"not much" ... i stumbled on this motivating recipe blog around three weeks ago, this gurl, literally had no oven or baking ware and yet, her recipe is a really scrumptious pastry bread. i would say (pertaining to baking) if pastries, breads, menus of today are mainly based on those from before, where hi-tech gadgets were really not yet built, then it is very possible to bake just as good (or cook). i'd like to say, if there's "not much" it is still possible to make something good (and on rare occasions) something really really good (i'd like to say, same goes with life too, what do you think?).
for this one, i made some few changes, by reducing the sugar, and instead of using chocolate, i decided to use berry preserves (click on this link and scroll down for the berry preserve recipe).
i decided to layer this coconut bread, after mixing the batter, pour in a portion of the batter into your baking dish, then top with your berry preserve/jam, the cover with the remaining batter, then top again with the berry preserve/jam, i gave the top layer a bit of "swirl" =)
and it turned out just really good. just to mention, i don't have a rectangular baking dish, so i use a baking bowl instead, so, for this one, its cylindrical.
it is frustrating when wrong information is disseminated on a public information system which society has deemed "reliable" and then when a correction is requested, the representative (of that company/system) cannot even provide a timeline of how long the customer will be receiving an update, correspondence and confirmation that the correction has been made and to note that the customer cannot coordinate with a person. what makes it worse, is that (at least with my experience this morning) all that is uttered by the representative is "sorry that you cannot locate the form" (instead of providing the immediate direct link to the form itself). it is either terrible customer service training and/or management or simply a bad attitude (anyway, the form got sent into the system, and still no confirmation email). that is how today started.
and then there are some few good situations, right now, some really very few good ones, one of them is learning to bake. this cake turned out moist, it took a little longer for me to bake though, around 40-45 minutes.
i made some changes when i baked this coffee cake.
- lessened the sugar
- used 1/4 cup light brown sugar on the (topping/crumble) instead of cream cheese
- used homemade mixed-berry (preserves) as the topping over the crumble (instead of raspberry jam)
mixed-berry preserves: ( i used this berry preserve as the topping in-between the crumble)
- 1/4 cup black berries
- 1/4 cup blue berries
- 1/4 cup raspberries
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (add more if you prefer more acidity)
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar (add more if you prefer more sweet)
a. slightly mash all berries into a pot (don't puree, unless you want the mixture to be fine)
b. pour in the lemon juice and sugar (mix together)
c. boil the berry mixture in the pot (5-10 minutes) depending how reduced you would like your jam to be
d. let it cool down (chill if need be) the jam/preserves should thicken when it cools down.
yesterday was unfortunate ... more than half way into the parking spot, the driver opened his driver's door, and it hit the fog light bumper of my car, there is now a small dent ... (for reasons i don't want to put into detail here) i literally could do nothing ... yesterday was like salt over open wound ... negatively, i asked myself as i stared at the dent "how much worse is coming?" i was pissed and really really angry, but bursting into impulsive actions won't fix anything at that specific situation (if my situation was different, i would have done something to justify what was done) ... and so, with utter reluctance and anger, i brushed it off my shoulder and headed into the grocery store ... the driver also headed into the store, and seeing him was making me disgusted to the pits of my stomach (i really wanted to vomit straight into his face, if technicalities were set aside, he would have paid for fixing that dent). i made sure i didn't cross paths with him in the store.
anyway, yesterday i really wanted to do my grocery, so, i went about grocery shopping, trying my very best to distract myself from what happened. choosing some really good limes and lemons for zesting, some not-so-ripe plum tomatoes, fresh scallions, my two favorite basic spices garlic and onions, picked up some nice italian parsley, some mushrooms (whose price has gone up), carrots, one of my favorite vegetables called chayote, some brussel sprouts, ginger, lettuce, avocados, grapefruit, tofu, cereal, oranges, bananas and some nice citrus kiwi. (i wanted to bake, but my golly was i really really angry inside, the feeling of pure anger is very ugly.)
that evening, i made use of the brussel sprouts, by blanching them shortly, and sauteing them with thinly sliced carrots, over some chives, basil, oregano and fennel seeds, adding some soy sauce and half a cube of beef bullion, then adding some freshly chopped scallions, and finishing it off with fresh lemon juice (about a table spoon). fennel has a really distinct flavor, kinda nuttish-herbish-with-a-very-small-hint-of-sweet? (was that a good-enough-description?) i paired this with some warm white rice which i mixed with some of the chopped scallions.
woke up late this morning, still on the "trying-to-brush-off" feeling but still pissed. so, i decided to bake the hot-milk-sponge cake (again, so that i get it right this time).
for this one, i made two batches, one was baked into pastry cups with a slices of ripe blue berries and another was simply the hot milk cake itself. again, i made some changes on mine, since i try to bake with less sugar, and more of the core ingredient.
