Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TWD: Blueberry and Nectarine Pie from Baking with Julia

Blueberry Nectarine Pie
Blueberries and nectarines harmonize in this tasty pie from Baking with Julia. There's just enough sweet and tart, and it reminds you of why the best wines and perfumes involve multiple notes. In fact, I think this combination improves a straight-up blueberry pie. (A plain peach or nectarine pie, though, is perfect on its own.)

My only suggested modification for this pie is to add some powdered instant tapioca to the filling. I don't like a runny pie filling and this one ran just a little bit. That's merely an aesthetic issue. The flavor was outstanding.

Every two weeks, a group of bloggers cook from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Today's pie is hosted by Liz at That Skinny Chick Can Bake and by Hillary of Manchego Kitchen. Visit their blogs to get the recipes, and check out blogs by the rest of the gang at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

From Tuesdays with Dorie: Semolina Loaf

Semolina boule and kamut loaf from a Baking with Julia recipe.

My yeast bread history is mostly confined recipes that call for one or two risings. These two loaves were risen three times: First the sponge, then the dough, then the shaped loaf, all rose two hours each time.

The story behind these two loaves is that I discovered there was no semolina flour in my pantry. I am a re-user of containers but I am not good at labeling. As I dug through old whey protein canisters, looking for the semolina, I remembered that just a few weeks ago I'd been digging for something else when I came across the semolina but at the time could not remember what it was. And so I threw it out.

The last time I used semolina was to bake pizza and I'd had to purchase it down in Iowa City because I couldn't find it in Cedar Rapids. I wasn't about to drive 30 miles one way just to get semolina, so I punted. There was kamut flour in the pantry, which just so happened to be in a labeled container. The oval loaf you see in the photos is made with kamut.

After baking the first loaf, I did go to the grocery story for weekly shopping and discovered semolina which I can tell you was not there last fall when I searched high and low. I brought home a bag and baked a second loaf, this time forming it as a boule and using scissors to slice a pattern in the dough before baking.

The kamut loaf was half eaten by the time I took photos. That slather of buttercream occurred when I arrived home today from work and needed a snack before exercising. The leftover icing called my name.

This was an easy recipe to follow, but 2 teaspoons of salt is too much. I cut down to 1 teaspoon in the semolina version.

I give them a so-so review. The loaves did not have the complex flavor and chewiness of a really long risen sourdough, nor was there the fresh yeasty presence of a short risen loaf.  But you know, even just OK homemade bread beats anything commercial. I know every ingredient that went into these loaves: flour, water, yeast, olive oil, salt.

I appreciated the experience because it adds confidence to my baking. I'm looking forward to trying some of the country French loaves down the line with their multiple risings over a couple days.

If you'd like to try this Baking with Julia recipe, you'll find it at today's hosts: Anna of Keep it Luce and Renee of The Way to My Family's Heart. To seek the works of all participating Tuesdays with Dorie bakers, visit the site here.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

TWD: Toasted Almond Biscotti

Toasted Almond Biscotti
Biscotti are fun to make because there’s always that little bit of worry that the nicely firm logs you just baked are going to shatter as you slice them. Sturdy cookies, they always hold up just fine.

Slicing posed no problem for today’s Tuesdays with Dorie treats. I made mine with almonds instead of the hazelnuts called for in the recipe and adjusted the flavoring a bit. I tend to prefer almonds over hazelnuts and just happened to have a 5 pound bag of them from a recent bulk order.

The real adventure in preparing this recipe was blanching the almonds. I’ve never done that before. I usually purchase blanched nuts (expensive) or use plain almonds in their skins (rustic and/or lazy).

Blanching was super easy. You just boil the nuts a few minutes in water to which has been added some baking soda. The water will turn black, but do not be afraid. Drain and rinse the nuts in cold water, then put them in a tea towel and rub. The skins come off with little effort at all. Easy as can be.

These blanched almonds are then toasted in the oven for about 15 minutes to bring our the wonderful flavor. Cool, chop and proceed with your recipe.

Other modifications I made include using 1 teaspoon of almond extract instead of brandy, and cutting back on the sugar by a few tablespoons. The recipe does not call for a chocolate garnish, but I love chocolate dipped biscotti — especially when the coating melts into a cup of hot coffee.  To coat my biscotti, I melted white chocolate with a bit of heavy cream and almond extract. I added a dark chocolate drizzle for contrast.

To get the recipe, visit our two hosts for today: Jodi of Homemade and Wholesome and Katrina of Baking and Boys. Visit again in two weeks for the next recipe from Baking with Julia.

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