BASIC WHITE BREAD

Well…..I find myself in sunny Aruba again. This is where ATBB first started 2 years ago. Football playoffs are on so we are hanging out at the old hacienda today.

I’m not as enthused with Football as my husband. The Baltimore Ravens made it; they are playing the Chargers today. So in support of our local team I am logging a little bit of time. Since the TV is in the kitchen / sitting area I decided to bake and watch.

I am a big fan of my Kitchen-Aide mixer when it comes to making dough. Unfortunately, there isn’t one here. So what’s a baker to do??? Make it by hand of course. Yes, old school, kneading from beginning to end. It was actually kind of fun. It yields 2 loaves so I will have one for our guests arrival.

It has basic ingredients. All purpose flour, yeast, salt, water, oil, and a sweetener. I love using honey in bread. It gives it a nice mellow sweetness. You could use sugar if you like. Just remember, yeast loves sugar.  Sweet is essential for the rising process to occur. I used olive oil because that’s what I had. You could use vegetable or canola or any oil of your choice. They all work!

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The first rise takes place in a greased bowl. The dough is then divided in half and shaped into a loaf. The second rise takes place in two greased loaf pans. I put it in the oven with the oven light on. Cover it with a lint free towel. Dough loves warm places, free of drafts.

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Once the loaves have doubled in bulk it’s time to bake them. Bake for 30-45 minutes in a 375 degree oven. When done they should sound hollow when tapped with your finger and golden in color.

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That’s it! Go bake some bread. The biggest challenge will be waiting long enough to let it cool to eat.  You’ll be tempted to never buy store-bought bread again.

BASIC WHITE BREAD

  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/4 C warm water (110-115 degrees) if you aren’t sure use a thermometer
  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • 3 Tbsp honey, or sugar
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt, or sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, or oil of choice
  • 6-7 C of all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. (if if is too hot it will kill the yeast. It can be cooler,  it will just take longer for it to bloom.)
  2. With a wooden spoon add 3 C of flour the sugar, and the salt. Beat well until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour a cup at a time until if forms a soft dough.
  3. Flour a surface and knead until smooth and elastic. You may need to add more flour if it is sticky. Continue to knead until it is no longer sticky and when you poke the dough and make an indent it should spring back immediately. Form into a ball and place into a well-greased bowl, turning over once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft free place until it has doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
  4. Once doubled, punch straight down into the center of the dough with your fist. Turn out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Shape each into a loaf and place each in a greased 9×5 loaf pan. Cover with a lint free towel and let rise until doubled again, about 40-50 minutes.
  5. Bake the loaves at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped. Remove the loaves from the pans to a wire rack to cool.

This also freezes well. Just wrap tightly in plastic wrap and again in aluminum foil. When ready to use just remove it from the freezer and let it thaw to room temperature in the wrapping.

Til next time

Ciao xoxo

Viki D

LET THEM EAT CAKE

Poor Marie Antoinette! She denies having said, “Let them eat cake!” to a starving French nation. She was very extravagant in all things. In her defense, she was barely a teenager. Imagine all that wealth and power. I’m not sure I wouldn’t have lost my head over it either.

Anyway, I love cake; I love to bake. There’s only one problem with baking a cake. There are only two of us!  When the kids were home it was perfect. I got a piece and they ate the rest. So what’s a cake lover to do?

I had an “aha” moment. Why not make a mini cake?  I have a 6×3 pan that I used for a topper on a wedding cake. All I had to do was decide what kind of cake I wanted to bake. I’ve seen them in the bakeries and grocery stores. Why haven’t I thought of this before? Would you believe me if I told you I actually had a dream about this? It’s true!

I learned a while ago to bake my cakes and freeze them. Prior to freezing them I brush them with a mixture of simple syrup. It makes them so moist you won’t believe it. You can freeze most cakes up to 2 months. When you make a small cake, like this one, you end up with 2 cakes. That means you will always have one in the freezer ready to frost and serve, or give as a gift. Winner, winner!!

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So my first mini is a  Raspberry Cake with Buttercream Icing. Buttercream and raspberries, how can that not be good?  It just screams summer. It turned out great and how adorable is this???? I am already thinking of my next creation.

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MINI PARTY CAKE

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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This cake is an adaptation from Dorie Greenspans “Perfect Party Cake”

INGREDIENTS:

For the Cake:  (this makes (2) 6×3 inch cakes. Slice in layers, wrap, freeze, and store one for later use.)

  • 2 1/2 C cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/ 1/4 C buttermilk
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 C granulated white sugar
  • 2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

For  the Buttercream: (this recipe makes enough for 2 small cakes or 1 large cake)

  • 1 C granulated sugar
  •  4 large egg whites
  • 3 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For Finishing:

  • 1/3 C seedless raspberry preserves, stirred vigorously until spreadable
  • Simple syrup (1 C sugar and 1 C water boiled to dissolve sugar) cooled

 

DIRECTIONS: Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use the Magic Release (see directions below) to prepare two 6×3 cake pans. (you can butter, flour, and line with parchment paper if desired).
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
  3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and lemon zest and sugar until the mixture is very light and fluffy.
  4. Add the lemon juice beat til incorporated
  5. Beginning and ending with the flour mixture add 1/3, then half of the egg mixture. Repeat ending with the last 1/3 of the flour mixture until all is incorporated. Stir to bottom of bowl well with a spatula. Beat for an additional 2 minutes to make sure everything is mixed together thoroughly. Stop occasionally and stir with spatula.
  6. Place 3 cups of batter into each pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
  7. Bake for 40-50 minutes, when tested with a wooden skewer into the center it should come out clean and should spring back to the touch. Check at 35-40 minutes. Oven temps will vary.
  8. Let rest for 5 minutes on a cooling rack.  Unmold, and invert onto the cooking rack, right side up, cool completely.
  9. Slice both cakes into 3 layers. Brush all 3 of the cut sides with the simple syrup. Place the layers on an aluminum lined baking pan and freeze. Once frozen place each layer in individual freezer safe bags. Cakes can be frozen for up to 2 months.

DIRECTIONS: Buttercream

  1. In a large heatproof bowl, put the sugar and egg whites and fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water, whisking constantly. Continue until it feels hot, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
  2. Remove from the heat, and put in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat for about 5 minutes or until cooled.
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one stick at a time and beat each until smooth. Once all the butter is incorporated, beat for 6-10 minutes on medium high-speed. If it separates, keep beating, it will come together again.
  4. On medium speed add the vanilla.
  5. It should be shiny smooth, velvety, and white. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and set aside.

ASSEMBLY:

I made the cake the day before to ensure it was frozen. The buttercream was made the day of assembly.

  1. Remove and unwrap cake layers from the freezer.
  2. Place the first layer, cut side up on your cake board.
  3. Spread 1/3 of the buttercream, then 1/3 of the preserves.
  4. Top with another layer and repeat until the last layer.
  5. Place the last layer “cut side” down.
  6. Ice the top and sides of the cake with buttercream and decorate with fresh raspberries.

TIPS:

  1. You can vary the berries and jams.
  2. You could also use lemon curd as a filling.
  3. A whipped cream icing on the outside would also be a good variation.

**** Do you have difficulty getting your cakes to release from the pan? Fear no more! I came across this one some years ago. Try this simple concoction; you can thank me later.

Miracle Pan Release

  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 C vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • 1/2 C all purpose flour

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Whisk thoroughly until everything is incorporated and smooth.
  2. Store in an airtight container, at room temperature.
  3. To use, dip a pastry brush (or use a piece of crunched up wax paper/parchment) into the mixture and spread a thin layer over the bottom and sides of pan(s). Use this for any recipe that calls for “greasing” and “flouring” your pans.
  4. This can be made into any size batch you want. Just make sure the proportions are equal in amount to each other as above.

* Wilton also sells this pre-made.

Since I have buttercream icing left over I plan on making a mini fresh peach cake. I’ll use fresh peaches and peach jam. I am also going to put a whipped cream icing on the outside with this one and add some toasted almonds to the top. Cake and coffee anyone??

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D