Sunday, April 27, 2014

Daring Bakers! - Easter Bread

So if you're like, "Dude, Rebecca...not sure if you know this, but Easter was last week," my answer is, yeah, I know, I know! But Daring Bakers has strict posting guidelines and I didn't want to break them. So sorry that you now have to wait until next Easter to make this bread. Or you could just be a rebel and make it whenever you feel like it. I've been known to do that.

Apology: Pictures all taken in ridiculously different lights. 

So Easter. How was yours? I honestly didn't do a whole lot. For one of the first times my school didn't have Good Friday and Easter Monday off, so a lot of people (including me) stayed on campus and kind of just treated it like a normal weekend. It was a little weird, because Easter is such a family time for me. But I just spent it with my second family instead ^__^

So, Easter Bread. Just your basic enriched dough, twisted into a pretty ring and sprinkled with pearl sugar. What's interesting is that the egg you place in the center is raw and actually bakes with the bread. It was a little weird to dye raw eggs, but everything turned out great! These breads were eaten after Good Friday service while watching Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and having a ten person cuddle pile. Best way to do it. 

The April Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den . She challenged us to Spring into our kitchens and make Easter breads reflecting cultures around the world. Mine is Italian! My mom said my great-grandma would have been proud of me for these <3
Easter Bread
from Sprinkle Bakes

1 1/4 cups/301 ml. milk or half and half
1/3 cup/76g unsalted butter
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
Pinch of salt (about 1/16 teaspoon)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup/100g sugar
3 to 4 cups/ 408 to 544g bread flour (approximate)
1 egg
1 teaspoon water
pearl sugar, or rainbow sprinkles
6 raw eggs, room temperature, dyed in rainbow colors

Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Warm just until the butter is completely melted and remove from the heat. Let cool until just warm.
Combine the yeast, salt, eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the warm milk and half of the flour. Knead with the dough hook until combined. Add more flour gradually until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the mixer. You may not have to use all of the flour. Knead the dough about 3-5 minutes longer, or until completely smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn it over once to coat the top. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place, about 1 hour (

Gently deflate the dough with a fist. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and pat it down slightly so that the dough has an even thickness. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1-inch thick rope about 14 inches in length. Take two lengths and twist them together; loop the twist into a circle and pinch the ends together. Place the circle onto parchment lined baking sheets. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let rise again for 1 hour, or until doubled.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Combine the egg and 1 teaspoon water in a small condiment cup. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the loaves with the mixture. Sprinkle on the nonpareils and gently place a dyed egg in the middle of each loaf. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the bread is golden and fragrant. Let cool until warm, if patience allows.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Avocado Brownies

Hey hey, long time no post (again). I've been trying to soak up as much of college life as I can before I leave. So I've been...really social lately. Like, more than I've been in my entire life. It's weird, being so social while simultaneously identifying strongly as an introvert. It makes me wonder...if I was constantly surrounded by the right people, would I become an extrovert, feeding off of their positive energy? It's an interesting thought, and one I've never had to entertain. 

Okay, so I just zoned out for like ten minutes in the middle of this post thinking about what is important in life, what I'm going to look back on and remember. And what I can in forming these moments for others. Does that make sense? There are so many people I can name who have been catalysts to a better life for me. And I just hope I'm living my life so that others can say the same about me. 

None of this has anything to do with avocados. There was just an awesome deal at the store that I couldn't resist. I've had great luck with chocolate avocado cake that I often made in Ireland, so I was hoping these would turn out similarly. I honestly...wasn't super impressed. They were definitely good, but cakier than I typical enjoy my brownies to be, and even with Mexican chocolate, chili powder, and cinnamon, I didn't really taste any heat. Then again, my chili may or may not be pretty old. But hey, make them yourself and form your own opinions! 

Avocado Brownies 
adapted slightly from Muy Bueno Cookbook

1 pinch of sea salt
1 1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
5 ounces dark chocolate chips

5 ounces Mexican chocolate
1 stick butter
2 smallish avocados, mashed/puréed
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
5 eggs, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9”x13” pan.

In a medium size bowl combine salt, flour, cocoa powder, chili, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter until smooth, add puréed avocado and stir until completely combined.
Turn off heat and add granulated sugar and brown sugar, stir until combined.
Remove bowl from double boiler and cool to room temperature. Add 3 eggs and stir until combined. Add remaining eggs and stir until combined.
Slowly fold in dry ingredients. Pour into prepared pan and spread out evenly.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes.