Saturday, April 10, 2021

Almond Croissants the Easy Way





After discovering how easy it is to make almond brioche, I decided to use the almond cream on some Sam's Club croissants to create some almond croissants. I can't even tell you how amazing these things are. Sweet, buttery, crispy, soft, decadently delicious. The fact that they are so easy makes them dangerous to anyone trying to eat healthy. Just so you know.

Give these a try. If you like almond croissants at all, you'll thank me.

Almond Croissants
--Adapted from Oh Crumb!

Ingredients:
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup almond flour (from blanched almonds)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 7 large croissants
  • 1 cup (approx) sliced almonds, toasted
  • powdered sugar
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix the butter with the white sugar and brown sugar until smooth.
  • Add the almond flour and mix until incorporated.
  • Add cornstarch and flour and mix until incorporated.
  • Add egg and almond and vanilla extracts and mix on medium speed until completely incorporated.
  • Slice each croissant in half horizontally.
  • Spread about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of the almond cream onto the bottom half of a croissant, close the croissant, and then spread another 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of almond cream all over the top of the croissant. Repeat with remaining croissants.
  • Press about 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds evenly on the top of each croissant and press lightly so almonds stick.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until almond cream is bubbled is starting to brown along with the sliced almonds.
  • Slide parchment onto a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before sprinkling with some powdered sugar.
  • Tastes best after cooled to room temperature.
  • Refrigerate any leftover almond cream and seal leftovers in an airtight container or zip top bag.
Makes 7 croissants



Finished almond cream










Bagels






Bagels
    Adapted from kingarthrurflour.com

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups King Arthur Bread Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 scant tablespoon instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon non-diastatic malt powder
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon oil
  • toppings like sesame seeds or everything bagel seasoning

Water bath:

Instructions:

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, and malt powder. Add the 1 1/3 cups water and stir until you get a relatively cohesive ball of dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 8-15 minutes). Grease a clean large bowl, form dough into a ball and roll around to lightly coat with the oil. Cover bowl and allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until puffed, but not necessarily doubled. You can also place it in the refrigerator and let it rise overnight. The overnight rise is supposed to develop more flavor, but since I like mine with the everything bagel seasoning, it's the texture of the bagel that I focus on.
  • When dough had risen sufficiently, put the water, 2 tablespoons malt powder, and sugar in a large wide-rimmed pot (like a Dutch oven), and place pot over medium to medium-high heat until water comes to a gentle boil. Also preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Turn dough out onto work surface, flatten, and cut into 8 equal wedges. I like to shape dough into tight balls, let them rest a bit, and then I poke a hole in the center and swing it around my finger to widen the hole. Other people form each piece of dough into a rope and then join the ends. (Here is a video that shows and explains each method.) Place shaped bagels into the parchment-lined baking sheet. Then cover with plastic and allow to rest for about 15 minutes (if room temp) or 30 minutes (if dough had been refrigerated).
  • Place 2-3 bagels in the boiling water at a time and boil each side for 30-60 seconds. Carefully remove boiled bagels to the parchment-lined baking sheet. (I like to use a slotted spatula and I use a clean folded dish cloth under the spatula because the bagels get slippery.) While bagels are still wet from boiling, sprinkle with toppings, if desired.
  • Bake bagels at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes or until puffed and browned. Remove bagels to a wire cooling rack to cool. Enjoy when bagels are at a temperature you like. Place uneaten bagels in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze.

Makes 8 bagels


Dough kneaded and set to rise

Bagels formed with rope method

Bagels formed from a ball of dough

Everything bagel formed with rope method

Everything bagel formed with ball of dough method

Plain bagel formed with rope method

Plain bagel formed with ball of dough method




Cinnamon Raisin Bagels



I'm not a big fan of sweet bagels, but my husband is, so I made these for him. They're good--for a sweet bagel, and my husband remarked, "Wow. These are the real deal." As if I don't always produce real deal baked goods. Psh. 

At any rate, this is a good, solid cinnamon raisin bagel recipe that I found at Food52.com. I made a couple of adjustments, but I don't know that I made them taste much different that they would have been had I followed the recipe to a T. 

At this point I'm just typing this intro because it's what I do. Try the recipe. It's good. 


Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
    Adapted from Food52.com

Ingredients:
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon non-diastatic malt powder
  • 1 1/2 cups water (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
For boiling:
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons non-diastatic malt powder
Instructions:
  • In a large mixing bowl, place the flours, yeast, 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, salt, and non-diastatic malt powder and mix thoroughly. Add water and vanilla and mix until dough is a cohesive mass. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (8-15 minutes). Dust kneading surface lightly with flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. When dough is about done being kneaded, flatten it out and spread surface with the raisins. Knead the raisins in until evenly distributed (I didn't get mine super evenly distributed, but it was fine.)
  • Form dough into a ball. Put oil in to a clean bowl, put the dough ball in and shake and turn dough ball to coat with oil. Cover and allow to rise either at room temperature for about an hour or in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Once dough has risen, turn out onto a clean work surface. Cut dough into 8 equal wedges. Flatten a wedge of dough; fold the long tip of dough onto itself and flatten into a rough rectangle (see pics below). Sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar (half teaspoon or so). Roll the rectangle into a long, fat rope, pinching the seam to seal. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the 2 quarts water with 1 tablespoon water and 2 tablespoons non-diastatic malt powder into a wide-topped pot (like a Dutch oven)  to a gentle boil over medium to medium-high heat.
  • Roll each rope to about 11-12 inches in length, tapering at the ends. Twist the tapered ends together to form a ring shape, pinching to connect the ends. Put your fingers through the center and roll the seam between your hand and the work surface to seal the ends together. 
  • Place formed bagels onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean plastic grocery bag. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes or refrigerate if you won't be ready until later.
  • Place 2-3 bagels in the boiling water at a time, boiling 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Remove carefully with a slotted spatula or spoon, placing a clean folded dish towel under it because the bagels will be slippery. Place each bagel back onto the parchment lined baking sheet and repeat boiling with the remaining bagels.
  • When all bagels have been boiled, bake them in a 425 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned. Move baked bagels to a wire cooling rack to cool.
  • Freeze any bagels you will not eat by the end of the day.
Makes 8 mid-size bagels



Kneaded dough, set to rise




Before boiling

After boiling





Saturday, November 21, 2020

Sourdough Bread (Naturally Leavened)

 



I've been making this sourdough bread for over a year now, and I usually just go back to the recipe at KingArthurFlour.com and make the modifications based on the tips from Mike at Pro Home Cooks. The internet is filled with recipes and tips about making sourdough bread, so I'm not really trying to compete in that pool. I really just want to close the KAF tab on my phone so I can just go to my blog for the recipe when I want to bake some loaves. Yes, I still consult the written recipe when making this so I don't mess it up.

If you're new to sourdough baking, you really do need to watch the Pro Home Cooks video. I have not reached the point where I weigh my ingredients, so if you are looking for a recipe that avoids that, this is the recipe for you.

When I started baking sourdough, I used my Le Creuset Dutch oven, and that bread was great. Then I decided to spend the $39.99 for the Lodge Combo Cooker, and it's been fantastic. I get a nicer crust, crisp and bubbly. Plus, I think the oven spring is better and I have a better change of getting that pro-looking ear on my loaf. 

So there. That's all I have to say right now about this recipe. I hope you find it useful.

Sourdough Bread

Adapted from KingArthurFlour.com with help from Mike at Pro Home Cooks

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fed active sourdough starter
  • 5 1/2 cups King Arthur Bread Flour (or KAF All Purpose), plus more for dusting and such
  • 2 1/3 cups room temperature water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt

Special Equipment Needed

Instructions:

Once your sourdough starter is ready (watch Mike at Pro Home Cooks to know what this means), thoroughly mix the flour and water in a large mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to "autolyse" for about 30 minutes (it just sits there).

Add the salt and starter to the autolysed flour/water mixture. Try to incorporate the starter as much as possible, but it may not get completely smooth at this point. That's okay. Once mixed, cover with plastic wrap again.

You will fold the dough for a total of 4 times over the next two hours. After folding four times, you have a choice: refrigerate the dough for 8-12 hours, and form the loaves after that or allow the dough to rise until very puffy, form the loaves, and then refrigerate the formed loaves in the fridge for the final rise. Both ways do the job. I'm going to describe the second method (first rise at room temperature and then second rise in fridge).

