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the urban baker

the urban baker: March 2010

the urban baker

The Urban Baker is deliciously photographed blog about nourishing your family's soul through life in the kitchen. The recipes for fabulous savories and sweets are easily replicated and will inspire you.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Coffee Ice Cream

I have so many egg yolks crowding my fridge at the moment.  Between the macaroons and my scrambled egg whites in the mornings, I probably have about 14 yolks on hand.

The best way to use lonely egg yolks is to make ice cream.  Eli choose coffee and Isaac choose mint chip ( I have to get some more fresh mint).

For this recipe, I had to seep the coffee beans with the milk, sugar and some of the cream for an hour.  My house smelt like Peet's!  I am not a coffee drinker, but there is something about the smell of fresh coffee beans that is so intoxicating

This recipe is from my guy, David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop.  I love this book.  The photos are perfect, the paper is perfect and the recipes are so friendly.  I often search the internet for ice cream recipes, but none are as concise as his.  Plus, his writing is brilliant.  If you haven't visited his blog, you must.

This is the creamiest, lightest coffee ice cream you will ever eat.  I am not a lover of ice cream (would rather eat a hunk of chocolate), but...this was spoon lick'n good!

A little history on my Yogi Bear spoon.  I have had it my whole life.  I love this little spoon.  He had a friend, a Huckleberry Hound spoon.  The other day, I was telling Isaac the story of how much I loved this spoon as a child and how he had a mate.  When I was packing up my mom's house last year, I couldn't find Huckleberry.  Isaac confessed that on one of his many sleepovers at Nana's house he made a an experiment.  He told me that he froze the spoon in some ice concoction and when he tried to pull the spoon out of the experiment, the spoon cracked in half. He had no idea how sentimental I was about both of these spoons.  The way he told the story was so endearing that the only thing I could do in that very moment was hug him.  I will miss my Huckleberry spoon, but I am grateful that Yogi has lasted as long has he has!

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Monday, March 22, 2010

French Macaroons - Hazelnut

A few weeks ago, I took a class with Helene from My Tartlette.  Her blog, her photos, her recipes are amazing and when I found out on Fuji Mama's blog that she was coming to town, I immediately signed up.  It wasn't so much the macaroon, it was the idea of meeting her, fellow blogger, lover of all things eatable!

I enlisted my friend Lisa, and we ventured out to an evening cooking class.  It was so fun. I really need to get out more.  Not only were we instructed and entertained by Helene, but Rachel and Jen (our hosts) were gracious and funny.  We all met at a new pastry school in Woodland Hills.  The space was perfect and the group of ladies were just an extra added bonus.

I have not attempted to make macaroons since our March 5th class, however the other day I motivated to age some egg whites.  Helene suggests the egg whites be aged, at room temp for 24 hours.  I then covered them and left them in the fridge for 72 hours( you can leave them for up to 5 days).  Today was the day for the big bake off.

Lisa and I were talking and she said she wanted to try to make them with hazelnuts rather than almonds (Lisa has probably turned out 15 dozen macaroons since the class...). That same day I happened to be at whole foods and found a bag of ground hazelnuts.  I threw them in my cart.

I made Helene's macaroon recipe:

 90 grams (3 large) egg whites 
200 grams powdered sugar
110 grams ground almonds ( I used the hazelnuts)
25-50 grams sugar ( used like 30 grams - didn't want them too sweet).

For directions, go to My Tartlette blog.  She explains it way better than I ever could!
macaroons resting  and waiting to bake

baked and resting

piped and ready to be paired with its mate

I paired the hazelnut macaroons with a Mocha Ganache.  Yum!

Mocha Ganache
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbls. heavy cream
3 Tbls. unsalted butter
1 tsp. ground espresso
9 oz. milk chocolate (imported) chopped
1 tsp. vanilla

Bring cream and butter to a simmer over medium heat.  Add instant coffee to dissolve.  Reduce heat to low and add chocolate until melted.  Mix in vanilla.  Pour into a bowl and chill until firm.  Stir occasionally.

Pipe onto macaroons.
place in fridge, covered, overnight to "age"
Eat and Devour!

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More Garbage Cookies

I got this very upsetting email yesterday afternoon from a friend of mine regarding her daughter.  When I called her, they were on their way home from a very long day at the hospital.  Her daughter has a kidney infection.  Anyone know how a 10 year old gets a kidney infection?

She did tell me that after a hellish day, her daughter was hungry and craving Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  I told her I was going to make her cookies with that particular candy in it!  I was told, she "smiled".

After returning from dinner last night, I chopped up a bunch of "crappy" goodies to make these cookies.  This particular batch has the following:

  • mini reeses peanut butter cups
  • dark chocolate chunks
  • homemade marshmallows
  • butterscotch chips
  • rice krispies
  • salted peanuts
  • pretzel sticks

Should have added more chocolate.  However, by the time I returned from delivering the cookies, the half dozen that were cooling on my kitchen counter were gone!  I don't think anyone noticed the lack of chocolate.

This is a really fun way to make cookies (see original post, here).  Try it and use up all the stuff that is crowding your pantry!

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Macaroon Testing

With Passover a week away, I wanted to try a few new macaroon recipes.  I had come across this recipe from Michael's restaurant (Santa Monica) and since I have always loved the food at the restaurant, I felt the cookies would be almost fool proof (recipe here).

These macaroons are the the Christian Louboutin's of macaroons.  These are so good that everyone I made them for all told me the same thing... "I, generally, don't like macaroons, much less coconut, however these are the best  I have ever eaten".  I may have to agree.  These cookies elicit only one response - eyes rolling in the back of your head, ultimately shutting, chewing slowly and savoring every morsel!

The first batch I made, they spread so much and didn't keep their shape.  Although they tasted fabulous, I was really bummed out.  I made a second batch and refrigerated the dough overnight.  I really think this helped.  Along with the coconut and the sugar, the recipe calls for melted butter, honey and apricot preserves (pureed).  By putting the batter in the fridge, the melted butter has an opportunity to come back to a solid.  Just an assumption, however, I think it is necessary.

Whether you like coconut or not, make these.  I also made a batch with mini bittersweet chips.  Mmm Good!

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Birthday Cupcakes

This year, for our school's auction, I donated a years worth of baked goods, to be delivered to ones home, the first week of each month.  I am happy to say there was a little bit of a bidding war.  I am not a professional baker (just a little crazy and obsessed), so the fact that people were fighting over my sweet creations, was a little surprising.

A very, very good friend of mine ( I will refer to them as the G's) got the winning bid.  I  know the money collected goes directly to the school ( a really good cause, especially since LA unified is in the toilet), but heck, she could have gotten the sweet treats without the winning bid.

Today was her son's birthday party, whom also happens to be one of Isaac's best friends.  I called her mid week, last week and suggested I make one of his favorite desserts for the party.  After all, my monthly baking obligation starts the first week of April.  We will just call this a little bonus for being my friend, and for my love for her son.

He wanted cupcakes.  Easy-peasy!  He wanted white cupcakes with white frosting.  No chocolate.  He requested a blue and orange theme.  I made my favorite vanilla cupcakes (see post ) with a super simple buttercream frosting (he also requested no cream cheese!).

Happy Birthday, Mister.... hope you had a fun day!

Buttercream frosting:

4 oz unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3-4 Tbls. milk

Mix first four ingredients in mixer.  Add milk to desired consistency (I added too much milk- I kind of blew it).

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Garbage Disposal Cookies

I have been reading a lot about "amnesty cookies"  and I was intrigued.  David Lebovitz has been posting about these and they are kind of the rage.  These are the perfect cookie to use up all the junk up that you have lying around your house.  I liked the actual amnesty recipe, however it called for corn syrup.  So, instead I used a cookie base recipe that I have been playing with.  They are an off shoot of Isaac's favorite cookies, flatsos (see blog post here), but with a little more flour, a little less butter and I changed the ratio of brown and white sugars.

My kids called these cookies, "Garbage disposal cookies". I made my cookie dough and then added in:

  • mini kit kats
  • dark chocolate chunks
  • white chocolate chips
  • heath bar pieces
  • pretzels
  • fritos
  • organic crackers
This dough has to be frozen before baking.  Otherwise, they become a sea of ooze and goo.  When Isaac heard that there were pretzels in the cookie, he turned up his nose.  Then he ate one.  And then another.  And another.  And another!  He likes these.  

I like these because of the delicious balance between savory and sweet.  One of my favorite snacks is a chocolate covered pretzel.  These cookies are everything rolled into one.  I have tons of mini candies in the house right now. I am thinking my next batch will be; reeses, salted peanuts, rice krispies, dark chocolate chunks, pringles, etc, etc.   I also want to do one with rolos-one of the more perfect candies, ever!

Find all the junk in your pantry and make these cookies.  I am not going to share the base for my recipe, but you can click on David Lebovitz's name at the top of this post and use his recipe. 
all the sweet stuff
all the savory stuff
organic crackers
(bought these by accident.  levi wanted the "cookies" with big bird on the package...oops)

These are yummy good!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Experimenting with scones

I really like this base a lot.  This is a very, very, dense and chunkier scone.  This tastes more like an energy bar rather than a scone.  This is one of those batters that you can add whatever your tastes desires.  This specific fruit combo is a little more sophisticated.  Not a true kid friendly scone. I am going to try again and add more kid friendly ingredients, i.e., chocolate chips, pretzels, marshmallows, cashews, etc.

For this particular batch, I added dried cherries, blanched almonds (I wanted to use salted, but didn't have), raisins, flax seeds, oats and dried figs.  I really like these.  They are best eaten the day they are baked (like most scones), but are great the next day crumbled up and sprinkled over yogurt!
chopping the nuts

shaping the dough

cut scones, ready to be frozen

These are yummy!


Testing Scone Recipes

As I have mentioned in a lot of my posts, I like to freeze doughs.  I am getting more and more calls each week for my baked goods (which I do out of the goodness of my heart) and all my friends have talked me into doing something with my passion.  With that said, I am not convinced, but in the meantime, I am testing doughs, ingredients and flavor combos.

