Daring Bakers: Danish Braid

I did a little dance of joy when I saw what the June challenge would be for Daring Bakers. I have been wanting to make a homemade danish (or really any pastry) for quite some time now, but had never taken the plunge before now. So thank you to this month’s hosts, Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’, for choosing such an awesome challenge! I am not sure what I waited so long for, because this was definitely not as difficult as I envisioned it might be. The process for making the dough was much the same as bread, with the added step of rolling a block of butter into it (the key to the flaky dough that is characteristic of pastries). The results were fabulous! I made this early in the month for a visit by my mom and sister and made three varieties: the apple in the recipe, peach (my mom’s favorite), and cream cheese (MY favorite).

More about the braids, the recipe, and more pictures after the break…

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Barefoot Bloggers: Parmesan Chicken

Another Thursday installment of the Barefoot Bloggers, and this Thursday features Ina Garten’s Parmesan Chicken, a wonderful selection from Megan of My Baking Adventures. Chicken pounded thin, coated in a traditional breading of flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs/Parmesan, and then sauteed in a combination of olive oil and butter – this is a classic dish that Ina has managed to perfect. Served over a bed of greens, this is a wonderfully satisfying meal.

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Basic Pizza Dough

Dressed up as a Mushroom, Sage, Fontina, and Parmesan Pizza.

The search for a great pizza dough recipe is very similar to the one I just discussed regarding the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe. There always seem to be new recipes making the Internet circuit before fading out when another one comes along. Last year I tried a recipe that was all the rage; it was from Allrecipes.com, and I had blogged about it, but that post has mysteriously gone missing. No matter, I wasn’t much of a fan – I found it to be much too doughy. I then moved on to Cooking Light’s Thin and Crispy Pizza Crust, which, while not doughy, seemed to err too much in the other direction. Likely because it is a “light” recipe, the crust was paper thin. Tonight, I think I hit the jackpot. Yet another winner from my Baking Illustrated cookbook from Cook’s Illustrated magazine. This crust is the perfect combination of a wonderfully crisp outer crust and chewy interior.

What’s behind the perfect pizza crust and recipes after the break…

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Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think that just about everyone I know is constantly on a search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. Most (myself included) have been let down by the recipe on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip bag, and there are many recipes floating around the Internet that seem to gain popularity and become fads before dying off when people move on to the latest and greatest. I was really please with the cookie I created last fall, as it resulted in the chewy texture I was looking for. But these Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, they really take the cake. Big, beautiful, bakery-quality chocolate chip cookies. It’s official – my love affair with America’s Test Kitchens and the Baking Illustrated cookbook continues!

More on the cookies, another PSA for weighing dry ingredients, and the recipe after the break…

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Wilton Course III, Class 4

My final cake, a 2-tier wedding-style cake. This cake consists of 10-inch and 6-inch cakes, covered in fondant with fondant roses and leaves, and buttercream borders. I actually completed this cake on my own at home because I came down with a little bug and couldn’t make it to my final class. I am pretty proud of completing this with only the instruction of the book and not a teacher!

These roses were definitely time-intensive, as it probably took about 5-6 hours total to construct the 38 roses that went on this cake. Other than that, it was a pretty typical decorating job. I am having a great time doing cake decorating and will move on to the Wilton Fondant & Gum Paste class in July.

More pictures after the break (I went a little crazy with the camera)…

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Eclairs and Cream Puffs

You may notice that my post does not have a “TWD” header on it as you have come to find on most Tuesdays here at Sugar & Spice. Sadly, I have taken a break from Tuesdays With Dorie, as I have found recently that the commitment was getting to be a lot given some other things I have going on, and I wanted to free up some of my time and grocery budget (not to mention my waist line!) to ensure I had the opportunity to begin tackling things that have been on my “to make” list for quite some time. I still may bake along unofficially some weeks as well as use the recipes as inspiration to tackle those things that I’ve been dying to make.

That is exactly what I did this week – I have wanted to make éclairs and cream puffs for ages, but never made the time. After seeing that this week’s TWD pick was the Peppermint Cream Puff, I decided to roll up my sleeves and finally conquer a pastry!

Continue reading to find out how the pâte à choux went, the secret ingredient to the richest pastry cream ever, pictures of the cream puffs, and recipes of course!

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Product Rave: Microplane Ultimate Citrus Tool

This special-series Microplane is absolutely fabulous for zesting lemons and oranges. Look at how perfectly it zested this orange, not touching an iota of the bitter white pith:

More about this tool and where to get it after the break…

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