Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Baking JDs for Kate Spade

Oh my, this was an exceptionally cute daring kitchen challenge!

Erica braved the task of making our dough. We've made dark green spinach pasta before (with, uh, somewhat limited success), but this time around we jumped on the SF juice craze, with pomegranate and "groovin' greens." Turns out that green juice is somewhat weak sauce...

But, we started rolling out the dough,

and lo and behold, it developed a subtle striping pattern.

You thought that was fancy? Next we mastered the art of farfalle.
We were pleasantly surprised at how easily these came together. We brought them over to our friends for book club. They were very tasty with both a tomato and pesto sauce (no leftover pom taste). 

On to the next!

Patterned Pasta
Hosted by thetastetrail.com



200g / 7oz / 1.5 cups plus 1 tbsp ‘00’ grade pasta flour
2 medium eggs


200g / 7oz / 1.5 cups plus 1 tbsp ‘00’ grade pasta flour
7 tbsp spinach juice (obtained by putting roughly 175g / 6oz of spinach through your juicer)
1 medium egg


200g / 7oz / 1.5 cups plus 1 tbsp ‘00’ grade pasta flour
7 tbsp beetroot (obtained by putting roughly 110g / 3.8oz beetroot through your juicer)
1 medium egg


n.b. The ratio of dry to liquid ingredients required is variable depending on your particular brand of flour, how large your eggs are and the climate of where you live. Your dough should be smooth. If it has cracks and won’t come together add a little more of the liquids, conversely if it is overly sticky or loose then add a little more flour.

1. Tip your flour onto a work surface to make a mound and make a cavity in the centre with your hand or the back of a spoon and add the wet ingredients into the cavity.

2. Using a fork, whisk the liquids, gradually incorporating the wet into the dry. If the liquid breaches your flour fort, don’t panic, have a plastic scraper to hand and use it to drag the liquid back into the flour.

3. Knead the dough for approximately ten minutes until it is smooth.

4. Wrap the dough with cling film / saran wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes (but ideally one hour).

5. Take your base colour dough, and on a lightly floured work surface with a rolling pin, roll it out to circa 0.5cm / 1/5” thickness and half the width of your pasta machine lasagna slot.

6. Roll through the lasagna slot on your pasta machine at the thickest setting twice. Fold both sides of the length into the center, lightly roll with your rolling pin then put through the pasta machine again at the same setting.

7. Decrease the thickness setting of your machine by one slot and put the dough through twice. Continue in this manner until your pasta is approximately 1.4mm / 1/16” thick (on my machine this is setting 5).

8. Cover it with clingfilm / saran wrap or a clean tea towel and put aside.

9. For each accent colour, take the dough and complete steps 1 - 3 above, then run it through the linguine cutter on your pasta machine. If doing this by hand, lightly flour the dough, roll into a tube lengthwise and slice into thin strips then unravel it immediately. Cover straight away with clingfilm / saran wrap or a clean tea towel and put aside.

10. Lay strips of your linguine over your base colour in whichever colour combination you like and trim off the excess. Press lightly with a rolling pin to secure in place.

11. Pass through the lasagna slot of your pasta machine at the setting closest to 1.4mm / 1/16" (on my machine setting 5).

12. Your dough is now ready to be shaped into whatever you wish. You can use it to make a lasagna, roll it up into penne or stuff it with your favourite fillings to make ravioli or tortellini. See below instructions for making cute little bow shaped farfalle

13. To make farfalle: With a sharp knife cut into rectangles, I use pinking shears to make a zig-zag edge along the widths but this is completely optional.

14. Pinch the centres together with your fingers and you have farfalle!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Long-time pierogi lovers, first-time pirozhki makers


This month, we embraced the wonderful world of fried food. Normally healthy eaters, and predominantly vegetarian, we turned to the dark side of oil and some serious meat consumption.

Sara (through longstanding family tradition) and I (through my Polish-extracted husband) are connoisseurs of pierogis, which are typically boiled and then baked or fried, and whose dough does not involve yeast. We were excited to try our hands at making Russian pirozhki (or piroshki) this month, which can be baked or fried, and which involve a very yeast-heavy dough.

Sara made the dough in advance, which, as we were warned, was very, very sticky and somewhat difficult to work with. Then we made one veggie filling, involving cabbage and mushrooms and dill, among other things.

And we made one meat filling, involving ground beef, onions, eggs, and more. 

 Then we folded up a whole lot of pirozhkis.

