled making puff paste for the first time in new york city when i worked in building #3 of the world trade center. yes #3, it was a hotel that sat between the towers and that is where i had my first real job after graduation from the CIA. we made such a large batch of dough that we would fold in 10# of butter at a time, all by hand with rolling pins and while standing on milk crates because both myself and the woman who was teaching me were too short to have the proper leverage with the pin if we stood at the table.

but if i am honest, all i really wanted to make with the dough was turnovers, full of apples or other fruits. or maybe some pinwheels, elephant ears or cheese pastries. anything but little cups that i would have to fill so that my family could only eat some of them and then i would be left looking at the rest...needless to say, i made the dough and ended up putting it in the freezer for another day and that is why there aren't any nifty pictures to admire.

thanks to steph at a whisk and a spoon, she also gets all of my apologies. it's been a little hectic and after two solid weeks of rain there just wasn't an opportunity to finish the job!

Monday, September 7, 2009

multitasker extraordinaire....

tart shells, tart filling, garnish, sourdough, soaker, bread dough...the list goes on and on. i must have fallen asleep and woke up at work. aaahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!! the very thought sends me running from the room screaming. not really, but it's funnier if you imagine it anyway. hey at least i didn't dream about showing up for work naked. so by now you must be wondering what is going on, what is she rambling on about? well you see, this month both you want pies with that and the bread baking buddies have their posting dates on the same day and that meant more time in the kitchen for me than i usually spend there on my day off.

saturday night, we were invited to dinner at darry's coworkers house. there is a group of people that he works with that meet once a month at some ones house or a restaurant. everyone brings a dish or beverage and we were bringing a salad and dessert. perfect timing for me since i knew i needed to make a pie, a "vacation" pie (based on a vacation you took or would like to take) and i immediately knew what vacation i wanted to base it on. next year we will celebrate anniversary #25 and i was hoping to take the trip of a lifetime to mark the occasion. for me that trip is to go on a culinary tour of china. i know, it sounds like overkill, two chefs on a culinary tour to china. even so, if i had my pick of anywhere in the world, that is where i would go.

when you eat out in chinese restaurants, desserts are not as huge as they are in other ethnic restaurants. to really see chinese desserts, you need to visit chinese bakeries and that is one thing that nashville sorely lacks-a real chinatown area with an authentic chinese bakery. for these moments, i really long for san francisco and new york city-two places i have lived and visited chinatown frequently enough to know what i am missing here! so for this, i turned to books and the internet and i came up with egg custard tarts. as interesting as they seemed, they also seemed a little boring. in my last post, i made plum-strawberry jam and decided that it was just what the little tarts needed! by replacing the water in the recipe with jam, i ended up with lovely little spiced plum custard tarts. they were devoured at the party so i didn't have to wonder if they were any good!

the bread baking babes baked black bread-okay, say that 3 times fast!!! and this was a first for me. it was also a test of my organic grape starter made from grapes in the demo garden where i volunteer on sundays. the starter definitely is alive and it added a hint of sour flavor to the bread. it was tough to wait for it to cool down, warm bread is impossible to not cut into!!!

all i can say, wow!!! thanks to jenn of piccante dolce for the vacation pie challenge and to gorel of grain doe for the black bread challenge. now, if it's all right with everyone, i am going to go to work now so i can get some rest...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

amusing myself again

the last few weeks have been very stressful for me at work. the place is in serious need of an attitude adjustment-come on people, grow up already!!! i am truly living for the moment that i walk out of the door to that place each day and nothing is sweeter than knowing that i do not have to get out of bed to go there on my days off! so how does someone like me work off the stress? a trip to the gym can usually make a big difference for me physically but mentally, that's another story. i found myself just wanting to spend the day at home, alone and surprisingly enough, in the kitchen. sometimes, small successes can do so much to restore your well being than you could ever think was possible.

with my bruised psyche leading the way, i ventured into the kitchen with some frozen strawberries that had thawed days ago and a bag of over ripened plums and i set out to make some jam. nothing like the smell of strawberries cooking to brighten your mood.

the fruit cooking with some ginger root, vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks.

my mom and i love to scour second hand shops, antique shops, flea markets and garage/estate sales. she found this food mill and sent it to me. darry always questions these things-why do you need that junk?? this is one of my favorite kitchen tools and so is the collectible boonton ware bowl under it!

by rotating the wooden pestle in the conical strainer, you can extract the pulp and leave behind skins and seeds/pits.

i didn't get a huge amount of jam but what i got was wonderful. this morning, i took it to the demo garden for our sunday volunteer work session and we slathered it on multi grain scones.
mmmm.....check out the garden some time, it beautiful this year! (a collection of small successes) and for some that are closer to home, my home that is, check out my home garden for even more sweet successes to help keep me going.

