Friday, May 29, 2009

Cookies for a Crowd

If it seems like I've been making a lot of cookies lately...well, I have:

I had to apply some strategy to make three batches of cookies in one go. First, I lined up bowls for wet and dry ingredients and measured out the common items, like flour, butter and leavening:
I labeled the above bowls and set the ones I wasn't using to the side as I put together the doughs one by one.

When the doughs were finished I wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge while I cleaned the kitchen a bit so I would have room to scoop out dough and wash the cookie sheets as they came out of the oven:

I also made a batch of brownies to go with the cookies. While the brownies were in the oven, I started measuring out cookie dough:

My reward at the end of the day was a taste of each cookie and a delicious smell in my apartment!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had a kid's cookbook when I was little that had a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. In that recipe, I was directed to melt butter in the microwave (supervised by a parent, of course) and then mix sugar and brown sugar in, instead of creaming them. The results prompted my mother to grab a bag of chocolate chips and teach me to use the classic toll house cookie recipe.
Above you can see my flour mixed with leavening next to a bowl of butter waiting to be creamed with the sugar and brown sugar.

Here you can see the texture of the dough after creaming and before I mix in the eggs:

Once the eggs and dry ingredients are mixed in, all you need are chocolate chips (and nuts, if you choose). I added milk chocolate chips this time:

I like these when they are just cool enough to not burn your tongue:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

My favorite oatmeal cookie recipe comes to me from a very reliable source - the underside of the quaker oats lid:

Like most cookies recipes, you start by creaming the butter and sugar, and adding eggs to that mixture. The secret ingredient, cinnamon, is on display in the bowl of flour to the left:

The dough with all of the flour incorporated:

The only thing left is to add in the oats and raisins:

I love the irregular shapes that come out of these cookies even when I use a scoop to portion out my dough - the sticky part of the dough can barely hold all of the clumps together:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Buttery Jam Cookies

These cookies, from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking," can be flavored with any type of jam on hand. For a Memorial Day weekend barbeque, I selected blueberry:

The cookies started out like any other, with creamed butter and sugar, and a little bit of spice added into the flour and leavening:

But then the jam was added in:

I would like to consider the finished dough purple, but I think unless it was contrasted against a bright colored bowl or plate...

it really just looked grey. Here are cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet, waiting for the oven:

The finished cookies had a delicate and surprising blueberry flavor:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Banana Bundt Cake

My love of green bananas has been documented before, so I am sure it is no surprise to see me mashing slightly brown fruit to make a Banana Bundt Cake. This is another great banana recipe from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking."

Beauty and the Feast was headed over to bake with me, so I set out the ingredients after my bananas were mashed:

This is a fairly standard cake recipe - the butter is creamed with the sugar, and then the dry ingredients are added alternately with the wet. Once all of those items are incorporated, the bananas are mixed in, leaving the batter a bit chunky:

This cake would also bake beautifully as a loaf - the top is decorative enough to not justify greasing all of the grooves of a bundt pan:

The turned out cake was sliced right away and eaten warm!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Classic Sandwich Bread

I'm a big fan of creatively shaped and differently flavored breads...but sometimes all you need is a classic recipe for white bread:

The only excuse I needed to make such a simple bread was a craving for a good grilled cheese and tomato sandwich:

This bread starts out with flour, yeast, salt, sugar, milk, butter and water:

Once everything is incorporated into a ball...

You knead it about ten minutes, until smooth:

I used a bowl with measurements on the side for the initial rise to gauge how much volume my dough gained. When I left it to rise it was below the one quart mark:

Here is the dough rolled into a log and placed in my loaf pan. You can see the indentations of my fingers well because this dough is very soft:

Partway through the rise...

and after! 
At this point I had to run out for an errand so I used the trick of putting the dough into the fridge so it wouldn't rise too much. I then let it sit on the counter for about an hour to come to room temperature before baking.

Then, once the bread had baked and cooled, I enjoyed a sandwich of cold cuts, lettuce, tomato and homemade spicy guacamole:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies are an almost guaranteed crowd pleaser, and everyone has a favorite recipe (usually the one on the back of the bag of chocolate chips). I decided to take a look into Dorie Greenspan's "Baking" for some inspiration, as I have found her cookbook to be a great source for twists on some of my favorite things. This time, I decided to make her Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies. As you can see here, the basic formula of butter creamed with sugar and brown sugar is followed, and there is cocoa powder mixed in with the flour and leavening:

The flour mixture was mixed bit by bit into the creamed butter and sugar after I added eggs and vanilla:

You can really see the mixture picking up all of the great chocolate flavor as I added more of the cocoa mixture:

Finally, I added in chocolate chips and the dough was ready to go:

To get more regularly sized cookies and to keep my fingers a little bit cleaner, I used a small ice cream scoop to deposit the dough on the parchment lined cookie sheets:

Here are the finished cookies fresh from the oven:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bread I Like: The Boudin Bakery in San Francisco

I visited San Francisco for one quick day recently, and made time for some bread tourism at the Boudin Bakery:
The Boudin Bakery, as you can imagine from their location, is known for their sourdough. The sourdough for their bread was started in 1849, making it the oldest in San Francisco - and a must-visit spot for me!

I was also delighted to see some of the fun shapes that the bakers are able to make out of dough. I'll...perfect some simpler shapes before I try these:

Challah, revisited

I've made Challah before:
I am a big fan of this light, eggy bread.

My challah recipe starts a little differently than some bread formulas - instead of whisking together the dry ingredients and adding in the wet directly, both the wet and dry ingredients are incorporated before they are mixed together. To the left of the usual flour, yeast and salt is a mixture of eggs, oil and water:

I added the wet mixture to the dry and a few minutes later I was ready to knead:

Ten minutes of kneading and two hours of rising later, I decided to have some fun with my challah and make a celebration loaf - basically a smaller braided loaf set on top of a larger one. I sectioned the dough into six boules to rest before further shaping:

Here are the braids of dough...

and here they are on the parchment lined baking sheet:

After another hour of rising and an egg wash the loaf is ready to bake:

I really enjoyed slicing into this bread and being able to see the texture of the six individual pieces of dough that I had shaped:

Even if the ends of the loaf were not quite as pretty as I had hoped - this is a shape the practice!