Monday, 27 December 2010

December 2010 Daring Bakers Challenge - Christmas Stollen

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’ demonstration.

I was so pleased when this month's challenge was revealed, as I'd been keeping everything crossed that we might get to make stollen since last year! I needed to do some Christmas baking to help get me into a more festive mood, and this would solve my dilemma of what to give friends as gifts :-D

We were asked to start off with the recipe provided and, realising that this would make one huuuge stollen that would no way fit in my oven, I split the dough into two smaller (but still huge) loaves.

The first was served up to my Mama & Me group when we met for our final session before Christmas. I was disappointed that the bread seemed a little dry (just served as is) in spite of being served freshly baked, and could have done with more fruit. The second loaf was served at our church's Christmas worship service, and I sent it along (I had to stay at home with a poorly little girl) sliced and smothered with butter - a massive improvement! ;-)

My second batch of stollen was made using 200g raisins, 150g dried cranberries and 100g marons glaces (crystallised chestnuts), and I also used mikan (mandarin orange) in place of the orange zest/juice. The recipe made 4 very large, regular-shaped stollen, which were baked and delivered on Christmas morning.

Sadly, I didn't get to taste this version (I should have made the loaves a bit smaller so that I could have had one too!) and I'm still awaiting a verdict.

Much thanks to Penny for hosting this month's challenge, for helping me to feel much more Christmassy, and for choosing a recipe that I will now look forward to baking each year from now!

Christmas Stollen Wreath

Preparation time:

The following times are approximate. I suggest you gather and scale/weigh/measure (mise en place) all your ingredients before you begin mixing.
• Approximately 1 hour first stage – then rest overnight or up to 3 days
• 2 hours to warm up after refrigeration
• 15 minutes shaping
• 2 hours proofing
• 30-45 minutes baking
Equipment required:

• Mixer with dough hook or strong arms and hands
• Mixing bowl
• Bowl to soak raisins
• Small saucepan
• Sheet of plastic or plastic wrap to cover when proofing
• Bench or pastry scraper (very handy for cutting dough and also cleaning work surface)
• Rolling pin
• Dough whisk can be handy but not necessary
• Pastry Brush
• A scale is really important to have when making bread so I strongly advise you to get one. You do not have to have one though. (would make a good Christmas gift!)
• Sheet Pan or round Pizza pan
• Parchment Paper
Stollen Wreath

Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people
Ingredients

¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.
Directions:

Soak the raisins
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.

To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.

Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder. Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape. Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh - especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style. The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly…. so delicious with butter and a cup of tea….mmmmm

Storage
The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar
1. Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
2. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
3. One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Traumatised

I have just taken M for her very first haircut ever...






She is delighted - it is I who has been traumatised by this event! Sob sob...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Hungry?

How about heading down to your local Aeon shopping centre to check out what is on offer...

You reckon that looks good? Well, for a start, it's plastic (in case you're an overseas reader, this is quite normal). But that's not what I'm getting at! Look closer! Do you see what I see?

Why yes, that IS a dead cockroach! Not hungry any more? Me neither. Actually, I spotted this just a week after we spotted large cockroaches running around the sushi shop just a few doors down! Back home, these shops would be shut down immediately. Not here. Cockroaches are everywhere and are generally ignored. We didn't even get an apology after having asked a staff member to get rid of the two nasty beasts under our table - oh, to have had Gordon Ramsay dining with us that evening!

Sorry if I put you off your lunch.

Perhaps this'll make you smile:

It's a children's bowling ball :-)

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Sew much fun

I have a brand new nephew! He arrived in the early hours of November 28th, and oh how I wish I could meet him and have a cuddle!

Waaay back, as soon as I heard that my sister's family would be welcoming a new addition, I signed up for Kelly's {Make} A Bag Sew Along. Having recently acquired a sewing machine, I was smitten with the idea of making Kelly's bag and accessories as a 'baby bag', something cheerful for carrying nappies, wipes, goodies for big bro' and the like. Now, I am a complete beginner who barely knows how to thread the machine, but Kelly's tutorial instructions are so detailed and easy to understand that even I could follow along (just don't ask me how many times I sewed fabric pieces together the wrong way round)! And in doing so, I picked up so many techniques that by the end of the project I was even brave enough to create an extra item all by myself (sorry, I spend all my waking hours with a 3 year old by my side!).

I chose bright, summery fabrics to match the season in Australia, but still managed to find coordinating Japanese prints. And look inside! It's lined and has pockets! (Can you tell how excited I am that I could ever make something like this?)

And here's a peep at what went inside:

And inside that:

I had a few strips of fabric left over, just enough to piece together a changing mat - OK, I confess that I rushed this a little and so it might not last the distance ;-)

I enjoyed this sew along so very much that I can't wait to join in another! I've definitely caught the sewing bug, no longer am I afraid of my machine... I am now even brave enough to crank up the speed dial :-D Following Kelly's beautifully presented instructions has given me a new found confidence, and I can see myself making patchwork covers for anything that might gather dust in the house (watch out kids)!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

November 2010 Daring Bakers' Challenge - Who ate all the pie?

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

A very special friend of mine was celebrating her birthday this month so, as soon as the challenge was announced, I started planning what I would bake for her. We are just entering mikan (mandarin orange) season here, so I easily settled on making a chocolate mikan crostata.


The pastry came together very well (recipe at the end of this post), I didn't encounter any difficulties while working with it. I blind-baked the pastry case and grated a layer of dark chocolate over the base while it was still warm. Once the chocolate had set, I filled the shell with my mikan custard:

Mikan Custard Filling:
  • 3 large eggs
  • 120g caster sugar
  • juice and finely grated zest 6 mikan (mandarin oranges)
  • juice 1/2 lemon
  • 100ml double cream
  • 60g dark chocolate, grated
  1. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to line a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin, leaving an overhang around the edges. Line the case with baking paper, fill with baking beans (I used uncooked rice), then blind-bake for 20 mins until golden. Remove the beans, then continue to cook for 10 mins until the base is also golden, cover the warm pastry case with the grated chocolate (it will melt) then set aside to cool. Chill briefly to set the chocolate. Reduce oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2.
  2. Meanwhile, make the filling. Whisk the eggs and sugar well, then whisk in the juices, zest and cream. Scrape into a jug and set aside. Once the case is cool, trim the overhanging pastry.
  3. Carefully pour in the orange custard to the pastry case. Bake for 45-50 mins until the custard has just set, then cool in the tin. If you're making ahead, this can now be chilled overnight.
Although I was under the impression that we would be hosting a party for the birthday girl at my home, it turned out that the plans had changed... only they forgot to tell me! As I had neither transport nor a babysitter, I ended up sending my crostata along to the party with a friend (and a request to take photos), sob, sob...


It went down well, from what I hear :-) And I was delighted that they saved me a slice so that I could taste it for myself the next day!


The pastry had been so straight-forward that, when I did a cooking demo earlier this week and found myself with half a jug of pumpkin pie filling left over, I decided to make another crostada - a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving!


I'd never eaten pumpkin pie before, but it was really very, very good! And I had lots of pumpkin puree left over even after making the pie and ended up making some pumpkin swirl chocolate brownies... and pumpkin soup...


Pumpkin Pie Filling:
  • 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pack (200g) cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Cream together the cheese and sugar until smooth.
  2. Beat in the pumpkin puree, followed by the eggs then the spices.
  3. Pour into the blind-baked pastry case and bake for 40 minutes at 180c.
I really enjoyed this month's challenge - basically an enriched, sweet shortcrust pastry. Back in the UK I usually took the easy route and bought ready-made pastry, but the only pastry you can get your hands on here in Japan is puff pastry - no good for mince pies! I'll be using this recipe again over Christmas, that's for sure! Thanks, Simona, for hosting another fantastic month with the Daring Bakers! xxx

Mandatory Items:
You must make the pasta frolla using the recipe that I have provided here and use it as the base layer for a crostata.

Variations allowed:
You can make a crostata with fruit preserves (traditional) or pastry cream or any other filling of your choice. Here's where you can be creative!

Preparation time:
The following times are approximate, as the time depends on your dexterity to cut the butter and work the dough (which should not be overworked) and your familiarity with the rolling pin.

  • Preparing pasta frolla with a food processor takes 10-15 minutes
  • Preparing pasta frolla without a food processor takes 20-25 minutes
  • Allow the pasta frolla to chill thoroughly. I recommend at least two hours.
  • Rolling the pasta frolla and assembling the crostata takes 25-30 minutes, if you use fruit preserves.
  • Baking the crostata takes about 35 minutes, if you use fruit preserves.

Preparation time for other types of crostata vary. For example, making crostata with pastry cream requires the time to make pastry cream (25-30 minutes) and a longer baking time. If you make crostata with fresh fruit, you'll need time to prepare the fruit, besides the time needed to prepare pastry cream. In this case, you assemble the crostata after the crust is baked.

Equipment required:

  • bowls, as needed
  • fork
  • knife
  • bench (or pastry) scraper
  • rolling pin
  • pastry brush
  • 9 or 9.5-inch [23-24 cm] fluted round tart pan with removable bottom, about 1 inch [2.5 cm] high.
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar (see Note 1) or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar
  • 1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • grated zest of half a lemon
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl

Making pasta frolla by hand:

  1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.
  3. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).
  4. Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
  5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
  6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
  7. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.

Making pasta frolla with a food processor:

  1. Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
  2. Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.
  3. Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface
  4. See step 3 above and continue as explained in the following steps (minus the lemon zest, which you have already added).

Monday, 15 November 2010

Live action!

Just been into the boys' room to open the shutters and noticed something exciting happening in the fish tank (occupied not by fish, but a zarigani (crayfish) J and W decided to home during the summer). A good few weeks ago, K decided that it was time for the zarigani to be released back into the wild, when he noticed a clutch of eggs tucked under her tail! Needless to say, Mrs Z got transferred to a larger, nicer tank for observation over the coming weeks, and...


video

There look to be hundreds of tiny babies about to be dropped. We are pretty sure that mum with start to eat her offspring straight away, so K has suggeested that I transfer her to a different tank as soon as possible... um, would you want to stick your hand in there?!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Wow!

When we moved here just two years ago, our little church used to meet in our pastor's home. The church was very few in number, but our family's arrival added another five to their congregation and things were getting more than a little snug! We relocated our Sunday service to M & H's home, but it was a temporary move and we knew that when they returned from the US we would need to find somewhere else to meet. And just look at what we found!

Nestled between rice fields and lakes lies this old farm house. Not exactly what you'd expect a church to look like, eh? But as soon as we saw it, we knew that it would be perfect. The large building on the left is the church building, with a large (warehouse-type) room for worship, a kitchen and bathroom downstairs, and three large, bright and airy rooms upstairs, as well at a prefab building joining the church to the pastor's house (below).


Isn't the house lovely? The location is so beautiful and peaceful.



As you can see, there is still an awful lot of work (and money!) needed to complete the renovations, but today was a big day for us as we held a special dedication service for the church. Members from our sister churches in the area came to join us, and we hosted around 100 visitors for the celebration - it was a full house, with every seat taken!

It was a wonderful service, the building was filled with singing and praise! And of course, there was an amazing spread of food...

From meeting in someone's living room to this... wow! :-D Talk about prayers being answered!

Watch this space - God is working here!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge October 2010 - Going nuts

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.


Now this was a challenge I was only too eager to take up! For the first time in months I didn't leave things to the last minute, and my first batch of doughnuts had been gobbled up (mainly by me) on the 2nd of the month! :-)

Although most of the doughnuts sold here in Japan seem to be the ring-type, for me the perfect doughnut has to be filled with jam and rolled in sugar a la Tesco, and so I plumped for the bombolini recipe to start off with.


They were surprisingly easy to make, and were utterly delicious - thank goodness I'd halved the recipe! I stuffed them full with blueberry jam (unable to get raspberry here), and rolled them in sugar, but for some reason the sugar wouldn't stick so I ended up dusting them with icing sugar. I had to force myself to leave some for the rest of the family (I made them when they were all at the park)! I was reminded of the doughnut eating contests of my university years (eat as many as you can in a minute, without licking your fingers or lips - far, far harder than you might think)...


Bomboloni:

Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 35 minutes
Rising time - 1 1/2 hours plus overnight
Cooking time - 10 minutes

Yield: About 32 Bomboloni

Ingredients
Water, Lukewarm 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon
Active Dry Yeast 3 ¼ teaspoon (1.5 pkgs.) / 16.25 ml / 10 gm / .35 oz
Honey 1.5 Tablespoon / 22.5 ml
All Purpose Flour 3 cup / 720 ml / 420 gm / 14 ¾ oz
Milk 3 Tablespoon / 45 ml
Egg Yolk, Large 6
White Granulated Sugar 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 75 gm / 2 2/3 oz + more for rolling
Kosher (Flaked) Salt 2 teaspoon / 10 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
Butter, Unsalted 3 Tablespoon / 45 ml / 42 gm / 1.5 oz
Canola Oil 3 cup / 720 ml / (Or any other flavorless oil used for frying)
Raspberry Jam, Seedless ¾ cup / 180 ml / 300 gm / 10.5 oz (or any flavor jam, preserves, jelly)

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, mix the water, yeast, honey and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (160 gm) of the flour. (Alternatively, whisk the ingredients by hand.) Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 1 hour.
  2. Return the bowl to the mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Add the remaining 1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons (260 gm) of flour, along with the milk, egg yolks, 1/3 cup of granulated sugar and the salt. Mix at low speed until blended, then add the butter and knead at medium speed until silky but sticky, about 5 minutes; the dough will not pull away from the side of the bowl.
  3. Using an oiled spatula, scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. In a large saucepan, heat the canola oil to 360°F/180°C. Line a rack with paper towels. Fill a shallow bowl with 1/2 inch (12 mm)of granulated sugar. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough a scant 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick. Using a 2-inch (50 mm) round biscuit cutter, stamp out rounds. The original recipe said to not re-roll the dough, but I did and found it to be fine. Fry the rounds, 4 to 5 at a time, until they are browned, about 4 minutes (mine only took about a minute each – try to go more by sight). Be sure to keep the oil between 360°F and 375°F 180°C and 190°C. Drain the bomboloni on paper towels.
  5. Roll them in the granulated sugar.


Filling Directions:

Fit a pastry bag with a plain donut tip (or a 1/4-inch (6 mm) tip) and fill with the preserves (you can also use a squeeze bottle). Poke the tip three-fourths of the way into the bomboloni and squeeze in the preserves, pulling the tip out slightly as you squeeze to fill them as much as possible. Serve warm.

Next up came the yeast doughnuts.

Again, I halved the recipe (and this time made sure that I had plenty of people around me to help me eat them!) and they turned out wonderfully! As before, I had no hassles with the recipe, eveything was very straight forward. :-) I rolled half of the batch in cinnamon sugar, and the other half got dipped in Alton Brown's chocolate glaze... phwoarrr...

Yeast Doughnuts:

Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 25 minutes
Rising time - 1.5 hours total
Cooking time - 12 minutes

Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size

Ingredients
Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz (can substitute butter, margarine or lard)
Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ oz
Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
Eggs, Large, beaten 2
White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ oz
All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + extra for dusting surface
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)

Directions:

  1. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
  2. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
  4. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
  5. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
  6. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
  7. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  8. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
  9. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
  11. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).
  12. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

Chocolate Doughnut Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup (I didn't have any on hand and so substituted with treacle)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Directions:

Combine butter, milk, corn syrup, and vanilla in medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Decrease the heat to low, add the chocolate, and whisk until melted. Turn off heat, add the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Place the mixture over a bowl of warm water and dip the doughnuts immediately. Allow glaze to set for 30 minutes before serving.

This was such a delicious challenge - I really don't think that you can beat freshly cooked doughnuts like these! My tastebuds are thanking you, Lori, although my waistline my never forgive you!

Friday, 24 September 2010

What happened to Popo-chan?


Answers on a postcard please.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

3!

We had a birthday! Actually, it was last week. Somehow the days pass without me hardly noticing and I get so far behind in reporting on our happenings...


My baby is 3! Yikes, can you believe it? And the excitement... I think she has the idea that she is catching up with her brothers in age :-) Certainly, she thinks that she can do whatever they can. Especially now that she has a bike!

She still hasn't got the hang of peddling, but clever bike has a handle on the back (which can control the steering) for me to push her along. Not so easy to keep under control when heading down a hill, I've found.


And the cake. Ah yes, the cake. The Anpanman (Japanese kiddie cartoon character) that she requested daily in the run-up to her birthday...


Well, she was happy with it in the end. But the conversation when she first saw it went something like this:

Me: M, wake up! Come and see your cake!
M: Anpanman cake!
Me: Tadaaa!
M: ...
Me: What's wrong?
M: Don't like it.
Me: What?!
M: I want Baikinman (Anpanman's foe)...

Friday, 3 September 2010

And here, a year...


A year ago, Heather mentioned an exhibition she had seen where a number of artists had taken photos of the same view throughout the year. It's so easy to not notice the gradual changes to our surroundings as the months roll by! We have an amazing view from the front of our house, and yet the house was not designed for it's occupants to admire it - to my amusement, the best view to be had is from the small window in the upstairs toilet (at around 6pm - see above). I resolved to to take a photograph from our front door on the first of each month at around 10am, for a whole year, resisting the temptation to wait for the clouds to pass or the the sun to come out properly. Of course, me being me, I did forget a couple of times and so a few of these snaps were taken a few days late (OK, August was nearly 2 weeks late, but it was the summer holidays and I had a lot on my plate...), but please enjoy the view from here - from October to September :-)

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