Monday, August 31, 2009

baking the day away...

before i can even blink, it's time to post another challenge of some sort and today, it is time for bread baking day and challenge #23 which is hosted by nick of imafoodblog. this one was easy, just bake something (must be a bread) you've never done before. my first instinct was to lift my copy of baking with julia and look through it. it is a beautiful book that has recipes guaranteed to work if you follow the exact instructions. reading the instructions is like listening to julia-they sound exactly like she would have said them. this is especially true if you have ever watched her on tv.

whole wheat pita bread, baking with julia by dorrie greenspan

first step, make a sponge and let it rest up to 8 hours. next add the rest of the ingredients, knead it well and let it rise until it has doubled. when it is ready, divide it into 16 pieces, roll them out in a circle and then it is time to bake them. you have a choice of baking them in the oven on stones or pans or of doing it stove top in a skillet or on a griddle. since i do not have stones and i didn't want to use the oven, i opted for the stovetop with a cast iron skillet.

with a light coat of oil, the dough is briefly placed in the pan and then quickly turned over.

the pita cooks on this side until bubbles form and then it is turned again.

it is amazing to watch because all of a sudden, it puffs up like a balloon!

to fully inflate the bread, press down on the bubble and the flat areas will puff up too. it only takes about 3 minutes per round.

the best part, a sandwich for lunch with warm pita bread!

thanks to nick for a wonderful challenge. even my husband enjoyed the bread. i turned my head and he scarfed down 3 rounds! see you next month!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

cake therapy for those who dare

when i tell people what i do, often they get excited and say "oh that sounds like so much fun!" honestly, working in a busy restaurant is not that exciting. we call it work for a reason, and there isn't much about it that is truly fun. while many of us enjoy what we do, for many, it is all they are qualified to do and that is a whole story on it's own. yesterday was a bad day; egos clashed, tempers flared and the stress meter was on high. so what's an angry, frustrated and trying hard not to scream and cry pastry chef to do? especially if the trip to the gym didn't fix it? if she is me, and she was, it is time to settle down in the kitchen at home and bake something. go figure, the one thing that pissed me off earlier in the day was now going to be my salvation. somebody help me, i'm baking again and i can't get up...

luckily for me, the posting deadline for this months dare was looming large and less than 24 hours away. i hadn't decided if i would even make this month's challenge but...stress levels demanded that i do something productive and i didn't want to relieve the stress by doing something negative or by eating it away. so of course baking a cake seemed like a smart thing to do...

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

and so it starts...eggs yolks, sugar and vanilla in the mixer bowl

egg whites and sugar whipped to a soft peak

after folding in the flour, the batter is spread in circles on paper and baked

i wanted lots of layers so i made 7" circles and ended up with 9 layers

the finished cake with the caramel topping and my pretty red cake stand. another great thrift shop find!

the top view

i think this week calls for cake, anyone care to join me? i should be back from the gym in a bit...

thanks ladies for a satisfying challenge and lower blood pressure!

Friday, August 21, 2009

it could have been a cake wreck...

several months ago, a young co-worker approached me about making her wedding cake. she was hoping to find an inexpensive alternative to some of the quotes she had received. we spoke in detail and that was it, she didn't say anything about it again. finally, with less than 3 weeks to go, i asked her where she was getting her cake. she told me then that she hadn't ordered it yet and was planning to go to the supermarket bake shop and order it that week. the mother hen in me was forced into action.

after consulting with management, i was given the green light to make the cake. she emailed me the photo of the cake she wanted; we discussed flavors and frostings and flowers. this will be a small affair, held at the home of the groom's parents and the budget was conservative. the flowers would be silk. even with all the lobbying i did for the supermarket florist because they can have some really nice flowers, she stuck with silk. one less thing to worry about. or was it...

the week before the wedding, she ended up in the hospital with pneumonia and a set of tonsils in need of removal. these last few days, while trying to recover, she has been working on all of the little details of the wedding. too sick to shop for the silk flowers, she let her future mother in law pick them out and purchase them for her. she told the woman that she wanted purple flowers, roses if possible (i know what your thinking). what she got was just that, bright purple silk roses, obviously fake roses covered with little plastic dew drops...when i saw those awful things, i told another co-worker, "those are hideous, there's no way i can make them look good on a cake!!!" beth and i channeled our inner mother hens and we came up with a plan. a quick trip to michael's arts and crafts, several photos sent via cell phone, a long conversation and some text messages later and we had some pretty silk hydrangeas and ivy for the cake.
today was cake day. since it is an outdoor affair in august, i needed to get the cake done today to make it travel safe. it turned out nice considering that it is covered in silk flowers. what was that woman thinking-does she not like her future daughter in law or is she just lacking any taste at all??? here's to hope and phillip, good luck, congratulations and hope-get well soon!!!

want to have some fun, check out the website cake wrecks. this site has cake disasters of unbelievable proportions and every sunday a post of sunday sweets-well done cakes to marvel.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thats just nuts!!!

nuts i tell ya, just plain nuts!!! what a week it's been. a nasty storm blew out my phone/internet connection when the line was struck by lightning. it took a week to get back up and running because i only have residential service, business services get first priority. thanks at&t for making me feel appreciated, the competition is beginning to look real good at this point. i actually had to venture off to the public library to read my email and research information for the book i am working on which is now on the shelf due to contract issues-thanks guys for making me feel like part of the team. the bright spot in an otherwise crappy week, it was pie time again and i nearly missed it but thanks to holly, i made it into the round up even though my post wasn't up.

this month's theme was nuts. so fitting this week, everything else in my world was going nuts so why not the pie too? the hostess this month was jacque of daisy lane cakes and we were challenged to bake a pie using nuts-any kind of nut, however we pleased as long as it was obvious that it was in there. i was tossed up on what to do. peanut butter came to mind but i am a little saturated with peanut butter right now. chocolate and nut combos came to mind but it's a little cliche. fruit and almonds, booringgg. then i spied a jar of sorghum in the closet; the wheels began to turn...why not all of the nuts i have handy in a translucent custard (think pecan pie) with some sorghum?

the finished tart, all gooey and nutty. the combination of toasted walnuts, almonds, pecans and hazelnuts with a hint of cinnamon and sorghum is incredible. the sorghum, while sweet, cuts the cloying aspect of the corn syrup and sugar that most recipes call for. it adds a different dimension of flavor and sweetens the pie without it being too sweet. just beware, if you decide to try this, use part sorghum to corn syrup, consider adding a tablespoon or two of flour-it adds moisture not found in corn syrup, and don't substitute molasses for sorghum-it is too strong and will add a bitterness that will mask the flavor of the nuts and spices.

gooey and sweet all on it's own, perhaps with a little unsweetened whipped cream...mmmmm...

thanks jacque for a sweet ending to a sour week!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

dreaming of cinnamon must be bread baking day

i have been craving cinnamon raisin bread. there, i said it and i am not sorry that i did. so what you say. well what this means is that i can now satisfy my craving all in the name of bread baking day since this month's theme is sweet breads. maybe it's just a childhood comfort food thing, i don't know and i don't care. toasted cinnamon raisin bread with a thin brushing of butter...what more could anyone possibly need?

this has been cinnamon week at my house. knowing that this challenge was due, i made my loaf of cinnamon raisin bread and saved the extra cinnamon filling from the swirl. when it was time to make the sukkar bi tahin for the bread baking buddies challenge, i pulled out the extra filling and substituted it for the tahini filling. the scent of warm bread and cinnamon has been wafting through the house for days and i will be lucky if i can fit through the doors. i guess the cinnamon rolls i brought home from work (where i made them from scratch) really won't help here. honestly, how can anyone resist soft and tender bread with cinnamon and butter and raisins and let's not forget that it is warm and fresh...

my cinnamon raisin swirl bread. sliced and ready for the toaster. has anyone seen the butter dish...

please be sure to check out the round up and all of the entries on the website hefe und mere and my sincere thanks to stefanie for indulging my cravings.