Swedish Limpa; a Tuesdays with Dorie post

IMG_6640It has been quite a while since I have participated in the Tuesdays with Dorie baking.  What can I say, life gets in the way?  Partly, the other angle; having a pile of sweets in the house for just two of us means we eat way more than we should!  When I saw the choices included a bread recipe this month, I decided to get in gear and give it a go.

Limpa is a type of black bread.  The dough is made with rye flour and is a bit on the sweet side from the addition of molasses and brown sugar but what gives it the most flavor are the aromatic seeds in the dough.  Anise, caraway and fennel seeds are crushed and added to the mix and so is a bit of orange zest (which I skipped) and the result is a slightly sweet, bread that has a touch of licorice flavor and a nice compact crumb.  The recipe suggests using it for sandwiches, much like they do in Sweden, layering it with smoked meats and cheeses.  We preferred to slice it and enjoy it toasted with butter.

IMG_6641Rather than bake it in the round 9 inch pans the recipe calls for, I used 6 inch square pans.  They made the most perfect cube shaped loaves and the slices were just large enough that two thin slices of toast were more than filling.

IMG_6643My rye flour was stone ground and it added a nice texture to the crumb.  Little flecks of rye and seeds, this one is a keeper.  Since the recipe made two loaves, I froze one for later.

Be sure to visit the website and see what we are up to and if you like, bake along with us!  To see the recipe, or bake with us, you will need the books

persian naan; a tuesdays with dorie post

IMG_5601This week, we revisited a recipe we prepared once before because part of baking every recipe in a cookbook means that on occasion, you make a recipe more than once.  Sort of.  The dough for Persian Naan is also the dough used for Oasis Naan, a flat bread we made way back when I lived in Nashville.  The dough is quick and easy to mix and only requires a single rise until doubled before being shaped and baked.

IMG_5571The bread is not one that holds well and as a result, I made half the recipe.  Considering that the loaves are stretched until they are about 18 inches long, halving the recipe really made sense.  My loaves were only about 12 inches long which fit my baking stone with room to spare.  After dividing, preshaping and resting the dough while the oven heated, the dough was heavily dimpled with wet fingertips before the stretching began.

IMG_5590My first loaf inflated like a balloon in the oven so I chose to dock the rest of them to prevent them from looking more like a bread pillow than a bread sheet.

IMG_5599The recipe called for a simple topping of sesame seeds and I stuck to the recipe this time out.  It was chewy and pliable with a light crust, perfect for scooping up stuff or wrapping around something while it was warm.  My plan is to tear off pieces and eat it with some roasted vegetables for dinner.


Hard to believe but we have been baking the recipes from the book Baking with Julia for four years!  We are getting close to the end of the book but we also have a group that is baking the entire book Baking Chez Moi.  This week, I saw a tweet from Dorie about her new book-it is about cookies, that could be fun to bake through.  Join us, pick up a copy of either book and bake along.  Visit the website for a list of the recipes we have made and to see what is up next.  To see how the rest of the bakers made out this week, check out the LYL page.


buttermilk bread: a tuesdays with dorie rewind post

IMG_5284Late last month, I made a loaf of the buttermilk bread from Baking with Julia.  It was the challenge for the week chosen by the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers and despite baking it on time, I never posted my photos.

The original recipe calls for making it in a bread machine and even though we actually own one, I chose to make it using my kitchen aid mixer.  One thing I noticed is that the dough did not need the full amount of flour called for in the recipe and I left out about half of a cup.  IMG_5286One of my favorite types of bread is Japanese Hokkaido Milk Bread.  The tall loaves are actually made of smaller loaves placed side by side in the pan.  Once baked, you can separate them into smaller pieces.  Because there is just the two of us here, I chose to make my loaf into three smaller loaves.

IMG_5287After the loaf cooled, I pulled it apart and froze two pieces for later.  The texture was so nice and fluffy and it had wonderful flavor.  We ate it all pretty quickly, it made fantastic sandwiches!  This is definitely a loaf worth making again and if you haven’t made it yet, I highly recommend giving it a go-just add the flour cautiously, you may not need it all.

IMG_5291The day I made the loaf was one of those days that I had a list of things to do that was as long as I am tall.  Taking a lot of photos was not an option and I had to make do with what was in front of me rather than styling the photo.  Rather than drag bounce cards and tripod out, I took an empty box of cereal and clipped a binder page to it to reflect the light.

To see what the other bakers made on this rewind day, visit the website!

pain de campagne; a tuesdays with dorie post

IMG_5411This week, the recipe was a true challenge that took two weeks to complete.  Now if that doesn’t deter you from trying to mix up a batch of this bread, not much will!  To make a traditional Pain de Campagne, you have to save a piece of the dough from your batch to act as a starter for your next loaf which means you are always working with a bit of old dough called a chef.  If you find yourself without a chef, you have to start one with whole wheat flour and water and pray the yeast feels like cooperating.

This loaf was off to a bad start because not only was I chefless, I was also out of whole wheat flour.  Because I was determined to make this bread, I grabbed my tub of whole grain rye flour and my tub of graham flour and when ahead and mixed up a half batch for two chefs-one with each of the flours.  The worst part was knowing I would have to wait two days to see if either one grabbed yeast.  They did ferment a bit and not in a nice sourdough smelling way.  Even so, I kept on with the process and letting them sit longer than the recipe suggested just to see if it would increase the rise.  In the end, I was only half successful.  The rye chef never really got going and the graham flour only got going with about half of the rise.

IMG_5420The rye is on the left, the graham is on the right.  What a disappointment it was, I had assumed that since I do a fair amount of bread baking here that there would be plenty of yeast to grab and get the starter going.

IMG_5426Out of curiosity, I sliced the loaves to see what the interior looked like.  It was dense, moist and a bit gummy.  Both of them were.  It was pretty obvious that there just was not enough yeast in the chef and then the levain to give rise to the bread.  Honestly, I was surprised that the graham loaf had a ribbon of raw dough along the bottom crust-it had risen pretty well.  The flavor was surprisingly sour, a mild sour but it was there.

With that same determination that got me started on this loaf, I pulled my sourdough starter out of the fridge and measured out a tablespoon and placed it in a bowl.  With my tub of graham flour still out on the counter, I mixed up another half batch of dough starting with the chef.  After all of the refreshments, I actually had a piece of dough that showed some promise…

IMG_5436The little ball of dough rose nicely and because I ran out of time, I decided I would put the basket of dough in the fridge to rise overnight.   Because I am curious, I pulled off a walnut sized piece and set it aside in the fridge; I was going to use it as a chef for a full batch of dough.  The next morning, I pulled the basket out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter to warm up and rise a little more.

IMG_5434When the time came to bake the loaf, I was excited-this one actually rose!  There was oven spring too-it rose more!  The only thing I did not understand was the pale color of the crust on the top, it browned nicely on the bottom.  The interior looked nice, no stripes and no gummy crumb.  It also had a nice sour flavor.  As for that piece I set aside, I used it to start a new loaf but this time, I made a full batch.

IMG_5438The shaping was easy to do and I cannot remember when I did this type of baking last-perhaps at school…My wheat stalks in the bottom of the basket.

IMG_5439The loaf was placed over the wheat stalks.

IMG_5443The loaf gets wrapped with a braid of dough and then it is left to rise in the basket.  Two hours later, I turned it out onto the peel and let it rise some more.  Just before baking, I brushed the loaf with a wash of egg whites and snipped the wheat stalks.

IMG_5444Fresh out of the oven, my wheat stalks look more like paws.

IMG_5446The scissors did a nice job on the stalks.  It was fun to make this loaf and now it is sitting on the counter taunting me…IMG_5450May have to make another one just so I can make those wheat stalks again!  Be sure to visit the Tuesdays with Dorie to see how the other bakers did this week.

cornmeal-currant biscotti; a tuesdays with dorie post

IMG_5013It has been a while since I baked with the TWD gang.  The holiday season is generally a hectic one for me and with all that I was baking for gifts, I just decided not to bake anything more, because baking it means eating it and I have gained more weight than I care to admit at this point.  (thanks menopause…)

Even so, I am a sucker for anything that claims to be a biscotti and to make matters worse, I apparently hoard cornmeal.  When I checked the pantry for cornmeal, I found a complete rainbow; white, yellow, blue, roasted yellow and bloody butcher red.  A quick look at the different colors led me to choose between the organic blue and the organic bloody butcher and since the latter was more coarsely ground, it was my first choice.

IMG_5027Stone ground cornmeal is always more coarse than the regular grind but the bloody butcher had a large range in particle sizes and makes it very easy to see the meal in the dough.  This particular batch was grown and ground right here in Virginia and it is from Blenheim Organic Gardens which is located in Washington’s Birthplace, yes, that is the name of the town and no, I did not make that up!  They come to the Williamsburg Farmers Market when it is open and I look forward to the return of the Market in March.

IMG_5023There was a box of currants lurking in the pantry and since they were a little dry, I added several tablespoons of dark rum to them and heated them so that they would plump up.  To offset the extra liquid, I cut out the extra egg yolk and that made the dough slightly drier than I would have preferred.  However, now that we have our own egg laying hens, I hate the thought of wasting an egg white.  The recipe calls for the dough to be formed into a log and cut into scone-like wedges.  After asking one of the other TWD bakers how they worked out like that, I decided to go with a slice and bake log which is what most of the recipes I read called for.  The result was a crunchy, crumbly cookie.

IMG_5056The weather took a sudden turn towards winter today and turning on the oven was comforting in many ways and so was the scent of cookies baking-although, I really do not need to be eating cookies at this point!  The bottom line, I love currants and cornmeal but it is not likely that I would think to make these again, at least not with this recipe.  Personally, I would like them to be a little sweeter and a little crispier.  Either way, these cookies are a lovely accompaniment to a cup of hot tea, especially on a chilly day!

To see how the other bakers fared, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website and consider baking along with us!


pear-almond baby loaves; a tuesdays with dorie post


Now that I am home full-time, not only do I plan to work on my book, I also plan to participate with the Tuesdays with Dorie group more.  This week, we are working from the book Baking with Julia and the chosen recipe is for Hazelnut baby loaves.  The recipe is actually for a small loaf cake and requires an unusual pan size.  Most mini loaf pans are 5″ x 3″ x 2″ or a close approximation to that but the recipe calls for eight 4″ x 2″ x 2″ pans and I only have three-hard to believe.  After looking in a couple of shops, I could only find the 5″ pans and had no desire to buy a big baking plaque for loaves in that size (think rectangular cupcake pan) so I did the next best thing; I used a muffin pan.

My tale of woe does not end here.  When one isn’t working, one watches spending and I could not bring myself to spend $6 on hazelnuts when I only needed 1/3 cup so I used 1/4 cup of almond flour, something I am apparently hoarding in my freezer.  

When my husband and I went to the not so local International market on Sunday, I stocked up on tiny pears.  They had both Fourelle and Seckel pears and I chose a half-dozen of each.  What can I say, I happen to love pears and was thinking of something I saw on Pinterest recently and thought I would give it a try.  First I poached the pears.  To do this, I placed the peeled pears-stems and cores left in place, into a saucepan with 1/2 cup ruby port, 1/2 cup apple cider, 2 cups water, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1 cardamom pod, 1 star anise pod, a 1″ piece of vanilla bean, 3 whole allspice and 5 whole black pepper corns.  With the heat at medium-low, I allowed the pears to simmer gently, turning them occasionally so they would color evenly until they were tender when a knife tip was inserted.  The pears were allowed to sit in the liquid until mostly cooled and then were carefully lifted out and placed in a dish lined with a paper towel and placed in the fridge over night.

The recipe also called for creme fraiche and since I had some heavy cream and cultured buttermilk, I made my own by pouring 1 cup of cream into a glass measuring cup, then I stirred in a tablespoon of buttermilk and let it sit out overnight.  It was pretty thick-I may have added a bit more than a tablespoon of buttermilk.

Having toasted the almond flour, I proceeded with the recipe but doubled the almond extract to give it a bit of a frangipan flavor.  The batter was divided between the pans and the pears were pressed into the batter.  A little of sprinkle of Demerara sugar over the top and into the oven they went.

They baked up beautifully; the pears only added about 5 extra minutes of baking time.  They needed to cool in the pans so that the cake could set and support the pears.  However, the greasing/flouring of the pans allowed them to slip out undamaged.

To get an idea of what the pears were like, the front left is a Seckel pear, the front right is a Fourelle pear and in the rear is a fully ripened Comice pear.  Can you see the difference in size?  The Comice pear was easily twice the size of the others but all were ripe and juicy and when poached, they held their shape without falling to pieces.
IMG_4761The syrup on the plate is actually the poaching liquid.  After I removed the pears, I had about 2 cups of liquid and using the same sauce pan over medium-low heat, it was reduced down to slightly less than a cup.  It is flavorful and a beautiful ruby color and I am thinking it will make some wonderful cocktails…My only thought on this, the cake was not very sweet.  While my first impulse is to add more sugar next time, I think in this case, more syrup and possibly a scoop of ice cream would do the trick nicely.

Until next week, bake on friends.  To see how the other participants made out with this recipe, check the website and consider joining in on the fun!

tourte milanese; a tuesdays with dorie post

FullSizeRender (4)My husband and I found ourselves attending three different potluck dinners in a 10 day run and luckily for us, the most recent Tuesdays with Dorie recipes were perfect choices for a dinner party.  The Tourte Milanese from Baking with Julia is on the left while the Apple Kuchen from Baking Chez Moi is on the right.  We took these to a potluck party to celebrate the 5th anniversary of PECK, the Peninsula Chicken Keepers association.

The Tourte was not new to me; years ago, I made that recipe when it was featured in one of those best cookbook of the year annuals.  While I do not remember what book it was, I could never forget that tourte and thought about making one on many occasions.  For this tourte, I followed the recipe pretty closely.  My only changes were to use herbs fresh from the garden in the eggs, adding eggplant slices (also from the garden) and mushrooms to the spinach and a few convenience products.  The puff pastry was homemade and had been in the freezer for a while so it was time to get it out and put it to use.  To save some time, I used a bag of frozen spinach and a bottle of roasted peppers from Trader Joes.  If only we had something left to take a photo-I brought home an empty plate and the knowledge that I must make that again and when I do, it will not go any further than my own dining room table so that I can have more than just a little sliver…

The Apple Kuchen is actually a tart packed with apples and a cream custard.  To make it a little more fall like, I decided to combine apples and pears.  Ordinarily, I love an apple tart.  But this one, not so much; it just did not work for me.  My instincts told me to add spices but followed the recipe as written.  All of that fruit, the custard, the absence of starch in the filling-it added up to a wet filling that I just didn’t care for.  The majority of it was eaten at the potluck and I only brought home a small wedge and the knowledge that this recipe would not be on my “make it again list” any time soon.

To see how the other bakers did with the Tourte Milanese, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website.

two for tuesday; a tuesdays with dorie post

IMG_3948 Late again.  Things just seem to escape me and suddenly, I am chasing the bus down the street.  My husband was in Germany for a month and when he got back, we spent days trying to get caught up on all the things I could not do myself while he was gone.  Then of course, my job; after working a 10 hour shift in a kitchen that is 100+ degrees, baking at home has been the furthest thought from my mind.  Somehow, in the last few days, I managed to bake a cake and tarts so that I could get back in step with the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.

The restaurant I work in was once owned by Marcel Desaulnier and when I saw that the White Chocolate Patty Cake was another of his recipes-he contributed several to Baking with Julia, I decided to give it a whirl.  It was easy enough to make but I think I whipped my egg whites a little too much because I ended up with a crust that fell away in shards.  Despite the over-whipped whites, the cake still had a nice, dense and creamy texture.  Since I was making this for just the two of us, I cut the recipe in half and baked the layers in 6 inch pans.  Rather than make the raspberry filling, I used some tart cherries in syrup and rhubarb that I had and made a thick puree.  The tart flavors of the cherries, rhubarb and the fresh raspberries worked nicely with the cake.  To see the round-up of all the participants, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website.


It was nice to get back to the old routine of baking, styling and taking photos; if only I had more time…Found that  nifty cake plate on one of my trips to the thrift store-I think it is a candle holder but I like it as a cake plate much better.  My collection of stuff has gotten a little large and my husband wants me to start selling some of it off or give it away.  He isn’t keen on clutter, calls me a hoarder sometimes.  Maybe I should open a shop; opinions, anyone???

IMG_3962As much as I like cake, I think I like tart better.  What’s not to love about a tart topped with fresh fruit?  This is my version of the Apricot-Raspberry Tart from Baking Chez Moi.  A week ago, I picked up a box of peaches when I went to Trader Joe’s.  Ripe peaches sounded like a nice substitution for the apricots and I added a few dark cherries just for fun.  In the recipe, Dorie suggests an almond cream filling as an alternative to the lady fingers or cake crumbs and since I was in an almond mood, I added some almond extract to really give it an extra almond punch.   The dough recipe actually made six 4″ tart shells but I froze four of them for another day and just made two tarts and filled them with half of the recipe for the cream filling.  Even though the tarts were smaller than the recipe called for, the baking time was almost the same due to the cream filling which took a while to set in the oven.  We both enjoyed this one but then, you cannot go wrong with peaches and frangipan which is what this filling made me think of!

To see how the others made out, be sure to visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website!

cardinal slices; a tuesdays with dorie post


Hard to believe but we have been baking from the book, Baking with Julia, for more than two years.  While I have enjoyed the process and reading posts from the other bakers, not every recipe has excited me and a few were just not an option.  But when I read the headnote to the recipe for Cardinal Slices, I was a bit excited; this was a chance to make a classic cake and a caramel syrup.  Then I read the entire recipe and saw the suggestion of turning the leftover batter into chocolate dipped ladyfingers called Rothschilds.  Now this was what I call a great way to spend a morning!!!


The recipe for the cake layers instructs you to make a meringue first.  The meringue is piped with a 1/2 inch tip the length of the baking pan, actually, three long ropes that are fairly close together; the two outer ropes are just three inches apart.  The leftover meringue is incorporated into an egg and egg yolk mixture with sugar and whipped to a full ribbon with flour folded in last.  This mixture is piped between the meringue stripes and then it is baked.  

The espresso caramel syrup is made by burning a small amount of sugar and adding more, bit by bit as you go.  This caramel is cooked much darker than you would expect and the final step is to add hot espresso.  It is intensely flavored and it can be a little bitter from both the burned sugar and the espresso but the whipped cream will temper the bitter and even if you are skeptical, make it!  

The final step is to make a lightly sweetened, whipped cream and flavor it with the espresso caramel syrup.  You are instructed to trim the three strips so that they are evenly sized but let me warn you, if it is a humid day, think twice and perhaps bake the strips longer or wait until a dryer day.  My strips got pretty sticky and were difficult to trim so I didn’t bother.

Do you remember the mention of ladyfingers?  Well let me suggest this, if you do not want to waste leftover batter, cut the recipe in half and do not bother with the lady fingers.  There was enough of the batter left to make lots of ladyfingers, three trays, actually.  According to the directions, I sifted almond flour over the cookies and placed a pan in the oven with my cake strips.  Honestly, I wondered about this because the cake strips were baked at 300 degrees and everything I know about sponge cakes tells me that temp was way too low.  My suspicions were correct and after the instructed baking time of 30 minutes, I had lovely, golden brown, ladyfinger shaped strips of sawdust.  They were awful, truly awful.  Since I noticed that the recipe suggested reading the other ladyfinger recipe in the book for hints, I flipped to it.  This recipe called for baking them at 400 and since I really wanted to make the Rothschilds, I cranked up the heat.  Sadly, the results were not much better, they weren’t as dry or sawdust like but truth be told, they were not any puffier.

Needless to say, my dreams of chocolate dipped Rothschilds were crushed.  In the future, I will probably try making them from the other recipe in the book, the one written by Flo Braker and if I, or should I say when I, make this cake recipe again, I will skip that step and just make half the cake recipe.
IMG_3767Oh, one more thing, totally worth the calories.  Try this one if you can-you will not regret it!  To see how the other bakers did, check the Tuesdays with Dorie website and look for the LYL page.

ka’kat, one day late; a tuesdays with dorie post

IMG_3601In the eastern region of the Mediterranean, ka’kat are a popular street food according to contributing authors Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid in the book Baking with Julia.  Because they suggest that the little breads are similar to an American soft pretzel, I did not hesitate to mix up a batch; how could anyone from the New York City area possibly resist a freshly baked, pretzel-like treat?  Because I have so many memories of eating pretzels while walking the busy streets of Manhattan, I went so far as to tie my dough in knots and sprinkle them with salt.  While the texture of the bread while still warm from the oven was reminiscent of a pretzel, it was as they say, “close, but no cigar.”

On my shelf rests a copy of the book Flatbreads and Flavors, also written by the contributing authors and while I love the book itself, I can honestly say that every recipe I have tried is finicky, hit or miss or just disappointing.  It seems that each one requires multiple steps and methods to recreate breads that are baked in rustic kitchens and I have had very little luck getting the results hoped for.  While this recipe is probably the closest to success achieved in my kitchen, it still left me a little frustrated.  First of all, the flour needed was more than the 4-5 cups the recipe called for and to be honest, I think it ended up a little on the tough side from my choice of bread flour; the recipe calls for bread or all-flour to be used.  Even so, after a quick rise, the dough was so sticky that I had to use a little flour to shape the rounds.  Then of course, the lack of mahlab in the dough left me wondering about the flavor.  At some point, I need to venture back to the International grocery store to see if I can find it but that is a 30 minute drive for another day.

To give my breads a typical pretzel finish, I chose large crystal salts and luckily for me, I have a friend who thinks of me.  After a trip to Hawaii, my wonderful friend sent me some pink Hawaiian Alaea and black lava salt and I sprinkled a little of them over some of the breads because as much as I like sesame seeds, they aren’t salt and a pretzel isn’t a pretzel without salt!  Would I make these again?  Maybe.  If I do, I will use all-purpose flour and portion them a little larger so that they are a little more like a pretzel.

Each Tuesday, the members of Tuesdays with Dorie post about their experiences baking from the books Baking with Julia and Baking Chez Moi.  If you would like to read about it or join us, pick up a copy of the book and visit the website.  To see how the other member fared with this recipe, check the LYL page.