August 26, 2012

34/52 Almond-Orange Shortbread

I wanted to bake something this week that
a) I could easily bring to my mom and grandma (who live 330 kilometers away),
b) would be quick to make, and
c) wouldn't melt or go bad in the heat.

That's why I chose this recipe from my recipe collection on Pinterest:

Almond-Orange Shortbread
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes about 45

225 g (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
150 g (1 cup) powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
300 g (2 cups) flour
grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 teaspoons)
55 g (3/4 cup) sliced almonds

  • Beat together butter, sugar, almond extract, and salt until smooth. On low speed, add flour and orange zest. Mix in almonds using your hands or a wooden spoon.
  • On a piece of wax paper, roll dough into log about 12 inches long, 2 1/2 in wide and 1 in thick. Roll into paper and freeze for at least one hour. Wrap in plastic wrap if you want to freeze it for a longer period of time (up to 3 months).
  • With a sharp knife, cut slices about 1/4 in thick and place on baking sheet. (If dough has been frozen longer, let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cutting to avoid crumbling.)

  • Bake at 160°C (325°F) for 15 minutes or until edges start to turn a light brown. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack for complete cooling.

My modifications:
None. I only froze the dough for an hour and it worked very well. 

The taste:
I love them! I realized that sometimes you just need a little shortbread in your (culinary) life...
They could be a little more orangy for my taste but that's easy to adjust.

Do you like shortbread? Any special recipes to share?

August 19, 2012

33/52 Aubergine Bread

Aubergines. Eggplants. They look so nice with their firm, shiny, purple skin, don't they?

Like a lot of people I know, I do have a bit of a love/hate relationship with aubergines.
Sometimes I love the taste, especially when they are completely overcooked and soft. Other times just the thought of them (and their hard skin when not cooked long enough) makes me want to gag.

The idea to look for a bread recipe using aubergines came suddenly last week. I don't know where it came from but it was a good one, I think. And even better that I found a good recipe right away...

Aubergine Bread
Adapted from Blogkoch

Makes 1 big or 2 smaller breads
2 medium aubergines/eggplants
3 teaspoons sea salt
3 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
2 teaspoons honey
25 g (0.9 oz) fresh compressed yeast
1 tablespoon (apple) vinegar
600 g (4.8 cups) flour (400 g (3.2 cups) mix for dark bread, 200 g (1.6 cups) wheat flour)

  • Grate aubergines (with skin) into bowl and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
  • Combine flour, sesame seeds, thyme and remaining salt. Dissolve yeast in about 250 ml lukewarm water together with the honey. Add yeast-water, aubergines (with liquid), and vinegar to the flour-mix and knead for about 5 minutes. If the dough is too dry, add more water. If it is too "wet", add more flour.
  • Cover with towel and let rise in a warm place for about one hour.
  • Shape as you wish and bake at 200°C (390°F) for 40 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil for the last 20 minutes if you have the feeling that it is getting too dark. In general, when you knock on the bottom of a freshly baked bread and it sounds hollow, it is done.

My modifications:
The original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon flax seeds. I just felt like only using sesame seeds.
I have to admit that I totally forgot to add the thyme... So don't worry if you don't have any at hand.

The taste:
Delicious! Very moist! And the aubergines are not in the foreground so even people who are not the biggest aubergine fans should like the bread. Try it with a bit of butter - pure deliciousness! Should go great with anything from the BBQ as well.

What's your favorite bread? Any special or uncommon ingredients?

August 12, 2012

32/52 Lemon Crinkle Cookies

I just can't help it. I loooooove the taste of lemons. 
Not pure lemons, but you know what I mean...

Doesn't a little lemon flavor brighten up your mood no matter where you are and what season it is?

Doesn't the yellow color of lemons lift your spirits even on darker days?

See - that's why you can never bake or cook enough with lemons.

Lemon Crinkle Cookies
Adapted from Lauren's Latest

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

60 g (1/2 cup) butter, softened
210 g (1 cup) sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
225 g (1 1/2 cups) flour
60 g (1/2 cup) powdered sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).
  • Mix butter and sugar until fluffy and light.
  • Beat in vanilla, egg, lemon zest and lemon juice.
  • Except for the powdered sugar, add all dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  • Pour powdered sugar onto a plate. Roll balls out of one heaped teaspoon of dough and roll around in powdered sugar. Place on cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 9-11 minutes until they have a matte look. Remove from the oven, let cool for a couple of minutes before removing onto a cooling rack.

My modifications:
I used a little less sugar (170 g instead of 210 g or about 7/8 cup instead of 1 cup) just to save some (very few) calories.

The taste:
Very nice but not as lemony as I hoped they would taste. Next time (and there will be a next time!), I will double the amount of lemon zest and lemon juice. But who knows, maybe they need a little time to really take on the lemon flavor, so I will keep you updated.
As you can see in the pictures, my cookies did not flatten much but I don't think that's a bad thing. The crinkle turned out pretty though.
They could have been a bit more gooey but I think that's just me. I'm a gooey-cookie-person...

What's you favorite citrus fruit? And what do you make/cook/bake with it?

August 5, 2012

31/52 Chocolate Cake with Basil and Pepper

You've known me for over 30 weeks now. Or at least you know what I've baked so far. 
All pretty normal, nothing extraordinary. 
So I decided that it's time to be brave this week (both you and me):
We're mixing chocolate with basil and pepper!
Does sound a little crazy, extraordinary, and daring, right? So will you be brave with me?

Chocolate Cake with Basil and Pepper
Adapted from Cake & Kuchen

180 g (1.5 cup) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
170 g (7/8 cup) sugar
150 g (5.3 oz) butter
100 g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons milk
1 handful fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon sichuan pepper
pinch of salt

  • Preheat oven to 180°C (355°F).
  • Melt chocolate and butter over hot water or in microwave. Combine flour, baking powder and soda. Grind pepper in mortar. Chop basil.
  • Mix eggs and sugar until light yellow and doubled in volume. One after the other, add flour-mix, chocolate-butter-mix and salt, cocoa and milk, and finally basil and pepper.
  • Pour dough into prepared baking pan (loaf or muffin) and bake for 40 minutes. Let cool completely.

My modifications:
None. Following the recipe was already brave enough...

The taste:
You can taste the basil in some bites, in others you can't and it is just an average chocolate cake.
The basil-chocolate combination is interesting, but it doesn't knock me over either.
I guess you could summarize it by saying that you don't need to be very brave for eating this cake.

What is the most extraordinary recipe you made? Or the craziest flavor combinations you tried?