Posts Tagged ‘bread


persimmon bundt cake

I know; I’m such a flake when it comes to blogging.  I don’t really have any other excuses except for the fact that I usually enjoy reading other people’s blogs instead of posting on my own.  There was a lot of baking going on in my kitchen (baking is currently on hold) and I do have lots of pictures to share, but I’ll admit that I’ve been lazy.

This recipe comes to you at the wrong time of the year (I made this cake in October) but I wanted to share with you now because I’ve had persimmons on my mind.  My parents have a fuyu persimmon tree in their backyard and they get tons of persimmons so my dad sent H and I a box of them in the mail.  The following week we received a whole bag of fuyus from my friend.  What was I to do with so many persimmons?

H loves them (fuyus) and will eat 2 or 3 a day, but I’ve never been a huge fan of them.  The first time I tasted a persimmon it was a hachiya persimmon…the mushy kind.  After that experience I tried to stay away from eating any kind of persimmon in their natural whole fruit form.  My grandpa makes persimmon cookies which  I do like so I searched for the recipe he had shared with me.  Bummer, the cookies were made with puree from the mushy hachiya persimmons;  I had an over abundance of the crisp fuyu persimmons.  Darn.  I searched online and most baking recipes use hachiya.  I was getting discouraged when I finally found this.  I was so excited to try it out, especially because it was made in a bundt pan and I really like bundt cakes.  The cake was very yummy.  It was the perfect “Welcome Fall Season” spice cake.  I made it a few times and even turned it into a “persimmon bread” simply by baking it in a loaf pan and not icing it.

So, back to my relationship with persimmons and why they’ve been on my mind.  The cake only uses about 4 persimmons so even though I’d made it a few times we still had tons of them on our kitchen  counter.  Everytime H ate one I’d have a bite too and eventually I kind of started to like the fuyu persimmon.  It’s crisp like an apple and I’m all about crispy things.  The fuyu persimmon was finally starting to grow on me.  I probably won’t eat 2 to 3 a day like H does, but now I know they’re good for baking too.  What really pushed me over was finally looking at the persimmon tree in my parents’ backyard.  It’s beautiful!  I haven’t seen too many persimmon trees, but I really liked how theirs looked.

I’ve been looking into fruit trees for my backyard so a persimmon tree made it onto my wishlist and I finally ordered a bareroot a few days ago.  My current view from the kitchen sink is pretty bleh so I am very excited about having a nice persimmon tree to look at.  My bareroot tree just arrived yesterday and I’m looking forward to planting it this weekend.  Ok…on to the recipe!

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no knead bread

I’ll just say it…I stink at keeping a blog.  I always take pictures of what I make, but somehow, they don’t make their way on here.  I get lazy or choose to do other things instead.  *Sigh* I wanted to give you a simple (albeit lengthy) recipe to try to make it up to you.  I like making this bread because it takes almost no time at all to mix everything up and I don’t have to knead the dough.  It’s also handy to have dough ready to go in the fridge for whenever you want some fresh baked bread.

The Master Recipe – Boule (Artisan Free Form Loaf)

Adapted slightly from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
  • 6 1/2 cups, unsifted, all purpose white flour
  • cornmeal for baking stone

1. Warm the water slightly. It should feel slightly warmer than body temperate, about 100 degrees F.

2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a large bowl, or preferably in a resealable lidded (not airtight) plastic food container.  Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.

3. Mix in the flour – kneading is unnecessary.  Add all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping up the flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula.  Don’t press down on the flour or you’ll throw off the measurement by compressing.  Mix with a wooden spoon.  If it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with the spoon, you can reach in and press the mixture together.  Don’t knead!  You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist.  The dough should be wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of the container.

4. Allow to rise.  Cover with lid (not airtight) that fits well.  Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approximately 2 hours, depending on the room’s temperature and initial water temperature.  Longer rising times (up to 5 hours) will not harm the result.  You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period.  Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature.  The first time you try, it’s best to refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours) before shaping a loaf.

5. Prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent your loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven.  Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour.  Pull up and cut off a 1-lb. (grapefruit-size) piece of dough, using a serrated knife.  Hold the mass of dough in your hands add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands.  Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.  Most of the dusting flour will fall off.  The bottom of the loaf might look like a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out and adhere during resting and baking.  The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive.  The entire process should take no more than 30 to 60 seconds.

6. Place the shaped ball on the cornmeal-covered pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest on the peel for about 40 minutes (it doesn’t need to be covered during this time).  Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period; more rising will occur during baking.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack.  Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.

8. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking.  Slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.

9. After a 20 minute preheat, you’re ready to bake.  With a quick forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the preheated baking stone.  Quickly, but carefully, pour about 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch.  Because you’ve used wet dough, there is little risk of drying out the interior, despite the dark crust.  Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack, for best flavor, texture, and slicing.  The perfect crust may initially soften, but will firm up again when cooled.

10. Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days.  You’ll find that even one day’s storage improves the flavor and texture of the bread.  This maturation continues over the 14-day storage period.  The dough can also be frozen in 1-lb. portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.

*NOTE: I don’t own a pizza peel so I usually just use one of those thin plastic cutting boards.  I don’t recommend it; it’s not the best option, especially because you have to be careful not to touch anything hot with the plastic.  It’s the alternative that I’m using for now.


chocolate croissants

I’ve been wanting to try to make puff pastry ever since I saw this cool demo on Artisan Sweets.  She makes it look so easy!   I haven’t made puff pastry yet, but I *tried* to make croissants a few weeks ago.  My real agenda was to make chocolate croissants because I had been craving them ever since I had one in San Francisco.  I make enough sugary, buttery things at home so I usually refrain from buying myself croissants.   I actually don’t know why I choose to refrain from them – it’s not like I really refrain from eating cupcakes and other things.   It’s not that I don’t like them that much.  When I was in college, I worked at a coffee shop and I had no problem eating them whenever I wanted – plain, chocolate, ham and cheese, bear claws – any kind, any time of today.  But that was how many years ago now?  That was when I was actually active and ran around campus all day.  I have a desk job now and sit on my behind for 8 hours a day.  I try to exercise “regularly”, but for me “regularly” usually ends up being once a week so I have to refrain from something…right?

I was fascinated by the folding, turning, and rolling of the puff pastry demo and I figured croissant dough would be fairly similar.  Plus, I had splurged on some Plugra european butter after I won a $25 shopping spree at Trader Joe’s and I have tons of chocolate and yeast that I need to use so I decided to just do it.  I read a review that the recipe in Baking with Julia was very rich so I went with the recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II.  (Did I ever mention that I love Julia Child?  I started watching her show before I started kindergarten!)

This was quite a process, but I was adequately forewarned, “The minimum time required for making croissants is 11 to 12 hours.” It actually took about 36 hours before I actually baked them.  Something was wrong right from the beginning.  I don’t know if my yeast wasn’t fresh enough (it wasn’t expired yet) or if my house was too cold.  I think it’s the latter.  The recipe said that the dough needed to rest at about 72 degrees for about 3 hours to rise 3.5 times its original volume.  Well, mine sat in my 65 degree kitchen for  almost 8 hours and it only rose 2.5 times its original volume.  I had all kinds of problems – rolling my dough out to the correct size, “smearing” the cold butter onto the flattened dough, shaping the dough, accidentally par cooking the shaped croissants in a warm oven (I was trying to help them rise)…

The croissants came out spongy instead of flaky and they were very buttery even though I had used the minimum amount of butter called for.  I have to say though that I didn’t think they were that bad for my first attempt and they did hit the spot.  I’ve eaten a couple more croissants since this trial, examining what a “real” croissant should look like and how it should taste.  (I kind of use that as my excuse – experiencing them will help me next time I try to make them, right?)