It seems like there are new baking and cooking groups popping up every day. So many of them intrigue me, but realistically there aren't enough hours in the day or days in a week to join all of them. There is a group making their way through Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice; I really enjoy the book and have a few blogging friends who participate in the group so occasionally I'll jump in and make a recipe with them.
This cornbread was one of those recipes. It requires a bit of advance planning as you start by soaking the cornmeal in buttermilk overnight. The next day the bread is mixed up and baked with both whole corn kernels and a bacon topping. I tend to be a bit picky about my cornbread and I don't like corn kernels in it so I omitted them. I wasn't sure how I felt about the bacon topping but most things are better with bacon so I gave it a shot. I had enough batter to make 12 muffins and fill an 8-inch cake pan. As for the verdict? I liked it but it wasn't my favorite. On the plus side, it's very moist, has a tender crumb and, aside from the overnight soaker, comes together quickly. I tend to like my cornbread on the sweet side (I know some people cringe at the idea of sweet cornbread but let's not debate it today), however, and this one wasn't quite sweet enough for me (a bit surprising since the recipe calls for granulated sugar, brown sugar and honey!). I also didn't like the bacon on top so I'll definitely leave that off next time. Apparently I'm a cornbread purist - no corn kernels and no bacon here!
The cornbread recipe can be found on a number of sites, including this one, but I highly recommend picking up the book!
This week's TWD was chosen by Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes: cottage cheese pufflets! Ok - moment of honesty: before I even looked at the recipe my first thought was "ewwww, cottage cheese!" I'm really not a cottage cheese fan so the cottage cheese pufflets didn't exactly excite me. On top of that, there was a lot of discussion over on the P&Q's and on Twitter about the dough for the pufflets being fussy. Since the dough for the turnovers last week gave me fits, I didn't relish the thought of struggling again this week. All that said, the recipe was easy to scale down (I made 1/4) so I figured why not at least give it a shot.
The results reminded me why I wanted to be a part of this group. I've flipped through Dorie's book a million times and never once have I noticed this recipe so it's likely I would never have tried it, but I ended up loving it! I kept the dough well chilled and really didn't find it any more difficult to work with than other pastry dough. Instead of rolling it out between wax paper or plastic wrap, I just went with a really well floured counter. Instead of cutting the dough into squares, I made circles with a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter and I filled half of my pufflets with Nutella and half with blueberry preserves. For reasons that aren't entirely clear to me, some of my pufflets got really puffy in the oven and some stayed fairly flat. They were, however, all really flaky and delicious! The dough isn't too sweet so it worked well with both the Nutella and the blueberry preserves and I really couldn't pick a favorite. I'm planning to use the leftover cottage cheese to make these again with different fillings too!
Many thanks to Jacque for a great pick this week! You can find the recipe on her site and head on over to TWD to check out all of this week's treats.
Homemade bread. It really is the best. I almost never buy bread at the store anymore, with the exception of hamburger and hot dog rolls, which I'm hoping to get around to trying before too long. A week or so ago, Nancy mentioned this Dan Lepard recipe for buttermilk baps she'd found. I wasn't familiar with the word "bap" so I looked it up and a bap is really just a small bread roll or bun. Nancy, Margaret and I decided to try the recipe that day. It came together easily and though I stressed over my dough not being smooth after kneading, the rolls came out perfectly! They're soft with a nice, light crumb. I made mine plain but you could add herbs or spices during the kneading process for extra flavor.
This is the second Dan Lepard recipe I've made (the wonderful milk loaf was the first) and they've both been hits so it might be time to look into picking up one of his bread baking books. The recipe for the buttermilk baps can be found here.
This week's SMS was chosen by Robin of Lady Craddock's Bakery: orange scented scones! I don't make scones too often so it was a nice change of pace to try these this week. I really wanted to incorporate blueberries into the scones but I only had frozen. My head was telling me not to do it because I knew the berries would probably bleed (no matter how many tricks I tried to avoid it) and I'd wind up with blue scones. My stomach didn't listen to my head and, well, my blue scones are now on display for you all to see :)
Despite their appearance, the scones were pretty tasty. I really enjoyed the texture - they had a nice, light crumb. I used the zest of an entire orange so the orange flavor was plenty prominent and worked well with the blueberries. My main complaint was that the scones weren't sweet enough. I will definitely add more sugar when I make these again.
Many thanks to Robin for her selection this week! You can find the recipe here; be sure to stop by the SMS site to see how the other bakers fared this week.
Since I feel guilty about my blue scone photos, I'm going to share some additional pics. Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day here and I dragged Shane to an orchard for some apple picking - a quintessential fall activity here in New England.
The smallest bag they sold at the orchard held about 10-12 pounds of apples so expect LOTS of apple recipes over the next few weeks!
We also picked some raspberries while we were there. I'm not sure I've ever picked raspberries before but I really enjoyed it. It forced me to face my fear of bees because they were buzzing all over the bushes!
I'm super excited that fall officially arrives this week and I think this orchard trip was the perfect way to kick it off. We'll no doubt be visiting our local orchard within a few weeks to pick up some pumpkins but this weekend Shane just sat among them :)
I spend a lot of time reading food blogs. I suppose you could say I'm addicted. It's like Christmas morning every day when I hop on my computer, open my Google Reader and see all of the delicious recipes being shared that day by my fellow bloggers. Inevitably, I wind up bookmarking a ton of them, including this chocolate chip cookie recipe, which I've actually had bookmarked for many, many months. These cookies are rumored to be "the best" chocolate chip cookies so I'm not sure why I put off making them for so long. Fortunately, the other day a few of my Twitter buddies and I decided it was high time we gave these a shot so I was able to check them off the ever-growing list.
At first glance this recipe doesn't look too different from a lot of other chocolate chip cookie recipes but there are a few keys. First, the dough rests for at least 24 hours (though 36 hours is best), which gives the dough time to soak up the eggs creating a drier dough which bakes up to a better consistency. Also, these cookies are huge - about 5 inches across - which allows for several different textures in the cookies: crisp outside edges, a soft center and a chewy ring in between.
I wondered if these cookies could live up to all of the hype and I can confidently say that they did! I preferred them warm from the oven but they were still great at room temperature the next day. The variety of textures was as promised and I especially loved the soft centers. They're buttery and just really delicious! Definitely a go-to chocolate chip recipe. A 5-inch cookie isn't always practical, though, so next time I'm going to make them a bit smaller and see if they're still as good.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Jacques Torres (via the New York Times)
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (about 1/3 cup) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up (it will make for a more attractive cookie). Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.
Yields 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies