Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My First Macaroon!

I would love to say that I skipped ahead multiple chapters in my baking text book and tackled Macaroons; but that would be a lie. I looked at the macaroon recipe in the CIA text and there was little more than a list of ingredients and some abbreviated instructions.

From what I know of making Macaroons, it's a complicated and delicate process. How else would we wind up with these lovely little footed cookie looking things? So, I visited Heather's blog and found a recipe for French Macaroons. Oh Heather, what would I do without you? I promise...I'm going to buy your cookbook soon!!

It was an interesting afternoon as my husband was wiring up a light switch a few feet from where I was working in the kitchen. I tend to be a solitary creature in the kitchen and seldom have to contend with someone in "my space"; so a few of my photos have some tools in the background.

With the whirring sound coming from my stand mixer and the grinding of my husband's oscillating saw I whipped up some lovely egg whites and sugar;


The folding was fun! I've never been a confident 'folder', but Heather's instructions were helpful! Once I got my batter all set, I tinted it pink (naturally) and piped my little blobs out.
I will admit, I was scared. Scared that I wouldn't get the coveted "feet" on my macaroons. I think I stopped back and stared at my oven more than a few times. When I turned my baking sheet halfway through the baking process, I noticed that I was actually getting some lovely little ruffles at the base of my macaroons!
Once baking had completed, this is what I had:
I whipped up a simple butter cream, substituting my normal vanilla extract for some almond extract I picked up from the Penzeys store in Delafield. It was yummy!
They were a hit! When I brought some over to my sister, she practically ran out of her room when she heard the word Macaroon! My son was a big fan too, he polished off three!

I think now that I've attacked cheesecake, bread and macaroons I'm off to a great start! I've been finding that you just need to get out there and try a new recipe, you might be pleasantly surprised with what you can do!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rhapsody in Rye

I'm back in the kitchen, and have returned with a triumphant tale of bread making!

My next recipe to tackle contained a new flour that I've yet to deal with...rye flour. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Cheddar and Onion Rye Dough!

This recipe will yield 2 round loaves:

Bread Flour 15.25oz
Rye Flour 4.75oz
Instant Dry Yeast 3.5g
Water 14.25 fl oz
Salt 0.5oz
Sugar 10.75g
Molasses, Unsulfured 10.75g
Vegetable Oil 10.75g
Cheddar Cheese, Shredded 4oz
Yellow Onions, Medium Dice 4oz

This recipe begins as most bread recipes do. We mix the flours and yeast in one bowl and the water, salt, sugar, molasses in the mixer bowl. Add the flour/yeast mix to the mixing bowl and mix on slow, with the dough hook attachment for 4 minutes. Once 4 minutes have passed, crank it up to medium for another 4 minutes before adding the onions and cheese. Mix on low for another 2 minutes and...Voila! We have made dough!

I will give you a warning, the dough gets really sticky once the cheese and onions are added in. There is a lot of moisture in onions and you wont have your usual firm ball of dough.

We allow the dough to rise (covered with a little plastic wrap) for about 45 minutes.

Once the rising period has completed, it's time to give our lovely dough a nice, gentle fold in the bowl (careful, we're getting into some very sticky territory), before turning the dough (or dumping and scraping in my case) onto the work surface, dusted with some bread flour.

It is now time to commence preshaping. I divided the dough wad in half and preshaped into two large rounds (see Lean Dough Take II for preshaping instructions). Once preshaped, allow the dough to rest, covered, for about 15 to 20 minutes.

I know what you're thinking...nice huh?
This recipe was actually meant to be rolls, but I was really in the mood for a few actual rustic looking loaves of bread, so I hearkened back to my first successful bread recipe (Lean Dough Take II) and decided to make two boules of bread instead!
Now that my lovely lady lumps of dough have rested, it's time to shape up to bake! I reformed the balls into new balls (or boules) and let them proof, covered, in a warmed (then switched off) oven for about 45 minutes, while I preheated my other oven to 425 degrees.

As you can see, the dough grew substantially during the final proofing! You'll want your dough to spring back halfway, slowly, to the touch but not collapse!
You should score your boules before throwing them into the oven, but I'll admit, I forgot. Not to worry, as the bread came out great! About 15-20 minutes in the oven and I wound up with this:
You'll know that your bread is done when you thump the loaf on the bottom and hear a hollow sound. Be sure to donn an oven mitt...or risk burning your paws!
This bread has replaced my Challah as my finest baking trial to date! It was so moist and yummy! Even if you're not a cheese or onion fan, I think you'd like this! The cheese is very understated and the onions seem to make the bread all the more moist! It received high marks around here, and with my extended family across the street!
For my next trick...I've been obsessing in the back of my mind with making macaroons lately! I think they're so pretty and would be a fun addition to my son's upcoming birthday celebration! It would be skipping forward quite a bit in my text book, but what the hell! I think I'm up for the challenge!
Happy Baking!