I'll be home for Christmas

This is the first time I've flown home since August. It's given me a chance to take a break from baking in a commercial kitchen and bake at home, my way. From homemade bread to apple pies, an army of gingerbread men, a gingerbread cake, and an oreo cake.
This year's big gift was a Nikon D5100 and this year's new year resolution is to write a (food) blog and keep up with it. My goal is to gain enough popularity with this, along with my major in baking and pastry arts and minor in food writing, to write and publish a (successful) cookbook by 2016.

Honey Oat Wheat Bread

This bread is an adapted version of this recipe. It's a quick bread, which means it doesn't use yeast and it's fast enough to make for breakfast, hence "quick" bread. The original version calls for all of the oats to be completely pulsed, but I like the texture of the whole oats on the inside, so I leave half of them whole and grind the remaining half. I also like this bread to have a sweet honey taste, so I use 3-1/2 TB instead of  1-1/2 TB. Plus, I add cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla for flavor. Lastly, I bake the bread in a loaf pan at 350 degrees. This recipe doesn't make a tall loaf, and i have doubled it before, but be careful when baking-make sure the middle is fully cooked before removing from the oven.

1 c. rolled oats (+ extra for topping)
1 c. wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
cinnamon (to taste)
nutmeg (to taste)
1 tbsp. oil
3-1/2 tbsp. honey
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Grind half of the oats in a food processor
2. Combine the 1/2 c. ground oats and 1/2 c. whole oats in a large bowl with wheat flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
3. In a small bowl, measure the oil with a tablespoon and use the same tablespoon to measure the honey (this will prevent it from sticking to the spoon). Stir to dissolve honey in the oil.
4. Stir milk and vanilla into oil mixture.
5. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and fold the wet ingredients in until flour is incorporated, do not overmix!
6. Place batter in a greased loaf pan and sprinkle a desired amount of oats on top. Press the oats down lightly with a spoon.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until brown and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

American Apple Pie
I made two pies, one for Christmas Eve and one for Christmas Day. The recipe I am giving yields for one pie.
For these pies, I used William's Sonoma Pie Dough recipe (doubled) and I liked the way it came out. Then I made the filling, but I'm proud to say I didn't use a recipe. All you need to make a good apple pie filling is your taste buds, and the ingredients of course. Also, I named this "American" Apple Pie because American fruit pies have a filling that is not pre-cooked.

Pie Dough (bottom and top crust):
2-1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into small cubes
1/4 c. very cold water

Apple Filling:
4 apples
sugar (to taste)
cinnamon (to taste)
nutmeg (to taste)
flour (as needed)

1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt.
2. Cut in cold, cubed butter into flour with fingertips or a pastry cutter until the fat is nickel-sized.
3. Add cold water and fold with your hands until fully combined with flour. Round the dough into a ball.
4. Use a bench scraper to cut the dough into 2-8oz. pieces.
5. Shape the pieces into a disk, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for 2 hours, however, overnight is best.
6. Cut apples into 4 pieces around the core and cut into 1/8 in. slices.
7. Add sugar until desired amount of sweetness is reached, taste frequently!!
8. Add cinnamon and nutmeg to taste (nutmeg is very strong, you do not need much!)
9. Sprinkle in flour until the juices at the bottom thicken. (no more than 3 tbsp.)
10. Roll out pie dough and place in pan. Add apple filling.
11. Egg wash edges of the bottom crust.
12. Roll out the top crust and place on. If covering completely, cut slits in the dough.
13. Egg wash the top crust
14. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden.

It's not christmas without something gingerbread, so this year I made not only gingerbread cookies, but a gingerbread swiss roll as well, which I decorated with cinnamon cream and cookies. Though molasses is one of my least favorite ingredients, I will admit it makes amazing sweets. To make the gingerbread cookies, I used a very small gingerbread man cutter, which resulted in an army of gingerbread men. 

Gingerbread Cookies
3 c. all purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground ginger
1-3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. molasses
2 tsp. vanilla

Royal Icing
3 oz. egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 c. confectioners sugar

1. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter with brown sugar.
3. Mix in egg.
4. Mix in molasses and vanilla.
5. Roll dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper and freeze the rolled out dough on a sheet pan.
6. Use a gingerbread cutter to cut out the frozen, rolled cookies
7. Bake on a doubled sheet pan at 375 degrees for 7-10 minutes.
8. For the royal icing, beat egg whites in the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment until frothy.
9. Add vanilla and sifted confectioners sugar.
10. Beat icing on medium speed for 5 minutes.
11. Decorate cookies with a small round tip.

Gingerbread cake
3 eggs at room temperature
1/4 c. molasses
1/4 c. honey
1 tbsp. melted, unsalted butter
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt

Cinnamon Cream Filling
1-1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1/3 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch nutmeg

1. Line a 10in. x 15in. sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. Separate the eggs.
3. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg yolks with a paddle attachment until thickened and it ribbons off the spoon.
4. Add molasses, honey, and melted butter, beat until combined
5. In a clean mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites until foamy. Slowly stream granulated sugar into the whites and whisk until stiff peaks form.
6. Carefully fold yolk mixture into meringue.
7. In a separate bowl, combine sifted dry ingredients and spices.
8. Carefully and slowly fold dry ingredients into meringue mixture, taking care to keep the air that was incorporated into the meringue.
9. Pour into pan and bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes or until cake springs back and a toothpick comes out clean.
10. Remove cake from oven.
11. While the cake is still warm, remove onto a towel that is lightly dust a towel with powdered sugar.
12. Roll the cake longways like a jelly roll and let cool.
13. To make the cream, whip heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a medium/stiff peak in the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment. More spices can be added to taste.
14. Unroll the cake and spread some of the cream leaving a 1 in. border unfrosted.
15. Re-roll the cake and trim the sides.
16. Spread frosting on cake or pipe and dust with powdered sugar.

Hope everyone had a merry christmas!

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© A Little Baker
Maira Gall