Friday, 29 October 2010

Recipe 32 - Pan de Muerto

We're going to be a little ahead of the game baking these since the day of the dead is the 2nd of November. I've wanted to make them for ages and had this recipe bookmarked for a year though and it's only a couple of days out!

We'll follow this recipe. Separately we'll go up to the end of step 3 on saturday before we finish them off on Sunday. I think I'll make just half the recipe since the quantities are pretty astronomical.

Her results - Fresh Orange Muffins

Making these muffins, I encountered a new technique. I'd never dreamed that a recipe would ask me to toss a whole orange into the food processor. I'm a bit OCD, and I was worried about what size orange was needed. Mine was really big, so I cut it into pieces and used 215 grams.

I added 1/2 cup orange juice to the chopped oranges, secured the food processor lid, and flipped the machine on. OJ went everywhere! I still have no idea what happened. So I added 1/3 the juice of an additional orange, poured the puree into a bowl and abandoned the food processor. I was supposed to mix in the butter using the machine, but since I now needed to hand-mix everything, I microwaved the butter until softened. The batter came together quickly and easily, and it had a surprisingly airy consistency. It was similar to the consistency of whipped cream but thicker, and when I ran a spoon through it I could hear air bubbles breaking. I was curious to see how the muffins would emerge from the oven.

They turned out just right, thanks to my keen sense of smell. After about 10 minuted they began to smell done, and they looked ready to come out but they wouldn't spring back when poked. But at the 12 minute mark they were ready. A full 8 minutes less than prescribed by the recipe!

But as I said, the muffins were good. They were composed of a very tender sponge with tiny toothsome pieces of orange flesh. The orange flavor was light but distinct; it was nothing like fake orange flavor, and not even very reminiscent of the fruit, but clearly "orange." To be honest, it was disconcertingly similar to the flavor of orange Hostess cupcakes that I remember from my childhood. I'd make these again if I needed muffins to serve guests but didn't have the ingredients for blueberry or banana nut muffins. They were quick and fairly tasty and stored well for several days when sealed in a container at room temperature.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

His results - Fresh Orange Muffins

I was expecting a delivery the day we baked these so I didn't dare to go out get any oranges. The delivery guy was supposed to be here 3 hours before we baked but ended up arriving a day late.

Ah well. It turned out OK. I had some limes in and they worked totally fine. I used the flesh and juice and otherwise proceeded exactly as in the recipe.

They turned out OK. You really, really need to keep your eye on them though. The cooking time is way off. Mine were overdone way before the recipe said they should be. They're pretty good. The lime goes well. The texture is quite like cornbread. They work as a snack or a none too sweet desert. While these were baking I churned up some cardamon icecream I'd started the day before. I sampled a little spoonful alongside a muffin, it was a really nice pairing.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Recipe 31 - Fresh Orange Muffins

This week it was his turn to pick the recipe but he asked me to take the reins and I've obliged. We weren't able to bake this weekend because I was in Chicago for work and fun, so we hope to bake one morning before I head to work. For that reason, I decided that we should make breakfast muffins. These Fresh Orange Muffins from sound good and simple, too.

They're not very snazzy looking. I wonder what I can do that will be simple but will also make them pretty? I may explore that, or I may settle for the "ugly but good" version. Also, I read that these are good with a small amount of chocolate chips added in. I don't think I'll do that, but it sounds promising.

Servings: 12

1 orange, quartered and seeds removed (with peel)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 large egg
1/2 cup butter
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 400F; spray a muffin tin (12) with non-stick cooking spray like Pam and set aside. Put orange quarters in food processor (or blender) along with orange juice and process or blend until pureed. Add egg and butter to food processor and combine; pour into large bowl. Combine dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then add all at once to orange mixture. Stir to combine. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes; remove from oven and let stand in tin for 5 minutes before removing muffins.

Friday, 22 October 2010

His results - Blondies

For a long time I had been meaning to make some brownies with pretzel, chocolate and caramel lumps added in something like this recipe. This presented the perfect opportunity. For the first time in months I happened to have pretzels in my house and I had blondies to rustle up.

I used mainly dark brown sugar so they weren't all that blonde in the end. I put in a handful of smashed salted hard pretzels, a Cadbury's caramel bar and some 70 ish % cocoa solids chocolate.

