Friday, May 29, 2009

The Bread Project - Carolina Strawberry Bread

Do you like my attempt at artful food photography here? What's doing it for you? The fresh berries? The dirty window sill?

Well, what I lack in photog skills, perhaps I make up for a bit in sweet sticky quick bread making skills?

Two things I've learned about San Francisco in the last little bit. On the down side, it seems that there is no summer, which I still don't quite understand. We lived in Mountain View last summer, where it was constantly (some might argue too constantly) sunny, but just a few miles up the road in San Fran, apparently, summer is pre-emtpted by gray, cold, and wind. My friend Blythe says that she wears her coat more in the summer than she does in the winter. My friend Mark Twain says that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.

So that's the negative. The positive (yes, I can be positive) is that the best apple I ever had was a strawberry in San Francisco. That's because they have HUGE, ripe, delicious strawberries here. The sweetest, plumpest, most gorgeous things you've ever seen. No superlative is too extreme.

To honor these beautiful beasts, I decided on Sunday afternoon to make some strawberry bread. I thought it would make me feel more sunny and summery on that cold, gray afternoon. So I hunted around the internet for a good sounding recipe, and came across one that was serendipitously called Carolina Bread. Twas my roots, and so I gave it a try. The results were delcious. Nicely scented. Moist. Good crusty bits on the ends. Pink and sweet inside. A lovely breakfast or late night snack.

Here's the recipe from Big Oven:

-3 cups all purpose flour
-2 cups sugar
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt (I used kosher, so I upped it by a bit)
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-3 eggs
-1 cup canola oil
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1 pint fresh strawberries (or 10 oz frozen); chopped
-1 cup chopped pecans (I left these out)

-Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
-Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon
-Blend eggs, oil, vanilla, and strawberries in separate bowl
-Add strawberry mixture to dry ingredients and mix well
-If using, stir in pecans.
-Pour into two greased 9x5x3 loaf pans
-Bake for 45-60 minutes (in my slow oven it took almost the full 60)
-Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

All mixed up and ready to go


Sunday, May 24, 2009

A (not so) Hot Date (bar)

It had been a while since I pulled out my copy of the Tassajara Bread Book, so I don't know exactly what prompted its return. But I had the place to myself last Friday, and I thought I'd make something to greet Daniel when he got home later that evening. After paging through the book and realizing that I had most of the ingredients (minus the mysterious nutmeats), I went for this date bar. I hoped that it might be reminiscent of the delicious date nut bars that are ubiquitous at every bodega in New York. They weren't, and I have to say I didn't find the results entirely pleasing. While the top of the bars are very moist and chewy, the bottoms are too crumbly and dry for my taste. But Daniel liked that and has been eating them for breakfast. And they're relatively healthy, so here's the recipe...

Tassahara Bread Book Date Bars
(18-24 bars)

3 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used light)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspooon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cup chopped dates or raisins or figs or prunes
1/2 cup chopped nutmeats (WHAT IS THIS? I used walnuts)

-Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
-Beat eggs until light.
-Gradually blend in the brown sugar along with the vanilla.
-Sift together the flour, baking poweder, salt, and spices.
-Beat into eggs until well blended.
-Fold in the fruit and nutmeats (WHAT IS THIS?)
-Pour into a buttered and floured 9x13 inch pan and bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes

Sunday, May 17, 2009

One blueberry in the oven is worth...

So while I wait for the vegan blueberry poppyseed muffins for tomorrow's brunch to cool sufficiently to put into Tupperware, I thought I'd do a quick write up of last weekend's blueberry experiment - a dairy-free blueberry chocolate chip cake. I made this concoction with Susan Berson's famous kosher for Passover pudding cake and my mom's famous Teddy's Apple Cake in mind, the two coming together in a sweet swirl of mushy, crispy, cakey goodness.

And it was just that - mushy inside, a little crispy on the outside, with a vegan ganache from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I liked it so much that I made it again Monday night for my friend Blythe's birthday. It is fast and easy, and really tastes like a giant, warm chocolate chip cookie that perhaps hasn't been baked quite all the way through.

Here's the recipe:

Dairy Free Blueberry Chocolate Chip Cake
1 1/2 cups canola oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt, plus maybe a pinch more
1 tsp cinamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
lots of dairy free bitter sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I liked it with chunks)
a cup or two blueberries (fresh or frozen - I used a pint of fresh, mixed with about 3/4 c frozen)

-preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Beat oil and sugar together
-add eggs and beat until creamy
-sift together dried ingredients, stir into batter
-add chocolate chips, blueberries, and vanilla (don't be shy about some of the water from washing the blueberries or from the frozen blueberries getting into the batter - this recipe benefits from loads of moisture)
-pour batter into greased bundt pan
-bake at 350 for about 1 hour 15 minutes
-let cool completely in pan before removing, then add ganache; see recipe below

Quick Melty Ganache
(From Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)
-3 tablespoons soy creamer or soy milk
-1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

-Heat soy milk in small saucepan over medium heat until just about to simmer
-Remove from heat
-Add chocolate chips and stirl till chocolate is completely melted and soy milk is incorporated
-Set aside and alow to cool for 10 minutes (I only waited abotu 5)
-With small spatula scoop into a prepared pastry bag or plastic bag with tip chopped off; or drizzle haphazardly with a fork (being the wild woman I am, I went for the haphazard fork method)

Please note the haphazard ganache work...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Bread Project - If you call it a muffin it doesn't count as a cupcake

Last Christmas, Daniel gave me a vegan cupcake cookbook, by the same ladies who wrote Vegan with a Vengeance. The pictures inside are gorgeous, and I've been wanting to try my hand at some of them for a while, either in cupcake form or all mushed together into a big old cake.

However, while in school, any kind of organizational system that I'd ever developed has fallen to ruin, and my bookshelves are no exception. So the vegan cupcake cookbook had disappeared. Until this morning when I decided I wanted to bake some kind of breakfast pastry. I flipped through several options in some of my cookbooks, but without molasses for kasha muffins (my molasses had fallen victim to an ant problem earlier this year) and no lemons for a loaf of lemon bread, I was becoming discouraged, until suddenly, out of nowhere the VC cookbook (that's vegan cupcake, mind you, not Viet Cong), reemerged miraculously. I thought to myself, "Well, why not?" Without frosting, cupcakes become muffins.

I went for the vanilla cupcake recipe because it didn't involve any vegan baking oddities like egg substitutes or arrowroot. But I wanted to jazz it up a little and make it more breakfasty. So the vegan blueberry lime poppyseed muffin was born.

Here's the recipe
Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Vegan Lime Blueberry Poppyseed Muffins
Makes 12 Muffins

-1 cup soy milk
-1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
-1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
-2 tablespoons cornstarch
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3/4 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/3 cup canola oil
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-the juice of a lime
-a few handfulls of blueberries (frozen or fresh)
-some poppyseeds (to your liking)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease two muffin tins
2. Whisk the soy milk and vinegar together and set aside to curdle a bit (mine didn't really)
3. Beat the soy milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla, and lime juice together in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix all together until no lumps remain.
4. Stir in the blueberries and poppyseeds.
5. Fill muffin tins about 2/3 of the way and bake for 20-22 minutes (mine took about 25, but my oven tends to be slow)
6. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with these little guys. They're very shiny because of the soy milk, I think. And a little purple in color because of the blueberries, I know. They're also a little stubby and dense, but in a charming way. It's a good vanilla flavor, and a very quick and easy recipe. Next time, I'll go wild and call it a cupcake.