At least 2-3 times a week, I am baking something or another. It tends to be a combination of food for dinner and some kind of “fun” stuff to feed my boyfriend, his kids, or the office. I don’t keep track of my experiments as well as I should, so I figure I might as well write stuff up in here.
I had intended to take pictures of what I baked for this entry, but totally forgot – look for those next time!
This week’s adventures have been:
I have an ongoing quest for the perfect pizza. There is my personal favorite pizza to eat (thick crust and crunchy), the pizza I aspire to bake (thin crust neopolitan), and then the pizza those around me most like (thick crust and bready). Trying to find a good balance between the three hasn’t been easy.
This week’s pizza experiment was definitely one of the best results yet. I’ve recently been experimenting with 00 italian flour, which I have to say, I should have done a long time ago. I used a 60% hydration dough, all 00 Flour, and it blew up on the second rise (I was making thick crust pizza), falling off the sides of the pizza pan. Instead of cutting the dough, I folded it over the toppings back on itself, which resulted in a stuffed crust kind of pizza. It was amazing! Chewy, crunchy, yummy crust, and the cheese and toppings hidden in there were awesome. I will absolutely be making it again this week, and take pictures.
I’d done one of my “ask person what their favorite junk food is” things the weekend before, and was told snickerdoodles. This is my go-to Snickerdoodles recipe, with some tweaking. I used all butter, since I don’t particularly like baking with shortening unless there’s a very good reason to do so. I also added extra vanilla to the cookies. I didn’t add cinnamon, which I should have (and usually do), simply because I forgot. So if you make this recipe, I highly recommend adding another teaspoon or so of cinnamon to the dough, otherwise all of the cinnamon-y sugar taste has to come from the coating.
Honey Wheat Bread.
Every couple of months I place an order from King Arthur Flour, and happily spend the next couple of months playing with new ingredients. This time around among the playthings I bought was a honey bread base. I experimented with bread bases way back when I first started baking, but at the time decided I needed to master “normal” ingredients before branching out into add-ins and funky flours. The honey base adds a touch of honey (obviously), spelt flour, gluten, and some seeds to any bread. I added it into a whole wheat recipe I use (2/3rds whole wheat flour, 1/3 bread, 50% hydration) along with some salt and honey (for happy yeast and flavor). It was…ok. I’m still not sold on the usefulness of bread bases and think I could probably make my own just as well with minimal effort (and customized for me), but it is a nice way to “kick up” a basic whole wheat. A lot of what I got from KAF this time around was specifically for whole wheat bread baking, so expect a lot of “I tried this…” type stuff. No recipe to share due to the use of the custom ingredient.
I also tried making two low-fat, sugar-free versions of the mug cakes (one chocolate cake, one vanilla lemon almond yellow cake) that have been spinning their way around the internet. Nothing worth sharing yet, but suffice to say – eggs make them too eggy/soufflee-ish, and extracts/flavorings do not do enough actual flavoring for a “cake” like this – stick with chocolate. The results haven’t been terrible, but I need to do some more tinkering before I can truly call this a good, quick, diet-friendly cake, which is what I’m trying to achieve.
This week: I have a big batch of french dough in the refrigerator (which had taken on a life of its own when I looked at it this morning, will be interesting to see what state it’s in later today). I want to repeat the pizza experiment from last week and see if it can be replicated. And I have some pre-party baking for the freezer to do. I’m thinking simple chocolate fudge brownies, and maybe Jacques Torres’ New York Times chocolate chip cookie recipe, since it’s a slightly “kicked up” version of a cookie. I’d wanted to do some playing around with filled brownies (marshmallow filled, in particular), but I suspect marshmallows won’t do very well in the freezer, and I’m probably better off waiting until I won’t have to freeze. I’m also considering making a cinnamon sugar pull apart bread or monkey bread, inspired by Annie’s pull apart bread recipe.
We’ll see, though. I always start the week thinking I know what I’m going to be baking, then as the week goes on a combination of what I feel like doing and what just seems to happen as I pull recipes together mutates things a bit.