Thursday, December 27, 2012

TWD: Finnish Pulla and other Christmas baking

I'm quite late writing this post but lots of baking has been taking place! About a week in advance of the holidays, I prepared almond paste from scratch.  I found how to make the paste in Joy of Cooking and cut the recipe in half.  Very easy to make and much better than buying. 

Almond Paste

Place in food processor:
1 1/2 cups of whole blanched almonds
3/4 cup of powdered sugar
1/2 of granulated sugar

Process until finely ground. Add in:

1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Pulse until it comes together. Use a tablespoon of water if you need it to bring together. This can be stored in the refrigerator covered in plastic wrap and in a container for a month.

The dough was wonderful to work with.  


When making the braids, I sliced three of them open and added the almond paste

These breads came out so beautiful.  We ate the breads on Christmas Day morning.  We sliced and toasted.  The cardamon is there but very subtle. I would make this bread again, easier than making brioche and just as delicious.

About a week before the holidays as I was looking at Serious Eats (, I saw this recipe for Earl Grey Tea cookies.

So easy.  I highly recommend. The cookies melt in your mouth and at first they taste like a wonderfully perfect butter cookie. And then the floral aroma of the bergamot comes through.

My mother-in-law Ginny made these tasty sweet spicy pecans.  So addictive, when you start eating, you can't stop.

For breakfast on Christmas Eve morning I made Buttermilk Crumb Muffins.  These became a breakfast favorite since we baked a couple of months ago through TWD.

In only a month or so, we'll be coming up on the first full year of participating in this group.  This has been such a wonderful experience that I'm looking forward to continuing.   

Thanks again for understanding the delay in my posting this time. Happy New Year's to everyone.  Here's to baking in 2013.

Broad Brook Baker

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

TWD Gingerbread Baby Cakes

I have to say this one through me for a loop.  I love espresso, molasses and ginger.  Coffee is, next to my family and friends, the reason I wake up in the morning.  My husband and I grind our own beans and have a fancy coffee maker that dispenses my 12 oz cup of love each and every day.  Around the holidays especially, molasses ginger cookies are my go-to cookie.  That's saying a lot because I love cookies.  I enjoyed making this recipe as I have now for close to a year with all of the recipes..... ok, I'm getting the punchline.....  

I hated the taste of this gingerbread!

I only had one and one-half cups of molasses so I put in half a cup of honey.  

Instead of baby cake pans I used a large cupcake pan and was able to make nine gingerbreads.

I placed parchment on the bottom of each cupcake cup and they came out beautifully. The gingerbread came out moist.  That was about it for me in terms of success. 

Over the last three days, I've managed to eat about one of the cakes.  I was determined to figure out what was wrong here for me; my assessment: the instant espresso.  For some reason, perhaps the brand of instant espresso, when I bite into my gingerbread all I taste is espresso. Even worse is that the grains of instant coffee did not fully dissolve in the cake so the espresso flavor lingers in my mouth for like, forever. No really, I just had another piece of left over Halloween candy to get the taste out of my mouth and it is still there.    Not at all appealing, very bitter and no other flavor comes through.

Sarah and I are putting all of our December hopes on the Finnish Pulla.  I'm sure it won't disappoint.


Broad Brook Bakers

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

TWD: Best Ever Brownies

We started out with fine Guittard chocolate. I used some of the chocolate from the first recipe (the chocolate truffle tartlets from back in February.)

Lots of sugar. It does call for unsweetened chocolate so you have to make it sweet.

Lots of butter.  The chocolate smelled so good as it was being melted.  

Sarah had her first sleep over the night before, one of her neighborhood friends.  The two of them helped me put these together.

The eggs were somewhat of a challenge to fold into the chocolate.  

The recipe was very forgiving; I was not very gentle in my folding technique.

I had to try them (almost) right out of the oven.  The inside was like chocolate lava cake - gooey, wonderful....

I cut the brownies in small rectangles and shared with the neighbors.  These are rich and delicious.  Brownies from a box have their place but if you want - decadence -  here it is.

The next day we heated the brownies up in the microwave for 20 seconds and had ice cream on the side - I paired it with coffee.  Not a dessert I could eat every day but a real treat. If making specifically for kids, I would use less "sophisticated" chocolate.  The younger folks liked these but for my daughter in particular, these were almost too rich.

Happy Thanksgiving my fellow Tuesdays with Dorie friends!

