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Category Archives: bakers

Liverpool Leading Lady

I’m not as English as I once thought.

My father and I were talking about having corned beef and cabbage for Saint Patrick’s Day and I said that it would be worth the effort, “Even though there’s not an ounce of Irish blood in us,” to which my father replied, “I’m half Irish.”

Oh. Really?

Well, then we certainly should have some corned beef and cabbage and throw in a loaf Irish soda bread while we’re at it.

Now, I was perfectly justified in thinking that I was English. My great-grandparent and company were all born in Liverpool. Well, there’s a story behind that.

It just so happens that I am not the first actress in my family. My grandmother Kathleen was certainly one of the most dramatic people I knew, but her grandmother certainly takes the gold.

For many, many years being Irish was not nearly as grand as being English and my great-great grandmother thought she could do something about that. When the time came to give birth to each baby in her brood, she would go to Liverpool, have her child, and then go back to her homestead in Ireland. Doing this made her English (In her mind, of course). She did the baby act a few times and it was not easy, but the performance must have been worth it.

So, in honor of her and her wild antics, I adapted Nick Malgieri’s recipe for Irish Soda Bread Muffins. Don that green apron of yours and bake some up this weekend.

Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Makes 12 standard muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour     1 ½ teaspoons baking powder    ½ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted    ¼ cup sugar    1 large egg    1 ¼ cups buttermilk

¾ cup raisins, currants, or cranberries tossed with 1 tablespoon flour

confectioner’s sugar    vanilla extract    half-n-half

  1. Set a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350 F.
  2. Line your muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar. Whisk in the egg and ½ of the buttermilk. Gently stir in ½ of the flour mixture and then add the remaining buttermilk.
  5. Stir in the dried fruit and then the rest of the flour mixture.
  6. Spoon the batter in to the muffin cups and bake for about 30 minutes or until the muffins have a touch of gold and are firm to the touch.
  7. Allow the muffins to cool on a wire rack.
  8. Mix together a cup of confectioner’s sugar, two tablespoons of half-n-half, and one tablespoon of vanilla. Add liquid or sugar until you get a nice consistency. Drip the icing over cooled muffins and allow the icing to harden. The muffins should look glazed.

“Tandoori” Naan

Okay, so I don’t have a Tandoor oven in my house, nor am I hiding one anywhere else on my property. I am just a big fan of naan and hummus, and I thought I would search for a recipe that gave me that same flavor without the same price tag (I calculate these will cost about .30 cents for a batch of four, which is a savings of $1.70 versus even the cheapest store bought varieties!!!).  Unashamedly I saved the Trader Joe’s “Tandoori Naan” freezer safe bag, and yes I will be storing the home made version in it.  This post should really be called “bread maker” naan, because that’s what it is.  I’m VERY into fast and easy recipes, so if you don’t have a bread maker….. I don’t know what to tell you. That’s Kelsey’s department and maybe she can come up with some great alternative for you. Note: If you have a 15 month old with an egg allergy, it isn’t advisable to let them sample this bread or to eat a whole piece. And that’s coming from personal experience. Oh well, here’s the recipe. While you’re testing it out I’m going to grab the Benadryl.

Ingredients:

Directions:
  1. Add ingredients to the bread pan according to the manufacturer’s directions. (Typically they want you to add the wet ingredients first, dry on top, finishing with the yeast)
  2. Set Cycle: dough; Loaf size: 2 lb.
  3. After about 5 minutes, check the dough; add a tablespoon of water at a time if too dry, or a tablespoon of flour at a time if too wet.
  4. Preheat oven to 450F, put 2 baking sheets in to heat for 10 minutes (this will help the naan to puff up and brown).
  5. When dough cycle is done, turn dough onto a floured surface and punch down; Divide into 8 pieces.
  6. Working one at a time, with the other pieces covered, roll dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.
  7. Bake for about 4 minutes, until puffed up.
  8. These freeze very well.

Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/easy-naan-bread-machine-41503#ixzz1lhvM9G2B

In a Sequined Christmas Blouse

We took down our trees today. I know it’s a bit late, but we were waiting for snow. The snow came down early this morning…

and the trees followed.

While we tried to not be nostalgic, I couldn’t help but think of the season when the most delightful part of each day will be choosing from the manor’s menu–boiled ham sandwich or beef goulash.

The holidays will arrive and my children will draw from a hat to see who will feed me and the unlucky grand-kids will cry, “Do we have to?!”

I will sit in the manor lobby in my sequined Christmas blouse and wait. I imagine I’ll wait for at least forty-five minutes before I see an angry-looking relative.

All year long I’ve been looking forward to a festive dinner and I’m given an hour or so to choke down my rations while no one even attempts to talk to me. I don’t even get a peek at the Christmas tree.

