Macaroons

My dearest step-sister, Sarah, recently broke her arm, so to help her in her healing process I decided to make her some cookies. Baking for Sarah is slightly complicated because she does not it wheat, so I had to make something that didn’t require flour, since honestly, I think the gluten-free flour just tastes nasty. So the perfect cookie of course was macaroons because they have no flour in them. I make these often because they are so incredibly easy to make and because they always turn out so delicious. I decided to put the chocolate on the bottom this time because the bottoms were a little sticky because I was worried that they were going to stick to the box I sent them in. All in all they turned out great and I just put them in the mail – so hopefully they will get to Sarah soon for her to enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 7 1/2 cups shredded coconut
  • 3 tbsp sweetened condensed coconut
  • 2/3 cup egg white ( about 4-5)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon coconut or almost extract (I used vanilla because that was all we had on hand)
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 1/2 tbsp butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 325 degrees. Grease several baking sheets
  2. Spread the coconut out on a baking sheet and toast for 7-9 minutes until just browned
  3. In a large bowl, stir coconut and condensed milk until well blended
  4. In a seperate bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
  5. Add sugar to eggs, mixing thoroughly, followed by the vanilla extract. Keep beating until stiff peaks form – about 2 minutes
  6. Fold coconut mixture into the egg
  7. Drop coconut mixture onto prepared cookie sheet using 1/4 cup measuring cup – or really any size you want them to be.
  8. Bake on the middle oven rack for 13-18 minutes or until lightly tinged brown
  9. Transfer to wire rack and let cool

Dipping:

  1. In a double boiler, melt together chocolate and butter
  2. Dip macaroons in chocolate, mixes every few to keep the chocolate smooth
  3. Place dipped macaroons on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet and refrigerate until chocolate is set
  4. Serve at room temperature

Hamantaschen

Today is Purim!!!!! So in honor of this lovely holiday I made some yummy yummy hamantaschen. For some reason, my dough was incredibly sticky, so instead of rolling it out, I made individual balls and rolled them out in flour so that they wouldn’t keep on sticking to the counter top. As sticky as they were, they turned out great and they didn’t spread out really at all like I worried about.

I got the recipe from our ancient cookbook that my grandmother helped create for her temple when my father was just a wee little boy. It has also the classic Jewish recipes that anyone could ever ask for. The ingredients were very basic, so I didn’t have to go out and buy anything. As I ran-sacked the cabinet looking for some preserves to put in, I discovered that we have about 1000 different jellies. I settled on apricot, blackberry, some raspberry that was already opened, poppy seed and chocolate chip. You can of course pick out any kind that you want!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • Any filling that you would like
  • Egg white

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it is in small pieces
  3. Add the egg and orange juice and beat on medium until well incorparated
  4. Roll out dough onto floured surface
  5. Cut out round circles with a glass or any other cookie cutter about 2-3 inches in diameter
  6. Put 1 tsp of filing into center of dough
  7. Pick up edges toward the center to form a triangle and pinch the dough together to form a triangle
  8. Brush the top with a beaten egg white
  9. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly brown

Ciabatta Bread

So one of my dads’ good friends from Oregon came to visit us and decided to make some bread. David loves to bake exotic foods and he told me who easy it was to make this bread, so we decided to do it.


DAVID!

He didn’t really have a recipe that he was following at first, so he mostly eyedballed it with out amounts. When he left, I still had to let is rise a few more times and cut it into the loaves. I was so nervous that after David left I wasn’t going to be able to complete it by myself, but somehow I did. The dough was very very sticky, but after enough flour covering our counter, I was able to handle it quite easily. Given our eyeballing of the ingredients, we ended up getting 6 loaves, so I had to split up the baking into to different loads. A few were a bit smaller than the other, but they all turned out excellent.

The first batch I took out a little too early, but the next batch had the perfect blend of doneness/burnt crust. My dad as usual said it needed to be baked a little more, but after having a few pieces, he said it was very good. I gave a loaf to our cleaning lady/hair dresser and she called me raving saying was the best bread she had had since she moved to Raleigh. That was so nice to hear. I will certainly have to try bread again soon.

What follows is the exact recipe from e-rcps.com, but here are the ingredients that we used.

Night Before

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4-5 cups warm water

Baking Day

  • 2 lbs bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tblsp yeast + a little bit

BEST CIABATTA

Ciabatta
Prep:24 hrs plus 4 1/2 hrs, Cook: 40 and worth it!
Preparation – Challenging
Makes 2 medium-sized loaves.

This is perfect dough for those who like their crusts crisp and their bread chewy and full of flavor. Makes killer pizza, arabic bread, pita, ciabatta and focaccia.

Biga (the morning of the day before baking)

  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBS whole-wheat flour, preferably coarsely ground
  • 2 TBS whole-grain rye flour, preferably coarsely ground
  • 3/4 cup water

SPRINKLE the yeast into warm water, stir and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

MIX the bread flour, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour and rye flour in a bowl. Stir yeasted water again, then measure one-half teaspoon into the flour mixture. (Throw the rest away; the point of this step is not to proof the yeast but to measure 1/384 teaspoon yeast.)

ADD the three-fourths cup water, using ice water in the summer and warm water in the winter. Thoroughly mix the biga; it will be stiff, but it has a very long fermentation and will soften considerably. Knead in a tablespoon or two of water if you absolutely must.

COVER tightly with plastic wrap and let the biga ferment for 24 hours in a cool spot in the summer or a warm one in the winter. Don’t be alarmed if it does nothing for at least 10 hours; this is correct. The biga is ready when it doubles or triples in volume and smells aromatic.

Bread (baking day)

  • 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional 1/3 cup for flouring dough, board and towels
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

COMBINE the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer or bread machine.

STIR in the water and biga by hand to form a rough dough.

USING a paddle attachment, beat the dough on medium speed until it is fairly smooth, about 5 minutes. If the dough is very firm, add water. This should be a very soft dough. If your dough is not really gloppy, add extra water until the dough is soft enough to spread (your flour might be old or absorbing more water for a variety of reasons).

SCRAPE the dough into a bowl at least three times its size and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Let it ferment until light and doubled in bulk, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning the dough every 20 minutes for a total of four times. To turn the dough, sprinkle the top of the dough (while still in the bowl) and the work surface with flour; scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto the floured work surface. Sprinkle the dough with flour again, then gently spread the dough out, trying not to deflate the bubbles. Fold it up into a tight bundle by folding the left side into the center, followed by the top, the right side and the bottom. Turn the dough over so that the smooth side is up, and fold it in half again, only if it still feels loose. Place it, smooth side up, into the bowl and cover tightly.

AFTER the fourth turn, at 80 minutes, leave the dough undisturbed for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until well expanded and doubled.

THOROUGHLY flour a baker’s couche or two tea towels. Flour the top of the dough and the work surface, then turn the dough out. With a dough scraper, cut the dough in half. Gently stretch the pieces out (approximately 12 by 8 inches) and fold them loosely into thirds, like a business letter, arranging the folds so the last seam is slightly off center. Try to handle the dough as little as possible to avoid deflating it.

PLACE the dough seam side down on the floured cloth and sprinkle more flour over the top. Cover the loaves with folds of the couche or more tea towels. Let them proof until they are very soft and well expanded and barely spring back when gently pressed, about 45 minutes.

IMMEDIATELY after shaping the dough, arrange a rack on the oven’s second-to-top shelf and place a baking stone on it. Clear away all racks above the one being used. Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

WHEN the dough is ready to bake, place a sheet of parchment paper on a peel. Gently flip the loaves onto it so they are seam side up and stretch them very slightly to make them vaguely rectangular. Don’t be afraid to handle the dough; the breads will recover in the oven as long as you are gentle.

DIMPLE the dough all over with your fingertips, pressing down to the paper without breaking through the dough. Slide the breads on the parchment paper onto the baking stone. Bake the breads until very dark brown all around, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating them halfway during baking. Let cool on a rack before slicing. Bread is best eaten the same day.