Friday, July 15, 2011

Farm Stand Doughnuts - Club Baked

I've been a fan of Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito for a few years.  While I've never had the pleasure of meeting them or visiting their bakery, Baked NYC in Red Hook, Brooklyn, I quickly became enamored of the them and their luscious recipes when I purchased their first book Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, in 2008.  Their second book, Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, was published in 2010.  Imagine my glee when I found Club: Baked, a group of baker bloggers that were baking their way through Baked Explorations.  I quickly decided to join the group, and the first recipe I made during this bake-off is Farm Stand Buttermilk Doughnuts Three Ways.

I am in love with doughnuts (isn't everybody?!) and I have made them at home at least a half a dozen times.  I've made yeasted raised doughnuts and cake doughnuts; the Farm Stand Buttermilk Doughnut is a cake doughnut made yummy by way of ingredients like buttermilk, sour cream, cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg (you cannot beat the flavor of fresh nutmeg!)  While I have one of those cute little Babycakes min-doughnut makers, I decided to stay true to form and fry these doughnuts in my small Rival home fryer.

The dough was very easy to put together, simply a matter of mixing the dry ingredients, separately mixing the wet ingredients, and gently combining the two.  I patted the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness on my floured Silpat mat and cut out doughnuts using a doughnut cutter that is 2 1/2 inches across.  With this cutter, I was ultimately able to produce 18 small doughnuts and about the same number of doughnut holes.  (The recipe says it will make 10 large doughnuts, using a larger cutter, plus doughnut holes.) Here are some of my cut doughnuts before frying.
The recipe indicates to fry the doughnuts between 365-370 degrees F.  My Rival fryer does not have a very precise temperature gauge, and instead of testing the oil temperature with a thermometer, I did a test doughnut.  I fried it on one side for about 2-3 minutes, then flipped it and let the other side cook for about the same amount of time.  That doughnut came out pretty dark and had a thick outer crust when I tasted it after it had cooled a little.  It did not seem burned, but just a little too crusty.  I turned down the fryer temperature setting to be in the 350-360 range, and from that point on, I fried the doughnuts for about 2 minutes on each side, and that worked well to ensure that the doughnuts were cooked all the way through but weren't too dark on the outside.  One of the biggest challenges with frying doughnuts, beignets, etc. is you don't know if the inside is done until you break it open.  I would suggest always doing a test doughnut and using that as your guide, rather than trying to precisely follow the instructions.

I debated changing up the topping/glaze recipes a little, but ultimately decided to make them according to the recipes in the book, which include chocolate dip/glaze, vanilla glaze, and cinnamon sugar.  I used bittersweet Ghirardelli baking bar for the chocolate dip, and my son Ryan said the doughnut had a little bit of a coffee taste to it from the slight bitterness of the chocolate.

My vanilla glaze came out very transparent rather than looking like white frosting glaze, as the doughnut in the cookbook's photo did.  I used vanilla extract vs. vanilla paste, so as soon as I added that amber colored extract to the vanilla glaze made with powdered sugar and milk, it turned an opaque tan color.  On the doughnuts, it looks a lot like the clear sugar glaze used on glazed raised doughnuts.

One of my favorite toppings for cake doughnuts is cinnamon sugar.  I just ate one of those doughnuts this morning (made last night) and even though doughnuts may be best served immediately after cooking, this doughnut was darned good.  The number of glazed doughnut holes has dimished since last appears these are also a favorite.
All in all, baking these doughnuts was a fun experience, and even though I've owned Baked Explorations since it was published, I had not made this recipe before this, instead favoring another cake doughnut recipe I had.  Now that I know what a winner this recipe is, I think I will make it often.  Probably the next time I make them, I will bake them in my little Babycakes doughnut maker to cook them without oil and save on the calories.

Thank you to Gloria, the Ginger Snap Girl, for hosting this go-around of Club: Baked.  I really look forward to baking more wonderful treats with the rest of the Club: Baked group, and getting to know all of you!  Happy Baking!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Happy Day for Cakes

Just when I was stressing about my cake decorating classes for July and whether or not I'd have enough students for the classes to run, the phone rang.  A potential student for my daytime class.  We discussed the supplies, cost, etc., and she said her mom would likely take the class with her.  The phone rang again within the next hour.  Another potential student for the same class.  Looking good that the daytime class will run, and there is still another week plus until it begins.  Within the next 45 minutes, I got another call from a mom that is interested in taking my evening class with her daughter.  If all these people sign up, I should be golden.  But just in case, I plan to have a demo table at the store (I teach at Hobby Lobby) sometime (maybe twice) next week to generate some interest.

My ten year old daughter Katie wanted to bake something today.  I tried to talk her into chocolate chip cookies (I am addicted to Jacques Torres' version, see recipe below), but she wanted chocolate cupcakes.  We tried the recipe in my copy of Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack.  Now the cupcakes are cooling and waiting for Katie to come home from a friend's house.  She wants to practice piping on them.  And she wants to sign up for one of my classes!  That sweet girl of mine.....

I can't verify that the cookie recipe really comes from Jacques, but it's been credited to him on many websites.  Even if it's not his, the recipe rocks.  I have never bothered with the chilling part, I bake them up right away.  I typically bake them at 325 degrees for 18-20 minutes, using a medium ice cream scoop to scoop the dough.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or chips, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt.


Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Source: Jacques Torres

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bake Me Happy

This blog has been sitting inactive for too long now. I'm going to switch over the general theme of this blog to one of my passions.......baking. I will write about favorite recipes and my latest baking experiences, plus also review my favorite baking cookbooks.

I've loved to bake since I was a teenager (and that was more than 20 years ago, in case you're keeping track.) Baking is often very therapeutic for me, and it helps alleviate stress and anxiety. Sometimes I get manic about it, like "I have to bake something NOW!", even if it's something simple like chocolate chip cookies from store-bought refrigerated dough. Sometimes I bake things that are very simple and use ready-made products to create a luscious dessert or treat, but more often than not, I am a from-scratch baker.

I have been a Wilton cake decorating instructor for over 6 years, and I enjoy it immensely. However, when I make cakes for my family I typically keep it simple. I love looking at complicated cake designs and cake pops that look like cute little sheep, but I don't think I'd ever have the patience to make them myself. I occasionally make cakes for others, but I don't have a home cake business. The reason I love being an instructor is that it doesn't seem like work......I would hate to have all of my weekends tied up making cakes for other people. That would take the fun out of it.

Even though I am a cake decorating instructor, my favorite thing to bake is cookies and bar cookies. I have several cookbooks that focus on this type of treat, so expect a lot of discussion about cookies and bars!

I hope you'll visit me often and share your baking stories!
~ Maria