Thursday, February 4, 2010

Strawberry Linzertortlet

One might assume that time would extend as they sleep less and less. But no. Working 40 hour weeks and schooling full time as well seems to have sped time up. I feel old. This made me feel better though....

I invented this recipe as a way to use old stale cinnamon buns without having to make strudel dough. It does, however, require linzer dough:

Ingredients:
  • 200 g butter
  • 150 g sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 60 g finely ground walnuts*
  • 70 g finely ground almonds
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp vanilla, kirsch, or other liqueur
  • 250 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
*Traditional linzer dough uses hazelnuts here, but I find walnuts or pecans work nicely too.

Method:
  1. blend sugar, salt, butter, and spices until well mixed (not creamed until light!!)
  2. add almonds and walnuts and blend in
  3. add egg and flavorings. Mix until just absorbed
  4. Sift flour and baking powder, add, and mix just until evenly blended
That's really all there is to the dough. Remember, it is like a short dough, so handle as little as possible, refrigerate for easier handling and don't over-mix!

For the tortlets I photographed above, divide the dough into 12 portions and press into tart tins. This should create shells about 5mm thick. Fill with the following:

Strawberry Strudel Filling

Ingredients:
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 150 mL strawberry dessert topping (as for waffles or ice cream)
  • 1 - 2 finely ground cinnamon buns
Method:
  1. Mix it all together.
Fill each unbaked tart shell to the brim with filling and bake @ about 350° F for 20 - 30 minutes.

I love the taste of these things. It reminds me of the strawberry shortcake ice cream bars that Dickie Dee used to carry when I was a kid, waaaaay back when kids played outside (allowing Dickie Dee ice cream vendors the potential to make a profit, you see). Scrumptious strawberry nostalgia right there.

But I digress. I'm old.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pretty Things

I made some pretty things today with choux paste, mascarpone cheese (flavoured with blue Hypnotic liqueur, mango juice, and vanilla bean), and candied blood orange and star fruit. As I got up at 3:00 AM this morning, worked 7 hours and then went to school for 8 hours, and also have to get up at 3:00 AM tomorrow - I'm not in any shape to get into the details of how it was done. I'll try to fill in the gaps tomorrow, but until then - enjoy photos!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

That's funny... They don't look like little cabbages to me.

When I got to work today, I found a requisition for baked goods to feed 200. It didn't matter what the baked goods were, but my instructions were specific in that they said to "show off". Who am I to refuse such a request?

Among other various petite fours, I made a great variety of eclairs and cream puffs including a flock of 56 swans. The ones you see above were actually from a function in December... I just forgot my camera today. I don't know why I do it, but it seems any time it's up to me to choose something to make for a function, it involves pâte à choux, which translates to cabbage pastry in English. It's not that the dough smells of cabbage, but that's maybe kind of what it resembles if you pipe it out into rounds after baking. Yeah.... I don't know. Most people just call it eclair paste.

Anyway, I guess I do it because I've done it enough that I know what the results will be, and it looks classier than butter tarts. Gosh is it ever labor intensive though, doubly so when it's piped, cut, and then reassembled into swans afterword.

There's a million recipes floating around for eclair paste, and is a standard in most baking cook books. I feel it kind of redundant to repost it here. If you're really stuck, this one is as traditional and accurate as it gets.

So, I actually formed blisters on my hand from incorporating the 18 eggs one at a time into the 8 pounds of clay-like batter.... manually.... with a wooden spoon. Yes I complained the whole time, but that's just the relationship I have with choux paste, and it's how I know it will turn out. It has to hurt.

I used pastry cream to fill the small round shells I made, and then drizzled them with tempered chocolate. For the swans, I made a white chocolate German butter-cream filling, simply by mixing regular white chocolate butter-cream and vanilla pastry cream together. And it was good.

But I digress. Once you know eclair paste, and especially if you also know pastry cream the showing off comes all to easily, and people are quicker to be amazed than one might expect. The compliments far outweigh the blistered fingers. :-)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Leftovers

I know I'm in the right profession because I was all excited to finish my baking requisitions at work early today so I could come home and... do more baking.

