2016 Baking Challenge

For fun this year, in addition to continuing to run every day, I am going to bake my way through The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It was nice having something to focus my attention on over the course of the year. A bonus? I learned a lot.

I already use this book regularly for some things (cinnamon buns & pizza dough), and I have baked a random assortment of things out of it, but I also have avoided some of the recipes out of fear. Not this year; I will only be skipping recipes I have regularly made since I know I can do them with ease.

There are ~30 recipes in the book, so my aim is to bake something every other weekend, once I take out the ones I am allowed skip.

As I write this I have the first recipe, Anadama bread, on its second rise – it looks delicious – I’ll write more about that soon.

The Queen of Hearts, Loved her Tarts!!

Hot out of the ovenSomething in the air got to me, it was a perfectly delightful crisp morning doing my Pranayama breathing exercises, and the day continued to be just as gorgeous. It didn’t get to hot, I was productive at work, what more could a boy ask for? A tart of course.

A couple weeks ago, and old high school friend posted pictures of a scrumptious looking tart he made. This got me thinking about all my tart fiascoes. I am decent at pastry related things. Even had a chef telling me I should think about going to school for pastry, back when I was still in the business. I have never had good luck with tarts, I fear the crust, which knows when you fear it.

I also have an obsession with lemon filling. I would eat it by the bowl full if I was allowed to. Again I have a fear of lemon filling, I seem to over/under cook it. I just can’t seem to get it right.

I decided that the best idea for this glorious day was to combine my two fears into one lovely

Nicely carmelized

dessert, to surprise Hayley when she got home. That sounds like a smart idea doesn’t it? In this case it actually was, the tart turned out good, not great, it needs a little tweaking and I did over cook it just a smidgen. BUT it tasted yummy, and the crust is very tasty. This recipe will live to see another round, I am thinking it will be at the family Christmas dinner I am currently planning for the family gathering in Winnipeg, MB this year.

On to the recipe. I grabbed this from Food & Drink, which has a good track record in my books for successful recipes.I actually didn’t change anything on this recipe the first time, because of the aforementioned fear.

Lemon Tart – From the Holiday 1999 Food & Drink magazine

To finish this one off, Hayley made a fresh blackberry sauce, it just added to the yumminess of this one!

What would I change?

  1. Use a little less lemon zest
  2. Add a tiny bit more sugar
  3. Watch the tart a little more closely when it is almost done to make sure I don’t over cook it.

Not many changes, and a successful tart. What cooking fear should I tackle next?

How the Cake Rolls!

Several weeks have passed since it was Hayley’s birthday. To continue with our tradition she dug through the baking recipe books and picked out the cake she wanted. The rule is: she picks the cake, I have to make it, doesn’t matter if I have made it before, or if i am even confident that I can make the cake, I have to make the cake of her choice.

mmmm sponge cake!

This is great for two reasons, one, she gets a fantastic homemade birthday cake, two, I push the limits on my baking skills.

Fluffy batter!

So what was this years choice? It comes from a lovely Williams and Sonoma Cake cookbook, that I wouldn’t normally have picked up, but it was $9 at Costco 🙂 It was a Strawberry Roulade. Which is a fancy way of saying, sponge cake layered with whipped cream and strawberries, then rolled up and iced 🙂

That is neither here nor there, this years choice was much easier in the end than last years choice of Angel Food cake, which tasted good, but was a minor disaster because it fell, that is a whole different post.

Now that I am done rambling about past disasters, I can happily say the only glitch with this cake was that I didn’t roll it tight enough (apparently I haven’t been making Sushi enough at home these days.)

The Final product!

This cake was made extra special as this weekend was the first weekend on the year that fresh Ontario strawberries were available at a reasonable price. So this cake was packed full with delicious local strawberries.

On to the cake. There are two different sets of ingredients/directions, one for the cake, and one for the filling and icing. I recommend being uber prepared and having *all* the ingredients for both measured and read to go as the filling is prepared while the cake is cooling, and you need to fill and roll the cake completely cools.

Sponge Cake recipe (http://wegottaeat.com/discover/recipe/44797)
Strawberry Roulade Recipe (http://wegottaeat.com/discover/recipe/44801)

So, I will definitely try my luck with a roll style cake again, maybe I will make a nice chocolate log for the big family Christmas gathering this year 🙂

And some for you?

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.Since I now have blogging software on my smartphone (which happens to have a camera) I thought that I might try less formal writing on this when I am baking or cooking.

This evening I have a friend coming over for tea and I decided that I definately needed cookies to serve. I wanted something relatively healthy, so oatmeal was a must.

This recipe comes from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I think it turned out quite well. The cookies are small (you could make them bigger) so they are perfect for tea.

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cinnamon
2 eggs ( i used large)
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

1. Cream butter,sugars, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon, until smoothish
2. Add eggs, mix until smooth again
3. Add vanilla, mix until smooth
4. Slowly add flour, in 3 batches, mix until well combined each time
5. Add oats, mix until well mixed
6. Add chocolate chips, mix.

Preheat oven to 375F.
Scoop dough out onto tray with a teaspoon, keep about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until edges are brown.
Cool on tray for 3 – 4 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.