When dough has risen once, turn it out onto a floured surface and cut in half. Working with one of the halves at a time, pull sides up to form a dough "purse," pinching it all up on the top in the center so the bottom is smooth and the top is pursed and pinched. Turn dough so pinched side is down and smooth side is up. Cover the loaves and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes before forming.

Form your loaves. There are several methods of doing this which you can search up on Google or Instagram, but here's a video that shows a nice basic technique. I set mine in a brotform liberally dusted with a gluten-free flour blend that is mostly rice flour. I hear rice flour is good, better than wheat flour for this. Cover loaves in the brotform (or a floured tea cloth lined colander will work in a pinch) with a floured tea towel and place each in a plastic bag (like a grocery bag) and place in the refrigerator for 8-16 hours. 

When ready to bake, take the loaves out of the fridge and turn your oven on to 500-550 degrees (550 is preferred, but my current oven only goes to 500). Place the cast iron Dutch oven or the combo cooker in there to preheat with your oven. This is important. Both the oven and the baking vessel must be screaming hot.

Working with one loaf at a time, turn the risen loaf out onto a piece of parchment. When using the Dutch oven you can leave the parchment in a large square. If using the combo cooker, trip the corners to avoid having burned paper in your oven.

Dust off the loaf and score with the sharp razor or lame. Take the Dutch oven or combo cooker out of the hot oven, remove the lid (the deeper of the two pieces). Lift the scored loaf onto the bottom of the combo cooker or place inside the Dutch oven. Cover and place in oven.

Bake covered like this at 500 or 550 degrees for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the top/lid, place the bottom onto a baking sheet, turn the oven down to 450 degrees, and continue to bake the loaf for another 20-25 minutes, or until the loaf is a nice, relatively deep brown color.

Remove loaf and place on a wire rack to cool. Turn the oven back to 500 or 550 and put the Dutch oven or combo cooker back in to reheat as well.

Repeat the scoring and baking process with the second loaf.

Allow bread to cool completely and enjoy.

Freeze leftovers at the end of the day. I like to slice mine before freezing so it's ready for my son to make paninis at the drop of a hat.

Makes 2 nice sized boules






The Lodge Combo Cooker is a must-have.
The Lodge Combo Cooker is a must-have.





Sunday, June 7, 2020

Almond Flour Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Almond Flour Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes



Almond Flour Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Topping Ingredients:

  • 5 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 6-7 slices canned pineapple
  • 12 maraschino cherries, sliced in half

Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 cups blanched almond flour/meal*
  • 1/2 cup white sugar 
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium eggs or 1 large egg plus 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional Caramel Sauce (if the cake isn't sweet enough already):

  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice from the can of sliced pineapples
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spray two 12-cup muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray
  •  Prepare the topping:
    • Melt the 5 1/2 tablespoons butter and then stir in the brown sugar. Stir until smooth.
    • Evenly distribute the brown sugar/butter mixture into the bottoms of the sprayed muffin pans.
    • Cut the pineapple slices into small pieces, about 12 pieces per slice. Arrange 3-4 pieces of pineapple and half of a maraschino cherry on top of the brown sugar/butter mixture in each muffin cup. Set aside.
  •  Prepare the cake:
    • In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar, salt, & baking powder.
    • Whisk together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla.
    • Combine the wet with the dry ingredients with a silicone/rubber spatula.
    •  Spoon,scoop, or otherwise distribute batter into the muffin cups.
  • Place a sheet of foil under each muffin pan in case there is overflow.
  • Bake muffins at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 16-18 minutes, or until done and browned around the edges.
  • While cakes bake, heat the pineapple juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the juice is boiling, add the 1/2 cup brown sugar, stir, and continue to boil over medium-low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reduces a bit thickens. It will be the consistence of a thin caramel sauce. Turn off the heat and add the 2 tablespoons butter and stir to melt and incorporate.
  • This is the hard part: once cupcakes are baked, allow to cool just a few minutes. use a sharp, thin knife to loosen the edges of the cupcakes form the sides of the pans.Then place a baking sheet over the top of the pan and carefully flip. Best of luck to you getting them to come out pretty. Let me know if you have a trick I can try.
 Makes about 24 cupcakes




Reality. The pineapple stuck to the bottoms of almost all of the muffin tins.