A while back I made cinnamon buns for the neighbor, but as it turned out he wasn't home to receive them and as a result they went stale. As the buns sat on their plate turning into wonderful cinnamon sugar croutons, I pondered on what I could do with them (other than bread pudding).

Strudel it is! (my first time!!)


Austria and many other central European countries enjoy fresh breads and pastries. A lot. I'm told the reason strudel contains bread crumbs is in part because of this reason; to reduce the waste of breads that have gone stale. I did a quick bit of research on the interwebs and can't seem to find any supporting document to this claim. Allow me to simply cite and/or thank "The Yodeling German" for that one.

So, I chopped up some very ripe apples I had on hand and tossed them with some nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, and walnuts (walnuts compliments of my mother in law)


I didn't go too crazy on seasoning the apples because my bread crumbs were already seasoned from being cinnamon buns.


And here I have to confess.... I did not go through the trials of making traditional strudel dough. I instead thawed a box of filo pastry leaves, layering five sheets with melted butter spread inbetween. Next time, I will do it all from scratch... mark my words. If anything, the real fresh dough might be easier to work with than the frail, dry, break-apartyness of the filo.


After baking @ 350° F until golden brown, I brushed generously with a slurry of simple syrup, cornstarch, and cinnamon.


Finally, I iced the thing with flat icing and promptly delivered it to the neighbors who were home this time. It could very well be that they saw me coming with cinnamon buns last time and decided to hold out for something better....

They did indeed get something better. Mmmmmmmmm. Serve with vanilla pastry cream, pudding, custard, or ice cream!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm Hungry

I first started blogging in 2004 as "Canadian Mark". I blogged (and still do) off and on about a great variety of things including: photography, parenting, Canadiana, Star Wars, cooking, nature, and so on and so forth. I made many friends along the way, one of whom is the very inspiration for this post.

Carmi Levy at Written Inc. hosts thematic photographic every Wednesday, where a theme is picked and his readers post a fitting picture on their own blog. It helps get the wheels of creativity going and also helps to connect people of like minds. Great guy, Carmi.

This weeks theme is "I'm Hungry", and I thought I might take the opportunity to share some photos from the archives to potentially wet a few appetites. I'll probably post recipes for all that you see below, but if you want one sooner that later, please let me know in the comments.

White Chocolate Eclair Swans


Ontarian Apple Pie


Strawberry Meringue Pie


Apfelsine Schocoladentorte (Orange Chocolate Torte)

Well.... I'm hungry again. See ya!

An Experiment....

Firstively, let me start by saying I know I didn't blog yesterday and yet my blog mandate clearly states that I will blog every day with a new recipe. Well, I'm changing it. I'll blog whenever I bake. That's usually at least once a day; sometimes twice, and sometimes every other day. The bottom line is this: If I only post when I bake there will be more creative and rich posts filled with pictures, stories about how I burn myself, slice fingertips off, and all that other fun stuff. Deal?

That said....

I'm attempting to post while baking this morning. It's a new recipe I'm creating on the fly for orange chocolate chip muffins. I've always felt that once you introduce chocolate into a muffin, it becomes more of a cupcake, but hey.... breakfast is breakfast!

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 2 Lg eggs
  • zest and juice from 2 Lg oranges
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Method:
  1. combine dry ingredients and mix well, but don't sift
  2. combine wet ingredient and mix well
  3. combine the dry, wet, and chocolate chips, folding just until incorporated
  4. portion into lined muffin tins
  5. bake @ 350° F until done (about 25 - 30 minutes)
How it all went down:

The kitchen smells like burnt orange now, but I'll get to that a little later....


Depending on the size of recipe, I usually use a fork or whisk to uniformly blend dry ingredients together. Not necessarily what the tool was designed for, but it works well.

