Rustic Ciabatta Bread

September 2, 2014

 

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I think it is about time to bake some bread. Recently I’ve had quite the craving for some good, hearty, home-baked bread. The store-bought variety just won’t do. I simply can’t abide that pillowy squishy white Wonder bread that practically dissolves to mush when you bite into it….I’m talking about some bread you can really sink your teeth into, with a chewy yet crispy crust surrounding a light, airy, springy interior with lots of nooks and crannies to hold all of the dipping oil, butter, jam or jelly I can pile onto it.  Ciabatta Bread is what I want. Ciabatta, which means “slipper”, is the Italian answer to French baguettes. The dough for this yeast bread has high hydration which gives it all of those lovely bubbles, making the finished loaves appear riddled with holes. It also makes the bread very difficult to shape, (take note here, when the recipe below says “wet or floured” hands, you better do it. This dough is sticky beyond all reason!) resulting in broad somewhat flatter loaves which kind of resemble a flat old house slipper. I guess that doesn’t sound very appetizing come to think of it, but take my word for it, this bread is delicious!

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Once I had decided to make this particular bread, I knew just where to turn for the perfect recipe, Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day is one of my favourite cookbooks. It is just chock full of wonderful bread recipes. I’ve made quite a few of them is the past, such as Napoletana Pizza Dough, Pain a l’Ancienne Focaccia, Chocolate Cinnamon Babka, Struan and his Best Biscuits Ever and I have always been delighted with the outcome, so I just knew his Rustic Ciabatta Bread would be fantastic as well. Boy oh boy was I right. This bread was everything I hoped. I couldn’t believe it came out of my little old kitchen and not a fancy bakery!

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Now I wouldn’t say this bread is difficult to make, but I will say there are quite a few steps involved and an overnight cold fermentation. So you need to plan ahead. It is not really a spur of the moment, I need a loaf of bread for dinner in a couple of hours kind of thing. And there are some tools of the trade which I definitely recommend. It is not that you can’t make this bread without them, but if you have them, your life will be far easier. So here is a rundown of my bread baking essential tools. This bread requires an instant yeast which is different from active dry yeast. You can substitute in active dry yeast if that is all you have, but you should increase the amount of yeast by 25 percent. I love the SAF Red Instant Yeast and keep a canister of it in my freezer all of the time. I think that a stand mixer is pretty essential for me, though this bread can be made by hand. A good thermometer, like this Thermapen, which takes quick readings, is great. A kitchen scale is very handy as well. You will be able to get a much more accurate measurement if you weigh ingredients, rather than trying to rely on volume measurements, such as cups. Everyone scoops ingredients differently. A cup scooped by me, will likely weigh different from a cup scooped by another person. Dough Rising Buckets are a great thing to have on hand. You can simply let your dough rise in a big bowl, if you don’t have a bucket, but these are great because they are easy to close or cover to prevent drafts, and there are measurements marked on the outside making it easier to tell when your dough has doubled in size. And finally, I recommend having a baking stone to bake your bread upon. A baking stone will absorb and retain heat better than a regular sheet pan. That radiated heat will encourage more oven spring. Oven spring is the final burst of rising that happens just after bread is introduced to the oven, before the crust begins to harden. If you are able to produce a good oven spring your bread will have a light and airy texture. Steam also helps at this moment. Steam will keep the outside of the bread softer for a bit longer so that you can maximize the oven spring of the yeast. It also makes the crust a bit more crackly and chewy. Suggestions for producing a blast of steam in a home oven are included in the directions below. Now don’t let all of those tools overwhelm you. You don’t have to have all of them to make this bread. You can put some of these nifty tools on your baking wish list and in the meantime just go on ahead a make up a batch of this bread. I think you’ll be very pleased with yourself as well as with these Rustic Ciabatta Loaves. Light and airy, soft and springy surrounded by a satisfyingly chewy yet crispy crust.. Yum! There is nothing quite like home-baked bread!

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Rustic Ciabatta Bread

  • Difficulty: moderate
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recipe from: Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups (20 oz./567 grams) unbleached bread flour (I used King Arthur’s Unbleached Bread Flour)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons (0.4 oz/11 grams) salt, or 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons (0.14 oz/4 grams) instant yeast (my favourite yeast is saf-instant yeast)
  • 2 cups (16 oz./454 grams) chilled water (about 55ºF or 13ºC)
  • 1 Tablespoon (0.5 oz/14 grams) olive oil

Directions:

Combine the flour, salt, east and water in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute. The dough should be coarse and sticky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to fully hydrate the flour.

Drizzle the olive oil over the dough. Then mix on medium-low speed using the paddle attachment for 1 minute. The dough should become smoother but will still be very soft, sticky and wet. Use a wet bowl scraper or spatula to transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl.(I use these plastic dough rising buckets) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface. With wet or oiled hands, reach under the front end of the dough, stretch it out, then fold it back onto the top of the dough. Do this from the back-end and then from each side, then flip the dough over and tuck it into a ball. The dough should be significantly firmer, though still very soft and fragile. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Repeat this process three more times, completing all repetitions within 40 minutes.

After the final stretch and fold, immediately cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate over night or for up to 4 days. The dough will rise, possibly to double its original size, in the refrigerator. If you plan to bake the dough in batches over different days, you can portion the dough and place it into two or more oiled bowls at this stage.

When ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator three hours in advance ( or an hour earlier if the dough hasn’t increased to 1 1/2 times its original size in the refrigerator overnight.)

One hour after taking the dough out of the refrigerator, line the back of a sheet pan with parchment paper and generously dust the entire surface with flour. Use a wet or oiled bowl scraper to transfer the dough to the work surface, taking care to handle the dough as little as possible to avoid degassing it.

Dust the top surface of the dough with flour and also flour your hands. Using your hands or a metal pastry scraper, gently coax and pat the dough into a rough square measuring about 9 inches on each side, still taking care to degas it as little as possible.

Cut the dough into 3 even strips about 3 inches wide and 9 inches long. The pieces will each weigh about 12 ounces or 340 grams. With floured hands, gently fold the dough in thirds, like folding a letter but without applying any pressure. Gently roll the folded dough in the dusting flour to coat it and then lift the dough and place it on the parchment paper, again rolling it in the dusting flour on the parchment. Rest the dough seam side down on the parchment and repeat with the other pieces of dough.

Mist the tops of the dough pieces with spray oil and loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap or a clean, lint free towel. After 1 hour, gently roll the pieces over so the seam side is up, lift and cradle each piece with floured hands, and, working from the underside, gently coax it to a length of 5 inches. Lay the pieces back on the parchment seam side up. Straighten the sides of each piece with your hands or a pastry scraper so that they are more rectangular than oblong, mist with spray oil again, the cover loosely and proof for 1 hour more.

About 45 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 550ºF (288ºC) or as high as it will go. Place a baking stone, if you are using one, or sheet pan if you prefer, as well as a steam pan in the oven to preheat as well. The steam pan can be either a sheet pan with a 1″ rim or a lasagna pan with taller side, or even a cast-iron frying pan. The steam pan should be placed on the shelf under the baking stone.

When ready to bake, slide the dough, parchment and all, onto the stone or sheet pan. Pour 1 cup of hot water into the preheated steam pan, Always use an oven mitt or a hot pad and wear long sleeves when adding water to the hot steam pan to prevent steam burns. You should also cover oven windows with a dry dish towel or rag to prevent backsplash from hitting the window and cracking it. Do not forget to remove the towel before closing the oven door! Use a watering can with a long spout when pouring water into the steam pan.You can also use a spray bottle such as a plant mister, to spritz the oven walls a few times to create additional steam. Then close the door and lower the oven temperature to 450ºF (232ºC).

Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the crust is a rich brown (streaked with dusting flour). The bread should puff a little, and the crust should be hard when tapped (it’ll soften as it cools). Cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes before slicing

Enjoy!

Rustic Ciabatta Loaves brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )


Boozy Birthday Bourbon Layer Cake

August 29, 2014

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Boozy Birthday Bourbon Layer Cake. Say that three times fast! I would try but I’m afraid my mouth is stuffed full of cake at the moment. Hey…sometimes one – meaning yours truly – needs inspiration to write these blogs. I mean occasionally I’m at a loss what to say. If you were here I would just hand you a big old plate full of whatever it was I was trying to artfully describe. Let the food do the talking if you get my drift.

