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Archive for March, 2012

It’s that time of the month… for the Daring Bakers Challenge at the Daring Kitchen.  Since one of my favorite holidays, St. Patrick’s Day, is housed in March, I decided to Irishify the challenge, which was Dutch Crunch Bread, AKA Tiger Bread.

Dutch Crunch bread is not something I’ve ever heard of, but is apparently quite popular in San Francisco.  I was a little disappointed that it was another bread challenge, but the actual challenge part was quick and easy.  Dutch Crunch basically refers to the topping on bread.  It’s made with rice flour, yeast, water, vegetable oil, and sugar.  Mix it all together, spread it thickly over bread dough, and bake.  Simple!

With St. Paddy’s Day, I was going to make brown bread to serve with beef and Guinness stew, until I realized I didn’t have rice flour or even rice, for that matter, to make it Dutch Crunch.  So I made the bread normally.  But a week later, after a trip to the grocery, discovering not only rice flour but also almond flour (hooray!), I whipped up a sweet soda bread with raisins in it and spread the dutch crunch topping on that.  It wasn’t really a bread to use for sandwiches, so I slathered jam on it and ate it with homemade potato and leek soup.  The bread topping had a nice crunch and I can see how it would be good for rolls to make sandwiches out of.  However, the crunch only lasts the same day it’s baked.  Once I put it in a ziplock, it got soft.  Maybe putting it in a paper bag would preserve the crunch for a couple days, but all-in-all, it’s just one of those things that are best enjoyed the same day it’s made.

Seems like this month I did more cooking than baking, which is strange since I will be the first to tell you I’m not a cook.  Still managed to get some cookies baked though.  I made sugar cookie shamrocks and Irish flags for St. Paddy’s.  Also made an espresso ice cream using Ina Garten’s recipe, which left me with 6 egg whites, so I thought I’d test my macaron luck.

If you remember last time I made macarons (for the Fray), they FINALLY had feet and were perfect.  And since I had found almond flour at the grocery, I had to try it again.  I admit, I was a bit nervous.  If I failed, it meant I just got lucky the last time.  So I did the macaronage (folding the egg whites in the flour/sugar mixture about 55-60 times) and separated the batter to add flavors.  I also used parchment paper which seems to work better for macarons than silpats, and stacked one of my cookie sheets on another since I read it helps the bottoms of the cookies cook slower, allowing them to develop “feet.”  I didn’t have enough cookie sheets to stack both trays of cookies, which seemed noticeable.  The cookies that were on the sheet I couldn’t double stack had feet, but they seemed to grow outward and not upward.  Nonetheless, I was thrilled they had feet.  They did seem to have a bit of hollow space in the cookies, but that probably just means I need to lower the heat and bake around 315F next time.

All around, fairly successful baking month.  I was going to use Paddy, my sourdough starter, for the third try, but didn’t get around to it.  I’ll hopefully make sourdough in the next couple weeks and if I strike out again, Paddy’s going in the garbage.  But maybe like the macarons, I’ll figure out what I’m doing wrong.

                      

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

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It’s official.  I’m old.  Okay, maybe not quite, but I turned 29 on the 6th and have 1 year left to be wild and crazy before it’s all downhill.  So I kickstarted 29 with a weekend in Syracuse and 2 days in Dublin.   Had an absolutely fantastic time and am stretching the birthday celebrations into this weekend with friends and family.

So what does 29 hold for me?  Well, I think 2012 is going to be a year of changes.  I’m not sure exactly what, but I can feel it.  Maybe I’ll do something more with my baking, maybe I’ll get signed to a record label (okay, probably not), or maybe I’ll get married and have kids (even less likely).  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Back to baking.  I haven’t done quite as much baking in the last two months, hence the time between posts.  I skipped January’s Daring Baker’s challenge and sort of did February’s but didn’t post it.  So I’m posting it now and it actually ties in with January’s.  January’s challenge was to make scones, and February’s challenge was to make a quick bread that rises mainly from baking powder and moisture, not yeast.  And since I had a craving for chocolate chip scones, that is what I made.

Of course, it helps to have chocolate chips when you’re making chocolate chip scones.  I found after I whisked together the dry ingredients but before adding the wet, that I didn’t have any chocolate chips.  I could go to the store since the dry and wet hadn’t been added together yet, or I could just cut up the dark chocolate Ghirardelli bars that I had on hand for over a year.  I usually use that chocolate in souffles or pots de cremes, but since I’d had the bars for awhile and I’m lazy, I opted for the latter.

The scones turned out quite well despite the fact that I used milk in place of whipping cream and all purpose instead of pastry flour.  But really, they weren’t difficult to make.  Didn’t require a mixer, just good old fashion hand mixing.

    

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