(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.)

Quick breads!  I used to make a lot of quick breads, but I haven’t done one in a while.  So I took the opportunity this month to make two – a Beer Cheese Bread and a Lemon Bread.

They were both simple – mix the dry ingredients, add the wet, pour in a pan, and bake.   I did the beer bread first.

When I used to skydive, the woman who ran the kitchen made amazing beer bread.  It was thick and crusty and always warm.  Every beer bread I’ve had since has been compared to it.

This one had two kinds of cheeses – a sharp cheddar and asiago, plus sautéed green onions.  I put too many onions in it – the recipe called for a cup, but I accidentally grabbed the two cup measure out of the cupboard, and didn’t realize it until I was putting dishes in the dishwasher.  But I like green onions, so we didn’t mind.

Beer Bread 

After baking for an hour:

 Beer Bread

It was really good.  It was even better toasted the next day.  And I expect it will be good again tonight.

Then I made a lemon bread.  This one had lemon zest and lemon juice.  It was supposed to make two loaves, but I only have one small loaf pan, so I made one loaf and baked the other half into muffins.

Lemon Bread

It was also really good, particularly with the Meyer Lemon jam we got on Saturday from Revival Market. I also picked up some smoked lard there, which is going to have to make it’s way into biscuits soon.

I’m going to make one more loaf this month – the America’s Test Kitchen Banana Bread.  It needs very ripe bananas, and they’re still not quite ready, so it’ll wait until later this week.

It was a fun, easy month.  Now I just have to find homes for more of this bread…

( see the recipes )

(The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!)

I was wary of another yeast bread challenge.  The last one didn’t turn out particularly well, but I figured I’d give this a shot. 

Povitica is a yeast bread with a nut filling.  It gets rolled out very thin, the topping goes on top, then it’s rolled up like a jelly roll and folder into a pan for baking.  This recipe makes 4 loves – that’s a lot of nut bread.

The dough gets mixed up and kneaded:

Povitca

Then split into 4 portions to rise. 

Povitca

After an hour and a half of rising, it gets rolled out.  The instructions said "thin enough to read through".  I got pretty close to that.  Having the marble rolling pin really helps – without it, my back would have been killing me by the second loaf.

 Povitca

The filling goes on top:

 Povitca

Then it gets rolled up and goes into pans.  I don’t own four bread pans, so I made do with my clay cooker and some CorningWare:

 Povitca Povitca Povitca Povitca

Then 45 minutes of baking.  I should have been a bit more gentle – in some of the pans, the bread split open.

 Povitca Povitca Povitca

After half an hour of cooling, I had bread:

Povitca

It was really good.  I did three loaves with walnuts, and one with pecans and chocolate.  I haven’t cut into that one yet, but the walnut loaves were great.  We took two loaves to work, and they pretty much disappeared. I’d make it again – only next time, not 4 loaves at a time!

( see the recipe )

(The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!)

Croissants have been on my list of things to try for a long time, ever since I saw Willow Bird Baking’s tutorial.  But I never found the time, until I saw this month’s Daring Baker Challenge. 

Then I found the time.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the process, and I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures.  It can be best summed up as: 

  • Roll
  • Fold
  • Rest
  • Repeat

There’s some mixing at the beginning.  There’s some smashing of butter, too, but mostly, it was rolling and resting.  The whole recipe should have taken 12 hours, but I spread it over three days.  Most of the resting steps could be done either one or two hours at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge. 

After three days of rolling and resting, I had croissants!  They were all supposed to come out as neat triangles, but each half ended up with one oddly-shaped leftover piece.  So I grabbed a few chocolate-chips from the pantry, and stuffed the odd ones with chocolate.

Croissants! Then, 15 minutes of baking and they were done!

Croissants!

They came out really quite good.  They were more dense then they should have been – the first few risings went fine, but I noticed by the end they really weren’t rising much. I  blame the yeast – mine is getting a bit old. I had plenty of layers, and they were nice and buttery – just not very fluffy. 

A few other notes – the marble rolling pin was a great help, and it made the rolling go a lot faster then my old wooden one.  The silicone rolling mat kept the flour mostly-contained for 3 days, and really made the cleanup faster.

I’ll probably give them another shot with fresher yeast.  They really weren’t a whole lot of trouble, and they were quite good.  Now, I just have to find a bread pudding recipe to use up the stale ones…

These aren’t technically baked, I guess, but they’re close enough. 

We like breakfast for dinner, but I’m not a huge fried egg person, and I’m terrible at pancakes for some reason. I never get the temperature right, and they come out either burned or greasy.  So we eat a lot of waffles.

I’ve got a few recipes I like a lot, but this is my favorite.  All the flavors of carrot cake, in a not-terribly-sweet waffle.  And they come together really fast and easy.

Start by grating two cups of carrots (about 6 carrots or so, depending on their size).  I use my food processor to do this fast, but you can do it by hand. 

In one bowl, mix all-purpose and whole-wheat flour (or you can use one or the other, as long as the total comes out to 1 1/4 cups), some finely-chopped walnuts, baking powder, and spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.  I like mine pretty strongly spiced, but you can play with the amounts of the spices until you get it perfect for your taste. 

In a different bowl, mix the brown sugar, buttermilk – I like the full-fat kind, but you can use the low-fat if you feel strongly about it – a bit of oil, vanilla, and 2 eggs. 

Then add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix, then mix in the carrots.  You get something that looks like this:

 Carrot Cake Waffles

It’s easy to get the carrots clumped up, so make sure they’re mixed in well.  Drop onto a greased, preheated waffle iron:

Carrot Cake Waffles

And cook for as long as your waffle iron recommends.  Mine likes 3 1/2 to 4 minutes:

Carrot Cake Waffles

And you have waffles.  They’re good with all sorts of toppings – I like just butter, but they’d be good with whipped cream cheese.  Or put a 1-to-1 ratio of cream cheese and butter in your mixer, and beat until combined, then add in honey and cinnamon to taste.  Maple syrup works well, too, either beaten into butter or on it’s own.

Carrot Cake Waffles

With the carrots and the wheat flour, they’re actually pretty healthy.  And as long as you have a food processor to grate the carrots, mixing them up only takes a few minutes, making them a quick and easy breakfast – or dinner.

( see the recipe )

 

(The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.)

Another month of yeast!  I’m getting pretty good with yeast breads now.  It’s been quite a while since I had one flop, so I make them more often, and practice makes me better.  It’s a delicious cycle.

This was a basic sweet dough – mix the dry ingredients, then melt a stick of butter in warm milk, add it to the dry ingredients, add some eggs, mix, and knead.  The recipe called for 10 minutes of kneading by hand, but I just used my stand mixer.

I found these great containers for letting bread rise:  6-Quart Round Food-Storage Container with Lid.  They come in a pack of two – I gave one to my sister for Christmas with a no-knead bread book, and kept the other. The marks on the side make it easy to tell when dough has doubled.  It went from this:

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

To this, in just over an hour:

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

I didn’t take any meringue pictures, but it was just a very basic meringue – beat (room-temperature) eggs until foamy, then slowly add sugar and beat until shiny, stiff peaks.  The dough is supposed to be rolled out into a rectangle, but I always fail at this, because my doughs never want to roll into rectangles.  Vaguely rectangular blobs, yes, but never rectangles.  I want my superpower to be the ability to point at a blob of dough and say “You!  20×10 rectangle!  Now!” and just have it happen.

Once I got the dough as rectangular as it was going to be, I spread the meringue on top.   There wasn’t enough to spread it very thick – it mostly just acted as glue to hold the rest of the filling.

This was the rest of the filling – a cup of pecans and a cup of good chocolate chips:

 Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

Yes, I was short some pecans and made up for it with some extra chocolate.

The dough gets rolled up, jelly-roll style, and formed into a round.  Mine isn’t even because my dough wasn’t perfectly rectangular, so I had more in the middle then I did on the ends.

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

Let it rise for another hour.  I left it on the counter and went out to dinner.  When it’s done, brush with an egg wash and, bake at 350 for half an hour.

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

Let cool.  Slice and eat, preferably with coffee.

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

It was good.  I didn’t think the meringue added much, but I loved the chocolate and the nuts.  It had just the right sweetness to go with coffee.  I’d probably make it again, maybe with a cinnamon filling and some cinnamon chips instead of the chocolate.

Overall, a fun recipe!  I look forward to next month.

( see the recipe )