Category Archives: Baked goods

05 December 2018: More Classic Holiday Cookies – Natale Cookies

2018-Dec-05_stuff_2793Unbelievably, this year, I’ve been drawn away from chocolate cookies toward citrus-y cookies! I know, there are Peanut Butter Blossoms in my (baking) future, but so far I’ve been working on something entirely different.

Again, The Boston Globe’s Classic Holiday Cookie article is my source. Three bakes in and every single one has been a winner!  Today’s recipe for Natale Cookies comes from Linda Marino and is a great nod to my ethnic heritage. Can Feast of the Seven Fishes be far behind?

Natale Cookies

adapted by Linda Marino

Ingredients for cookies:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract

Ingredients for Icing

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons milk (I used Flor d’Sicilia in place of OJ – about 1/2 tsp; and substituted the other tsp of OJ with milk)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons rainbow nonpareils or sprinkles or colored sugar, for decorating

Method

  1. In a bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder to blend.
  2. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese at medium speed until well combined. Add thesugar and beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla and orange extracts.
  3. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, blend in the flour mixture just until no white patches show. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours or until the dough is cold.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. On lightly floured counter, pinch off a generous teaspoon of dough. Roll it under your palm into a rope about 6 inches long. Gently knot the rope to create a round. Set knots on the baking sheets with the ends tucked under, about 1 inch apart. Continue rolling and shaping knots until all the dough is used.
  6. Bake the cookies for 20 minutes, or until they are set and starting to brown. Transfer the parchment sheets to wire racks; leave the cookies to cool.
  7. Make the icing: Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of the milk and 1 teaspoon of the orange juice and stir until the mixture forms a smooth icing. Add the remaining milk and orange juice and stir until the icing falls easily from a spoon.
  8. Remove the parchment sheets from the wire rack. Set 1 rack on a rimmed baking sheet.
  9. Pick up a cookie, turn it upside down, and dip it into the icing. Set it right side up on the wire rack. Continue until all the cookies are dipped. Sprinkle with nonpareils, sprinkles, or colored sugar. Leave to cool completely
Advertisements

29 November 2018: Laura Raposa’s Coconut Orange Macaroons

2018-Nov-29_Fournightsaweek_2767In general, I don’t keep a lot of home-baked sweets in our house. I do so, not as a lofty statement against sugar consumption. I do it because I love them too much! But after Thanksgiving has gone by, there is some strange phenomenon that occurs: I feel the need to bake cookies.

I like to make something either from my heritage or childhood, or something that might not be the usual. Oh, I like sugar cut-outs (and I do have my Aunt Eleanor’s killer recipe for cut-out cookies using Jello as one of the sugars), and I enjoy decorating, but I love to find a cookie with an unusual taste or texture.

Sheryl Julian, the Boston Globe’s excellent food editor, recently published this article about Classic Holiday Cookies in the Sunday Globe magazine. So far, I’ve made 2 of these recipes and plans are materializing to bake the others. Today I made Laura Raposa’s Orange-Coconut Macaroons and promptly froze them for our holiday dessert plate.  The fragrance of orange completely blew me away.

Laura Raposa’s Orange Coconut Macaroons (as adapted by Sheryl Julian)

Makes about 22

Ingredients

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Grated rind of 1 navel orange or scant 1/4 teaspoon or orange oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flaked, unsweetened coconut
  • 3 1/4 cups flaked, sweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (Either my oven is too hot or this temperature was a bit too much for the cookies to bake 18 minutes; monitor and turn down as needed)
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In an electric mixer, combine the condensed milk, egg whites, vanilla, orange rind or oil, salt, and unsweetened and sweetened coconut. Beat on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, until thoroughly incorporated.
  4. Scoop 2 tablespoons of the batter (a small ice cream scoop works well) onto a baking sheet, and continue making mounds, leaving 1 inch between them. Dip your fingers into a bowl of cold water and shape the dough into mounds, smoothing out any feathery edges.
  5. Bake the macaroons for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they are light golden brown. Let them cool on the baking sheets.
  6. Meanwhile, fill a saucepan with several inches of water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl that will fit neatly into the pan without touching the water. Melt the chocolate in the bowl, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove the chocolate from the heat and wipe the bottom of the bowl dry. Dip a fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle it over the macaroons in a crisscross pattern. (I skipped this, but for gifting or to be fancy, it sounds delicious).
  8. Let the chocolate cool on the cookies. Use a wide metal spatula to remove the cookies from the baking sheet.
  9. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

27 May 2018: French Baguettes

2018-May-27_FourNightsAWeek_Baguette_2393I’ve been a baguette fan for a long time, and even though I’ve discovered there are just too many variables/barriers preventing me from baking a truly French baguette, I keep trying. Baking a French traditional baguette is my quixotic challenge in baking.

French bread flour is definitely different – it is a harder type of wheat I think – and our ovens here in the US don’t always reach the temperatures required  for crusty French-style breads.  However, I have found a recipe from King Arthur Flour that comes darn close to the real thing, or at least I think so. CNV00000023

When we visit France, one of the things I look forward to is a stop for baguette. No matter how small the town, there is always a boulangerie turning out the most delectable, crusty loaves. Now that I think of it, we just may be overdue for an in-person taste test.

French Baguette from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients for the Starter

  • 1/2 cup cool water
  • 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached AP Flour (don’t substitute)
  • 1/8 tsp instant yeast

Ingredients for the Dough

  • All of the starter
  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached AP Flour (I substituted 1 cup KA Bread flour because I had it in the pantry)
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast

Method:

  1. Mix the starter ingredients until smooth, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight. Don’t skip this step!
  2. The next day, mix the starter with the remaining ingredients, kneading until the dough is nice and springy but not totally smooth (or if you are like me, use your bread hook and heavy-duty mixer). Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 3 hours, gently deflating it and turning it over after 1 hour and again after 2 hours.
  3. Divide the dough in half (in our two-person household, I divide the dough into quarters). Shape each half into a rough oval. Wait 15 minutes and then fold each oval lengthwise, sealing the edge, and use cupped fingers to gently roll each piece into a long log.  Place the loaves onto a lightly greased or parchment lined (my choice) pan, cover, and let them rise* until they are puffy, but not doubled – this takes about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rise, pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Very gently use a sharp knife or razor to slash 3 diagonal 1/3-inch deep slashes in each loaf. Mist the loaves heavily with warm water (do not skip this).
  4. Bake baguettes for 22 to 28 minutes, til they’re golden brown. Take the baguettes of the pan and place them right back on the oven rack. Turn off the oven, crack the door open about 2 inches and let the baguettes cool completely in the oven.
  • *For extra-crisp baguettes, King Arthur bakers suggest covering the shaped loves and let them rise for 30 minutes. Then refrigerate them overnight. The next day (Day 3!) take them out of the refrigerator and let them rest at room temperature, covered for about 3 hours or until they are nice and puffy. Then bake as in Step 4.

 


17 February 2018: Montreal Bagels

2018-Feb-21_fournightsaweek_bagel_1826With all due respect, Montreal has the best bagels that I’ve ever eaten. Ever. Hands-down. No contest.  We always leave Montreal with at least a dozen ready for the freezer as well as a few for the ride home.

Basically, bagel worshippers fall into two very loyal schools regarding which of two Montreal bagel bakers makes the best.  My personal favorite is from St. Viateur on the Plateau; however the “other” bagel bakery, Fairmount Bagels, also makes a great Montreal-style bagel.

There is a subtle sweetness to Montreal bagels which comes from malt or other sweeteners in both the dough and the water.  The bagels themselves are much less dough-dense than the supermarket or bakery bagels one finds here in New England, and for me, that makes them enjoyable. For purists looking for malt, King Arthur Flour and/or a local beer making supplier should be able to help out.

Since, for the moment, a trip to Montreal is not in our future, I set out to find an authentic Montreal bagel recipe, and thanks to the MTL Blog, found this one on a great Montreal food blog called “My Second Breakfast“. Sami Berger, who write a regular food blog here, suggests at the outset that one can either make the bagels large (yield 12) or smaller (yield 15), but I would suggest that dividing the dough into 18 knobs (yield 18) is just about right for a Montreal sized bagel.  The process – start to finish is about 90 minutes. 

My Second Breakfast’s Montreal Bagels

Adapted from bigoven.com

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups warm water
  • 5 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 3 TBSP canola oil (I substituted coconut oil, melted)
  • 8 grams active dry yeast
  • 2 large eggs, divided (1 for the dough, 1 for the egg wash)
  • 1 TBSP maple syrup
  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup poppy seeds OR sesame seeds
  • 16 cups water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • (for chocolate bagels, add 1/2 cup of chopped dark chocolate or chips) – I love chocolate, but wouldn’t think of doing this to a bagel!

Method

  1. In a large bowl (I used my mixer and a whisk for steps 1 and 2), whisk together the
    warm water, sugar, oil,yeast, egg and syrup Combine until the yeast dissolves.
  2. Stir in salt and 1 cup of the flour.
  3. (Now using the mixer’s bread dough hook), add enough flour to make a shaggy, soft dough – about another 3 cups.2018-Feb-21_fournightsaweek_bagel_1834
  4. Knead the dough (yes, on the machine!) for about 12 minutes, adding flour as you go (I ended up needing an additional cup of flour, but baking day was a high-humidity day). If you are adding chocolate or raisins, knead in the chunks at the last minute (don’t do that with a machine!).
  5. Once the dough is smooth and firm, flour the countertop and cover the dough with an inverted bowl. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Divide the dough into (12/15/18) pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-10 inch rope, then curve each on pressing together the ends to make a bagel shape. Make SURE the ends are firmly stuck together at this point or they will come apart in the boiling process. Note that the bagels will look pretty deformed and the holes will be very big – not to worry!
  7. Let the shaped dough rest for 30 minutes. About 5 minutes before the dough has finished rising, fill a large pot with water (16 cups) and stir in the honey. Bring that to a boil.
  8. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Boil the bagels by placing them in the pot, 3 or 4 at a time – you don’t want the bagels to be over crowded. Boil for 45 seconds on each side (90 seconds total). Remove and let the water drain off onto a clean towel or paper towel.
  10. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and set the seeds on a small plate.
  11. Dip the boiled bagels first in egg wash and then coat both sides in seeds. Note that the bagels will tend to get very dark in the areas without seeds so if you plan to leave any “plain” you’ll need to watch them carefully.
  12. Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes (they should be starting to get golden brown on the side touching the baking tray), then flip and bake another 6-8 minutes until completely lightly golden brown.
  13. Cool the bagels on a cooling rack.
  14. Once complete cool, store in a freezer bag for a few days.

 

 


%d bloggers like this: