Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Catching Up With Avid Baker's Challenge King Arthur Flour Recipes

When I joined the Avid Baker's Challenge (ABC) group in July 2013, its members had already been baking from the King Arthur Flour website for 6 months. Many of the recipes I'd missed looked appealing so I made a few of them. Before I realized it, I'd made 5 of the 6, with only the Boston Cream Pie remaining. Valentine's Day changed that. Here's my round-up:

January - Panettone Muffins
More cake-like than muffin-like in both mixing method and finished texture, these were delicious regardless of how you classify them. Lacking Fiori di Sicilia, the flavouring that gives Italian panettone its distinctive taste, I used a few drops each of lemon and orange oil. Though not completely authentic, these sweet little cakes, bursting with dried fruit (dates and cranberries) and citrus did capture the essence of panettone. 
The other bakers' results can be found here.

February - Boston Cream Pie
boston cake cake slice
The closest I've come to a Boston Cream Pie is the doughnut version made by one of our more illustrious doughnut shop chains. Let's just say it isn't my favourite. Fortunately, this cake was nothing like that doughnut. Homemade vanilla bean pastry cream (I used half of the King Arthur recipe) sandwiched between 2 layers of fluffy vanilla sponge cake and glazed with dark chocolate made a very special cake for a very special someone who happens to be a fan of those doughnuts.
Visit here to see what the other ABC bakers made.

March - No-Knead Cherry-Pecan Bread
I'm relatively new to the no-knead movement in bread baking, having made my first loaf just this past summer, but I've made enough of these savoury loaves since then to know that sweet chocolate has no place in them. So I omitted the chocolate chips. Apart from the addition of dried cherries and toasted pecans, the process was very much like the original Jim Lahey recipe, short on active time but long on waiting time for fermenting and proofing. And the results were the same: a crisp crust and moist, chewy crumb with the whole grain flours, fruit and nuts in this recipe adding an extra flavour dimension. Delicious freshly baked or toasted!
See the other bakers' loaves here.

April - Cheese-Stuffed Crusty Loaves
loaf slice
These were among the craziest breads I've ever made, not just in appearance but in method. Can you imagine trying to shape an ultra-soft, sticky dough after it's proofed without deflating it? You can tell I had trouble with this step by the look of my breads ;). However, their outward appearance belie the deliciousness within. Thin, crispy crust, moist, chewy crumb and oozing with cheese. I spread harissa on the dough for an extra kick before sprinkling with grated mozzarella and Pecorino. Fantastic with a hot bowl of soup.
Check out the other members' results here.

May - English Muffins
These were fluffy and delicious and far superior to any other recipe I've tried (Dahlia Bakery, Bread Baker's Apprentice among them). I used half whole wheat bread flour (by weight) but otherwise made no changes to the recipe. The dough was very wet and sticky but lightly oiling my hands helped with the shaping. Next time, I'll cook them for a little less time in the pan and let them spend more time in the oven since that first phase of cooking is quite time consuming.
See what the others thought here

June - Savoury Cheddar-Chive Scones
I've tried a few recipes for cheddar-chive scones, some spicy, some made with cornmeal, each one slightly different from the others; this one is distinguished by its inclusion of bacon and use of cream in place of some of the butter. I don't bake enough scones to be completely confidant with the technique but I do know that grating frozen butter into the flour mixture seems to result in a tender, flaky scone. I did that with this recipe and was rewarded. They baked up tall and flaky and though they were too salty for me, even with omitting the bacon, they're worth making again with that small adjustment.
If you would like to see the other bakers' results, visit here.

All caught up now! 

If you would like to try any of these recipes, clicking on the recipe name will take you to it on the King Arthur Flour website.

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