Sometimes you lose track of things. It happens. Car keys, a favorite scarf, your Iphone, maybe a loaf of banana bread. I lose track of many things but they always turn up eventually. Like the aforementioned loaf of banana bread I found, several days after baking, tightly wrapped in a far corner of my kitchen counter. Whoops. Forgot about that one. It had gone a bit stale but with more than half a loaf remaining I was hesitant to toss it. So I thought about other options.
Archive for the ‘breads’ Category
Posted in breads, custards & puddings, fruit desserts, tagged banana bread pudding, banana bread recipes, bananabread pudding, bourbon caramel sauce, new uses for banana bread on March 22, 2013 | 1 Comment »
Breakfast is a challenge for me. “The most important meal of the day” mantra has been drilled into my head but it doesn’t matter. I need an hour or two to fully wake up and get moving before I can eat. At that point, it could be anything. Classic eggs-bacon-toast combos if I have time, a quick bowl of oatmeal, day-old cake or a donut maybe, leftover Chinese food, sometimes just a giant ice tea. I have no regular morning routine besides this: no chocolate. In general, chocolate based breakfasts – besides that leftover cake of course – are not my thing. It just seems weird.
Posted in adventures/field trips, breads, breakfast items, pastry, travel, tagged cardamom, cardamom buns, swedish baking, Swedish cardamom custard buns, swedish pastries on January 9, 2013 | 7 Comments »
I’ve always wanted to visit Scandinavia. I knew I’d get there at some point, the opportunity just hadn’t presented itself. Yet. Then during a trip to Napa Valley last June, there is was, right in front of me. After many, many glasses of wine my friend Rachel leaned across the bar and said “Kathy, you have to come to the wedding.” “Of course!” I replied, “I’m game for a road trip to Iowa!” She looked at me, dead serious, and said “No, it’s in Sweden. On Thanksgiving.” “Wait …what?” “Yep, Sweden. In the town my mother grew up in. Höör.” And that my friends, is how I came to find myself in Sweden, in late November, in a curiously named town, in a tiny country church built in 1727 witnessing two friends tie the knot and enjoying a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner at the reception. You can’t make this stuff up.
I spent my first weekend in France baking bread, which was fitting. I was surrounded by freshly harvested fields of wheat, as well endless vistas of fruit trees, corn, sunflowers and vegetable farms as far as the eye can see. It’s a stunning part of the country and it makes me want to bake. My friend Kate had scheduled a bread workshop for a few students with the esteemed Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, instructor at The School of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire, England. Emmanuel (or Em, as we would call him), his young son Noah and a colleague, David showed a group of us the finer points of making, kneading and baking the staff of life. I was especially looking forward to working with levains or natural starters.
In the last post, I told you all about my obsession with butter which resulted in actually making my own butter. It really is very easy and you may have already done it by accident without realizing it. Whip cream until it separates and there you go. The byproduct of the process is of course the liquid that separates out from the solids: buttermilk. While my freshly made golden butter was chilling, I decided to take that beautiful buttermilk and make some biscuits. Oh hell yes. When I’m in, I’m ALL in.
I’ve made butter exactly twice in my life and only once intentionally. The first time, my 3rd grade teacher poured some cream into baby food jars and told us to shake them. After what seems like hours and much whining about tired arms, we took off the lids and found solid yellow clumps floating in a milky liquid. How’d that happen? We combined all our clumps and spread them onto saltines. We quietly crunched away, our eyes wide in disbelief. We made butter. It was mind-blowing and I was absolutely delighted. The second time I made butter, I was in culinary school doing what I continue to do even to this day – too much at once. In the time it took me to walk to the cooler and back, the cream meant for a cake was beyond overwhipped. I was not delighted in the least.
My Grandma Claire had a tradition. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, she’d round up her various girlfriends and head into the city to hit the big sales. I’m pretty sure this was before the retail world had deemed the day “Black Friday.” For her, it was the best day of the year. She’d wander about Neiman Marcus and visit Tony, her favorite salesman, at the cosmetic counter. He’d fuss and fawn, stuffing her purse with perfume samples, making her over with the latest shades. She loved the attention and for Christmas we would all receive the latest Obsession perfume gift box or Estee Lauder eye shadow kit. For lunch, it was always the store restaurant, The Zodiac. And it was always about the popovers with strawberry butter.
Last year, an interesting book and I crossed paths. I put it down and picked it back up, again and again. I was intrigued. My cookbook collection is housed on multiple bookshelves in the dining room, with an occasional pile in the family room but eventually those too make their way to the shelves. Eventually. Except for this one. It has lived under my coffee table for over a year, within easy reach from the couch where I do a lot of my work. The book? Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole Grain Flours by Kim Boyce. First out of the gate was a fantastic Whole Wheat Chocolate Cookie that completely changed my perception of whole grain baking. I never, and I mean never, thought a cookie containing 100% whole wheat flour would be that delicious. There was nothing hippie dippy about them whatsoever.
Did you know it was National Marmalade Week? Neither did I yet there it was, an email informing me of this momentous occasion right in my inbox. It was a strange coincidence too because I made two recipes containing orange marmalade just that morning. Serendipitous? I think so. Had I known such an event was upon us, I would have posted sooner but I don’t need a so-called “National” occasion to celebrate marmalade. It’s one of my favorite things so I guess you could say every week is Marmalade Week in my house. Yes, things just as exciting as you always suspected.
Jim Lahey is a genius. What? You don’t know who he is? You should. The man has single handedly revolutionized home bread baking with a ground breaking no-knead method. Yes, I know this no-knead bread thing has been around for a few years and is all over the internet with 8 million bloggers posting photos of their picture perfect loaves. Mark Bittman made it a sensation when he published his New York Times article in 2006. People have been oohing and aahing the standard boule baked in a Dutch oven ever since. For a ridiculously simple dough, it is a beauty. But there are other loaves, more interesting loaves, in my opinion than just this one.