Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Daring Bakers! Sfogliatelle Frolle

 Sandie of the lovely blog, Crumbs of Love, was our November hostess. Sandie challenged us to make a traditional Italian dessert, along with its American version – Sfogliatelle (or better known in the US – lobster tails!) The flakey, 1000 layers of super thin dough, shaped into a horn and filled with a scrumptious filling. Così buono!

I'm gonna keep this one short and sweet because I am really tired and I have a lot to do tomorrow. Thanksgiving! That will come in another post. This month's DB challenge was to make something that has been on my baking bucket list forever – say it with me (if you can) – sfogliatelle. I could never get motivated because they are sooooo much work. But I kind of found a shortcut. 

Kind of looks like Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors

So if you've had sfogliatelle, you might be like, "Rebecca, imposter, that's a hand pie, not the flaky, beautiful pastry I love". To that I say...shush. There are two types of sfogliatelle – ricci and frolle. Ricci is the beautiful kind with a million layers, and the one I did not make. I make frolle, which is much easier and more like piecrust. The filling is comprised of homemade ricotta and a sweetened semolina paste. Someday, when I have more time and resources, I'll tackle the ricci. But for now...I'll just amuse myself by saying sfogliatelle over and over again. 

Sfogliatelle Frolle

Ricotta Cheese Recipe

8 cups (2 litres) whole milk (or goats milk)
1 cup (250 ml) heavy whipping cream (about 35%)
1/2 teaspoon (3 gm) salt
3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lemon juice

1. Line a large colander or strainer with 2 layers of lightly dampened cheesecloth over a large glass; set aside.
2. Pour the whole milk, heavy cream and salt into a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Reduce the heat, add the fresh lemon juice and stir/whisk continuously for 2-3 minutes. The mixture will curdle, which is exactly what you want it to do. Pour this into the cheesecloth lined strainer and let it drain for about 1 hour or until it comes to room temperature. At this point you can scrape the ricotta from the cheesecloth into a container and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
3. You will be left with a crap-ton of whey. Apparently it makes an excellent soup stock ingredient and liquid replacement for water or milk in bread. Here is an excellent article on the wonders of whey!

Semolina-Ricotta Filling
 (This recipe made way more filling than I needed. Prolly could have halved it).

1 cup (250 ml) milk
1/2 cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) fine semolina
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (13-1/4 oz) (375 gm) whole milk ricotta, preferably fresh (see above)
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract (or the seeds of one pod and 1 teaspoon of extract)
1/4 teaspoon (1 gm) ground cinnamon
1/3 cup (80 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) candied orange peel (I hate candied fruit, so I left it out.)

Combine the milk and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and slowly add the semolina (or cream of wheat), whisking quickly as to avoid any lumps. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Spread the mixture onto a lined baking sheet, about 1/2 inch (15 mm), to cool. When cool, break into pieces and place into the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or a food processor), and add the ricotta cheese, egg yolks, vanilla and cinnamon. Beat until very smooth and creamy. Stir in the candied orange peel. Scrape into a container, place plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate until needed (up to 3 days).

Frolle Dough

2 1/3 cups (560 ml) (11-1/2 oz) (325 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
1/3 cup (80 ml) (2-2/3 oz)(75 gm) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon (3/4 gm) salt
8 tablespoons (4 oz) (115 gm) unsalted butter, cold
2 large eggs, beaten

Egg Wash
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg
pinch salt

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Remove the butter from the fridge and pound it a few times with a rolling pin to make it pliable. Add it to the flour and start rubbing it into the flour mixture with your fingertips, working from the bottom of the bowl upwards. Work quickly so the butter doesn't get warm from your hands. This only takes a minute or two to complete. Add the eggs and stir into the dough with a fork until it starts to hold together. Empty it out onto your workspace and knead it a few times. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill until firm. The dough can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Prepare the filling and chill it. Whisk the egg yolk, egg and salt together for the egg wash.

Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece into 5 inch (12-1/2 cm) rectangle . Place a hefty tablespoon amount of filling on the lower half of the dough and pull the top half over this. Use your hands to press down around the filling and seal the edges together (like making ravioli). Use a 3 inch (75 mm) round cookie cutter (or glass) and cut away any excess dough. 

Place the formed frolle on a prepared baking sheet and chill for 2 hours
Preheat your oven to 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5
 Brush the frolle with the egg wash and bake approximately 20 minutes, just until the frolle are baked through.
 Cool briefly on a rack.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Honey Beer Bread

Thanksgiving break cannot come soon enough. I haven't been home since the summer, and I am feeling myself slowly lose energy. The fading light doesn't help, since I can't say I'm very productive at night. So what have I been up to since I last posted...well, I acquired a bread machine (it is very bizarre and I'm kind of afraid of it), had a taiko drumming concert (like this guy, except less hardcore awesome), and it was my 22nd birthday! Oh man, so old. Twenty two somehow seems more important than 21. Like I've passed all those young adult milestone ages (16, 18, 21) and now...just uncharted territory. 

