Friday, 28 May 2010

Recipe 18 - Carrot-Zucchini Bread with Candied Ginger

Let's do this thing!

I'm nutty for vegetables and so is he, so it's about time we made a vegetable quick bread. I've got a little experience making banana bread and we made dandelion/edible flower bread recently, but I've never tried anything beyond that.

I found the Baking with Lisa blog while looking for Fresh Ginger Cake photos and tips. Her presentation is outstanding, and she seems to have a much higher success rate than me. Let's hope it rubs off. She adapted this recipe from from Sur la Table’s Eating Local. The recipe made two loaves, so I have halved the recipe.

In his vernacular, zucchinis are courgettes and canola oil is rapeseed oil. Rapeseed fields are common in North Yorkshire, and they're bright yellow and beautiful at this time of the year. I wish I was there to see them.

Carrot-Zucchini Bread with Candied Ginger

192g (1.5 c) all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup minced candied ginger
1 1/2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
130g (2/3 c) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
~80g (1/2 c) coarsely grated carrots
~80g (1/2 c) coarsely grated zucchini

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease a 8.5×4.5 inch loaf pan, or line it with foil or parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda. Whisk in the salt and candied ginger.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until light and foamy. Add the canola oil, sugar, and vanilla, whisking hard until well combined. Stir in the carrots and zucchini.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir/fold until just blended. Pour into the loaf pan.
5. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour, or until the loaf is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Her results - Sea Salt Caramels

It was fun making caramels and the results were delicious. I had a little experience from making the icing for the caramel cake as part of our weekly project eariler this year. And this wasn't my first major tango with the candy thermometer. When I was a kid, I went through a phase where I was obsessed with making flavored glass candy. I can remember dangerous looking shards of bright green peppermint candy and other batches dyed red and flavored of cinnamon. I had forgotten all about that until now. I really did a lot of cooking and baking when I was younger. I'm enjoying how this project is surfacing those memories.

To start the recipe, we first had to heat a cream & butter mixture and a separate sugar mixture. As someone who's slightly OCD, the sugar scuz ringing the interior that pot was killing me, but luckily I was able to keep on...

Mixing the two pots together resulted in a pale bubbly mixture that I perseveringly watched and stirred as it darkened and grew hotter.

At about this time, I imagined the horrors of having a pan of this dumped over my head. My gosh, it would be terrible. He told me that he read a David Lebovitz recipe that suggested having a bunch of cold water on hand in case of an emergency. I suddenly wished I had a bucket of water nearby.

It finally it reached the required soft ball temperature and I poured it into my square pan without casualty. I forgot to take a picture but by looking at the final product I'd say you can imagine what it looked like.

I bought some tasty sea salt that I used in these and also sprinkled on top, but it would have looked much nicer if my grocery had carried flakes or even just coarse sea salt. I'd suggest going out of your way to find some, because I think it also affected the flavor. In my harsh opinion, my caramels turned out a little too uniformly salty. The salt flavor isn't remotely overwhelming, but I think it's noticeable in each little bite. Maybe that's a good thing, but times like this I wish I could sample his caramels for comparison.

It's 90s in the daytime and 70s at night nowadays, and these are too soft at room temperature to hold their shape. I'm sad to say that it's true even in my air conditioned office. But a Google search seems to say that this is expected for caramels that have only been heated to soft ball. If you're in a warm place like me, you should probably skip this particular recipe and choose one that calls for heating the caramel higher. Otherwise, beware that you will need to serve these right out of the fridge.

The recipe made tons of standard sized caramels, and I wrapped up about 7 of them in waxed paper (it seemed like it took forever) to share at work. I had intended in wrapping more, but I couldn't be bothered. I also tried making triple-thick folded caramels like in the picture he originally posted with the recipe, but the caramel we made was too thick to give good results. Oh well, taste over style! Yum.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

His results - Sea Salt Caramels

These are awesome! That's all that needs to be said really.

They were very, very easy to make. I enjoyed the processes a lot, the boiling and mixing and watching the thermometer creep up. The only slightly tedious bit was wrapping them since it took so long.

I let the sugar get quite a bit browner than this before adding the cream mixture. It started off fairly dark because of the golden syrup.

I used a couple of different types of salt to sprinkle on top, some nice sea salt flakes and some mexican red salt crystals. I preferred the more delicate flakes but both were yummy.

