Sunday, May 30, 2010

Baking With Dorie (Rewind): Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I have decided that if I really wanted to be a full, active member of Baking with Dorie (BWD) which I was officially welcomed into on May 12, I should catch up on all of the group's bake since its first one on March 1.

Thus, I will attempt a BWD Rewind - baking all six chosen recipes that the group members have picked and baked prior to May 24 (when I baked my first BWD). And, I hope to complete all six recipes before August 16 - that's when we'll be baking along to my recipe of choice!! I think I can manage that ;-)

For my first BWD Rewind, it's Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, chosen by both founding members of BWD, Grapefruit and Susi. Check out Grapefruit's take here and Susi's here.

I thought of baking half a batch, but since we were having some family gathering in the morning, I went full batch and got exactly 12 muffins from the recipe. I usually can't wait to sample the first cupcake/slice of cake immediately after they come out of the oven, but I was patient with this one, probably because I was occupied with chowing down putting away WPC cookies in cookie tins (I can't seem to stop eating baking 'em WPCs!!)

I took these to mom's and I was surprised that my health-conscious mother (she doesn't eat cake and as a result looks 15 years younger than her real age.. errr what does that say about me - a cake eating person who bakes almost daily??) out of her own willingness took one muffin and declared they were very nice (she scraped the lemon drizzle off, though). And...a few minutes later said she'll have another one!! I was curious to know if they were THAT good, but decided to wait till morning to have them for breakfast.

My verdict - these are made for breakfast or an afternoon snack. They were pretty good, but I wouldn't go so far as to have one after the other. The texture is soft and light (I used low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream). And although the cake calls for zest and juice of one lemon, the lemon flavor was quite mild. A lemon lover, I was hoping for a stronger sweet citrus taste.

The poppy seed added some surprise crunch in every bite and these muffins would be nothing without them.


Guess what? The next day my mom had these again for breakfast. I'll definitely make these again... for her!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Peace, love and a happy tummy

Yes, I agree with Dorie's neighbour that the world would be a more peaceful and happier place if everyone had one of these everyday. I'd just like to add that it'll also be a much heavier place, no doubt!! Happier, and heavier!! Or at least just heavier around the area where I live, as I just can't stop eating these!!

I think this is the best cookies I've baked so far - much more superior than the chockablock cookies I baked several weeks ago. This time is was perfect!! In the beginning, I was a little afraid I might be dissapointed as I kinda suck at baking cookies. Cakes, I can manage - but I never seem to get the right freshly crisp texture I love in a cookie. I've baked from friends and family's fav recipes, but I always get dissapointed with the way mine turns out. But not anymore!!

Two of my best buddies have tried making these before and they loved it, but somehow I wasn't very convinced as:
1. I suck at cookies
2. the appearance of the cookies isn't anything to shout about

But I guess, never judge a book by its cover!! And never judge a cookie by its appearance (or lack of).

These cookies are just the way I like mine - crisp and crunchy and oh! so chocolatey. I am not a fan of chewy cookies. These are so so good!! My greediness led me to prepare 2 batches of dough and boy, am I glad!! And of course, I couldn't wait 3 hours for the rolled up and wrapped dough to be refrigerated (Dorie says to shape the dough in logs, wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for at least 3 hours) - I baked 9 cookies immediately after I was done with the recipe. And it was heavenly.

I followed the recipe to a tee - except I used dark couverture chocolate instead of bittersweet and mountain salt from the Himalayas instead of fleur de sel. I love the sandy texture and the saltiness which brings out the best of the chocolate.

I also experimented by adding some chopped almonds (as I love nuts in cookies) - see photo below. They are great too, but I love them more without the nuts. I shouldn't have tried to mess up Pierre Hermé original recipe - who am I kidding, right?? 

Have no doubt about these cookies and bake them today - they're at page 138-139 of Dorie's Baking From My Home To Yours. It is also available online. Here's the recipe in metric measurement - Dorie's been so kind to convert it for us. But do buy the book - it's just so worth it!! 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Baking With Dorie: Tender Shortcakes

This was a very special bake for me as it was my maiden Baking with Dorie bake!! Susi from Susi's Kochen Und Backen Adventures chose this recipe (pgs 423 & 424). Thank you, Susi!!

BWD was introduced to me by my friend Jenny, who is a member of another baking group, TWD. And since TWD is now a closed group, she suggested that I join BWD, whose co-founder's blog Needful Things she stumbled upon.

The rest is history and here I am baking along my first bake!

This was my first time baking shortcakes (so many firsts, huh?? hehe) and the likes of it i.e scones and biscuits. I was a little intimidated at first as I am no great baker, and have only started baking as a hobby about a year and a half ago.

But reading Dorie's recipe soon calmed me down. It appeared simple enough for me to attempt, there were no complicated steps and the ingredients were pretty basic. It was actually very very easy!!

These biscuits were tender, but perhaps mine were not flaky enough. They were light and not dense but I was left searching for that flaky texture that Dorie described in her book (on pg 20, "flakiness is the hallmark of great biscuits and scones). Mine were pale, golden, cracked, cratery, raggedy and crumbly - yes. But not quite flaky!! I did handle my dough with enough 'neglect' as advised though. I am curious to know if the other BWD bakers had the flakiness quality about this shortcakes.

Having said that, the lack of flakiness had in no way interfered with how these tasted. I wouldn't say mine were awesome, but they were good - especially when eaten with the lightly whipped cream and berries. I would say the accompaniments take the cake!! Thanks, Susi for picking this recipe. Thanks for being involved in one of my many 'firsts' ;-)

I made 3/4 of the recipe as I only had a small can of cream in the pantry, thus had to adjust the amount of the other ingredients. I made 15 small shortcakes and was happy to bring them on my visit to my sister's house. And as I had to make a stop at my mom's to take her along to sis', I was pressed for time and only managed to snap a few photos!

I'm looking forward to the next BWD bake!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My book is here!!!

Look what I got in the mail today!! My book is here, my book is here, my book is here!! I'm so happy... Ok, gotta go... I'm gonna be busy tonight ;-)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Swedish Visiting Cake

The saying 'less is more' is so true in the case of this cake. Simpler is definitely better!! 10 minutes (or maybe even less!) was all that was required and the minimal ingredients was the plus factor. Who would've thought something so simple can be so sinful!! I LOVE THIS CAKE!! now, of course the recipe's great -- it's Dorie's!!

I first baked this cake about a month ago, after my friend Jen posted her TWD weekly bake on her blog. The cake name itself made me curious and after I went to Nancy's blog, I was ready to get in the kitchen and bake my own!! I love simple, unpretentious, wholesome goodness cake such as this.

I've made this cake 5 times in 2 weeks. Yes, I love it that much!! The one shown here was my second bake, where I doubled the recipe and baked it in a pie dish. I wish I have a cast iron skillet so I could bake in it as suggested by Dorie. What I can say is, skillet or no skillet, this was a hit!!

I love everything about this cake - the dense texture, the crunchy almond top and the fragrant citrusy lemony sweetness. I brushed my cake with some honey, as my cake looked a little dry (left it in the oven a tad too long). The intention was to have a slightly damp and moist look (to make it look good in pictures, of course! but without me knowing, the mild honey taste actually complimented the overall cake. And that was great!