Day 12: Harvest and Plain Bagels

For as much as I have rolled my eyes in the past week at the Halloween decorations and fuzzy sweaters that filled the store… I am secretly a huge sucker for the Fall. It is easily one of my favorite times of the year. Being from New England, I have had the pleasure of experiencing every season in its extremity: summer heat waves, nor’easters, blizzards, and more. But nothing can take away the beauty of the fall and the foliage that frames the autumn skies. I decided to channel this appreciation for the approaching change of seasons into a blend of flavors to capture the essence of New England fall.

The “Harvest Bagels” are my own recipe so I was blown away when they came out more delicious than the plain ones. This might be a new favorite in my household. I followed the recipe described in the link below by YouTuber and chef Joshua Weissman.

I followed his instructions exactly (besides the everything topping), beginning with blooming the yeast in flour and sugar for about ten minutes. In the interim, I measured out 3 1/2 cups of bread flour into a bowl and waited until the heat was ready to be mixed in. I also used a circular motion with my hand to form the “shaggy” dough, and continued to knead it on the counter until it was nice and smooth. I placed the ball of dough into an olive oiled bowl and placed a damp towel over the pot. The dough needs about an hour or so to rise.

In the meantime, I began the dough for my harvest bagels. I used the same amount of yeast, sugar, flour, salt, and water as I did in the plain bagels. However, I added the zest of two medium sized oranges, a 6oz container of crasins, nutmeg, and half of a squeezed orange. The extra liquid from the citrus made the dough extra wet, so I decided to add more bread flour until the consistency seemed right. I repeated the same steps as I did with the plain bagels, and waited about an hour or so for the dough to rise.

I cut the dough into eight equal pieces, formed the balls of dough, placed them onto a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper, and allowed them to rest for ten minutes. I then created the holes in each bagel as a pot of water on the stove was in the process of heating. Once it began boiling, I turned the temperature down and added the bagels. I could fit roughly three bagels in the pot without overlapping them. I poached them for one minute on each side like Joshua recommends. I placed them on the cooking sheet and brushed egg wash onto the top of them. Twenty minutes later at 425 degrees, the bagels were stunning! I was so excited.

I repeated the same steps for the harvest bagels except this dough was a bit more stodgy and heavier presumably from the added ingredients, so they sank to the bottom of the pot. I’m not sure if this was supposed to happen or not, but since both sides were submerged into the water, I poached them for roughly 30 seconds on each side. I put them onto the cooking sheet, egg washed the tops, added pumpkin seeds around the top pointing inwards for texture and appearance, and sprinkled a fair amount of cinnamon on top of them. These bagels took a little extra time, about 29 minutes in the oven at 425 degrees.

You can’t mess with success! I will definitely be trying out more bagel recipes in the future. I tried both and personally I enjoy food with zesty personality, so the harvest ones were my favorite (as well as my moms).

Recipe credits for New York Style Bagels to Joshua Weissman.

Bon Appétit!



Day 11: Classic Éclairs

Well, this experience was certainly interesting.

First batch: mega flop.

Second batch: also a flop.

Third batch: At this point it was approaching 12a.m and there were a few good ones in this batch, so I’d consider this a partial flop, but also a partial success.

I first started by selecting this recipe from the Baking Bible written by Mary Berry. Unfortunately the first two attempts reflect me trying to follow her recipe exactly, but neither times they came out correctly! They were small, not risen, and tasted like eggs (as depicted below).

First batch
Second batch

I decided to save myself the headache after throwing out two batches and decided to look up another recipe. I followed the recipe linked below and the pastries came out decent.

Practice makes perfect, so I will definitely be trying to make these again in the future. Mary Berry’s filling simply called for whipping cream, so I mixed this using a hand mixer and adding some confectioner’s sugar to it. Natasha’s recipe calls for a different filling but since it was nearing 12 a.m and I didn’t have the vanilla and cornstarch needed to make her filling, I used Mary’s filling and Natasha’s recipe for Choux pastry, and I had success! I also used Mary’s recipe for the chocolate topping melting 2 oz of plain chocolate with 15 grams of unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons of water, and 75 grams of confectioner’s sugar. Personally, I think there was too much confectioner’s sugar that it had a hard time fully dissolving into the mixture, so next time I’d probably add only 65 grams of sugar. You melt everything in a bowl and add the sugar last with a hand mixer.

This is what the final products looked like:

P.S: I decided to make a baking instagram page, so follow me on instagram at classic_cakes_and_desserts

Bon Appétit!


Day 10.5: Rosemary Brioche Braided Loaf

Transform this…
Into this!

What I love about Sundays is that I normally don’t work until late afternoon/ evening, so I have the morning off for some “me time”. We all know what that means, stick me in the kitchen with some recipes and a few cups of coffee and I will be a very happy girl.

I decided to try a braided loaf, because I needed to use up the spices that were in the fridge, and I really enjoyed making (and eating) the olive knots from last week. I turned to Nick Malgieri for a little inspiration, and tweaked his recipe by adding finely chopped rosemary into the mixture for a little extra flavor.

I began by warming one half of a cup of whole milk in a small saucepan on the stove. Once it was heated, I whisked in one envelope of active yeast until it dissolved and produced bubbles within the milk. I then used a baking spatula to mix in one cup of all-purpose flour into the liquid. I covered the bowl with tinfoil and set it aside for twenty minutes to rise.

I then added one stick of unsalted butter, slightly warmed and cut into pieces, 1/4 of a cup of sugar, 2 large eggs, 2 additional egg yokes, the chopped rosemary, and a pinch of salt directly into the bowl with the dough. The mixture was very liquidy at this point but I continued to mix it and add in the remaining two cups of flour (one at a time), and the mixture slowly turned into dough! I kneaded it until it formed a ball and let it rest for approximately ten minutes. I then continued to knead it by hand (Malgieri uses a food processor) and split the dough into three equal pieces using a knife. I rolled out these pieces to about 12 1/2 inches each and braided them as I would with my hair, and did all of this on top of the baking sheet that I would use to bake the bread, lined with parchment paper. I pinched the ends together, tucked them under the loaf, placed a clean dish towel over it, and let the bread rise for about two hours.

I preset the oven for 350 degrees, egg washed the loaf, and sprinkled a tiny bit of garlic salt over the top. I baked it for about 32 minutes until it was golden and fully baked in the middle of the loaf.

This bread was absolutely delicious! Perfect to impress guests at a dinner party, to be served with a dipping oil or butter.

Bon Appétit!


Day 10: Mini Quiches

Preceding my flop of a large tart this week, I decided to buy tartlet pans from my work and to try it out on a smaller scale. I started with a savory pastry with the following ingredients:

  • 9 tablespoons of salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg yoke
  • 3 tablespoons of cold water (add one at a time until the consistency is right)

I began with the flour in a bowl and add the chunks of butter into the mixture. Like the tart recipe the other day, I crushed the pieces of butter until they bind to/with the flour. Next I added the egg yoke and the cold water until the consistency was right. I kneaded the dough, but was careful not to over work it. Lastly, I rolled it out into a thin disk using a rolling pin, cut four pieces of pastry, and lined my mini tartlet tins with it. I let the dough chill for about thirty minutes in the fridge, and put them into the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduced the heat to 350 degrees and continued to bake them for an additional 15 minutes. At this point, I mixed 3-4 eggs with milk and sliced up my veggies (peppers and tomatoes). I poured the mixture of egg and veggies into each dish and baked them for roughly 20 minutes or until the pastry had browned and the eggs looked cooked.

This is a super easy dish to make for a late morning brunch or even just for a small family.

Bon appétit!


Day 9: Hazelnut, Orange, & Chocolate Tart. What Rookie Mistakes NOT To Bake In The Kitchen

The Good, The Bad, & The Chocolatey.

I vowed to capture every decadent success and learning curve. So here we are again with another recipe flop.

The texture and flavor of this tart were absolutely stunning, however, my amateur brain thought that it would be a good idea to get the tart out of the pan ASAP not even thinking that it would need at least 15 minutes to set. Perhaps I was too used to baking breads instead of pastries (which are a whole different animal) and are typically devoured once they are cool enough to do so. I was a bit eager to get it out of the pan, but if you smelled the zesty, chocolate aroma you would be too! Trust me on that one.