That's a beer. I hate beer. I've never found the appeal, and when people talk about the nutty or sweet notes (beer isn't sweet, who are you kidding), I get nothing. I suppose is a little embarrassing. I'm supposed to be this food connoisseur (apparently). But it all tastes like bilge water to me. Except for this peach beer I had in Belgium, which tasted nothing like beer at all. Probably why I enjoyed it. Perhaps you are asking why I have a beer then? Actually, it's unlikely you're asking that, since this is a cooking blog. Obviously I'm going to make something with it!

And that something is beer bread. Oh baby. I had never had beer bread until this summer, and let me tell you, it is magical. The top does this funky, lumpy thing while the inside stays soft and tender. And it is so, sooooo easy. It takes like five seconds to mix everything together. I like it with an inordinate amount of butter and honey spread on top. And my sister, who is gluten intolerant, ate it and said it was worth the extreme gastrointestinal discomfort, if that convinces you at all. 

Honey Beer Bread
from Cookie Monster Cooking

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey
1 bottle (12 ounce) your favorite beer. Or any beer, if you hate it all and have no favorite, haha. 
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together both kinds of flour, the sugar, baking powder and salt. Add in the honey and beer and mix until just combined. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Evenly pour the melted butter over the top of the batter.
Transfer the pan to the oven and place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any butter that may drip from the pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean and the top is golden brown.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I know, I know, muffins again. And another apple recipe. Maybe you're like, "Rebecca, stahp with all the apples". I'd like to hold onto fall as long as I can, okay? Last week I was talking about how much I was enjoying the crisp autumn weather and this week it snowed. Gah. Thanks, Minnesota. Point is, the apples will stay as long as I am provided with them. Then I will give in to winter.

I let the batter sit around while I cleaned up and put away laundry and got distracted. So the finished muffins were kind of tall and huge. This has happened to me before and it's weird, but research was inconclusive. Lemme know if you have a clear answer, as I am curious. I wonder if non yeasted baked goods can go through a kind of proofing process also? 

Anyway, the verdict on these muffins...well, I gave one to a stranger I bumped into in the hallway and she called me a saint, haha. People walking by stared longingly at the oven as they baked, and I heard one guy say it smelled like Cinnabon. Oh, but word of warning. If you're wearing chapstick or anything like that, the cinnamon sugar will get friendly with your face. It might be the one and only time I deem it appropriate to call someone sugarlips.'s still weird. 

Apple Cinnamon Muffins
from Add a Pinch

2 cups all-purpose flour (+ 2 teaspoons for coating apples)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (+ ½ teaspoon for coating apples)
2 cups diced apples
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup milk
For the Topping:
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375º F. Spray muffin tins with bakers spray or coat well with shortening or butter and flour, making sure to discard any excess flour from the tins after coating.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Toss together diced apples and 2 teaspoons of flour to coat apples in a separate bowl. Set aside.
Cream together butter and sugar until lightened in color, about 3 minutes. Add an egg, one at a time, taking care to fully incorporate before adding the other. Mix in vanilla.
Gently fold in flour mixture, alternating with milk. Stir until just combined. Fold in diced apples and scoop mixture into prepared muffin tins, filling about ⅔ to ¾ full. Bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Prepare topping for muffins while the muffins are baking by melting the butter and allowing to cool slightly. Pour butter into a separate bowl sized easy for dipping tops of muffins. Mix together granulated sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl and set aside.
Once muffins have baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly in the muffin tin. Then, remove each muffin and dip first into the melted butter and then into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place onto a plate to finish cooling.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Who wants to write about nihilism when the sun is shining, the sky is cloudless, and it's a Saturday! Pick me, pick me! Just kidding. But you know what, if that sounds like a perfect weekend activity to you, that's cool I guess. I'm not a very good nihilist. Too many meanings in the world, and not just ones I created. Nietzsche would shake his head at me. I don't mind. 

Say hello to my little friend.

This day could only get more glorious if I had one of those giant outdoor ovens. Y'know, like this. If you have a ton of money just sitting around, feel free to finance my extravagant dreams, haha. Anyway. If I had an outdoor oven,  I would make a loaf of bread right here in this patch of grass and eat it when it was still way too hot. I'd burn my mouth and it would be so worth it. 

Instead, I'll just have to eat one of these pumpkin muffins I made last night. They're a pretty good consolation prize, y'know, when you can't have bread fresh out of a brick oven. No, they're excellent just as they are! I like them because they use a whole can of pumpkin (so many recipes use an awkward amount and I end up wasting the rest!). Also, they have a crumbly top. I'll eat anything if you put crumb topping on it. 

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins 
adapted ever so slightly from Gimme Some Oven

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Cinnamon Streusel Topping
2 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. cinnamon 

To Make The Cinnamon Streusel Topping:
Use a fork or your fingers to mix together all of the ingredients until they are evenly combined and crumbly. 

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 16-18 baking cups with liners, or mist with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger) until blended.
In a different large bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients (pumpkin, butter, eggs, vanilla) until well combined. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.
Fill the baking cups with the batter until they are each 2/3 full. Top with a tablespoon or so of the crumbled streusel topping. Then bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.