Cinnamon French Toast

  
I’ve made this recipe once before and every time it works! It’s pretty much just an even more unhealthy version of French toast with cream and vanilla essence. The first time I made it I followed the recipe and made the toast into stick shapes. This time I didn’t bother because it’s harder to cook it in stick form. 

For the original recipe go to:

http://www.justataste.com/easy-cinnamon-french-toast-sticks-recipe/

I didn’t change much but here is the recipe anyway:

Ingredients:

8 slices thick-cut bread

4 large eggs

1 cup heavy cream

2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Unsalted butter, for cooking

Maple syrup, for serving

Method:

1. Cut each slice of bread into four sticks. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla.

3. Dip each piece of bread in the egg mixture, turning to coat it on all sides so that it’s well-saturated with the custard.

4. Shake off any excess and place the coated bread on a large plate or baking dish.

5. Repeat the dipping process with the remaining pieces of bread.

6. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter. Once the butter has melted, place several of the coated sticks in a single layer in the pan. (Do not overcrowd the pan.) Cook until golden brown on one side then flip and continue cooking until the sticks are golden brown and slightly crisped on all edges.
7. Serve immediately with maple syrup for dipping.

I used bread instead of toast in mine, purely because I’ve never made French toast before that uses toast. 

Basic Scones

  

   

This is a recipe I’ve made heaps of times, a lot of the times with my mum. It was probably one of the first things I baked. A lot of people like their scones very brown and with a hard top, but I like my scones with a soft top and lightly browned. I made these today.

So here is my family’s recipe:

Makes 9

Ingredients:

50g butter (softened)

2 cups of self-raising flour

As much milk as needed

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.

2. Using your fingers mix the butter with the flour until it resembles bread crumbs.

3. Now add in the milk, a little bit at a time, until all the flour is wet and the mixture is starting to come together like a dough. Make sure to mix the dough with a knife so as to not knock out a lot of air.

4. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and pat it gently into a circular shape, about 3 cm thick.

5. Now get a glass, with flour in the rim, and cut the scones out of the dough. You should hear the air coming out of the scone when you cut it.

6. Once you have cut as many scones as you can, make scones with the leftover dough using your hands.

7. Place onto a buttered tray and cook for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and skewer comes out clean. 

Salted Caramel Brownie Cupcakes

 

Before Decorating
  
After Decorating
 
I actually made these the first day of the holidays, on Saturday, I just didn’t register them as part of the holidays because I made them the weekend before the holidays. This recipe is one of those classic American recipes with an overload of sugar and fat, but they did taste good.

For the original recipe go to:

http://bakerbynature.com/dark-chocolate-brownie-cupcakes-with-salted-caramel-frosting-and-a-giveaway/
My version is as follows:

Ingredients:

For the Dark Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes

1 cup unsalted butter

226g dark chocolate, chopped (I used high quality chocolate chips here)

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup all-purpose flour (be sure not to pack your flour here)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

For the Salted Caramel Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 – 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Method:

For the Dark Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line a cupcake pan with liners; set aside.

2. Place the butter and chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and place that bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the simmering water. Stir until the butter and chocolate are completely melted. Add in the brown sugar, espresso powder (if using), and vanilla; whisk well to combine. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool for a few minutes.

3. Once the mixture has slightly cooled, add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Whisk in the flour, salt, and baking powder – careful not to over mix here! Fold in the chocolate chips.

4. Divide the batter among the prepared cupcake cups. Filling to roughly 2/3 of the liners.

5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 21-25 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Salted Caramel Frosting:

1. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-heat, combine the butter, cream, vanilla, brown sugar, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts and the mixture comes to a low simmer; about 4 minutes. 

2. Remove the mixture from heat and let it cool (mix occasionally so that it does not form a skin), then transfer the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. 

3. Add 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar to the bowl and beat on medium-low speed until well combined. 

4. Add in another 1-2 cups of confectioners’ sugar and beat until thick and fluffy; 4-6 minutes. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

For this recipe my main troubles were with the icing, it set rock hard once I iced the cupcakes. This could be because I added the maximum amount of sugar due to the fact that the mixture was too hot and probably melting the sugar. Which is why next time I am going to try letting it cool completely before adding the icing sugar. 

Also I slightly overfilled my cupcakes, so I just put how much to fill them in as a reminder for next time.

Scottish Shortbread 

 

Before Cooking
  
After Cooking
 
Yesterday I made Scottish Shortbread. It was fairly easy, probably because I’ve made melting moments before. The recipe got given to me by my Aunt, who got given it by a customer at her work. 

This is the recipe with a few changes:

Ingredients:

250g butter (room temperature)

1/3 cup castor sugar

1/4 cup cornflour 

2 1/4 cups plain flour

Method:

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and creamy.

2. Stir in sifted flours.

3. Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly.

4. Roll between 2 sheets of glad wrap and cut into rounds. It should look like a log when done rolling.

5. Bake slow oven (150-160 degrees celcius) for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.

The only difficulty I had with this recipe was with the shape of the shortbread. I noticed that when I cut the rounds on the bench it made the bottom of the biscuit flatten slightly. A way to avoid this would be to roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter, but you would only want to do this if you needed perfect biscuits because it would be more time consuming. 

Multigrain Hearth Bread

    

Before Cooking
  
After Cooking
 

I am very pleased with my bread. It took 2 days to make but it was worth it, that’s not to say that I didn’t have a few problems.

I got the original recipe from Peter Reinhart’s whole grain breads, it is referenced below.

This is the recipe with a few adjustments:

Ingredients:

Soaker

7 tbsp whole wheat flour

170g any combination of cooked and uncooked grains (I used 85g each of Freekah and Farro)

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup water

Biga

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp instant yeast

3/4 cup filtered water, at room temperature 

Final Dough

The soaker

The biga

7 tbsp whole wheat flour 

5g salt

2 1/4 tsp honey

1 tbsp vegetable oil (optional)

Method:

Soaker

1. Mix all of the soaker ingredients together in a bowl for about 1 minute, until all of the flour is wet and the ingredients form a thick, porridge-like dough. I had to add more flour here as the mixture was too runny. 

2. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.

biga

1. Mix all the biga ingredients together in a bowl to form a ball of dough. Using wet hands, knead the dough in the bowl for 2 minutes to be sure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed and the flour is wet. The dough should feel very tacky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then knead it again with wet hands for 1 minute. The dough will become smoother but still be tacky.

2. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.

3. About 2 hours before mixing the final dough, remove the biga from the refigerator. It will have risen slightly.

Final Dough

1. Chop the soaker and biga into 12 smaller pieces each and sprinkle some extra flour over them to insure the pieces dont stick back together. My soaker was not able to be cut into 12 because of its consistency so I just put chunks of it in the stand mixer and it didnt seem to matter.

2. If using a stand mixer, put the pre-dough pieces and all of the other ingredients except the extra flour into the mixer with the dough hook attachment. Mix on Kneading setting for 1 minute to bring the ingredients into a ball. Mix again for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down occasionally until the dough becomes cohesive. Add more flour or water as needed until the dough is soft and slightly tacky.

3. Dust a work surface with flour, then roll the dough in the flour to coat. Knead the dough by hand for 3 to 4 minutes (I think the stand mixer would work too), incorporating only as much extra flour as needed, until the dough feels soft and tacky, but not sticky. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest for 5 minutes while you prepare a clean, lightly oiled bowl.

4. Resume kneading fo 1 minute to strengthen the gluten. The dough should have strength and pass the windowpane test, yet still feel soft supple and very tacky. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the prepared bowl, rolling to coat with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, until it is about 1 1/2 times its original size. 

