Category Archives: Baking

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For the month of May, Aparna chose an easy bread which is loaded with flavors – An Orange and Cinnamon Swirl Bread. This bread was originally adapted from 500 Breads by Carol Beckerman.
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It’s an easy bread to knead,shape and bake.This Bread is a typical American style sweet breakfast bread.
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We enjoyed this bread for breakfast as well as evening snack. Apricot, Orange and Cinnamon put together makes a flavorsome bread!

Orange & Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • The juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 5 tablespoon apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Oil for greasing

Instructions

Grease two 8”x 4” loaf tins with a little oil. Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in the warm water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Leave it for 10 to 15 minutes till frothy.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and the 3 tablespoon sugar. Add the liquid yeast, the eggs, the juice and the zest of orange and work into a somewhat firm dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, and turn so it is coated all over. Cover and put it in a warm place for about 1 1 /2 hours, until doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Knead for a few minutes until the dough feels firm. Roll into to 6 x 13-inch rectangles.

Spread each rectangle with apricot preserves and sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar. Roll up each triangle like a jelly roll and place in the loaf tins. Put in a warm place for about 30 minutes, until double in size.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and bake the loaves for about 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaves make a hollow sound when tapped. Cool on a wire rack. This recipe makes 2 medium sized loaves.

http://www.thefoodielovers.com/2015/06/orange-and-cinnamon-swirl-bread/

Thanks Aparna for the recipe!

Enjoy!

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pear 1
This post is long pending. I wrote this a while back but got to post it only today. It’s been four months in Milwaukee. And we have been exploring all the places and restaurants. We moved here during peak winter. Thanks to the snow storm we were just cooped up in the hotel for the first few days.During our stay in Marriott one of the first few restaurants that we visited was Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery located in the heart of Downtown. We dined on a Friday night. Luckily we didn’t have to wait for long to be seated. From the moment of our arrival we had a great positive experience. The location, overall place and ambience impressed me. Their American food menu offers variety of salad, sandwiches, pizzas and burgers.
They had a few vegetarian options which were pretty good. Low fat and Gluten Free food are also featured on their menu. Not to forget their kids menu is perfect. My little one loved their Mac and cheese. They also had Buttered Noodles, Grilled Cheese and more. When we told the waitress that we just moved in to the city she welcomed us to Wisconsin and suggested us to try their “Cheese Curds”. These little balls like popcorn are truly delicious nuggets of battered and fried cheese. The natural flavor is a “mild fresh dairy” taste. You don’t need any dipping sauce to go with it, they taste great as is. We gobbled up one after the other. Mind you they are quite “ADDICTIVE”!
For the entrée, it had to be the Tacos.The minute I laid eyes on their menu I knew what I wanted . They had Mini Street Tacos with either Fish or Steak. But the waitress was happy to make a vegetarian one for us. The plate was beautiful plated with four mini tacos, sprinkled with some veggies, avocados and cheese with a big squeeze of lime which gave the tanginess that I enjoyed the most.
We usually don’t order desserts unless something intrigues me. I can never say no to “Caramel”. This was one of the best desserts I have had – Salted Caramel and Toffee Mason Jar Dessert. As the name suggest it was served in a mason jar. The bottom was filled with toasted graham crumbs, the next layer was caramel sauce, a layer of cheesecake custard, some heath bar toffee bits and whipped cream. If you have never experienced this combination you should give this a try. This was sinful!!!
We enjoyed our dinner and happily walked up to the hotel. Great start to our life here! I have visited their restaurant in MN as well. But that was way long back. The only thing I remember is my husband enjoyed their Beer and I enjoyed my food☺
So if you are planning to dine in somewhere in downtown, Rock Bottom is a great place to be. You will not be disappointed. Great place, great service!

740 N Plankinton Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53203

Unfortunately I don’t seem to find the pictures I took on my phone. So do hop on to their website for more details. www.rockbottom.com
Note – All views expressed here are my own. I haven’t been paid to write this post.