Fortunately we had some helping hands from another Sarah and my husband, TJ. 


Then into the oil they went!

Thanks also to Sara's husband, Will, who picked up and then fried up some delicious kielbasa while we deep-fried the pirozhkis. What a treat. In the end the pirozhkis puffed up to an almost doughnut-like consistency, without the sweetness.

This challenge was a huge hit and enjoyed by two sets of Sara(h)s and Wills, plus me and TJ. I don't think either Sara or I would ever give up our long-loved pierogis, but they've certainly got some delicious competition.

The Daring Kitchen: http://thedaringkitchen.com

Challenge Host (another Sara!): http://sassysuppers.blogspot.ch

Deep-Fried Pirozhki (Zharenye Pirozhki)


1 recipe Classic Meat Filling and/or Classic Cabbage Filling and/or filling of your choosing
We used a half recipe each of the classic meat and cabbage fillings below
1 recipe Yeast dough
Vegetable oil for greasing pans as well as for frying


1. On a well-floured surface, roll out half of the dough to about a 1/2cm or 1/4" thickness. Use your 8 - 10cm or 3 - 4" cutter to cut out circles.

2. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of a circle of dough. Bring up the sides of the dough and pinch them together to seal the filling in. Gently form the turnover into an oval, rounding out the pointed ends. Place on a greased cookie sheet or plate while you repeat with the remaining dough circles.

3. Repeat this whole procedure with the second half of the dough and filling.

4. Allow the pirozhki to rise for about 30 minutes before frying. They will not double but will look puffy.

5. Fill a pot or deep-frying with vegetable oil to a depth of 10cm / 4" and heat the oil to 190°C / 375°F. Line a plate with paper towels or use a cooling rack set over a pan to drain the fried pastries.

6. Carefully lower 3 or 4 pirozhki into the hot oil and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. If you are using a pot of oil make sure you use your thermometer to watch the temperature. You may need to raise and lower the burner temperature to keep the oil at the correct temperature. Remove the pirozhki from the oil and drain on the paper towels or the rack.

7. Continue frying until all the pirozhki are cooked. Enjoy right away!

Classic Meat Filling (Myasnaya Nachinka)
Servings: 24


15ml / 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
455g / 1 pound lean ground beef
2 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped
30ml / 2 Tablespoons beef broth
30ml / 2 Tablespoons sour cream
8g / 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes or until browned.

2. Add ground beef to skillet and cook until browned, breaking up clumps with a spoon or spatula.

3. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. Let cool completely before using to fill your pirozhki. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Classic Cabbage Filling (Kapustnaya Nachinka)
Servings: 24


1/2 head of cabbage (about 680g / 1 1/2 pounds), finely chopped
30g / 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
15ml / 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 hard-cooked egg, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Blanch the cabbage in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Drain well and squeeze the cabbage to remove excess liquid.

2. Heat the butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring, until soft and colored, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Cool completely before using to fill your pirozhki. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Yeast Dough (Drozhzhevoe Testo)
Servings: 24


7g / 1/4oz / 1 package active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
45ml / 3 Tablespoons warm water
455g / 1 pound / 3 2/3 cups (spooned & scraped) instant-blending flour (such as Wondra); or substitute all-purpose flour if necessary
415ml / 1 3/4 cups warm milk (35°C / 95°F)
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
45g / 3 Tablespoons softened butter


1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and warm water. Proof the yeast for five minutes.

2. 190g / 6.6oz / 1 1/2 cups of the flour and all of the warm milk to the yeast mixture and beat using the all-purpose beater on low speed or a wooden spoon by hand for two minutes, scraping down sides if necessary, until well-blended. Cover with plastic wrap or a cloth and set in a warm place for about 2 hours.

3. After 2 hours the dough should be very bubbly. You can hear the bubbles forming and popping actively. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt for three minutes by hand or 30 seconds with an electric beater.

4. Add the egg yolk mixture and the remaining flour to the dough. Using the dough hook, beat the dough at a moderately low speed, or beat with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes. Then add the softened butter and beat for a minute more. Switch to medium-high and beat the dough for 12 minutes, stopping twice for 2-minute intervals to allow the motor (or your arm) to cool off.

5. The final dough will be very wet and almost like gum-like, pulling away in strings when you take the beater out. With a buttered spatula, scrape dough into a generously greased bowl. Grease the top of the dough by spraying with cooking spray or lightly brushing with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for an hour or until the dough is doubled in bulk. The dough is now ready to use. Refrigerate until ready to form your pirozhki.