This recipe is taken from Nick Malgieri’s The Modern Baker, but I have made my own changes to it (160, 179). You will need the following ingredients for the standard, sweet pastry portion of this dessert:

  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg & an additional egg yoke
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter

I started by measuring the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt) into a large bowl and whisked them all together until they were evenly distributed. Next, I sliced the cold butter into twelve pieces and tossed them into the bowl with the dry ingredients. I learned that it’s important for the butter to be cold and broken down by your fingers in order for it to correctly bind with the flour. I rubbed the butter into the flour until it was no longer visible (this indicates that it has ground down and has bound to the flour). I added the wet ingredients (eggs and water) to the bowl and mixed it all together using just one hand in a circular motion. When the pieces of dough formed a ball, I removed it onto a clean, floured surface and pressed it down into a circle that is roughly 1/2 of an inch thick in depth. Since I didn’t have any plastic wrap in the kitchen, I improvised and placed it in a ziplock bag and put it into the fridge for twenty to thirty minutes. *this part of the recipe sounded easy, but I had to redo it three times…*

While the pastry was chilling in the fridge, I started the next step: preparing the delicious filling. Malgieri’s recipe calls for a tablespoon of dark rum, but since I am not a big fan of rum (story for another time), I decided to utilize the ingredients that I already had in the kitchen to replace this liquid. For the filling you will need the following ingredients (which include my revisions/ tweaks to his recipe):

  • 3/4 of a cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 medium orange (Malgieri advises bakers to use 1 tablespoon of a zested orange, but I zested the entire medium orange, and squeezed half of the orange juice right into the mixture to replace the rum)
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted, cold butter
  • 6 generous ounces of unsweetened chocolate (I used one and a half bars of Ghirardelli chocolate)

At this point, I set the oven to 350 degrees while I prepared the filling. I poured the heavy whipping cream into a medium pan, added the sugar, and stirred it until the sugar had dissolved and the liquid began to boil. Then I turned the heat down to low, added the butter, and stirred it until the butter has fully melted. I took the pan off of the heat and began to add the chocolate to the mixture. I let the chocolate melt for a minute before whisking the mixture all together.

In a separate bowl, I added the eggs, the zest of one medium size orange, and squeezed the juice out of half of the orange into it (and ate the other half of it myself). I whisked these ingredients together, and added the chocolate, cream mixture into the bowl until it was properly mixed into one cohesive liquid.

I took the pastry out of the fridge and rolled it onto a floured surface. This was the challenging part that I struggled with, and I think that I rolled the pastry out too thin. I somehow manage to transfer it into the tart pan using a rolling pin, and I pressed the dough into all of the crevices. I then poured the filling into the pan and noticed that while my tart tin was indeed ten inches wide, it was too tall for the amount of filling! Maybe there is such a thing as a ten by one inch tin, because my ten by two inch pan was too big! Yikes. I tried to cut the pastry down, but I just ended up making an uneven mess, which is evident in the pictures down below. I sprinkled 2.5 ounces of crushed hazelnuts (which I was surprised to find in the baking isle at our local grocery store) over the top of the tart, and popped that baby into the oven for roughly 28 minutes.

I melted about 1.5 ounces of the leftover semisweet chocolate with half of a tablespoon of unsalted butter, and poured it into a small ziplock bag. I cut the corner of it and created a pattern of warm chocolate over the top of the tart. I then made the horrible mistake of removing the tart from the pan like ASAP and burned my left arm in the process. A word to the wise: definitely let tarts, pies, and other warm pastries set for a few minutes before removing them. Maybe next time I will leave it in longer and butter the pan if need be.

I regret having to write this post because I wanted my dessert to come out as picture perfect as depicted within Malgieri’s book, but hey, sometimes good things fall apart. The flavors were absolutely delicious! I will have to consider getting a different tart pan or perhaps creating tartlets next time instead of cutting the pastry.

To be continued….



Day 8: Thyme, Rosemary, and Black Olive Knots

Good morning to all of my bread lovers! I have truly been on a bread bender for the past week, but I promise to switch my recipes to sweeter desserts soon.

