27 April 2009

Pretzels that failed

I tried my hand at pretzels on Easter Monday and I think I failed. The recipe is the original Daring Bakers pretzel recipe and mine came out nothing like everyone elses.

No crusty brown tops or intricate weaves of goodness.

Instead I ended up with incredibly yummy, butter drenched rolls.

What have I done??!!

This the recipe I used:

Hot Buttered Pretzels

Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion.

For the dough:

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 package (2-1/4 tsp.) instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (you may need a little more)

For the pretzel topping:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  1. Combine all the dough ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. Work the ingredients together until you can form a ball. If the dough is very dry, add a bit more warm water until it comes together. The dough will look messy, but don’t worry about it.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading by pushing the dough away with the heel of your hand, and then folding it back in onto itself. Push the dough away again and then fold back in. Continue this motion, working the dough until it’s smooth. This should take anywhere from 8 to 10 minutes. (Alternatively, you can knead the dough in a mixer with your dough hook for 5 to 6 minutes).
  3. Once the dough is done, sprinkle some flour on the dough and put it in a large, oiled bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes to an hour. It will rise considerably.
  4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and set aside.
  6. Divide your dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a long rope that’s roughly 24 inches in length. (Don’t make it too long or your pretzels will be too thin.)

  7. Taking hold of the ends of the rope, cross the rope over itself to form a circle with about 4 to 5 inches on each end that are sticking out. Twist the ends over themselves and secure each end on either side of the pretzel.
  8. Carefully dip the pretzel in the water and then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.
  9. Sprinkle the pretzels with the kosher salt and let them rest for about 15 minutes.
  10. Put the pretzels in the oven for 6 minutes, then rotate the trays and bake for an additional 6 minutes. Keep an eye on the pretzels so that they don’t burn.
  11. Remove the pretzels from the oven and immediately brush them with the butter. Keep brushing them with butter until you’ve used it all.
  12. Serve the pretzels warm with plenty of mustard or another condiment of your choice.
  13. Enjoy!

I'm currently deciding which logo to use on the site. So be prepared for random images

How to add zest to your life

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

That's right its Daring Bakers time again!!! This month was cheesecake. Oh how I lurve cheesecake. My only issue is that it is too rich for me
to consume it in the quantities that make my taste buds sing. We were allowed to flavour it however we wanted provided it was still cheesecake. You'll find the recipe below as well as my adaptations. This months target audience were Choristers. We spent Easter Sunday watching movies, eating a fantastic roast veal lunch (direct from the farmers market) and devouring this gooey lime cheesecake with a chocolate crust. It took 2 days to eat and was well worth the urge to hurl (yes, I ate that much of it and no, I did not hurl. the 4kgs I put on that weekend can attest to it.)
The only thing I would do differently would be to alter the cooking time. Mine was still runny in the middle. I think if I raise the temp to 200C and keep the time the same it should fair better.
My kitchen now owns a new scan pan 32cm (read gigantic and just fits into my oven) pot for waterbath and a new 9 inch springform tin to match. It fills a 9inch perfectly too.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs (digestive biscuits work just as well)
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup cocoa (add in with crumbs)

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

Replace last three wth the following

zest of 3 limes

juice of 2

2Tbsp lemoncello

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

18 April 2009

Excuse me whilst I drown until a pile of work

I've become a very bad blogger.

It's been almost 2 months since I got back and all I have to show for it is that one measly post. Anyone would think that I've been incredibly unproductive. Well I haven't. Since I've been back I've done quite a bit of baking/cooking. Unfortunately there are no photos to show for it so you'll have to deal with descriptions instead.

The list so far

- Daring Bakers Valentino Cake flavoured with blood oranges
- Gluten Free Chocolate Raspberry Marbled Mud Cake (still needs tweaking)
- uber mac and cheese (realising that my cheese sauce always splits and I never know why)
- This months Daring Bakers challenge
- Coconut and Lemon Chiffon Cake (have I mentioned how much I lurve chiffon cake?!)
- uber mashed potato (add caramelised onion and fresh tomato and I'm in heaven
- Easter Sunday lunch roast veal Om nom nom nom nom nom
- Pretzels (they didn't brown at all but still tasted good)

To come

- This months Daring Cooks challenge
- last months daring bakers challenge (I really need to make the lasagna!)
- the oatmeal raisin cookies from Baked
- beef/lamb stew

and soo much more.

The chiffon cake is currently in the fridge getting nice and cold so when I slather it with coconut cream I don't end up with crumbs in my crust. Then again it would serve me right considering I hopped in the shower and forgot it was in the oven. Luckily I remembered just as the shampoo washed out so I was able to jump out, rescue it from the oven and jump back into the shower :D

below are more photos of my trip.