 - Broad Brook Bakers

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

TWD: Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

When Nathan was three years old he absolutely went crazy over the blueberry muffins shown on the next page of this recipe in Baking with Julia.  But for the past few years, Nathan has turned his nose up at them and has kept asking for a simple cinnamon muffin.  These muffins were exactly what he wanted and he loved them. Simply wonderful, these muffins.


We added a teaspoon of vanilla to the batter but other than that we kept to the recipe.  

We didn't add an overabundance of the crumb topping because we didn't want them to be too sweet. 

Sarah liked the muffin top the best; she thought that it tasted like a cookie. I'm thinking that a future Rewind might be buttermilk crumb muffin tops, I have one of those top only pans.

As I ate my muffin on this quiet Sunday morning, in the back of my mind was a familiar taste, memory and texture.  My husband remarked that he too had this same feeling and was it perhaps that they tasted - in a much more grown-up way - like Hostess brand Cinnamon Crumb Cakes. I begrudgingly agreed that he was onto something. Upon further thought, how wonderful to be able to remember a childhood food memory by tasting a grown-up version that has only improved on the memory of the original.

Broad Brook Bakers 

Friday, November 2, 2012

TWD: Rewind.....Sticky Buns and Popovers

I froze half of the brioche dough from back in May when we made the Pecan Sticky Buns. We loved this breakfast treat so much that I could hardly contain my excitement at the possibility of these flaky wonderfully gooey buns. I woke up earlier than usual to start the rising. 

I removed the dough from the freezer and performed the suggested steps.  Unfortunately, this brioche dough did not rise properly (even with additional time) or retain it's flaky texture when baked.  I take full responsibility for the fair result.  The recipe states that the dough can be kept in the freezer for up to one month.  Next time I will heed those instructions!

Hot out of the oven the buns were still pretty good.  But again did lack a good number of those flaky layers that were evident on the first go-round back in May.


We could not help ourselves but to whip up a batch of the perfect popover recipe from Baking with Julia.  Always a success and never any left...


Broad Brook Bakers

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

TWD: Bagels

Knowing that this past weekend was going to be a busy one, Sarah and I worked on the dough for the bagels on Thursday evening.  There was plenty of time to rise for the one hour and then I placed into the refrigerator for it's two and a half day rest.

We bought high-gluten flour from King Arthur Flour. We didn't add the pepper to the dough because I was thinking we might make a few cinnamon ones, which we did end of doing.

As with every yeast bread, I had to stop Sarah from pinching too many bites of the dough.

First rise at room temperature.

The dough rose substantially in the refrigerator by the time we were ready for the second half of the project on Sunday.  The dough had a wonderful texture and was easy to work with.  The first batch, Sarah and I shaped into the rings and the second batch we had help from two of our wonderful neighbor friends.

Boiling was the most fun.  So easy! And they really expanded in the water.

Sarah's friend, La'Shion helped sprinkle the poppy seeds on some of the bagels.

Baked, yummy, chewy goodness.

I sliced up a few and we ate right away.

The next day we sliced some up and ate out of the toaster.  

I think bagels are well-worth the time spent to make home-made.  I strongly suggested others to splurge on the high-gluten flour. Not sure if I can eat a Dunkin Donuts bagel ever again.  Simply not worth the calories in comparison to this recipe.

Look out for our re-wind recipe near Halloween.

Until next time,

Broad Brook Bakers

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

TWD: Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaves

My husband was a full-fledged Broad Brook Baker for this recipe.  He procured the mini loaf pans at the King Arthur on-line store and saw to it that the loaves went in and out of the oven before our son's travel soccer game. Tuesdays with Dorie has become a wonderful family affair.  His assistance on this go around made a lot of sense because this combination of flavors is one of his favorites.

Sarah did the stirring.  Loves this job.

Cranberries are beautiful fruit.  The ones I bought were incredibly tangy and tart; this is the way Jason loves them!

The description that the bread would be somewhat like a brioche was very accurate.  The texture was wonderful and you could easily pick up the hint of pumpkin.

This bread is jammed packed with fruit and nuts.

It took almost 3 hours to get to the proper temperature for the second rise.

I ended up dividing the bread into four and they still rose great.

I love the mini loaves; they are just so darn cute.

I had some out of the oven but I very much preferred toasted the next day.  I froze a couple of the loaves and will enjoy all throughout October. I loved this combination of flavors but I want to try and make this same bread to make a pumpkin cinnamon swirl version.  I've almost made up my mind that this will be my end of October rewind recipe.

Until bagels....Broad Brook Bakers signing off.