I am starting with scones.  I started with a basic buttermilk recipe that I have played with in the past.  I made a big batch and added some chopped crystalized ginger and some chopped dried apricots.  I also used both pastry flour and all purpose flour.  I love the texture and the taste of these scones.  And...I love ginger, but not in my sweets.
I will make this base again yet play with the "mix-in's".

chopped dried fruit
shaped dough
(would make them a little thicker next time)
cut and ready to flash freeze


Bite size brownies

I got a call on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. asking me if I could make some stuff for the kids weekend religious school retreat.  I was asked to make dough for 8 challahs (?) as well as "something sweet".  Thank goodness for my frozen cookie doughs in my freezer!  I was able to make 4 1/2 dozen cookies.  Also threw in a fresh batch of bite size brownies.

My Sherry Yard Pastries book was on my  kitchen counter so I decided to just make hers.  I wanted to embellish them, but after making the challah dough, I had to keep it simple.  She calls these "Out-of-this-world-brownies" and although I used only the best ingredients, they were more of an earthly creation (for my taste, not so out-of-this-world).  I saved some of the edges, froze them and will use scraps for a cheesecake crust.

I am sure they were ingested and enjoyed.  I am almost positive I will get no complaints!

3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. flour
1/4/ tsp. salt
4 oz. unsalted butter, chopped
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate-the good stuff, chopped
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate-chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar

• Preheat oven to 350*.  Line an 8" square baking pan with foil and spray.
• Sift flour & salt.
• Melt butter, unsweetened chocolate, & bittersweet chocolate in glass bowl over simmering water. Stir until smooth. Cool.
• Beat eggs & sugar until fluffy.  Whisk in butter & chocolate mixture.  Add flour.
• Scrape into pan and bake 25-30 minutes until slightly firm.
• Allow to cool before cutting.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fudge Brownies with the Volume turned up

Made a batch of brownies.  This is a very fudgy brownie from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook with lots of yummy stuff mixed in.  I actually didn't taste these, but everyone in my house did and they had rave reviews.  When you combine the best chocolate (callebaut), heath bar, toffee pieces, pecans and white chocolate, what could be so terrible?

The recipe makes a huge pan, which I always love, because it feeds a crowd.  I hate those brownie or bar recipes that calls for an 8 x 8" baking pan.  Why go to all the effort and trouble for such a small batch.  I like to bake, create, package and give away.  8" x 8" - Pish Posh!

Make these and get creative. I have thin mint girl scout cookies in the freezer- can you imagine?  Be on the look out for something with a mint cookie accent!

1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
12 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs, room temp.
2 Tbsp. vanilla

3/4 cup toffee pieces
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cup white chocolate, chopped

1.    preheat oven to 350*.  Grease a 12" x 18" jelly roll pan (i lined mine with heavy duty foil and sprayed-easier cutting and clean up)
2.   sift flour, baking powder, & salt.
3.   in a bowl set over simmering water, melt chocoalte & butter, until smooth.  Cool 5-10 minutes.  If bowl is large enough, add the sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.  Add the flour mixture.  Pour batter into pan.  
4.   sprinkle with toffee and nuts.  
5.   bake 25-28 minutes, until tester comes out clean.  do not overbake!
6.   let cool 10 minutes and then sprinkle with white chocolate.  push chocolate into brownie while still warm. 
allow to cool to room temp.

I like to put in fridge before cutting.  It makes it easier and cleaner!


Bite Size Bread Pudding

I was inspired to make bread pudding when I found this recipe for Nutella Bread Pudding (recipe here).  I had everything in the house except the nutella.  Yet, what I did have was some of the ganache from Eli's birthday cupcakes!  I am not a big nutella fan, so using the rich, dark chocolate ganache made me very happy!

I switched it up a little from the original recipe.  I used a little more cream and little less milk and I opted to bake these in muffin tins rather than ramekins.  I was able to make quite a few mini bread puddings which made it the perfect to dessert to take to friends, leaving a few behind for breakfast the next morning.

You can't really go wrong with a bread pudding.  Most all the recipes I have every tried are full proof.  Play with your ingredients a little, that is the fun of it!



Zucchini + Orange MarmaladeTea Bread

I have so much to post.  I have either been busy or lazy.  I would love to tell you all that I have been oh-so very busy, but I must confess, I have been lazy.

I have baked, lots and have photographed.  Yet, had no energy to post.  Well...I am back.

I had been wanting to make the zucchini and orange marmalade tea cake from the Tartine cookbook.  I had some not so pretty zucchini's as well as just enough orange marmalade to make this cake.  This cake is quite light, using oil rather than butter.

I only had one little taste, but it was really, really good.

1 1/2 C + 2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. veg oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange marmalade
2 1/2 cups zucchini, grated
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
2 Tbsp. sugar for topping

1.    preheat oven to 350*.  oil & flour a 9"x 5" loaf pan.
2.    sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, & cinnamon, set aside.
3.    in a mixing bowl, mix eggs, oil, sugar & marmalade.  Add zucchini & salt, combine.  scrape down sides of bowl and add sifted ingredients.  add nuts
4.    Put batter in prepared pan.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Bake 60-70 minutes until cake tester nserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 20 minutes (I went longer), then invert.