Even though it costs a little more, I always try to use free range and/or organic eggs in my recipes. Once incorporated into baked goods, I don't think there's a real difference in taste but it still makes a difference ethically. The eggs I'm using today however are neither free range or organic, but do have a higher level of omega 3 fatty acids due to the diet of the chicken. It's my first time using these eggs and I'm not sure how I feel about it. If the recipe flops, I'll be sure to look in their direction first.

I got a micro-plane for Christmas. Aside from my french knife, it's probably one of the most used pieces of equipment in my portable kitchen. It's pretty grate. :-)


It already smells good.


For muffins with berries or chocolate chips in them, I often mix the dry and wet part way, then add the fruit or chocolate, and then complete the combining process. This way everything gets mixed evenly without creating those evil gluten strands. (Evil to muffins, anyway)

Into the oven to bake for 30 minutes and.... the tops collapsed. :-(


I think I portioned to much into each muffin cup and they couldn't hold their own structure. Some of the edge muffins even spilled over the side creating the lovely burnt orange smell I mentioned earlier.

The most important thing, of course, is the taste.... which in this case is phenomenal. I'll surely make these again, but also fully intend to mess around with the amounts of leavening agents, portion size, and oven temperature. I like my muffin to have a nice crested top, not some crazy plateau. In the meantime if anybody in blog-land decides to try fixing this recipe or has other ideas, feel free to suggest something.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The perfect chocolate chip cookie

After long and arduous searching, near-endless taste-testing and adapting, combining recipes and adapting some more, (and then much more taste-testing!) I do believe I've finally stumbled upon....

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
(yeild: about 48)

Ingredients:
  1. ¾ cup room temperature butter
  2. 1 cup packed brown sugar
  3. ¼ cup white sugar
  4. 1 Lg egg
  5. 1 Lg egg yolk
  6. 2 tsp vanilla
  7. 2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  8. 2 tsp cornstarch
  9. 1 tsp baking soda
  10. 1 cup 55% cocoa Belgian chocolate chips
  11. 1 cup 72% cocoa Swiss chocolate chunks
Method:
  1. combine flour, cornstarch, and baking soda and blend with a whisk - set aside
  2. cream butter and sugars together with wooden spoon
  3. add egg and extra yolk continuing to mix until just absorbed
  4. add vanilla continuing to mix until just absorbed
  5. add dry ingredients and chocolate, folding until just incorporated
  6. drop onto parchment lined pans
  7. bake @ 345° for no longer than 10 minutes (cookies will appear undercooked when they come out - they should!)
I think they stay chewy past three days, but to be honest they've never lasted that long.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mojito Brownies

The other day one of my bosses requested that I come up with a few different brownies featuring mint. Of the three varieties I created today, this is the one I like best so far.... (this is a lengthy and involved original recipe, allowing me to feel less guilty about the fact that I posted rice krispie treats yesterday)


There's rum in the brownies, schnapps in the ganache icing, and oodles of chocolate throughout. 100% awesomeness. This can all be done with extracts, of course, but the real booze gives it a nice punch - especially since this brownie attempts to mimic a cocktail.

Chocolate Mojito Brownies

yeild: one 20" x 12" hotel pan

Brownie Ingredients:
  • 454 g butter
  • 230 g the best dark chocolate you can find
  • 125 mL white rum
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 8 Lg eggs
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125 mL cocoa
  • 750 mL all-purpose flour
  • zest from 4 limes
Method:
  1. melt butter over medium heat
  2. remove from stove and add chocolate (chopped fine) mix until smooth
  3. add rum and mix well
  4. set aside to cool slightly
  5. cream eggs, salt and sugars with beater at medium speed until light and fluffy
  6. reduce to lowest mixer speed, then add chocolate mixture and lime zest
  7. add flour and cocoa, mixing until just incorporated
  8. pour into prepared pan(s) and bake @ 350° F until done (about 25 minutes)
Topping Ingredients:
  • 400 g dark chocolate
  • 200 mL 35% cream
  • 200 mL peppermint schnapps
  • 100 g white chocolate
Method:
  1. heat cream and 100 mL of the schnapps to almost boiling
  2. remove from heat and add chocolate (chopped fine) mix until smooth
  3. add remaining schnapps and mix well
  4. set aside to cool slightly
  5. melt white chocolate in a double boiler
  6. set aside to cool slightly
  7. pour chocolate schnapps mixture over cooled brownies and allow to set 10 minutes
  8. spoon slightly cooled white chocolate into piping bag with 2mm plain tip
  9. pipe straight lines across top
  10. draw back of knife through lines in opposite directions to create herring bone pattern
  11. refrigerate at least 20 minutes to set

