Homemade 100% Whole Wheat Bread

April 20th, 2009 | Posted by james - the dad in food - (0 Comments)

We’ve started buying those frozen loafs of bread from the store because they’re pretty tasty and they’re cheap!  But yesterday I got the itch to make some completely homemade bread.  I already like to bake sweets and figured bread would be fun.  We bought some King Arthur Whole Wheat flour and used the recipe on the back.  You can find that recipes on the King Arther site (click me).  Here are some pictures of the final product.

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The bread turned out great and made a yummy turkey sandwich.  It was pretty dense but not dry.  And packed with flavor.

I think I caught the bread making bug.  Next I’d like to make a rustic bread like the one seen on The Teacher Learns How to Cook blog.

Key Lime Pie

December 21st, 2008 | Posted by james - the dad in food - (1 Comments)

Now that the holidays are upon us I have the baking bug.  I love to bake but out here in AZ it’s usually too darn hot to turn on the oven.  But, recently, the temps at night are getting pretty chilly.  As I type this the weather says it’s 34 degrees!

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So, my first big baking project was a key lime pie.  I don’t remember ever having key lime pie but it’s one of Chanin’s favorites and it sounded tasty.

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The main cookbook I use for baking is called Baking Illustrated, from the editors of Cooking Illustrated (magazine) and that show of TV called America’s Test Kitchen.  Basically they test recipes using all types of variables.  For example, for pie crust they’ll try it with all butter, all shortening, and a combination of butter and shortening as well as combinations of other ingredients.

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On to the pie!

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We both think it turned out great and had a ton of flavor.  And, it was one of those times where I can’t think of anything I would do different next time.  For those interested the recipe is below.

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Pie Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups flour, plus some for rolling out dough
  • 1/2    cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2    teaspoon salt
  • 1        tablespoon sugar
  • 3        tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 4        tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 4-5    tablespoons ice water
  1. Process flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until mixed.  Add shortening and mix until texture of coarse sand. Scatter butter over mixture.  Cut in butter until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs.  Butter bits should be no larger than small peas.  Note: I just used a manual pastry cutter since we don’t have a large enough food processor.  If anyone wants to get me one for Christmas feel free!
  2. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture.  With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix.  Press down on the dough until the dough sticks together and add more ice water as necessary if the dough won’t come together.  Note: I used about 5 tablespoons of water.  It’s better to be too wet than too dry because you can add flour when rolling it out later.  Flatten dough into a 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days) before rolling.
  3. Remove dough from fridge and let stand until malleable (about 15 minutes for me).  Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs onto rolling surface and then roll out dough to a 12-inch circle.  Add crumbs as you roll to evenly coat the crust.  The crumbs give the crust a nice flavor and some extra crispness  and holds up well to the creamy filling.  Your pie pan should be a 9-incher.  Roll the dough around the rolling pin and then unroll it over the pie pan.  Make sure to carefully push the dough into all of the corners.  Refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate until firm, about 40 minutes and then freeze until very cold, about 20 minutes.
  4. Adjust oven rack to lower middle and heat to 375 degrees.  Remove dough from freezer and press a double lined layer of foil into the crust.  Then add your pie weight.  I used rice because I couldn’t find a pie crust weight at our local store.  Be sure the rice (or weight) goes up the side of the crust to hold it up.  Also, the foil should cover the rim of the crust so it doesn’t get overcooked.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (25 did it for me).  Remove foil and weights and bake again for another 5 minutes or so.  Cool on a wire rack.  The crust won’t be fully cooked by this time but will cook a little more after we add the filling.

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Key Lime Pie Filling

  • 4 teaspoons grated zest plus 1/2 cup strained juice from 3 or 4 limes (4 smaller limes worked for me)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Whipped Cream Topping

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar for us simple folk)
  • 1/2 lime, sliced paper thin and dipped in sugar (optional, for garnish)

Making the Pie

  1. Whisk the zest and yolks in a medium nonreactive (usually glass for us simple fold) bowl until tinted light green, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the milk, then juice; set aside at room temperature to thicken (about 30 minutes).
  2. Pour filling into crust; bake until the center is set, yet wiggly when jiggled, 15-17 minutes (right about 17 for me).  Return pie to a wire rack; cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.
  3. Whip the cream using a chilled bowl.  Whip to very soft peaks then slowly add sugar until whipped to just-stiff peaks.  Plop the whipped cream onto the pie and you’re done!

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Easter 2008 & Carrot Cake Cupcakes!

April 12th, 2008 | Posted by james - the dad in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

OK, just catching up here. So here goes a few posts that we’ve been too busy to write!

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So, we ended up back in Southern California for Easter, partially because I had some customer work to do in San Diego. We figured we would just drive out there so we could spend some time visiting our families and hanging our for a bit.

We celebrated Easter at Chanin’s parent’s house with lots of family and food. Of course, I forgot to take pictures of all of the food but we had ham, potato cheese casserole, yams (with marshmallows), corn, deviled eggs, and lots more! I can’t seem to remember what else we had but I assure you it was a FEAST!

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I was charged with making dessert and decided to make carrot cake since it seemed “Eastery.” I love carrot cake and hadn’t made it before so I scoured the ‘net for recipes and found one that looked good on Chowhound. My bro and sis in law suggested cupcakes since they’d be easier to eat so I went with that approach. I must say they turned out really good. I think I outdid myself! Even Chanin said that if she liked carrot cake then she would’ve liked mine!

Here are a few pictures of the cupcakes. I’ll post the recipe further below.

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Cupcakes!

December 10th, 2007 | Posted by james - the dad in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

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There’s nothing like a chilly day around the holidays to bring out my inner baker. I love baking (yeah, I know it’s kind of girly) but unfortunately don’t do it very often because I never seem to have enough time. But, today I had the urge to eat some cupcakes so I went in search of a good recipe. I looked online and found hundreds of recipes but ended up using my trusty cookbook “Baking Illustrated.” It’s a cool book that’s made by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and the people from America’s Test Kitchen on TV. I think I like it so much because it’s very scientific. All of the recipes are tested many times over with many different variables until the best combination is found. It suite me well since I’m a techie kind of guy.

The cupcakes turned out really well and definitely satisfied my craving. Chanin really like them also. The only thing that bothered me a little bit is that they seemed a little too “thick.” I feel like I need a big glass of cold milk to really enjoy them (but that’s OK because I love milk).

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I attempted to do some fancy frosting work on the cupcake tops but that was pretty much a disaster. First, I tried using a Pampered Chef cake decorator but it didn’t hold enough frosting so it was a little tough to use. Then I used a pastry bag which ended up bursting about 1/4 of the way through the first cupcake. So I ended up just spreading the frosting with a butter knife which worked out well. I’ll pick up some real pastry bags and tips for the next batch.

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Overall, the cupcakes were a success and I’d try this recipe again. It’s about time for bed right now but I’ll be looking forward to a cupcake for breakfast!!

Keep reading for the full recipe…

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