Monday, November 26, 2007

Daring Baker?

Well, at least it looked good!

This was my first challenge for the Daring Bakers group, and I so wanted it to be successful. It wasn't. But it was daring.

The challenge was to make Tender Potato Bread. When I saw this, my heart immediately dropped; I'm a sweets baker, and I had never attempted any sort of yeast product. Quick breads, sure. Pasties requiring endless foldings and other machinations, right-o. Yeast bread - never.

But the whole reason that I joined Daring Bakers was to expand my baking horizons, so, there ya go. Talk about being outside my comfort zone! I guess I was just hoping that I would be able to post at least once with something awesome before I had to post a project with a grade of PHAIL.

Anywhoo. I followed the recipe but I couldn't seem to overcome the stickiness of the dough. No matter how much flour I added, it remained sticky. I tried not to add too much, as the recipe warns, but after what seems like 100 cups of flour, I still had a Devil of a time handling the dough. The dough did seem to rise properly (but what the heck do I know?), and my loaf baked to a pretty shape and color. I was finally encouraged. I read the warnings about cutting in to it too soon, so I let it cool completely. And then - it just stunk. I wasn't done enough (after forever in the oven). It was HEAVY. I hated the taste. I was so bummed.

So, what did I do wrong? I have no idea. I've never made bread before - and I likely won't again (unless it's for a DB challenge). And I know that that sounds like a spoiled child - I am being a spoiled child. But here's why - I didn't have any fun making the bread. When I bake, I am usually happy, excited. I love the smells, the textures, the tastes. There was nothing that I liked about making the bread. I don't LOVE bread the way some people do. If I couldn't ever have a piece of bread again, I wouldn't be heartbroken (unlike, say, ice-cream or asparagus). And then there's the "I suck" aspect. Sure, I've had desserts and meals fall flat. Sure, I have had to learn proper techniques, just like everyone else. But I have never spent so much time on something to have it be completely INEDIBLE.

In closing, I sucked at this challenge. From the looks of things, I was in the minority on that. I think my "anti-yeast" attitude was part of the problem. Imagine that. But on the positive side, I loved looking at everyone else's creations, and especially the "additional" items people made. The flavor combinations people came up with are inspiring. And I am very psyched to be part of this groovy group of people, because I am sure to learn a ton of good stuff. I may even learn how to make a loaf of bread that I can eat.

And, hey, I'm looking forward to the next challenge, since there's nowhere to go but up!

Oh, I also made Ham and Swiss Rolls with the extra dough. My boyfriend ate one, and Mom ate one. They pronounced them, "not horrible."

Comment posted by Sheltie Girl
at 11/30/2007 8:03:00 AM
I'm sorry you had such a hard time with your bread and didn't like the taste of it. Kudos for sticking it out as a true Daring Baker!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Comment posted by Julie
at 11/29/2007 3:01:00 PM
Ack! I'm heartbroken for you! I wasn't a huge bread fan, either, until I started finding incredible breads. They have to be incredible for me to really enjoy them, though. I do hope we get a bread recipe sometime that will work out awesomely for you!

Comment posted by Ivonne
at 11/28/2007 8:17:00 PM
Hey, sometimes recipes just don't work out. But that's reason to consider it a failure. Good for you for trying it out. Hope the challenge works out better for you next month!

Comment posted by Christina
at 11/28/2007 7:13:00 PM
Aw, I'm sorry to hear that, but I'm glad you tried it anyway and some of it turned out great!

If it makes you feel any better, my first attempt was like eating paste. I tried it again but cut the recipe in half so I could get a handle on it and I did, so stick with it and eventually it'll come along. But don't let this stop you from making savory bread!

Welcome to the DBers!

Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

Comment posted by Tartelette
at 11/28/2007 6:30:00 PM
Sorry it did not meet your expectations. There are a couple of DB challenges that left me blah too but I enjoyed the whole group baking expereince. Hope your try your hand at bread some day again with an easier recipe like a simple Italina bread or breakfast loaf. WTG for staying with it though!

