Friday, October 21, 2016

Asiago Cheese Bagels

The Bread Baking Babes baked bagels this month and I'm baking along with them again as a buddy. Inspired by the popularity of Panera Bread's Asiago bagel, Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories, host kitchen of the month, came up with these bagels that aren't just topped with Asiago cheese but have some inside as well for double the goodness.
The recipe is based on one by Peter Reinhart. I have total respect for the man but his bagel recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice is one of my bread baking failures - over-proofed, they collapsed in the water bath and never rebounded. I liked the idea of redeeming myself with this one.
I followed the recipe as written though it took me a few extra minutes of kneading by hand to incorporate the cheese. The change to Mr. Reinhart's method, refrigerating the bagels immediately after shaping instead of allowing them to proof first, gave me more control over proofing. No collapsed bagels this time!
These were fabulous, not just in flavour but in texture as well, with the chewiness you expect but a softer, moister crumb. And I thought they looked quite good too. Barley malt syrup tinted my dough a pale caramel and also helped create that beautiful bronzed finish on the baked bagel.

Many thanks to Karen for the great recipe, one I'll definitely make again.

You'll find Karen's recipe here as well as the links to all of the other BBB's bagel posts.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Prized Pumpkin Pie

Smooth and creamy and mildly spiced, my family's favourite pumpkin pie is also very easy to make. I've tried others for our annual Thanksgiving pie but this recipe has just the right balance of sweetness, pumpkin flavour and warm spices.
It's also a no-fail recipe made of pantry ingredients with sweetened condensed milk at its base that comes together in just minutes. The filling sets up beautifully to help create those perfect slices.
Using a store-bought pie crust makes it even easier but this year, I baked it in a cream cheese pie crust - my best ever! - and served it with vanilla bean whipped cream and salted caramel.
It was the star of our Thanksgiving dessert table as usual! 

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream
8-10 servings

240ml heavy cream (35% m.f.), cold
1 tbsp confectioners' sugar, or to taste
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or pure vanilla extract)

1. Chill the beaters and the mixing bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes.

2. Pour the cream into the bowl and beat on medium speed until it starts to thicken. With the machine running, add the sugar and vanilla bean paste slowly. Switch to high speed and beat until firm peaks form. Be careful not to overbeat or you'll end up with butter (I speak from personal experience!). It's ready to serve immediately, piped or spooned onto the dessert.

If you're making it in advance, transfer the whipped cream to a fine mesh sieve suspended over a bowl. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it's needed.

For the other recipes, follow these links:

The pie filling:  Prize Pumpkin Pie from Canadian Living Magazine

The pie crust: Perfect Flaky and Tender Cream Cheese Pie Crust from The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
The caramel: Sweet and Salty Caramel from Baked Elements by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito 

Friday, October 14, 2016

"Perfect" Flaky and Tender Cream Cheese Pie Crust - Cookbook Countdown BAKE!

For the one pie I bake every year, Prize Pumpkin Pie for Canadian Thanksgiving, I've been using the all-butter Basic Flaky Pastry Pie Crust from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Pie and Pastry Bible. Once I got the hang of making it - I'm not really very good with pastry - I managed to get pretty consistent results over the years.
But Rose Levy Beranbaum swears by her Perfect Flaky and Tender Cream Cheese Pie Crust, an improved version of the original from The Pie and Pastry Bible. She has so much confidence in it, it's the only one she uses for all of the pies in her latest tome, The Baking Bible, the cookbook I used.
The dough comprised flour, salt, baking powder, butter, cream cheese, cream and cider vinegar. I used bleached all-purpose flour but I'll try to get my hands on the recommended pastry flour next time or perhaps I'll try the cake & pastry blend that's available here.
The food processor made short work of mixing and breaking down the ingredients (I think I over-processed it a little) but it didn't bring the dough together. Using a freezer bag was a neat and easy way to do that with some squishing and kneading action.
Chilled, it was easy to work with, requiring very little flour to prevent sticking.
I always make cookies from the scraps of dough, sprinkling the pastry with cinnamon sugar.
It looked great after baking. The shrinkage was a bit more than I expected but I probably over-worked the dough or stretched it too much putting it into the pie plate or didn't let it rest in the fridge long enough before baking or all of the above!!! I said I wasn't very good with pastry.....
It was tender and flaky and had a really good neutral flavour that would suit all sorts of fillings. Was it perfect? Mine wasn't, through no fault of the recipe or its creator (see above for possible reasons), but it was definitely the best one I've made so far.

Try it for yourself. The recipe can be found here.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown Special: Bake  hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pear Tart with Crunchy Almond Topping - Tuesdays with Dorie

The baking group Tuesdays with Dorie helped Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving yesterday with this month's selections of this elegant fruit tart and the more casual (but even more delicious in my opinion) Custardy Apple Squares, both from Dorie Greenspan's book Baking Chez Moi.
I always like to add something fruity to our Thanksgiving dessert table to keep the pumpkin treats company. This choice was perfect since it used beautiful local pears and for a tart with three components, was quite easy to put together: a sweet cookie crust (best tart crust ever!) that could be made in advance and frozen; chopped pears that were caramelized stove top before being baked in the pastry shell; a crunchy topping of toasted almonds

Pears and almonds are just so "right" together that it was no surprise it tasted great but I also loved the textural contrast of all of the layers. It was a big hit with everyone

I'll post about the yummy apple squares next time. Did the others bake with apples or pears this week? Visit here to find out