- used 1/3 cup sugar
- ripe blue berries (sliced in halves)
i made a dark chocolate glaze instead. heating up the milk and letting the butter, dark chocolate, sugar, dark cocoa powder melt while mixing them. it was not thick at first, but as the mixture cooled down, it thickened, but more of a glaze consistency. i chose to bake one batch into pastry cups, but since i don't have a muffin tray, simply fill a small glass plate (about one and half inch deep) with the pastry cups, putting them as close to each other as possible, so that when the batter expands, the pastry cups would lean against each other and still hold their shape (at least those are my thoughts).
filled the pastry cup with a thin layer of the batter, put in the sliced blue berries and covered with another layer of the batter (i learned that you should not fill the container all the way to the top, because the batter will rise). the recipe calls for a baking time of 35 minutes, mine was actually done by about 21 minutes, then letting it sit in the oven for about 3-5 minutes (my oven is not state of the art technology, just to mention). so far, i would say i'm getting closer, the cake turned out light, with that that touch of sponge, but not yet really a sponge cake (which has a totally different recipe) also, looks like the pastry cups maintained its shape.
half of the cake in the pastry cups i simply dusted with confections sugar, and some i topped with a little of the dark chocolate glaze.
after making these cakes as pretty as i can ... (don't you think they look a wittle pweety?) gave a fresh batch of the ones in the pastry cups to the neighbor, the kids says they really like it and that it tastes good, however, i think i need to work more on it (hopefully i am not becoming too cynical on myself etc.) also, chatted a bit with the neighbor regarding parking situations, rules, suggestions etc. by the time i got back into the apartment, it was a little past 2:30'sh in the afternoon, so, heated up some espresso, cut me some slices of the cake with a thinly topped dark.choc glaze, sat down and ... gobbled them up all together like a starving person (kidding) ate them all though.
there is a song whose album is titled "waiting for my rocket to come" (if i'm not mistaken) then again, there is a saying called "making it happen" and then there is a saying "not everything or every situation has an instant result" - anyway, i'm reading about making puff pastry from scratch, so far, i am getting more and more acquainted with the different types of doughs (and learning the process along the way).
well, it is valentines, one of those few occasions observed with that extra dash of "heart" (are you sighing?), anyway i decided to bake baguette again today, make it a little more crisper this time, it would take several hours with intermittent waiting, so far, it turned out nice and crisp in the outside, while still being firmly-soft inside (updates on the baguette are here).
i chatted a bit with the neighbor (as i asked for the baking dish) and asked if they enjoyed (or liked) the banana.dark.chocolate.pastry - fortunately they did "delicious" is their feedback.
so there are some left-over hot-milk-cake-bread, blue berries, black berries, raspberries and left-over mix-nut streussel, i thought of making bread pudding. again, i have never made bread pudding before, browsing the internet for the basics of creating this delectable pastry, guess what, this site came up with a recipe i had to try, and it is dated 2 years ago (on valentines day) la bella vita.
this morning though, i woke up with some progress on my bills (grateful for some good news *sigh*), anyway, lets get back into the details of this pastry. i made some changes on mine.
- did not use heavy cream (instead whipped butter and milk and sugar)
- did not use egg (just the milk, butter, sugar mixture)
- lessened the sugar
- did not use panettone (instead used left-over home made hot-milk-cake-bread)
- and i added as a topping left-over mix-nut-streussel (with a little hint of dark-cocoa-powder)
so, following the recipe, i chopped the bread into cubes, chopped the berries in halves, just so the juices of the berries actually melt into the bread. for the wet ingredients, simply mixed up 1 tsp butter, milk and sugar and whipped it until it formed a foam. for the streussel, it was a mix of chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, shaved coconut and pistachios), 1/4 tsp dark-cocoa-powder, sugar, butter, all purpose flour. your measurements should be based on the serving size your planning to bake. for the berry-mixture, simply mixed the berries with freshly squeezed lemon (that's it) no sugar.
