Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Donut Mania!

The thing about donuts is that they are only really good right out of the frying pan--any time after that they are just ok--not bad--but just not as good.  I mean, a few hours and maybe beyond they are still good but day old donuts don't have the pizazz that fresh ones embody.  I've learned that the hard way because...well...I went a little donut crazy this past weekend.  I made something like 30+ donuts of three different ilks (fyi--I'm not illustrating my pretension by using that word.  I do a lot of crosswords (NYT Monday ones only--I can't get very far on any other days...) and that word has been popping up a lot lately so when I was writing that sentence it came very naturally.  I swear!).

Anyway,  back to the donuts.  I think that donuts are some of the coolest things to make.  Also, I had this grand idea of making three different donut recipes and then bringing them into work on Monday and being lauded for my mad baking skills. And when I made each of the donuts and iced them and tested (gorged) them I was like--oh yeah, oh wow now that's a beautiful thing.  I felt like master of the donut universe!  But the next day I went back to test one more and I was like....WHAT. THE. FRACK.  I mean--like I mentioned before--they are ok the next day but the shock and awe from the previously tested (scarfed) ones was all but a dream and a memory.  It was sad.

Even sadder because I had to bring them into work and I felt that at that point they were stale.  Alas, I brought them in and luckily people did eat them.  All of them.  So I guess they liked them enough--although I do have images of them bringing a donut back to their desks, biting into one and tossing it into the trash because there faces were overcome with distaste for the dry bricks I just served them.  But that probably didn't happen.  I'm sure it didn't.  No way.  Uh uh.  Oh well.  I just wish they could have experienced my donuts fresh out of the frying oil.  Nevertheless, now I know.  And next time they will.  I mean everyone should get a chance to experience those because fresh donuts are tantalizing and can melt in your mouth and stuff.


How I went about it:

Chocolate Brioche Donuts: 

I used this recipe from Hummingbird High (Seeing these is actually what spawned my donut making idea for this past weekend--that and I had a lot of leftover apple cider and pumpkin puree) 

For the chocolate icing I used this recipe.  It's really really good...

Apple Cider Donuts:

I used Smitten Kitchen's apple cider donuts recipe.

And for the salted caramel icing I used this.  I realize that there is also an apple cider donut recipe on this food blog as well which I used once before and they tasted good but I wanted to try using Smitten Kitchen's this time.  One note about making cake donuts:  use a lot of flour and make sure your donuts are thoroughly chilled before handling them or else it's gonna get real messy...and sticky.

Pumpkin Baked Cake Donuts:

I used King Aurthur Flour's recipe.

....And finally for the brown butter icing I went to Joy the Baker's recipe.  Splendid.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Savory Breakfast Bread Pudding

So yes.  This isn't a baked sweet.  But it is baked.  And it does have some sweet elements to it.  But yes--it is technically a savory dish.

I'm trying a new filter on my photos.  How does this one look?

Contrary to basically every single one of my posts I do more often than not cook/bake things that are savory because if I ate the kind of things I've posted about every day I'd probably weigh a thousand pounds and already need dentures at my ripe young age.

What about this one?
At the same time I felt like taking a quick break from the baked goods and post about something else.  It also gave me another chance to make something completely up with my farmers market booty.  By the way, the farmers market is starting to depress me a tad.  

And this one?

The outdoor market has moved indoors (due to the blustery winter to come), the amount of vendors is starting to dissipate and although there is still a bit of a stockpile of greens around I can already see the root vegetables becoming more and more prevalent--and eventually that is all there will be for months on end...  I like root vegetables but like the winter weather, they wear on me.  Blah.  


I get the winter blues a lot and technically it's still fall.  But we had an early start of winter here with a blast of arctic air swooshing through that caused me to break out my winter coat that makes me look like I'm wearing a potato sack.  Whatever.  I'll get through it.  Maybe I'll move to Hawaii.  That sounds like a sweet plan.  

And this one too?

Nevertheless!  On to brighter topics like savory bread pudding!  Like I mentioned, I made this recipe up all by myself.  It wasn't that hard since I knew that me and my partner were the only ones going to be eating (testing) it and I feel like cooking some savory items can be more forgiving than baked goods (cue the salt...)

What about this one?

I decided on a breakfast item because that day I could make it when the light was best in my apartment so I could get some good pictures.  Also, I really like savory bread puddings because like a quiche or a frittata you can put just about anything you want in them.  So, I gathered up some carrots, sweet potatoes, leeks and ground italian sausage at the farmers market for it.  


I think it turned out pretty well.  The only issue I would re-examine is the way I integrated the carrots.  I decided to peel ribbons (as you can see via the pics) and just set them atop and bake it.  It tasted fine but they looked weird when they came out of the oven.  Some may think it looked cool because they all wilted and looked like spider webs or something but I wasn't too keen on the appearance.  So I'd either shred or chop them up next time OR bake the bread pudding without them and once it's done strew the carrot ribbons over it after it comes out of the oven so it looks more like it did below (before I baked it because I think it looked prettier).  But again, it's a nit picky thing and it didn't affect the taste of anything so who cares?

Yes? No?

What I did:

3 medium leeks sliced 1/4" thick (1 heaping cup or 135g)
1 heaping cup of chopped sweet potatoes (240g)
1 heaping cup of carrot ribbons (115g)
1-2 tbsp butter
6 large eggs
1lb ground Italian sausage
2c milk (I used skim)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
10 twists of a pepper grinder (maybe 1/4 tsp?)
8c of whole wheat bread chopped into 1" cubes

1.)  Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat
2.)  Add the leeks and sweet potatoes and cook until softened (maybe 15 minutes)
3.)  Add the ground sausage.  Break it up with a spatula/wooden spoon and cook just until it isn't pink anymore
4.)  Remove from heat and set aside
5.)  Whisk the eggs, milk, salt, cinnamon and pepper in a big bowl
6.)  Butter a 9x16 casserole dish and then spread the bread cubes evenly over the bottom of it
7.)  Spread the leek, sweet potato and sausage mixture over the top of the bread
8.)  Pour the milk egg mixture over that evenly and let is soak in for at least 15 minutes (Like most savory bread puddings you could probably make this the night before and just keep it refrigerated)
9.)  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375
10.)  Spread the carrot ribbons atop and bake for 45-50 minutes
11.)  Remove from heat and serve 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Farewell Pumpkin Cake

God.  I love cake.  It's the best.

At work my project manager quit so we threw her a going away soiree.  Her signature color is orange so everything was orange and since I volunteered to make the cake...clearly I had the color palette already decided for me.

I went all out for this one--well at least I went as far as my cake decorating skills allowed.  I did the petal ombre technique I learned here.  And then I made some white modeling chocolate that I dyed orange (of course) and created the strip that straddles the cake.  I also used it to make the rose which I learned how to do via this superb tutorial.  

It was a fun cake to make.  And it was delightful to eat.

Here's a quick breakdown for you:

Cake flavor - pumpkin (adapted the recipe from here)
Filling - salted caramel apple butter swiss meringue buttercream w/diced apples
Frosting - brown butter swiss meringue buttercream (brown butter is an intoxicating flavor...)
Rose and orange strip - white modeling chocolate