Tuesday, June 15, 2010

TWD: Raisin Swirl Bread

Susan of Food.Baby chose this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe--(a club dedicated to baking and blogging through her book Baking: From My Home to Yours)--and what a choice she made! (ok, let's face it, it's not like any of the Dorie recipes are bad choices...) I guess I always especially like the ones that make me feel connected to childhood/young adulthood spent in the kitchen.

Nothing does that for me--as I'm sure with so many others--than the smell of bread baking. I was excited to try this recipe--and it came together so easily!! I made the dough Saturday night...up to the 'freeze for 30 min' which is when I put it in the fridge to hang out for the night. I left it in a nicely shaped rectangle....

And Sunday morning I found this

Ya, that dough goiter hanging off the left side of it wasn't there the night before...but it rolled out nicely and after some shoving I got it into the pan!

I have made bread before, but never made raisin/cinnamon swirl! So festive...Here is where I admit I'm a raisin snob at times. In fact, I used less than half the raisins called for in the recipe--just enough to complement every piece cut, but not enough to overload it. (I'm always on the lookout for the ever elusive "cinnamon" bagel...no raisins, just cinnamon. I have only rarely found it!)

I froze half the loaf for making Father's Day French Toast! Dear Husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest..."this is awesome" was the exact phrase from DH..and our little one even had some, and from the flailing hands and feet from the high chair, and the hands opening and closing to beckon for more, I think it was a thumbs up!

It was a pleasure to make--and to bring the smell of my mom's kitchen into my kitchen, which I just love doing. Music and smells are what brings me back to a moment in time..how I measure my history. (Which is why I just emailed my high school reunion committee a whole playlist of songs from 1986-1990...our 20 yr reunion is this fall and they asked for song suggestions...I gave them everything from that era from B-52 Love Shack to Young MC It Takes Two to Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer..and everything in between (that means you Milli Vanilli, MC Hammer, Ton Loc, and Paula Abdul!) I hear some of these songs and I'm immediately in a car with my best friend from high school, and we are driving to football games...or basketball games.....or dancing at school or CYO dances ---looking for whomever was Crush Boy at the moment to make an appearance....and when I hear songs like The Lady in Red or Hold onto the Night, I have an urge to go blend into the wall or run off to the bathroom for fear that I'd be the loser without the dancing partner!)

And so with kitchen smells it's the same. As the bread was baking I was transported to the kitchen in our house I grew up in....Mom would make multiple loaves of bread usually at Thanksgiving and Christmas..she'd make enough to cover us through dinners, the leftover turkey sandwiches, morning toast (we so loved our toast in our house! Both French and good ol' toast-r-oven kind!) And any snacks in between. I love when I bake yeast recipes because I smell it, and Mom, who has been gone over 12 years now, seems to be no further away than just the other room...maybe in the dining room trying to find the "good tablecloth", or counting out silver, or in the Breakfast Room setting up the "kids table", and all the while singing along with Nat King Cole or Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra or the Carpenters or show tunes....I hope one day my Littlest Baker smells bread baking and thinks "Home. Mom." I may not ever know about it, but I hope it's a connection made one day over time and space....(though I fear it won't be nice as the picture I have in my head ...My son will probably say something like, "I smell bread baking -- you know, that almost-burned smell--and I think of my mother...swearing that she left it in the oven too long..or not long enough...and in the background--I hear her singing along to bad 80's music....ahh, home. Mom..."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TWD: Tender Shortcakes

First a story about this week's recipe host/selector, Cathy of The Tortefeasor...

Cathy and I met 1990 (aka freshman year of college) and have been great pals ever since...now going on (gasp) 20 years??! Wow, ok, that really makes me feel old...many beers ago...

Cathy and I have been through a lot together--including (I think) at least 1 class together (right Cath, or am I imagining you were in an English class with me--the British female professor...the one who'd make us put the chairs in a circle and discuss the book of the month/week/semester/whatever..the one who called on that guy "Mahhrk" a lot? (aka "Mark"...but not the way she said it!)
Anyways, so regardless of curriculum, Cathy and I have gone through ups and downs....we have shared laughs and tears both good and bad...during college I can't begin to say how many belly pains I have had because of Cathy and I building upon each other's jokes and stories and putting us into hysterics with our housemates...I came out of college with a tight group of friends...friends who I know will have forever. Friends who I know I can call (or tweet...or text...or Facebook 'friend') and know they will be there.....Cathy is one of those few who I know I am bonded to forever. Let's face it, you don't go through the rise and fall of Zima together and not become bonded for life.

And after college, we have seen each other through questions like 'what will you do after graduation" to "where will you live.." to "who will you marry"...to "what will your baby be named"...and now that she introduced me to TWD questions like "did you bake this week?" or "could you find that ingredient in Alabama, because I could not in Connecticut..." And I know years from now the question will be "so where do we all retire to?" I can't wait until I am sitting next to Cathy at Bingo one day when we are old and grey....then catching the Early Bird Special somewhere...and then reminiscing for the 1000th time "remember the time we cooked Thanksgiving dinner for our parents senior year??"

And in between now and then, Cathy and I are now going through a new curriculum together: Tuesdays with Dorie. Cathy told me all about the club and her blog two summers ago--no more than a few weeks after I decided to start baking more, and tried my hand at my first scratch cake (recounted on my now-defunct first blog). Though let's face it, Cathy is ten times as dedicated as I am with it and 20 times as witty and interesting with her posts! I always look forward to them. Whereas the miles between her and I are far, TWD keeps us in closer touch than usual, and brings us closer together. So I thank this blog for that.

So back to baking--this week was Cathy's choice. Tender Shortcakes. What a perfect selection to kick off Summer! We have had wonderful sunny weather recently (with some gross humid days mixed in) here in the Northeast....and Sunday after the humidity lifted with a passing thunder storm, I dove in and made the shortcakes.

They came together easily--Cathy, I can't thank you enough for an easy-peasey recipe! (obviously, thanks to you too, Dorie!) I didn't even have to plan to get the butter to room temperature! (love the "chilled butter" recipes!)

I opted to add the cinnamon and nutmeg, called for in the sidebar of the recipe....if I see any spin on recipes that adds those spices, I tend to go for it immediately. I started forming them...and then I forgot that it said if you go for the cinnamon route, to add some vanilla into the dough...."Doh!!" I forgot! So I tried to get it back into the cakes not yet formed...so I start to blend it in then, "doh!" I panicked thinking if I add to it and remix the dough, it means I would have over-handled the dough..Dorie says not to do that...You can see here the first row has pre-vanilla cakes, the bottom row has 'post-vanilla' cakes....and since I was at the bottom of the bowl, the unmixed flour started appearing...(I did half the recipe by the way, and it yielded six cakes) Forgive yellow hue to all photos...with my flash it was too bright, without it, it looks like this...darn energy-efficient bulbs...
So onward...and when they came out after 15 minutes, give or take--Voila!!

So here's the confession...I don't like strawberries...growing up, when we would have strawberry shortcake, I would opt for the spongecake and whipped cream, hold the berries. I decided to use the lesser of the berry evils for me, and went with raspberry and blueberry (I love blueberries, but better when they are baked in a cobbler or crisp. I know these 2 berries do not get as juicy as the strawberry, so not as perfect for shortcakes, but I had to go with what I thought I would eat! Dear Husband prefers those two berries as well, so it made it easy--and quite patriotic I might add.)

These cakes are AWESOME. Tender, indeed--and I love the added dimension the cinnamon provides. Especially since I mostly was eating just the cakes and whippped cream. Easy recipe+yummy recipe=repeated recipe!!

I know I'll make these again a few times this summer--even if I don't get into strawberry shortcake,I know guests will love it with these shortcakes!
Cheers, Cathy! Thanks for introducing me to Dorie! Thanks for a fabulous recipe pick!! Miss ya, babe!