you'll have to grease your baking container (i used a glass baking bowl) then lay a portion of your bread as the first layer then top with some of your berries, then top with another layer of your bread and top again with your berries (you can decide on how many layers you want, as long as it bakes), pour in the milk (or cream mixture), you'll have to let the bread soak-up the mixture, then i topped mine with the streussel, because i wanted some crunch over mush-bread (the streussel did form a crust on the edges of this pudding). for the bread to soak-up the liquid, you'll have to press the bread a bit, and let the pudding sit on room temperature for about 30 minutes.
two days ago, i tried to bake a hot-milk-sponge-cake, i made a mistake by putting in more baking powder, it turned out to be a cake-bread (it was good though), and this is what i used for this pudding.
and then there was some milk left, instead of letting it expire, i made a pasta-sauce out of it, with parsley, italian seasoning, basil, oregano, chives, rosemary, lemon juice and lemon zest, reduced it and added some corn starch for the thickening agent, below is how the sauce looked like, it turned out to be really aromatic (i'd say because of the rosemary) and savory, especially when i sauteed this sauce with some ricotta.
i am mentioning this because, as i read the background of "bread pudding" it is one of those french desserts classified under "the art of baking stale bread" (though my bread was only 3 days old) learning how to make something new and flavorful out of left-over ingredients is actually a good thing (you just don't throw food away), how about ... "the art of not wasting food?"
and so, my week will be about having a sit-down with bills to pay ... *ah-yay-yay* still applying for jobs, still have that "oh-boy-am-a-get-that-job" feeling, which is better than feeling depressed and hopeless (i do feel frustrated though, every time the "technical" reasons come into play)
yesterday, i actually decided to bake french baguette (aside from the banana.dark.chocolate.pastry) it took me several hours and the ingredients are the same as that of the italian bread, most (if not all) staple breads have the four essential ingredients (water, flour, yeast and salt) that's it! and then you can transform the bread into different flavors by incorporating additional ingredients, such as herbs, oils, cheeses, seeds, spices etc. and that is how these basic breads are "dubbed" into different flavored-typed breads, but underneath it all - its all the same four essential ingredients, without these four-essentials, there basically won't be bread!
my oven seems to be working with me (pretty much) despite the fact that i do not have the right baking utensils. again, these baguettes were baked using a roasting-pan (uh-huhh, the one you use for roasting your turkey!) i simply put a lightly greased parchment paper. also, i had to form my baguettes into 6 inches in length, because it would not fit into the roasting pan (baguettes, by default should be around 24 inches in length) and just to note again, these breads should be baked using a baking stone (for better results of course). "ahhh ... should we call these compromises or adjustments?" (well, i gotta make do noh?)
i do not have a bakers lame for "scoring" the bread (or making those "slashes" you see in breads), so, i used a bread knife, which is not the best tool for making a really sexy "slash" for your baguette. as you can see (below) my slashes needs lots of "improvement" - whether you have a lame or not, you need to find a way to make those "slashes", it helps your bread from "bursting" (here are some good explanations for the need to score your bread "scoring bread dough (food52)" its also mentioned here "Janes Sweets & Baking Journal".
however (despite my-not-so-sexy-slashing-skills), these baguettes turned out crisp outside, and firmly-soft inside within a 15-25 minute baking period (if i baked my baguettes about 25-35 minutes) the crust could be a little more crisper (then again, this my first time baking baguettes)
so far, i'd like to learn baking different artisan breads. the two types of breads that i'd like to bake on a regular basis (so that i get them right) are the italian and the baguette, just because i actually like oils and herbs and plain baguettes. below is how my baguette looks like (sliced) fresh out of the oven.
i chose to freeze these baguettes this time around, to see if i really baked them correctly. the following day, i thawed the baguette in the afternoon (which turned out actually good), topped it with my regular herb mixture and shredded pecorino and toasted them (as i recently have been doing) - well, the baguette maintained its texture (it was crisper, because i toasted them, see below)
it looks like i'll be baking these breads on a regular basis, wherein they can be consumed within a one to two day period, so that i can make a fresh batch of baked bread more often, this should help me learn to bake them just the "right" way.