Friday, May 27, 2016


We made a fun and easy twist bread for this month's daring kitchen challenge. 

The dough came together quickly (and tasted delicious). 

As we waited for it to proof, we took my semi-unruly toddler to see the Oscar de la Renta exhibit at the De Young museum. Nothing like trying to convince a 15-month-old that he can't touch the pretty, shiny, feathery dresses....

When we got back, we rolled out the dough and scavenged my kitchen to see what we could include within the dough -- sundried tomatoes + kalamata olives + random italian herbs seemed to be a good option. 

Then we rolled it up, taking care to twist all of those gorgeous innards. 

The dough baked for a long time, developing a beautiful, dark crust. Despite the recipe's insistence that we leave it to "cool completely" before cutting, we ripped into it immediately. Delicious!

Sun Dried Tomato and Rosemary Bread

From Tandy Sinclair at Lavender & Lime

680g / 5 1/2 cups (spooned & scraped) bread flour
15g / 4 3/4 tsp instant yeast OR 20g / 7 tsp active dry yeast
118g / 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
375ml / 1 1/2 cups water
1 large egg yolk
60ml / 1/4 cup canola oil (if your sun dried tomatoes are in oil, then use that oil), plus extra for the dough
22g / 3 1/2 tsp flaked salt
150g / 1 1/3 cups sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
5g / 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 large egg lightly beaten with 5ml / 1 tsp water, for egg wash
10g / 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1. Place the flour, yeast, sugar, water, egg yolk and oil into a stand mixer bowl
NOTE: If using active dry yeast, activate it in the water for 5 minutes first
2. Use a dough hook and knead for 1 minute
3. Add the salt and knead for a further 5 minutes
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface
5. Knead gently and shape into a ball
6. Rub the bowl with a little bit of oil
7. Place the dough back into the bowl, seam side down
8. Cover and leave to prove until doubled in size
9. Lightly oil your hands and punch back the dough
10. Cover and prove for 1 hour
11. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface
12. Knock back and roll out into a rectangle
13. Spread on the tomatoes and rosemary
14. Roll up tightly, lengthwise
15. Trim off the edges
16. Cut in half, down the middle, but not going all the way to the bottom
17. Slightly open the two halves
18. Twist the dough to resemble a length of rope
19. Shape into a circle
20. Place onto a lined or sprayed baking tray
21. Cover dough with a damp cloth and leave to prove for 30 minutes
22. Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5
23. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle on the sesame seeds
24. Bake for 10 minutes
25. Reduce the temperature to 175°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4
26. Bake for a further 45 minutes
27. Remove from the oven and leave on the tray for 15 minutes
28. Place onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely before cutting

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Kouign amann AKA butter cake

This month's baking challenge didn't exactly go as planned.

The plan was for Sara to make the kouign amann dough in advance, and then to come over to my house on a Sunday to shape and bake the pastries in advance of our book club meeting. As it turned out, once Sara got started on the recipe, there was no stopping point until the pastries were in the muffin tin, shaped and ready to go.

So Sara did the legwork on this one, and I preheated and used my oven. The good news is that they were delicious -- both fresh out of the oven, and with coffee the next day. No surprises there, since the name literally means "butter cake."

And, so I got to bake, too, I made a cake.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Our million $$ idea (the one that got away)

Back in 2007 or 2008, a friend of mine was working in Amsterdam. She came to visit, and brought us a heavy, aromatic stack of stroopwafel. My husband and I had to ration them out -- allowing just one cookie at a time with a big mug of tea or coffee. Both of us were training for various endurance events, and discussed just how great these cookies would be as a during-run or on-the-bike food.

But law school got in the way, and we never managed to bring stroopwafel to the athletic masses. Turns out, however, that other folks had the same idea (oh, Lance...). Fortune could have been ours!

Needless to say, we were pretty darn excited by this month's stroopwafel challenge. We briefly considered buying our own waffle cookie iron from amazon, but our law firm's quirky culinary side came through, and one of our co-workers had a pizzelle iron to lend us.

The delicious dough came together quickly. We channeled our Great British Baking Show compatriots and doled out precisely the same amount for each cookie.

Our pizzelle iron didn't have an instruction manual, and the "red light" "green light" sequence left something to be desired in terms of obvious meaning. Despite some uneven browning, however, our cookies came out perfectly -- puffy, easy to cut, and nearly perfect in shape.

Erica whipped up some amazing butterscotch, and we quickly assembled the stroopwafels. So very tasty, especially with a cup of coffee (or a long run). While I tend to avoid one-purpose kitchen equipment, I do have a pizzelle iron in my amazon checkout cart right now...

Recipe: Traditional Stroopwafel
Servings: 24
For the Wafels:
1/2 cup / 120ml warm water (105-110°F / 40-43°C)
1/4 ounce / 7g / 1 envelope active dry yeast (regular, not quick rise)
1/2 cup / 100g granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup / 2 sticks / 8 ounces / 225g unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
4 cups / 500g all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the Stroop Filling:
1 1/2 cups / 300g brown sugar, packed
1 cup / 2 sticks / 8 ounces / 225g unsalted butter
1/3 cup / 80ml dark corn syrup (see note below)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Oil spray for cookie press
Admin’s note: The role of corn syrup in cooked sugar recipes is to reduce the risk of crystallization, but dark corn syrup is a North American product that can be hard to find elsewhere. In that case, here are some possible substitutions for 1/3 cup / 80ml dark corn syrup:
1/4 cup / 60ml light corn syrup plus 4 teaspoons/ 20ml molasses
1/3 cup / 80ml molasses
2/5 cup / 80g packed brown sugar mixed with 4 teaspoons / 20ml hot water
In a stand mixer bowl combine water, yeast, a pinch of sugar from the ½ cup and salt. When the yeast is foamy (about 3 minutes) add the remaining sugar and butter, blend together. Add the eggs and mix. Add the flour and cinnamon. Mix one minute beyond just combined. Allow the dough to rest, covered or wrapped in film, while you make the stroop.
In a heavy bottom pan combine the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Over medium high heat, bring mixture to a boil, not stirring. Attach candy thermometer.
Brush the sugar down from the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Bring to 234-240°F / 112-115°C / soft ball stage. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can test it - at this point the syrup dropped in to cold water can be formed in to a soft and flexible ball. Remove from heat, add cinnamon. Stir until smooth.
Preheat waffle iron.
Measure the dough into 24 to 26 x 1 1/2 ounce / 42g balls. Roll into round balls.
Lay out a cutting board, round or decorative cookie cutter, knife, and offset spatula.
In quick order spray the cookie press, put in a ball of dough into each side of the cookie press. Close quickly using pressure to flatten the dough. Timing varies for each iron, roughly 1-3 minutes, allow your cookies to cook. Look for the steam coming from your press to diminish noticeably. You are looking for a dark golden brown. If they are undercooked they will not be crispy when cool. If they are overcooked you cannot split the cookie to fill it.
As soon as the cookie is cooked (it may be puffed, if you’re lucky) cut with the round cutter. This gives you a clean edge to halve the cookie.
Cut it through the middle to make two disks. It will be hot, use a clean tea towel to handle the cookie if necessary.
Spread 1-2 tablespoons stroop onto one half of the cookie, then top with the other half. Allow to cool.
If you move quickly, you can refill the cookie press after you’ve cut and split the cookie. Those cookies can cook while you are filling the ones you just removed from the iron.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Great Daring Bakers Baking Show

As evidenced by many challenges on this blog, our forte is taste and not beauty when it comes to baked goods. So we took our own path this month, whose challenge was "cake design." Not that we don't appreciate a beautiful cake, but we'd rather focus on the baking rather than the decorating.

Enter the Great British Baking Show, which inspired Sara to suggest we make a schichttorte.

First, we made an egg yolk mixture, into which we blended vanilla, lemon zest, flour, and "corn flour." I only had corn meal, which seemed to work out alright, although masa is what we should've included. The British recipe had a few alternate names including golden syrup (corn syrup) and vanilla bean paste (closer to extract than scraped beans). Then we stirred in beaten egg whites.

The interesting trick to this recipe is that you spread a very thin layer in the cake pan and put it under the broiler for a couple minutes. Unusual! Then you pull it out, and do it again, layer after layer, until you get to 20 (theoretically, but we only got to 14 before we ran out of batter). 

Our first try was not great. It burned. Here's evidence of that mistake plus the erroneous corn meal. 

But then we got the hang of it. Our final step was an easy chocolate glaze. Thanks to honorary Daring Baker Emily for her help with the glaze. Because we were dealing with two babies rapidly approaching nap time, we skipped the addition of vanilla glaze decoration.

How lovely!

And the layers turned out beautifully.

