That Raspberry Dessert

Raspberry dessert 6

A few weeks ago I posted a photo of something I was baking on Instagram and promised Molly that I would post the recipe. I did mention that it is my favorite dessert. And it is. My mom used to make this in the summer, once or maybe twice each year. Her mom, my grandmother, also made this with just-picked raspberries when we would visit their farm. It's a sentimental dessert for me - truly the taste of my childhood summers. It is one first recipes I asked my mom for when Fatty and I were first dating. It has three main ingredients: fruit, sugar and Bisquick.  Nothing high brow about that at all. Just delicious. It is especially good because you are essentially cooking the pastry and fruit in a simple syrup that cooks down to make the most delicious sauce. Serve it warm with vanilla ice cream. The leftovers make an excellent breakfast with a cup of coffee. Here's how you do it.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Make the shortcake recipe as follows:

3 1/2 c Bisquick plus approximately 1/2 c more for rolling (You can use original or the reduced fat one. I've never tried it with a bisquick-like mix made from scratch, but I bet it would work.)

1/4 c sugar

3/4 c milk

4 tbsp. melted butter

Mix all ingredients together until the dough forms. If the dough is sticky, add more Bisquick until you can roll it out. Dust the rolling surface with Bisquick and roll it into a rectangle about 8" x 12" that is 1/2" thick. The thickness is the key part - your rectangle may end up slightly larger. That's OK.


3 - 6 oz. containers of raspberries

Place raspberries in a single layer on top of the dough. Roll the dough and raspberries together into a log. Cut the log into 1" slices.

Raspberry dessert 1

Raspberry dessert 2

Raspberry dessert 3

Make the syrup:

Pour 1 1/2 c sugar in a 9" x 13" glass baking pan.

Add 2 c boiling water and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Place the slices of fruit and pastry so they float in the syrup. Pack them in the pan, leaving little room between slices. If you have extra berries, go ahead and plop those in as well.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden brown.

Raspberry dessert 4

Raspberry dessert 5

Raspberry dessert 7


Doubling up

I've had grand plans for the better part of week to sit down and write a post about what has been keeping me busy. We've had two sets of houseguests and in between visiting and cleaning and the never-ending laundry, I've been slowly and painfully working on the last two swoon squares and staring at an unfinished pink sweater that needs just a little attention.

And I've been cooking.

I don't know if it is the change of seasons or the beginning of the school year or some other cosmic force, but I've been spending more time in the kitchen. This is more than your average "it's dinner time so let's throw something on the grill and put a salad together". This is "let's see how much we can fit into the freezer" kind of cooking.

I started by poaching one chicken.

I reduced the poaching liquid for stock, put a quart in the refrigerator and froze the rest in 1 and 2 cup portions.


With the meat, I made two pans of Mad Hungry chicken enchiladas - one pan of 8 for dinner that night, the other pan of 8 for the freezer.

Cooking 3

There was still meat left over so I made some Mad Hungry chicken pocket pies. I doubled the dough as I had twice the amount of cream cheese that was needed. I figured I'd freeze the extra pastry for later. After making the first batch of chicken pocket pies, there was still meat left and I had the dough so I made another recipe worth. These 12 pies are now frozen.

Cooking 2

I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies - baked half, froze the other half.

Cooking 4

I made my favorite Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day dough - the peasant loaf. That batch makes enough for four loaves over two weeks. Perfect.

And that was all on the first day.

Cooking 5
Now, I don't want you to think that I spent hours and hours slaving away in the kitchen. I made the bread dough and the cookies while the chicken was poaching. While the cookies were baking, I whipped up the enchilada sauce and assembled them. While the pastry for the pocket pies was chilling, I made the filling. It did take some time, but less than you'd think. And I figure if I'm going to make a mess, it might as well be a big one.

Right now I have a HUGE pot of sauce bubbling on the stove. I'll use some to make a spinach lasagne for tonight and the rest will be frozen in 2 cup portions for later. I'm not good about menu planning so these made-ahead meals are my saving grace on busy nights. All I have to do is remember to pull something out of the freezer that morning, or even the night before if I'm really on top of my game. Add some fresh veggies and that's a family meal with little fuss.

