BCM Gingerbread Buche de Noel

20141218_144533When I read through this recipe I wondered if I could actually pull this off as a success. I decided that I didn’t want to have the pressure of making it for a special event, so I just made it on a day off and took it to work the next day. As it turned out, I had a success! I did begin with a fail—the nuts. I swirled and played with the sugar too much and the syrup was evaporating and it hadn’t turned amber. I panicked and put the nuts in and ended up with a soft white opaque covering on the nuts instead of beautiful shiny amber coating. I decided to do them over and had success the second time around.20141217_13590420141217_141825 This time I just swirled the syrup to moisten the sugar, and then left it alone. I watched it carefully as it turned to a beautiful amber color. We ate the failed sugar coated nuts and they tasted great even though they weren’t pretty. Next step make the cake. Whisking the eggs and brown sugar over simmering water instilled a bit of panic, however, it worked and I didn’t end up with sweet scrambled eggs. I did have a crack in the cake after I rolled it, but as Dorie says, filling and frosting patch it up nicely. 20141217_164320Preparing the frosting was another tricky procedure; pouring 242 degree syrup into the mixer while it is running at medium speed beating the egg whites, but I actually did it without mishap. My frosting turned into the beautiful shiny marshmallow look that was in the photo in the book.20141217_204432 All of this only took an afternoon to accomplish. I had thought it would take much longer.   I took it to work and it was eaten within an hour of the announcement that there was cake in the staff lounge.20141218_151118

I really enjoyed making this and would not hesitate to do it again. This was our Christmas assignment from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi, baking group.   We do not post the recipes, if you want to try this recipe you will need to purchase the book.  To see how others in the group fared with this recipe you can check the blog, Tuesday’s with Dorie.

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BCM The Rugelach that won over France

20141203_072157This is my second try at  Rugelach.  It was a bit easier this time.  I’m not saying it’s easy, just that it goes a bit smoother the second time around.  There are multiple steps involved in making rugelach.  I think it actually works in quite well with a busy schedule because each step can be completed in an evening after work and then set to rest in the refrigerator to wait until the next evening.  My first attempt at rugelach was with the BWJ group, here’s the link to that post.  I took that first batch to work and weeks later someone said that it was so good that they had actually dreamed about it!  It was good, but it wasn’t very pretty.  I didn’t get that reaction when I took this batch to work, but it disappeared from the staff lounge in short order.   I didn’t freeze the rolls before cutting them.  I just rolled them and left them in the refrigerator over night.  They sliced just fine the next morning.  The recipe says to bake them seam side down which leaves the cut sides exposed.  I wondered if it would work to stand them up like that, but it worked just fine.  The only other change I made to the recipe was to cut them 1 inch thick instead of 1/2 inch thick.  Otherwise I followed the recipe as it was written.  The filling ingredients need to be finely chopped because the dough is very thin and fragile.  My chocolate pieces were too big and some poked through the dough as I was making the rolls.


I liked this recipe, but I think I like the filling ingredients I used for BWJ better.  I have a second batch of dough chilling right now that I am going to fill as I did for BWJ — apricot levar,  pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, dried Calimyrna figs, jumbo raisin medley (Trader Joes brand) and dates.

We don’t post the recipes in order to encourage you to purchase the book, Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan.   Get a copy and join in our baking fun.   To see what the other bakers did with their rugelach check out the links they left on the Tuesdays with Dorie blog.

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BCM Cranberry Crackle Tart

cranberry crackle tartThis is a delightful little tart and really easy to make. I love the tart cranberries suspended in the crunchy meringue. I made it with the sweet tart dough in the pie pan, however it seems like a tart pan would work just as well. Just a couple of tips; 1) cover the edges of the crust as I got them too brown 2) use a hand mixer to beat the egg whites, the Kitchen Aid stand mixer just won’t deal with the small volume.   20141122_103014

The recipe is on pages 135 – 136 of Baking Chez Moi,  by Dorie Greenspan.  It was our second assignment in the Tuesdays with Dorie bake along for this fabulous new cookbook.  Click on over and see the other bakers versions.  We don’t post the recipes online, if you want to bake along with us buy a book and jump in.  However, this recipe happens to be one that Dorie has on her website, so give it a try.  Up next, Rugelach.

Posted in Baking, Baking Chez Moi, Tuesdays with Dorie | 8 Comments

BCM Palets de Dames, Lille Style

TWD palets de damesI am a Baking with Julia dropout.  I couldn’t keep up.  Now Dorie Greenspan has a new cookbook, Baking Chez Moi!  The theme of the book is French home baking and Tuesdays with Dorie is going to start baking their way through the book.   I am going to take up the challenge and join in the fun hoping to keep up with the group this time.
What better way to kick off my start on this new challenge than to meet Dorie and have her sign my book.  In looking over her book tour I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to attend any of her stops in Southern California as I was getting ready to leave for a business trip to Chicago, BUT WAIT, Dorie was going to be in Chicago when I was and only a mile from my hotel!

TWD ingredientsThe first recipe for the challenge is Palets de Dames, Lille Style. This recipe is posted on the book’s Amazon page as a sample recipe.  Palets de Dames are beautiful little white cookies with a white icing.  I mixed the dough in the evening, refrigerated it overnight. Then shaped and baked the cookies in the morning. The instructions for icing the cookies were easy to follow and they turned out beautiful.   I do have just a couple of comments about the icing. The recipe calls for “a few drops of lemon juice”.  I used too few drops and you really couldn’t even taste the lemon at all.  I was too concerned about getting the icing too thin, as I added a bit more milk it was easier to achieve a nice smooth surface on the cookie. These cakey little cookies are perfect with a cup of coffee or tea.

Check out the Tuesdays with Dorie blog to see everyone’s version of these delightful cookies, or better yet buy a book and join us!

Posted in Baking, Baking Chez Moi, Tuesdays with Dorie | 17 Comments

BWJ 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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BWJ 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!

Posted in Baking, Tuesdays with Dorie | 3 Comments

BWJ 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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BWJ Focaccia

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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BWJ 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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BWJ 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.

Posted in Baking, Tuesdays with Dorie | 5 Comments