If I could do it over again (which I plan to do of course!), I'd omit the chocolate in the brownies and replace the cocoa with as much ground coconut making it a blond brownie, better complimenting the refreshing tropical flavors. For the topping, I would use white chocolate where dark chocolate was used, and melted green molding wafers for the marbled lines.

The end. Sleep happens now.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rice Krispie Treats

No I'm not really posting this recipe.... okay, maybe I am. Does that make me lame? It's just that I don't have time for much else right now and as it is, I had to travel back in time in order to post this on Saturday.

I'll make up for it tomorrow (tonight) with my mojito brownie recipe!!

Rice Krispie Treats

Ingredients:
  • 5.5 L Rice Krispies
  • 900 g marshmallows
  • 454 g butter
  • 125 mL vanilla
Method:
  1. in a double boiler melt butter and marshmallows
  2. add vanilla
  3. take off heat and add cereal. Mix until uniform
  4. glove up and/or coat hands with canola spray
  5. press treats into one full hotel pan
  6. if anal like me, flatten down smooth with back of a spatula
  7. let cool completely!
Seriously though.... the next recipe will be the bee's knees!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Good Neighbor

The position of "baker" is very enviable. Everybody likes the baker, as most people like some sort of baked goods. Aside from good old fashioned money, I've received no end of compliments, coffees, bacon, caramel machiattos, etc... in trade for my baking or the hopes that something will be baked in the near future.

What happened today though surprised me a little. Just before supper there was a knock at my door. I answered it to greet my neighbor, no doubt there to complain about the excessive dog poo, I surmised. But no! He had been out shopping and witnessed some guy saw through the head of a hammer with this fancy knife and had been so impressed that he had to buy one for his baker-cook-neighbor.

I wouldn't have considered this neighbor to be a friend, and to be honest, I can't even say I know his name. I see him on occasion when I take the dogs out and perhaps once a month when we pass in the halls of the college. What does one do in return for such a gesture as a random knife gifting?

Cinnamon Buns

Ingredients:
  • white bread recipe
  • ½ cup soft butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • raisins*, pecans, walnuts, orange zest, etc... (optional)
Method:


1. After dough has rested, roll into a 12" x 15" rectangle

2. Cream sugar, butter, and cinnamon together

3. Spread mixture evenly over dough and sprinkle with nuts, raisins, or whatever else your heart desires.

4. Roll from a short end of the rectangle and cut 2" slices.

5. Pan into medium/large muffin tins (lightly greased)

6. Let proof for about an hour

7. Bake @ 350° until tops are golden brown (about 25 minutes)

8. Let cool for 10 minutes and then plate for delivery to your neighbor who's name you don't know/can't remember.

I personally enjoy a little flat icing drizzled over the tops of these, but this is strictly optional and certainly doesn't make them any healthier. As it is, it's like eating candied bread. Mmmmmm.

*Raisins and other dried fruit should be plumped in boiling water before use

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Basic White Bread

It was only last summer that I began experimenting with yeast. Considering how long I've held baking as a passion, I don't know how I managed to avoid it - or why? It would be as if Jaques Cartier had come to the America's and didn't step foot off PEI for 20 years after arriving.



Anyway, it didn't take long for me to discover that yeast is my friend. After several weeks of experimenting, I came up with my own bread recipe that seems to work quite well and is also rather versatile. I've used this recipe for plain loaves, cinnamon buns, dinner rolls, and even thick crust pizza.

