Fig & Feta Focaccia

A quick post to show the other type of focaccia I made this week for The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.  I made a pizza version of this a couple week’s ago (and did not blog about it! Took picture to Tweet my lunch, though) and it was so delicious I knew I would make it when focaccia came up in the rotation.

Fig & Feta Pizza

Fig & Feta Pizza

It’s just plain foccacia with sliced figs, crumbled feta, chopped rosemary, and lots of extra-virgin olive oil.

{sms} Lemon Boysenberry Mini-Cheesecakes

I have many different sizes of springform pans. I have an 8-inch, a 9-inch, a 10-inch. I even have a 4-inch. However, I currently don’t have access to those pans and my Mother doesn’t have any at all.

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays group bake–the Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake with Cornmeal Crumble Crust–calls for a 9-inch springform pan. I wasn’t going to buy another 9-inch and wasn’t too sure of my baking abilities to use a non-springform pan, so I conveniently used my situation to buy a new pan I’ve had on my wishlist. O:) I bought a mini-cheesecake pan. Besides, we all know co-workers like individual servings.

I made a 1/2 a recipe for crust, filling, and berry topping. In retrospect, I should have only made a 1/3 or maybe even a 1/4 of the filling. After pouring the filling into the mini-cheesecake wells, I had a bunch left over.

No blueberries at the farmers’ market, so I used boysenberries. Boysenberries have a very short season–typically the month of July–so grab them if you see them. They are very sweet and juicy. Because boysenberries have large seeds, I strained the syrup to remove the seeds.

The crunch from the cornmeal in the crust provided a nice contrast to the creaminess of the cheesecake and the lemon juice and zest livened up the filling. These were very successful with the hordes here, so successful that it turns out I don’t have any to bring into work.

Thank you to Eliana of a Chica Bakes for picking this week’s selection. If you would like the recipe buy the book or visit Eliana’s blog.

Casatiello

Due to the crazy circumstances surrounding my life right now, I was unable to blog about the petite brioche à tête I made for the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge. I did tweet while I baked them, so that counts. Right?

The next bread up for me in challenge was the Casatiello, an Italian version of brioche. The original recipe calls for salami or other meats and cheese. I don’t eat meat, so I decided to go with a cheese/dried fruit combination.

I love manchego cheese, especially with pear jam on crackers. Peter Reinhart suggests not to use hard, non-melty cheeses because you will not get the ooey-gooey pockets of cheese goodness. To make sure I got thouse pockets, I mixed my manchego cheese with Monterey jack cheese. Peter also says not to use jack because of the lack of great taste. I was going for the melty properties, so I used 4 ounces manchego and 2 ounces of jack.

In place of the meat, I diced up dried pears (2 ounces) and dried figs (2 ounces).

For the first time ever, I had a helper baking the bread with me. My 4 year-old nephew, Diego.

diego

Diego watching the bread knead.

Diego really enjoyed baking with me and I think he is an excellent helper. Diego was also very impressed with the magic of yeast.

We made six-ounce casatiello which we baked in 4-inch diameter European-style bread paper.

Diego shaping the casatiello.

Diego shaping the casatiello.

The casatiello were a big hit with the family. They were very delicious and enjoyed by all. The pockets of cheese are what make the bread. However, I felt they needed a bit more salt. With the absence of salami or other dried meats I should have upped the salt content.

Another hit from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. If you would like the recipe, please buy the book.

Yes, I did it again.

But this time I made chocolate ones! And almond ones! and oh my, cheese ones!

choc-croissant

This was my second time making croissants from scratch. My first time was such a big achievement for me. It was a lot of work and faith because I didn’t know how they would turn out.

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They were so successful and delicious, that I had no qualms about making them again when they came up as the next recipe for me to try out of The Art and Soul of Baking. This recipe is slightly different than Tartine’s recipe, but the method is the same.  Lots of rolling and turning and refrigerating the dough. It takes about 2 days to make them, so you do have to have a chunk of time to devote. Of course, much of the time is off-hand. You also need space to roll out the dough. And butter, lots of butter. 😛

These made smaller croissants, so they aren’t as big and gorgeous as my first go-around. But the taste was definitely still there. Because I made all-plain the first go-around, I decided to make all the variations in the book this time. The recipe makes 24 decent sized croissants. I made six each of: chocolate, almond, cheese, and plain.

croissants chocolate filling

The chocolate and cheese were simple, you just had some of the grated ingredient before you roll the croissants. The almond ones required me to make an almond pastry filling made from almond paste, sugar, (more) butter, egg, lemon zest, vanilla, and a bit of flour.

croissants waiting to be baked

This recipe was a bit easier for me than the first time. It wasn’t painful to roll out the dough and turn it and cut it and shape it. I would almost say croissants are easy to make and I have absolutely no qualms about making them again. And I definitely will.

croissants waiting to be baked2

My favorite was the cheese one, because I’m a cheese freak. I used Baby Swiss, which is a semi-soft cheese that is milder and more melty than regular Swiss. The other flavors were quite tasty too.  You can find the recipe for both the croissants and the almond filling HERE.

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I’m submitting this to Yeastspotting, a weekly round-up of yeasted goods and bread.

Browned Butter Gnocchi with Spinach and Pine Nuts

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And lots of shredded Parm cheese, of course. 😛

I  made this for dinner the other night. It comes from the Jan/Feb issue of Cooking Light. It was very easy to make (and very easy to eat!). You brown butter with the pine nuts, add some minced garlic,  and finally toss in torn spinach and cooked gnocchi. Gnocchi only takes about 2 minutes to cook and is totally cool because when they are done they float to the top. Heat and stir until the spinach is wilted and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

You can find the recipe here.

(This recipe more than made up for the disaster, that was the Deep Dark Chocolate Biscotti, that was in this month’s issue of Cooking Light.  For some reason, it didn’t work for me and it ended up in the garbage.)