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Now coming to the dessert. I don’t have a sweet tooth but would love to indulge on desserts occasionally. And when I do, fruit based dessert tops my favorite list. Fruits provide the natural sweetness along with all the nutrient goodness. This dessert is pretty easy to make and consists of only four simple ingredients – Pear, Figs, Almonds and Dates. Dates are wonderfully delicious and are packed with essential nutrients, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.
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They are low on calorie too. Choose fresh, firm fruit with rich flavor. Keep unripe pears in a basket at room temperature or wrap in a paper to ripen as you would do to Papaya/cantaloupe

Healthy Dessert – Baked Pear with Figs,Dates and Almonds

Ingredients

  • 2 pears
  • 24 raw almonds
  • 4 medjool dates
  • 4 figs
  • Coconut oil spray
  • sliced almonds for garnish

Instructions

Preheat oven at 375F. Coarsely grind the raw almonds,dates and figs. Set aside. Halve the pears, Scoop out and carve the centre creating a hollow. I also cut a silver off the base just to make it sit upright. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spray coconut oil on the cut side of the pears. Place them cut side down and bake for 15- 20 minutes.By now you will see some juice oozing out of the pears and also the pears would have softened and have a golden tinge when you flip.

Remove it from the oven. Flip them over. Divide the dried fruit mixture equally among the pears.

Stuff as much as you want. More is good:) Garnish with sliced almonds. Place them in a freshly lined baking sheet (juice from the pears must have browned the parchment,so its better to use a fresh one). Increase the heat to 400F. Bake the pears for another 15 mins. Serve warm.

http://www.thefoodielovers.com/2015/06/rock-bottom-restaurant-and-brewery-review-and-healthy-dessert-baked-pear-with-figs-dates-and-almonds/

Dates+ Figs + Almonds along with milk/almond milk make a fantastic shake. One of my relative passed this recipe to me and ever since then I have been hooked on to it. And that is how I got the idea of making this recipe. Baked Pears with dry fruits – doesn’t get simpler than this. Takes care of all your sweet cravings!

Enjoy!
Nina

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laming 1
For the May Daring Baker’s Challenge Marcellina from Marcellina in Cucina dared us to make Lamingtons. An Australian delicacy that is as tasty as it is elegant.

As per Marcellina, a Classic Lamington is a cube of vanilla sponge cake dipped in chocolate icing and then coated with dessicated coconut. It is said that the cakes were named after Lord Lamington who was the Governor of Queensland, Australia from 1896 to 1901. One of the stories that came about was the one that tells of Lord Lamington’s maid-servant accidentally dropping a freshly baked sponge cake into some melted chocolate. Apparently Lord Lamington disliked wastage so he suggested coating the chocolate coated cake in desiccated coconut to avoid messy fingers.
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Few things to keep in mind – It is best to use day old sponge since the process of slicing the cake into rectangles, icing and rolling in desiccated coconut is much easier. Desiccated coconut is coconut meat that has been shredded or flaked and then dried to remove as much moisture as possible. Of all the forms of dried coconut this is generally the finest. Most commonly used as the coating on Lamingtons. Shredded coconut is similar to desiccated coconut but has a coarser texture. Use unsweetened desiccated coconut.
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The sponge is a little difficult to master but the key is a light hand, accurate measuring, room temperature eggs, and knowing just how long to bake it. Oh, and don’t open the oven door to peak or your cake will flop.

Lamingtons – Daring Baker’s May’15 Challenge

Serving Size: 24 servings

A true Australian delicacy - A simple sponge cake coated with chocolate icing and tossed with dessicated coconut.

Ingredients

  • Sponge Cake
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup castor (superfine) sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted (optional)
  • 2¾ cups unsweetened desiccated coconut, to assemble
  • Chocolate icing
  • 3 ¼ cups icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • ½ to ¾ cup milk

Instructions

Preheat oven to moderate 350°F. Prepare a 9”x 13”baking pan by lining with nonstick paper. In a stand mixer bowl place eggs, sugar and salt. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high for 15 minutes.While the eggs and sugar are beating sift the cornflour and baking powder at least 3 times. After 15 minutes add vanilla and beat on high for another 5 minutes. The mixture should have at least tripled in size, be light in color and very foamy. Sift flour mixture over the egg mixture. I like to use a whisk but you can also use a large metal spoon to lightly fold the flour in. Some people like to use a wooden spoon but I find it too heavy. Heavy handling now will result in a flat tough sponge. If you are using butter, thoroughly fold it in now but lightly. Spread mixture into your prepared pan and smooth out evenly. Some cooks at this stage drop the pan onto the bench top to even out the air bubbles! I have never had that much courage!

