Baking History

A Taste For The Past

Posts Tagged ‘Blog Events’

Boston Brown Bread (Yeasted) World Bread Day 2009

Posted by bakinghistory on October 16, 2009

boston-brown-bread-1

Boston Brown Bread dates back to Colonial times and is traditionally paired with Boston Baked Beans

world bread day 2009 - yes we bake.(last day of sumbission october 17) Today is World Bread Day and as always I am happy to participate in this event hosted by Zorra.

I write from Massachusetts, so I chose an old-fashioned recipe for a classic New England bread, made since Colonial times. It contains equal quantities of rye, corn, and whole wheat flour, plus molasses and yeast, and it is steamed rather than baked. The result is a moist loaf, with a complex flavor and a mild sweetness. Great for dinner on a cool Autumn evening—along with a steaming bowl of baked beans or soup.

From the original recipe by Paul Richards

In: Baker’s Bread, 1918—USA

Ingredients

100 g rye flour

100 g whole wheat flour

100 g cornmeal

100 g Graham flour

5 g active dry yeast

8 g Kosher salt

135 g molasses (not blackstrap)

100 g boiling water

100 g warm water

milk as needed

Mix the rye flour and yeast with lukewarm water and set aside to ferment until light.

Scald the cornmeal with boiling water and set aside until cool.  Add molasses and salt, then remaining flours and rye sponge. Add drops of milk if dough is too stiff.

Place mixture in a well greased glass or stainless steel steamed pudding mold, which mixture should fill by 2/3. Cover tightly. Place mold in large pot of boiling water (having first placed a rack on the bottom) and steam, covered for 2 hours, keeping the water always boiling and reaching 2/3 up the mold. Add additional boiling water as needed.

Unmold and serve immediately.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Regional American Food, Rye, State Foods, whole grains, Yeasted Breads | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gingerbread (Novel Food #6)

Posted by bakinghistory on December 20, 2008

gingerbread-1

Mildly spiced gingerbread cookies

ROUNDUP part 1 Roundup part 2

novel-foodSimona of Briciole and Lisa of Champaign Taste are hosting a new edition of their wonderful seasonal blog event, Novel Food. It is one of my absolute favorites since it pairs literature and food. This time, it was really difficult to choose which literary work to feature between two that I particularly like.

Since this is the winter edition, I finally opted for a short story by O. Henry, one of my absolute favorite American writers.  The short story is “The Gift of the Magi” and illustrates the theme of gift-giving: at the end, the author shows what is, in his view, the wisest gift to give, independently of what money can—and cannot—buy.

I won’t reveal anything else, since the story is short and well worth reading.  I read it for the first time when I was nine years old, and its implications deeply struck me then—now, almost three decades later, I am still moved by it, even if in somewhat different ways.

The characters of the story are a young married couple, Della and James Dillingham Young, and you can see them portrayed above in gingerbread dough and white icing.

The time  is around Christmas, the setting a big American city, but the theme transcends any specific time and place and is ultimately about the essence of human love.

here is a short excerpt:

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard. To-morrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling — something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honour of being owned by Jim.

Even if there is one specific food mentioned in the story, chops, I took the liberty of choosing gingerbread instead. The following recipe produces a wonderful dough, very easy to work with, mildly spiced and sweet.

From the original recipe by Hannah Widdifield

In: Widdifield’s New Cook Book: Practical Receipts for the Housewife”, 1856—USA

Ingredients:

1-1/4 lbs AP flour

1/2  lb. dark brown sugar

1/4  lb butter

1/2 tbsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 yolk

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tbsp baking soda

Icing:

1/2 lb confectioner’s sugar

lemon juice as needed

1 egg white as needed

Sift flour, spices, and sugar. In a mixer, on low speed, mix butter with flour mixture until it resembles wet sand. Add yolk and mix briefly. Dissolve baking soda in milk and add to mixer bowl. Switch to the dough hook and knead the mixture on low speed for 5-7 minutes, until the dough forms and is smooth and supple. Let the dough rest, covered, for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300F.  Take about 1/4 of the dough and knead it briefly by hand, then roll it rather thin and cut the cookies. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet (preferably insulated) and bake for about 15-18 minutes. Let the cookies cool on a rack—they will be soft and crumbly while hot but will turn crunchy as soon as the cool.

Make the icing by mixing powdered sugar with a few drops of lemon juice and a bit of egg white, just enough to have a stiff paste that can be piped, and decorate the cookies.


Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti, Holidays, Spices | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Announcing Sugar High Fridays #50: Rolled Cakes

Posted by bakinghistory on December 10, 2008

shfrolledcakes1

I am delighted and proud to be the host of the 50th edition of Sugar High Fridays , the wonderful blog event created by Jennifer of  The Domestic Goddess, which celebrates sweets in all their glorious variety. As a theme, I propose Rolled Cakes, those old-fashioned desserts that are also known as  jelly rolls, Swiss rolls or roulades. They are usually made with sponge or Genoise cake baked in a rectangular pan (the jelly roll pan, of course) and filled with jam or cream.

For this edition of SHF I hope to gather as many variations on this basic type of cakes as possible, from the simplest to the most elaborate. You can use any type of batter such  as genoise, meringue, chocolate sponge, etc. etc., and fillings, icings, and decorations as you like, and any size from regular to miniature. Use classic recipes or make up new creations—possibilities are virtually endless.

To participate, please:

*Post a recipe of rolled cake by December 22, 2008 and include in your post a link to this page and to Jennifer’s blog. You can also include the logoshfrolledcakeslogo

*Send me an email at bkhst AT yahoo DOT com including:

>your name

>your blog name and URL

>name of your recipe and permanent link

>a very brief description of your cake

>your  location

>the language in which your post is written

> a picture of your cake (200 width)

If you do not have a blog and still wish to participate send me an email including all the above info (minus blog name and URL  :-) )and I will include it in the roundup.

The roundup will be posted on December 26th, 2008

I look forward to many many gorgeous rolled cakes and I thank Jennifer for the opportunity to host!

Posted in Blog Events | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Announcing Think Spice… …Think Anise

Posted by bakinghistory on November 1, 2008

I am delighted to host the November edition of Think Spice… , a monthly event founded by Sunita of Sunita’s World.  The theme of this month is Anise.

The tiny fruits of this graceful plant, which are commonly called seeds, have been used for centuries and have been mentioned in ancient herbals, as well as in texts on medicine, folklore, cookery, confectionery, perfumery, and witchcraft.

Pliny, in his treatise on natural history, mentions anise and states that the best was grown on the Greek Island of Crete. He also tells us that anise was used to substitute lovage in seasonings, as well as to alleviate headaches, soothe the stomach, clear the eyes, and treat colics and coughs. Pliny, as well as Pythagoras, also strongly recommended anise steeped in wine as a remedy against scorpions.  The ancient Romans also used it to flavor bridal cakes.

According to Democritus the humble anise was the best cure for melancholy.

In England, under King Edward I, anise was used to pay taxes; in early English herbals anise was also called Anny and Annyse.

In early Italian herbals anise was also indicated as helpful for nursing mothers.

Finally, in old astrology treatises anise was associated with the planet Mercury, and according to old plant-lore it protected the lungs.

Apparently, anise was also used to ward off evil, and kept in a small pouch under the pillow to avoid nightmares.

To participate in Think Spice… …Think Anise:

* Make a dish, baked good, or beverage in which anise is used. It can be a traditional recipe or a new creation, sweet or savory. Any information about lore and uses for anise that you are familiar with will be great to be included as well.

*Post your recipe by November 25, 2008. Include a link to this post and to Sunita’s blog. You can of course use the logo.

Send me an email at bkhstATyahooDOTcom

including:

>your name

>your blog name and URL

>name of your recipe and permanent link

>your language and location

> a picture of your dish (200 width)

I look forward to reading many great recipes that include this wonderful spice!!

Posted in Blog Events, Spices | Tagged: , , | 12 Comments »

Pumpkin Pie

Posted by bakinghistory on October 30, 2008

Traditional Pumpkin Pie

Update: Ivy has posted the ROUNDUP

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Ivy from Kopiaste… is hosting another wonderful event devoted to pies, this time sweet ones.  I decided to enter a classic all-American pumpkin pie, a traditional dessert enjoyed in the Fall and always part of the Thanksgiving feast.

The poet John Greenleaf Whittier, born in Massachusetts in 1807, immortalized pumpkins—and pumpkin pie—in his work The Pumpkin, from which the following verses are taken:

What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye,

What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

There are many versions of pumpkin pie, more or less rich, more or less spiced, some sweetened with sugar, others with molasses, maple syrup, or even with honey.

The recipe I feature here is very simple, minimally spiced with cinnamon, and sweetened with very little sugar.  If the pumpkin is very tasty to begin with there is no need to be heavy handed with spices, and sweeteners like molasses might be too strong and overpower the delicate flavor of the main ingredient itself. Even if canned pumpkin is an acceptable shortcut, it cannot compare with freshly roasted pumpkin and the result will be much tastier—and definitely worth the extra time and effort—if the latter were used.

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From the original recipes by Bertha Lippincott Parrish

In: “The ‘Home’ Cook Book”, by the Children’s Summer Home of Cinnaminson, NJ, 1914—USA

and Juniata L. Shepperd

In: “Handbook of Household Science”, 1902—USA

Ingredients

Filling:

1 cup (250 g) roasted and pureed pumpkin

1/4 cup (60 ml) cream or milk

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon or 1/2 tsp nutmeg (according to taste)

1 large egg, divided

1 tbsp butter

1/4 tsp salt

Crust:

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (scant) butter

1/4 tsp salt

ice water as needed

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

Make the Crust: In a food processor put flour salt and butter (diced), and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the machine running add enough water for the dough to come together. Do not overprocess. Wrap the dough in wax paper and let rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes. Roll the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness and line a deep pie dish, make a decorative rim. I used a small cookie-cutter shaped like a maple leaf to decorate the rim of the pie as well as the top.

Make the filling: Cream the butter and add the sugar little by little, then the yolk, cream or milk, salt and spice, and then the pureed pumpkin.  Beat the egg white till stiff peaks form, and add it to the pumpkin mixture, gently, until well incorporated.

Fill the prepared pastry shell, decorate the rim and top as you like, and bake in a preheated oven (375°F), until the pastry is golden brown and the filling barely wiggles in the center. Let the pie cool on a rack.






Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Holidays, Pies & Tarts, Spices, Thanksgiving | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

World Bread Day ’08—The Roundup and After Hours Party

Posted by bakinghistory on October 26, 2008

World Bread Day '08 - Roundup

Zorra has posted the roundup of WBD ’08. There are 245 amazing breads entered by bakers form all over the world. Take the time to visit each of them and see the wonderful recipes they have chosen for this year’s edition.

Thanks again to Zorra for hosting and to all the bakers that shared their great recipes

Posted in Blog Events | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Squash Bread (World Bread Day ’08)

Posted by bakinghistory on October 16, 2008

A wonderful loaf with a moist, chewy crumb and a crispy crust

3rd World Bread Day hosted by 1x umruehren bitte aka kochtopf

For this 2008 edition of World Bread Day, a blogging event founded and hosted by Zorra, I wanted to bake a bread with an ingredient with ties to the region of the United States where I live: New England.

So I chose to bake a bread made with  buttercup squash. The word squash originates from the Massachusett Indian word askutasquash, which indicated a vegetable that was eaten raw.

This bread is one of the best I have ever baked, and definitely one of my family’s favorites in the Fall. The squash provides a very moist and holey crumb, and the most gorgeous golden-orange color. The crust bakes crisp and the bread tastes only slightly sweet. It is great with a hearty soup for dinner on a cool Autumn evening.

The recipe comes from Mary Johnson Lincoln, a Massachusetts native who was a teacher at the famed Boston Cooking School and whose students included Fannie Farmer.

I recommend using buttercup squash because of its superior flavor and texture.

From the original recipe by: Mary J. Lincoln

In: “Mrs. Lincoln Boston Cook Book”, 1916—USA

Ingredients:

1 cup (250 g) baked and pureed  buttercup squash

2 tbsp (25 g) sugar

1-1/2 cups (366 g) whole milk

1 tbsp (15 g) butter

1/2 tsp (2 g) active dry yeast dissolved in 1 tbsp (15 ml) warm water

1 tsp (6 g) salt

3-1/3 cups to 4-1/3 cups (455 g to 595g) bread flour (as needed) I use King Arthur bread flour

semolina or cornmeal for the baking sheet

Scald the milk, then mix in it the pureed squash, butter, salt, and sugar.  When this mixture is cool add the yeast (mixed with the lukewarm water) and enough flour to have a dough that is well developed and supple, but rather slack. Knead well.

The dough should be soft and feel slightly tacky. Let it ferment, in a slightly greased bowl, covered, until double in bulk. Then gently shape it into a loaf on a floured surface, and place it on a baker peel or baking sheet on which  you have sprinkled a layer of fine semolina or cornmeal. Let the bread rise, covered, until light.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C).

Bake the bread directly onto a baking stone if you have one or on the baking sheet for about 40-45 minutes, until golden brown. Add steam for the first 10 minutes, by placing in the oven a small metal pan filled with boiling water. Lower the temperature to 425°F (218°C) after the first 15 minutes.

This is how the crumb will look: (click on picture)

Thank you Zorra for hosting again World Bread Day!!!


Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Regional American Food, Yeasted Breads | Tagged: , , , , , , | 21 Comments »

Chess Pie (quiche, tarte, & co.)

Posted by bakinghistory on October 14, 2008

A Southern classic: Chess Pie

Blog-Event XXXIX - Quiche, Tarte & Co.

This is my entry for the event hosted by  Zorra of 1x umrühren bitte .

ROUNDUP IS HERE

Chess pie is a classic dessert in the culinary repertoire of Southern U.S. The flaky crust encloses a sweet, sweet, sweet, and creamy filling topped by an ever-so-thin, crispy layer of meringue.

From the original recipes by:  Mattie Lee Wehrley

In: “Handy Household Hints and Recipes”, 1916, USA

and Juniata L. Shepperd

In: “Handbook of Household Science”, 1902—USA

Ingredients:

Filling:

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

2/3 cups butter

1 tbsp flour

1/2 cup milk or cream

Crust:

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (scant) butter

1/4 tsp salt

ice water as needed

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

Make the Crust: In a food processor put flour salt and butter (diced), and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the machine running add enough water for the dough to come together. Do not overprocess. Wrap the dough in wax paper and let rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes. Roll the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness and line a deep pie dish, make a decorative rim.

Filling: melt the butter and let cool. Warm the milk and set aside.Beat the eggs at high speed with the sugar until very light (at least 15 minutes), then add the flour, the melted and cooled butter, and the lukewarm milk. If the milk is cold the mixture will curdle. If this happens, blend with an immersion blender until smooth and glossy.

Pour the filling in the prepared pan and bake at 350F (180C), until the top of the filling is golden brown. Let the pie cool in the pan placed on a rack. Serve cold; refrigerate any leftovers.

A note on the pie pan to use: I recommend using a metal deep-dish pie pan. In my experience, pies baked in  glass and ceramic pie dishes often have a soggy, undercooked pastry layer, which spoils the final result. Natural finish aluminum pie pans are best because they bake evenly.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Dairy, Desserts, Pies & Tarts, Regional American Food, Tarts & Pies | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Potato Pie

Posted by bakinghistory on September 30, 2008

A tasty savory pie filled with potatoes and onions, milk and a touch of butter.

Ivy of Kopiaste is the host of a blog event all about savory pies. My contribution is a simple one, made with a buttery crust filled with shredded potatoes, onions, milk and butter. The filling is assembled in the pie crust with raw ingredients, which makes the preparation easy and quick. Furthermore, it does not contain any eggs. The result is a truly wonderful pie, with a perfectly flaky crust enclosing a tender, buttery filling, which is best enjoyed warm. Something worth trying for a simple dinner on a cold winter night.

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ROUNDUP IS HERE

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From the original recipes by  Jane Cunningham Croly

In: Jennie June’s American Cookery Book”, 1878—USA

and Juniata L. Shepperd

In: “Handbook of Household Science”, 1902—USA

Ingredients:

Filling:

4-5 large potatoes

1 small onion

1 tbsp butter

1/4 to1/3 cup cup whole milk (or half-and-half)

1/2 tsp kosher salt

Crust

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (scant) butter

1/4 tsp salt

ice water as needed

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

Make the Crust: In a food processor put flour salt and butter (diced), and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the machine running add enough water for the dough to come together. Do not overprocess. Wrap the dough in wax paper and let rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes. Roll the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness and line a deep pie dish, letting the extra pastry hang over the sides of the pan.

Filling: peel, wash and dry the potatoes. Shred them finely, mix them with the shredded onion and salt.  Put the mixture into the pie plate lined with pastry, then pour over enough milk (or half-and-half) to barely cover the filling. Distribute the butter in small pieces all over the filling, fold over the pastry so that the filling is partially covered. Bake for about 1 hour. Serve warm.

This pie does not freeze well, either baked or raw, because the potatoes turn mushy.


Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Dairy, Eggless, Milk, Pies & Tarts, vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Seed-Cake (Novel Food, Fall ’08 edition)

Posted by bakinghistory on September 20, 2008

A nice cup of hot tea and a slice of this cake are best enjoyed in the company of good friends

Roundup 1 —-Roundup 2

For this season’s edition of Novel Food—one of my favorite blog events, co-hosted by Simona of Briciole and Lisa of Champaign Taste—I chose to recreate a food item from Jane EyreCharlotte Brontë‘s masterpiece.

This also goes to Susan’s Yeast Spotting

I read the book for the first time many years ago, in Junior High School, and loved it ever since. Over the years I returned to it once in a while, and the story never ceased to fascinate me. In time I realized what I found consistently so appealing in it. The novel contains all the necessary components of Romantic literature: a love story full of passion, mystery and tragedy, a good touch of the supernatural and a happy ending against all odds.