Yesterday I decided not to let my evening work shift deter me from baking and had a little fun in the kitchen before and after work. I used a recipe from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri (one of my favorite baking books lately) called “Rosemary Olive Knots” (88). The dough portion of this recipe calls for a few tablespoons of olive oil, active yeast dissolved in a cup and a half of warm water, three and a half cups of all-purpose flour, and a couple teaspoons of salt. I mixed all of these ingredients until a had a wet ball of dough. After this step, I let it rest for about twelve minutes before kneading it for thirty seconds by hand, and just like that my dough was ready to be proved in an olive oil coated bowl. Malgieri suggests to let the dough rise for an hour, however, my dough did not double in size at this point, and since I wouldn’t have time to bake the bread before work anyways, I gave it an hour and forty-five minutes to rise. When it was clearly doubled in size, I transferred it onto a floured cooking sheet, carefully spread it out with my hands, covered it with foil, and placed in the fridge.

Fast forward about five hours and some change and I was finally home from work. The dough looked good, but I did notice that it was still very wet. I mixed together the filling ingredients with a couple of substitutions to the recipe. I used black olives instead of gaeta pitted olives, three tablespoons of rosemary, one tablespoon of olive oil, pepper, and then I decided to add thyme into the mixture as well because I didn’t want the herbs that were in the fridge to go to waste! I used the filling mixture to cover half of the dough (as shown below).

My apologies for the poor picture quality, but it is a bit challenging to take pictures when your hands are covered in olive oil.

I folded the dough over onto the side with the filling and lightly pressed it together with my hands.

I may have stretched the dough a bit thin, because the next step was to slice it with a pizza cutter and boy was it messy! After baking these and watching videos on different forms of knots and braids for breads, normally you roll the bread into a medium sized roll. However, the recipe here merely called for the baker to cut the dough into strips. I think I might try to roll the dough beforehand next time, because the filling kept spilling out as I tried to tie the knot. *spoiler alert, mine did NOT come out uniformly*

On a few of the strips of dough, I forgot to cut them in half so they were significantly larger than the rest.

The recipe is theoretically supposed to make a dozen rosemary olive knots, but I somehow ended up with fourteen. But hey, I guess that is why I am an English major and not a Math major.

I baked these savory knots for approximately 45 minutes at 400 degrees. I was confused by the fact that they didn’t rise that much in the oven, but then I realized that I had missed a step! The knots were supposed to rise for an hour with a towel over them BEFORE going into the oven. Dually noted for next time, but the knots still came out delicious!

In the last few minutes of baking, I drizzled olive oil over them and sprinkled some kosher salt onto them as well. I will have to remember the step that I missed next time and see if there are any major differences in flavor and size.

But hey, this was knot bad for the first time! (Sorry for the cheesy pun, but I had to do it.)

Below I will link the video that I watched before attempting to tie the dough in a knot shape. It was super helpful!

Until next time!


Day 7.5: Make Thyme for Another Focaccia

I must say that I was pretty disappointed with my focaccia flop of a dish this morning. I was determined to make another bread and to make it the right way this time (under the guidance of Paul Hollywood). In Paul’s video he shares his twist on a classic bread: potato and thyme focaccia. After studying his method, I decided to follow the ingredients list from earlier (4 cups of flour, 1.5 cups of warm water mixed with an envelope of yeast, 2 teaspoons of salt, and plenty of olive oil). I spent much more time kneading the dough onto an olive oiled surface and working with it until it was smooth and elastic-like. Hollywood states that you can slow down the proving time with a slow rise in the fridge with a longer proving time. I proved my dough in the fridge for roughly 5.5 hours. I bought one yellow potato and some fresh thyme on my way home from Rhode Island (luckily right before the grocery store closed) and I was ready to go.

The dough had doubled in size, so I knew it was ready to be spread onto parchment paper with my hands. I used olive oil to preserve the moisture and to prevent any sticking. I poked holes into the dough using my fingertips, sprinkled olive oil, thinly sliced the potatoes, and pushed them down onto the bottom of the dough. I then sprinkled about half of a standard container of fresh thyme to ensure that there was enough herb flavor in the bread. I baked it on 375 degrees (f) for roughly 42 minutes. It was perfectly golden when it came out of the oven, and I sprinkled more olive oil on top of the bread.

It was flaky, packed with flavor, and a great snack (for 10:30 p.m)! This can totally be a lovely appetizer for dinner parties, or a side for a nice soup.

Truly delicious! I am very happy to end the day on such a high note with a full stomach, and a success in the kitchen.