Thursday, July 5, 2012

TWD: Hazelnut Biscotti

Hello from London! It is hard to believe, but after much planning (not enough) and a lot of insanity (due to the lack of planning), my life in London has begun.
Here is my new residence! (at least for the next 3 months until my boyfriend and dog come to join me)
I’ve been here for about a week and a half now and have almost completed my first full week of work! Everyone has been very, very nice and even though it has been a bit overwhelming with how much I am trying to absorb in a short amount of time, it has been nice to feel like I am an essential part of a team again.
The hardest thing, I think, is that when I am really stressed out I bake – or cook – but mostly bake, and that has been fairly difficult. It has been a long, long time since I have had to start a pantry from scratch and an even longer time since I have been almost completely equipment-less.
The gentleman I am lodging with is the very definition of a consummate bachelor. (I found a pot of cream in his fridge that was a few months old and, according to his daughters, his mom still cooks a lot of his meals). Needless to say, there is no standing mixer in his kitchen, or cookie sheets, or even any real mixing bowls. I anticipated a bit – bringing my toolkit from the home stocked full of whisks, spatulas, my knives, and a scale – but what I didn’t anticipate was my sheet pans not actually fitting in his oven.
What this meant was, for my first Tuesdays with Dorie recipe in the UK, I had to do much, much more advanced preparation than normal. My scale broke, so I had to go find a kitchen shop that sold digital scales (I hadn’t thought to bring cup measurements). Thankfully a friend here gave me a cookie sheet that she doesn’t use. It only took two grocery stores to find hazelnuts (the ricotta for some homemade gnocchi was much harder).
So, after many, many bus and tube trips around my little area of northwest London, I managed to make the biscotti. And they have been very well received. Both the gentleman and his 23 year old daughter who is visiting have enjoyed multiple pieces. And even though I don’t normally eat very much that I bake, I have eaten a few pieces myself with cups of tea at work.
I think I can safely say that these are easy to make, given that I could accomplish them even with almost no equipment. Though I will say that peeling the hazelnuts was a bit time consuming.
I didn’t add any alcohol – I wasn’t going to go out and buy hazelnut liquor just for 2 tablespoons – and I think it actually helped cut the sweetness in the finished cookies, though they still did taste very, very nutty. Also, for fun, I drizzled some of the cookies with some 70% melted chocolate. Not too much (didn’t want to dip) but I thought it would add a little more dimension to the flavor.
If you would like full recipe, please head over to HomemadeAndWholesome or BakingAndBoys! (who also fantastically drizzled them in chocolate)
Next week, a catch up recipe! Probably the Hungarian Shortbread… and a bit more on London life.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

TWD: French Strawberry Cake

Hello again! Apologies for my tardiness in updating the blog. My only excuse is that, as many of you know, I am moving. Again.
My first post back in February was right after we had moved to Brooklyn. The apartment was in shambles and I had kitchen stuff in piles all over the place. It was a mess. It is going to be better and worse this time, because this time the move is to London, England.
For the past month or so, as my job and visa were being finalized, I have had the heartbreaking task of going through all of my belongings and asking “is this worth moving across the ocean?” While we are hiring movers, we can’t take everything (and by that, I mean that pretty much all of my cookbooks and baking supplies are going, the question is only being asked about everything else I own).
And as I was baking this cake today, my last cake (almost) to be baked in this apartment, I found myself really worried about being without my baking utensils for the next 3 months (when everything will arrive in the UK). How can I live without my cake pans? Tart pans? Rolling pin? Scale? Favorite cookbooks? I’m going to end up with socks, underwear, and sheet pans in my checked luggage!
But for right now, baking is helping keep me sane and this cake has helped me this week remember one of the great things about New York – the farmer’s market. While running around the city doing errands and trying to get in as much possible in this last week before I leave, I ended up in Union Square, right in the middle of the farmer’s market. The site of the beautiful strawberries made me so happy that this was the (almost) last cake I will be making before I start a new adventure.
The cake itself was really easy to make. The genoise came together fast and the vanilla in the recipe gives is a sweeter smell than the traditional recipes we used in school.  I used AP flour as I was not going to go buy a box a cake flour when I am leaving for another country in under a week and I don’t think the cake was any less tender for it. Overall, this is a nice staple cake that I can see being paired with a lot of different fillings
To the strawberries, I added a little orange blossom water (just under a ½ tsp, it is powerful stuff!) to give a floral hint to the filling. Then, for the cream, I mixed in lemon curd instead of sour cream in an effort to use up what I have in the fridge. It still provides a nice tartness to compliment the sweetness of the strawberries.
Given that I am doing A LOT of stress baking lately, the last thing my boyfriend I need around the apartment is more sweets (we have three – THREE – flavors of fruit jellies right now. It’s a little ridiculous), I’ll be dropping off the cake with a gentleman that has recently been really nice to my mom and I. He has provided both of us with some exceptionally nice glasses. And come on, who wouldn’t like French Strawberry Cake?
Even though I haven’t posted about the other recipes, I have actually made them all, so I will be catching up and writing about them. However, the next new post will be made in a different kitchen, in a different country, so that should be very interesting indeed.
For the full recipe for the French Strawberry Cake, please head over to Sophia's Sweets and Sleep Love Think Dine. Until next time, wish me luck!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TWD: Lemon Loaf Cake

Hi All! Apologies for missing the last TWD post. I had just catered my first wedding (three-tiered cake, 5 types of petit fours, and take home boxes) and was feeling pretty baked out. Between my normal job, my part time job at the restaurant, and baking all of the stuff for the wedding, I really just needed to take a breather!

That said, I WILL be making up the post for Pizza Rustica (dough is already chilling in the fridge), but in he meantime, what could be easier and more fit for spring then a lemon loaf?

I don't really bake quick breads at home much. While I really like the idea of them, or muffins, for breakfast, I always feel like they do more harm then good. I think, "Great! I'm saving myself money because I'm not buying breakfast!" but then I'm hungry again after an hour, so I go have a bag of pretzels, and then realize that I have eaten way more carbs/sugar/calories than if I had just bought a Starbucks greek yogurt parfait on the way into work.

But I do really like lemon loaves, the good ones have that nice sweet/tart taste where the sugar plays off of the nice lemony flavor. This loaf was not one of those. It had a very nice crumb, very moist and tender, but the lemon flavor was a little lacking. I had suspected this, thanks to all the other TWDers that had tried the recipe ahead of time, so I decided to augment the cake a bit. I made a simple syrup flavored with hibiscus flowers and doused the cake in it as soon as it came out of the oven. Doesn't the pink look pretty?

The hibiscus simple syrup served a dual purpose, as it also allowed me to use up something in my kitchen. Using up things is going to become a pretty serious goal for reasons I can't really say just yet, but trust me, there is going to be a lot more "cleaning out my cupboards" baking going on soon.

So, hibiscus simply syrup really added a nice color and boost of flavor to the cake, amplifying the lemon while adding its own fruitiness. I think it would probably be even better with a cake that, at its base, was much more lemony. But I enjoyed it for breakfast (and managed to fend off the pretzel snacking) and everyone at work was very happy to have an unexpected treat - at least, I think they did based on the "yums" I could hear from the other side of the office.

Please head over to the blogs of Truc (Treats) and Michelle (The Beauty of Life) for the recipe and to check out their lemon loaf posts.

I will leave you with a picture of my first wedding cake - I made everything on the cake but the ribbons!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TWD: Happy St. Paddy's Day - Irish Soda Bread!

With a last name like Kelly, you would think I would have had Irish Soda Bread many times in my life. But, you would be wrong.

Being of Scottish descent, we had lots of scones, shortbread, raisin squares, but never soda bread. And, truthfully, if this recipe is any indication, we weren't really missing anything.

With only four ingredients, the recipe was dead easy to put together (which was good, as I was mostly occupied with making sugar flowers this past Sunday). I added chopped dates, which I had originally bought for the rugelach, but it just didn't deliver the flavor for me that I hoped for. Without the chopped dates, the bread itself would not have really tasted like anything.

Though the bread was tender, it was also a bit dry. It was fine with a bit of jam and a cup of tea, but I think in the future, I'll just make my grandmother's scones.

For some different takes on the Irish soda bread, and the recipe, head over to My Culinary Mission (she made hers with gruyere!) or Chocolate Moosey.

