Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sourdough Pumpkin Doughnuts

It is with a heavy heart and cinnamon-sugar fingers that I post this recipe. Ya see, I just learned that Sourdough Surprises is saying Good-bye!  Over the past 3 years I've looked forward every month to seeing what Shelly and Jenni had in store for us and then sharing ideas with the community.  I learned a bunch about sourdough starters and enjoyed coming up with recipes I never thought I'd be making in a million years (sourdough croissants, anyone?). I'm going to mess them soooooo much but certainly wish these two gentlewomen all the best and say thank you from the bottom of my dough bowl!

This month's surprise was sourdough donuts. And if you saw last month post you no doubt know that I tried to make sourdough pumpkin doughnuts for that challenge which was anything pumpkin. It did not work out, but the sourdough pumpkin bars I made instead were a huge hit.

Forward to this month and, as some comments suggested, I made another stab at pumpkin doughnuts. I bought a frying thermometer, found a new recipe to work from and changed up the size of my doughnut cutter. I like to think I nailed it this time. They were crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and spicy all around. 

sourdough pumpkin doughnuts

1 & 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
pinch of cloves
pinch of cardamom 
2 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup sourdough starter
vegetable oil for frying
cinnamon sugar for dusting (1/2 cup sugar to 1 tablespoon cinnamon)

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar by hand. Beat in egg and yolk. Add pumpkin and sourdough starter. Fold in flour mixture and mix to combine thoroughly. Dough will be very sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least one hour.

Turn dough out onto a well floured surface. If dough is too sticky to handle knead a bit more flour into it. Carefully pat dough flat to slightly less than 1/2 an inch thick. Cut dough with 2 3/4 inch round cutter and cut out 1 3/4 inch rounds from the center. Re-roll dough as necessary or leave some doughnut holes for frying if desired. Let doughnuts rest while oil is heating.

Combine sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish and set aside. In a large, heavy pot heat about 2 inches of oil to 365 degrees. Carefully lay doughnuts in oil in batches of 2 or 3. Fry for 1 or 2 minutes on each side until lightly golden. Roll in cinnamon sugar while still warm.  Makes about 12-14 doughnuts


Friday, October 30, 2015

Sourdough Pumpkin Bars

While this should've been a no-brainer Sourdough Surprises due to the easy theme (anything pumpkin) and an extended deadline (the 30th of the month instead of the 20th), truth be told, I struggled with this one. Maybe it was the fact that there are so many great pumpkin recipes I could have gone with. Pumpkin pancakes, sourdough pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pie with sourdough crust, sourdough pumpkin snickerdoodles, pumpkin bagels, sourdough crepes with pumpkin mousse... the extra days just gave me more time to vacillate between them all.

Whatever. When push came to shove and the clock started ticking down those final days, I picked a lane and kicked it into high gear. I always knew it was going to be something sweet. Though there were some false starts along the way. 

The pumpkin bread made with roasted butternut squash came out pretty delicious. I brought it to work, everyone agreed and I might just be blogging that some time soon! The pumpkin doughnuts, not so much. That one's gonna need work. After those adventures, I double-downed on the sweetness and arrived at pumpkin bars with orange cream cheese frosting. Sourdoughafied of course!

sourdough pumpkin bars

1 & 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice*
6 tablespoons oil
1 cup canned pumpkin (or any cooked squash)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 teaspoon fresh orange rind
1 cup sugar
1 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup raisins 

1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup cream cheese at room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon fresh orange rind

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 by 13 inch baking pan and set aside. 

Whisk all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In another large bowl whisk together oil, pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, sugar and starter. 

Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Fold in raisins. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center of bars comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack.

While bars are cooling, prepare frosting. Cream together butter and cream cheese. Gradually  add confectioners sugar. Add vanilla and orange rind; beat until creamy.

Top cooled bars with frosting and cut in 18 or 20 servings.

 *I used 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/4 tablespoon each nutmeg and ginger, and a pinch of cloves.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Autumn Vegetable Soup

It's Saturday, so of course I went to the Farmer's market. I saw the work of a wonderful crafter who makes mobiles out of felt birds and twigs. The one with a cardinal flying around a beautiful handmade nest stole my heart. Just the sweetest thing ever! I got a basket of honeycrisps, 'cause I'm crushing on them right now. And I bought a bunch of organic celery replete with a plume of luscious celery leaves. The celery leaves became the reason d'etre for my rich and flavorful, not to mention, kick ass nutritious, autumn vegetable soup.

Celery is one of those things I love but usually never buy. It's best to purchase only organic celery, which I find too expensive, since most of the time I buy organic celery I use two stalks and the rest goes to waste. I was able to buy a small bunch of celery today, organic and as I said, with those showy leaves still attached.

Most people don't know it but celery leaves are totally edible, delicious and full of nutrients. You can treat them as you would any other leafy green and add them to smoothies, saute them or toss them in salads. Or just make this soup.

autumn vegetable soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup butternut squash (I roasted mine first and added it in at the very end)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dired)
2 bay leaves
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 to 1 cup water
1 can great northern beans, drained and rainsed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
celery leaves.

In a large pot add olive oil and butter. Add onions, carrots, celery, squash (unless roasted before hand), oregano and thyme. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add stock, bay leaves, beans and water. 

Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add tomato paste, adjust the seasoning and add more water, if necessary. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve with a chiffonade of celery leaves. Make 4 servings.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Butternut Bisque

Cooler weather is moving in, just as one would expect for the first week in October, and sexy butternut squash are turning up at Farmer's Markets. However special and seasonal they may be, I passed on a beautiful specimen that was going for $7.00! $7.00?? I love shopping local and supporting small farms, but that seemed a bit steep to me, even with my extravagant tendencies.

None the less, the seed had been planted and I started to get a hankering for some squash goodness. Luckily I found a perfectly serviceable organic squash at my neighborhood supermarket for a fraction of the cost. It was delicious simply cut in half, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and tossed in a 350 degree oven.

But I had bigger plans for my squash and it involved apples and fresh thyme, which is still growing nicely on the deck but won't be for long. I'm talking about butternut bisque, people! Mmmmmm, so good and tastes much richer and creamier than it really is. Did you see that picture? I bet you wish you could taste it! I'll sell you a bowl for $7.00!

butternut bisque

2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 teaspoon butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped 
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups roasted butternut squash, peeled and cubed
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups veg stock
1 cup milk 
coconut milk and more fresh thyme for garnish

Heat olive oil and butter in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add onions, apples, carrots, thyme, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook, stirring occasionally until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook one more minute.

Add butternut squash, vegetable stock, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for 10 minutes. Add milk and transfer to a blender to puree. Return to pot, adjust seasonings (if you like more herbs and spices now's the time to add them in); cook just to heat through. Garnish with a swirl of coconut milk and a sprig of fresh thyme. Makes 4 servings.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sourdough Kuchin

Hello, and welcome back to Almacucia! Again I missed your birthday, so please except this delicious sourdough kuchen, made for the Sourdough Surprises August coffee cake bake-along, as your 3rd year celebration cake!

The original recipe, on which I based this sourdough version, was handed down to me by my friend and fellow pastry chef Curtis.  Not only was Curtis a talented baker, a successful entrepreneur, and an ace salesman (we always joked that he could sell sand to a camel), he was also a hell of a nice guy! Not to mention, funny. One of the kindest, most sharing and truly most gentle souls I've ever had the pleasure to spend time with.

After saying all that about this sweet guy you can bet I didn't want to ruin his recipe by tampering with it. But I went with my instincts and my feelings that Curtis would be behind me 110 percent in the interest of furthering our collective knowledge of the pastry arts.

Curtis's recipe is mighty tasty with it's sour cream batter swirled with a cinnamon and walnut filling. So it wasn't so much tampering as tweaking. All I really did was sub out some milk and flour for an equal amount of sourdough starter. I also added a handful of chopped dark chocolate to the filling because, chocolate!!!

I know Curtis would have loved the results. Mildly tangy with a moist crumb, laced with spicy nuts and chocolate. Slightly warm from the oven it is, in my humble opinion, not only the perfect coffee cake but also a great way to honor the coming together of old friends with newfangled internet sharing! 

Thank you Curtis, and thank you Sourdough Surprises!

sourdough kuchin

1/2 cup butter
1 cup raw cane sugar
2 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached AP flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup sourdough starter (discard is fine)

1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 tablespoons raw cane sugar
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 4 quart (roughly 9x9) baking dish, set aside. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add vanilla extract.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add to butter mixture, alternately with sour cream and starter, in about two additions, mixing well after each addition.

Combine all the ingredients for the filling in a medium bowl. Pour half the batter into prepared baking dish, sprinkle with half of the filling. Pour in the remaining batter and carefully spread it over the filling. Top with remaining filling.  Take a small knife and swirl the filling through the batter.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack before slicing. Serves 8 to 10.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Star Spangled Blueberry Tart

This is one of those serendipitous treats that happened to come together with very little effort. The stars just kind of alined, you might say. I had a pack of dough in the freezer from the last Sourdough Surprises challenge. I picked up a quart of blueberries at the Farmer's Market and someone was nice enough to bring home a pint of ice cream. Voila, dessert is served!

The ice cream is a great foil to the tangy sourdough crust. But the blueberries really shine here, just a bit of sugar, some lemon rind and a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon. This is the best kind of summer dessert ever; fresh berries, easy preparation and delicious. Now that's really something to celebrate. Commence the fireworks!

star spangled blueberry tart

10 ounces pie dough
1 quart fresh blueberries
1/3 cup raw cane sugar (plus some for the top)
rind of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon potato starch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
egg wash
vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to a 10 inch circle.  Fit dough into a 9 inch tart pan; trim excess dough and reserve for top. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in 5 or six spots. Refrigerate for 10 minutes then bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

In a large bowl combine blueberries, sugar, lemon rind, lemon juice, potato starch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Fill baked tart shell with blueberry mixture. Roll out the remaining dough and cut out stars using a star cookie cutter. Arrange stars on top of blueberries. Brush stars with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Chill before cutting. Top each slice with a scoop of ice cream.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Almond Galette with Fresh Berries

I'm back from a well deserved hiatus from food. Not that I haven't been eating, just not sharing with you. What better way to reboot the blog that with a sweet submission for June's Sourdough Surprises.

