Friday, February 29, 2008
I have managed to complete all but one of the Daring Bakers' challenges up to now. Some times I've had more success than others but it's all be at least edible and photographed. Well, not so this time. About 3 weeks ago, I went ahead and did the challenge but I guess it just wasn't meant to be. My dough did not rise the third time so I thought I'd turn the oven on for baking and put the proofing loaves on top of the stove for a bit of warmth. Well, that as a huge mistake. The loaves didn't rise anyway and one of them, the baguette, the only one essential to the challenge, half-baked and stuck to the towel I was proofing it in so I had to throw it away. I went ahead and baked the other loaf but it got no oven spring. It tasted good but was very dense. I have a lot going on and I didn't have time to do it but hey, at least I tried!
For more info on the challenge, visit Breadchick's blog, The Sour Dough.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Select five people to tag:
Here are the things to blog about and my answers:
What were you doing 10 years ago?
In February 1998 I was a junior at Miami Springs Senior High. How lovely! I was lusting over my American History teacher who was oh, 20+ years my senior. Yes, I'm young!
What were you doing 1 year ago?
One year ago I was living in North London with my husband. I had just been offered a position at the Royal London Hospital's A&E (ER) and was taking it easy before I had to start working 12 hour shifts again.
Five snacks you enjoy:
1) Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey
2) Rice Krispie Treats
3) Crusty bread
4) BK's french fries
Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
1) Travel around the world with my husband and child. We'd be gone for a good while and not be rushed in any way.
2) I would donate money to the Children's Hunger Fund and March of Dimes.
3) I would build my dream house with a kitchen that took up about half the entire square footage! I would equipment with the largest, most expensive La Cornue range, a big walk in fridge, all of the other commodities of a modern kitchen but well hidden to retain the old French country style I love. Let's not forget that ginormous shoe closet full of Blahniks, Louboutins and Choos!
4) I would buy a house for my mom and one for my dad.
5) I would put my siblings through college
Five bad habits:
1) I bite my nails. Always have and probably always will.
2) I am a HUGE procrastinator.
3) I do not like to study.
4) I love to buy shoes.........expensive shoes.
5) I nag.
Five things you like doing:
3) Shoe shopping
4) Buying cookbooks
Five things you would never wear again:
1) Navy coveralls
2) Payless shoes
3) Skin tight clothes
5) A wedding dress (fingers crossed!)
Five favorite toys:
1) My Kitchenaid Professional 600 mixer
2) My Kitchenaid 12 cup Wide Mouth food processor
3) My Cuisinart 2qt Pure Indulgence ice cream machine
4) My computer; custom built by my geeky husband
5) The Nintendo Wii
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
First and probably most noticeable is the fact that I decided to sprinkle seeds on the bagels. I used poppy seeds for half and sesame seeds for the other half. I only made half the original recipe for a total of 6 bagels; plenty for the two of us. The one thing I didn't do on purpose was omit the malt powder/honey/brown sugar. When I realized I hadn't added it to the mix, the Kitchenaid was already well into the kneading process. I decided to carry on with the recipe and see what happened. Luckily, it didn't seem to matter much, the bagels were still delicious.
The change I am most excited about, however, is the way I baked. I have started to use a makeshift hearth oven using unglazed quarry tiles in my oven. Professional bread bakers use earth ovens and the quarry tiles is as close as a home baker can get to that without building an oven in the backyard. I was very excited about this because it was the first time I actually used that method. I wasn't sure what to expect but it worked beautifully. This is the way I plan to bake all my artisan breads from now on.
The bagels were delicious and it was very naive of me to think they would last for at least a couple of breakfasts. The things hadn't finished cooling when we had inhaled four of them. Now we only have two left for breakfast, one for him and one for me. Next time I will definitely make the entire recipe, at least through the retardation and finish them in the span of two or three days. After all, it is no more work to make the entire recipe than it is to just make half.
Labels: bagels, bread
Friday, February 1, 2008
Ask almost any American in the United States what fudge is and I'm willing to bet my cooking mojo the answer will have the word "chocolate" in there somewhere. When I think of fudge, I think of sinful, creamy goodness that melts in your mouth. "How can this be" you ask, "when you don't like chocolate"? Well, the answer is very simple: There is no chocolate in real fudge! None whatsoever.
Even though fudge is an American invention and the first fudge was indeed chocolate free. It consisted of little more than cream, milk, sugar and butter boiled to the softball stage and then whipped while it cooled. However, for reason, the word fudge has become synonymous with chocolate and even more specific, extra chocolatiness like say fudge brownies and chocolate fudge cakes. In the UK, the fudge is what I described the original fudge to be and is not necessarily associated with chocolate. Most of the fudge in the US is indeed chocolate fudge but other flavors can be found, particularly peanut butter fudge. Flavors other than chocolate are referred to by their flavor and chocolate fudge is just fudge.
The reason why this has happened is unknown to me but it does disturb me a bit. Maybe I'm just too anal retentive about some things but I suspect it has more to do with the fact that I hate chocolate but like fudge. The real fudge that is.
When I was looking for fudge recipes to try, every American recipe was for chocolate fudge. I finally found a British fudge recipe that sounded good so I went ahead and tried it. I ended up making it twice, once yesterday and once today. I was determined to get it right. The recipe calls for Golden Syrup which is a very British thing. I had Golden Syrup but I decided to use corn syrup instead since it is more readily available in the US and it works just as well as the Golden Syrup sometimes. I thought I had nailed it until I tried to cut it into cubes. The fudge was just too soft to be cut and remained so until we put it in the fridge. However, the taste was great.
I decided to give it another go today with the Golden Syrup this time. It made a huge difference not just in the consistency but in the color and taste as well. Yesterday's fudge was very pale in color, looked just like condensed milk and today's was a deep caramel color which is more like it. The two fudges tasted completely different and while yesterday's was great, today's, the one with the Golden Syrup, tasted even better. They were like night and day. It still needed a bit of refrigeration but nothing like yesterdays. So, my advice is, use the Golden Syrup. Although it is not easy to find and you certainly won't find it at your local supermarket, it is not impossible to find nor is it terribly expensive. I know that Whole Foods carries it for sure and you can buy it online from Surfas and British Depot.
200ml whole milk
250g unsalted butter
1kg granulated sugar
5 tbsp Golden Syrup
400g condensed milk
Put all the ingredients in a large pan and boil on high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 115°C on a candy thermometer.
Pour into a mixing bowl and leave for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Whisk until the sugar crystallizes turning the mixture from toffee to fudge. It will look matte and a little grainy.
Spoon into a baking tray lined with greaseproof (parchment) paper and cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator until firm enough to cut into squares, about 1 hour. Cut into squares using a sharp knife or pizza cutter.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator to stop from getting too soft.
Yes, you must weigh the ingredients and use a thermometer! For the whisking part, you will want to use, at the very least, an electric mixer. I used my electric mixer yesterday and it took about 15 minutes of whisking. I used my Kitchenaid stand mixer today and it was quicker still. I don't even want to think about how long it would take if whisking by hand. Be careful when you are cooking the mixture, it spits with a vengeance!
The fudge is incredibly good and incredibly rich. So rich indeed that I had a difficult time eating more than once piece and I have a hell of a sweet tooth. I plan on giving some away to my family and let them deal with the expanding waistline and dentist bills!
Labels: candy, Fudge, sweets