29 March 2012

Sewing for Boys: Easy Linen Shirt

Sewing for Boys, sew-along this month, was the Easy Linen Shirt.  When I hear the word shirt, I don't automatically think "easy".  Unless it's a raw edge raglan, like a couple months ago.

But I was pleasantly surprised.  It was like the name stated... EASY.  Minus the need for eating/sleeping, or mothering of children, I think this could be completed in an hour... perhaps minus the cutting too?  I don't know, there are only 3 pieces, so even the cutting went quickly.

I embellished the sleeve with an "S".  For Silas of course.  He was very excited to be wearing an "S".

I shortened the sleeves also, since it's already quite warm here.  So, I LOVED the pattern.  LOVED how the shirt turned out.  LOVED how easy it really was!

28 March 2012

Bake 52: Creme Brulee

I LOVE Creme Brulee.  When I saw that Jen had picked this as her recipe, I was so excited.

I have made creme brulee many times, but I've never made it with a vanilla bean, or with the burned sugar topping.  I know.  Criminal.  So, first time.  You're here to witness...

Combine 1/2 the cream, sugar, vanilla bean (with seeds), and salt in a saucepan.  Heat to dissolve the sugar.  Then remove from heat, cover, and let steep, (sit for 15 minutes).  Then add the rest of the cream.

Here come the eggs.  Ten.  10.  So many.  So worth it.  We use just the yolks.  There's my handy, albiet slightly broken, egg separator.  Pretty fun, eh?

Ten.  10 yolks.  There they are.

Slowly whisking the cream into the yolks.

Straining the custard.  (I had never done this in my previous Creme Brulee makings.  Smart.  Good thing to do... otherwise, there are times that you get small bits of cooked egg? while eating the Creme Brulee.  I would recommend this step.)

Boil some water.

Pour the custard into the ramekins, which are sitting on top of a kitchen towel, in a 9x13" pan.  The boiling water is then poured into the pan, around the ramekins.  The water helps to cook the custard evenly.

Cook until just set.  And allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate until cold.

Turbinado sugar (or Sugar in the Raw).

The top of the Creme Brulee has to be blotted slightly to be sure that it's completely dry.  Then the sugar is sprinkled lightly on top.

Here comes the torch.  Caramelize the sugar.

Isn't that cool?  I mean, hot?  It was so fun.  I felt so chef-like.

There it is.

The book said, "A perfect creme brulee should be decadently rich and topped with a brittle, paper-thin sheet of burnt sugar."

So check out that paper-thin sheet of burnt sugar.  It worked.  And man was it grand!

If you've never made creme brulee, do it.  Give it a try.  It's not hard.  SO worth it.  Go to Jen's blog for the full recipe.  Mmmm.

21 March 2012

Bake 52: Palmiers

My week.  My pick.  Mmmm.  Yummy.  But first, a little about me.

My name is Rebekah.  Grew-up (mostly) in Utah.  Met my husband, Shawn at Utah State University, Go Aggies!  I graduated in Family and Consumer Sciences Education, (like Emily, who hosted last week!).  Taught Junior High for one year, until we adopted our first two children.  We were in Idaho to adopt our first 3 kids, then moved to Utah for 3 years, and then got a phone call asking us to move to Arkansas.  What an adventure.  Who knew Arkansas was SO beautiful?!  Since being here, (6 years), we've officially adopted 1 more child, but are really close to getting two more.  If you lost track, that's 6 total.  Good times!  Shawn teaches University aged students, religion (Institute), and I'm lucky enough to be able to stay home.  I LOVE to bake, sew, knit, crochet, craft, talk, read, watch movies, hike, run, and mostly just be with my family.

I found out about this baking group when a friend sent me a link to a blog, (here's the actual post).  As I was looking around on her blog, I noticed the cute Bake 52 button, and the rest is history.  I'm really enjoying trying all these new things.  It's a great cookbook, and I would recommend it to anyone.

If you have a day or two with nothing to do, and some extra butter hanging around, you really should give these a try!  Even if you don't have a day or two, or some extra butter hanging around, you should make some time, and buy some butter, and give them a try anyway.  Just do it.

This was a bit involved, but so worth it.