Canadian Mark's White Bread (with pictures of me making it!)
yeild: one loaf

Ingredients:
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

Method:

1. Combine the first four ingredients in a liquid measurer and whisk until uniform

2. Place flour on (preferably wooden) work surface and create a well in center


3. Drop egg and oil into well

4. Mix with one hand from the center of the well while slowly incorporating liquid with the other hand until all is blended together. If end dough is too sticky, add flour. N.B. It is much easier to incorporate more flour to a wet dough than it is to add more water to a dry dough!

5. Knead for 5 - 10 minutes or until a smooth ball of dough is formed

video

6. wrap it and let it rest at least ten minutes, allowing the gluten to relax and make the dough friendlier to work with

7. for a basic bread, shape the dough into a loaf on a sheet or in a bread pan and let rise until double ( about 90 minutes)

8. bake @ 375 until done. About a half-hour.

And now I too require a rest to relax my own gluten. Goodnight folks. Perhaps tomorrow we'll do something a little more interesting with this bread dough.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I should be sleeping, but....

I bring another recipe to you today from the Laura Secord Canadian Cook Book. I have to work at 4:30 AM tomorrow and really, it would have made more sense for me to be sleeping than to be playing around with muffin recipes but this is just the kind of guy I am. I had two cans of Pepsi Max before supper keeping me alert physically, and the drive to not dissapoint my four readers (Wife, Mom, Jessica, and Carmi) keeping me on my toes mentally. So, without further ado....

Click image to make larger!

I made several adjustments to this recipe before even attempting it as written Instead of shortening, I used butter simply because butter tastes awesome - especially when paired with things like oatmeal, brown sugar, and cinnamon. And speaking of spices, another adaptation I made to the recipe was the addition of several pinches of nutmeg.

I have a German heritage after all!


I added my blueberries directly to my dry ingredients, so that when I stirred in the wet stuff it would incorporate just as fast. The recipes says to fold them in, but my method reduces the risk of over-mixing and gluten development. Nobody likes a glutenous muffin. Well, maybe the weirdos.


I baked them 50 degrees cooler and had to spin my pan around halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking because my home oven is difficult like that. They looked and smelled wonderful though!

Where the recipe suggests to remove from tins and serve warm; this would work well if using parchment liners. If, however, you're like me and don't have such clever devices on hand and instead trust on a lightly greased tin for muffin removal, I would suggest letting these muffins cool for 10 or fifteen minutes in the pan before removing. The mess you see below is the result of removing a hot muffin.

It is a very delicious mess, mind you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Something Important

When you learn to cook, it is discovered that most of the thousands of sauces in the world are derivatives of several mother sauces (tomato, bechemel, espangole, veloute, etc...) The same idea holds true in baking, and what I want to discuss today is the mother of baking mother sauces:

Pastry Cream
(dust off your baker's scales, this is a classic recipe that depends on weight, not volume)
  • 480 g sugar
  • 2 L milk
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 150 g cornstarch
  • 120 g butter
  • 30 mL vanilla
Method:
  1. In a heavy saucepan, dissolve half the sugar in the milk and bring just to a boil.
  2. With a whip, beat the egg yolks and whole eggs in a stainless-steel bowl.
  3. Sift the starch and remaining sugar into the egg. Beat with the whip until perfectly smooth.
  4. Temper the egg mixture by slowly beating in the hot milk in a thin stream.
  5. Return the mixture to the heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  6. When the mixture comes to a boil while stirring, remove from the heat.
  7. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Mix until the butter is melted and completely blended in.
  8. Cool quickly in a shallow pan* and whisk before using.
*note that plastic wrap should be put down directly on surface of pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming and also inhibit bacteria growth.

This stuff is wonderfully versatile. It forms the base of many cream pies, puddings, donut and cake fillings, eclair fillings. It's important to know how to make this stuff.

