Tagged baking

Flax Seed, Quinoa and Raisin Whole Wheat Bread


1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup raisins
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
3 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 tablespoons honey
Cooking spray, oil or softened butter

Toast flax seeds for a few minutes in a dry skillet over medium heat, until color changes slightly or they start to pop. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Toast quinoa in the same skillet for a few minutes until it starts to change color or they start popping, then add 1 cup water. Increase heat to bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Transfer to the same plate as the flax seeds. Add raisins and toss, spreading the quinoa on the plate so it cools quickly

In a mixer bowl (or in a bowl using a spatula and/or your hands) combine yeast, flour, sea salt, honey, and approximately 1 cup water. Knead 8 minutes or until well-combined. You want a wettish dough but not too wet that you can’t shape it. I always hold back some water and watch the dough as it’s being kneaded so I know if I need to add more or less. You’re shooting for a dough that mostly leaves the sides of the mixer bowl, but not too dry.

Knead in raisin and quinoa mixture until well combined. Shape into a ball. Spray or brush with a bit of oil or melted butter and let rise at room temperature in the bowl until doubled, covered.

When doubled, punch dough down GENTLY and re-shape into a ball. Return to bowl and let rise in the refrigerator for an hour.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Heat up a pizza stone, or quarry tiles, or an upside down baking sheet on bottom third of oven.

Take dough out of the refrigerator, dust a peel (or a cutting board, or a piece of parchment) with some flour and turn the dough out gently, shaping it into an oval.

When oven is ready, slash the dough 1/4 inch thick with a sharp paring knife or razor blade — you need to be quick and decisive when you make your slashes. (I used to use a French lame to slash dough, but found that my paring knife did a better job, partly because I felt more confident holding it/slashing with it. I did a Google search for you here to give you some ideas on how to do this — couldn’t find a good infographic though. Adding that to the endless list of to-dos.)

Slide dough onto heated stone/tiles/sheet quickly and bake 15 minutes.

Remove from stone/tiles/sheet and transfer to upper third of oven (right on the rack). Bake 15 minutes more or until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom (or use a thermometer, it should register ~190 degrees F).

Let cool completely on a rack before slicing (if you can wait that long).

Yummy with salted butter, what else?

Boca Negra, or Black Mouth


This, besides black forest cake, is my oldest child’s favorite cake. I’ve only made it twice because she’s actually allergic to eggs, so as you might understand, when I do make it, she savors every mouthful. And for good reason — it’s rich, and yet light, and decadent. (My daughter wasn’t allergic to eggs the first time I made this. And though she won’t die from eggs now, her skin suffers horribly for at least a couple of weeks. I made the cake recently because she was leaving for two months and requested this for her farewell party.)

A food processor is helpful, though good old-fashioned bowl, whisk, and elbow grease will serve you well. The results are definitely worth it. And you’re not slaving away either in a hot kitchen, because it’s quick to mix up.

The original recipe appears in Julia Child’s Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America’s Best Bakers, one of my favorite baking books. I bought it brand new when I was younger and couldn’t get enough Julia Child on my shelves. But lucky you, there’s over a hundred copies available today at Amazon, starting at $1.82. I highly recommend it.

Make the bourbon cream early, ideally the day before:

12 ounces white chocolate, chopped up (White chocolate I like: Callebaut, Valrhona, or Lindt)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup bourbon

Put the chopped chocolate in the bowl of a food processor. Heat up whipping cream in a saucepan over low heat just until bubbles start to form. With the motor running, pour hot cream through the chute into the chopped chocolate, processing until smooth, about 15 seconds. Add bourbon and process 5 seconds more.

Transfer to bowl, cover, and chill overnight. Bring back to room temperature, and stir well before serving.

Make the cake:

12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped up (I default to Lindt and Callebaut and Valrhona’s Guanaja especially when it’s for a birthday or anniversary)
1/2 cup bourbon
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 sticks / 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons flour (I’m quite sure this will work with gluten free flours, since it’s such a minute amount as to not affect texture that much)

Prepare a 9×2-inch round cake pan by greasing the bottom. Line with parchment cut to fit the bottom, then grease the parchment as well. Set the pan in a shallow roasting pan. You will also need hot water for baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the chopped dark chocolate in the bowl of a food processor. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, heat up bourbon and sugar until sugar is dissolved and mixture is syrupy, . With the motor running, pour bourbon mixture into the chocolate until smooth. With the motor still running, add butter, a bit at a time, then the eggs, one at a time. Add flour and process just until smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Pour hot water around the cake pan, to come up the side of the pan about 3/4 to 1-inch high. Bake 30 minutes.

Remove pan from water bath and wipe dry. Run a small, sharp knife along the sides of the pan to loosen. Put a plastic sheet on top of the cake pan. Turn over onto a flat plate. Remove parchment, then set a flattish serving plate or cake server on top and flip again. Serve warm or at room temperature with the bourbon cream and the optional raspberry sauce.

Optional raspberry sauce: Puree 8 oz. frozen raspberries in food processor or blender, adding a few tablespoons sugar, or to taste. Pour through a sieve, pressing on the seeds.

Holiday Baking: Stephanie Schrader’s Walnut Cups


Original recipe here.

My adaptation: Makes about 60 cookies

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

4 large egg
4 tablespoons melted and cooled
3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chopped walnuts

Make the crust: Cream the butter and cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer. Add salt and flour and beat until it forms a dough. Transfer to gallon-sized zippered plastic bag and press flat. Chill 30 minutes.

Make the filling: Whisk together eggs, brown sugar, melted butter, and vanilla. Keep covered; it thickens and dries up as it sits.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Press 1 1/4-inch balls of the dough into each hollow of a 24-mini-muffin tin. I use the rounded end of a lemon reamer handle for this. You can either leave the edges crumbly, or do like I do and press them smooth with my fingers. Pour filling into crust, leaving room for walnuts. Sprinkle walnuts into filling. Bake ~15 minutes or until crusts are golden and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the tin. Cool in the pan on a rack, 10 minutes. Poke out with the flexible tip of a knife — plastic knives work here — or a small spatula. Let cool completely on racks. Store in airtight containers for a few days at room temperature, a couple of weeks in the fridge, or up to two months in the freezer.

Black Forest Cake / Schwarzwalder Kirsch Torte

A repost from my old baking blog…


The finished product. Sorry for the grease spots on the lens. We were in a hurry to get to the party!

Black Forest Cake / Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte

Elements here, bottom to top:

Making Chocolate Curls

A repost from my old baking blog.


One of the most exhilarating things about being a baker is working with chocolate. I haven’t even begun to explore all the myriad ways of playing with it, shaping it, cutting it, melting it, coating with it, etc. and I look forward to doing just that on this blog.

Let’s start with something simple today — making chocolate curls. For years I tried to make chocolate curls using the Betty Crocker instructions I read about as a little girl: take a piece of chocolate and use a peeler to peel off curls. Except, that never worked for me. I ended up with 1/4-1/2-inch wide curls, and though that was cute I really was expecting something more. I tried the bigger bars, hoping the size would help, but I was still just moderately successful.

Then on one of my cake-baking periods (around 1998) I stumbled across a method in a cake-decorating book published in Australia (sorry, that was so long ago and I didn’t take notes, so I can’t tell you the name). The solution was so simple that I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. But of course, I wasn’t any less grateful. At any rate, making really wide chocolate curls is so easy and painless that I’ve been making my curls this way ever since.

Simply melt some chocolate — I like using dark bittersweet but you can try other chocolates too. There are also formulas for making “curling chocolate” but I won’t bother with that for now. You then pour the melted chocolate onto a clean, flat surface, like a cutting board, or marble. Let that cool, or chill in the fridge if you like (some purists will frown at that, but it works for me just fine). When it’s firmed up, it’s ready for some curling action. (If you put it in the fridge, take it out about 10 minutes before you’re ready to begin.)


Take the flat edge of a knife, or even a bench press, or a spatula — whatever works for you, and start scraping the surface of the chocolate towards you. Experiment with different angles, pressure, direction, etc. and you’ll come up with different kinds of curls, ruffles, waves, etc. You can also try making chocolate curls at different temperatures, e.g., right out of the refrigerator, 5 minutes later, 10 minutes later, etc. You’ll see that you get different results, and each has its own peculiarities that will in itself give you ideas for ways to garnish and make your baked goods extra-special. Enjoy!

Cherry Filling

A repost from my old baking blog.


1 14.5 oz. can tart cherries (not cherry pie filling)
water if necessary
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Drain cherries, reserving liquid. Set cherries aside. Measure liquid — you need 1/2 cup; add water if necessary. Add sugar and cornstarch to liquid and whisk until dissolved. Transfer to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, or until thickened. Remove from heat and fold in cherries. Refrigerate until needed, up to 24 hours.

This cherry filling can be used for cakes or pies. I prefer this method to buying ready-made pie filling because I’m trying to avoid food coloring and other artificial ingredients. If canned cherries are unavailable you can use dried cherries instead. Rehydrate them, then make this filling. The texture will be a different, but the flavor will be excellent nonetheless.

You can also use canned sweet bing cherries instead of the tart Montmorency or Morello, but certain preparations call for the sour cherry, e.g., traditional Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte or Black Forest Cake, coming soon.


A repost from my old baking blog.

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces sweet chocolate
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 to 3 tablespoons rum, brandy or other spirits
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, optional
Confectioners sugar to taste

Chop or break off chocolates into small chunks. In a microwave-safe bowl or large measuring cup, combine with the whipping cream. Microwave in 15-30 second increments, stirring well after each, until you have a smooth brown mixture. Stir in spirits and/or vanilla. If you need to use it right away, stir briskly in bowl set over ice, until it reaches the consistency you want. Otherwise, keep in refrigerator, covered, up to a week, until needed. Sprinkle or sieve in confectioners sugar and stir well.

Use this as a filling for cakes or for frosting.

To use for making truffles, simply add more chocolate, or use less cream. Chill and form into balls, then coat with cocoa powder, nuts, sprinkles, etc. or coat with a chocolate glaze and decorate with royal icing, etc.

Basic Chocolate Cake #1

A repost from my old baking blog.

I have several go-to recipes when I need a chocolate cake from scratch. This is my favorite — it’s so easy!

Cooking spray for pans
Cake flour or cocoa powder for dusting
4 ounces (120 g) unsweetened chocolate

1/2 pound (230 g) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (280 g) cake flour
2 cups (400 g) sugar (you can use a little less, about 1 1/2 cups, if you want a less sweet cake)
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (I usually use whole, but have tried 2% and 1% and the cake still came out good)
4 eggs

Equipment: Parchment rounds, 8- or 9-inch round cake pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray pans with cooking spray and flour (or use cocoa powder, which I like for chocolate cakes) cake pans. Melt chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, in 15-30 second intervals, until smooth. (Alternatively, do this in a double boiler or in a heavy-bottomed pan over low heat — watch carefully to make sure chocolate doesn’t burn.) In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Add chocolate mixture, milk and eggs and beat until smooth. Pour, distributing evenly, into prepared pans, and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean and cake starts to pull from the sides of the pan. Cool in pans on racks for 5 minutes before turning out onto racks. The cakes are ready to be frosted at this point, or cool completely and wrap in plastic wrap then foil if freezing for future use. The cakes can also be wrapped and refrigerated for a few days before using.

But You Have to Supply the Music

A repost from my old baking blog.

For all your wonderful cake creations:

Wilton Tilting Cake Turntable

…. on my wish list this coming baking year.

Right now I have this one

Wilton Revolving Cake Stand

which doubles as a turntable, but if I want to tilt the cake for some fancier work I can’t. (One way I’ve gotten around that is to lift the cake using the board and tilt it with my left hand while working with my right. Obviously not the best solution, and I can only do it with cakes that aren’t tall enough to slide off.) It *has* served me well for many years.

Other options are these two from Sugarcraft: one from PME and the other from JEM.

If you’re not in the US, here are some other sources for cake turntables:

In the UK: A Piece of Cake
In Australia: Cake Deco

Easy Sourdough Bread

My method:

Get 2/3-3/4 cup starter from the fridge — let stand in a covered bowl until it’s room temp (anywhere from 1 hr to whenever I remember that I have a bowl waiting for me)
Add 4 handfuls flour (I figure this is probably about 2 cups) + water to wet everything, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Leave covered with plastic again until I remember it — anywhere from 3-4 hours to overnight
Add 4 more handfuls flour, ~2 teaspoons salt, more water to wet everything, stir again with a wooden spoon
Leave covered with plastic again until doubled.
Cut in half. No fancy shaping, just wet my hands with water and gather up the outside to seal seams — freeform is easiest for me — it may become a batard or a baguette or boule… Put on parchment, spray, plastic.
Let rise until almost double. Heat oven to 500 degrees. Go 10-15 minutes past when the oven beeps to make sure the temps are stabilized.
Slide dough, parchment and all, onto heated quarry tiles. Spray all over the oven with water, careful not to spray the light bulb. I do this a couple of times more every 5 minutes or so depending on mood, or not at all.
Leave it in the oven until I smell baked bread — 35 minutes or so?
Here’s where I get scientific — stick a thermometer on bottom of bread, if it’s 190 or so, it’s done.
The hardest part is convincing the kids that we have to WAIT for bread to cool completely, on a rack, before we slice and eat. Sigh.

When the starter looks like it’s down to 1 cup or so, add about 2 cups more flour, water to wet it, leave on the counter until visibly ALIVE and double, then I put it back in the fridge. If it looks like it will pop out of the glass and shatter, I stir it down again the next day. By then it has calmed down a bit and will stay pretty much where it is volume-wise until I use it again.

oh, and i use whole wheat flour except for the feeding of the starter, which I often do half-half. I’ve used regular whole wheat flour, fresh-ground whole wheat, white whole wheat, etc. One of these days I’ll try sprouted grain.