This month it's crostatas or gallettes, not sure what the diff is, I chose galette. I went a little out of the box in that I didn't make a traditional baked fruit filling but rather filled it with an almond cream, then finished it with fresh strawberries.

I was delighted with the results. It was an easy and scrumptious way to use up ripe, succulent berries straight from the Farmers Market. As suggested, I used this recipe for the crust. I know it's good 'cause I used it here. It made enough for two and I froze one to use later. That can only mean another trip to the Farmers Market, more fresh, summer fruit and more galletes! Yes, please, may I have another!

almond galette with fresh berries 

pate brisee (adapted from The Bojon Gourmet) 
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon raw cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cup up
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
1 cup sourdough starter

Sift together flour, sugar and salt.  Cut in butter and shortening until mixture is crumbly.  Stir in starter and mix until dough forms.  Knead briefly to smooth, divide in half.  Wrap each half in plastic and chill for at least one hour. (Makes enough to two galettes or one double crust pie)
almond filling and assembly:
6 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 cup raw cane sugar (plus some for the crust)

2 eggs (plus one for the crust)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup almond flour

2 pints strawberries
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

In a medium bowl blend together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract. Stir in flour until incorporated. Chill until needed. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take dough out of the fridge just long enough for it to become workable. On floured parchment paper, roll dough out to a 12-14 inch circle. Transfer to baking sheet. Spread almond filling in center of dough to about 3 inches from the edge.

Fold the edge of the dough over the filling, pinching together any gaps.  Brush the crust with beaten egg and sprinkle with raw cane sugar.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is baked through. Cool on a rack before topping. 

Heat raspberry jam just to loosen it up, and let cool.  Cut the tops from the strawberries and slice in half.  Toss berries in jam until evenly coated and arrange on top of galette. If you're not serving the entire gallete at once I would suggest just topping each slice, as the berries will stay nicer that way. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Lemon Lovers Biscotti

By now everyone is familiar with biscotti- the anise flavored, twice baked, hard as a rock, perfect for dipping companion to a strong cup of coffee. There was a time when you couldn't go into any coffee spot without being confronted by a large cookie canister filled with over sized biscotti standing at attention. In my time as a baker I must have made a million of them, give or take. And It wasn't long before I felt the need to experiment. White chocolate ginger biscotti, anyone?

These biscotti are all well and good, but not everyone is a fan of the monster size and jaw cracking texture.  The truth is, there's a whole other school of thought which touts a softer biscotti that's still suitable for the side of your cup.

That's where I'm coming from with these Lemon Lover's Biscotti, made especially for this month's Sourdough Surprise. The addition of almond flour and the lack of a second baking resulting in a softer texture. While sourdough starter, lemon rind and a lemon glaze land a tangy burst of flavor.  Made in a smaller or demi version, it's perfectly acceptable to have more than one, or more than two or three!

lemon lovers biscotti

1 stick butter
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup starter
rind of one lemon

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice (or enough to achieve a thin glaze)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter in a stand mixer; add sugar and egg.  Mix on medium, scraping the bowl as necessary until all is combined.

Stir together flour, almond flour and baking powder; add to butter mixture on low speed and mix to combine.  Add starter and lemon rind and mix just enough to form dough. 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Scrap out about 1 cup of dough; form into a thick log. Place log in the middle of one long side of baking pan.  Work the log from the middle out to either end until it's 1 X 12 inches.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden around the edges and firm to the touch on top.  Cool completely.

In a medium bowl stir lemon juice into confectioners' to form a thin glaze. Pour over tops of biscotti log and spread with a spatula cover.

Slice biscotti on the diagonal with a serrated knife into 3/4 inch cookies. Makes about 40 cookies.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Baked Penne

Sometimes you need a good, cheesy pasta dish that's easy to put together, feeds a crowd (or a couple of hungry people), tastes amazing and qualifies for Meatless Monday. This Baked Penne is just that. Go heavy on the broccoli and light on the cheese and this is a healthy, no guilt, indulgent dinner. Bonus points for using whole wheat pasta.

baked penne

2 cups whole wheat penne
1 head broccoli florets, cut into bite size pieces (about 5 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Steam broccoli until tender but still firm. Rinse in cold water and set aside. Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Stir ricotta cheese into pasta and set aside.

Heat oil in a medium pot on medium high heat; add onion and cook until translucent.  Add garlic and oregano; cook one minute more. Stir in tomato sauce and tomato paste and heat through.

Preheat oven to  350 degrees. In an oven-proof baking dish layer sauce, pasta, broccoli and cheeses. (I got 2 layers, starting with sauce and ending with cheese.) Place baking dish on a cookie tray. Bake for 25 minutes. 

All this and a can of tomato sauce.