Comment posted by Jen Yu
at 11/28/2007 1:47:00 PM
Oooh, I'm sorry! But, you know those rolls you made look soooo good! As for the bread... this was probably not the easiest recipe for a first-time yeast bread. Maybe try something easier (and far less sticky) like cinnamon rolls? Those are fun and delish. I'm sure you will get the hang of it and boost your confidence. Don't give up on the bread - it's really quite lovely (stuffed with delicious fillings - omg!). I commend you for your effort :)

-jen at use real butter

Comment posted by Deborah
at 11/28/2007 1:46:00 PM
I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it! I liked the foccacia WAY better than the loaf. I don't think you should swear off bread baking, though!!

Comment posted by slush
at 11/28/2007 9:45:00 AM
Aww, Im sorry it didnt turn out as you hoped it would. There is always next month! Your loaf looks absolutely perfect however!

Comment posted by Gretchen Noelle
at 11/27/2007 4:44:00 PM
Too bad you were unhappy with the challenge! They looked very nice, but taste is always another thing. But, you have the DB spirit by baking something so far out of your comfort zone. Hope your December sweets are a success!

Comment posted by April
at 11/27/2007 10:24:00 AM
Congrats on your first challenge! They look wonderful!

Comment posted by breadchick
at 11/27/2007 9:56:00 AM
Way to stay with it even though you don't like baking breads. I would say though, as a "Bread Head", don't give up on not liking to bake bread. There are plenty of other recipes out there that don't take the time this one did that you will enjoy making...and some of them are sweet too! Welcome to Daring Bakers

Comment posted by Rosa's Yummy Yums
at 11/27/2007 6:53:00 AM
Your breads look wonderful! I love those rolls!



Comment posted by Peabody
at 11/27/2007 1:38:00 AM
Sorry your bread did not turn out how you wanted it to.

Comment posted by wmpe
at 11/26/2007 10:35:00 PM
wYou did great for your first attempt at bread. I hope you try to bake bread again. Heck, I am on my 20th year of making Thanksgiving turkey and this years was still not the wonderful turkey I imagined but I will try again next year. Great flavor combos on your rolls, too. Wendy

Comment posted by Shawnda
at 11/26/2007 7:40:00 PM
Aw, sorry it didn't turn out. There's always next month :)

Comment posted by CB
at 11/26/2007 7:19:00 PM
I'm sorry your bread didn't turn out like you'd hoped. I was new this month too and also a sweets baker and was so scared.

I'm glad you stuck it out and hopefully next month will be SWEET!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


nuts!, originally uploaded by jessamyn.

My friend Jessamyn posted a couple of great recipes for sugared and spiced nuts. I don't even like nuts, and these sound just delicious. Actually, I love almonds, and I'm betting that either recipe would work with either whole roasted almonds or slivered toasted almonds. YUM! If I decide to give that idea a go, I'll post the results here.

For Jessamyn's recipes, go here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Spinach Patties

This is one of my non-precise, non-baking recipes. When it comes to baking, I try to be fairly consistent in terms of ingredients, measurements, etc. When it comes to "food," not so much. This is a very loose recipe for Spinach Patties, which can be a pain to make, but are oh-so-good! This is also one of those dishes that can be changed in a huge number of ways (for instance, when I first had these they were made with Swiss Chard), and can be a side dish, entree, or breakfast, and can be eaten hot, warm, or cold (I LOVE them right out of the fridge). Have fun.

Oh, yeah, I recommend that you make the mix at least two hours ahead, if not the night before.

Makes a butt-load of patties! I make a ton, then we eat them for two days. But you can cut the recipe in half, if you wish.
  • 2 cups rice
  • 4 cups water
  • salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bag (about 2 cups) of shredded / grated cheese of your choice - I use Sharp Cheddar
    (You know those ziploc bags of shredded cheese? One of those.)
  • 1 bag fresh spinach (10 oz is fine - or more if you want)
  • Oil of your choice for frying

  1. Put the 2 cups of rice in the 4 cups of salted water, cover, and simmer until rice is done - about 20 minutes. Do this in a BIG (4 or 5 qt) pan.
  2. While rice cooks, wash, stem, and tear up about three quarters of the bag of spinach (or the whole bag - knock yourself out). Open the bag of cheese and have it ready to go. Get out the two eggs. Seriously, once the rice is done, you have to move sort of fast.
  3. The MOMENT the rice is done, add the two eggs and mix thoroughly. Dump in the cheese, and mix until the cheese is melted and well-incorporated. Add the spinach, mixing after each handful (this is the hardest part, getting all of the spinach dispersed).
  4. OK, now you can leave the mixture to cool down to about room temp (cover loosely with wax paper), or you can cool it down and then put it in the fridge for a few hours (at least two, but overnight is fine). If putting it in the refrigerator, cover the surface with wax paper to keep it from forming a dried, crusty layer. This firms up the mixture, and makes it MUCH easier to form into patties before frying.
  5. Once mix is cool/cold, form patties much the way you would make hamburger patties. I like mine on the thinner side so that they don't take forever to cook. Using a non-stick frying pan or skillet (or both at the same time, if you want to eat them hot with dinner), fry the patties in oil (I use light olive oil) over medium heat. These take a while to cook, so don't raise the heat too high, and try not to rush them. They are ready to flip once the side is nicely browned and the patty holds its shape.


As you can imagine, you can do all sorts of variations with this recipe. Try different cheeses (Cheddar Jack works well for a spicier patty). Use different greens like kale, swiss chard, or collards. Add chopped, sauteed onions or mushrooms. Want more fiber? Use half brown rice (and increase the water and cooking time a bit). Go nuts - and if you try this recipe, let me know.

Comment posted by Kris
at 11/20/2007 9:07:00 AM
God Gord, woman. That sounds too freaking good. Great source of iron, which I struggle with. It's 10:00 a.m....too early to start cooking? Nahhhh.....

Comment posted by iblee
at 11/19/2007 7:13:00 PM
mmm! I'm so doing this.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Oh, the PIE! While cruising some of my favorite food blogs the other night, I stumbled on this awesome recipe for Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, of all things. At first I thought, "Eww, that sounds kinda gross," but the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I became. I like chocolate, and I LOVE pumpkin pie, so.... I happened to have everything I needed on hand (and even a frozen crust disc waiting), so I decided to try it out.

And, oh. my. gawd. It was (and notice I said "was") so, so, strange - and wonderful. It's almost impossible to describe because it tastes like pumpkin pie, and it tastes like chocolate, and your brain may rebel against that idea. And, it's almost like the flavors are separate, which is weird and doesn't make any sense. Since you are using unsweetened cocoa, the chocolate is a "pure" flavor, and almost like an aftertaste. I can't describe it any better than that except to say that I thought it was absolutely delicious. Even my boyfriend, who is not a fan of chocolate, said, "This is the best pie you've ever made."

Naturally, I mucked with the recipe a tiny bit. But, I didn't change it just to change it - there was some actual reasoning behind my method. I used both white and brown sugar because I didn't want the cocoa to have to work so hard against the sugar (and I tend to use a very dark brown sugar). I also dispensed with the clove (not a fan in pumpkin pie) and used ginger and nutmeg, as I like their flavor profiles with chocolate. I also used a traditional pie crust, simply because I had one hand and I prefer it to graham crusts (unless it's under s cheese cake!). In the end the result probably isn't very different - and I was very happy with the result!

The consistency was a touch lighter than my traditional pumpkin pie, probably because I didn't bake the hell out of it, it called for one additional egg than I usually use, and I used lowfat milk rather than condensed. The consistency was great. I also recommend eating this at room temp or cold rather than warm (but that's just me). And, yeah, whipped cream. Below is the non-glamour shot of the pie remains.

Ingredients - makes one pie (mine was deep dish).
Preheat oven to 425.
  • 1 can (15 oz) of pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 ground allspice (optional)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (I'll be honest, I love nutmeg, so... Also, I grate mine right into the bowl, so I have no idea how much I used. Bad baker!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 to 1 cup milk (I used 1% which was fine)
  1. In a large mixing bowl (high-sided, if possible), using a sturdy whisk, mix up pumkin and add the sugars. Mix well. Add the spices and salt. Mix well. Add the cocoa. Mix well. Add vanilla. Mix well. Add eggs. Mix well. Add milk (2/3 cup for regular 9 in pie, or 1 cup for 10 in deep dish). Mix well.
  2. Pour mixture into pie crust. Don't overfill.
  3. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and then bake for 30-40 minutes (I like my pie more "done" than some people. It should jiggle just slightly (or not at all if you like it dense) and knife inserted in center should come out clean.
  4. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate leftovers, if there are any.

