Monday, December 31, 2012

Lemon Geranium Custard Cream

Lemon Geranium Pelargonium crispum

 this is my new favourite dessert or dessert accompaniment. it brings the unexpected geranium leaf into the kitchen and not just the window sill, the flavour remains lemony familiar but with a hint of the exotic.

my lemon geranium plant was given to me as a cutting from my friends plant, earlier this year. i had seen a recipe for rose geranium cream in the cookbook: Tartine, from the now famous Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. the recipe itself got me thinking, why not lemon geranium as a substite? im not suoer wild about heavy rose flavours in my desserts anyway. the result was an exciting flavour reminiscent of a lemony turkish delight. its great alongside any sponge cake or as a filling for tarts.

hot milk steeping with geranium leaves

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pumpkin Fudge

i've still got one medium sized pumpkin in the kitchen from this fall's harvest. after awhile pondering what i might make with it, i recalled a particular recipe for Parsnip Vanilla Fudge from the book: Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache, by Harry Eastwood. the book specializes in cakes made with vegetables and low fat, usually wheat free recipes. and guess what? the recipes work! which is great for  gluten free cooking enthusiasts, especially when every recipe uses veg in some way. for those of you used to gluten free baking: you may know some recipes have a tendency to be 'bricklike' and dry. but the clever addition of grated vegetables in Harry's recipes yield moist and light baking.

you don't need much pumpkin for this recipe, so count on making a nice pumpkin curry afterwards.

 the authour has a whimsical way of writing recipes, refering to cakes and their individual personalities like they are a part of a story book. which can hit hard on the annoying scale, but if you can over look this then, you are well on your way to exciting baking. the book is well worth the shelf space.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Wheat Berry Risotto with Beetroot and Blue cheese

this time of year is always busy down in the bakery where i work, and this week the orders are flooding in for christmas. so updating the blog has been put on the back burner. sad, but true. i am always thinking about new recipes, though. i've tried out a few ideas, some good, some not so good. i'm looking forward to a whole queue of posts i'm lining up like: pumpkin fudge, lemon geranium custard (my new favourite dessert!), and more on our knobbly giant friend - celeriac. so stay tuned in after christmas!

im revisiting one of my favourite ingredients in this recipe: beetroot. earlier this autumn i dedicated 3 posts to the bold vegetables, if you missed the posts you can read them here, here, and here. has anyone tried the beetroot gin and tonic? they're perfect for christmas parties, and festively coloured!beetroot are really the only things left out in the garden, with some rainbow chard, kale and a handful of broccolli plants. there's quite a few spots opening up and i've begun thinking about the spring whats going where. once christmas passes i'll dive more into it, and post the 2013 garden layout.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cookbook Review: Flour Water Salt Yeast: the Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza

it's taken me awhile to write this post. mainly because of all the research and baking i've done with while reading this book! im well on my way to my fourth bread recipe, and i can't wait for the next baking day at home.

i bought Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast: the fundamentals of artisan bread and pizza, after searching for new baking books to read. the name instantly jumped out at me, for obvious reasons! it seems we (the authour and I) were on the same wavelength, as far as titling our projects go! after a a little detective work,  i realized i've actually been to the bakery this book hails from and indulged in their lovely breads. it was serendipty. i bought the book immediately, with baking and a book review in mind. i'm so glad i did.

the concept: 'flour water salt yeast' is highly apt for the art of bread baking, taking a few simple good ingredents with the help of invisible microrganisms and fermentation creates- bread! the alchemy of bread never ceases to amaze. in this book, the recipes rarely stray from the above 4 ingredients, except for the 'Pan au Bacon,' but who can leave out bacon?

Sweet Potato and Pear Pizza

Ken's Artisan Bakery is run by Ken Forkish, who studied at the San Francisco Baking Institute, he also apprenticed with renowned bread baker, Chad Robertson, of Tartine Bakery (san francisco).  Ken opened his doors in 2001, in Portland, Oregon. the bakery specializes in long fermented breads with high hydration content and well rounded flavour. these breads have been adored since they were first baked in the bakery 11 years ago. since then, Ken has opened a pizza spot, there are 4 different pizza base recipes in the book to choose from, and are equally as delicious as the bread recipes.

bread recipes in ths book are wetter than most and require folding, rather than kneading
since getting the book i've read it front to cover and baked three bread recipes - two with commercial yeast  and the other sourdough. being a long time baker myself, i went for a sourdough recipe (Country Brown), and since then, i've been short on time, tried out the simpler recipes (the Saturday White Bread and White Bread with Poolish). every recipe has been memorable and highly addictive.

i love Ken's in-depth writing style and way his book is meant to bring newcomers to the joys of bread baking. by starting small (with one day recipies) and working up to intermediate, then advanced recipes - some taking days to prepare, this book is for everyone wanting to bake bread. the chapters and recipes are written in a timeline from easy to advanced, so you can work your way through the book, like a bread cookery course. after which you should be a bread baking master, there's 19 recipes in all! most of the bread recipes provide handy timelines for the working person to go by, so you don't have to be home the whole day waiting for your bread to rise, like the 'saturday white bread', (which im getting ready to take out the oven as we speak), this bread was developed for days when you need bread fresh bread in a few hours, begining at 9:30 am and finishing the bread at 5:00pm in the evening.

shaping the wet doughs into loaves
the book itself is broken down into four parts. Part 1 being an introduction to bread baking and the tools needed. Part 2 is a collection of 'Basic Bread' recipes, like straight doughs, and breads made with pre-ferments. following onto the more the advanced Part 3: levain bread recipes, with understanding the levain (sourdough) method in hybrid and pure levain breads, as well as making your own sourdough from scratch. Part 4, contains 3 chapters dedicated to the art of pizza and focaccia making, favouring homebaked pizzas baked with a super high heat and pizza stones.

baking with a cast iron dutch oven
when attempting the bread recipes in this book do try and seek out a cast iron dutch oven to bake in. this is a much celebrated method of home bread baking, and is essential to creating a crust with crispy caramel colouring. breads such as these rely on steam captured in ovens to allow the loaf to rise thouroughly in the oven, and gelatinize starches in the crust. it may sound complicated, but in practice the bread does all the work for you! this method has been adopted by many professional bakers and written about in books like, The Bread Builders, and Tartine Bread. everyone should do it! look at the bread you could end up with! it's amazing.

Saturday White Bread

the final conclusion is: i'm totally inspired by this book. f you're interested n everything there is to know about bread or want to learn how to make better bread, this is the book for you. the recipes may take some time to finish, but really only involve minutes of actual active time, wth stunning results!