This is once again a Rose Levy Beranbaum recipe from The Bread Bible. During the winter I often find myself baking a lot of bread. In fact, I bake more bread than Craig and I are capable (or should attempt) of eating prior to it going bad. Luckily I manage to have pretty good luck in freezing my loafs, and when we don’t have great sandwich bread to fall back on, I find myself disappointed and get down on myself for not just baking off a few loaves of bread every now and again to prevent us from eating something with 11ty different ingredients from the supermarket. This bread also makes incredible hamburger buns if you decide to shape it into small rounds. This recipe has a permanent bookmark on it.
This bread requires a preferment. That is a small batch of saltless dough that is usually pretty low on flour that spends time allowing the yeast and other microbes in the flour to start developing flavor and interesting. These are especially important in hearth style breads, but almost all breads can benefit from a little bit of preferment. Depending on the culture that the style is from, the preferments will have different names. Italian breads have a biga, French breads have pate fermentee, and American style recipes just have a preferment or a sponge.
Since I only ever use my stand mixer to make bread, my instructions call for the use of the mixer. If you prefer to make this by hand, please do so, but consider that hand kneading tends to take longer than using a mixer. I also urge you to cook by weight. This makes bread baking so much easier. And note that instant or bread machine yeast is not the same thing as active dry (which is less fervent than instant)
Basic Soft White Sandwich Loaf – Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum
Makes 2 small loaves or 1 large loaf
Let the Dough Rise
This recipe is originally from the now neglected Not So Humble Pie. It has been heavily modified and dolled up to suit my increasingly picky tastes but is quite good. The secret to this recipe is the orange bakery emulsion. It gives you a strong and bright orange flavor that doesn’t bake out the way that an alcohol based extract does.
Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes
Makes 23 (I know, right?)
This is based off of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Mousseline Buttercream. Simply put, it is the greatest base buttercream recipe. Period. It is just so stinkin’ delicious. The texture is light for a European style buttercream, it takes hardly any time to throw together, and it’s not too sweet. It retains a glossy appearance and since it doesn’t contain powdered sugar, it doesn’t dry out or get crusty, making it a perfect option for sitting out all day. The only caveat is that it needs to be consumed at room temp. If eaten out of the fridge, the texture resembles that of cold butter, and it is utterly unappetizing. You’ve been warned. The dual color technique looks super complicated, but I promise, it is super easy. It’s even way less messy than using a piping bag like normal. FWIW, if you want to look up some youtube videos, the technique is called icing plugs. Go ahead and do some watching. I’ll wait.
Orange Creamsicle Mousseline Buttercream
Makes enough to ice at least 36 cupcakes
I learned last minute that we would be celebrating a coworker’s birthday the next day. I just started at a new company a month and a half ago, so I am still in the phase where I’m doing my best to show them how incredible I am. Since this particular coworker eats satsumas and oranges all the time, I knew that my creamsicle cupcake recipe would do the trick. Unfortunately, I made it experimentally and didn’t do that thing where I actually noted down what I did, so to figure out what happened last time, I had to find old posts that I had made on chowhound to see if I had described how I made it. You see, orange curd is more difficult than you might expect. The acid in lemon juice is what is responsible for the thickening in lemon curd, and since I wouldn’t be using lemon juice, I had to come up with ways to thicken it. Gelatin is an option, but for something piped, getting a creamy consistency is a toughy. I used my super thick lemon curd recipe, doubled the egg yolks, and used orange juice concentrate. It came out thinnish, but useable as a cupcake filling. Usually when I’m baking cakes/cupcakes, I premake my cake and my fillings, then make the frosting the day of and go from there. I didn’t have the luxury of time, so I decided to go for it and cook the curd sous vide! I would call it a success, and I’m not sure that I’d make lemon curd on the stovetop again!
Sous Vide Orange Curd
Makes about 3.5 cups, or enough to fill at least 48 cupcakes
Instructions (Sous Vide):
A friend was having a birthday brunch/football game gathering over the weekend. It was a combination of fancy brunch and football game. That’s a potentially tough line to walk. You don’t want something that’s too fussy or fancy, but you also don’t want to do something that doesn’t honor the birthday girl and brunch aspect of the event, like a 7 layer dip. Also, I love tiny food. And I had some homemade puff pastry thawing in the fridge. In my searching, I found a recommendation for monte cristo sandwiches, and decided to run with the idea, making a monte cristo inspired palmier, which is essentially just a puff pastry “rollup” that’s sliced thinly and then baked. And these are seriously a breeze to make.
Monte Cristo Palmiers (makes 24)
I am in full-on holiday food hoarding mode. This usually manifests in me taking a few days off work in mid-December and burning myself out on baking for the remainder of the winter. This year has been an interesting shift. I have been hoarding appetizers. You know those things that you buy at Trader Joes and like to have around in case you have guests over? Well I’m making them from scratch! So far I have mushroom strudel and black pepper-parmesan-rosemary crackers, prepared and ready to bake off at a moment’s notice. But I had my cookie press out for the cheesy crackers, and the good folks at Midori Spring sent me a tin of their fancy ceremonial grade matcha powder, and I have been dying to try baking with matcha, so I got crazy and made some festive Midori Spring Matcha Spritz Cookies. If you haven’t had Spritz cookies before, they are little cookies that are shaped when the dough is pressed out of a cookie press through different shaped plates that will give you fun shaped dough without the fuss of rolling and cookie cutters.
Matcha (Green Tea Powder) Spritz Cookies
Full disclosure – I was given this matcha powder in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All opinions and statements above are my own.
Time to stop talking about chickens, and start talking about pastry. Puff pastry is a pretty magnificent creation. If you’re not familiar with puff pastry, it is a ton of super thin sheets of dough separated by a ton of super thin sheets of butter. When rolled out, sliced, and baked, the butter begins to steam, separating the layers of dough and crisping them up. This is totally incredible. Unfortunately, most puff pastry purchased at the grocery store is made with a combination of butter and palm oil, or straight-up palm oil. It doesn’t taste as good. All-butter puff pastry can be acquired, but a tiny bit costs like $13, and frankly, if it’s something that I can make myself in bulk and save 90%, I’m gonna go that route. Last time I made puff pastry for croissants, I went through it so quickly that I deeply regretted not having made more. As the weather has finally begun cooling down in the Seattle area, I have started putting stuff up for winter – starting with several pounds of puff pastry. Photos indicate a quadruple batch, although you may find that making each batch separately is an easier proposition. I certainly did.
Adapted from Nick Malgieri Puff Pastry
Mix the dough
Prep the butter
Form your dough package
Roll it, Roll it good
Fold the dough
Chill your dough, lather, rinse, repeat
Use the dough
To use the trimmed-off ends of the puff pastry, line them up and roll them out together. Sprinkle with some sugar, spread with nutella, or anything else that you can think of that isn’t too bulky (maybe parmesan cheese and pesto or sun dried tomatoes?). Roll up into a log. Chill thoroughly (I actually like to freeze the log for 20 minutes or so) and slice into pinwheels. Place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake at 400F for 20 minutes, or until the palmiers have puffed a little, the edges are browned, and the center looks cooked.