Monday, March 26, 2012

crackle buns

I don't know what I enjoyed more this month, the challenge, or the fact that I had an entire week off to play around with it. Love March break!

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

I started out by making simple soft white buns using the recipe provided in the challenge, with the crackle on top. They turned out beautiful! Soft and fluffy inside with a crunchy exterior.

Soft White Roll
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
1½ tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus additional olive or vegetable oil for greasing bowl during rising)
1½ teaspoons salt
Up to 4 cups all purpose flour

In the bowl of an electric mixer or large mixing bowl, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit for about 5 minutes (The mixture should start to bubble or foam a bit and smell yeasty).

Add in vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Using the dough hook attachment or a wooden spoon, mix at medium speed until the dough comes together.

Add remaining flour a quarter cup at time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. For me, this usually required an additional 1 1/4 cups of flour, tops.

Knead for about 4 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. 

Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled (or more) in size.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 6 equal portions (if you’d like to make rolls) or 2 equal portions (if you’d like to make a loaf) (using a sharp knife or a dough scraper works well). Shape each into a ball or loaf and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (try not to handle the dough too much at this point).
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes while you prepare the topping.

Dutch Crunch Topping
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups rice flour

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a whisk; beat hard to combine. The consistency should be like stiff royal icing – spreadable, but not too runny. If you pull some up with your whisk it should drip off slowly. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes.

Using your fingers or a spoon, coat the top of each roll with a thick layer of topping. You should err on the side of applying too much topping – a thin layer will not crack properly.

Once you’ve applied the topping, bake in a preheated moderately hot 380ºF for 25-30 minutes, until well browned. The Dutch Cruch topping should crack and turn a nice golden-brown color. Let cool completely on a wire rack before eating. 

Our Daring Baker hostesses explained that Dutch Crunch bread is also called crackle, tiger or giraffe bread in some parts of the world. To me, the buns looked more like turtle shells than tigers or giraffe, and I have particular thing for turtles... so I did not make one of a kind sandwiches with it, but I did make one of a kind buns...

A little creative shaping, a little food coloring, food marker... and you've got turtle buns!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

peanut butter & jelly snack cake

I skipped last week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe for Peanut Butter Bars because, although I was totally craving a peanut butter and jelly dessert, the recipe, with it's pie crust, peanut butter mousse filling and oaty topping just didn't appeal to me. What I really wanted, was this:

A cakey peanut butter bar drizzled with strawberry jam and topped with chopped peanuts for some crunch. And it didn't disappoint! The textures in this cake are totally my thing, and I could eat an entire pan!

Plus, it dirtied exactly two bowls! Did not have to spend an afternoon washing dishes like I would have if I had made the Baked recipe.

Peanut butter & jelly snack cake
recipe adapted from Dawn Finicane

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 cup peanut butter

1 jar of strawberry or raspberry jam/jelly

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8x8 square baking pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl mix the flour, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Beat in the softened butter until mixture resembles wet sand. Do not over beat. 
Remove between ¾ - 1 cup of the mixture to a medium bowl and set aside.
Add the buttermilk and the egg to the remaining mixture. Pour into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Take the remaining flour mixture that was set aside and mix in the cup of peanut butter.
Drop the peanut butter mixture onto the cake by tablespoons, spacing it evenly. Do not press the mixture into the batter; just let it sit as is.
Bake for about 30 -35 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 
When the cake has cooled slightly, warm the jelly in the microwave and drizzle it over the cake.  Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

I don't know if it's the weather or the week vacation that makes me want to bake, photograph and blog again. It was so nice taking pictures outside today! Hoping to get blogging regularly again soon!