It's been very warm here recently and that made them a tiny bit sticky at room temperature. They're not bad though, firm enough to wrap and carry around.

All I really have to say is make them!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Recipe 17 - Sea Salt Caramels

A while back we picked up some candy thermometers. You may remember that mine was broken in the packet and I shed blood for the baking cause. I got a replacement but we haven't had call to use them again in the transatlantic kitchen since. It's time!

This week I chose to do something a little different. We'll be making caramels with sea salt. The recipe is adapted from this one at epicurious.


240ml double / heavy cream
70g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes, plus more nice salt to finish

300g sugar
60ml golden syrup

60ml cup water

Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly oil parchment.

Bring cream, butter, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.

Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel.

Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248°F / 120°C on thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into baking pan, sprinkle with finishing salt and cool 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to close.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Her results - Fresh Ginger Cake

I've honestly never had a cake that I enjoyed more than this cake. At least not one that I remember! But if you're trying to present it to company, try not to let the center get burnt like I did.

The cake was pleasantly simple to make. Despite the fact that I'm a fresh ingredients kind of woman, I'd never used fresh ginger. I feel thankful for this recipe because I'll be adding much more ginger to my repertoire, which should help mix things up. In addition to being new to ginger, I'd also never used molasses. I didn't even know where to find them in the grocery. Turns out the jar was on the bottom shelf of the bread aisle, near the pancake syrup. That's someplace I'd never ever look, period, so it's a good thing I asked an employee for help. I ground my own cloves, but I wasn't particularly successful because I don't have a good grinder so I also tossed in a sprinkle of the pre-ground stuff. The grinder worked better on my pepper. All in all, a very simple recipe to put together.

The bottom line is that the cake is delicious. I am now going to read Mr. Lebovitz' blog on a regular basis and I'll also be buying his book
Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes. I'm very serious about incredible food, and following this man's work seems like a no-brainer. The cake was so light, so moist, and so flavorful. It was neither too "out there" nor was the flavor even barely common. It was awesome.

I ate a slice, shared a couple more slices with friends, had another slice for breakfast, and then took the rest to work before I could do too much damage to myself. It was delicious both with ice cream and without. The lady who finished off the cake washed the platter for me. When she handed it over to me, she asked me to explain the cake because she loved it so much. That was a few days ago, and today she asked if I'm baking again this weekend. It's nice to bring happiness to people. I just hope I don't give anyone hypertension or a heart attack! Eat this delicious stuff at your own risk, people.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

His results - Fresh Ginger Cake

I had high hopes for this recipe. David Lebovitz’s blog is on the list of sites I check every day and every dish of his I’ve tried has turned out fantastically. After a couple of weeks with minor issues I was hoping it would be plain sailing and it pretty much was.

I used Lyle’s black treacle instead of molasses. The recipe called for light molasses and I think this is more or less dark but I like its flavour a lot and was confident it would turn out fine. I used the food processor to chop up the ginger. I pulsed it until it was pretty finely chopped but still definately chopped rather than obliterated.

The treacle and sugar mixed together fine in the first stage but the oil wasn’t interested. As soon as you added the water and baking soda it all come together perfectly though.

After adding the flour and eggs and everything the batter was pretty thin. It was a tiny bit disconcerting but hers was the same so we popped it in the oven and crossed our fingers. We needn’t have worried, it was just fine. Mine took a few minutes extra in the oven but I caught it at more or less the perfect time. It came out crazily light in texture, moist, almost too tender to slice.

It was a very easy cake to put together but you wouldn’t know it from eating it. The taste is beautifully complex and layered. The taste develops from bite to bite, first the treacle scent and flavour hits you, then the cloves and spice and finally the ginger which gives a lovely little burn and lingers on the tongue. When I put in the cloves and pepper I did it by eye, throwing them into my grinder. I was little worried I may have overdone it when I sniffed the batter but when it came out of the oven they had mellowed a bit and worked beautifully.

This cake is a wonder. It’s absolutely crammed with flavour. It’s definitely rich though, the kind of desert where you really only need a pretty small slice and I very, very rarely say that. Normally I’m insatiable. My colleagues were unanimous in their approval. In fact, they liked it so much they requested I bring in a second helping the next day. High praise indeed. Thanks again Mr Lebovitz!

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