I’m back in my room again before I know it and it’s time to choose breakfast–honey bun or runny eggs. Neither. Thanks.

To lighten the mood, I went with something terribly easy for someone in such a mental state–chocolate chip bars. And chocolate can be so comforting.

The recipe comes from Jim Fobel’s Old-Fashioned Baking Book. These chocolate chip bars are just right.

Jim Fobel’s Chocolate Chip Bars

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour                                            1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda                                                 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt                                                1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened                     6 ounces of chocolate chips

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour an 11 3/4-by-7 1/2-inch pan.

2. Stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

3. Beat together the butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla.

4. Combine the wet with the dry and fold in the chips and nuts ( I omitted the nuts).

5. Spoon the mix in to the pan and spread it out evenly.

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (I baked for 18).

7. Place the hot pan on a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

8. Cut the bars and eat them.

Happy Winter. Enjoy the soft centers and the chewy edges.

Heat ‘N Serve No More

I’ve converted. Once upon a time I found nothing wrong with the “heat ‘n serve” dinner roll. I even fought on behalf of it.

There was one year my sister was hosting Thanksgiving dinner and decided to streamline the menu, cutting out those unusually white rolls. At the time, this seemed like an injustice to me. What will we use to dip into our mashed potatoes and swirl through the gravy?

Excellent argument. Somehow I won.

Then I had to force myself to eat part of one of those necessary rolls.

Now, I can say goodbye to heat ‘n serve. I made my own rolls. And oh, if you could smell these.

Once again I have Nick Malgieri to thank for making my day. He has the gift for fashioning breads with intense flavor. And I was fortunate enough to come across his book How to Bake.

Maddy continues her year of the bread with dinner/breakfast/lunch rolls. Oh they are anytime rolls.

Below is an adaptation of Nick’s recipe. Try it out or give me a ring and I will try it out for you.

Wheat Rolls

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour    1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey    1 tablespoon salt

1 cup warm tap water (about 110 degrees)    2 teaspoons active dry yeast    2 large eggs

4 tablespoons butter, melted    Egg wash: 1 beaten egg with a pinch of salt

1. Cover cookie sheets or jelly-roll pans with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand-mixer, with the dough hook attached, (you can do this by hand, too) combine the dry ingredients. Let the mixer run on low for 1 minute.

3. Add the water, yeast, eggs, nectar or honey, and butter and continue to let it mix for a minute.

4. Oil a mixing bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Turn the dough over in the bowl to coat all of the sides of the dough with the oil. Cover the bowl and let it rest at room temperature until the dough has doubled, about 1 hour.

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pressed it down to let the air out. Divide the dough in half and then slice each half into 8 pieces to get 16 pieces in total.

6. With the palm of your hand, roll each piece into a small mound. Try to create a smooth surface on each piece. If you’d like to seed or salt your rolls, do that now.

7. Place the rolls on the prepared pans and cover with oiled plastic wrap and a towel. Allow the rolls to rest for about an hour.

8. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

9. Bake the rolls at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. The internal temperature of the rolls should be 210.

Enjoy the rolls warm. The rolls keep well for about 24 hours. After that, you can freeze the rolls and defrost as needed.

Delicious.

Does anyone need pies for Thanksgiving? MaddyLu’s Bakery is now taking orders for the big day. Check out our Facebook page for more information.  http://www.facebook.com/MaddyLus

Really?

What’s this? Gingerbread was an early baby food? That’s what I’ve read. I would cite my sources, but I’d rather be lazy now.

Just don’t tell my students.

But yes, gingerbread was given to German babies. The mothers would let it harden and then crush it into a powder and add the powder to milk or water.

How fantastic. Gingerbread does seem awfully wholesome to me—even medicinal. And what happy babies!

After I read about the gingerbread powder, I pinched off a hearty portion to accompany my morning coffee and my baby boy happily received any bits his papa had to offer.

And you can have some of this excellent stuff if you do one of two things:

1. Order it from Maddy Lu’s.

2. Follow the following recipe and bake your own.

The choice is yours. Make a good one.

This gingerbread comes from the fabulous Lynne Rossetto Kasper. She, along-with Sally Swift, includes this recipe in their book The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper.

Dark and Moist Gingerbread

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1 generous teaspoon baking soda    1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground ginger    3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves   1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted    3/4 cup mild or dark molasses

3/4 cup very hot water (190F)   1/3 tight-packed cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1. Preheat the oven top 350 F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper.

3. Beat together the butter, molasses, hot water, and brown sugar. When the mixture is almost frothy, beat in the egg and gradually add the flour blend. Stir until blended.

4. Pour batter into pan and bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

5. For a moist cake, cool in the pan on a rack. For a drier cake, cool for 10 in the pan and then turn it out of the pan and cool on a rack.

