Monday, August 27, 2012

August Daring Bakers: Swans!

So, every month you see the "Mandatory blog checking lines" somewhere in my Daring Bakers posts.  The lines that follow the statement are used by the Daring Bakers coinstabualry to make sure we've completed teh challlenge each month.  The lines are composed by Lis of the Daring Bakers.  She's our chief baker and wonderwoman extraoridinaire.

Check out this month's Mandatory blog checking lines:

Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!


Deep. Breath.


Yep.  I was this month's host.  How crazy is that?  Hosts are usually the elitest of the elite of the Daring Bakers.  It's not something I ever wanted to do, but I was called to do it so I jumped right in.  Luckily, there are a lot of safety nets!  Thanks, Lis, Audax, Scooney, and all the other bloggers who helped me out this month.

On top of the challenge, Mr Boom and I actually boarded a plane and flew to Hawaii to our niece's wedding.  In the seventeen years we've been married, Mr Boom and I have been on a plane exactly twice.  This was his first time flying over water.  Lis had to post the challenge for me since we were gone on August first, the day the post goes up. Oh, and and top of that?  BIG fires all around us this month.  Several friends lost homes, pets, and livestock.  We had foster animals at our house, and then were a few hours away from having to evacuate ourselves.

Interesting month.  Needed friends.  Had friends.  Was a friend.  It's all good.

Anyway, swans!

I've wanted to make pate a choux swans since I was in third grade.  Thirty two years later, I'm finally getting around to it.  What I found to be even more exciting than my own sense of accomplishment, was the thrill of seeing other bakers' amazing creations.  We had ladybugs, crabs, sharks...we had chocolate, vanilla, berry....we had it all and we had a lot of fun.

Here's the challenge as presented.  I hope you'll try it out!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Daring Bakers August challenge: Crackers!


Actually, all of us Daring Bakers have gone crackers! 

Blog-checking lines: Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

This month's challenge was a heck of a lot of fun, and extremely timely for me. Since my cow is off at summer camp with a very handsome bull, I decided to lease a goat.  The ideas was that she'd eat down the pasture while the bovines were absent. This wasn't an animal I'd keep...just a weed eater and a milking trainer for me.  What better animal to learn to milk on than a sweet little goat who loves her job? This way I'd be ready for that crazy cow when she returned home! 

We were NOT to fall in love with the goat. 

Absolutely not...

Anyway, I made two types of crackers and several types of goat cheese. Based on a Smitten Kitchen recipe, I made Crisp Rosemary Flatbreads.  YUM!

Then, based on several different Ritz rip-off recipes, I made some ritzy crackers.

The ritzy crackers were okay, but the flatbreads were divine!  But is there anything from Deb that isn't????  If you haven't made her graham crackers yet, please just do that now. I made those when we did the Nanaimo Bars for Daring Bakers.  Sooooo good. 

To go with the crackers, I made mozzarella, ricotta, and to types of pressed curd cheeses.  If Blogger wasn't such a pain in the butter, I'd show you more pics, but I can't take any more of this!

Tanya: I think you're just about the only person who reads this lost and dejected blog, and this message is just for you.  I'm hosting DB next month, and if you want in on the action you have to sign up before the end of the month! 

Cheese and crackers.

Cheese OR crackers?

Which would you rather be?

Oh, and by the way?  We're keeping the goat.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Daring Bakers June challenge: Battenberg cakes

The June Daring Bakers challenge was so yummy, and was one of the challenges that showcased individual bakers' kitchen personalities to the hilt.  Choose a flavor, choose a color, choose a shape...

Blog-checking lines:
Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.

Battenberg cakes are essentially a charming combination of two or more types of cake, presented in a neat little checkerboard pattern, with a choice of filling and a firm covering wrapped around. For my first attempt, I made a pink and yellow Battenberg, covered with my first attempt ever at making a fondant.  The cake was so pretty, and the apricot glaze between the layers was super tasty in combination with the almond and vanilla cakes.
My second attempt was a chocolate and coconut rendition of an Almond Joy candy bar.  I simply altered the original recipe by adding some unsweetened toasted coconut to the cake batter, and then adding some unsweetened cocoa powder to one half of the batter.

This post has taken just short of three hours to put up. It was due a month ago, but I had do many problems I gave up.  Since I'm hosting Daring Bakers in August, I decided I'd better get caught up. This has been just short of hell.

I'm not in love with Blogger. 

I am in love with Daring Bakers and Battenberg Cakes!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 2012 Daring Bakers Challege: Challah!!!