It all starts with making your own Puff Pastry Dough.  Now, this can be bought in the store, but it doesn't hold a candle to the "make-you-own" variety.  I've wanted to try making my own Puff Pastry for a couple of years now.  After the movie "Julie & Julia" came out, I had a friend that decided to do a "Julie & Julia" party.  The requirements were for each guest to make one of Julia Child's recipes and bring it with them to the party, to share.  Fun idea, huh?  My friend who hosted the party is an amazing cook.  She decided to do a Chicken Pot Pie, and made the Puff Pastry crust by scratch... Julia's recipe.  It was amazing.  Like I wanted to eat the whole pie, amazing.  Ever since then I wanted to try a puff pastry from scratch.  So, this was my chance.  Here we go...

The Puff Pastry dough is really easy.

Flour, sugar, salt, fresh lemon juice, ice water.

Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor, then add the lemon juice and water, to make a dough.

Place the dough in plastic wrap, flatten slightly, and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Then comes the butter.

Three squares of it and some flour.

The butter are laid side by side on parchment paper.  The flour is then sprinkled over the butter, covered with another sheet of parchment paper, and gently pounded with a rolling pin until is't softened and the flour is incorporated.  Then the butter is rolled into a 8-inch square.  Then chill in fridge for 1 hour.

The dough is rolled into an 11-inch square, and the chilled butter is placed diagonally in the center.

Corners are folded up and over, meeting in the middle, seams sealed.

Gently roll the dough into a 14-inch square.

Fold the dough into thirds to form a rectangle.

Fold into thirds again, to form a square.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Repeat this process two more times.
Remember when I said you need a few extra hours on your hands... and you thought I was kidding!

Okay.  Now we're ready to make Palmiers.

1 cup sugar.  1 recipe Puff Pastry Dough.

Sprinkle half of the sugar over the counter and lay the puff pastry on top of the sugar.  Roll the dough into a 24 by 12-inch rectangle.

Roll both short sides of the dough into the center, meeting in the middle... hey, that should be a song.

Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze in freezer until firm, 20 minutes.

Slice half of the log into 1/2-inch-thick cookies, and bake for 15-20 minutes until they start to brown.  Then flip them.  Look at those layers/flakes!

Bake another 5-10 minutes longer.  Transfer immediately to wire rack and let cool completely.  Then cook the other half of the dough.

And since they're a pastry, I think they'd be yummy with hot chocolate, Postum, or whatever breakfast drink you like to drink in the morning.  They are sweet, but not too sweet.  Yummy.

This was fun.  I think I could be a pastry chef... course without the 6 kids, which I wouldn't trade, so never mind.

Here's the complete recipe:

Puff Pastry Dough
(The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)

3 c (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbl sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup ice water

2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled
2 Tbl all-purpose flour

Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor to combine.  With the machine running, add the lemon juice, followed by 3/4 cup of the ice water, in a slow steady stream.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup water as needed, 1 Tbl at a time, until the dough comes together and no floury bits remain.

Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a 6-inch square.  Wrap the dough tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

FOR THE BUTTER SQUARE:  Lay the 3 sticks of butter side by side on a sheet of parchment paper. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and cover with a second sheet of parchment paper.  Gently pound the butter with a rolling pin until the butter is softened and the flour is fully incorporated, then roll it into an 8-inch square.  Wrap the butter square in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and roll into an 11-inch square.  Place the chilled butter square diagonally in the center of the dough.  Fold the corners of the dough up over the butter square so that the corners meet in the middle and pinch the dough seams to seal.

Using a rolling pin, gently tap the dough, starting from the center and working outward, until the square becomes larger and the butter begins to soften.  Gently roll the dough into a 14-inch square, dusting with extra flour as needed to prevent sticking.  Fold the dough into thirds to form a rectangle, then fold the rectangle in thirds to form a square.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest int he refrigerator for 2 hours.

Repeat the above step twice and let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 2 more hours before using.

To Make Ahead
The puff pastry dough, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.  Let the dough thaw completely in the refrigerator, about 12 hours, before using.

(The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1 recipe Puff Pastry Dough

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the sugar over the counter and lay the puff pastry dough  on top of the sugar.  Roll the dough out to a 24 by 12-inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick, dusting with the remaining sugar as needed to prevent sticking.

