Monday, December 26, 2011

Overdue Recipe: Rugelach

There's a little indie coffee shop in downtown Denver that has gorgeous looking pastries. I almost never buy one, but one day I bought a rugelach. Theirs was giant, dry, and sad - but with just enough pastry/filling flavor to hint that rugelach should be something much yummier.

And once I started looking for recipes, I realized this was something that my dad's mom would make as a Christmas cookie, and I was even more excited to make my own recipe. Her recipe, and many traditional ones, feature a sweet walnut filling, but I'm not that into walnuts and it sounded like more work, so I just use jam. Raspberry jam and orange marmalade are my standard choices.

Here's what I put together by looking at several recipes and keeping the less fiddly bits.

1 c butter
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
(I added a splash of water to mine this year because the texture looked off. It seemed to work.)

cream together everything but the flour, then added the flour and mix thoroughly. Add a tiny bit of cold water if it's not coming together.
Divide it into four parts, shape them as discs, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

Once they're chilled, roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick, cut wedges (pizza cutter!) add a dollop of jam to the wide end and roll them up. The jam ALWAYS leaks out, so I've been putting down foil and greasing that. I need to try parchment paper sometime.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Let sit on the pan for a few minutes and then remove while they're still warm and before the jam leakage glues them to the foil forever.

You can do it one disc at a time, saving the rest in the fridge for... awhile. I think I had one dry out and get funky on me once, but it was there for probably a month.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Actions tell the truth

and I keep making this recipe. I have a LOT of chocolate cake recipes. Many. And the last 3 times I've made chocolate cake, I've made this. It's in the perfect sweet intersection of easy to make and tastes really good.

This is almost precisely King Arthur Flour's Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake. But I am here to tell you that it is perfectly happy to be made in many less fussy shapes than a 4 layer cake.

Halved to make about 12 cupcakes

1 c sugar
1 c flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/8 oz (3/8c) cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp espresso powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4c + 2 Tblsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
5 oz water

you can just dump it all in a mixer and beat until smooth.

at 350 degrees, it takes about 16 minutes to make cupcakes, about 25 to make a short bundt (though I think I'll use the full size recipe next time I'm making a bundt)

It's not quite decadent enough to hold its own without frosting, but it's wonderfully moist, keeps well (I may have eaten the first batch of 24 cupcakes by myself) and is quite presentably fancy with frosting.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

prepare for cookie time

Gingerbread Cookies

1/2 c shortening
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 c (6 oz) molasses
1 Tblsp vinegar
2 1/2 c flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 Tblsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves

Preheat oven to 375
roll out to about 1/2" thick, apply cookie cutters, bake on a greased cookie sheet for 5-6 minutes

Decorate with royal icing (you probably need less than half that recipe. I've only used egg whites because I always have eggs.) and all the sprinkles you can get to stick to it.

Heather, I think that might be your recipe? Though I knocked it in half and I'm hoping it won't suffer from the extra half of an egg. :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's done

I handed in my dissertation 2 days ago. There's still some chance that the graduate school will call me and yell at me about margin sizes and watermarks all running the same direction. But my committee has signed off, and I'm done.

I don't really believe it yet, but I'm hoping that telling you will make me believe it a little more.

I do still need to think about it - I'm giving a talk at a conference soon over part of it, and my slides need more pruning. But I don't hate it as much as I could at this point.

(Those are the books that have accumulated next to my desk and needed to stay there until it was done. The binder is full of papers that I referenced.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

It's summer

I'll be back soon.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Experimental Baking - Miniature King Cakes

Tuesday was Mardi Gras. My sole observance of this occasion is to eat king cake. Here in the north, that means that first I have to make king cake. This is the recipe I've been using for a few years. Two years ago: made one giant king cake. Which promptly had to be cut up because there was nowhere to store it. Last year: made two smaller king cakes - they barely fit in cake domes, but worked ok. Continuing the trend, I though I'd make single serving ones this year.