Oh, and also... when you get to step #5, it's important to note that this stuff is like napalm. If you stop stirring for even a moment it will splatter, stick to your skin, and burn through 2 layers of skin at least. Not to scare you away or anything, just be cautious. I know these things because I've been there.

In other news, I got a new tool box today for my portable kitchen!





$27.97 at Canadian Tire - I'd link to the item on their website but it's not listed there. I'm quite impressed with the thing. It's large enough to hold a full sized text book plus my thousands of baking/cooking, yet it's small enough to stand upright in a locker. It's like the TARDIS of tool boxes.

Consequently, the book shown above is the source of the pastry cream recipe I shared this evening. It's sort of become my baking bible.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The way it crumbles....

Today was my first day back at school in a new semester of culinary management. Tomorrow I'll be in the land of cookies as my class and I undertake the arduous task of baking some 2000 cookies for charity. Maybe. Tomorrow also happens to be a scheduled province-wide student walkout protesting a pending teacher strike that has the potential to set students back a full year in their programs.

It's a pretty crap decision to have to make. I love baking cookies, and doubly so for charity; but I also want to voice my opinion on this strike issue, especially if a yes vote on the strike means another year before I graduate.

I already know I'm going to school tomorrow, but I'm not going to learn or even have my attendance taken. I'm going to help make cookies, and that is all. Now, as my title suggested; a cookie recipe (my favorite):

Mayan Chocolate Sparklers

Ingredients:
  • ¾ cup shortening
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Method:
  1. Beat shortening, butter and sugars until creamy.
  2. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  3. Add next 6 ingredients, mixing until incorporated.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Roll in 1” balls, don’t flatten.
  6. Roll into cinnamon and sugar topping.
  7. Place on prepared cookie sheets, about 2” apart.
  8. Bake @ 350° F for about 10 minutes (should still be soft in center)


I made these for the first time this past Christmas and I see no reason why they shouldn't make it into the regular rotation. Despite the title of this post, these cookies are exceptionally soft and moist with no crumbling tendency at all. The pepper gives them a nice little unexpected kick. Truly good food for a picket line. :-)




FRR47AHUVW7N

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Butter Tarts

Five days, and I'm still at it! Yay me!

I've worked a large percent of the holiday season and I'm beat. I don't at all feel like blogging, and I don't think anybody would really notice at this point if I didn't. I need sleep. I'm not giving up that easy though. Remember the pie dough we made yesterday? A single batch of that should fill a dozen medium tart tins....

Butter Tarts

Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
Method:
  1. Cream butter and sugar together
  2. Add eggs an mix until incorporated fully
  3. Add remaining ingredients and mix well
  4. Fill unbaked tart shells a little more than half full
  5. For the mundane, add a few raisins or pecans to each tart. For the adventurous, add dark chocolate chunks, craisins, or goji berrys.
  6. Bake @ 350° F for about 25 minutes
I have made literally thousands of these. They're good. I'll perhaps expand on this after school tomorrow. Then we'll do a yeast recipe. Gluten Nacht!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pie dough

I think I was shown how to make basic pie pastry before I was taught how to scramble an egg. When I'd visit my Memere as a child of 5 or 6, my favorite thing to play with was a half batch of the recipe listed below, along with some cookie cutters, a bowl of cinnamon sugar, and some raisins. To hell with playdough, I wanted the real thing!

I have friends and relatives with all sorts of crazy pie dough recipes. Some include eggs, others vinegar, and one that I know of utilizes a can of clear soft-drink. Crazy. Mine is pretty basic in comparison. Flour, shortening, and water - room temperature. I don't even bother with the dash of salt anymore. For a double crust pie I typically use:

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup shortening
  • ½ - ¾ cup water (depends on humidity and brand of flour)
Method:
  1. Cut the shortening into the flour using a pastry blender or the backsides of 2 butter knives.
  2. Do this until the pieces of shortening are about the size of lentils or whole oats; not walnuts or peas!
  3. Mix in water with a knife or fork until a dough forms and just begins to get tacky.
  4. Let rest for at least 20 minutes, preferable somewhere cool.
  5. turn out portions onto well floured surface and roll to several mm thickness.
  6. baking times depend entirely on what you fill this dough with. Usually at a temperature of 350 - 370°.
This recipe will give enough dough for a top and bottom crust, plus a little extra to play around with.

There are many recipes I make that require this dough, so I'll be referring back to this post often.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lemon Blackberry Muffins

I actually made these muffins three days ago, making up the recipe on the fly as I oft do for these sorts of things. That said, they were really, really yummy.

Really though, I'm just posting this recipe now for the purpose of squeezing in some more info about this blog... recent changes, updates to mandate, and so on and so forth.

Firstively, every post henceforth shall contain a recipe of some sort. Eventually I'll get around to indexing all these recipes in some sort of searchable database. Now, won't that be nice?

Secondively, my first post on this blog makes little to no sense now, as I've changed the title of the blog from "flour" (what was I thinking?) to "Anyone can Bake", which is sort of a play on Guesteau's book "Anyone can Cook" from the movie Ratatouille; A movie I'm guaranteed to watch at least 4 times a week due to my two year old's affection for the film. In all honesty, despite it being Disney I have affection for the movie too.

Thirdively, here's that muffin recipe I spoke of earlier:

Canadian Mark's Lemon Blackberry Muffins

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 4 free run eggs
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1 pint blackberries
Method:
Standard muffin method.
  1. blend dry ingredients together
  2. mix wet ingredients together
  3. combine wet with dry, add blackberries, and mix until just incorporated
  4. fill lined or greased muffin cups level with top
  5. bake immediately @ 350° F until done (about 20 - 25 minutes)
This should make about 12 medium sized muffins, or one 8 inch round coffee cake.

Early Ontario Sour Cream Biscuits

I'm going to cook my way through "The Laura Secord Canadian Cook Book" in one year!

Pfffttt... no. No I'm not. I will however share a recipe from said book that I prepared last night. Beef Stew was on the menu and I wanted some sort of quick bread biscuit for the sopping up of delicious red wine infused gravy.

I grabbed the Laura Secord book, which is filled with a strange mix of odd, obscure, sometimes hokey, and finally traditional recipes - I absolutely love this book, and plan to do a full review on it in the foreseeable future. Anyway, I flipped to the page containing the traditional tea biscuit recipe, only to be swayed by the recipe previous to it:

"Early Ontario Sour Cream Biscuits"


Ingredients:
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 1½ cups sour cream
Method:
  1. Blend together dry ingredients
  2. Cut in the shortening
  3. Stir in the sour cream
  4. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead 8 to 10 times
  5. Roll out or pat ½ inch thick and cut with biscuit cutter, upturned glass, etc...
  6. Bake on ungreased sheet @ 450° F until light golden brown (about 15 minutes)
So, they're basically tea biscuits with sour cream used in place of milk. The blurb before the recipe in the book states: "These rich biscuits reflect the German predilection for sour cream in cooking, which has influenced many of our (Canadians) recipes.

I don't know about German influence, but they did turn out to be very edible biscuits. I couldn't even post a picture of one now because they went directly out of the oven and into our mouths without stopping a moment to pose for the camera. Next time, I promise not to be so forgetful.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Gluten Tag

Hi! I'm Canadian Mark. You may remember me from such blogs as "Canadian Mark", "2ubes", and the ever ill fated, "up yer kilt!" It's one week into a new year and I'm as much a new person as I ever was, hence the new clean white blog simply titled "flour".

So; why flour, you ask?

Because this shall be my blog about baking, and flour is of utmost importance to my trade. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together -- No... no, that's The Force. Flour is pretty good too though. I like what it's done for me, but not so much what it's done for my midsection.

Anyway, I love to bake more than anything in the world - to the point where I want to share it with the world. Daily. That's right, I'm going for a post a day on this one, whether it be a full blown recipe or a cheesy one liner intended to make you roll your eyes. Let's see just how far we can take it.

I give it three days. ;-)