Rustic Potato Loaves

Rustic Potato Loaves-4This recipe is a keeper.  I love potato bread.  My standby recipe came from an old Sunset magazine.  This recipe won’t take that one out of first place, but it comes in a close second.  It’s much quicker to make and you don’t need left over mashed potatoes, you just cook what you need for the recipe.  It really gave my Bosch mixer a workout and my Bosch, with it’s center drive can handle some pretty heavy jobs.  I would be careful mixing it in a Kitchen Aid Artisan.  As I usually do the first time through, I didn’t make any changes to the recipe.  Some of the other bakers mentioned possibly adding rosemary and garlic!  That sounds wonderful!  My husband and I nearly finished off a whole loaf in one afternoon.  Oh and an entire jar of apricot jam to go with it.    Just a couple comments on the recipe–it says to scrub the potatoes cut and boil them with the skins on.  It never says to remove the potato skins so I didn’t and I liked the end result.   The skins get pretty well chopped up when you mash the potatoes so you just end up with small pieces of skins in the bread.  It adds to the rustic look.  I added just the amount of flour called for in the recipe and I had a very wet dough.  I left it that way, but it was a bit hard to handle.  Because of that I wasn’t able to get the “torpedo” shape the recipe called for.  I used my baking peel to move the loaves onto the hot baking stone and sprayed the oven walls with my spray bottle to create some steam and help get a nice crust.

Rustic Potato Loaves-1Rustic Potato Loaves-2Rustic Potato Loaves-3

This was an assignment for Tuesdays with Dorie,  Baking with Julia.  Dawn of Simply Sweet was host and she posted the entire recipe along with some great photos on her blog.  To see how all the other participants interpreted this recipe check out their blog links on the LYL post.

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Mocha Chocolate Chips

Mocha Choc Chip-1

These cookies had mixed reactions from the people that I shared them with.  I had to assure my husband that those orange bits in them were not carrots before he would eat them.  The ones I left in the staff lounge at work were all eaten, but some liked them more than others.  They really weren’t visually appealing.  I used a bar of Trader Joe’s Pound Plus dark chocolate which was an excellent choice, but it really was a lot of chocolate, even for a chocolate lover like me.   You could easily cut the chocolate to 3/4 of a pound instead of a full pound.  Those orange bits that my husband thought were carrots are actually apricots.  I used dried apricots and soaked them overnight in water, drained them and then weighed them to the correct amount.  For the mocha part of these cookies, the recipe calls for instant coffee powder, which I didn’t have.  I did have espresso powder so instead of the 2 to 3 tablespoons called for in the recipe I substituted 1 tablespoon of espresso powder.  Some of the bakers used a packet of Starbucks “Via”,  which I actually think would work better than using the espresso powder.  One more tip if you want to try this recipe for yourself,  use parchment paper to line the baking sheets for easy removal.  The cookies spread out a lot and tend to fall apart when you remove them from the baking sheet.  For the second batch I let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before trying to remove them.   Would I make this recipe again?  Maybe.  I thought the cookies were ok,  and I ate more than I should have, but who could resist all that chocolate?  I actually liked the addition of the apricots and may try adding some to my regular chocolate chip cookie recipe.  So if I have convinced you to give these cookies a try, then visit Peggy of Galettista for the recipe.  If you want to see the posts of all the other Baking with Julia bakers, then check out the LYL post on the  Tuesdays with Dori blog  for links to all the blogs of this weeks participants.

The first recipe assignment for March was to make croissants.  I just didn’t have the time to tackle them, but am hoping to make them sometime.  Congrats to all who made them!

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Boca Negra

Boca Negra-4 This almost flour-less cake (1 1/2 tablespoons of flour)  could easily be called “death by chocolate”.  Looking at the recipe ingredients and reading the early comments by other bakers, I knew this was going to be rich.  It was absolutely delicious!  I took the cake to share with my knitting group and we were only able to eat half of it.  So I have about half of it sliced and wrapped in the freezer to enjoy later.  The white chocolate cream was a great addition, but just plain whipped cream would have been just fine.  I substituted coffee for the bourbon in the cake.  I think the coffee enhanced the chocolate flavor.  I didn’t add bourbon to the white chocolate cream either.  Instead I used a bit of vanilla and some almond flavoring.  It was an excellent substitution.  I plan to make a raspberry sauce to serve over the pieces that I have in the freezer.  I can’t wait to get home from my business trip and try that!

I melted the chocolate and incorporated the butter in my double boiler.

The cake is baked sitting in a large pan of water.

I baked my cake for 40 minutes instead 30 as the recipe required. The top had some small cracks in it when I removed it from the oven.

The host for this Tuesdays with Dorie assignment was Cathy of A Frederick Food Garden.  She posted the entire recipe on her blog.  Thanks Cathy for a great post!  To see how the other Baking with Julia participants fared,  visit the LYL section of the Tuesdays with Dorie blog.

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Focaccia-1My Focaccia turned out “ok”.  This recipe takes quite a bit of advance preparation.  After mixing and two rises then the dough spends 24-36 hours in the refrigerator.  Then an hour and a half before you want to bake it you take it out and let it rest for an hour before shaping and adding the topping.   As I said it turned out “ok”.  I think I got mine a bit too thin in spots.  I was expecting it to be a bit thicker.  I even ended up with a hole in one place.  I used a pre-mixed pizza topping and garlic flavored garlic oil for the topping.  It wasn’t bad with a bowl of soup for dinner.  Before putting this dough in the refrigerator you shape it into three balls and place it in zip lock bags.  I ended up freezing two of the balls for later.  I haven’t used them yet,  so I have yet to see if that works.  My plan is to move it to the refrigerator a day before I need it so that it can thaw slowly in the refrigerator.   


I mixed the dough in my Bosh


I used my kitchen scale to weigh each ball of dough so that my dough balls would all be the same size.

The host for this recipe was  Sharmini of Wandering Through.  You can see her beautiful bread and find the entire recipe by visiting her blog.  To see how the other Baking with Julia participants got along, do visit the LYL section of the Tuesdays with Dorie blog.

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French Apple Tart

Frenh Apple Tart-4The description in Baking with Julia for this tart reads “easier to reproduce at home than you’d think at first glance”.   I agree.  This tart tastes wonderful, looks impressive and was easy to make.  What more could you want!  It does take a bit of time.  You really couldn’t make the entire tart after work one evening.  However, you could do it in steps on a couple of evenings.  You begin by making the crust then chilling it for at least two hours.  Next line the tart pan with the crust and chill for another 30 minutes.  Then bake the crust and let it cool while the filling is prepared.  The filling is interesting–you peel, core, and slice the apples.  Frenh Apple Tart-1Mix them with sugar, flour, cinnamon,  soft bread crumbs, and a squeeze or two of lemon juice.   (I used a bit of left over Finnish Pulla from the freezer for my soft white bread crumbs).  Next the slices are spread on a jelly-roll pan and baked until they are soft enough to mash.

Frenh Apple Tart-2Once they are mashed, spoon the soft filling into the cooled baked shell and arrange the thinly sliced apples on top.  It was much easier than I thought it would be to arrange these slices in beautiful overlapping circles.  I  made this tart as dessert for Christmas lunch with friends.  Served with vanilla ice cream — it was a hit!

This post participates in the baking challenge Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD).  Gaye of  Laws of the Kitchen was our host for this assignment and she posted the complete (and very long) recipe, including the pie crust recipe on her blog.   If you would like to read what all of this weeks participants thought about this recipe you can visit TWD’s LYL–Leave Your Link post and find the links to all the participant’s blogs.

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Pizza with Onion Confit

onion pizza 2-1My husband took one look at this pizza and said he was headed to the store for pepperoni.  Since it was ready to bake and would be done in 15 minutes I convinced him to wait and try it.  He did and he actually thought it was “ok”.  I thought the pizza was pretty good, and yes I did want to eat spoonfuls of the onion confit alone!  I was not overly impressed with the crust, however, I think I added too much flour.  I’ll probably try the crust again some time and be more careful about adding the flour before I make my final decision on the crust.

If you would like to try this unusual and tasty pizza, Paul of theboycanbake is the host this week and he has the recipe on his blog.  The recipe can also be found on pages 157-159 of Baking with Julia.   Check out the “Leave your Link” post on  Tuesdays with Dorie to see what all the bakers thought about this pizza.

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Finnish Pulla

Finnish Pulla-3When I looked at the photo of this beautiful bread wreath in the book, I was worried! Could IFinnish Pulla-1 possibly reproduce this?  Well I did!  I must say I would need a bit more practice to get a really nice even wreath, but I was happy with my first attempt.  And the taste–wow!  I loved it! It’s a wonderfully sweet bread that is laced with small black flecks of cardamon.

We ate the first pieces as soon as it was cool enough to cut.  Then I sliced the rest of the wreath and put it in the freezer.Finnish Pulla-4  It certainly didn’t last long in the freezer.  I kept making toast to have with our morning coffee.  This would be a great bread to give as a gift.

If you would like to try this wonderful bread you can find the recipe on page 106 and 107 of Baking with Julia Erin of The Daily Morsel was the host for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie assignment and she posted the complete recipe.  All the recipes in Baking with Julia are contributed by different people.  This one was contributed by Beatrice Ojakangas.   It’s from her cookbook entitled, The Finnish Cookbook.   I requested her book from my library and found that she offers many other options for shaping this festive bread.   I’m planning to make this again soon and try my hand at Christmas “Pigs” or the Bishop’s Wig.

December 31st Addendum:

Pulla Pigs-1For Christmas I made another recipe of  Finnish Pulla  dough and shaped it into what Beatrice calls “Christmas Pigs”.   Here’s her instruction for shaping as found on page 37 of her book –  “Pinch off balls the dough (each about the size of a large egg)  and roll between your palms and the lightly floured board into strands about 12 inches long.  Arrange these on a greased baking sheet in the form of an S”   I love this bread!

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