Tuesday, June 10, 2014

And Now, For Something Completely Different

So I've been doing some thinking and that thinking has led me to start up a new blog dedicated to reviewing all the things I love, not just books and/or recipes. At Purple Owl Reviews I will be looking at books, recipes, movies, games, and any suggestions my readers/followers may have. I really hope you enjoy the change and thanks to all my readers for giving me the courage to do something I've been wanting to do for some time.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Homemade Bagels Without Bread Machine

Hello Everyone! I haven't posted to this blog in over a year! So why have I come back? I was encouraged by some companions from Armchair BEA who wished to see how bagels are made. I was also called a Yoda for being able to cut calories using substitutions with some recipes:

So, as I promised I would yesterday, today I am going to post on my process for making bagels. I have to warn you, though, I have not perfected the bagels yet. The dough still isn't rising as much as I would like it to.  The recipe I will be using can be found here: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Bagels-I and can be used with or without a bread machine. As I do not have a bread machine, I'll be going the long, arduous route.

The first steps are to mix the dry ingredients, then heat up the water and butter to 120-130 degrees. I don't have a candy thermometer, so I usually just look for a rolling boil. Then we mix the mixed ingredients together and beat for 2 minutes. The first time I did this, I didn't use bread specific beaters and it quickly became the most unruly dough I have ever worked with. Fortunately I learned my lesson.

Then we add the flour, one cup at a time.

After 1 Cup

Second Cup

Third Cup

Final Product
And now I knead the dough for 8-10 minutes (I usually go for 8 because my wrists start hurting around minute 5). I always make sure to have my hands covered in flour first.

Photo made possible by my husband +Michael Fender Wedding ring removed to keep it safe.
 And here's what it looks like after it's been kneaded for about 8 minutes:

Then we cover up the dough and let it sit for about an hour to rise.

Lid is not air tight.

And here we come to the crux of my problem: the dough didn't rise at all! Sigh. I'm still going to continue because I know the results taste great. Next time I'm letting rest how I do for my regular bread dough: Set in a warm oven (lowest setting) with a pan of water to keep it from drying out. For now, though, punch it down, cover it up, and let it rest for another 15 minutes:

Anyways, after 15 minutes we tear the dough apart into 6-12 pieces and shape them. 6 for big bagels, 9 for average bagels, and 12 for small bagels. I'm going big this time.

It is optional to let them rise for a while longer after shaping, but I'm just going to go ahead and get straight to the cooking. We fill a frying pan with 1" of water, 1 Tbs of sugar and 2 tsp of salt. You can adjust as you wish to keep them from tasting too salty, but I've never had a problem with the taste. 3 minutes on one side:

2 minutes on the other:

Then 1 minute again:

***I generally don't need a timer for this. I just watch videos on YouTube and watch the time on those.

Yes, that is Invader Zim.
Then we let the excess water drain off of the bagels:

Two of these bagels are showing cracks. Have to be careful with heavier bagels.
And now we bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. I like to go middle of the road and bake for 23.

And here are the results! Now I have breakfast for tomorrow!

Well, they don't look great, but food doesn't have to look great to taste great. Just ask Morbo! 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes with Whiskey Filling

Hello Everyone! Hope you're having a lovely weekend. We've been getting on and off freezing rain. Can't wait for summer.

Anyways, to help with the bad weather blues, I've decided to go green. I have some leftover whiskey from the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes and need to get rid of it. Doing a couple of alterations to the whiskey glaze recipe from the cupcakes I have created a Whiskey Cream Filling. I'll be honest, I wasn't sure it would work and the Guinea Pigs had to try a few samples before I got it just right. This time I ended up creating a filling instead of a frosting because I ran out of powdered sugar, but with another cup or more It would make a great frosting.

The first part of the original glaze recipe is helpful for cooking out the alcohol. 2 Tbs of butter + 1/2 Cup of Whiskey. Cook until it boils.

Next is pouring the whiskey mixture into a bowl of powdered sugar and mixing:

After 1/2 C Powdered Sugar

After about 2 Cups of Powdered Sugar
Don't forget to add 1/2 tsp of Vanilla. Really helps to bring out the sweetness of the sugar.

Just make sure you have enough powdered sugar for what you want. This dish was about half full of powdered sugar and now it's empty and I'm still not getting the thickness required of a frosting.

So, since the whiskey experimentation didn't take as long as I thought, it's about time for me to make up the chocolate cupcake batter. Any recipe will do, even the stuff you get from the boxes.
Dry Ingredients

Mixed with Wet Ingredients
Anyways, you bake the chocolate cupcakes at the prescribed heat for the prescribed time. This time for me it's 375 degrees for 20 minutes. They look pretty good.

Just trying to play with the camera.
And now, with the help of a disposable decorator bag, I am injecting the cupcakes with the cream.

Finally, I went ahead and sprinkled them some green sugar. Just for the added Irish effect.

So, the Guinea Pigs like them well enough. I like them well enough. When you get to the middle you can really taste the whiskey. I'll be working around with the frosting/filling again. Next time, though, I'll probably try it with some Bailey's. I've got a lot of that to get rid of.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes with Irish Fudge Frosting

And with this post I will be, more or less, caught up. I did do a few modifications of the bread recipe for some pizzas and personal pan pizzas, but let's focus on the sweets! I had previously mentioned to Fluxxdog and Orthon that I knew of a recipe for an Irish Car Bomb Cake (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-irish-car-bomb-cake/detail.aspx) and they were quite intrigued by the idea. In addtion, a coworker of mine has given up sweets for lent and I'd like to make these as a show of "holy crap, you stuck with it!" She does not hide the fact that she likes alcohol so I figure I'll go ahead and use the cake recipe to make some cupcakes so they'll be easier to transport.

Well, since I was also working on the pizza dough while working on baking this (it was a busy day) I started out with mixing up the Irish cream filler before making the chocolate cake. The Bailey's does a great job.

The recipe for the actual cake part calls for a dry cake mix that you buy from the store. I went ahead and looked up a basic recipe and used that instead. All from scratch:

Before Guinness

The Guinness

After Guinness
I then started pouring out the cake dough into the cupcake tins. just a little bit because I've got three layers to work with here.
First layer - chocolate
Second layer - Bailey's Cream

Third layer - more chocolate!
The good part about the difference between the cream and the chocolate is that the chocolate will expand enough to cover up most of the cream in the middle. 

Now we get to the whiskey glaze. Not sure it'll be a part of the taste, but I still want to add it so it'll be a true Car Bomb.

I don't have a brush for the glaze, so I just go ahead and dribble some with spoon onto each:

I had Orthon and Fluxxdog and taste them at this point to see if the Irish Fudge Frosting would be too much or just the right addition. They both agreed the cupcakes need a bit more sweetness. I went ahead and made the same fudge frosting as with the Chocolate/Coffee Cake. Unfortunately it didn't turn out as well. I let get too hot and the frosting came out a bit too dry. But I still managed to get the cupcakes covered with it.

My taste testers, Fluxxdog and Orthon, both wolfed theirs down and even I like the taste. Hopefully the coworker will like them as well!

Chocolate/Coffee Cake with Irish Frosting

Well, I promised this blog would happen, a modified version of the chocolate cake I made for the wedding. The cake recipe itself is still the same (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/simple-n-delicious-chocolate-cake/detail.aspx) I'm just changing the frosting from caramel to a modified Irish Fudge (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/fudge-of-the-irish/detail.aspx). The reason I'm changing the frosting is because Fluxxdog complained that the caramel frosting was too thin and just spread everywhere instead of being contained to the cake and thickening up.

Anyways, starting out with the basic ingredients. The only difficult part is allowing a cup of good coffee to go cold.

The mixing of ingredients has its usual amount of fun

Now the cake goes into the oven and we work on the Irish Cream Fudge Frosting! I've not had a lot of luck with fudge because I have a tendency to let it get too hot. I really need a candy thermometer. Fortunately this batch seems to have worked out. Smells good with that Bailey's Irish Cream!

Then I poured into the mixing bowl to add the powdered sugar. The key thing was not to add as much powdered sugar as the recipe calls for. That way it won't be as hard as fudge normally gets.

And now that it's done, I'm going to pour it on the cake:


Taste test results from both Fluxxdog and Orthon are positive! I've got a keeper recipe!