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Hey Kids!  Yea, I know it’s been awhile.  I haven’t had a lot to say, perhaps. Have no fears though, I still cook and bake like a fiend, trust me, every glance in my mirror attests to this fact.

This month, however, when I made my pilgrimage to the Daring Baker Forum I was immediately reminded of this guy….

...time to make the donuts!

I figured if he could drag his begrudging butt out of bed daily and make thousands of donuts so could I…well, a small batch at least!

A HUGE Thank You to Lori of “Butter Me Up” for a fantastic challenge, which has brought me out of my hiatus with the DB.

Being that I have been lax with the whole bloggy thing, I feel the need to go slow with getting back in the saddle.  So expect no tome this go ’round nor any outrageous wit just a few pretty pictures and a kick ass recipe!

First Pretty Picture….Glazed Chocolate Cake Doughnuts with Candied Bacon.

The recipe I used was one Lori suggested and can be found here.  I made a couple changes, first I halved the recipe, fifteen doughnuts and fifteen holes would not make my mirror any happier!  I also added 4 TBS. cocoa , 1 TBS. melted butter and omitted the nutmeg.  Being I have never made the recipe before I can’t say my substitutions had any ill effect but I know that I was very pleased with how things worked out.  I did have a little concern the “dough” was too moist but a little time in the fridge to chill and firm it helped in making it very workable.

Before a trip to the fridge...

...out of the fridge, rolled, cut and ready for a hot oil bath...

I managed to get 6 doughnuts and 6 holes out of the halved recipe, which I fried 3 holes at a time and 2 donuts at a time.    After the second batch of holes came out and cooled a bit, I just could not resist a little taste.  Hmmm, I was a little concerned, it seemed as if the dough had soaked up way too much oil.  Fortunately, it was just a case of not letting the oil temp up after the first fry.  I really didn’t think a few degrees off would be a bad thing…it was… 375° all the way kiddos!!

...fry , Baby, fry...

...off to the racks, just call me Torquemada!

glazed, topped and ready to go!

And that my friends was my time in the kitchen for this months Daring Baker Challenge.  Short and oh so sweet!!  Again, big Thank Yous go out to Lori, you brought me back!

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

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Is he MAD???

I am going to make this short and sweet to start, because I truly think I may have lost it!!  As, some of you may know, I have but one kitchen enemy; my attempts to conquer it have resulted in mediocre results, at best.  I have always been told it is best to start with the basics and at the beginning and that is exactly what I thought I had been doing each time I attempted to beat this beast.  Tonight it hit me that perhaps I had the basics but at the beginning was really not where I was starting.  Hmmm…..

So old school it is going to be, way old school, like 1000’s of years old school!!!

For those of you that know where this is headed, wish me well and cross every available appendage you can!!  For those that don’t follow along!!!!  Hopefully, all will be revealed in about a week.

The Basics.

Goin' Old School.

Till Tomorrow.

Chalk one up for the Bear!!!  As you may well know, I spend a bit of time in the kitchen and very few things scare me in there.  I am always game to give new things a try and I usually succeed.  There is one ingredient in the kitchen which has caused me much grief….I have attempted its use numerous times and my success rate is minimal.  In fact my failure rate is so high that I have dubbed myself…..SleepingBear-Killer of Yeast.   Not tonight kiddies!!!

Ray and I were off today and we used it to do a few things around the house, as the day progressed thoughts of dinner came to mind.  Truthfully, I had no plan so it was one of those look in the fridge and see what needs to be used soon kind of days.  The freezer revealed a couple of chicken breasts and the deli drawer contained 3 thick cut slices of applewood smoked bacon and a smallish chunk of cheddar….”yea, what am I going to do with that?”.  Finish up the last of the household chores and think.

The wheels began to turn and bechamel came to mind.  Pasta came to mind.  We are getting there!!  After just a little more thought, I came up with a “white lasagne”.  Dice the bacon, fry it up, slice the breast into thin crosscuts, fry them in the bacon drippings.  Use a couple Tbs. of the bacon drippings as a starter for the roux for the bechamel.  A quick batch of fresh pasta sheets, layer it all with a bit of cheddar and dinner will be served.

As of late Ray has been on a bread baking kick, which he is actually getting pretty good at (unlike moi!) and we have a little less than half a loaf of his bread leftover from the other day.  Homemade bread, unfortunately can get dry rather quickly and this half loaf is currently in the “only good for toast” stage.  I wasn’t getting cleaned up and dressed to run to the store for something to sop up the excess bechamel but I also wanted that exact thing.  What the hell, give the yeast thing another try!   hahahaha

A quick search for a simple and quick breadstick recipe and I was on my way.  The milk and onions were sweating on the stove awaiting to become the sauce.  The chicken was browning wonderfully in the bacon drippings.   The pasta sheets were drying just slightly awaiting to be layered.  And the kitchenaid was kneading the dough for the breadsticks.  Everything was happening at once, not a moment to breathe….one task to the next and then again on to the next.  The breadstick dough is a single rise for approximately 50 mins, so I got the lasagne together, set it aside and then formed the sticks.  Into the oven the lasagne went and onto the counter went the sticks… but will they raise or have I once again killed millons of yeast spores in one fell swoop???