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

This month's challenge was so amazing!  I just slipped it in under the deadline this evening.

Last month's nazook was the very last food cooked in my old oven before we started the kitchen remodel.  This evening I made the challah and guess what?!! It was the first thing I baked in my new oven!  I was so scared something would go awry, seeing as this was the first time we turned the oven on, but I'm so happy to report success! 

This bread was/is tasty, easy to make, and so rewarding.  I can't wait to serve it to company tomorrow, and take them on a turn around the new place.  They'll see the bees that made the honey and the hens that laid the eggs.  Hopefully their eyes will be so full of those things they won't see the horrid mess the house has become as we fix it up!

Recipe here

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Daring Bakers February Challenge: Quick Bread

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

Wow! First time I completed a challenge on the first day! And luckily I did as I've spent the rest of the month in a cast.  It's still on, making typing a chore...

The day the challenge was issued, I had an apple on the counter that needed to be used, so I made an apple cinnamon quick bread. I mostly followed the Serious Eats recipe, but I substituted a little spelt flour for regular flour, upped the spices, and sprinkled the top with turbinado sugar before baking. 

I love the sparkly top and the deep rich flavor. This pairs up well with a straight shot of espresso, especially after the second day when the bread becomes just a little drier.
The next bread I made was inspired by the Barefoot Contessa. I have her gorgeous book "Barefoot Contessa Parties!" and refer to if often--if for no other reason than to droooooool. Luckily, the recipe for her lemon cake is also available online. (Lemon cake, we DB'ers decided, becomes a healthy bread if you bake it in a loaf pan...)

Now, I had no fresh lemons in the house, so I just substituted the stuff from a jar.  Amazingly, it still tasted divine.  The pretty yellow color comes not from rind, which I didn't have, but from the wonderful eggs my chucks are laying.  They've adjusted to the move and are back on track with their egg-provision duties. 

Okay, the fingers are cramping up, the dog is tangled in the keyboard cord, and the pain meds are wearing off.  I'll leave you to drool over the other Daring Bakers' challenges, which you'll find right here!

Friday, January 27, 2012

January Daring Bakers: Biscuits with Audax

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

I've always wanted Audax Artifex to host a Daring Bakers challenge.  I've always fantasized about what he'd challenge us to bake.

Well this month I discovered the steamy answer to my fantasy.....

Biscuits. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful biscuits. 

The best part of the challenge was Audax, of course. 

Second best part was seeing all the rainbows in the steam and (barely) managing to catch them on the camera.  Chirp-chirp held the biscuits, steaming hot, up in front of the window as the sun was setting.  At first I didn't believe her about the rainbows, but there they were!  Go back and look for yourself.  Rainbows!

Third best part was tasting a new, simple, easy base for tonight's chicken divan.  I usually serve this with rice or potatoes.  This year, due to our bumper crop of Yukon Golds from the garden, it's almost always been served on taters. 

Fourth best part, or maybe a second first best part, is looking forward to dessert later on.  Strawberry jam and fresh-whipped cream?  Yes, please!

Oh, and fifth best part was a mid-winter challenge that didn't require eggs.  The chooks are giving me one egg a day right now, which doesn't stretch very far for our family. 

Here's the recipe and exhaustive technique review from Audax.  Have fun!

Friday, January 20, 2012

It's not the height that counts...continued!

With so much work going on around the house, this French Fridays with Dorie selection was a pretty little light beckoning my return to the fold.  I've missed my Doristas!

Quartre-quarts is a simple, tasty, almost-rustic cake.  It's similar to the American Pound Cake in that the old-timey way to make it consists of incorporating equal weights of eggs, butter, flour, and sugar into a batter.  Vanilla (if you remember to add it, which I didn't!) adds more flavor, baking powder adds to the loft provided by beaten egg whites, and a sprinkle of brown sugar over the top adds color and an extra little hint of sweetness.

This is a snacking cake.  The recipe called for an 8" pan, and I baked it in a 10" pan, so the finished version is even easier to eat out of hand.  I'm going to claim that I planned it that way.  You'll forgive me my delusion, yes?

This weekend we're finishing the demolition of the hall bathroom, and I'm sure lots of snacking will be called for.  This is the PERFECT little cake for that!

Be sure to visit the other Doristas and see their (much more stunning) versions of this sweet little french treat. As with the other French Friday concoctions, we've been asked not to share the recipe. However, many versions are available all over the internets, and I'm sure you can find a recipe to suit you!