Saturday, May 23, 2020

Almond Brioche

Almond Brioche



Almond Brioche
   --Adapted from Oh Crumb!

Ingredients:
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup almond flour (from blanched almonds)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 loaf brioche bread sliced into 12 slices
  • 1 cup (approx) sliced almonds, toasted
  • powdered sugar
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix the butter with the white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. 
  • Add the almond flour and mix until incorporated.
  • Add cornstarch and flour and mix until incorporated.
  • Add egg and almond and vanilla extracts and mix on medium speed until completely incorporated.
  • Spread about 2-3 tablespoons of the almond cream onto each slice of brioche and place on the prepared pan.
  • Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds evenly onto each slide and press lightly so almonds stick.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-14 minutes, or until almond cream is puffed.
  • Slide parchment onto a cooling rack and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before sprinkling with some powdered sugar.
  • Tastes best after cooled to room temperature.
  • Refrigerate any leftover almond cream and seal leftover almond brioche in an airtight container or zip top bag.
Makes 12 servings

Finished almond cream

I portioned the almond cream with a cookie scoop.







A little almond cream left over









Monday, April 20, 2020

Olive Oil Brownie Cookies

Olive Oil Cookies


These awesome cookies by Sugaredandstirred.com are an Instagram find. They're one of those rare food items that tastes just as good as it looks on Instagram. The recipe is simple enough (and small enough) to try on the spot since people like me who enjoy baking generally have all of the ingredients on hand.
These cookies are just what they sound like: brownie cookies made with olive oil. They taste like deliciously chocolatey, chewy brownies. I've made these three times so far: the first time with Ghirardelli cocoa powder and Nestle dark chocolate chips--which produced slightly thicker cookies and not quite as deep dark chocolate taste as this time (the third time); the second time with the same ingredients, but I forgot to beat the sugar with the eggs so they ended up tasting overly sweet and grainy--no bueno; and then this, the third time, with Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder and Dove Dark Chocolate chopped up. I know that last sentence is completely structured incorrectly, but hopefully you get what I'm saying: Dutch process cocoa, Dove Dark Chocolate, and correct mixing technique produced the tastiest results.
Give these a try. Why not? What else have you got to do today?

P.S. I used light tasting olive oil and could not taste any off flavors in the finished cookies-- in case you were wondering.

P.P.S. For a good read on cocoa powder, the differences and which to buy, check out this Cooks Illustrated Article. I think the first article or two are free.

Olive Oil Brownie Cookies
     --Adapted from Sugaredandstirred.com

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, or chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/3 cup light tasting olive oil
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup granulated (white) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (Dutch process recommended)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Instructions:
  • Place chocolate chips and olive oil in a microwave safe measuring cup or bowl.
  • Microwave on high for 30 seconds and then stir. If it seems hot enough to finish melting chocolate, keep stirring until the chocolate is melted. Otherwise, microwave for another 15-20 seconds and then stir until chocolate is completely melted. Set aside to cool.
  • In a medium size bowl, sift together (I did it through a strainer) flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium high speed until eggs are fluffy and light yellow (about 4-5 minutes). 
  • Add the vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.
  • Add the cooled chocolate & olive oil mixture to the whipped egg & sugar mixture. Fold the chocolate into the eggs.
  • Gently stir in the dry ingredients until completely incorporated.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for about 30 minutes. Do not skip this step because it allows the dough to firm up.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • After dough is set, scoop about 3 tablespoons of dough at a time and roll into a ball. Place six balls on the baking sheet, spaced evenly apart. If desired, roll the balls in the chopped pecans before placing on the baking sheet.
  • Smoosh each ball to about 1/2 inch thickness.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10-11 minutes, or just until cookies are puffed and no longer wet in the middle.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 2-3 minutes before removing with a spatula to a baking sheet to finish cooling.
  • Repeat with remaining dough.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container.
Makes 12 large-ish cookies



Chocolate and olive oil after 30 seconds + 20 seconds in the microwave and some stirring


Dough just mixed before resting


Dough after a 40 minute rest


Flattened dough balls ready to go into the oven


Same dough balls after baking


Mmmm



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