The texture was a tad bit rubbery and that could've been the corn meal. Overall it was quite tasty and fun to make. And we got to enjoy the company of friends and babies, and enjoy some brunch tacos and homemade guacamole from our friends' bumper crop of avocados. 

Thank you Daring Bakers and the Great British Baking Show!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Gateaux Pithiviers -- still a winner, though not "officially"

This fall brought a big change to the Baking JDs -- after spending the past five years at two different law firms, Erica and Sara are now colleagues, in addition to baking partners.

This move has provided fun opportunities for mid-afternoon coffee breaks, outfit consultations, and post-work libations. It also presented the once-a-year chance to participate in our annual office baking challenge. We discussed the possibility of bringing our daring baker challenge before the December recipe even came out, and we were glad to see a beautiful cake appear for this month's challenge.

Due to the craziness of the holiday season, we prepared the component parts separately. Erica kindly offered to make the puff pastry. I had the much easier task of preparing the frangipane.

Despite the fact that I had the easier recipe, I'm the one that faced difficulties. I ground by almonds in the food processor, as instructed. The recipe said to combine the ground almonds with the other ingredients, so I just dumped in the eggs, flour, sugar, butter, and flavorings and pulsed a few times to combine. I'm not sure whether using the food processor was the error or something else, but my frangipane was decidedly not in a solid state when finished mixing. I tossed it into the fridge to cool overnight and hoped for the best.

Erica brought over the puff pastry dough the following night, and we performed the quick task of assembly. The frangipane was still giving us trouble, but it stayed solid enough to form a thin-ish layer (see above). We mastered the swirly top, and had a great time watching it bake -- first puffing up, then turning a golden brown.

Fortunately, we had enough leftovers to make both a perfect cake for the competition and a bonus cake (pictured above) to try that night. The one right out of the oven was amazing -- so flakey and warm, and full of almond flavor. We thought we would be a shoe-in for the office competition.

While the cake held up remarkably well (thanks uber, for getting it to the office in one piece!), it lost some of its magic when cool. I'd say we took a strong second place, but we ultimately lost to a brown butter almond cake that was pretty darn tasty.

We hope you are all enjoying a great holiday season, and wish you a happy new year!

For the month of December, Kat challenged us to make Gateaux Pithiviers. 

Gateaux Pithiviers

1 pound / 450g puff pastry
1 batch of frangipane
1 large egg
granulated, superfine, or powdered sugar (optional)

Beat the egg well to make an egg-wash. Add up to one teaspoon of water, if necessary, to loosen the mixture up. Divide the pound / 450g of puff pastry in half, and return one half to refrigerator. Roll out the remaining half on a lightly floured surface. Using a plate or bowl approximately 8” / 20cm in diameter and a very sharp knife, cut out a circle of puff pastry. Carefully move the pastry to a silicon mat or parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush a ring of egg-wash around the outside of the pastry, but do not allow the egg-wash to go over the sides, as that will prevent the edges from rising prettily. Center the disk of frangipane on the pastry and place the baking sheet in the fridge to keep cool.
Roll out the second half of the puff pastry and cut a circle the same size as the bottom. Retrieve the Pithiviers from the refrigerator and place the top layer of puff pastry overtop. Quickly use your fingers to mush the two layers of pastry together without warming the pastry or allowing the filling to squeeze out.
Press two fingers of one hand into the pastry and use the back of a small knife to push an indent in between your fingers. Repeat all the way around the Pithiviers. This will form the scalloped edges Pithiviers are known for.
Brush entire top with egg-wash, again trying your best to not let the egg run over the edges. Starting at the middle of the pastry, draw long sweeping s-curves out to the edges. When you’re satisfied with your work, return to the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425°F / 220°C / Gas Mark 7.
Bake the Pithiviers for 10 minutes at 425°F / 220°C / Gas Mark 7, and then reduce the heat to 350°F / 175°C / Gas Mark 4 and bake for another 20-30 minutes. The top should be a dark bronze color, and the filling (which you won’t be able to see) should be set. At this point, you can sprinkle sugar over the top and return to the oven at 500°F / 260°C / Gas Mark 10 for a few minutes to develop a beautiful glaze. I burned it every time, so I just skip this step now.
Allow the Gateaux Pithiviers to cool completely before serving. The taste is a little nicer when it’s warm, but the texture is better when it’s a room temperature. This can sit on the counter for a day, but longer storage is attainable using your refrigerator.