Roll both of the short sides of the dough towards the center so that they meet in the middle.  Wrap the log of dough in plastic wrap, transfer to a baking sheet, and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Slice half of the log of dough into 1/2-inch-thick cookies with a long, thin-bladed slicing knife; wrap the remaining unsliced dough with plastic wrap and keep frozen until ready to bake.  Lay the cookies on one of the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 1 inch apart.  Bake the cookies until they begin to brown and firm up, 15 to 20 minutes.

Flip the cookies over, rotate the baking sheet, and continue to bake until golden and crisp, 5 to 10 minutes longer.  Immediately transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 20 minutes, before serving.  Repeat with the remaining dough using a cooled, freshly lined baking sheet.

To Make Ahead
The log of palmier dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic rap and frozen for up to 1 month.  Slice the frozen dough into cookies and bake as directed.  Once baked, the palmiers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

14 March 2012

Bake 52: Ciabatta Bread

An Italian white bread.  This recipe required first that a "sponge"be made.  A sponge is part of the flour, water and yeast from the regular recipe, that are allowed to sit out, covered, for 6-24 hours.  It helps in developing the taste, texture and chemistry in the bread.  But, also means that this is a two-day recipe.

Here's the beginning of my sponge, before it's all stirred together.

And there's the sponge.  It was then covered and allowed to sit all night, and most of the next day.

The next day I first made the dough, (no sponge yet).  I combined more flour, yeast and water in a stand mixer, and mixed until the dough came together.  There it is... all together.   Isn't it nice when things really come together?!

That dough is then covered to rest for about 20 minutes, then the sponge is added.  Gloppy, glop, glop. Oh, along with some salt.

Mix until it's all uniform and "together".

The dough is then put in a large oiled bowl, and covered with plastic wrap.  Rise for 1 hour.

Then we dust the dough with flour, and "turn" it.  There were some great pictures in the book that really illustrated how this was supposed to be done.

Basically you should have a plastic bench scraper to really do this well, I think.  It said a rubber spatula would also work, but I found it a bit tricky.  I don't think it worked quite as well.  One-third of the dough is supposed to be folded into the center, and then the other side, folded over the first.  Then, the whole thing is supposed to be folded in half, perpendicular to the first folds.

It said after all the folding, the dough should look roughly like a square.  Did NOT get that quite right.  The dough is then covered again, and should rise until tripled in size, about 1 hour.

The dough is turned onto a floured counter, and dusted with more flour... it's a REALLY wet and sticky dough, if you can't tell from the pictures, hence all the flour, dusting.

Divide dough in half and quickly lift each half onto a parchment lined, upside down rimmed baking sheet.

The dough is folded, each side into the middle.

And then stretched with fingers to 10 by 5-inch rectangle, and allowed to rise for 1-1 1/2 hours.

There is is, risen.  Then it's baked in a 500 degree oven on a stone.  You leave it on the parchment paper for the first 20 minutes of baking, then get rid of the paper, and turn it over so the bottom can get nice and crisp.  It continues baking for another 15 minutes.

There's the bottom of my first loaf.  Can you see that black around the edges.  Yep, slightly burned.

There's the top.  Lovely.  (There's a bit of sarcasm there.)

And there's the inside.  It was pretty.  And some nice big air holes/pockets developed, thanks to all that gluten development.

Here's my second loaf.  After my first one came out so dark, I read a tip in the book, that said to cook it for the first 10 minutes at 500 degrees, and then turn it down to 400 degrees for the remainder of the cooking time.  That's what happened here.  Better.

And still a nice crumb.

Ok.  So, even the slightly burned one tasted good.  It had a really crispy, almost cracker-like crust, and a chewy inside.  The flavor was good.  I was curious to see if it had a sourdough flavor, since the sponge is a somewhat similar idea.  I don't think it was sour, just really developed and nice.

It was a long process.  But it was also a yummy bread.  I don't know, I may try it again... there are some things I'd like to perfect and play around with a bit.  There is a version for a one day deal in the book, too.  So maybe I'll give that a go sometime.

For the complete recipe, go to Emily's blog.