However, besides all of that, what truly brought me back to this novel is how its main character, Jane, is portrayed. She is a young woman, orphaned and destitute, very smart and barely pretty—in other words a person apparently lacking all of the desirable qualities that would ensure her any happiness in life or at least a comfortable place in society.

And yet, even in the worst of her circumstances and situations, Jane never compromises, never gives up her dignity as a person, never loses her solid moral principles. She is able to balance a good heart with cool rationality, always seeing beyond appearances and never settling for the easiest path. It was—and is—her strength in being able to say no, even if compromise would seem to ensure her gaining everything she most dearly wishes, that I find admirable, as is her unshakable belief that the qualities of the heart and the spirit have a value very much above those of wealth, position and social approval.

In the book food is mentioned quite often, from the dreadful meals at Lowood, the boarding school for orphaned girls that Jane attends—and survives—for eight years, to that offered to Jane after she leaves Thornfield and is rescued by the Rivers family.

Among all of the possibilities, I chose to bake a seed-cake, like the one Jane shares one perfect evening with her beloved schoolmate Helen and their teacher Miss Temple. The reason of my choice is that, to me, that simple cake eaten with friends and kindred spirits shows how, despite the dreariest circumstances, the comfort of true friendship can lighten one’s heart and console of any sadness.

Miss Temple invites Helen and Jane for tea: 

“[...] she got up, unlocked a drawer, and taking from it a parcel wrapped in paper, disclosed presently to our eyes a good-sized seed-cake.

‘I meant to give each of you some of this to take with you,’ said she: ‘but as there is so little toast, you must have it now,’and she proceeded to cut slices with a generous hand.

We feasted that evening as on nectar and ambrosia; and not the least delight of the entertainment was the smile of gratification with which our hostess regarded us, as we satisfied our famished appetites on the delicate fare she liberally supplied.”

In the many vintage cookbooks I have read I found different versions of seed-cakes, some rather plain, made with a yeasted and sweetened dough and others closer to pound cakes, very sweet and rich in eggs and butter. The common trait between all of these versions is, of course, the caraway seeds that speckle their crumb. Caraway seed once was used in sweet baked goods such as cakes and biscuits and not limited to savory ones. The effect is amazingly good: the pungency and complex aroma of these seeds, as well as their slight crunchiness provide a wonderful counterpoint to the sweetness and tenderness of the cakes.

As much as I love the flavor of caraway in the tangy sourdough ryes found in the baking repertoire of Central and Eastern Europe, I have to say that tasting caraway in a sweet baked good allows to appreciate this pleasant spice even more.

I tried more than one version, and it was difficult to choose one among all, since all have pleasant qualities that made them worth recommending. Charlotte Brontë does not give a detailed description of the seed-cake Jane and her friends have together with tea. Given the time at which the novel was published (1847) I thought at least I could write off any of the more recent recipes made with actual baking powder, which became popular only in the late nineteenth century. I tried a yeasted version made with only a little sugar and butter and no eggs, and another rather rich made with great quantities of all of these ingredients. The yeasted, plainer version is my favorite, and is the one I feature here.

From the original recipe by Margaret Dods

in: “The Cook and Housewife’s Manual”, 1828—UK

Ingredients

1/2 lb white sugar

2 lbs bread flour

1 tbsp active dry yeast

2 cups whole milk, plus more as needed

1/2 lb butter

1 oz. caraway seeds

a pinch of allspice, nutmeg, and ginger

Mix the sugar and flour in the bowl of an electric mixer. Scald the milk and let it cool to lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of the warm milk and pour it over the flour-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until some of the flour and the milk form a soft soupy dough (the rest of the flour will stay underneath. Cover the bowl and let the sponge ferment until doubled and bubbly. Switch to the dough hook, add the ground spices (except for the caraway) and knead until the dough starts to come together, adding the rest of the milk by the tablespoon as necessary (the dough should not be too soft at this point).

With the mixer running add the cold butter, diced, and knead until the dough is well developed, supple and smooth. Once the butter is well incorporated add the caraway seeds and knead a little more until well distributed in the dough.

Let the dough ferment until doubled in a covered bowl. Shape into two oval or round loaves and bake in a preheated oven at 350F (180C) for about 50 minutes, or until nice and golden. The loaves should be allowed to cool on a rack and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

If you prefer to use a bread pan, you will need two 9×5-inches pans.

Posted in Blog Events, Dairy, Eggless, Spices, Tea, Yeasted Cakes, Kuchen, Coffee Cakes | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

 
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