Monday, June 29, 2009

easy as pie, pizza pie that is

even though i am new to the bread baking day group, i was excited to hear that the 2 year anniversary challenge would be hosted by the founder of the group, zorra and that her choice was pizza. so simple, even i could handle that task. then came time to choose what i would actually make and it got tough, real tough. my husband and i grew up in the new york city area and to us, that is where real pizza-the best pizza is found. nothing else stacks up to it, even the homemade stuff because it is nearly impossible to duplicate that style of crust.

knowing that i could not even come close to the original, i decided not to try and just go with something that sounded good to me; deep dish sour dough pizza topped with veggies and a little pepperoni to satisfy my husband the meat freak. to make the sour dough crust, i pulled the rye starter that i made for last months whole grain bread challenge (#20) out of the fridge and fed it to get it going. after letting it sit over night, i made a lovely batch of dough using a recipe that i found on a blog called discovering sourdough. on pizza day, i sauteed off some onions with garlic, red peppers and zucchini. when the dough was stretched out in the pan, sorry i don't have a baking stone right now, i spread some sundried tomato pesto on top of it, spread out the veggies and pepperoni and then topped it off with an italian cheese blend. this was then baked off until it was nicely browned on top and the crust was golden underneath. since it was deep dish, we cut it into squares like they do in nyc and served it with a salad.

deep dish pizza with veggies and pepperoni

congrats to zorra on 2 years of bread baking day, see you in the round up!

Friday, June 26, 2009

can you bakewell? the daring bakers can

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

my tarts in the nifty green oval dishes i scored at the thrift store, berry jam on the top and lemon curd on the bottom

so, another challenge was upon us and it was the classic english bakewell tart or pudding depending on who you listen to. when i saw the recipe, i knew that i had made this tart many times. as a young pastry cook in a major hotel, i was making petite fours sec for high tea and we always made a version of this but we called them frangipan tartlettes. they were made with jams usually raspberry but also with a german rosehip jam and those were my favorite combination of all that we made. later on when working in san francisco, i made a different version that used a sponge cake instead of the almond filling but there was the addition of a thin circle of marzipan covering the jam which was then topped with the sponge batter and sprinkled with fresh berries before baking-usually blueberries, both the jam and the topping.

for my tarts, it was a chance to use my nifty new (from the thrift store) oval tart dishes and an excuse to make some jam. i combined blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries with some sugar, vanilla bean, star anise and cinnamon sticks and when it was almost thick enough, a little rose water for an extra burst of floral flavor. my tart dough was enough to line both pans so i only made the single batch. i lined one with the berry jam and the other with some leftover homemade lemon curd. as for the frangipan, i made it with toasted almonds and left out the extract. it was a nice trip down memory lane and now i have a big jar of jam to slather on all kinds of things!

my thanks to our hosts this month, jasmine and annemarie, you made a wonderful choice!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

reliving my early childhood

as a very young child, i had a serious thing for jello.  my great grandmother would make it for me when ever i visited and i would climb out of my crib during the night for jello raids.  every now and then, she would make the famous crown jewel cake.  i can't remember having it since my early child hood but i vaguely remembered the flavor.  even funnier is that i would crave something like that.  maybe crave is the wrong word but every now and then i would wonder if i should just make one...

well, this month's challenge for you want pies with that hosted by ellen at kittymama settled it all, we were to make a pie based on the theme of a child hood memory.  

first step was to make three kinds of jello, raspberry, lime and orange

next step was the cream mixture.  now i wasn't about to go the dream whip way-too fake for me.  instead, i chose a lemon chiffon pie from the book, pie, pie, pie by john phillip carroll however, since i wanted a creamier pie i substituted whipped cream for the whipped egg whites.  it was nice and lemony and creamy and not too sweet, just right i'd say.  

thanks to kittymama for the trip down memory lane and good luck with your little cupcake, she's adorable!

Monday, June 1, 2009

visiting with bernard and james

another bread baking day is upon us and this months foray is hosted by tangerines kitchen.  for the challenge, we were asked to bake a loaf of whole grain bread.  sounds simple enough but if you have ever tried to get a loaf of whole grain bread that has all of the texture of a loaf of white then you know that it can be tricky to work with.  since i am trying to improve my bread baking skills, most pastry chefs don't do a lot of bread work-thats a bakers work, i turned to two old pro's; james beard and bernard clayton.

my husbands idea of bread baking is to use the bread machine-i can hear you cringing at the thought.  however, it has provided me with the selection of sourdough rye since he had a bag of stoneground rye flour in the fridge.  to start, i used the onion sour for rye from bernard's book.

after a few days, i took out the onions and proceeded with the recipe using the recipe for sourdough rye in james book.  the onion flavor somehow was lost but the sourdough tang made up for it

not the prettiest loaf of bread-just not enough gluten to work with.  next time, and there will be a next time, i will use bread flour or add gluten rather than just using all purpose flour with the rye flour.  it was fun to visit with my two old friends, james and bernard.  my thanks to rachel at tangerines kitchen, see you next month!