Thursday, January 28, 2010

Daring Bakers January 2010 - Nanaimo Bars

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

I'm a little late posting this, but these were quick to assemble. I used hazelnuts instead of almonds but otherwise followed the recipe as is!

These are sweet, way too sweet for me, and even an extra sprinkling of nuts on top didn't do much to cut it down. I will be bringing these in to work on Friday, stop by until we get sent home for snow. :)

On the other hand, it is always nice to pay a culinary tribute to Canada. I share a birthday with the country, so we're close.

Categories: Chocolate, Cookies, Coconut, Daring Bakers

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cookbook Review - The Craft of Baking

Tropical Nougat Closeup
Originally uploaded by watchjennybake.
I really like the perspective of Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox in The Craft of Baking, where the baker is urged to make their own versions of the recipes they have provided. I took that idea and ran with it for two of the recipes in the book. The hardest part was narrowing down which recipes to start with!

In general, the recipes are creative and a little trendy, which is good for a baker like me who doesn't simply want one more chocolate chip cookie recipe. You will find 'salted' and 'browned butter' spins on recipes, as well as some custards that I can't wait to try making. Since the recipes are so varied, you might find yourself needing a different sized dish or an extra ingredient, but I think it goes along with the spirit of the book to adapt the recipes to fit your kitchen and your pantry.

Coffee Cake with Almond-Pecan Streusel
The first recipe I tried was for the Coffee Cake Muffins with Pecan Streusel. I didn't want to dig out my silicon muffin 'tins,' and didn't have enough pecans on hand, so the only adaptations I made were to bake it in a loaf pan and to use almonds. While coffee cake doesn't sound like something special, the crumb on this recipe was so light, and my husband said it was the best coffee cake he'd had.

Tropical Nougat
I was talking with a few friends a few days ago, and the pronunciation of the word "nougat" came up. Two of them were from Canada, and one from Australia, and while we never decided on the 'proper' way, I definitely pronounce it "NEW-gut." When I came across the recipe for Nut & Cherry Nougat, I knew I had to try it. I had the main ingredients on hand - sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, powdered sugar - but not the cherries or pistachios. My Mom had recently sent me a huge bag of Oregon hazelnuts, so I roasted and peeled a bunch of those. Digging through my pantry I discovered some dried tropical fruits (papaya, mango, and pineapple), so I decided to make a tropical nougat! I added in the rest of the slivered almonds I had from the other day as well.

I have to admit I didn't really have the equipment called for to make this recipe - my smallest pan seems to be a fairly large saucepan. So instead of making two batches of sugar heated to different temperatures, I poured some in to the whipping egg white at one temperature, and then poured the rest at the higher temperature. Actually, it worked pretty well!

The end result was delicious. I hadn't ever made nougat before, and can see delicious versions of this in my future.

Other recipes I am excited about making in the near future - maple custard, chocolate babka, and I won't be able to resist the bittersweet chocolate tart.

Categories: Candy, Nougat

Saturday, January 02, 2010

JennyBakes 2010 Culinary Resolutions

I got this idea from the guys over at The Bitten Word, and thought it was brilliant. I don't do well on resolutions in general, but I thought culinary ones would be some good goals to try to accomplish in 2010.

1. Make the third of the laminate doughs. I have made danish pastry (twice, actually) as well as puff pastry. 2010 will be the year I tackle croissants!

2. Bread baking - I was given The Bread Baker's Apprentice for Christmas and I am so excited to get started. Looking back on several Daring Bakers Challenges, I have made his lavash, pizza dough (I make this all the time now!), and sticky buns. I'm looking forward to spending more energy learning about savory, non-sweet, yeast breads.

3. Cake decorating - I need to buy my own decorating supplies, or get my Mom to send me my old stuff from back when I first took the Wilton classes. I made marshmallow fondant in 2009, but I want to tackle the more standard stuff. I also want to try modeling chocolate. I have no aspirations to become a cake decorator, since technically I used to work as one in a bakery without all the fancy stuff, but I definitely feel I have a lot to learn!

4. Trifle. I have a beautiful trifle dish that has never been used. Shameful!

5. To be intentional about seasonal ingredients. Horror of horrors - last year I skipped both the peach and apple seasons in my area, which are possibly the best fruits coming out of southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina. Really, no excuse. :)

Wow, I don't want to get too carried away. I think this is a good start.

I hope your 2010 gives you creative space!