BWJ 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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BWJ Gingerbread Baby Cakes

gingerbread-1

This has been quite a week!  I have been at the vets twice with the pup!  First, he ate my _DSC0302_edited-1sock.  Then a couple of days later I was looking for my microfiber cleaning cloth that the ophthalmologist gave me when I got my last pair of glasses, and it was nowhere to be found.  As I suspected, it had been eaten by Thor.  Fortunately for Thor, and my pocketbook, both items were eliminated by natural means.  No surgical intervention was necessary!  As this is a food blog, I’ll spare you the unappetizing details.  Just a photo of a not so innocent, but absolutely beautiful, 18 week old pup.

Since the week already had a bad start I guess it was expecting too much to think that the baking would be a success. gingerbread bc2-1 It wasn’t.  I found these darling little 4 inch tart pans at World Market, thinking they would be perfect for the Gingerbread Baby Cakes.  They weren’t very deep and I filled them too full.  gingerbread bc-2They ALL overflowed while baking!  The only good part was that I had placed them on a sheet pan, so I didn’t end up having to clean the oven as well.  When I  removed the cakes from the oven they were not pretty.   I should have baked them a bit longer, but since half the batter ended up on the baking sheet and was about to burn I took them out after 35 minutes.  With 2 cups of molasses, fresh ginger, ground ginger, black pepper, and espresso powder, the flavor of this gingerbread is intense.   Partnered with whipped cream and lemon curd it’s OK, but I must say this is not my favorite gingerbread.  I much prefer a traditional recipe with less intense flavor.

If you think a very intense gingerbread is something you would like to try, check out Karen’s Kitchen Stories  for the recipe.  She actually bought the correct pans and hers turned out great!   Here’s the link to Tuesdays with Dorie where you can visit the links of all the bakers who participated this week and see their results.

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BWJ Best-Ever Brownies

I hardly ever bake brownies. Not because I don’t like them, quite the opposite. It’s really hard not to eat the entire pan by myself! I could have eaten all of these myself, but to save myself I took them to share with my Sunday afternoon knitting friends. This recipe was the assignment for Tuesdays with Dorie this week. I baked them about 30 minutes, just slightly longer than the recommended time and they are just right.  Just the perfect blend of fudgey and cakey.  The recipe says to use a ceramic or glass pan, so I used my 9 3/4 inch square corning ware glass pan.  They are excellent, and I must say almost as good as my favorite — Maida Heatter’s, All-American Brownies from her cookie book.   If you would like to try this recipe it’s in Baking with Julia on page 331 or check out Monica’s blog,  A Beautiful Mess, for the complete recipe.  If you want to read about everyone’s experience with this recipe you’ll find all the links to their blogs at Tuesdays with Dorie.

I must say, it was great to have a splash of chocolate in this season of pumpkin, apples, and spice.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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BWJ Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

I’m sitting in my hotel room in San Francisco listening to the mournful sounds of a lone trumpeter in Union Square and the clang of the cable car bells as they climb the hill as I write this post.  I’ve been in meetings non stop for the past couple of days listening to excellent speakers challenging us to revisit our leadership skills and foster innovation and change in our work places.  It’s always energizing to take a few days off and connect with colleagues.

I baked these muffins last week because I knew I would be at my conference this week.  What an easy recipe after some of the others we have tackled so far for Tuesdays with Dorie.  I did do a double take on the amount of shortening and sugar in the recipe, however, the resulting muffin is of excellent crumb and superb taste.  The recipe says they are best eaten the day they are made which I don’t disagree with, but I  put the leftovers  in the freezer and they really are still very good reheated on a busy workday morning.  Alisa of Easier than Pie is the host this week and you can find the recipe on her blog or on page 207 of Baking with Julia.  Many of the bakers made changes to the recipe to make it healthier.  Check out everyone’s modifications of this simple recipe on the LYL (Leave Your Link) post.

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BWJ Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Loaves

In spite of the sweltering heat here in Southern California, I managed to squeeze in a baking session with the air conditioner running. The results were delicious! Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Loaves! When I saw that we were making these loaves, I assumed they were a quick bread, but not so. This is a yeast bread. After the first rise the dough is deflated and put in the refrigerator to chill overnight. When removed the next day, it’s left on the counter to return to 64 degrees before shaping, another rise, and baking. I am not usually a fan of pumpkin spice flavored food, but this was delicious! I am already planning a second batch. The small loaves make a perfect gift size. One loaf was eaten immediately, one given as a gift and part of the last one is still in the freezer. There were no fresh cranberries available so I used frozen whole cranberries. I mixed the dough in my Bosch mixer, but kneaded in the cranberries by hand so as not to break too many of them.

The recipe for this excellent bread can be found on page 108 of Baking with Julia or on Rebecca’s blog, This Bountiful Backyard. She is the Tuesdays with Dorie host for this week. You can find links to all the participants blogs about this recipe on Tuesdays with Dorie.

*This is a late post for Tuesdays with Dorie. I baked on time, I just didn’t get the post finished, due to getting a cold followed by the flu.  I had planned on baking the bagel assignment with a friend, but had to cancel due to the flu. I’ll have to try the bagels on a rewind Tuesday.  I’m counting on an illness free winter now that I have had both a cold and the flu!

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BWJ Whole Wheat Loaves

I love homemade whole wheat bread and this is a great basic recipe.  It makes wonderful sandwiches and excellent breakfast toast.  I baked this a week ago when the temperature was only 95 degrees instead of the 107 degrees we had this week end. 

