Thursday, October 30, 2008


I received my copy of CONFETTI CAKES FOR KIDS today thanks to Tartelette. It has so many great ideas in it and wonderful pictures, recipes and tutorials. It is a must have book.

I feel so lucky to have won it and plan to use it alot this season for inspiration. Thanks again Helen for the opportunity. I really love it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


October's Daring Bakers Challenge - PIZZA. It was hosted by Rosa and what a fun challenge it was. The basic pizza dough recipe was taken from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart. Part of our assignment was to have a picture taken of us tossing the pizza. My pizza creation consisted of a bechemel sauce, caramelized onions, candied pecans, goat cheese, & poached pears. I also sprinkled it with a little finishing salt (fleur de sel) and red chilli peppers. It was so good you just have to try this recipe!!!

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.
Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches)
4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached High-Gluten (%14) Bread Flour or All Purpose Flour, chilled
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Instant yeast
(2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or Vegetable Oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C
1 Tablespoon Sugar
Bechamel Sauce
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Flour
1 Cup Milk
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Sweet Onion (1 cup thinly sliced)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Butter
1/4 Cup Pecan Halves
1 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Butter
2 Poached Pears or Canned Pears
Goat Cheese
Bechamel Sauce
Fleur de Sel
Red Chilli Peppers

Method For the Pizza Dough:
1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to three days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil (a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C). NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.*

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

*To Make the Sauce & Toppings
For the Bechamel Sauce
1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. As soon as the butter is melted whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in milk, and cook until sauce thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat. This will make about 1 cup of sauce and you will not need it all. Just use the amount you want and refrigerate the remaining for another use.

For the Toppings

In a 6" saute pan melt one tablespoon of the butter over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until translucent brown, stirring occasionally. Add 1 1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar and continue to cook and stir occasionally until the onions are a deep brown. Remove from heat and transfer the onions to a plate and set aside.

In the same saute pan melt the other one tablespoon of butter and add the pecans. Stir about 3 minutes then add the other 1 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar. Cook another 3 minutes then transfer to a plate and seperate the pecans so they are not touching each other. You will see that the pecans have a hard candy outer shell when they are cool

To assemble the toppings on the pizza:
Roll out the pizza dough as stated above and spread with a small amount of bechamel sauce. Sprinkle the caramelized onions over the sauce, then some of the goat cheese, all the sliced pears, pecans then more goat cheese.

Bake as directed above. Mine took about 10 minutes at 500 degrees on a pizza stone.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


My grandfather is turning 98 in a few days and there is nothing he likes more than to receive a package with my baked goods. So I am making this Caramel Corn for him along with the Banana Chocolate Bread and sending it off to him for his birthday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRAMPS and I can't wait to celebrate your 100th with you in 2 more years.

1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
3 1/2 Ounces Poppin Corn (good quality)
1/2 Tablespoon Fleur de Sel
4 Ounces Unsalted Peanuts (optional)
7 Ounces Golden Brown Sugar
4 1/4 Ounces Butter
5 3/4 Ounces Light Corn Syrup
1/8 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1. Put the corn oil and one kernel of corn in a large saucepot with a tight fitting lid.
2. Put over high heat and as soon as the one kernel pops add the remaining popping corn.
3. Shake the pot over high heat until all the kernels pop.
4. Sprindle salt and peanuts (if using) over the popped corn as you put it into a large bowl.
5. In a medium saucepot, combine the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and baking soda.
6. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved and comes to a boil.
7. Clip on a candy thermometer raise the heat to high and cook the mixture to 235 degrees F.
8. When temperature is reached remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
9. Pour the mixture over the pop corn and stir well to coat.
10. Turn out onto a silicon mat and put on a sheetpan.
11. Bake in a 250 degree F. convection oven for one hour stirring every 20 minutes.
12. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


I made this bread today as a test for a new breakfast item for work. There are always bananas left over in the restaurant. I have the cooks put them in the freezer for me unpeeled, so I can use them up and save on food cost. I found this recipe in Dorie Greenspans Baking From My Home to Yours. I made a few little changes in the method of putting all the ingredients together but other than that it is her recipe. It is moist and delicious. It will definately be a new offering on my breakfast buffets.

2 Ripe Bananas (mashed)
10 1/2 Ounces Unbleached All Purpose Flour
4 Ounces Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (Valrhona)
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Ounces Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
2 2/3 Ounces Sugar
3 1/2 Ounces Golden Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs
3/4 Cup Buttermilk
3 Ounces Mini Chocolate Chips
1. Heat front oven to 350 degrees. Put a thermometer in the oven to check for accuracy.
2. Put bananas in the bowl of a 5 qt. mixer and beat on slow speed to mash the bananas up. Set aside
3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
4. In the bowl of a 5 quart mixer with the paddle attachment beat the butter until softened.
5. Add the sugars and beat about 2 minutes.
6. Add the eggs one at a time and beat to incorporate. Scrape the bowl.
7. Mix the buttermilk and bananas together.
8. Add the flour mixture alternately with the banana mixture ending with the flour.
9. Stir in the chocolate chips.
10. Pour the mixture into a parchment lined and sprayed 5" x 9" Loaf Pan
11. Place the loaf pan on top of two sheetpans (for insulation) and bake for 30 minutes.
12. Open the oven and tent the top of the bread with heavy duty aluminum foil (to avoid over browning).
13. Bake for another 45 - 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
14. Let cool for 30 minutes then turn out to finish cooling.

Friday, October 03, 2008


I bought too many pears!!! and had to figure out some thing to do with all of them. I poached some so I have dessert at a moments notice. I also made this Pear Gingerbread Coffee Cake. It has all the flavors of fall and will be on my November offerings at the country club where I work. Here is the recipe:

For the Topping
1 1/2 Ounces Unsalted Butter
3 1/2 Ounces Golden Brown Sugar
1/2 Tablespoon Cinnamon
3 Large Pears (peeled, cored & thickly sliced lengthwise)

For the Cake
8 Ounces Unsalted Butter (room temp)
5 1/4 Ounces Golden Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Grated Ginger (peeled)
3 Large Eggs (room temp)
2/3 Cup Molasses
1 Pound All Purpose Unbleached Flour
1/2 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 Tablespoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
12 Liquid Ounces Buttermilk (room temp)
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Make sure it is accurate with an oven thermometer.
  2. Line a 9" x 3" baking pan with parchment paper, can also use a springform pan. Spray with release agent.
  3. Melt together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and pour into the prepared pan. Spread to completely coat the bottom of the pan.
  4. Place the thickly sliced pears in a circular pattern over the butter mixture. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a 5 quart mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter.
  6. Add the brown sugar and continue to cream for about 5 - 7 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. With a spatula scrape the sides.
  7. Add the ginger and mix to incorporate.
  8. Add the eggs one at a time, mix well, and scrape after each addition.
  9. Pour in the molasses and mix to incorporate. Mixture will look separated but this is OK. Scrape the bowl.
  10. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  11. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, ending with the flour. Mix only enough to bring the mixtures together and mix only on low speed.
  12. Pour the batter on top of the pears in the baking pan, smooth the surface.
  13. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  14. Let the cake rest for 20 minutes in the pan then invert it onto a cake plate. Serve slightly warm.
  15. You can microwave each piece of cake before serving it for 15 seconds just to warm it without any loss of quality.