Monday, September 29, 2008

A cupcake kind of world


It's been a cup-cakey kind of mood the last few weeks.

The one above is a mini of the butternut squash variety that I made last week for our art seniors dinner, based on this recipe posted by Garrett on VanillaGarlic.


I also made two dozen each vanilla white and dark devil's food cupcakes for my sister's boss's birthday for the Tuesday night meeting (he actually ended up not being able to make it, so I ended up giving them another layer of frosting to cover up the piped well-wishes the I added after these pictures but extra frosting is never bad, so it was okay).


There was a little extra batter from both of those batches, so I made two-toned minis for the house.


And the week before last I made cupcakes while making my mother's birthday cake which were initially filled with caramel, but the caramel sank into the cake, so I made a caramel butter cream and filled them, then mixed the extra caramel buttercream with dark cocoa and topped them with that. Those missed the photo shoot though.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers September Challenge!

This month's challenge was lavash crackers. It was a really open challenge, hosted by some alternative bakers, there were instructions for gluten free and non-gluten free crackers. We could use any flours and toppings, and the second part of the challenge was to create a vegan dip or spread to serve with the crackers.

I was in a simple mood when I made this, so I didn't get too crazy with spices or seeds. I made two batches, one with whole-grain spelt, and one with half light spelt/half unbleached white flour. I split both of the batches and did half sprinkled with fleur de sel (the rectangle crackers) and half with vanilla sugar (the triangle-ish crackers). For my dipping sauce/spread I made nutella-type chocolate hazelnut cream. (It was really simple, I had a hint from Sally at that she blended hazelnut praline with melted dark chocolate. She bought her hazelnut praline paste in a jar, but since I had hazelnuts left from the July challenge, I made praline like we did before, I used pure cane sugar to keep with the vegan requirement, processed it to paste again, and drizzled in a square of baking chocolate melted in 1/4 cup agave nectar. In the picture that's all I did. I ended up adding a few tablespoons of coconut milk to it though, because when it got cold it was really thick!)

These were really easy to make, really delicious, and they store well. I made them in the middle of the month and I still have some in zip bags, and they haven't gone stale.




Lavash Crackers, the instructions as given to us:

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.


2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.


4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I don't think that I mentioned this before. I got a Tumblr, and I've been posting little updates, pictures, and thoughts there- it really is quick and easy. Enter here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Market day


So I went to the Rochester Public Market today with my sister, who spent the night last night. Yay twenty-somethings sleepover! Every time that I got to the Market, I think to myself that I need to go there more often. It is so worth it. Other than Lattes at the Market Boulder, I bought:


Cucumbers, a beautiful yellow pepper, baby lavender eggplant, a big orange squash that I don't remember the name of, sweet potatoes, an avocado, and pluots, which are a hybrid fruit I think of plums and apricots, also very delicious. There was one that never made it to the picture. I also got an amazing bouquet of sunflowers that I'm going to take home on Friday for mum's birthday. Oh, and some peaches:


They were two baskets for five dollars. How could I say no?

The pie at that top of the entry features some of those babies, three pints went into the freezer, a container is in the fridge for munching, and some were had on ice cream by Mr. Johnson (the dad in the house where I live). I also took about half of the skins that I peeled from the fruit as I cut it up, covered them with water, threw in about a half cup of sugar, and simmered it for a good long while. Then I strained it and simmered it for a while more, and made a very tasty peach syrup for ice cream, waffles, or anything else we can think to put it on.

Also for dinner, I made lasagna with thinly sliced eggplant layered with sauteed ground venison, tomato sauce that I made, ricotta, and a shredded blend of cheese. Getting the ingredients other than the venison (brought frozen from home) and the eggplants, is kind of a funny story.

Not really, but a little. I rode my bike to campus today. Before I left I decided I was going to make the lasagna for dinner. When I was on campus I thought, I'm out, might as well stop at the little IGA in town and pick up some ricotta. While in the store, I realized I also needed tomato sauce. While in the isle I thought of how I don't really like canned sauce and decided to get various cans of tomato paste, plain sauce, and chopped tomatoes which I could make into a nice sauce with fresh herbs from the garden, etc. Then over at the cheese, I grabbed the ricotta, then thought I might need some other cheese because I didn't know what was at the house, so I grabbed a bag of Sargento six cheese Italian blend (which is delicious, by the way). Then I saw the cottage cheese and thought, a nice snack, healthier than some that I've been eating lately, and a definite weakness for me (especially thinking of the fresh peaches at home). So I grabbed a tub of that. I somehow made it to the checkout without dropping things, and realized while I was paying that I had ridden my bike. And had a notebook in my bag already (I need to get a rack for my bike still, so all of my belongings have to go into my messenger bag), and that I would have to put in there my bike chain, which is actually a four or five foot long metal chain with a padlock because I'm too poor to buy something and that's what my dad found to give me. So I got everything into my bag, got on my bike laden with fifteen to twenty pounds of extra weight, and built character on the ride home.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Buckwheat Coconut Soft Chocolate Cookies. Vegan.

So I have finally come to a point where I can make a non-crunchy cookie without eggs. This is so exciting because I quite prefer soft and/or chewy cookies (and the first go at it produced very hard cookies- hard past the point of crunchy). I made these the day that I completely messed up the eclairs. I needed something to restore my baking self-esteem, also because I had touched the "I want sweets" nerve with the idea of allergen-free eclairs.

I highly recommend these. They were awesome, to be humble about it. Also I think that they would translate to GF easily, since there is only one cup of gluteny flour in them.



Preheat oven to 325* F. Line some cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl whisk together:

1 cup Buckwheat flour
1 cup light spelt flour (can sub 1 cup white, wheat, or GF flour+xanthan)
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup Quinoa flakes (can sup rolled oats, if GF make sure they're certified GF)
1 tsp soda
1 1/2 tsp powder
a heaping 1/2 cup dark cocoa
about 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

In a separate bowl combine:
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp molasses (I used a blurb. Very exact measuring there.)
5 Tbsp warm milk (I used hemp, use whatever kind of milk you want. Coconut milk would go with the theme.)
2 tsp vanilla (again a blurb, probably actually was more than that. It's hard to overdo vanilla, unless you dump the whole bottle in.)
Egg replacer for 2 eggs. I use Ener-G plus a Tbsp of ground flax.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix to combine. If needed, add additional milk 1 Tbsp at a time until dough is pliable and shiny.

Scoop onto cookie sheet. If using GF flours, don't forget to smoosh them a little, because they don't generally spread as much.

Bake for 15 minutes or until firm.

On some of them I added a glaze made from vanilla chips (they weren't vegan) melted with hemp milk and whisked with a little confectionary sugar. I sprinkled those with a little shredded coconut to hide the unmelted bits of chips.