The other event in our household this week was our new puppy!   There has been very little free time this week to write a blog post.  Here is Thor — our 7 week old Standard Poodle / Australian Shepard mix.    Isn’t he cute!
The recipe for these excellent loaves can be found on page 83 of Baking with Julia or on the blogs of the lovely hosts for Tuesdays with Dorie — Michele of Veggie Num Nums and Teresa of The Family That Bakes Together

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BWJ Nectarine Upside-down Chiffon Cake

The last couple of weeks have been so busy, I was beginning to wonder if I was going to get this made or not.  I pretty much followed the recipe as written with just a few minor changes.  My nectarines were large so I cut them into 10 pieces each, instead of 8 pieces as suggested.  I cut a round of parchment paper to fit inside the spring form pan and put the brown sugar/butter mixture on that.  I melted the butter and then mixed it with the brown sugar as I didn’t want to put my spring form pan directly on the heat.  I left the ginger out of the streusel.  I was taking this as the dessert for lunch at my friends house, and a teaspoon of ginger sounded like a lot of ginger.  I had read a few of the comments from those who baked early and several said they didn’t like the streusel.  The only thing I could figure out that you might not like in the streusel ingredients was the ginger, so I just left it out.  My streusel was delicious.  Actually, the whole cake was delicious!

My cake did sink in the center, but it wasn’t gooey.  I baked it for 60 minutes, which was 10 minutes longer than suggested.  When I inverted it onto the serving platter there was extra melted butter and liquid on top of the cake and I used a paper towel to soak up a bit of the excess.  We served it with vanilla ice cream and it was enjoyed by all the guests.

This recipe is definitely a keeper.  I think I’ll try it with pears this fall.  Yum!

The recipe can be found on pages 241-243 of Baking with Julia.  It’s also on the two blogs listed below along with step by step instructions and beautiful photos.  Thanks for hosting Marlise and Susan.

Tuesday’s with Dori hosts for this week — Marlise of The Double Trouble Kitchen and Susan of The Little French Bakery

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BWJ Popovers

Success!  My popovers popped!  These were surprisingly simple, just put all the ingredients in the blender and turn it on.   Then pour the batter into greased muffin pans and bake.  They puffed up nicely and browned beautifully.  When they came out of the oven, I drizzled them with honey and ate them for breakfast.  Yes, I ate them for breakfast because we have had two weeks of  excessive heat, temps 105 to 110, so I wanted to bake them early in the day and get the oven turned off as soon as possible.  This recipe was contributed to Baking With Julia by Marion Cunningham, which prompted me to look at my cookbook collection and see which of Marion’s books I had on my shelf.  I pulled The Breakfast Book , 1987,  off the shelf and opened it to page 78 and Oatmeal Popovers.  So popovers for breakfast are just fine according to Marion.   In reading through the oatmeal recipe, I discovered a very interesting twist in the recipe.  Here it is in her words, “I use some ground oatmeal in this recipe to give the popovers additional texture, and I like to put a rounded teaspoon of tart orange marmalade in the bottom of the custard cups or muffin tins–the combination of oatmeal and orange marmalade is very good.”  Oh my, does that sound good!  I think I see Oatmeal Popovers, with marmalade, in my breakfast future!

The recipe for the popovers that I made for this week’s assignment on Tuesdays With Dorie can be found  on page 213 of Baking with Julia or on the blogs of this weeks hosts of Tuesdays with Dorie —  Paula of Vintage Kitchen Notes  or Amy of Bake with Amy.

If you would like to read everyone’s experience’s baking these popovers click here to find  links to all of the Tuesdays with Dorie member blogs.

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BWJ Berry Galette

I loved this!  For the filling, I chose a combination of fresh blueberries and raspberries.  This tart is so simple and tastes absolutely wonderful.   The cornmeal in the crust gives a nice added crunch.  I made the crust in the food processor and just dumped all the water in at once instead of one tablespoon at a time.  My dough was really wet and I had to add quite a bit of extra flour to the surface as I rolled it out in order make it manageable.   When I make this crust again, I will start with 1/4 cup of water mixed with the buttermilk instead of 1/3 cup.  Then if necessary, I can add more ice water.

The recipe for the dough can be found on page 371 of Baking with Julia and the Galette on page 377.  The recipe’s are also posted on the blog’s of the host’s for this month — Lisa of Tomato Thymes in the Kitchen and Garden or Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness.   Thank you to the hosts!

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BWJ Blueberry Nectarine Pie

It’s been a bit crazy the past couple of weeks, some of it good and some bad.   It started off with a major water leak at work that resulted in carpet being removed and three feet of the walls being torn out so it could dry.   What a mess!  The good–this last weekend spent at  the North Rim of the Grand Canyon photographing sunrises and sunsets with an amazing group of women.  But I digress, this post is about blueberry nectarine pie.  This was the perfect summer dessert.  I found wonderful nectarines and fresh blueberries at the farmers market.  The crust was wonderful, very full of butter, tasty and flaky.  The dough is very soft and a bit hard to work with.  You need to keep it cold to be able to work it.  It keeps well in the freezer.  I made the full pie crust recipe, which is for two double crusted pies, on the fourth of July and used the first two pieces for an apricot pie.  Then I froze the other two portions of the dough for about two weeks until I made this pie.  I thawed the frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight before assembling the pie.  There was no loss of flavor or texture.  The combination of the blueberries and the nectarines was excellent.  I did not add any additional sugar so the pie was not overly sweet.  The crystal sugar on the top made it look so pretty.   I took this beautiful pie to work and drove up to the back door and left it on counter by the time clock, then went to park my car in the correct lot.  By the time I walked back in every department had been called to see who made the pie and when could they eat it!  It was devoured in short order.  I loved this pie and will make it again sometime.

The host bloggers for this post on Tuesdays with Dorie are — Hilary of Manchego’s Kitchen and Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake.  If you have the book, Baking with Julia, the recipe can be found on page 384, for the pie and page, 31 for the crust.

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