Other ideas I have include doubling up marinades and buying family packs of meat to make one meal for us now and two meals for later. I'm also thinking about making small, individual frozen pizzas for those days when the girls have longer and later sports practices and need a little more to hold them over for dinner time.

Got any good freezer ideas you care to share? Menu planning or big batch cooking ideas? I'm listening.

White Peach Ice Pops

Faced with an abundance of white peaches and little time to can them, I decided to make some ice pops. They turned out really well and were simple to make. I've made multiple batches this week and they are a hit with everyone in the house. I thought I'd share my recipe in case you have the desire to make some, too. Of course, your peaches don't need to be white. Regular ones will be just as delicious! Nectarines would make lovely ice pops, too. (The popsicle mold pictured below is this one by Norpro. I also have the Zoku popsicle maker and love using that, too.)

Peach 5
White Peach Ice Pops - makes about 10 pops

6 to 8 medium white peaches

1/4 to 1/3 c sugar (this is to taste)

Peel peaches by placing them in boiling water for one minute and then transfering them to an ice water bath immediately. After a few minutes in the ice water, the skin should slip right off. Chop the peeled peaches and place them and any juice in the jar of your blender until it is almost full. Pour the sugar on top and blend it all until smooth. You can strain the mixture by pouring and pressing the liquid through a fine mesh sieve, but it's not necessary. Pour the liquid into popsicle molds. Place in the freezer for one hour and then add the sticks. Continue freezing for another 4 hours or overnight. Remove the popsicles from the molds by running them under cold water until they release.

July 1

Have a safe and fun holiday weekend!

Jam time

At some point every May, I take mental stock of what we have going on in the coming weeks so I can find the day, most likely on a weekend, when I can make the strawberry jam.  This pondering normally begins when I see my first pint of local strawberries, my tell-tale sign that it is summer, or close to it. And because of all that mental work, I knew that if it was going to happen at all this year, it would have to be this past weekend.

June 4
June 5

But, at the same time, I wasn't convinced that I needed to make it happen. The strawberry crop was hit with a bunch of rain in April and the beginning of May, making the fruit slow to start. My favorite u-pick farm closed their fields to pickers. Big bummer and no fun. And I am pretty sure we have *just* enough in the freezer to get through the year, although I was really too lazy to actually take inventory. I was willing to gamble. And then on a whim, we went to the farmers market on Saturday. Yeah, you guessed it. Eight quarts of strawberries purchased. I made the jam.

Jam 1
Jam 5

It's a yearly ritual at this point and why I thought I wouldn't do it is really beyond me. It's kind of like planting bulbs in the fall, or in my case, the good intent to plant said bulbs. Every spring, I swear I am going to plants hundreds of daffodils. By October, I am so. over. gardening. that. I. cannot. bear. to. plant. anything. at. all. Come spring, I curse myself and swear I'll do it this year. Cross my heart. But then it's rinse and repeat, doesn't happen. It's the same, but opposite with the jam. Every year, I think I am going to take a break and live on my reserves and Bonne Maman. But no. I do it. I get the strawberries. And the sugar and the pectin. Or Fatty does, as it happened this year. Regardless, I make the jam. I always do.

Jam 4
Jam 6

Strawberry freezer jam is a taste that takes me right back to my childhood. It's just as much a part of me as, say, red hair and freckles. Really. I think the only time in my life when it wasn't in my refrigerator was when I was in college, living far from home and the chest freezer full of jam. And, by now, you'd think that I'd realize that I can't not have it around and just go on planning to make it. But I think the making of the jam is kind of like strawberry season - it comes fast, hits hard and is gone before you know it. It appears to be that way for me - I made five batches in record time this year.

Jam 3
Jam 7

The sweet, sticky mess was made lickety split and, just as fast, was all cleaned up. The only thing I have to remind me is the 14 pint jars of glorious, sweet, red jam sitting in my freezer. Jam that will bring the taste of summer to my mouth some blustery autumn afternoon or snowy winter day. And when the spring rains start coming, and I am eating jam, I'll realize that May is just around the corner. The thinking will begin. The strawberries will call and I will make jam.

For more information on how I make the jam, refer to this post from 2009. I also wrote about strawberry freezer jam in 2008 and 2010. Like I said, it's an annual thing.

