easter bread 2013

easter-bread

This was not my favorite Easter bread to date. Of course it wasn’t only bread but also candied oranges….and then Rob accidentally stuck his finger in the risen loaf before I baked it.

To be fair the kitchen was a disaster because of course I was also trying to simultaneously compile a southern feast, complete with, from scratch, sweet potato pie.   Yes, marathon cooking on Easter Sunday. Rob did make some excellent pie dough and it was his first attempt ever: gold star.

…and we ate well, we ate very well.

easterdinner

cold-bound

Trapped at home, phlegm-y, wheezy, coughing? Have you been wearing the same sweatpants for 48 hours and you’re wondering if you can take NyQuil during the day?  Me TOO!

This is what I did… I cleared out my cabinets. I made some oatmeal with shredded apple for breakfast. Used all the odds and ends I could find to make blueberry-coconut-cinnamon-pecan-hazelnut-muesli-granola.  There are also flax-seeds, rolled oats, rye flakes, quinoa flakes, and black forest honey…maybe more. The NyQuil-phlegm fog in my head is still pretty thick.

Finally muffins, which I made because I have a Rachael Ray recipe that calls for store-bought lemon poppy seed muffins and I do not “buy” muffins. I did have to bathe and leave the house to buy some buttermilk for those muffins this afternoon. They were kind of delicious…buttermilk-lemon combo is excellent.

Pepitas! I forgot there are also pepitas!

PIE

pie  pie  pie  pie
pie  pie  pie  pie
pie  pie  pie  pie
pie  pie  pie  pie

It kind of worked actually… the crust was a little tough but recognizably pie crust and I would say as good as or better than any pre-made store-bought crust.

I had both peaches and blueberries purchased earlier in the week at the farmers market and I was eating them but there were still a lot of both. A common problem of mine, to get excited at all the beautiful bounty and purchase more than I will be able to consume… Anyway… when I made plans to have dinner with friends I decided to make peach pie, for the first time ever of course, and then when I looked up the recipe in Bittman he suggested an alternate of also adding a cup of blueberries! Which I also had! Kismet.

It was awful tasty, if I do say so myself, and I shared it for once so I only ate 3 pieces instead of all of it.

hipsterlicious cookies

I really like making biscotti for some reason. They are hip cookies. Chocolate chip, snicker-doodles, oatmeal? Ha! They are kid stuff.

Really… look, these contain almonds which some people are allergic to and aniseed which boring people don’t like (Sorry… I mean just boring in culinary sense I’m sure you are fascinating in many other ways.)

And you can say “Bis Co0aaa tee” which makes you sound all European/Italian and then you can dip them in foodie beverages like espresso or a sweet dessert wine…. they are hipsterlishous and you know it.

Here is a really similar recipe if you are also feeling hipsterlishous today…and like aniseed: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Anise-Almond-Biscotti-102706

Easter Bread 2012

This year’s Easter bread: Easter rings Bolognese. They are kind of like very large bread bagels. They do contain eggs, sugar and have a topping of toffee, almonds, sugar…but it isn’t horribly sweet or sticky.  It is still bready. Good stuff. Not that I have a lot a skill at bread baking. I may have overworked the dough a little or cooked it too long. They are delicious just not perfect.

again this time… I can’t find the recipe online for you so I will do my best here:

Easter Rings

1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon (It says optional. How could cinnamon be optional?)
1 pkg  active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp,  lots of people must bake Easter bread because the store was out of packets and I got the last jar left on the shelf.)

1.  Combine in a bowl

3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

2. Heat in a sauce pan until sugar is dissolved, and butter is almost melted, temp about 120 degrees F to activate but not kill the yeast.

2 eggs

3. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, and add eggs. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds then on high for 3 minutes. Go back to low and add the other 1 1/2 or 1 3/4 cups of flour. (I included just 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour) Switch to the dough hook and knead for a few minutes. I then pulled it out and kneaded it a few times by hand to pull the sticky dough together before putting in an oiled bowl. Cover let rise for until double in size about 1.5 hours

4. Punch down, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Now divide dough in half and roll each into a 20 in rope.  It was more like “pull” into a rope for me… rolling didn’t really work. Break rope in half and pinch each into a ring. Place the 4 rings on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise for another 40 minutes.

3/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
1/4 cup almond toffee pieces (the only ones I could find where Heath and it said “artificial toffee”…sigh)
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks

5. While the rings are rising, (I think you should say that out loud, with an accent maybe, like Alan Cummings or as if it is the first line of a very dramatic poem: “While the rings are rising….”  Wonderful! Thank you. Let’s continue.) Toast and cool your almonds if you haven’t yet. Mix together with the above for the topping.

1 egg white

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When the rings are done rising (You don’t have to say it again unless you would like to) brush with the egg white and carefully press the topping on.  Bake for about 25 minutes.

7. Eat warm. I just spread on a little bit of butter.

3 layers of cake

The good side

I have made 3 layers of sweet potato cake with caramel cream cheese frosting. What was I thinking. I peeled, boiled and mashed sweet potatoes. I also only owned 1 cake pan and no confectioners sugar so I made a special trip to the store for 2 cheap cake pans and lots of confectioners sugar.

It has been mention many times here that I am not a big baker or a particular fan of cake or frosting.   But I do like carrot cake…this is because of the cream cheese frosting. I love cream cheese. The recipe also called for me to make caramel and I had never made caramel. I wanted to try it. I probably need a little more practice…. so it isn’t really strongly caramel flavored but still…. seriously delicious.

Once you have made three 9″ cakes and enough frosting to cover them…. you may be a little intimidated. I was.  And I was tired. I had washed most of the massive pile of dishes although not all of them. I stacked up the cakes on a plate and wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it and the gigantic tub of caramel cream cheese frosting into the fridge. Today I took it out to assemble it. cringe…

The pic above may have you believe that this went relatively well. The frosting isn’t smooth but it doesn’t look too bad. I could have left it at that… but I like to be authentic.

The not-so-good side

Here it is : Yes the bottom layer is really just a tiny bit bigger (different brand of 9 inch cake pan). Yes, the frosting pooled a little at the bottom because I let it get too warm. Yes, there is a hole in frosting where the cake peeps through. Yes, it leans…. but just a bit.  Actually I can’t stop laughing at it. I was out on the porch taking the pics cause the light is better and my new neighbors were moving furniture and must think I’m a total lunatic.

I do expect it to be delicious…but now that I attempted it I really should go back to making only 1 layer or better yet cupcakes.