Above are the 4 types of construction I attempted. 3. was surprisingly hard to do, 4. was surprisingly easy. 4. came out looking the best - if I'd known how easy it was, I would have made more of that type. 2. was the best cream cheese delivery mechanism, 1. was the worst. I didn't manage to use all the sweetened cream cheese in the baking, so N was consuming the muffin tin shaped ones by heating them, cutting them in half, and adding lots more cream cheese.

I used royal icing instead of the glaze from the recipe - I wanted something that would harden instead of melting 24 hours later. It was a good choice. I dyed the icing purple since I only had green sprinkles. Next time I'll go for a darker purple.

The only real problem was that I killed the yeast with the melted butter. I really need to gain the patience to let the butter COOL. I made yeast soup in a ramekin with a Tblsp of yeast and enough water to make it all liquid, folded it into a divot in the dough and got the mixer going again - but lost two hours before I realized the yeast weren't working. It ended up working ok, so it's good to know that dead yeast bread can be recovered. (This time I really didn't want to go buy another lemon or use 5 more eggs!)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cheese Biscuit Mashup

Mashup of Allrecipe's Cheese Drop Biscuits and Nick Malgieri's Pecorino and Pepper Biscuits (found in The Modern Baker)

Yield ~ 12

2 3/4 c flour
1 Tblsp baking powder
1 tsp garlic salt
dash of garlic powder (optional)
1 stick cold butter, cut into 12 pieces
3/4 c milk
3/4 c (70g) shredded cheddar cheese

preheat oven to 400 degrees

Put flour, baking powder, garlic salt and garlic powder in food processor, pulse a few times to mix.

Add cold butter pieces, pulse several times to avoid large lumps.

Add milk and cheese, pulse a few times to combine but not form a ball. May need to add a bit of water to get it to come together.

Grease a baking sheet, drop roughly formed biscuits about 1" apart.

Bake 12-15 minutes, until tops start to brown.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Experimental Baking - Cupcake Technicalities

Valentine's Day weekend, I made King Arthur Flour's Bake Sale Fudge Cupcakes. I wanted a recipe that was big enough that I could bring a bunch to work without begrudging them. (Not the greatest plan - my super healthy eating coworkers were almost useless at eating these.)
The recipe is easy, yummy, and very chocolately though. (It smells even better than it tastes though, which is a bit odd. And the chocolate chips inside were a little extra nice if you heat them up, but didn't add as much to the flavor as I felt like they should. )

But today we're here to talk about two things the recipe mentioned that were new to me:
  1. "For more even doming, use cupcake papers." starts one of the tips in the sidebar.
  2. "Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and tilt them in the cups so their bottoms don't steam." is one of the directions.
1. I've recently discovered the joy of spray oil with flour in it, and I had pretty much stopped using cupcake papers altogether. I always manage to dribble batter everywhere anyway, so they weren't saving me from washing the muffin tins, and it's nice to have the completely edible self-contained cake - no crumb-producing paper removing step.

2. I'd never heard this before! What separates a steamed bottom from an unsteamed bottom?

So the image shows my experiment: in my 12 spot tin, I sprayed half and did papers for half. In my two 6 spots, I tilted the cupcakes for half and left half to cool nestled in the tin.

The results:
  1. The tops of the papered ones were prettier. They were smoother and maybe a bit more domed. For a recipe like this, where you don't have to frost them, it would look nicer to use the papers. The naked ones have kind of a crust edge where the sides rise faster or something. For my purposes though, it's so much easier to just eat the naked ones and you don't have that sad moment where you're LOSING CAKE as you peel off the paper. Papered ones went to work and we ate all the naked ones. Team Naked Cupcake.
  2. I couldn't tell any difference between the ones that I tilted and the ones that I didn't. *shrugs* I don't have the most discerning palate, and these are pretty sturdy cupcakes, so I can't say there's absolutely nothing to it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

Home made pot pies:

A few views of the first real snow of the season:

A very regal dog has agreed to pose for us: