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So the Daring Bakers put an end to May and the Opera cake, and as always there were a few days of anticipation for the upcoming challenge. What can it be? What will June hold? For those not in the know, the suspense between one month’s reveal and the next month’s challenge post is truly “Hitchcockian”. Finally, “the drumroll please”….

Courtesy of Kelly and Ben, Danish a ‘la laminated yeast dough…immediately my response was “Oh SHIT!!!!”. Ya see, I am an Italian with a mutant bread gene, unlike my fore “fathers and mothers” yeast does not flourish in my presence!!! Ciabatta, foccaccia and plain ole white bread are not items that roll out of my kitchen in abundance. Hell, I have been known to screw up those frozen, thaw, raise and bake bread doughs!!!! So kids…..I was SKEERED!!!

I read and reread…”what am I gonna do?”. Some more reading…..”laminating I can do, I’ve done puff in the past, this is the same”, all but the damn yeast, that is!!! Reread a final time…what are my options?

  • Hit the lottery and hire a personal chef to do the deed!
  • Claim employ by the CIA and that there is a covert mission I am involved in and that I must bow out of this month’s challenge.
  • Bite the freakin’ bullet and tame the yeastie beastie!

I am still po’ and I am sure as hell not Maxwell Smart, so I guess it’s biting the bullet. So on with the show and what a three ring circus it was!!!

There was not much to think about with this challenge (aside from how to not kill yeast), fillings came quickly and I decided on no added creativity, make a braid and get it to rise!! End of story, NOT!!

So in my travels through DBerdom, I have met some really interesting, talented and downright funny folks. As luck would have it, a group of them were having a sunday morning chat/bakefest and they invited me along. Yeehaw, maybe I can get some yeast pointers. Well, the evening before I made my dough and did my turns, I figured I would have just the proofing and baking stages to deal with during our chat session and I could get some good tutoring. That morn, I awoke earlier than expected, so I took one step more off my list and rolled, cut, filled and braided my dough, all that much more time to absorb the wealth of knowledge coming my way.

9 am est, finally chat/bakefest time!!!!! The conference began and the greetings flew, a joke or two and then….here comes the knowledge!!!! Well, I learned alot that morn…especially that a party hat emoticon on Skype is actually very pornographic!! Now really, it wasn’t all bad and bawdy, just 95% of it was!!!

The remaining 5% of the time, however, I learned a couple very important things…

PATIENCE!!

BREAD MACHINE YEAST!!!

While I learned these 2 very important things and while the bawdiness was ensuing, my neatly braided dough SAT there!! More chat and more bawdiness and still my dough just SAT!! I was losing hope!! “No no no, all is well” were the many replies to my chagrin. An hour past the recommended proof time my dough was still sitting, proud as a peacock it SAT!!! Finally, to all I proclaimed, “my braid is rising slower than a 60 year old whose Viagra script ran out last week!”. Oh it was funny, flippin hilarious as a matter of fact! Still Mary, the voice of hope and all that is yeast, encouraged me to have patience and faith, it is as it should be. She actually got me thinking, all was well!!! So in the oven it went, 25 or so minutes later it emerged, neatly braided, slightly darker than I wanted (personally it is my thought that the yolks in the wash added this color, I tend to only use the white and a little water in my eggwash)but all in all it was very visually appealing. A little after noon I ended my session, I had grass to cut and a yard needing tending (BTW, Did I mention that it was 90 degrees and about 300% humidity at 9 am, so imagine the temp at high noon). After the yard was dealt with and I had cooled down, I went to check on my braid, it too had cooled. I drizzled it with a simple powdered sugar glaze and it was pretty, although something kept telling me things were amiss.

I sent out a “Thanks for Having me” email to all the morning chatters and hint of my suspicions that the braid had failed. Again, “no no no, all is well”, “we want pictures” and most of all “patience”. Finally, time to cut, uh huh it did raise a bit…it actually had a great taste but was much more dense than the flaky pastry I was anticipating. An end to the June Challenge, or so I thought….

Now, it is not as if I lost sleep at night over this but I kept thinking laminated dough is to be flaky and tender, I had dense! Tasty but DENSE!!! OK, so perhaps that is this particular dough, seems I wasn’t the only one in the group with similar results. The last straw was an email that went something like this, “am I always the oddball in the group, my danish was flaky”, so off to the kitchen I went. The only differences in batches were the weather on the first attempt (oppressive heat/humidity) and I didn’t add any additional flour to the 2nd batch (the first needed a bit more than called for), all else was the same. So once again I rolled, folded, chilled and so on and so on! And what did I get…….?

Two, beautiful, flaky, tender laminated yeast dough Danish Braids!!!!

So, lessons learned once again…

Bread Machine yeast- It’s pretty damned hard to kill. Although in my first batch of dough I used the active dry called for, even though I didn’t really kill it, I did manage to severely maim it.

Patience- Not only in waiting for a dough to rise but also patience in perhaps having to do it a few times more before one gets it correct.

And one thing I wasn’t told of that day but I certainly learned from it…When one gives guidance and encouragement it most definitely has the power to inspire another to overcome whatever it is that is before them.

Thanks Mary, I haven’t beaten the yeastie beastie but I got the lasso ’round its neck and I plan on reigning it in real soon!!!!

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OK, so this is way past due!!!!! Ryen’s Birthday was weeks ago, June 6th to be exact!!! A friend, Amanda, asked me to do a birthday cake for one of her college friends, a group of them were getting together for a Sex in the City premier weekend and it happened to coincide with Ryen’s birthday. Well, I know nothing about the show as I have never seen one episode but a bit of research and shoes, purses and huge flowers seemed to be the way to go!!!

After a couple days of brainstorming I finally started to bake and assemble the fondant coated components. As per my usual, the part I thought was going to be easy, the purse and the part I feared, the shoe surprised me totally and swapped places. Coating the shoe in fondant took under 30 mins, the purse damn near 2 hours!!!! But then that is my life, never as expected.

Unfortunately, the same happened for the weekend get together. Ryen, a sufferer of lupus, had a flair and was unable to fly in. She had hoped that she would be able to get back to feeling well enough but it just didn’t happen. So in true Sex in the City style, the other girls donned their pumps and celebrated Ryen!! After a night of celebration, the girls returned home for nightcaps, cake and of course a chorus of Happy Birthday Ryen!

Sans Candles but all for You, Ryen!!

Happy Birthday Ryan

Here is a shot of the finished components

before their trip to Amanda’s place.

In progree

And for those of you that need to know, it was a red velvet cake, soaked in a blackberry/raspberry rum sauce (also what is in the martini glass) and covered in a dark chocolate buttercream. The fondant is a marshmallow fondant.

As for the Post Title…Well if you weren’t there then no explanation would even make sense!! Sorry , but that’s the best I can give ya!!

It is said the journey is often better than the destination.

The destination here being a wonderful sunday evening meal of…

Garden Salad w/Olive Oil and Lemon
Chicken Piccata Ravioli
ButterHorn Garlic Knots

Dinner Done Done

The salad of course was a simple endeavor, garden greens tossed with a light lemon and olive oil vineagrette. The ravioli were a take on classic chicken piccatta, instead of scallopine of chicken, I made a filling of two ground breasts (chicken of course), sauted ’em up in a little O.O., added a touch of lemon zest and grated Parmigiano. Then onto total psychosis, I have made homemade pasta quite a few times but this time I decided, “let’s do it Nona’s way” hand rolled, no pasta roller. FEH!!!! How those ladies did it, I’ll never know! I rolled, I sweated and then I rolled some more, I was rather pleased as I could actually make out the grain in the counter under the sheets of pasta. That being said, it was quite tasty in the end, however it was a far cry from Nona’s micron thick angel hair!!!

“What?” you ask would inspire such madness…

The Bakeanistas

and their quest for the Ultimate Garlic Knot recipe. A garlic knot is pretty easy to explain, a yeast dough, formed into a rope, tied into a knot, baked and then SLATHERED in garlic butter.

A Bakeanista however is a little more difficult to pin down. I believe the text book definition is a small collective of friends and online buddies that get together to bake and chat…

Kinda like a 1950’s “Coffee Klutch” updated for the 21st century via Cyber Space.

You may ask, “how much can y’all chat about baking?’… well I have only been around for 2 scheduled bakefests and one or two impromptu chats and I would have to say… not alot!!! Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of good info discussed but this group gets onto topics that would make Sophie Tucker blush!!!

Boy Toys and Penises and Breasts, Oh My!!!!

Hint Hint: Check out the title of the post again!!

OK, so onto the meat (or in this case dough) of the matter, it all started when Lis and Mary were discussing garlic rolls. Now this is a bit of a “which came first, the chicken or the egg situation here…

Lis has a restaurant close to her with SUCKY food but great garlic rolls

and

Mary found a great recipe for garlic rolls from King Arthur Flour.

And thus our bakefest for June was born!!

10:30 am, a bit late, I joined the baking and bawdy chat.

We had a choice between two rolls, the King Arthur or ButterHorn versions…

Both recipes, as well as my pasta and piccatta recipes can be found here.

I went with the ButterHorn version, as I am but a novice in the ways of yeast and the KA version had some ingredients I don’t have readily at hand. Altho, with two yeast victories under my belt, this one and one you will hear of soon enough, I fully intend to give the KA version a go!!! The day had quite alot of things going on, so I was back and forth with chat, kitchen duty and life in general but what it ultimately produced was pretty damned good!!

And now my “tassleless” garlic knots!

No Yeastie Beastie gonna scare me no mo\'!!!!

After Ray and I sat down to dinner and cleaned up, I went back to see who if anyone was still hanging on. Damn near 8.5 hours later from original sign on, the free for all was still in full swing.

Last I recall there was some talk of penis turds or turd penises (or would that be penii?)

And that is but a glimpse into the great journey that ended in a Fantabulous Sunday dinner!!!

And with a Herald of trumpets here they be…

The Bakeanistas

Ben

Christina

Helen

Ivonne

Kelly

Laura

Lis

Marcela

Mary

Sara

Stephanie

Tanna

and Myself