Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Learning Sourdough

I LOVE to bake bread, but making my own sourdough starter has always kind of intimidated me. A few weeks ago, I started looking up recipes for starters and turns out, they are as simple as can be! I found myself a large jar with a tight fitting lid, nailed a small hole in the top, and dumped 1 cup of warm filtered water and 1 cup of whole wheat flour into it. After mixing it with my wooden spoon (metal is apparently bad for making yeast!), I set the jar on my counter. For 2 weeks, I dumped half of it out (next time I am going to dump half of it into other jars and give them to friends. I hate waste.), then mixed in 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water (this is called feeding), and put it back on top of my fridge. After noticing that my starter had developed a bubbly froth, I knew it was done. So, I stuck it into the fridge and reminded myself to feed it once a week until I was ready to use it. Well, yesterday I put it to use. I stuck it into a bowl to proof it and after a few hours, it was ready. I found a couple of different recipes and decided on 2. The first one required only 1/2 cup of the starter and also for me to leave it out over night mixed with flour and and water - I'll update you when that bread is done. The second required 2 cups and was a basic yeasted bread recipe - it did not turn out well. I got impatient and baked it before it was done rising. Oops. The good news is that I had some starter leftover. So, I fed it and stuck it on top of my fridge to ferment for a day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Meringue Cookies!

I've been experimenting with my new Versawhip 600k and let me tell you, it has been a delicious blast! It seems to be the key to making these airy treats that are usually done with egg whites. Who knew?

These precious little clouds of sweetness are too good for me not to share! Here's the recipe:

1/2 Cup Water

2 Teaspoons Versawhip 600k

1/2 Teaspoon Xanthan Gum

1 Cup Powdered Sugar

2 Tablespoons Powdered Vanilla Extract (The alcohol in the liquid extract reacts with the Versawhip and they come out less fluffy)

1 Tablespoon Pure Cranberry Juice (for a little tartness and color, but is optional)

Preheat the oven to 225

Line a baking sheet (I use stoneware. If you don't, double up on baking sheets) with parchment paper.

Pour water and Versawhip into stand mixer bowl and mix. Start at the lowest speed and slowly work your way up to high. Whip until soft peak forms.

Sift powdered sugar, xanthan gum, and powdered extract. Turn the mixer down a few notches and gradually add in sugar mixture. Turn speed back up to high and whip until stiff peak forms.

Add cranberry juice (if using) and mix to incorporate.

Put meringue mix into a piping or plastic bag and pipe the meringue onto the baking sheet.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Orange Glazed Coffee Cake!

I needed a cake in a pinch last week and had very little Earth Balance and no powdered sugar for frosting. I had 2 five year olds with me, so I wasn't about to go to the store (it was my daughter's best friend's birthday who I babysat last minute, hence my reason for needing a cake!). I decided to make a sort of a crumb/coffee cake, but wanted to do citrus instead of the traditional cinnamon/sugar combo. The end result was a glazed, almost donut like, orange cake!

Here's the recipe for you to enjoy!


2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour

1 Cup All-Purpose Flour

1 1/2 Cups Sugar

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1 Banana, roughly chopped

1/4 Cup Oil (Safflower, Canola, Vegetable)

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

3/4 Cup Orange Juice (I used fresh squeezed - only because I didn't have any juice)

Glaze Topping

1/4 Cup Earth Balance

1 Cup Sugar

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

2 Tablespoons Milk (almond, soy, rice - whatever you fancy)

Zest of an orange


Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan

Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer, whisk together the banana, oil, vanilla, and orange juice. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients in stages, until the batter is mixed without lumps. Pour the batter into your prepared pan.

In a small saucepan, melt the Earth Balance. Whisk in sugar and let bubble for a moment. Whisk in vanilla and milk. Zest your orange over the pan and stir until smooth. Drizzle the mixture over the batter.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Make sure to find a spot that is free from topping, as the icing may cause the toothpick to look wet, even if the cake is ready.

Wait until the cake has cooled completely before slicing.