Bake in preheated moderate oven for 22-25 minutes. The sponge will rise quite a lot but then settle back down.

When baked the sponge will have shrunk very slightly from the sides and should feel springy when pressed gently.

Turn the sponge out immediately onto a wire rack to cool and reverse sponge so as not to mark the top. Allow to cool. It is best to keep the cake for a day before making the Lamingtons as the cake will be easier to handle.

Chocolate Icing

Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the butter and ½ cup milk. Set the bowl over a pan of hot water. Stir until icing is smooth adding more milk to thin the icing if needed. I find I need more than ½ cup but not quite ¾ cup of milk.

To assemble the Lamingtons:

Cut the sponge cake into 24 rectangular pieces 6 across and 4 down. To be particular you can trim the crusts.Keep the icing over the hot water to keep it melted. Place desiccated coconut in a shallow bowl.

Dip each piece into the chocolate icing, allow excess to drip off.

Toss gently into the coconut. Stand cakes on a wire rack to set, about 2 hours.

http://www.thefoodielovers.com/2015/06/lamingtons-daring-bakers-may15-challenge/

Thanks Marcellina for a great challenge.

Enjoy!

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For the month of April’s Daring Baker’s Challenge Rachael of Pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making Focaccia from scratch. Original recipe adapted from here.
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Focaccia is a type of flat Italian bread that is baked in the oven. Focaccia can be topped with a variety of toppings ranging from rosemary and sea salt to different types of cheese, herbs, vegetables and even fruit. We were tempted with four different kinds of Focaccia – Basic Focaccia,Sour Dough Focaccia,Fugazza and Focaccia di Recco and asked to make any one or all of them. The first three is something I have already made in the past. Focaccia di Recco was something new to me so I decided to go ahead with it. Focaccia di Recco is from the northern coastal region of Italy called Liguria. It is unleavened and stuffed with Stracchino (Crescenza), which is a very young cheese with a fine rind barely encapsulating a gooey cheese much like a very thick mascarpone.
foug 3 If you can’t get Stracchino (Crescenza), you can use another young, melty cheese – I have used fresh mozzarella for this recipe. This recipe will make more dough than you need if you roll it as thinly as is traditionally done, but you can freeze the excess, well wrapped in a zip lock bag, for several months.

Focaccia di Recco – Daring Baker’s April’15 Challenge

Ingredients

  • 3¾ cups all-purpose (plain) flour
  • pinch course sea salt, plus extra for topping
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling and topping
  • 1¼ cups water
  • 2/3 oz Stracchino (Crescenza) cheese / Mozarella

Instructions

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt and form a well in the middle. Add cold water and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Start mixing the dough with a fork, incorporating the flour little by little.

Once the dough has come together, start kneading it with your hands. Knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth. When the dough is ready, wrap it well with plastic wrap, being sure to expel all the air so your dough doesn’t dry out, and let it rest for an hour at room temperature.

Preheat oven to very hot 480°F. Divide the dough into two equal parts and roll each piece out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, trying to keep them as round and as thin as possible. I rolled these ones a little thick, because we find it easier to handle when it’s more sturdy, but traditionally it should be almost transparent.

Grease a medium sized round pizza tray (not the type with holes in it, or you will have a very messy oven) or baking dish with olive oil. Place one layer of dough on the bottom of the dish. Add the cheese in pieces using your hands.

Cover the cheese with the second sheet of dough. Use a knife or a pair of kitchen shears to remove any excess dough from around the edges of the pan.

Seal the edges by pinching them together. Snip small holes into the top layer of dough so that the steam can escape during baking. Brush with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake in the centre of a preheated very hot oven for 6 - 8 minutes, until golden. When the focaccia is done, remove it from the oven and let cool enough to be handled.

Transfer to a platter, cut it and serve as an appetizer or with an aperitif.

http://www.thefoodielovers.com/2015/04/focaccia-di-recco-daring-bakers-april15-challenge/

As per the recipe, this Focaccia should take about 5-6 minutes to bake. But mine took more than 15minutes. It didn’t brown well on top so I let it bake for long enough. It overbaked and the cheese was no more goey. I could cut it and serve it without any mess. They are best eaten immediately. However it can also be refrigerated overnight and reheated the next day. Making this bread is super easy, simple ingredients and utterly delicious!

Enjoy!
Nina

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