Baking

Chocolate and Grapefruit Challah from the book Breaking bread on a wire mesh stand

Breaking Breads By Uri Scheft

I have decided to maximize my resources in 2019. My shift in attitude has meant a new perspective of shopping. I am trying not to buy everything brand new. The thrift store has become one of my favorite places. After looking at all the books I own, physically and digitally, I knew it was time to use the library services. I still buy books but sometimes I borrow. Borrowing books is particularly easy because I realized I could use my library card for ebooks. I recently acquired the book, Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft from Hoopla, a digital lending service. From the book, I made this Chocolate and Grapefruit Confit Challah.

CONTINUE
A blood orange curd tart in a chocolate crust topped with coconut yogurt and granola.

My One Thing

A blood orange curd tart in a chocolate crust topped with coconut yogurt and granola.

I wasn’t going to put up a post today. It is clear to me that I have reached that stage in my blogging journey where I feel like quitting. That stage where it seems all my flaws become apparent. It is the stage where I compare myself to everyone else and somehow manage to lose every round. Then I stopped and challenged myself to talk about something I am good at. That thing is apparent when you see this chocolatey blood orange curd tart.

My one thing that I choose to hold on to today is that I know how to read and transform recipes. I am the queen of using one idea and turning out a million and one things. A few days ago, I shared a parfait that featured a blood orange curd, a creamy yogurt layer and homemade granola. While making that recipe, I remembered that I once made my sister a jam and yogurt tart. Then I decided to make it again with the blood orange curd.

Blood Orange Curd Tart and Parfait

The crust on this tart is from Pretty Simple Sweet. When I was building this chocolatey blood orange curd tart in my head, I knew that I had to find a super easy crust recipe. This one from Pretty Simple Sweet delivered. The only amendment I made to the recipe was to replace some of the flour with dark chocolate powder. Everything else stayed the same.

Food is one of my most important creative outlets. It is one arena in my life where I feel confident. Sometimes I find my relationship with food strange. On one hand, I have a history of disordered eating. On the other hand, I have loved cookings since I was a child. The one thing I have learned from examining my relationship is that the joy I derive from cooking is often the power that allows me to focus on building healthy eating habits.

When I am able to play with my food, I am happy. I am happy when I realize that I have new skills and knowledge about food. By writing this post today, I choose to honor my creative relationship with food.

To make the Chocolatey Blood Orange Curd tart, make the tart crust following the Pretty Simple Sweet recipe, substituting in some dark chocolate powder for flour. Then layer in the components from the Blood Orange Curd parfait.

Apple pie granola served with greek yogurt and boiled cider

As Easy As Apple Pie

A glass jar filled with apple pie flavored granola clusters

It finally snowed in the Greater Boston Area. The sidewalks are finally white and the roads are icy. Thankfully, there is no hurry this morning because it a public holiday. This Apple Pie Granola is a good make for a lazy morning breakfast.

I have always been a fan of granola. It is the perfect topping for yogurt because it adds just a bit of crunch. Granola is also a good snack. When I made this Apple Pie Granola, I was thinking more of snacking. It is hard for me to find things that I can munch on in the middle day. I can be quite a picky eater.

The Apple Pie Granola features some of my favorite things at the moment. I love hazelnuts so I added that in. Boiled Apple Cider is a current obsession so I used that to sweeten the mix. Where there is apple, clearly cinnamon and nutmeg should be welcomed as well. That, my friends, is how I ended up with a granola mix that reminds me of apple pie.

Apple pie granola served with greek yogurt and boiled cider

My homemade clusters showcase the best bit about granola making. It is easy to make. It is so unfussy that you can pretty much customize it to your heart’s content. Give it a try!

Apple Pie Granola

This Apple Pie Granola is homemade granola at its best. All of the good stuff and no fillers!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Breakfast
Keyword: almond slices, apple pie, boiled cider, cinnamon, crystallized ginger, granola, Hazelnut, nutmeg

Ingredients

  • 11/2 Cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 Cup Boiled Cider
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Almond Slices
  • 1/4 Cup Hazelnuts
  • 1/8 Cup Crystallized Ginger chunks
  • 1/4 cup Light Olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup Raisins

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300F. Add all the ingredients, except crystallized ginger and raisins, into a bowl and give it a good mix. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 mins, stirring it halfway. Once granola is done, pull it out of the oven and let it cool down
  • Sprinkle cooled down granola with ginger chunks and raisins before giving it a mix. Store in an airtight container.
A loaf of lemon poppy seed cake decorated with slices of lemon and thyme buds with dripping frosting on a white plate

Cleaning Up the Pantry

A cut loaf of lemon poppy seed cake decorated with slices of lemon and thyme buds with dripping frosting on a white plate

There is a theme emerging in my life at the moment. Food waste, and how to reduce it, has become a big thing for me. I am trying to use what I have on hand instead of continually shopping for food. This Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Thyme is a result of my attitude adjustment.

I live in a house with four other girls. As someone who loves food so much, I have managed to wrangle a more than massive amount of storage for my food and kitchen equipment. I have always known that I own a lot of food and things. Undertaking the project of organizing my personal pantry this week blew away my expectations.

It has always been clear to me that in order to manage my money, I have to manage my food budget. As someone who has survived an eating disorder, I get nervous when it comes to placing any form of boundaries around food. This has been the justification for shopping without controls for years. My free all approach means I am constantly buying more food than I can eat and throwing things out. Or I just forget that I own food. I decided to make Lemon Poppy Seed cake with Thyme because I discovered that I had an unopened jar of poppy seed in my stash.

