Barefoot Bloggers: Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

This installment of the Barefoot Bloggers comes courtesy of Sabrina and Alexander of Cooking with the Kids, who have chose Ina’s Jalepeรฑo Cheddar Cornbread, which is featured in the Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook. I was really excited to make this, as it came from a cookbook I already own, and cornbread sounded so good, even though it wasn’t fall and I wasn’t serving it with chili! This is only the second cornbread recipe I have made (the first was made last fall and came from Cook’s Illustrated), but I have to say, this was phenomenal. It produced a light and tender crumb, a slightly crisp crust, and the inclusion of the green onions gave it a nice zip, and really, you seriously can’t go wrong with adding cheddar to anything!

More talk about the cornbread, the recipe, and maybe another picture or two after the break.

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Bagels

Look out Panera, there’s a new bagel maker in town! I do love Panera bagels and usually always get one whether I’m there for lunch or dinner, and multiple stops at the breakfast mecca while on vacation left me really wanting to try my hand at making them from scratch. I put it off for a couple of months until I found myself with an extra block of cream cheese and it gave me the nudge I needed to make a batch of bagels to slather it on. My friend (and new baking buddy) Annie baked these with me, and although our KA mixers almost died a fiery death, we had a great time comparing notes and then partaking in what was a truly satisfying accomplishment!

Much more on the process, recipe, and pictures after the break.

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Classic White Bread

After having owned Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice for over four months now, I finally got around to cracking it open and breaking it in with a classic recipe for white sandwich bread. I was amazed at how incredible the dough was to work with – soft, easy to shape, and behaved just as it should. And the resulting loaves? Pure heaven. I do love my rustic Italian and French breads, but for the most part I’m a minimalist when it comes to bread – hand me a loaf of simple white bread and I’m absolutely content. No grains, no seeds, no nuts, just a perfectly baked loaf of bread. And that’s exactly what this is.

Another recipe I have made from this book: Cinnamon Rolls, completed for my very first Daring Bakers challenge.

More about the bread, process photos, and the recipe after the break.

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Homemade Pita Bread

Nick and I both love hummus and I try to keep a batch of it in the fridge so we can snack on it during the week with vegetables. I keep meaning to buy some pita bread to eat with the hummus, but the last two weeks I have forgotten. I thought about it again today and figured I could easily find a recipe online for homemade pita bread. I ended up merging recipes from The Fresh Loaf and my friend Ally at Culinary Infatuation. Not only were these incredibly easy to make, but tasted a thousand times better than any store bought pita I have had before. And watching them puff into saucers while in the oven will make you giddy too ๐Ÿ˜‰

More about making the pita bread and the recipe after the break…

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Ode to the Golden Brioche Loaf

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I can’t believe that I lived almost 28 years without eating a loaf of brioche. Okay, I didn’t actually eat an entire loaf, although I was tempted to. I have had brioche rolls before, but never the actual bread. I was seriously, seriously missing out. This brioche dough was a component of the Brioche Raisin Snails that was made for this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie, however only half of the dough recipe was needed. I used the other half to make a loaf of Golden Brioche. One and a half sticks of butter in one loaf of bread? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this bread tastes so amazing!

First, let me thank Dorie for providing such amazing direction in all of her recipes. It’s like she’s standing right next to you, telling you exactly what you should expect at every stage of the recipe. And she has been dead-on every single time. It’s quite reassuring to know that things are moving along as they should. Using my KA to pull this dough together was fairly easy, although incorporating all of the butter did take some time, as it took awhile for each piece to fully meld into the dough/batter. By the time I was done my KA was smoking hot (okay, she didn’t really smoke) and I could only touch the top with a towel! The first rise took just a bit longer than Dorie’s estimates (we keep our house pretty cool), and it stopped rising in the fridge somewhere between an hour and an hour and 30 minutes.

After resting in the fridge overnight, I took the dough out and wow was it dense and hard. I feared that it wasn’t going to budge during its next rise. It certainly took some time, but after 2.5 hours my four little rolls had grown into each other and puffed up to fill the loaf pan. I just love the seemingly magical qualities of yeast. Does it amaze anyone else? It is so neat to me that you mix all this stuff together and it just puff and grows. Baking with yeast is a very fulfilling activity for me ๐Ÿ™‚

A quick egg wash and into the oven for 30 minutes… and then, oh the golden buttery glory! I actually restrained myself and let this cool for the full hour (confession: I was actually waiting for my camera battery to charge) and then sliced into it. One bite and I was hooked. I managed to restrain myself for the rest of the day and then made myself an egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich on it for dinner. I quickly sliced, wrapped, and froze it to ensure that I didn’t actually consume 1.5 sticks of butter in one day.

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Do you see that crust? You can see the buttery, flaky goodness. The ends were like eating croissants… mmmmm… Go make one!! You won’t be sorry!