They turned out really well! We've been on a bit of a streak recently. I can't remember the last thing we made I found disappointing. This certainly wasn't!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Her results - Blondies

I have a little stomach ache. No wonder. I shouldn't have eaten two of those back to back! What do you think you get when you combine:

And some butter, flour, vanilla and salt...

That's right, you get:


In my opinion, these are far from the best things we've made, but it might have been thanks to my choice of additions. I put in 1/4 c Maker's Mark bourbon whisky (I'm a Kentuckian, born and raised, and a Maker's Mark Ambassador, at that! ), 50g toasted pecans, and 50g mixed dark and milk chocolate chunks. The results are very tasty, but in my opinion it's possibly overkill. I'm curious what the blondies taste like before all the extras. Still, they're quite good. I hope it's not sexist to say that these would make a great father's day gift for a dad who loves bourbon, or a nice surprise for a boyfriend. I love bourbon and so does my very feminine female boss, but I can't shake off the masculine connotations of whisky. Is a masculine blondie a paradox?

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Recipe 30 - Blondies

There is never a time that I feel more ridiculous than after hours of scouring the internet trying to figure out what we should bake. It's not that difficult. Or it shouldn't be anyway! But sometimes I can't find something just right. He doesn't care much for cinnamon, nuts, baked fruit in large quantities... I don't care much for chocolate. What's in season here isn't necessarily in season there. We live alone, so unless we want to eat it all, it needs to be portable and delicious at room temperature the next day.

And all I can think about is buttermilk pie. It's all I've been thinking of for days. But we probably shouldn't make it again, so after hours of deliberation, I finally decided that we should make blondies. Good old faithful Smitten Kitchen again...

Her results - Ginger Crunch Bars

A couple of weeks ago, Houston was hit with unseasonably mild weather. Almost overnight, we went from sweating to shivering. I've always felt that there's something autumnal about ginger, so these crunchy ginger bars were the perfect dessert for the weather.

Mine came out really good and they were very simple to make. The texture is really good, somewhere between chewy and crunchy. The ginger isn't subtle, but it's not knock-your-socks-off strong, either. And the balance of the bottom layer and the icing layer felt just right to me. I don't think I managed to have one with tea, but they'd be perfect with it! A co-worker suggested that these would be great for a potluck and I think she hit the nail on the head.


Friday, 8 October 2010

His results - Ginger Crunch Bars

It was another easy afternoon in the kitchen. I was glad of it this week. I was pretty tired and glad to have a short recipe so I could have a bit of a sit down.

It was great though! Really, really delicious. It was buttery and sweet with a nice little bite from the ginger. The creamy topping went really well with the topping. Personally I'd have preferred a little more topping and a slightly thinner base but that's just nit picking really. I took a load to work but saved a couple at home. They stayed nice and crispy for a fair few days so don't worry about eating them all as soon as they're ready.

I'm excited to see what she'll pick for this weekend!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Recipe 29 - Ginger Crunch Bars

She's a fan of ginger and I like it a lot too. In fact she continually mentions her intention to make that awesome David Lebovitz fresh ginger cake again. I've not chosen that recipe again but I have picked another ginger heavy treat. The recipe is from the Technicolor Kitchen who in turn got it from Donna Hay. We'll make half the amount she did.

190g plain flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
110g caster sugar
125g cold unsalted butter, chopped

Ginger icing:
75g unsalted butter, chopped
1/8 cup golden syrup
3/4 tablespoon ground ginger, sifted
115g icing sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.

Butter an 8" x 8" pan and line with foil leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Butter the foil on the inside of pan

Put the flour, baking powder, ginger and sugar in a food processor combine. Then add the butter and process until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Press into the pan.

Bake for around 30-40 minutes or until golden and firm.


For the icing:
put the butter, golden syrup and ginger in a saucepan over medium heat ad heat for a couple of minutes or until butter is melted.

Whisk in the icing sugar.

Pour over the base and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Lift out of the pan and cut into bars.

His results - Rice Krispies Treats

I decided to shake it up a little and make a slightly more grown up version. I basically made this smitten kitchen recipe for a salted browned butter version. I wish my pics were that good! I forgot to take any in the first couple of steps too... I'm a bit of a fiend for salt so I upped the quantity a fair bit. They turned out wonderfully!

Yet again I was hunted down at work by people who helped themselves from the pile I left on a table. Baking and sharing the fruits of your labours is a pretty unparalleled way to make friends!
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