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Other times I just stuff my face full of whatever it is and start writing. Luckily for me, it was the last piece of the Boozy Birthday Bourbon Layer Cake I made for my friends recent birthday. I’m a big believer that there is nothing like a big old fancy homemade cake to properly convey an enthusiastic Happy Birthday.

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I mean store-bought cakes are ok and I guess I could see if you have a favourite bakery ( mine is Baked & Wired – if anyone was wondering…) and a favourite cake from said favourite bakery (uhhhh… do you know me at all?…cupcakes from Baked & Wired – any flavour will do but please no fruit filling. Get those for my husband.), folks could do just fine stopping by there and simply picking up a big old bakery box of love. However, if you have a bit of baking skill, I think you’ll get quite a few points (there I go with those supposed points again…) by making someone a cake, with as many layers as you can manage (the more layers, the more points) from scratch.

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My Grandmother, of the Jewish Apple Cake fame, always made me a Hot Milk Cake with Old Fashioned Chocolate Fudge Frosting for my birthdays. I can remember one above all of the others. I think I was about five years old. It had the usual chocolate frosting and shaky script handwriting spelling out Happy Birthday.  But this one was decorated with tiny plastic cake decorations. In this case they were ballerinas wearing pink tutus. I thought it was awesome!  I can still picture it perfectly in my mind’s eye.

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Here is the only picture we could find with the remembered cake. Perhaps also showing my early tendency towards cupcake obsession.

When I got to be about 14 -15 years old and was the standard clueless teenager, I asked my Mom for a store-bought sheet- style birthday cake. I got it into my head that they were pretty cool with all of their fancy colours and big frosting flowers. Not to mention, that is the type of cake most of my friends had on their birthdays. Mom got me the cake, but it just wasn’t all I hoped it would be. It tasted ok, if not a bit plasticy and sickeningly sweet as those cakes often do. The bakery misspelled my name, which was a bit of a bummer. But luckily, Grandma, either through force of habit or some greater knowledge (mom-mom worldly wisdom) had still made me my old standard Hot Milk Birthday Cake. From then on, I knew which cake I’d be requesting when asked. Yup…although Grandma is not around to bake it for me anymore, my Mom has picked up the torch and has been known to whip up one mean Hot Milk Cake with Old Fashioned Fudge Frosting in no time flat! So when my friend’s birthday rolled around, I wanted to make him something special. A cake he would really like. I was pretty sure that vintage plastic ballerinas wouldn’t do a thing for him, so I turned my thoughts to something which seems to get most folks pretty excited…booze! In his case Bourbon. He has been known to take an occasional sip or two of that Knob Creek elixir from time to time. And there is quite a lot of bourbon to be found in this cake. Yup…it is in the cake, in the ganache and in the icing. A veritable Bourbon bonanza!

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This cake was a huge hit. The buttermilk, yeah that’s right….even more “B” words, made the cake layers wonderfully light and moist. The frosting was rich, yet fluffy and fantastically boozy.

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Made for quite the happy birthday, not only for the birthday boy, but also for all his well wishers to boot! Got a special occasion coming up and some bourbon lovers in the house? Look no further, this Boozy Birthday Bourbon Layer Cake will get the job done!

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Boozy Birthday Bourbon Layer Cake

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy but a lot of steps!
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recipe from: Love & Olive Oil

Ingredients:

For Cake:

  • 1 vanilla bean split and scraped, seeds reserved
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) bourbon (pick your poison…I used Knob Creek)
  • 2 cups (13.5 ounces) all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

For the Buttercream:

  • 4 ounces dark chocolate
  • 6 ounces milk chocolate
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar, or more as needed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon Bourbon

For the Ganache:

  • 4 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon

Directions:

Combine the bourbon and vanilla bean together in a small bowl. Steep overnight, or as long as you can before proceeding.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and line 3 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter parchment.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Combine the sugar, butter, and reserved vanilla bean seeds in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 10 minutes, until very light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically as needed.

Reduce the speed to medium low and add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Add the flour mixture, one cup at a time, alternating with buttermilk, mixing on low speed until incorporated. Immediately add the bourbon (discard the vanilla pod) and mix until combined.

Divide the batter among prepared pans. You can just eyeball it, or weigh the pans like I do, with my handy dandy OXO Food Scale. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and springy. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Run a small knife around the edges of each pan, then gently invert onto wire racks. Cakes should come out cleanly. Allow to cool completely.

For the ganache:  Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring cream to a bare simmer over low heat. Pout hot cream over chocolate, and stir until smooth. Add bourbon. Set aside and allow to cool until thickened slightly (the room temperature ganache should be about the consistency of peanut butter). If it’s too thick, you can add a little bit more hot cream and stir until smooth.

For the buttercream: Melt chocolates in a microwave or double boiler over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, 2 Tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. If you don’t add the sugar slowly and mix thoroughly after each addition, you run the risk of ending up with gritty icing, which no one will be pleased with! Add cooled chocolate and beat until smooth. Add heavy cream and bourbon and beat until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar or heavy cream as necessary to achieve desired consistency.

To assemble:  Level each cake layer by cutting of the domed top with a long serrated knife. Or use a handy cake leveler like I did. Place one layer, flat side down, on a cake stand or serving platter. To keep the platter clean while frosting, place 4 small strips of parchment or waxed paper just under the edges of the cake. This will allow you to frost the cake and then remove these strips cleanly later.

Spread half of the ganache evenly over top of layer, followed approximately 1/2 cup of buttercream. Position second layer on top and press to adhere. Repeat with remaining ganache, another 1/2 cup of buttercream, and final cake layer, flat side up.

Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream. This “crumb coat” will make frosting the cake easier. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to allow this crumb coat to set.

Remove cake from refrigerator and frost with remaining buttercream, reserving some if you’d like to add any decorative details or borders.

Enjoy!

Bourbon Birthday Cake brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )


Banana Buttermilk Pistachio Muffins

August 15, 2014

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I had a couple bananas get a little too ripe the other day. That hasn’t happened in a while and I must say I was pretty pleased, because that meant I just had to make some sort of yummy banana treat. So I decided to surprize the husband with a batch of freshly baked Banana Buttermilk Pistachio Muffins. I love to use buttermilk when I bake. It adds a slight tang to everything and gives baked goods a wonderfully tender and light texture.

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These muffins were indeed light, despite the fact that they had a bit of whole-wheat flour in them, which can make a muffin somewhat heavy or dense. And they weren’t too sweet, which I prefer in a breakfast muffin. If you like a really sweet, almost dessert type of muffin you may wish to up the sugar, add some chocolate chips into the mix or perhaps sprinkle some Demerara sugar over the top when you bake them. I did modify the original recipe a bit as well. It called for canola oil but I used coconut oil which tastes absolutely divine in pastries.

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And although I know that folks mostly use walnuts or peanuts in banana muffins, I decided to go with pistachios and was very pleased with the combination. These Banana Buttermilk Pistachio Muffins were quick and easy to prepare. And made for a delightful start to the day!

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Banana Buttermilk Pistachio Muffins

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe slightly adapted from Williams Sonoma

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 cup well-mashed ripe banana
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted ( or you can substitute in canola oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Spray 12 standard muffin cups with canola-oil cooking spray, or use paper liners.

In a large bowl, stir together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, sugar, baking powder,baking soda and cinnamon.

In another bowl or a large, glass measuring pitcher, whisk together the buttermilk, banana, egg and vanilla. If you are using coconut oil, warm the buttermilk mixture in the microwave ( do this in 5 -10 second bursts, you just want it warmed not cooked and microwaves can get a bit out of control if you are not careful :) ), until it comes to room temperature.  Once it is warmed up, add the coconut oil. If you put coconut oil into a cold mixture it will congeal to solid clumps (yuck!). If you are using canola oil, you can simply add it to the buttermilk mixture. No warming required. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Do not overmix. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Sprinkle the tops evenly with the pistachios (or nut of your choosing).

Bake the muffins until they are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn out onto the rack and let cool completely. The muffins will keep in a zippered plastic bag at room temperature for 2 or 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Enjoy!

Banana Buttermilk Pistachio Muffins brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )

 

 


Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs with Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema on Buttery Buns

July 18, 2014

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Summer grilling weather is happening as we speak. Temperatures have certainly soared to a level at which the thought of turning on the stove top, or heaven forbid the oven is ludicrous. Yup…I say don’t do a thing that would encourage that mercury to climb one fraction of an inch higher inside your house. Come supper time, send the husband out into the wilds of the backyard to grill up some meat. A favourite summer grilled entree around here is the humble yet very tasty hot dog. No fuss, no muss! And how in the world could a hot dog get any better? Well there is that bit where you can add some chili and cheese to arrive at the Chili Cheese Dog. Those are pretty special, but I think I’ve found something to add that might even surpass them. Are you ready for it? Wrap them in Bacon!

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Everything is better with bacon and hot dogs are no exception to that rule. I don’t know why I haven’t done this sooner, but I am so glad that I finally got around to it. The addition of a little strip of bacon makes those dogs seem so much fancier.

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And when you throw in some home-baked Buttery Hot Dog Buns (so much for keeping the oven off :) ) and a delicious condiment like this Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema, the simple grilled dog has gone completely over the top…soaring to – dare I say it – gourmet heights! Now I knew that bacon wrapped hot dogs would be fantastic. And I must say, these Buttery Buns are perfection – rich, tender and soft, yet tough enough to stand up to not only a bacon wrapped dog but also all of the toppings you can heap on as well.

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But the big surprize was this Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema. I am completely head over heels in love with it. It hits your taste buds with a wonderfully fresh and spicy zing which is quickly followed with a smooth, cooling creaminess. I’m a bit out of control, putting it on everything. I just can’t get enough. I’ve probably whipped up my 4th batch at this point. Now I will warn you, it is spicy! So for those of you with tender tongues, go easy. You have been warned. But for those of you out there like the husband and myself, get ready for a new addiction. So what are you waiting for? Get that grill fired up and make some of these Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs with Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema today.

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Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs with Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema on Buttery Buns

  • Servings: 5-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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sources: Jalapeno/CilantroCrema sauce inspired by: Milk & Honey , Buttery Hot Dog Buns from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 10 hot dogs (your choice – but I love Hebrew Nationals or Nathans)
  • 10 strips of bacon (not thick cut)
  • 10 Homemade Buttery Hot Dog Buns (recipe below-or just use store-bought ones if your oven is entirely off-limits!)
  • Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema (recipe below)
  • Additional toppings such as: cheese, chopped white onion, mustard, ketchup, coleslaw

Directions:

Bake Buttery Hot Dog Buns (recipe will follow) and set aside to cool.

Prepare Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema (recipe will follow). Pour into squeeze bottle and place in fridge to cool.

Wrap each hot dog with a strip of bacon. You can secure each bacon end into the hot dog with a toothpick if you wish, but I didn’t and the bacon stayed put!  Cook each hot dog on a grill over a medium to low heat. Do not try to turn your dog too soon or the bacon will be more likely to stick to the grill. Gently rotate each bacon wrapped hot dog as they cook so that all sides can be cooked evenly. Remove from the grill when the bacon becomes crispy. 

To get those nice grill marks on your hot dog buns: Brush each side of hot dog rolls with melted butter and place on the grill for 15 -20 seconds before flipping to other side. Set aside and keep warm.

When ready to eat, grab a warm home-made bun, place a bacon wrapped dog in it, squeeze some of that delicious Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema over it and add whatever other toppings you desire!

For the Buttery Hot Dog Buns:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (361 grams) King Arthur Unbleached Flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons (35 grams) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (28 grams) nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup (46 grams) potato flour or 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) soft unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (227 grams) lukewarm water

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients, mixing then kneading to make a smooth dough. Let the dough rise, covered, until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Lightly grease a New England-style hotdog bun pan. (if you don’t have a hot dog pan – see below)

Gently deflate the dough, and stretch it until it’s about 15″ long and 6″ wide. Place the dough into the pan, stretching it to the edges.

Let the dough rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until it comes to within 1/2″ of the top of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Grease a baking sheet, and place it on top of the risen buns.

Put the covered buns into the oven, weighing the baking sheet down with something heavy and oven-safe; a cast-iron skillet works well.

Bake the buns for 18 minutes, remove the weighted baking sheet, and bake for 2 to 5 minutes longer, if necessary, to brown the buns.