Comment posted by s.j.simon
at 11/23/2007 1:35:00 PM
lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this

Comment posted by Jessica
at 11/17/2007 12:37:00 PM
I asked my mom what she thought about it, and she said it was "OK" (but I noticed that her plate was clean).

Even if you don't love it, you'll probably like it well enough to finish!

Comment posted by Tartelette
at 11/17/2007 12:26:00 PM
Sounds delicious and why not..although I would have passed it at first, now you got me intrigued! I love that shot in the fridge...looks like the cheesecake I have in there right now!

Comment posted by Kris
at 11/13/2007 8:07:00 PM
Yum. Yum. Yum. I love fall/winter baking.

Friday, November 9, 2007


I just received the following email - and I thought it was pretty neat.
Now, sure, I could just give you the link to the webpage where the recipes live, but that's not as much fun. So, if you'd like to pass this on via email to your friends, you should be able to simply cut and paste it into an email. Have fun!

This is remarkable! Even if you have no particular interest, please pass on to the bakers in your life. They'll appreciate it.
Just click on the name of the cookie and bam the recipe is there. Good to keep handy

1-2-3 Cookies 7 Layer Cookies Allie Nelson's Famous Snickerdoodle Cookies Almond Crescent Shortbread Amish Sugar Cookies Andies Candies Cookies Angel Crisps Angenets Applesauce Cookies Apricot Fold-Overs Aunt Edy's Molasses Crinkles Auntie Linda's Ginger Gems Bakeless Dream Cookies Banana Drop Cookies Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World Biscotti Biscotti Blueberry Cookies Boiled Chocolate Oatmeal Drop Cookies Bronwnies Brown Sugar Shortbread Brownie Cookies Brownie Delight Brownies Buccaneer Snowballs Buried Cherry Cookies Butter Cookies Butter Nut Balls Butterballs Butterscotch Haystacks C.O.P. Cookies Candy Cane Cookies Candy Cookies Caramel Shortbread Cheesecake Brownies Cherry Buns Cherry Crowns Cherry Winks Chewies Chewy Noels Chinese Chews/Haystacks Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars Chocolate Chip Cookies Chocolate Chip Meltaways Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies Chocolate Christmas Trees Chocolate Cream Cheese Squares Chocolate Crinkles Chocolate Mint Snow-Top Cookies Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (no bake) Chocolate Snowball Cookies Chocolate Streusel Bars Chocolate Sundae Cookies Chocolate Walnut Crumb Bars Choco-Scotch Crunchies Choose A Cookie Dough Recipe Christmas Crackers Christmas Crunch Bars Christmas Ginger Snaps Christmas Macaroons Christmas Mice Cookies Christmas Shaped Cookies Church Window Cookies Coconut Cookies Congo Squares Cookie in a Jar Corn Flakes Cookies Cornflake Christmas Wreaths Cowboy Cookies (oatmeal) Cream Cheese Cookies with Apricot Filling Crème De Menthe Chocolate Squares Crème Wafers Crescent Cookies Crispy Crunchies Date Nut Balls Date-nut Pinwheel Cookies Diabetic Peanut Butter Cookies Disgustingly Rich Brownies Doodles Double chocolate chip cookies Double-Chocolate Crinkles Eatmore Cookies Eggnog Cookies Elizabeth's Sugar Cookies Elves Quick Fudge Brownies Emily Dickinson's Gingerbread Cookie Recipe Emily's Best Brownies Famous Oatmeal Cookies Firemen Cookies Fluffy Shortbread Cookies Forgotten Cookies Frosted Peanut Butter Brownies Fruit Cake Cookies Fruitcake Squares Fry Pan Cookies Gems Ginger Cookies Ginger Crinkles Gingerbread Baby Gingerbread Cookies with Butter Cream Icing Gingerbread Men Gingerbread Men Ginny's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies Glory's Golden Graham Squares Glory's Sugar Cookies Gramma Chapman's chocolate coconut drops Grandma Elsie's Zimt (cinnamon) Cookies Grandma J's Butter Cookies Grandma Olson's Parkay Cookies Great Grandmothers Sugar Cookies Gum Drop Cookies Gumdrop Gems Haystack Cookies Ho-Ho Bars Holiday Cereal Snaps Holiday Chocolate Butter Cookies Holiday Raisin Walnut Bars Holly Cookies Hungarian Cookies (Little Nut Rolls) Ice Box Cookies Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies Italian Cookies Jacob's Peppermint Snowballs Jam Bars Jessica's Famous Brownies Jessie's Chocolate Chip Cookies Jubilee Jumbles Juliet's Peanut Butter Blossoms Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies Kentucky Colonels Kiefle (cream cheese cookies with jam filling) Kifflings Kiss Cookies Lacy Swedish Almond Wafers Lemon Angel Bar Cookies Lemon Bars Lemon Cake Cookies Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies Lemon Squares Linzer Tarts Log Cabin Cookies Luscious Lemon Squares M&M Cookies Magic Cookie Bars Melt in Your Mouth Cutout Sugar Cookies Melting Shortbread Meme's Cream Cheese Cookies Milk Chocolate Florentine Cookies Mincemeat Cookies Mincemeat Goodies Molasses Cookies Molasses Forest Cookies Molasses Sugar Cookies Mom Mom's Crescent Cookies Mom-Mom's Ginger Cookies Mom's Nutmeg Sugar Cookies Mom's Old Fashion "Puffy" Sugar Cookies Monster Cookies Moravian Christmas Cookies Nana's Famous Soft Southern Cookies Nitey Nite Cookies No Bake Chocolate Cookies No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies No Bake Cookies No Bake Cookies No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies No-Bake Cookies Norwegian Sugar Cookies Nut Balls Oatmeal Bars Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Nut Cookies Oatmeal Coconut Crisps Oatmeal Cookies Oatmeal Scotchies Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies Ooey Gooey Caramel Chocolate Dunk Ooey Gooey Squares Orange Slice Cookies Parking Lot Cookies Peanut Blossoms Peanut Butter Bars Peanut Butter Blossoms Peanut Butter Cereal Cookies Peanut Butter Chewies Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars Peanut Butter Cookies Peanut Butter Cookies Peanut butter fingers Peanut Butter Reindeer Peanut Butter Surprises Peanut Marshmallow Cookies Pecan Puff Cookies Peppermint Snowballs Peppernuts Persimmon Cookies Persimmon Cookies Petey's Yummy Spicy Almond Thins Pfeffernuesse Pffefferneuse Cookies Pineapple Filled Cookies Pizzelles Potato Chip Cookies Potato Flake Cookies Praline Cookies Praline Strips Pterodactyl Nests Pumpkin Bars Pumpkin Bars Pumpkin Chip Cookies Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies Pumpkin Cookies Queen Biscuits Quick Cookies Raised Sugar Cookies Raisin Filled Oatmeal Bars Raspberry Meringue Bars Really Peanutty Butter Cookies Reese`s Brownies Reese's Peanut Butter Bars Rich Flavor Christmas Cookies Rich Lemon Bars Ricotta Cheese Cookies Royal Almond Christmas Bars Rudolph Cinnamon Cookies Russian Tea Cookies Russian Teacakes Samantha & Kelsey's Chocolate Chip Cookies Sand Art Brownies Santa Claus Cookie Pops Santa Claus Cookies Santa's Butterscotch Melts Santa's Shorts Santa's Special Squares Scotch Cakes Scotch Shortbread Scotcharoos Scotcheroos Seven Layer Cookies Short Bread Cookies Shortbread Skor Squares Snicker Doodle Cookies Snickerdoodles Snickerdoodles Snow Balls Sour Cream Apple Squares Sour Cream Christmas Cookies Special K Cookies Spice Cookies Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Spritz Cookies Stained Glass Window Cookies Stir & Drop Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Swedish Pepparkakor (Pepper Cake) Cookies Swedish Sugar Cookies Sweet Marie's Swiss Treats Taralle (Italian Cookies) Tea Time Tassies Texas Brownies The Best Shortbread in The World Thumbprint Cookies Thumbprint Cookies Toffee Squares Traditional Christmas Sugar Cookies Traditional Gingerbread Men Cookies Triple-Chocolate Chip Cookies Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies Vanilla Waffer Balls Walnut Butter Cookies Walnut Crumb Bars White Chip Chocolate Cookies Wild Oatmeal Cookies Will's Famous Apple Jack Cookies Yummy Yummy Peanut Butter Blossoms