Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Cakes!

Hi!

I just wanted to share the cakes I've made this (so far) year and last year. I love cake decorating and love to learn new techniques! Let me know what you think! Thanks!








-Joanna


Homemade Garlic Knots!

Hi again!

I know it's been a long while since I updated last. As always, life happens and the simple pleasures of life get set aside. Not that my passion for baking has been set aside! I've been baking almost every day! From cookies, to cupcakes, to breads, to strudels. There is always freshly baked sweet or savory something in my house.

Today was no exception! I've been craving these little bad boys for a while now. I love it when I go into an Italian restaurant (fancy and non), and get garlic knots. They're always so garli-ky, oily, and there's always that something when you bite into one that makes you just say "yummmmmmm"! I've made these once before years ago, but these came out way better!




The recipe that I used was from another blog called White On Rice Couple. It's a great blog to check out and their recipes are great! Here is the link for the garlic knots recipe

These are oh so yummy!! Enjoy alone or with some pasta or marinara sauce! Thanks for checking my blog out! Come back soon for more!

By the way, if you live in the DMV area and want to check out my personal catering website, go check out Pastries by Joanna!

Adios!

-Joanna





Monday, January 6, 2014

Mastering the French Macaron!

I have accomplished one of my life goals, which was to make French Macarons!

Mastering the art of the French Macaron is a challenge. The process itself isn't hard, but it does take practice to make the technique perfect. There was so many ways in which you can screw up your recipe and technique if you're not careful. Otherwise, your macarons won't be smooth, round, and fluffy. There are a lot of websites and I suggest doing your homework and watching videos before trying to tackle these.

I used the Martha Stewart version of this recipe. I also printed out a template which can be found at the Food Nouveau site.

Here is my result after just a second try at making these babies!




Thanks for visiting!

-Joanna


Monday, December 16, 2013

Sourdough Day 2.

Technically, it's still Day 1, but since I started it at night, that was my first day.
The second day, I gave it it's first feeding.


It grew! Woo hoo!




Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sourdough!

I'm back from the unknown! Sorry that it's been almost a year since my last post. A lot has happened this year, and I haven't stopped baking. It is still a passion of mine but having a toddler running around doesn't leave you with much time or energy to focus on other things.

So I took the plunge and finally decided to do a sourdough starter. It has been something I've been meaning to do for a few years, knowing how delicious and flavorful sourdough breads can be. But my lack of knowledge of breads and, frankly, I was just plain scared out of my wits, about sourdough kept me from doing it.

But tonight, I said, what the hell. If it succeeds, it succeeds! If it fails, at least I tried and will try again (hopefully)!

Here is what my starter looked like when I finished making it. It all took about 5 minutes to prepare. That's it. All this time of being scared, and it took 5 minutes to start.



I used the King Arthur Sourdough Starter. This recipe gives you a VERY large amount of starter. I suggest scaling it down.

The basic directions to keep this thing alive is as follows:

Day 1: Make starter! Wait 12 hours. Mix (because it does separate), then take out half and toss in trash. 
(Yes. Toss it. At this stage, the starter hasn't matured enough for us to be able to use it. It won't reach this stage for a week. Too many foreign and nasty critters are roaming in our starter and the good guys need to have time to win.) So, when you've dumped out half, check how much you have left. I started with 4 cups of starter, will dump out 2 cups, so I have to give it equal parts of 1 cup flour, and 1 cup warm water to compensate for what was tossed. Don't use tap just yet. Wait another 12 hours. 

Be sure to feed your starter twice a day every day! Don't give up on your yeast! It is a living thing that needs your help to get going every day. Much like coffee gets us going every day. If we don't get it, we don't move as well as with the caffeine in our system.

Day 2. Mix again.  Dump out half again. Give it the appropriate amounts of flour and water. No tap. Wait another 12 hours. Dump out half again. Give it the appropriate amounts of flour and water. Wait 12 hours.

Day 3: This should bring you to day 3 if you've been good with time. Mix again.  Dump out half again. Give it the appropriate amounts of flour and water. No tap. Wait another 12 hours. Dump out half again. Give it the appropriate amounts of flour and water. Wait 12 hours.

Day 4: Mix again.  Dump out half again. Give it the appropriate amounts of flour and water. No tap. Wait another 12 hours. Dump out half again. Give it the appropriate amounts of flour and water. Wait 12 hours.

Day 5: Mix again.  Dump out half again. Give it the appropriate amounts of flour and water. No tap. Wait another 12 hours. Dump out half again. Give it the appropriate amounts of flour and water. Wait 12 hours.

Day 6: Mix again.  Dump out half again. Give it the appropriate amounts of flour and water. No tap. Wait another 12 hours. Dump out half again. Give it the appropriate amounts of flour and water. Wait 12 hours.

Day 7: Mix again.  Dump out half again. Give it the appropriate amounts of flour and water. No tap. Wait another 12 hours. Dump out half again. Give it the appropriate amounts of flour and water. Wait 12 hours.

Hopefully, at the end of Day 7, your starter is well and thriving, and ready for use! I shall let you know day by day (hopefully) how mine is growing. See you on Day 2!

By the way, if these directions do not work, I apologize and will make any necessary changes as I venture into my own starter experience. These directions are the basic kind. You can do more research on how to maintain sourdough starter through google and such. Happy Yeast Growing!

-Joanna

Quick update!

I know it's only been about 30 minutes since I posted this, but a lot has happened within that half hour! 
THIS is what happened.


So I gave it a new home. 



Now, since it got a new home, I decided that weighing the sucker would probably be a good idea so I would know how many grams of flour and water to add in 12 hours. I decided to only stick with 142 grams of the original starter.

See you tomorrow!




Monday, January 14, 2013

Classic Brioche!

Who doesn't love brioche?

It is so flaky, so buttery, so delicately delicious!

Anyone who has ever made brioche knows how time consuming this particular delight is, but the payoff is very much worth the patience! This is a recipe that you make on a lazy, foggy, Sunday when there is nothing else to do and you don't feel like doing much else.


This recipe is one I've made twice before. The first time, it came out wonderfully! The second, not so much rise and not much fluffiness. This time, it was right in the middle. I'm happy with the flakiness of the bread, but the outside and sides were a bit burnt. I believe that the culprit was my yeast. The dough didn't rise enough and I think I killed some of the yeast, so be sure your water is at the right temperature before mixing everything! (between 105 to 115 degrees F)

Anyway, this is a recipe from King Arthur. I found that this recipe is the best one I've tried. 

Oh, and you might have noticed that my brioche doesn't have the "typical brioche" look. I don't have the special pans that these amazing breads are supposed to be baked in. They're uni-taskers, and my philosophy is the same as Alton Brown's: the only uni-tasker in my kitchen is a fire extinguisher.

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 3/4 cups AP flour, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup water (between 105 to 115 degrees F for yeast)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 3/4 tsp sal
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
egg wash:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water

Directions:

Place 1 1/2 cups AP flour, yeast, water, and eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer with the flat beater attachment, or the bucket of the bread machine. Knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover the mixture and let sit for 45 minutes. The mixture will look watery, so don't panic!

After 45 minutes, the sponge will have developed some bubbles. If not, check your yeast! Switch the beater to a dough hook. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Beat for 8 to 10 minutes. The dough should clean the sides of the bowl and become shiny and elastic. 

With the mixer, or bread machine, running on medium, add the softened butter 2 Tbs at a time, letting the butter incorporate before adding more. Keep adding butter until you incorporate the 2 sticks. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. 

The dough should have grown about a third after the hour. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, or knead the dough in the bowl like I did, and fold it over several times. Cover the bowl and place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours to about 16 hours, to firm up (I didn't have the time to wait longer than 4 hours).

Divide the dough into 12 pieces. If you want the classic brioche look, take off a marble sized amount off of each piece and set aside. Roll each piece into a ball and place them in a greased tin or whatever pan you're using. Let these beauties rise for another 1 hour. Your patience will be rewarded!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare your egg wash. Beat egg with water until combined.

If you've set aside the little marble pieces, after the dough has risen and is puffy-looking, grease your finger and poke a little dent on top of each brioche. Place your marble on top of each one. Brush each brioche with the egg wash. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Watch your brioche well! If the tops seem to become too dark, take them out and check for doneness! 

After they're done baking, remove the brioche goodness from the over and let cool on a rack before serving. Best served warm!






Thanks for checking out this recipe! Please follow me on Pinterest! Let me know how your version of this recipe turned out. I would love pics! Just use the envelope link below to contact me. Thanks and Happy Baking!

-Joanna

Friday, December 28, 2012

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

Hi! 

I know it's been a very LONG while since I've updated. A lot has happened since February 2011. 

Over the past 1 & 3/4 years, I found out I was pregnant, had a wonderful and fulfilling pregnancy, gave birth to a baby girl,  graduated from college, and now this baby girl has turned into a toddler and a very busy toddler at that! 

Being a mother has left me with no spare time whatsoever. Any mother can relate! I am still reading the 5th book in the Game of Thrones series for about a year already and working 3 jobs as well to gain nutritional/dietetic experiences for my upcoming Dietetic Internship application. So yes, I've been extremely busy! Anyway! I found the time today to make something I've been wanting to make for a very long time. 




Biscotti! I love biscotti! It's a simple indulgence with my morning coffee and I knew it was easy to make, just never had the time to make it. It seems like a complicated pastry to make but it's really not!

I found this recipe from Epicurious.com called Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti. Since pastries often disappear in my house, I always make double batches. This recipe below is for a single batch.

Yield: ~20 biscotti

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 Tbs) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place 2 oven racks, evenly spaced from the top and bottom of the oven. Butter and flour a large baking sheet or place parchment paper over baking sheet.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. 
In another bowl with an electric mixer or a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time until each is incorporated, and beat until combined. Stir in four mixture to form a stiff dough. Use your hands, which is easier, to mix the dough to form a ball. Add walnuts and chocolate chips, and knead the dough until fully incorporated.
Separate the dough into 2 equal halves.

On the prepared baking sheet with floured hands, form each half of dough into a slightly flattened "log", each about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. This doesn't have to be perfect. 
Bake these "logs" for 35 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Half-way through baking, rotate the pans from top to bottom and 180 degrees. Depending on your oven, this ensures an even baking. 
When 35 minutes are up, cool the biscotti on baking sheets for 5 minutes. If you used parchment paper, cut the biscotti diagonally into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange biscotti, cut side down, on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool the biscotti on a rack.

These will keep for about a week in an airtight container, or freeze in an airtight container and these will keep for about a month.

Enjoy!





If you have a biscotti recipe, or any recipe for that matter, please e-mail me or send a message! I would love to try it!

-Joanna

By the way, follow me on Pinterest! My user name is BlackInkPhoto.