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TWD: Brioche Raisin Snails

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This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe, Brioche Raisin Snails, was chosen by Peabody over at Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. At first I was a little intimidated by this recipe since it combined three different elements: brioche dough, pastry cream, and then the assembly of the actual snails. Sneaky, that Peabody is… she squeezed in three recipes ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am actually thrilled that she chose this recipe, as brioche has been something on my “must attempt” list and I had never made pastry cream before, so this gave me a perfect reason to try two new things!

I’ll start out with the basis for this recipe – the brioche dough. I am in love. Seriously. So in love that I am going to dedicate an entire blog post just to my brioche (stay tuned). I have been wanting to try brioche for some time and am glad that I finally got the opportunity. I have to say that I give total kudos to the TWD-ers that made this recipe by hand. My KA sounded as though it was on its last leg and got so hot that I couldn’t even touch the top without burning my hand. “She got a good workout,” Nick said ๐Ÿ˜‰ I didn’t have any trouble with the rising, however both rises took longer in my kitchen than Dorie estimated (about an hour and 10 minutes for the first rise, and about 2.5 hours after it came out of the fridge). I made a loaf of brioche with the other half of the dough recipe that wasn’t being used for the snails and oh the buttery goodness! This is some seriously good bread. I can’t say enough about it…. but I will try, in another blog post ๐Ÿ˜‰

On to the pastry cream. As I said, I had never made pastry cream before, so this was another first for me. I watched a couple of videos online to make sure that I knew what it should look like at the different stages. While mine looked like the videos, it seemed thick to me. But, it tasted divine and it didn’t cause me any problems, so I assume I did everything just right ๐Ÿ™‚

And now the raisin snails themselves. I have a confession. I did not flambe the raisins with the rum. I have an enormous, unfounded, and quite ridiculous fear of fire. I can’t explain it. I was going to have Nick ignite the raisins and rum for me this weekend, but we never got around to it, so I merely soaked my raisins in water and let them plump up. Terribly boring, I know. I also took the advice of some others and cut my rolls using dental floss. Genius! I didn’t have to squish them!

The finished product… the Brioche Raisin Snails themselves… were absolutely delicious. They were flaky and tasted like a light, buttery pastry. This may seem like a complicated and time consuming recipe, but each element can be broken down and done easily and fairly quickly. Of course there is the waiting time for the dough to rise, but these rolls are definitely worth it. These would be a wonderful show stopping pastry to set out for breakfast or brunch guests. Trust me, everyone will think you are a domestic goddess!!

EDIT: I just ate another one after dinner tonight and I have to say – these are insanely better the second day! They were incredible when they were freshly made, but after sitting for a day tightly wrapped (as Dorie suggested) the flavors really came together and the dough was remarkably like a danish. YUM!

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Our group is still growing, so head on over to the Tuesdays With Dorie blog and scroll through the blogroll to see the snail creations that the rest of the group came up with!

Last week: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake
Next week: Caramel-Topped Flan


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Royal Crown’s Tortano

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I noticed a few weeks ago that a new food blogging group had formed – the Bread Baking Babes. They tackle a new type of bread each month and then blog about it and encourage readers to give it a shot within the following week to become a Bread Baking Buddy. The first month of BBB was hosted by Baking Soda over at Bake My Day! and the introductory bread was the Maggie Glazer’s Royal Crown’s Tortano, which is a rustic bread and a signature of the Royal Crown Bakery in Brooklyn, NY. With Nick’s birthday last week I didn’t have enough kitchen time to devote to this bread, but I knew I definitely wanted to try it sooner rather than later and finally got a chance over the last few days. I’m not sure if I’m a “Buddy” since it took me more than a week to make this, but I wanted to thank Mary over at The Sour Dough for being patient with me as I asked a ton of questions through email, and also for posting a bunch of pictures of the process. These helped me tremendously, and in hind sight I should have done the same, but if you attempt this bread definitely check out Mary’s post to get an idea of what the dough should look like at each stage.

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My first attempt to start the preferment didn’t go very far, as after I woke up I realized that nothing really happened and my yeast was probably bad (the jar had been around for quite some time). I went to the store and got some brand new yeast and started over. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I stuck with it, because aside from being an amazing loaf of bread, I also got to experiment with a different type of dough and new techniques.

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To say that this was a wet dough was putting it mildly! I have never seen dough actually look like a liquid mass before coming together. I crossed my fingers that I was moving along the right way and was so excited after each step to realize that was was supposed to happen was indeed happening. I am going to include my thoughts/comments/tips throughout each section of the recipe, since that’s easier than trying to summarize it all here. One thing I do think that I need to work on is my slashing. Perhaps my knives aren’t sharp enough and I need to get a razor? This happened with the French bread as well – the slits were barely noticeable and didn’t open up. Any tips from you bread geniuses out there??

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Overall thoughts on this bread… FABULOUS! It turned out exactly the way I imagined it should. The crust was crisp and crunchy, and the inside warm, chewy, and full of big air holes. I can’t tell you how proud I am of this bread and of learning many new things in the process!

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