Monday, December 26, 2011


Tuesdays with Dorie, the wonderful group of bakers who have been baking through Dorie Greenspan's fabulous book, Baking from My Home to Yours,  finishes up this week.  (I still have 19 recipes left to bake, so I'm going to keep on posting till I finish!  And the group will soon begin to bake through another Dorie book, Baking with Julia.)  Yayyy!

This week, Dorie herself chose the last recipe, Thumbprints.  Check out Dorie's blog for the complete recipe and a wonderful perspective on the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.

When I started to write this post, I found myself writing only about Dorie and her book and how it has changed how I bake.  I decided to save that for another post in a day or two.  For now, let me just say that Dorie's is the most-used cookbook on my shelf, the one I always write in, the one that has given me the most pleasure, and the one that has brought me the most positive compliments about baking from family and friends.  If anyone reading this post does not yet own Baking from My Home to Yours, you need to rush right out and buy it.

My much-loved Baking from My Home to Yours
And now for this week's TWD pick!  They are wonderful little peanut butter thumbprint cookies with encouragement to use a variety of jams or chocolate to fill the thumbprint.  I mixed up the dough and prepared the chopped peanuts which will coat the cookies.  This coating, by the way, makes these cookies extra special and quite pretty.
Mixing up the batter
I intended to take pictures all along the way, but got caught up in the process of baking!  So here's the first batch cooling, after I added the filling.  I used cherry preserves on most of them but on some, I spooned in a bit of shaved chocolate which melted very nicely on the warm cookies.  Then I had the inspired notion to spoon a bit of preserves on top of the chocolate.  Those were the best of the bunch.  That little bit of chocolate was an unexpected happy surprise!
The finished cookies
Thanks, Dorie, for encouraging me to be brave and experimental in my baking, and for standing beside me as I baked through all of the recipes.  Like the aroma of cookies in the oven, your warm enthusiasm for the joy of baking continues to envelope not only many home  bakers but also their family and friends who have had the pleasure to eat the terrific baked goods.  Thank you! 
Peggy the Baker, Dorie, Peggy's husband Rich in Kingston, Ontario

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rugelach & Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

Today I baked one recipe that I made before but which needed a little tweaking and one that I had not yet baked.

Last year I baked Rugelach for the holiday reception for my co-workers and when my friend Lynne passed down the goodie table, she exclaimed, "Rugelach!  Who made the Rugelach?  It's wonderful!!"  So I decided to bake the Rugelach again for these same coworkers.    The problem in the past is that Dorie says to heat up 2/3 cup preserves to smear on the dough.  The past two times I've baked these, I've dutifully tried to use up all  the preserves, only to find that a lot of it oozed out while baking and made things stickier and ickier than I'd like.  So this time I used about half and the results were much better.  I also decided to cut down a little bit on the chocolate, for the same reason.  I'm very pleased with how this year's Rugelach turned out.

Traces left from rolling up some of the Rugelach!
Rugelach for the party.

 I'm about 20 recipes behind in baking through the whole of Dorie Greenspan's great book, Baking from My Home to Yours.  The rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers officially finish next week, but I'll be playing catch up just a little longer!  This week I baked Dorie's Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake which is to be made in a 10 1/2 inch tart pan.  I had a 9 inch tart pan which I must confess I failed to measure before I started.  So the batter was really near the tippy top of the pan and baked over a little during the baking.   I had to bake it longer than the recipe says--not a surprise.  I feared that I wouldn't be able to slide the cake out because the top edge of the cake was pretty firmly stuck to the fluted tart pan ring.  But I gave it a little nudge all around with the side of a knife and it came out very easily.  This goes off to work with my husband who promises to take a taste and report back.
A bit of a spillover because my pan was too small!
The final product looked lovely!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Madeleines and a Separate Cinnamon Experiment

Well, it's Tuesday and I was all set to post this week's delicious treat made from Dorie Greenspan's great book, Baking from My Home to Yours.  So I made Earl Gray Madeleine's, only to discover that that was last week's pick for the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.  I guess while I was away in Seattle and Corvallis last week, time marched on!

Since we're in the home stretch of the book, I'm going to share my pictures of my madeleines anyway.  Better late than never!

The recipe I used was Dorie's Earl Gray Madeleines which attempt to flavor the little sponge cakes with Earl Gray tea.  The technique is to melt the butter and then put the tea leaves into the melted butter and allow it to infuse for 15 minutes.  Then you put the tea and melted butter through a cheese-cloth lined strainer.  (That would have been a good photo to shoot!)  The other flavor used in these cookies is lemon zest, which my husband thinks is the dominant flavor.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As it happens, Dorie herself referred to madeleines in her blog post today!  To get them puffy, her recent discovery is to place plastic wrap on the batter and refrigerate it for an hour, then spoon the batter into the pans, cover with plastic again, and refrigerate for another hour.  Then put a baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Then pop in the pans and bake.  This is the suggestion she learned from  Phillippe Conticini of Patisserie des Reves in Paris.  

Here's what I did:
In the cute little mini madeleine pan

In my silicone madeleine pan

The mini madeleines

Minis next to the regulars

The interesting occurrence was the uneven baking.  Notice how some of the mini madeleines are browner than others?  And notice the brown stripe on the regular-sized madeleines?  What's with this?

I sprinkled them all with powdered sugar and they were very much enjoyed.  But I have to figure out my oven.

Since I'm a week late with my post, I might as well share a non-Dorie but very interesting experiment.  When visiting my son and his wonderful girlfriend Rose in Corvallis last week, I brought them a present of four different cinnamon's from Penzey's, one each from Ceylon, China, Indonesia, and Viet Nam.  Wonderful Rose saw this as a perfect opportunity to do a taste test of cinnamon rolls and what a wonderful experiment it was!

The four kinds of cinnamon

Rose rolling out the dough

Four different cinnamon/sugar mixtures

And raisins

Rolls rising

Can't you just smell them?!!!

The cinnamons definitely had distinctive tastes and all were yummy.  Our preference was the Chinese cinnamon in the cinnamon rolls.  The Vietnamese had a more robust flavor--almost too much for cinnamon rolls but outstanding in Dorie's Double Apple Bundt Cake.  The Ceylon and Indonesian cinnamons were unique, but not as tasty as the Chinese.

Hopefully I'll be back on track next week!  The Tuesdays with Dorie bakers will finish up the book this month.  I am a bit behind with 20 recipes left to bake.  I will finish, but not this month!