Category Archives: American

Walnut Raisin Bread

Wow, this bread is seriously good! When I showed it to my friend LazyEaterSF, she was like, “It looks like real bread.” It does, doesn’t it?

I found the recipe on Bakies blog and I believe the original is from British Larder. It’s a great recipe, though  I encountered some difficulties with the amounts, probably due to conversion to cups. Maybe my Recipe Converter app is off. Anyway, this always seems to happen when trying to convert measurements. The dry to liquid ingredients wasn’t right, so I ended up adding about 1 cup more water than was specified. Also, my dough took a lot more time to proof than was stated in the original. This is probably because I don’t have instant yeast and only have active dry at home. In any case, I let the dough proof overnight and then divided it into two and let it rise another 2 or so hours until doubled in size.

I did make a few ingredient changes: used all white flour instead of half wheat, but only because I didn’t have any wheat on hand. I also replaced half the original amount of walnuts with raisins.

*All changes – converted amounts and added ingredients are reflected in the recipe below.

One thing, no, two things I love about this recipe are 1) the poolish or starter or whatever you call it was fast acting  (not overnight) and 2) I could dump all the ingredients into my Kitchen Aid, including nuts and raisin, and leave everything to mix on its own. Super easy.

Apart from measurement conversion issues, the bread is everything I hoped it would be and more! So gorgeously golden and crisp on the outside and light, soft and airy on the inside. I love the additions of the raisins. They give such a nice sweetness to the bread.

Oh, yes, I am definitely making this again.

Enjoy!

Walnut Raisin Bread (converted and adapted from a recipe found on Bakies)

Makes 2 round loaves

INGREDIENTS

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp table salt

3/4 tsp active dry yeast

2 Tbsp honey

2 1/2 cups warm water, divided

1/2 cup walnut halves

1/2 cup raisins

 

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water

3/4 cup cold water

METHOD

  1. Place yeast, 1/2 cup flour and honey in a small mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup of the warm water, mix well, cover and leave to prove for 30 minutes in a warm spot or until the mixture starts to bubble. (Mine took about an hour.)
  2. In the bowl of a mixer add the remaining flour, bubbling yeast mixture, walnuts, raisins, salt and the remaining warm water together. Attach the dough hook and mix the bread dough on slow speed for 10 minutes.
  3. Grease a large mixing bowl. Once the dough is ready turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape the bread dough into a smooth ball. Place the smooth bread dough into the greased mixing bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave to proof until the dough has risen to double in size. (I left it overnight.)
  4. Dust two baking sheets or pie pans with flour, set aside.
  5. Gently turn the bread dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into two even halves.
  6. Roll each half into an evenly shaped smooth ball, place each ball onto your already floured trays or pie pans, cover gently with plastic wrap and leave to proof for the second time until nearly double in size.
  7. In the oven, move one of the racks to the very bottom and place an empty baking sheet on top. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  8. Once the dough has risen, brush the risen bread carefully with the egg wash and use a knife to make small cuts at the top of the risen bread. (I just cut a simple “x”.)
  9. Place the baking sheets or pie pans in the preheated oven and pour 3/4 cup of cold water directly into the pan at the bottom of the oven and shut the door quickly. The water will give a burst of steam that will help the loaves to puff and form a golden crust.
  10. After about 10-12 minutes, place a sheet of foil over the bread.
  11. Continue baking the loaves for 35-40 minutes, give the bread a tap at the bottom and if it sounds hollow it means the bread is done. Place the bread onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
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Classic Apple Pie with a Braided Crust

There are no surprises when it comes to apple pie, which is probably one of the reasons it’s such a classic and beloved dessert. Flaky crust; sweet and tart filling–a good one will soothe and fill every heart, soul and tummy with content!

That said, this pie did surprise me: First, by it’s interesting cook-before-you-bake filling and second, by its overwhelming popularity. It was more popular than the coconut pumpkin (recipe to come soon) AND I was asked to make a second, larger one just two days later!

It’s basically one recipe I used here, from Butter. The filling requires stewing before baking, which was a new concept to me. I was worried that the apples would end up a smushy mess, but they didn’t. They totally held they’re shape. The cooking softened the tartness and allowed the juices and spice to really marry and develop. As for the crust, it’s basic and really good–flaky, buttery, light. As with any crust, just be careful not to over work it when you roll it out–it’ll be hard and heavy if you do. The cool shaping into braids idea came from Food For My Family. I saw her photo on Tastespotting and decided to try to recreate it the effect. It turned out to be super simple and so very delicate and pretty!

I love this pie: yummy filling, lovely crust. The first one was great and the second was even better! I threw a handful of raisins in with the apples. They added a nice juicy pop, I thought. Also, I was able to serve the pie still warm and it was awesome. I’d definitely suggest serving it warm if you can.

Enjoy!

Classic Apple Pie (recipe courtesy of Butter and Food For My Family)

Serves 8-10.

INGREDIENTS

Crust

3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup super fine sugar
250g (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 egg yolks
4 tbsp cold water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Apple Filling

8 large Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp cornflour

METHOD

For the crust

  1. Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor or stand mixer. Mix on a low speed until mixture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the egg yolks, cold water and vanilla, and process until a dough forms.
  3. Take a third of the dough, shape it into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. This will be your lattice. Form a disc with the remaining dough and wrap it in plastic wrap. This will be your crust. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the filling

  1. Peel, core and chop the apples into 2cm (1 inch) cubes.
  2. Combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon and water in a saucepan. Cook, over a low heat for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The apples should be soft but still hold their shape.
  3. Drain the juice from the apples into a small bowl. Stir in the cornflour until it dissolves and return this mixture to the apples. Mix to combine. Set aside.

Assembly

  1. When you are ready to make your pie, remove the larger disc of pastry from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 365 F and grease a pie dish well.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, or between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the dough until it is big enough to line your pie dish.
  3. Lightly flour the dough and gently roll it up onto your rolling pin. Then unroll it into your pie dish, easing it in and pressing it into any edges. Trim the excess pastry, leaving a 2cm (1 inch) overhang.
  4. Fill the pastry shell with the apple filling.
  5. Remove the smaller disc of dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the dough until it is big enough to cover your pie dish. Trim the extra dough so that you create an even lip that just reaches the edge of the dish.
  6. Roll out the excess dough and cut into thin, long strips. Then braid and line the edge of the pie. Press gently to seal.
  7. Brush the entire pie with water or egg wash. Sprinkle with a little sugar.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour, until the crust is golden brown.

Pretty braided crust

Thanksgiving 2011

Our Thanksgiving feast 🙂

Savory…

Turkey, stuffing (my favorite), mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, mixed veggies and a deviled egg

 

To mop up the sauce…

Butter rolls

And then the sweet…

Classic apple pie and coconut pumpkin pie

 

Recipes coming soon!

 

Kale Banana Milkshake

My eye doctor recently told me kale is the new superfood. It’s good for my eyes and I’m thinking it’s good for basically everything else–my hair, my skin, weight control, etc. I recently developed this arm/hand thing (not carpal, ulnal–the nerve that runs through the ring and pinky finger) which I am hoping will improve also.

I’ve been eating kale in salad, in omelets, in quesadillas and as of this morning in my morning smoothie. So that may seem a bit odd, but it’s actually pretty good. And it makes me feel like I started my day off right–and that I’m loving and caring for this not-getting-any-younger physical vehicle of mine.

The kale flavor and bits lend a fresh, green taste and isn’t bitter at all. Besides that, you know that anything with banana and milk is going to be tasty. I tossed in some frozen cantaloupe I had as well, but it’s totally optional and also easily substituted with other fruits.

Enjoy! (Oh and if you know of any interesting kale recipes, pass them my way 🙂 )


 

Kale Banana Milkshake (inspired by For the Love of Food)

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup water

1 big leaf kale, without stem and rinsed well

1 banana

1/4 cup cantaloupe, cubed (You can leave this out or replace it with any other kind of fruit.)

1 tbsp honey

METHOD

  1. Put everything into the blender and mix until smooth.

Another Portland Thanksgiving

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I’m home again. I baked, I ate, I traditioned. After all that, I’m ready for sleep.

I’ll write about the pies tomorrow.

Ciao ciao and happy thanksgiving

Theresa

It’s raining. I need cake.

Yes, it’s raining in San Francisco. I’m from Oregon, so I shouldn’t (and normally don’t) care. But, it’s been a tough week at work, I’m tired, it’s wet outside…and I haven’t baked in ages.

So I stayed in tonight, foregoing happy hour, friends and perhaps even dancing. Instead, I made cake. And actually, I’m really happy I did. It feels good to be home, doing something just for me. I need to do this more often.

The recipe is Martha Stewart’s via Shoots and Roots. I made a few modifications:

  • 2 eggs, not 1: Because 2 in this case seemed better than 1!
  • 1 tbsp sugar, not  2 for sprinkling: Shoots and Roots said so.
  • Almond milk, not regular: I needed to save the milk for my morning coffee 🙂
  • Loaf pan, not pie: Because I halved the recipe. (It IS just for me–and the rest for the office tomorrow.)
It’s good. It’s one of those humble share-with-the-one-you-love cakes. You know those? The kind that warms your heart on rainy days like today.

Enjoy.

Strawberry Cake (a Martha Stewart recipe courtesy of Shoots and Roots)

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup, plus 2 tbsp sugar

2  large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 lb strawberries, hulled and halved

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Butter a 10 inch pie plate or 10 1/2 inch cast iron pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Mix butter and 1 cup sugar in a separate large bowl and mix on medium high speed with an electric mixer until the mixture is soft and fluffy, ca. 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium low and add the eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
  3. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture. Transfer the batter the pie plate or cast iron pan and spread evenly. The batter will be thick. Arrange strawberries on top, cut side down. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tbsp sugar on top of the cake.
  4. Bake the cake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 F. Bake until golden brown, ca. firm to the touch and pulled away from the sides of the pan, 55-60 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into wedges (or slices) and serve. Cover loosely; can be stored on the countertop for up to 2 days.

Haupia

A gift from my friend Candice. Delicious, creamy coconut pudding from Hawaii.

And it came from a mix.


Liwi’s Believe in God Brownies

I was in Phoenix visiting my best friend Leah. (Oh! Already 2 months ago!) Our fairy tale began when we were 11 years old, believe it or not. We were both in the middle school band–she played trumpet and I played the clarinet. Maaaany years later, she is still my heart, my Liwi.

Anyway, my weekend desert getaway with Liwi was full of coffee, crosswords, swimming and general bopping around. I even convinced her to bake her  famous “Believe in God” Brownies for me. With a name like that one, you just know these are no ordinary brownies. The recipe calls for 1 cup butter, 4 cups chocolate, 1 cup cream, so you’ll definitely want to save making them for only very special occasions.

White and dark chocolate brownie smothered with creamy, rich ganache and topped with toasted nuts. I’m speechless.

So here is the recipe–from Liwi to me and now me to you.

Believe in God Brownies (recipe courtesy of Leah)

INGREDIENTS

Brownies

1 cup butter

4 squares unsweetened chocolate

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup white chocolate chips

Ganache

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 cups premium chocolate chips

1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans

METHOD

For the brownies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 9 by 13 inch baking pan by greasing with butter or spraying with a cooking spray (such as Pam).
  2. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Over low heat add unsweetened chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted.
  3. Remove from heat, mix in sugar (in saucepan). Add eggs and vanilla, stir until incorporated.
  4. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and stir just until combined (be careful not to overwork). Gently stir in white chocolate.
  5. Spread mixture in prepared pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes just until brownies begin to pull away from the sides. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

For the ganache-nut topping:

  1. Over low heat in a medium saucepan, bring heavy cream to just to boiling. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Let sit for a few moments in order to melt chocolate. Stir until all chocolate is melted and smooth. Let mixture cool and thicken slightly, stirring occasionally for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Spread chocolate ganache over completely cooled brownies.
  3. Press chopped, toasted pecans into the ganache. Let ganache harden and then cut into squares and then into triangles.

A Request for Bread Pudding

I got a special request for bread pudding the other day. Though I could have mixed in fun things like coconut, apple, rum or pumpkin and made an extra caramel, bourbon or hot custard sauce to serve, I decided to keep things simple. It’s interesting—whenever people ask me to make something, I think about who s/he is as a person in life and then try to translate this into the dish. In the case of this bread pudding, nostalgia was key. So as I listened to reminiscences about the version a beloved grandmother used to make, I knew that classic, warm and with raisins was the way to go.

The recipe is from Allrecipes. There are exactly eight ingredients, all of which you probably already have in your kitchen. You mix it all together, bake and what you get is soft eggy-bread in a sweet, heartwarming custard. It may be simple, but sometimes simple really is best.

Enjoy.

Bread Pudding (slightly adapted from Allrecipes)

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

6 slices day-old bread (I used half a day-old batard)

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk

3/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, plus extra for sprinkling

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C.
  2. Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. If desired, sprinkle with raisins.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture. Sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar over the top.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.


Heart Healthy Salad for Dinner

See—Little Baker does healthy too 🙂

Fast and good for your heart.

Enjoy!

Two Heart Healthy Salads (recipe by me)

printable recipe

Serves 1.

Broccoli-Tuna Salad

2 tbsp dijon mustard

splash balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1- 6 oz can tuna, drained

1/2 cup frozen broccoli florets, defrosted (or fresh)

small handful raisins

salt and pepper to taste

Tomato-Jarlsberg Salad

1/2 medium tomato, sliced (4 slices)

4 small slices Jarlsberg cheese

splash balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

For Broccoli-Tuna Salad

  1. In a small bowl, mix together mustard, onion, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  2. Stir in tuna, followed by broccoli and raisins. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Adjust flavor to taste by adding more mustard, vinegar, salt, etc. Serve along side tomato-cheese salad.

For Tomato-Jarlsberg Salad

  1. Spiral out tomato and cheese in alternating layers on a plate. Splash balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.