Serve this with a puff of whipped cream and  a dab of lemon curd.

Brown-Bier-Weizen-Brot

Butter melting in the skillet, beautiful baby white potatoes ready to dip in, crusty bread, red wine. Ah.

Josh and Sophie are playing “Catch Me” in the yard.

I was almost caught while sneaking out to gather some herbs.

And so the year of the bread continues with a loaf with roots–my  German roots. German food is good any time of year but the fall calls for pale boiled potatoes, luscious meats, pungent cheeses, good beer, and equally good bread.

I found a fantastic recipe for brown beer bread in an old Cooking Light magazine that a friend brought over. If you could have tasted the air in my kitchen while I was putting this bread together…oh my. Josh walked in while I was punching down the dough and commented on how much it smelled like Würzburg. I agreed.

Josh and I spent a bit of time in Germany over the Christmas holiday one year.

We had a ticket in to Frankfurt and a ticket out of Nuremberg. That was it. No reservations, no plans, nothing. It was up to us to make our way across the bottom of Germany. Without knowing German.

Oh but Germany during the holidays was enchanting and Würzburg was possibly one of the loveliest places of all.

We stayed in a charming bed and breakfast that had a dining room which served supper and was open to the public. And the German public came.

While we traveled, we had a rule: speak as little as possible. (We learned as much of the native language as we could, but knew our accents would give us away.) This worked quite well, except for when it came to ordering off menus. Waiters always discovered our secret.

At the inn in Würzburg, the waiter pretty much chose our meals for us and what a fine job he did. The brown beer bread recipe brings many of those flavors I experienced while in Germany together in one hearty loaf. I hope you get the chance to make this bread. If not, you’ll just have to book a flight to Schönes Deutschland.

Brown Beer Wheat Bread

1 tablespoon olive oil     1/2 cup chopped onion

1 1/8 teaspoons sugar, divided   2 packages dry yeast (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)

3/4 cup warm brown beer (100 to 110 degrees)    1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1 tablespoon white vinegar     1 1/2 teaspoon salt     1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided     1 cup whole wheat flour (or rye)

cooking spray     1 teaspoon water     1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, sauté 4 minutes until golden brown. Set onions aside to cool.

2. Warm beer (I used the microwave). Dissolve 1/8 teaspoon sugar and the yeast in the beer. Let stand for 5 minutes.

3. Stir yogurt,vinegar, and salt into the beer mixture. Add remaining 1 teaspoon sugar and egg. Stir with a whisk. If you would like to make a rye bread, this is when you would add 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.

4. Add 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and the whole wheat flour to the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. Stir in the onions.

5. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding enough of the remaining flour to keep the dough from being too sticky to handle. Add 1 tablespoon at a time.

6. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in the bowl and turn once over to coat the loaf with the oil.

7. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise it in a warm place, free from drafts for about 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

8. Punch the dough down and let it rest for 5 minutes.

9. Shape the dough into a 12-inch oval loaf and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and let it rise for another 30 minutes or until it has doubled again.

10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

11. Combine 1 teaspoon water and the egg white in a small bowl. Brush the egg mixture over the loaf.

12. Bake the loaf for 28 minutes or until golden brown and sounds hollow when you give it a tap.

13. Cool on a wire rack.

*Adapted from Cooking Light, September 2006.

A Birthday and A Baby: A Sweet Story

Like anyone, Erica is complex. She can be soft and teary-eyed or wild and unashamed. (I can hear her shouting “Woo-woooo!” as I write.) She’s a beautiful person with a sweet tooth and a taste for the good stuff–chocolate.

And she just turned twenty-five.

Her husband needed a cake for her. A small, simple one for a casual dessert party.

We went with three layers of our wonderfully moist and deliciously decadent chocolate cake, our tasty vanilla buttercream frosting, and rich chocolate coating.

We chose antique rose for the base color and chocolate browns for the decoration.

Erica's cake

The cake was simple, yet elegant–very much like Erica.

Happy Birthday, Erica.

Speaking of birthdays, there’s a little baby coming soon. Baby Job is due to arrive on October 1st to parents-to-be Allie and Adam. Maddy Lu made the dessert table for Allie’s baby shower.

The menu was as follows:

miniature red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, miniature moist mocha cupcakes with cappuccino frosting, miniature vanilla cupcakes with blueberry buttercream frosting, chocolate peanut butter cake pops, blueberry pinwheel cookies made with our very own blueberry preserves, soft gingerbread drop cookies, and sugar cookie cut-outs.

Congratulations, Allie and Adam. We look forward to meeting you, Baby Job.

Birthdays and babies–lovely, lively parts of life.

Now, onto peach preserves…

It’s strange, but I’ve begun to feel naked without my apron on.