50 minutes later this is what I saw…

Living Yeast at it's best!!!

The lasagne came out of the oven and in went the sticks.  15 minutes of rest for the lasagne and bake time for the sticks and dinner was served!!!

Fresh out of the oven "John didn't kill the yeast" breadsticks.

Dinner is served.

I am a bad, bad, bad Daring Baker…ok, well not really but perhaps a lazy one this month!!!!! Here it is 11 hours into the 29th and I am just starting to write my post…50 lashes with a pizza dough cat o’nine tails!!!!! I would soooo love to say I have been busy beyond belief or that “something came up” but really, no!!!!! I have just been unfocused and LAZY!!!!

This month’s challenge comes to us from Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums, initially she was to be co-host with 2 others, unfortunately though that was not to be. I won’t go into the hows and whys of that, as most of you are already aware… I will say however, her choice to continue forward was a wonderful tribute and provided us all with a great challenge.

And this challenge was what, you wonder? In case you missed the cat o’nine tails reference earlier, it was Pizza or more specifically the dough on which any pizza is built! The recipe comes to us from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread” by Peter Reinhart. All in all it was a rather simple endeavor even though it is a 2 day task, most of that time consisting of proofing and resting. Aside from staying true to the recipe as it was written, our only other requirement was to attempt to photograph the tossing of the dough…now I promise I really did toss the dough and I am not trying to use the old “my dog ate my homework”excuse but……The pizza was served for this month’s game night and my designated photographer was more involved with cocktail hour than me tossing dough!!!! And truthfully, even with a self-timer or remote controlled camera, taking one’s own photo whilst tossing dough really doesn’t work!!!! I did attempt, truly!!!!

With only the 2 above requirements, the rest was a free-for-all…sauces, toppings, sweet or savory and on and on!!!!! I will say this about being unfocused, lazy and writing this 11 plus hours into posting day…Daring Bakers RULE!!!!!! I am reading between my thoughts other’s posts and I am running across some damn HOT pizzas!!!!!!! For instance

Plum, mascarpone and stuessel topping…what else can I say but, “You GO Girl!!!!”

Now, since I have been lazy this month and I have not paid much attention to this here little ole bloggy thingy, I noticed upon starting this that WordPress has a nifty new feature… so to reveal my pizzas for this challenge I am going to attempt a Pizza Personality Poll.

And now for your viewing pleasure a diptych, or in this case…”quad”tych. Which is your Pizza Personality?

What's Your Pizza Personality?

What's Your Pizza Personality?

And now 14 hours into posting day I finish the prose!!! 16 hours into posting day and this one is all done, happy tossing y’all as I am sure we will all give this another go!!!!!

No, I am not burnt!!!!

No, I am not burnt!!!!

“What the Hell?” you ask???? “Did he go and fall asleep with the oven on?”

Not at all kiddies!!!!! First let me say this…I HAVE been sitting on this post way too long! I baked my 3rd go round of the DB danish just a few days past last month’s reveal but I am just gettin’ around to telling ya about it!

Now as you may know, once upon a time I was “afeared” of the old yeast beast… not no mo’!!!!! I am perusing 5 recipes at the moment for some crusty bread I am baking tomorrow, more on that later though! So after reading many many DB blogs and their adventures down the Old Dane trail, something kept gnawing at me. One ingredient that is so often apart of DB challenges made it into the filling on this one but not the dough (at least in the blogs that I managed to get to, if anyone else did the same as I, then all I can say is “Great minds…”) I saw it as a stand-alone filling, I saw it combined with fruit, nuts and various quantities of both but again I didn’t see it in the dough.

“Is there a reason for this absence?”, I asked. “Does this one ingredient have some ill affect on yeast?” I laughed at that one, hell I had been killing yeast for years, whats the worst that adding this could do? But I thought about it and realized I had seen many a yeast product done using this, so it was not harmful to the little buggers.

Well, buckaroos it is summer and I decided it was time to dive into the pool! The chocolate pool, that is!!! Yep you got it, that isn’t a “burnt to a crisp” braid you see up above, that is a Chocolate Braid!

And boy what a Chocolate Braid it was!!!! As for the dough I followed the original DB recipe with only one omission (the cardamom) and one addition (1/3 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa). As for the filling, well that was just an on the fly kinda thing…

  • 3/4 cup fine chopped Hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch salt

I mixed that altogether, mounded it down the center of my dough and braided away! I didn’t do the dual temps called for in the original recipe but just gave it a good 27 mins at 350 and all was well!! Again the topper was a simple powdered sugar glaze but instead of water I used Frangelico!

Frangelico and Coffee the breakfast of Champions! Well, perhaps this one categorizes better as a dessert but a thin slice with a strong French or Italian Roast would definitely send one off to the office with a smile on their face!

Glazed and ready to rumble!!!

Glazed and ready to rumble!!!

Ok, so I am not a food stylist but damn it was good!!!!

Ok, so I am not a food stylist but damn it was good!!!!

I have half of the dough in the freezer and since the oven will be kicking it tomorrow, I think I may just bake it as well. Maybe fill it with marshmallows, graham crackers and dark chocolate…..s’more Danish anyone????