Big batch margaritas

I'm pretty transparent and steadfast about the things I love. If you've been hanging around here for any length of time, you know that. I often spout about my love of the color green. And limes. And margaritas. And peonies. And champagne. And fabric. (OK - no fabric links...too many to chose from!) I could go on, but I won't.

For my 40th, I wanted food with Mexican flavors and margaritas. That's all. And because I'm picky (that may be an understatement) about my margaritas, I said I would make them. What I didn't know was how to translate my favorite recipe that yields one or two cocktails into the large volume a party requires without making them too booze-y or too sweet.

So, I hit Google. I typed in "big batch margaritas". I clicked on this recipe, looked at it and then adapted it to my tastes. I was planning on doing the same thing Jeffrey does: buy cheap bottled water by the gallon, use it to water the plants or cook pasta or whatever, and reuse the plastic gallon jug. There was some higher math involved as we extrapolated one recipe into five. But once they were made, with one taste, I knew it was close to my favorite recipe. Here's what I did:

Big Batch Margaritas, adapted from A Gallon of Margaritas by the Gallon by Jeffrey Morgenthaler

6 c silver tequila

2 1/2 c Cointreau

5 c freshly squeezed lime juice (10 - 12 limes generally yields about 2 c)

2 c simple syrup ( I used a 1 to 1 ratio of sugar to water)

Mix everything in a gallon container and then refrigerate. Serve on the rocks with salt and a lime garnish. (If you put it into an empty gallon water jug, you will need a funnel to avoid spillage.)

May 26

If you have leftovers (pshaw!), pour them into a freezable container and pop them into the freezer. Once frozen, you can have leftover margarita slushies as wanted. I know because we have 6 frozen quarts at the ready. Thank you to Alicia for that brilliant idea! I've got cocktails covered for most of the summer.

Happy weekending folks!

Thank you (and more Liberty)

You guys are awesome! I knew that you would give me lots of great ideas to jump start some different dinners. I've gone through the comments a few times now and I plan to go through my Everyday Food mags this evening and sticky note your recommendations.  There are so many wonderful suggestions in the comments of that last post - check them out for some great links.  Also, Mad Hungry was mentioned a few times. I bought that cookbook this fall and LOVE it. It definitely deserves a post of its own, though.

Lol 1

Lol 3

I started chain piecing the Liberty quilt this weekend. I started by sewing one white square to each of the Liberty prints and then sewed another print onto those strips. After an hour of piecing like this, I realized that I was going to have to come up with a better plan. It's very random (which is what I want), but I'm worried about balancing the prints and the white. So for now I think I am going to make 2, 3 and 4 piece strips and then lay it all out on the floor, add the white where it is needed and then I can sew the pieces into blocks or strips and go from there. I was trying to avoid laying out a huge 27 x 30 block rectangle, but it looks like it's inevitable.

Lol 2

Lol 4

I've put this all aside for now so I can focus on the auction art projects this week. I'm treating the auction work as my day job (Monday - Friday, daytime hours) and the quilting and other crafts as my leisure (nights and weekends). It's my sincere hope that I can keep to this schedule and by doing so that I can avoid stressing myself out too much.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Gotta run - I have some rain barrels that need a final coat of spray paint. Later!

Help me shake up dinner time


We have this strange corner in the butler's pantry that probably covers some kind of pipe.  There's a little cabinet there - it's long, narrow and very shallow.  In reality, it's not a great storage spot for much of anything.  It does fit all my Everyday Food mags pretty nicely, though. I have all the issues - starting at number 2 - and refer to specific ones often.  This magazine has always made so much sense to me - easy to make food without too many steps or unusual ingredients.  I also think a subscription is a bargain - there is so much good information for a little amount of money.  It's perfect for week night cooking and for busy families.  And really, who isn't busy these days?  I find, though, that we go back to the same recipes over and over again because I know those recipes so well that there is no guess work at the grocery store. I'd like to widen my repetoire and this is where you come in.

I'm looking to shake up dinner time just a little bit and would appreciate your help. Are there certain Everyday Food recipes that you go back to again and again? If so, would you share them with me in the comments? If you know the month and year, that'd be great. If not, no worries, still tell. I might be able to find it anyhow.

Just to start things rolling, two go-to meals in our house are:

Lime marinated skirt steak and chili-roasted sweet potato wedges from January/February 2006 (#29) - most often I serve these two items with roasted zucchini and sweet onions (large dice, toss w/a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for about 20 - 30 minutes).

The spinach and proscuitto lasagna from October 2008 (#56) - We skip the proscuitto because one person won't eat it and I often use a small rectangular casserole dish instead of a square one with 9 instead of 6 noodles, but the same amount of filling. I find that seasoning the ricotta/spinach mixture with the salt and pepper, and maybe a bit more garlic, is key. Serve it with a salad and some bread - yum!

I'm looking forward to seeing what you all like.  And then, I'm going to cook up a storm.

This year's food gifts

Packaging 2

I like making small food gifts at this time of the year.  Last year, I was all about the popcorn - Jennie's maple version and Molly's caramel and peanut stuff. Yum.  This year I opted for gingerbread for friends and neighbors.  I used Jen's recipe and it is super easy and super delicious.  I made the labels in Illustrator and then used one of the Reprodepot designs on card stock as a band.

Fatty and I also exchange culinary gifts with my family.  I put up pickles this summer and saved a jar for each of my brothers and my parents.  Amisha's packaging was my inspiration for those jar lids, although hers are much better looking.  Fatty read about Giada's orangecello in the newspaper and decided that he was going to make that.  He did - yum.  I can't find a link, but it's similar to limoncello, just with oranges instead.  I also made some brioche because really, a jar of pickles isn't that difficult.  I used the recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  It looks delicious (no photos, though) - I'll report back after we taste it.


Packaging 3

Do you cook or bake or make food gifts?  What consumables are you giving this year?

Applesauce and other things


On Sunday, I made applesauce.

It's such a no-brainer for me.  Peel the apples, slice and core them.  Or do it all at the same time with one of these nifty gadgets (That's the same brand I own and use).  Fill a heavy pot to the top with apples.  Add about 2 cups of water.  Put the lid on.  Bring to a boil and then turn the heat very low.  Simmer until the cook down, stirring occasionally.  For a big batch like this, it was about 3 hours.  A small batch - 4 or 5 apples and 1/2 c water - takes maybe 1/2 hour.  I don't add sugar or cinnamon, but you could.  Easy enough.

I portioned this batch into a few freezer bags, laid them flat on a cookie tray, and froze them.  Each bag holds enough for a family meal with a little leftover for my oatmeal the next day.  When it's time to eat it, defrost in the refrigerator or on the countertop.  Or just pop the frozen sauce in a pot and reheat over low heat. Even easier.

Also, this post of Molly's is really lovely.

I'm working on a shop update for late next week. Thursday, I think. Camera straps and more.

Jane thinks she is going to sew her own Halloween costume. I'd better get on that.

I've been tapped to be in charge of the school auction children's art projects.  I have some ideas, but am looking for some others.  Our school is kindergarten through eighth grade and I especially need projects for the littlest (K, 1st) and biggest (7th, 8th).  If you have one to share, I'd love to hear about it.

Happy Tuesday.


Hot lunch

October 3

I'm a fan of a hot lunch.  I eat leftovers from the night before, or if I go the sandwich route, it's almost always on toast.  I often make egg whites, but recently I've been taking a little extra time to make myself a frittata.  Because we are still picking tomatoes from the garden (crazy, I know!), I've been doing my own riff on a caprese frittata.   Here's how I do it:

Pre-heat the broiler.  Take a little olive oil and heat it on the stove in an oven proof pan.  Add about 10 - 12 small tomatoes cut in half and season with salt and pepper.  Saute the tomatoes for a minute or so and then add some chopped basil to taste.  In a small bowl, whisk 3 egg whites with 1 egg.  Pour the egg mixture into the pan, stir it a bit so the eggs get under the vegetables.  Sprinkle the top with a bit of mozzarella cheese.  Cover the pan and cook the eggs over medium heat until they are set.  Once the eggs are set, remove the lid and place the pan under the broiler until the top is browned to your liking.  Using a spatula, slide the frittata onto a plate and enjoy.


It takes little time - about 10 minutes - and is super satisfying. This just may be my go-to lunch this fall.  Of course, I won't have garden tomatoes and basil much longer so I am looking for other combinations.  My friend Traci likes her egg whites with spinach, tomatoes and goat cheese.  Emily turned me onto carmelized onion and zucchini frittata.  I think leftover roasted veggies in eggs would be great as would some chicken taco meat, black beans and salsa.  There are all kinds of options.  If you have a favorite combination, I'd love to hear about it.

Back tomorrow, I hope.  I've been knitting.  And sewing.

Raspberry scones

Seeing as it is Saturday, I thought I'd tell you about my second biggest success of last weekend.  The biggest success, of course, was completing Hazel's new bed, but really that is neither here nor there.  The second biggest success was culinary and deserves a post of its own.

Scones 2

Sunday morning I found myself craving - and I mean I-need-it-right-now craving - some kind of fruity baked good.  For a minute, probably less, I considered putting the girls back in the car (we'd just arrived home from church) for a quick trip to the bakery, but I couldn't be bothered.  Kate had a friend coming over and Jane was set to meet up with a pal of hers and Fatty was driving home from a 50 mile mountain bike race in Georgia (an entirely different story all together).  It just seemed like too much to manage.  I briefly considered raiding the frozen chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer for a quick fix, but I knew that it wouldn't do.  There was no way chocolate chips were going to fill the need for warm, sweet fruit so I took a quick look in the fridge.  Raspberries!  They are my favorite berry and didn't I just see a recipe for some kind of berry scone? Yes, indeed.  Raspberry scones!

August 22

I quickly read the recipe and sighed at the sight of buttermilk on the list of ingredients.  I am not a good southern cook who stocks this at all times.  My brother might have some on hand, but that's another car ride so, that is not going to cut it.  Then I remember reading about making-do with milk and, what was it?, as a buttermilk substitute.  A quick google search and I have my answer: vinegar (or lemon juice, in a pinch).  Now I'm in business.

The oven is preheated by the time I have the dough out of the food processor.  I fold the raspberries in and three minutes later, after sprinkling sugar on top, they are in the oven.  Eighteen minutes later, I brew some more coffee.  Five minutes after that, the craving is more than satisfied.  Did these ever do the trick!


If you find yourself craving a little savory plus sweet, give these scones a try.  The dough is wonderfully flavored and not too sweet - I imagine it would work well with any number of additions.  The only change I would make is to sprinkle the tops with raw, or turbinado, sugar if you have it instead of your garden variety white.  I think it'd be a lovely touch, but the white works well enough as is.

From pickles to pie

Dill pickles

Dill pickles 2

Dill pickles 3

July 18

Pie 2


Friday night I made the dill pickles.  I used this recipe which I cut in half. I also cut my cukes into spears before I soaked them and then processed for 10 minutes at the end. I'll let you know how they turn out in a month or so.  Waiting is hard.

Saturday we spent the day at the final swim meet of the season and then at the school carnival that night.  Can you say tired?

Sunday I quilted some fabric for a project. It won't get finished for a few weeks as the machine needs to go into the shop.  It's not good when the little screwdriver and wrench icon shows up on the display.

Monday I baked a pie because the peaches were ripe and I like pie.  Good reasons if you ask me.

And because we are talking about food....there is a little feature on our everyday dinner tables over on The Stir.  If you are so inclined, please take a look.  There are many great table setting ideas in this series. Thanks for including me, Sheri.

I'm going to take a blog break of a week, maybe two.  I'll be back with news on a project that I have been working on behind the scenes since last fall.  I'm excited to share that with you. (It's not a book.)  Until then, take care.

Quick pickles

Thank you for all the good pickle recipes and links.  I've got the pickling cukes cut into spears, sitting in ice water so I can process them tonight.  I'll let you know how that goes.


The non-pickling cucumbers are getting their own chance to shine in the form of refrigerator or quick pickles.  There are lots of good recipes/links for this kind of pickle in the cucumber post, too.  Here's how I do it:

Peel and then slice your cucumbers to the desired thickness. You can slice them thinly or up to a 1/4 inch, whatever you desire.  Pack the slices tightly in jars.  Add a few peppercorns (maybe 6 or so?) and a couple slices of onion to each jar.  In a saucepan over high heat, combine a mixture of sugar and vinegar in a 1 to 2 ratio (for these 9 pint jars, I used 3 cups of sugar and 6 cups of vinegar).  Stir until the sugar dissolves. When the mixture comes to a boil, pour it over the cucumbers leaving about 1/2 inch headroom in each jar.  Put the lid and screw ring in place and move to the refrigerator.  They'll be ready to eat in about four hours and will keep for a week or so.

Have a great weekend. I hope to rip some stitches and maybe sew some, too.

Strawberry Jam

June 6 3
June 6 2
June 6

I didn't think it was going to happen this year.  The kitchen is still not completely put back together.  Other deadlines loom and the girls seem to be busier this summer than in years past.  My time is so limited these days.  But on a whim Sunday afternoon, I called the berry farm for Monday's hours.  When they said that if I wanted to pick today, I'd have to be in the field by 4:30, I took a quick look at my watch.  3:00.  If we left right away, we'd be there by 3:30....oh, why not?  We went.

After 40 minutes of picking, the girls and I had amassed three gallons (14 pounds!) of berries.  So on Monday (and Tuesday) I made what had seemed impossible possible.  The kitchen is messier than when I started, but it doesn't matter.  We'll all be happier for the mess because I was able to squeeze it in this year.

I made jam.

June 7
(Last year's jam post is filled with information on how I make my jam.  I wrote about strawberry jam in 2008, too.)

Do you GOOP?

I know I just said I'd be gone for awhile, but then something happened that I think is blog worthy, so here I am.  Are you all familiar with Gwyneth Paltrow's newsletter, GOOP?  I don't remember how I was turned onto it, but I have been subscribing for awhile now.  Yesterday, this little gem landed in my inbox.  The timing could not have been more perfect:  I was just looking for something to make for dinner.  Shrimp tacos, anyone?

Shrimp tacos 2 

Shrimp tacos 1 

June 3

They were fantastically fresh, simple and easy - all things I like in a meal.  I didn't follow the recipe.  Instead, I watched the video and I enjoyed how Gwyneth just showed you what to do.  Really, nothing needed to be precise.  I opted out of the guacamole because the avocado I had wasn't ripe and substituted green for red with the jalapeno and red for white with the onion.  Otherwise, I just followed her lead.  It was a great meal for us because Jane, who is allergic to shellfish, could still make herself veggie tacos while us other three ate the shrimp.  We were all members of the clean plate club.  Thumbs up all around!

Have a great weekend.

Berry Season


I pick up the paring knife, its shape fits my hand.  Blue cardboard quarts sit on the counter to my right and the colander is in the empty sink waiting to be filled.  I pick up the first berry.  With a quick twist of the blade, it's little green top is detached and dropped.  It sits on the bottom of the big white sink looking brighter somehow.  The plump, red strawberry is placed in the strainer, waiting to be joined by all the others.  I reach for the next berry without thinking.  Quick twist, dropped top, berry plopped. I find my rhythm immediately.  It's a familiar task - one I don't think much about until now.

I make fast work of the first quart and half of the second one.  After a quick rinse, I lay the berries on some paper towels to dry.  I sample one.  It's perfect - sweet, juicy, not too ripe.  Although dinner is in a short while, I help myself to a few more.  With each bite, I taste summer.  I'm immediately in central Wisconsin, some June day around the age of seven or eight.  I walk outside my grandparents' house and pick strawberries for breakfast, eating one for every couple berries that make their way in to the wooden box.  The sun is shining on my shoulders, warm but not yet too hot.  There is dirt under my toes, turning my white sandals brown.  I bend over again and examine the plants.  I lift the leaves, find the gems and pick them.  Two in the box, one in the mouth.

"Mom!"  Her voice brings me back to the task at hand.  "Would you like a strawberry?" I ask.  She grabs one readily.  I take another one for myself.  I look down at her face and she's smiling.  "These are soooo good," she says.  "They are, aren't they?" I reply.  She nods and grabs two more before she skips out the kitchen door, yelling for her sister to wait up.  I plop another berry in my mouth - it's just as sweet as the first one.  I could keep eating, but I make myself stop so I can fix dinner.  The truth is I could skip the meal all together.  The days are growing longer and I am anxious for the stretch of carefree days ahead of us.  Only four days of school remain and the calendar says May, but it might as well be June.  For me, summer always starts with the strawberries.

Bread talk

I baked this past weekend.  A lot.  The total was 2 loaves of the master recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day (HBI5), 2 loaves avocado-guacamole bread from HBI5, 5 bagels and 4 soft pretzels from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (ABI5).  I also made a sandwich loaf from the master recipe in HBI5 on Friday.  Yes.  5 loaves and 9 miniatures.  A whole lot of baking.

My successes:  The bagels!  The pretzels!  I have been wanting to make bagels since I got the book over a year ago.  I was scared, though.  Boiling pot?  Sounds tricky.  Guess what?  Not tricky at all.  Actually, super easy.  Both the pretzels and bagels were well received and they both use the same dough.  The difference is what you add to the water in the pot when you boil them.  The bagels take baking soda and sugar whereas the pretzels take cream of tartar and baking soda.  The resting time is shorter than for the big loaves so they are faster to get in the oven which means they are faster to get out of the oven too.  We ate both the bagels and the pretzels warm - yum!  The only thing I really found tricky was rolling the dough in long ropes to form the pretzels.  I did it with difficulty and they turned out fine.  I made some more pretzels after school on Monday for the girls and made the pretzels into sticks instead of twisting them.  So much easier and the exact same taste.  Another word to the wise:  my edition of ABI5 had a significant error in the bagel recipe.  A quick check of the official website told me that the oven temperature should be 450 instead 400.  I also searched the site for soft pretzels and found that although the authors say the cooking time is 15 minutes, it really takes about 30 minutes.  Check the errata before you attempt any of these recipes.

Jan 23
Mixed results:  the avocado-guacamole bread.  If you have been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you know that I love Mexican food.  Accordingly I had high hopes for this bread.  It has whole wheat and white flours with avocado, tomato and garlic.  The taste profile is fantastic!  I baked up the two loaves and took them to a party where the bread got great reviews.  I was a little disappointed, though.  My dough seemed overly wet even though I followed the recipe to the letter.  Accordingly my loaves were a little flat.  Next time I make the dough, I will add additional flour to see if that helps.  But the taste is there so I will definitely make this bread again.

Avocado bread
The other mixed result I had was the HBI5 master recipe.  I was really excited to make this because it is a whole grain bread.  My loaves turned out very dense and too wheat-y for my taste.  Don't get me wrong - I like wheat bread.  In fact, when I buy bread, I almost always choose the wheat.  This dough looked great, smelled wonderful and rose exactly as it should.  When I cut into it, though, the crumb was dense.  I think that I was the issue here.  I don't think my oven was up to temperature - I had forgotten that 450 on my oven really isn't 450 degrees.  I have to set it to 475 to have my oven thermometer register 450.  Duly noted.  I will try this again at the correct temperature and hope that it's more to my taste.

Wheat loaf
Failure:  The master recipe in HBI5 as a sandwich loaf.  It was tiny and I kind of guessed it would be based on the loaf pan size that the authors call for.  The taste is nutty and nice, but it's not great for sandwiches and only ok for toast.  I'll try it again, using a bigger pan and maybe it will work out.  There are a couple other loaf recipes in HBI5 that I want to try too.

Jan 22

All in all, I love both books.  Both ABI5 and HBI5 have made baking bread doable for me.  The fact that I have tubs of dough in my refrigerator and can bake a loaf as it is wanted is amazing.  I love that HBI5 has many more whole grain recipes and interesting ones at that (banana bread for french toast, anyone?).  It also has a whole chapter full of gluten-free recipes - that alone should be a selling point for many people.  The recipes in ABI5 were revolutionary to me and the ones in HBI5 only add fuel to my baking fire.  And, especially, I love that it is easy for me to bake bread.  Easy, people.  So easy that I made blueberry bagels without a recipe telling me exactly what to do. 

Uh huh.  That's what I am talking about.

For a minute I considered opening a boulangerie

You guys are awesome!  There are so many great snack ideas in the comments on the last post.  If you are looking for instant ideas, go check them out.  If not, I'll put them all together and make some sort of reference sheet for downloading.  Give me a few days or a week and I'll post it here for you all to download.

This isn't the best photo, but it gives a good indication of my weekend.  Bread.  And then more bread.  Surprisingly, I have quite a bit to say about it, but I want to try one more thing first.  Monday is going to be crazy, so hopefully I'll be back mid-week with my baking successes and failures.

And between batches of bread, I sewed something.  It's cute.  Photo shoot tomorrow and then I'll dish.  Hope your week is off to a good start.