A loaf of lemon poppy seed cake decorated with slices of lemon and thyme buds with dripping frosting on a white plate

The poppy seed jar was an impulsive purchase from sale. I just assumed I would find a use for it. That was about a year ago. Physically going through the pantry, and seeing what I had on hand, has made me realize I need to shop way less. For the next few weeks, I am committing to eating what I have already; in the pantry, fridge and freezer. It all has to go.

The recipe for the Lemon Poppy Seed cake with Thyme came from the Bake From Scratch. The only amendment I made was to half the recipe. I didn’t need two loaves of cakes in my house. The batter was pretty easy to put together especially since I used a Standing Mixer. I didn’t get the sense that this was finicky in any way. It almost felt like I was making a pound cake with some flavoring added.

I have had the Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Thyme for past couple of days and I am impressed with the texture. My daily slice has been consistently moist. It has been a great accompaniment with my morning cup of tea. Although, I have had to stop that because I really try not to start the day eating sweets. I feel like it makes the rest of the day turn into a massive sugar rave.

Do you have any emerging theme for 2019?

Holding a bitten walnut ginger shortbread between two fingers

A Smooth Homage to Walker’s

Holding a bitten walnut ginger shortbread between two fingers

There are few things that give me a pause like baking. I am not a natural baker. I haven’t baked long enough to feel like I can trust my intuition. Yet, nothing draws me like baking. I feel like my lack of skills is a challenge. The only way to get better is to try and try. Study my failures and enjoy my successes. Baking this walnut ginger shortbread was definitely a success.

A lot of what I do in terms of food is re-imagining things that I have seen. I try to change the details so that the core is the same but the experience of food shifts. This particular shortbread recipe is based upon the master shortbread recipe on the New York Times Cooking site. I find that recipe to be a good place to start when making shortbread because I have used it many times.

However, when I started thinking of this walnut ginger shortbread, I knew I had to look beyond just dumping in the ingredients. I wanted them to blend into the shortbread recipe and let it become it own thing. Hence, I made some adjustment to the recipe, not just the ingredients but the technique as well. The changes I have made reflect the way I enjoy food; both the cooking and eating.

short stacks of walnut ginger shortbread on a white plate

Despite the nut in the walnut ginger shortbread, I want to still have a smooth experience in the mouth. This meant finding a way to turn the walnut into a sort of flour instead of lumps studded into the dough. The crystallized ginger is a homage to Walker’s version of the Ginger Shortbread. The ginger is also chopped finely so that the dough remains smooth.

One finally note I will make about the process of figuring out this cookie is the baking temperature. I played around with the baking temperature until I arrived at a temperature and timing that gave just the right amount of browning. I hope you try out the recipe for the walnut ginger shortbread. It is really easy but produces a cookie that is marvelous with tea.

Walnut and Ginger Shortbread

A melt-in-the-mouth shortbread cookie with crystalline ginger
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Chilling Time4 hrs
Total Time40 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: Cookies, ginger, shortbread, walnut
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Sinmi

Ingredients

  • 1 Stick Butter room temperature
  • 1/2 Cup Walnut Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Crystallized Ginger chopped into tiny bits
  • 11/4 Cup All purpose flour
  • 1/4 Cup Corn Flour
  • 1 egg yolk room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar

Instructions

  • In a bowl, combine the sugar, ginger, walnut flour, all-purpose flour and corn flour with salt.
  • Cream the butter and the egg yolk together until fluffy. 
  • Add in the flour mixture, about 2 tbsp at a time, and mix gently. Don’t mix too much so that the cookie remains flakey.
  • When flour and butter mixture is incorporated, pour the dough on parchment paper and gently roll into a log. 
  • It is time to chill the cookie dough. I prefer to have the dough in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours but four hours is the recommended minimum. The dough would last in the freezer for a couple of months. If you freeze, bring out cookie dough into a refrigerator at least a couple of hours before baking.
  • When it is time to bake, preheat oven to 300F.
  • To bake the walnut ginger shortbread, cut the log into 1/4 inch thick coins. Place on a baking tray, preferably lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. 
  • Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. The shortbread can be baked longer if you prefer a bit more color on the cookies.
A loaf of knead bread with a slice beside it on a mesh rack

No-Knead Bread

A loaf of knead bread with a slice beside it on a mesh rack

There are few things in life that I find more comforting than bread. Especially the Agege bread that the hawkers used to carry around on top of their head in Lagos. That soft doughy white bread that was just the perfect vessel for all kinds of food. If you have never had Agege bread stuffed with the the fatty trims of suya, you haven’t eaten one of the best things. Or maybe you have never tried Agege bread with akara or the perfectly soft moinmoin. Missing Agege Bread led me to no-knead bread.

There are few things I miss about home like I miss bread. The way bread just seemed to be on every corner and you could always figure out a meal pronto. It might seem crazy that I miss bread in a country where the grocery stores have a million and one options for bread. There is every shape, every size and every ingredient bread in every store.

slice of noknead bread with mashed white beans and poached eggs

But in a land of plenty, when that one special one is missing, you begin to question if you even belong. Lately, I have been experimenting with making bread. I am not a good bread-maker. It is important that I admit my flaws up front. It is either I am too impatient or not attentive enough when making bread. There are bread makers whose artistry and language floor me. I am just trying to make something that could fill some of that void from not having my home bread with me.

For the past couple of years, the no-knead bread has been my companion. Originally presented to the world by Mark Bittman during his time at the New York Times, this recipe has travelled around the world of food blogs. It is a pantry staple that is versatile enough. The recipe is as unfinicky as a bread recipe can be. And the result makes me feel like I have created something special when really all I have done is let flour, water and yeast rest for a long period of time. If there is one recipe I can recommend as a good place to play, it is the no-knead recipe.

I look forward to sharing my different variations of this recipe on this blog.