Remove the pan from the oven, and cool the buns in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn them out onto a rack, rounded side up, to cool completely.

Slice each bun down the middle vertically, without cutting through the bottom; then cut between the buns to separate them.

No Hot Dog Pan Option: To make regular (not New England-style) hotdog buns without a pan, divide the dough into 10 equal pieces and form each piece into a cylinder 6″ in length. Transfer buns to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten the buns slightly (dough rises more in the center, so this will give them gently rounded tops), then allow to rise for 90 minutes. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

For the Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup store-bought pickled sliced jalapenos
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeno brine
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 of a small white onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons sour cream
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until desired consistency is reached.

Enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs with Jalapeno/Cilantro Crema on Buttery Buns brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )

 

 

 


Epic Chocolate, Porter & Potato Cake

March 7, 2014

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Anyone have any leftover mashed potatoes? It is rare that we have them leftover, usually gobbling them all up without a second thought. Yet it does occasionally happen. Truth be told I have started making ridiculous amounts of mashed potatoes when I actually do make them, for a couple of reasons. First of all, we have bee known to eat a whole bunch of mashed potatoes in one sitting. Second reason, I am always hoping there will be leftovers so that I can make them into potato farls the next day. And now I have another reason to scheme for leftovers. Believe it or not, I used leftover mashed potatoes in this Epic Chocolate, Porter & Potato Cake. Epic is the perfect word to sum up how I feel about this cake. Rich, chocolatey, moist and delicious! And with spuds and porter as featured ingredients, what cake could better boast of its Irish origins.

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I found this recipe at Bibliocook, the blog of award-winning Irish food writer and broadcaster, Caroline Hennessey. If you haven’t stopped by this great blog, you really must go take a peek. Caroline’s husband is one of the owners and brewers at Eight Degrees Brewing.  I first tasted one of their beers a couple of years ago at the Dingle Food Festival . My friend Theresa, being a fan of that craft brew, had brought along several of their beers for my husband and I to sample and we were instantly hooked. We are eagerly awaiting Eight Degrees arrival in the States. Make sure you keep it in mind if you are planning a trip over to Ireland. Indeed Caroline recommends that their Knockmealdown Porter, be the porter used in this Epic cake. And believe you me, I really wish I could have gotten ahold of a bottle, but alas, none was to be found in Virginia. So I decided to go with a locally brewed porter, looked to Baltimore Maryland (only about 1 hr or so away) and settled on DuClaw Brewing Company’s Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter, a decision which I am not second guessing after tasting this amazing cake. All of the malty, chocolate, espresso and peanut butter notes of that porter really shine through in every decadent forkful.

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I love that this cake is really no fuss/no-nonsense. It comes together quickly and easily. And since Caroline had mentioned that its taste improves a bit with age, I made it the day before I was planning to serve it and then just frosted it before folks arrived. And even though I frosted the entire cake, it really isn’t necessary. I think simply spreading a thick pillowy cloud of that cocoa dusted cream cheese filling would be sheer perfection. So why did I frost the entire cake? Well, it looks like it is time for a true confessions moment. The original recipe called for a 23cm round cake tin. Of course here in the States, we never really got into that metric system thing and still do everything in inches. I quickly figured out that 23 cm is a 9″ pan. However, I grabbed a cake pan that was only 1 1/2″ tall. It really needed to be at least 2″, so there was a bit of batter overflow happening when I baked it. No big deal as I had the cake tin sitting on a baking sheet, which caught the spillage. However, the edge of my cake ended up looking a bit raggedy. So I made the executive decision of covering my mistake with that scrumptious frosting and no one would be the wiser. Which they weren’t…until I spilled the beans here. Oh well, live and learn and always use taller cake tins when possible!

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I served this substantial cake up at one of my husband’s band rehearsals and it easily fed a flock of hungry musicians, some of whom had seconds, raving about it all the while. I guess I do have even more of a reason to make extra mashed potatoes now. I’m going to have to arrange to have 20 lb. sacks delivered to my home soon if I’m not careful. The 5 lb. ones just won’t do anymore!

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Epic Chocolate, Porter & Potato Cake

recipe slightly adapted from: Bibliocook

Ingredients:

  • 75 grams dark chocolate – it’s worth using 70% here
  • 225 grams butter, at room temperature
  • 200 grams caster sugar (caster sugar is the same as superfine sugar)
  • 220 grams light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 75 grams mashed potato (either cook some potatoes and mash them or used leftover mashed potatoes)
  • 250 grams all-purpose flour
  • 25 grams unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 150mls porter – I wish I could have used Eight Degrees Brewing Company’s Knockmealdown Porter, but I used Duclaw Brewing Company’s Sweet Baby Jesus! Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter

For the Cream cheese icing:

  • 200 grams cream cheese
  • 50 grams butter
  • 50 grams confectioners sugar, sifted

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 ° F and line the base of a 9 X 2″ round baking tin.

Melt the chocolate and allow to cool.

Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.

Mix in the melted chocolate and mashed potato.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda together. Gently mix into the cake batter in three additions, alternating with the porter.

Spoon into the prepared tin, leveling the surface with the back of the spoon, and bake for 1 hour – 1 hour, 10 minutes or until the cake feels springy and a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove to a cooling rack.

To make the icing, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth, then mix in the confectioners sugar. Spread over the cold cake, dusting with a little sweetened cocoa.

Enjoy!


Guinness Irish Apple Beer Bread & Spicy Guinness Cheddar Spread

March 1, 2014

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Here it is March 1st already! That means today is the first day of my annual blog-stravaganza leading up to St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th. Yup…I will be publishing one Irish-y recipe every day until March 17th. This is the 3rd year that I have done this and if you are looking for some tasty Irish-y dishes for St. Patrick’s Day, I hope you will follow along here each day. But I should also mention that I have quite a back catalog of Irish-y recipes from the past years. Just click on Runcible Eats/Recipes at the top of the navigation bar and scroll down to St. Patrick’s Day to see them.  (or just click here and scroll down)

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This year we’re going to get underway with a great recipe for a quick beer bread using… you guessed it – Guinness! Now you know that a bread made with Guinness is going to be fantastic. Cooking anything with Guinness just seems to improve it whether it be a hearty beef stew or a rich chocolate cake. Guinness stout seems to give everything a real depth of flavour. And this Guinness Irish Apple Beer Bread not only has yummy Guinness goodness in it, but it also has delicious apple butter added into the mix! I used some of my homemade Drunken Granny Apple Butter, but if you don’t have time to whip up a batch of your own, any store-bought apple butter will do in a pinch.  Being a quick bread, there are no rise times involved, so you’ll have two loaves out of the oven and ready for snacking before you know it. The bread is very moist and bursting with apple flavour. I like mine slathered in butter.

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The folks at A Spicy Perspective, the blog where I came across the original recipe, suggested that it paired well with a sharp cheddar spread. Apples and cheddar do taste great together, so I adapted a spicy cheddar spread from the folks at Cabot Creamery that I already had in my repertoire. Since this is for St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to Irish it up a bit and used Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar Cheese and a bit more Guinness (of course). Folks loved the resulting Spicy Guinness Cheddar Spread, both on the bread and on crackers as  well.

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This bread would work well with whatever St. Patrick’s Day feast you are preparing, but would also be very welcome at your St. Patrick’s Day breakfast table. Or as a mid-day snack to sop up some of those pints, I mean as a bit of pick-me-up. Make a couple of loaves today and don’t forget the Spicy Guinness Cheddar Spread! (That’s one down and 16 more days to go!)

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Guinness Irish Apple Beer Bread

recipe adapted from: A Spicy Perspective

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups Drunken Granny Apple Butter, or your favourite Apple Butter
  • 12 oz. Guinness Stout beer
  • 1 Tablespoon Lyle’s Golden Syrup (can substitute in 1 T Molasses)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour two 8 1/2 x 4″ loaf pans.

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs, apple butter, Guinness and golden syrup. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Slowly add dry mixture to the wet mixture. Mix until just combined.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared loaf pans. Baked for 60 – 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool bread in the loaf pans for 10 minutes before gently inverting on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Spicy Guinness Cheddar Spread

recipe adapted from: Cabot Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar, grated (about 2 cups) *
  • 1/4 cup  Sour Cream
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Guinness Stout
  • Large pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground red pepper (cayenne)

Directions:

Place grated cheddar, sour cream, butter, Guinness, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in bowl of  food processor and pulse until smooth.

* You can substitute in another cheddar if you are not able to find Kerrygold. I will mention though that you should buy a block of cheddar and grate it yourself. Do not use bags of shredded cheese. The pre-shredded cheese is coated with cellulose or corn starch to keep it from sticking together and could cause your cheese spread to be less creamy than it could be if you grated the cheese at home.

Enjoy!


Pumpkin Pecan Crunch Bread & Mini Muffins

November 28, 2013

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I can’t believe it! Not only is Halloween done and dusted, but I am actually roasting a Thanksgiving turkey as I type! (Wish me luck because this is the first time I have ever attempted to roast a whole bird! I’ve only done breasts before and the whole thing is definitely a bit more cumbersome to say the least…) Where in the world did Fall go? You know, it is a very slippery slope from Thanksgiving to Christmas and I can feel us just picking up speed at this point. I had wanted to share all of these lovely Fall apple recipes with you, but it looks like that might have to wait until after Thanksgiving…which is happening now. Oh well, what can I say? Things here have been a bit crazed to say the least and one does what one can. I should probably focus on the positive. So I will say that I do have a lovely Thanksgiving Day recipe for you…Pumpkin Pecan Crunch Bread and Pumpkin Pecan Crunch Mini Muffins.

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It is the same recipe, just different pans really. I like it prepared both ways. If you’re just hanging around with the family and are feeling rather relaxed and informal, the loaf pans are a bit less work. But I will say if you are making this for a get together, go with the mini muffins every time. Not only do they look adorable, but they are easier to manage in public than slicing a loaf of bread. Also, I should mention that the crunch-y, streusel-like topping has a tendency to break up and fall off of the full loaves more easily. And believe you me, you do not want to lose out on eating one crumb of that magical topping. It is completely addictive and really adds so much to this spicy, moist pumpkin bread. You just can’t get any better. Or so I thought… until I decided to drizzle a little bit of maple cream cheese glaze over the top! Mercy!

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I originally found the recipe on Once Upon a Chef.  A great blog which you should definitely take a peek at if you haven’t already! The Chef actually only adds the crunchy pecan topping to her muffins, which she makes as full sized muffins rather than the mini ones that I’ve done here. Furthermore, she bakes her pumpkin loaves without the crunchy topping. It was me that decided to do the topping for both. And me that got a bit carried away and had to add that glaze drizzle. Gilding the lily a bit, I’ll admit, but I just couldn’t stop! If you have a bit more restraint than me, feel free to leave it off. You can even feel somewhat virtuous about it…But me? I’ll be the one licking the maple glaze bowl clean!

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Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

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Pumpkin Pecan Crunch Bread & Mini Muffins

recipe adapted ever so slightly from: Once Upon a Chef

yield: two 4 1/2 x 8 loaves or 45 mini muffins

Ingredients:

For the Crunchy Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup Demerara sugar
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

For the Maple Cream Cheese Glaze: (optional)

  • 3 Tablespoons Cream Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup

For the Muffins (or Loaves):

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 15-ounce can 100% pure pumpkin (I use Libby’s)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray one mini muffin pan, or two 4 1/2 x 8″ loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.

For Topping: Combine flour, butter, Demerara sugar, chopped pecans and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

For Muffins: Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl and mix well. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar at low-speed until just blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; continue beating at medium speed until very light and fluffy, a few minutes. Add pumpkin and beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Turn speed down to low and mix in flour mixture until just combined. Use an ice cream scoop to transfer batter to muffin pans, filling each muffin tin about ¾ full. Sprinkle topping evenly over batter. Bake for about 18-21 minute, or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool on rack for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely (use a butter knife to lift them out of pan).

For Loaves:

Turn batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Sprinkle topping evenly over batter. Bake for about 65 – 75 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let loaves cool in pan about 10 minutes, then turn out on wire rack to cool completely.

For the Maple Cream Cheese Glaze:

Mix the cream cheese, sugar and maple syrup together until combined. Continue to stir until light and fluffy. Add a little milk or cream until mixture is of a consistency that can be drizzled. Drizzle over cooled loaves or muffins.

Enjoy!


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