Next time on TWD - Pizza Rustica! I'm already thinking of yummy toppings...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

TWD: Rugelach

As with any new endeavor, mistakes are a given along the way. There is apparently some weird glitch with word and blogger and internet explorer that, while very long and boring, was why some people were unable to view my blog entry last time. Well, at least, at first. Now you can't view my blog post because I accidentally deleted it trying to figure out the problem and had no back up.

A fitting entry to this week's Baking with Julia post. The recipe was rugelach and, like the blog post before hand - no matter how well prepared you think you are, trying something new always leaves room for a few glitches.

There was a lot that I liked about this recipe. For example, it really appealed to the type A organization freak in me as this was NOT a recipe you can just throw together (like chocolate chip cookies, where my record is under ten minutes). This is a recipe that, while you could take a day and do, lends itself to being set up and prepared over a number of days - making the dough and the fillings one day, filling and chilling the dough on a second day, and finally, on the third day, baking the dough.

That said, even with all the prep time, and the perfect way they looked on the tray, there was still a glitch - instead of staying in the lovely pinwheel shape that they started in, the majority of them exploded, looking more like commas than nice swirly periods.

I can't attest to the taste (they were actually baking as I wrote this post, I wasn't THAT organized), but they smell wonderful. I think with a few parchment paper rolling tricks and a firmer squeeze at the end, the next batch may remain in their traditional shape (and there will be another batch, I only rolled out half the dough). So, as with the mishap with the previous blog post, hopefully I will solve the glitch and come away smarter than I was before.

If you would like to see some very nice rugelach (that don't look like commas), or if you would like the recipe, please head over to My Baking Heart, which is hosting the recipe this week.

I really DO intend to post next week - I recently made a lovely Ginger cake that I would just love to share, so keep your fingers crossed that I get my act together! Otherwise, the next recipe from Baking with Julia is Irish Soda Bread (Happy St. Patty's Day), and you know you can count on me for that one!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TWD: Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

TWD: White Loaves

I think it is natural that my first blog post is about bread. It is the first thing I remember my mom baking and the first thing she taught me how to bake. I used to bake a loaf every Sunday for my boyfriend to have during the week.

Then lots of things happened - culinary school, crazy PR job hours, restaurant internships, and I haven't baked bread in a while.

But, now, in a new apartment, in a new borough (Brooklyn!) a new kitchen, and an opportunity to become part of the awesome baking blogger circle Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia, it was time to take a Sunday afternoon and make bread.

First, though, I have to share with you the conditions I am baking in. As I mentioned, I have just moved, which is tough enough, BUT my new kitchen is about a quarter of the size of my old one. So, until we get a bit more storage space, here is what our living room:

And dining room:

Look like!

Ok - now you can envision me trying to find loaf pans! So White Loaves was the first recipe in the book Baking with Julia that the Tuesdays with Dorie group decided to make. The key to the group is that we are all going to bake together, each of us posting pics/sharing tips of how the recipe came out for them. If you want the recipe, the best place to go is either Laurie's or Jules' blog. You can look at their lovely loaves and get the recipe. Or go buy the book - which I highly recommend.

So - how did my loaves turn out? Pretty awesome! Apart from worrying whether my poor kitchen aid was going to overheat, it was a very easy dough to mix, and I had no trouble with it rising or baking up. It has a nice crust and a creamy inside. My boyfriend has already made french toast with it, and I had it with some baked eggs for dinner.

The one thing I will say is the the recipe calls for either AP or Bread flour. Now, these flours are pretty different in terms of their protein content, so I made loaves with both AP and Bread to compare. Both were lovely, and the differences are subtle - I felt that the dough came together and rose better with the bread flour. I haven't cut into one of them yet (we now have 3 loaves in the freezer), so can't report on the actual texture, but I CAN say that the loaf made with AP flour is delicious!

The Tuesdays with Dorie group posts every 2 weeks (next time is chocolate truffle tartletts!), but I am hoping to make blogging about my baking adventures at least a weekly event. I have a massive amount of cookbooks, and my boyfriend never complains when I "practice." I also hope to build out the site a bit more with pictures of other items I've baked for different occasions. I hope you will come back and see what is new!