Blissful Bread

I love The Great British Bake Off. And I love bread. So when I saw 100 Great Breads by Paul on the discount table at Barnes and Noble a few month back, I snapped it up.DSCN4794 I’ve made a few recipes from it now, and they’ve all turned out wonderfully.

But then I made Guinness and Treacle Bread and my taste buds were rocked!DSCN4721 Especially when I also taught myself to make my own butter and infused it with sea salt and rosemary!DSCN4722 I’m drooling all over again just looking at the pictures 🙂

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I think the best part of the whole thing is that it only takes about half a bottle of Guinness, so I simply had to drink the rest while the bread was rising!

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Sunflower Pie

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, for any of you in the US. 014

Happy Wednesday to the rest of you!

I’ve already done most of my baking for Thanksgiving, and thought I’d share a quick recipe of one of the pies. I call it a sunflower pie because of the decorating, rather than the ingredients. It is in fact a chocolate peanut butter pie, but looks like this:006

But here’s the recipe and decorating directions.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • premature graham cracker crust or
  • 1.5 c crushed graham crackers
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted

Chocolate layer:

  • four ounces chocolate – I use German baking chocolate, but you can use dark, milk, semi-sweet. Whatever floats your boat
  • 5 Tbsp light cream, divided
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 standard tub whipped topping (8 oz by weight)

Peanut layer:

  • 1/3 c creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 standard tub whipped topping (4 oz by weight)

Pretty bit:

  • handful of peanut butter chips
  • 1/4 c chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • ziplock bag or pastry bag if you’re fancy 🙂

015Directions

To make the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Stir together crumbs and sugar. Add melted butter and stir until mixture is evenly moistened.
  3. Press into a pie plate and bake for 8-10 minutes.

To make the chocolate layer:

  1. Melt the chocolate with 2 Tbsp cream. Stir frequently.
  2. Whisk in remaining milk and cream cheese.
  3. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes and then fold in whipped topping.
  4. Spread in cooled pie crust and place in freezer. This will start to set the chocolate layer and make it easier to add the peanut layer.

Make the peanut layer:

  1. Melt the peanut butter. You want it to be soft and runny, but not piping hot. I find about 30 seconds on high in the microwave does it.
  2. Use a whisk to combine peanut butter and whipped topping.
  3. Spread on the chocolate layer. Use a rubber spatula and pull from the center outward to make a petal design.

003You could stop here, and it will be delicious. Just pop it in the freezer for at least four hours before cutting. Or you could read on and take it to the next level.

Make the pretty bit!008

  1. Arrange your peanut butter chips in the center of the pie, like the seeds of a sunflower.
  2. Put the peanut butter and chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe dish and zap on high for about 20 seconds. Remove and stir, and then microwave for another 25 seconds.
  3. Stir very thoroughly. The chocolate chips will need to melt a bit more, so stir up. Maybe even mash stubborn chips with your spoon.
  4. Carefully pour/scrape this mix into your baggie. With a pair of sharp scissors, cut off the teeny-tiniest corner of the bag.
  5. Gently squeeze the bag and trace the outline of the ‘petals’ you made with your spatula. Once all the ‘petals’ are outlined, draw a line about 3/4 of the way up the middle of each.
  6. As a final touch, squeeze a criss-cross lattice over the peanut butter chip center. Just make a bunch of lines in one direction, rotate the pie 90 degrees and make a bunch of lines in the other direction.006

Freeze the whole shebang for at least four hours, and then let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. And then bask in admiration all evening.

I don’t have any pictures of the sliced pie yet, because it’s for Thanksgiving, but I’ll add them once I cut in. Trust me, thought, that it looks nice with the layers 🙂

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So go forth and enjoy Thanksgiving and do lots of tasty baking, no matter what time of year it is!

Fastnacht!

Happy Shrove Tuesday, everyone!

I’ll be honest; I am not particularly religious. I usually give up something for Lent, but I do not strictly observe the rites and observations of the Lentan period. However, like many people today, I like to get into the general spirit of things, and for me, that means making fastnacht!fastnacht

If you do a quick google, you can find tons of different recipes, but here is how I make my fastnacht!

  1. Warm1/2 c milk and add a heaping tsp of yeast to soften.
    1. I usually just zap the milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
  2. Sift together 3 c flour with 1 tsp salt.
  3. Soften 6Tbs butter until it has just started to melt.
  4. Add butter to flour mix and cut in with a fork. Form a well in the middle.
  5. Add 3 eggs, 1 tbs sugar, and the milk/yeast mix. Stir until the dough is no longer sticky.
    1. If the dough is stubbornly sticky, turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently a few times.
  6. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double.
  7. Punch down and let rise 10 more minutes.
  8. Roll out to 1/4″ thinness, and cut out shapes. Let rise another 25 min.
  9. Fry in hot oil (approx 325 F), and roll in sugar.fastnacht5

With all the rising, this recipe can take upwards of three and half hours to make, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. My kitchen is really cold and drafty, so I actually moved my rising dough to my bedroom to speed things up!

The amount of fastnacht you can make from this recipe varies, depending on the size you cut them, but I fed eight people, with some left over!fastnacht3