5.Gently transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface with spatula. Form the dough into a large boule, being careful to degas the dough as little as possible when shaping it. Proof the boule in a bannetoon or floured bowl and cover loosely with a cloth towel. Let it rise at room temperature for 45 minutes, until nearly 1 1/2 times its original size.

6. Preheat oven to 260 degrees celcuis and place a pizza stone and steam pan in the oven. When the dough is ready to bake, place it in the oven and pour 1 cup of hot water into the steam pan. Lower the temperature to 232 degrees celcius and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the bread 180 degrees and continure baking for another 25 minutes (I cooked it for 15 minutes, covered it with foil and cooked it for another 10 minutes) or until the bread is rich brown on all sides, sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, and registers at leat 93 degrees celcuis in the centre (I didnt have a thermometer for bread so it was a bit hard to judge when it was cooked). The crust should be hard.

7. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

My biggest problems were with the soaker and the cooking of the bread. My soaker was very wet and I think that could be because I didnt measure the water accurately on the scales. The cooking was difficult as the outside looked ready but I couldn’t tell if the inside was ready as I didnt have a bread thermometer. It ended up being cooked on the inside but very dense, possibly because it is a whole grain bread.

Reference: 

Reinhart, P. (2007). Hearth Breads. In Peter Reinhart’s whole grain breads: New techniques, extraordinary flavor (pp. 158-160). Berkeley, Calif., California: Ten Speed Press.

Salted Caramel Mocha Chocolate Fudge

image

My first week of holidays are almost over and I’ve been cramming in as much baking as possible. This was my first creation of the holidays that I made on Monday. I’m making this blog to document and show my progress in baking, my passion and hobbie. I will be stating things I can improve on and suggest alterations to the recipes.

For the original recipe go to:

http://www.shugarysweets.com/2014/10/salted-caramel-mocha-fudge#_a5y_p=2908818

I think a few adjustments could be made to the recipe, they will be put in bold below:

Ingredients:

4 cups granulated sugar

1 cup skim milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup unsalted butter

1 1/2 tablespoon espresso powder

25 marshmallows, regular size

326g milk chocolate chips, 1 package

340g semisweet chocolate chips, 1 package

57g unsweetened chocolate

1 312g bag caramel bits, or about 2 cups caramels

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Method:

  1. Prepare the ingredients for step 2, 5 and 7.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, milk, vanilla, butter and espresso powder.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.
  4. Once boiling, keep at a rolling boil for two full minutes (still stirring).
  5. For this next step, I use a stand mixer with whisk attachment, but a hand mixer would work too.
    In a large bowl, combine marshmallows and chocolate.
  6. Pour hot mixture over these ingredients and blend until smooth. I turn my mixer on medium speed and allow it to blend for about 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times.
  7. While this is mixing, place your caramel and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until melted and smooth. Set aside.
  8. Pour the creamy fudge mixture into a parchment paper lined 15inch x 10inch x 1inch baking sheet. Drizzle with hot caramel, using a knife to swirl it into the fudge.
  9. Sprinkle immediately with kosher salt (or coarse sea salt).
  10. Refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight.
  11. Cut into small bites and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. ENJOY!

Now I will explain why I changed things. I couldn’t really taste the coffee in the fudge so I think an extra 1 or a 1/2 of a tablespoon is needed to make the flavour stronger. Also I found that I was quite rushed because I had not gotten my ingredients ready and had hot things that were not supposed to be cooled down.  The chocolate component of the fudge was starting to set by the time I put the caramel in making it hard for me to swirl in the caramel. I changed the measurement for the chocolate and caramel to grams as well because it was in ounces and I am Australian.

My parents told me the other day that the fudge they took into work got a bit warm but actually tasted better and ended up being like a mars bar because the caramel separated from the chocolate. I found that interesting and wonder if it was due to the fact that the chocolate was setting when I added in the caramel, even though I thoroughly mixed it. So that’s something to keep in mind for next time.