Showing posts with label {bake shop}. Show all posts
Showing posts with label {bake shop}. Show all posts

2.08.2014

Valentine's Day || Strawberry Rye Squares


When it comes to holidays, my mom is A+. She’s never missed a year of making black eyed peas for New Year’s or corned-beef and hash on St. Patrick’s day. Though her Easter baskets never sported the live bunny I always hoped for, they were top-notch. Solid chocolate bunnies? Duh. She has a wooden Santa display to rival the Macy’s windows, and don’t get me started on her birthday cakes. Legendary. But strangely, though I’d never claim Valentine’s day as my favorite holiday today, if I had to pick one holiday past to pop in on, February 14 might actually be it.

Perhaps it’s because, for the most part, Valentine’s was just another ordinary day—a Tuesday, a Thursday, a Friday in midwinter. It was usually a school day, which meant it would have been easy enough to overlook. But without fail, when we came down to breakfast on that day each year, there would be heart-shaped pancakes, and tiny surprises at each of our places—simple things like I love you stickers or sometimes candy hearts, that graduated to tiny gold heart earrings or pink nail polish from year to year.

My mom wasn’t a note-in-the-lunchbox kind of mom; managing laundry, three meals, school projects, dance classes and every other detail of a family of six was her daily, tangible love note. But to this day, on Valentine’s day there is always a note from my mom—in the lunchbox, or now, the mailbox, making me feel—strike that—know that in a world that isn’t often quick to love, a mother always is.

As much as I love my hubby (and yes, we’ve had some sweet valentine’s dates), this year, for the first time ever, I’ve been irrationally excited about Valentine’s day, mama-style. The other day, I was even lured into a tacky dime store by the sparkly pink display, and left with a sack full of hearts in every form. I’ve been imagining a valentine’s tea for Greta and her 3-year-old playmates, a sweet, heart-shaped-pancake breakfast on Friday and a week’s worth of love-note-laden lunches. Truth: the party probably won’t happen—at least not this year. And, on a weekday, we’re lucky to get hard-boiled eggs eaten before we all have to rush out the door. But the thing about a mother’s love, or any real love for that matter, is that it’s never reserved for just one day.


In the end, Valentine’s is just another reminder to slow down and cherish someone. To take the time to hang tacky hearts in the window, however crookedly, if it means standing behind your little one, arms around them with your cheeks practically touching as she explains the way she sees the world. It means giving in to that one more book before naptime, even though you’re bloody exhausted, or taking a walk hand-in-hand in the bitter cold until you reach the end of the street, where the church bells chime and manage to almost stop time. It means baking your beloved’s favorite sweet, and pulling out the heart-shaped cookie cutters to make them just a touch more special, as if anything you do out of love could be more special at all. Because that’s what we do when we love—we keep trying, and praying if we need to, to outdo ourselves. To love more and better and harder and more purely than we thought we ever could.


STRAWBERRY RYE SQUARES || makes 12 to 36 bars



1 ¼ cups rye flour
1 cup barley, whole-wheat white or all-purpose flour
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark)
½ cup unbleached sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
Scant 1 cup strawberry preserves (or your favorite jam)
¾ cup lightly toasted hazelnuts or walnuts (or a combination)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch pan and line it with parchment paper with flaps overhanging two edges. Butter the parchment paper.

Whisk together the flours, oats, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Beat together the butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and the yolk. Add the flour mixture and slowly stir together, scraping the bottom of the bowl to get all the butter or floury bits.

Layer about 2/3 of the dough into the baking pan, pressing into an even layer. Spread the preserves evenly over the top. Drop the remaining dough in small clumps to the cover the jam, letting a little jam peek through. Sprinkle with the nuts.


Bake until the dough is set and golden, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool slightly in the pan, about 5 minutes, and then use the parchment to lift the bars onto a flat surface. Use a heart-shaped cutter, or several of them (I use all different sizes) to cut the bars into shapes, keeping them as close together as possible. This works best while the bars are slightly warm. Let them cool lightly in the cutters before removing and cutting out more (the bars set and firm as they cool). Cool completely and serve with coffee or tea. 

p.s. minus the sugar (there's admittedly a bunch) these are pretty wholesomefull of whole grains and nutsso I feel a-okay about sending these as Greta's school sweet in her lunchbox this week. use whatever wholegrain flours you have, and skip the nuts if allergies are an issue. 

12.30.2013

ALMOND CROISSANT RECIPE || the best possible way to end, or start a year

photo by Yunhee Kim

On the morning we brought Greta home from the hospital, November 4, 2010, we went straight to our neighborhood bakery, Astor Bake Shop. I know, lots of mothers don't leave the house with their newborns until they are solidly three months old, but I was not only very hungry, but way too excited to sit at home (don't worry, she's as healthy as an ox).  

I remember everything about that day: how teeny Greta was, all 7 pounds of her, in her fleecy white coat, curled into my chest; the way everyone at the bakery pointed and stared (look, a brand newborn); the way the air felt, cool and sweet and full of possibility; and, every enormously delicious morsel of my almond croissant – the first real food I had eaten for nearly 48 hours. 

If you've never had the pleasure of enjoying an almond croissant, here's what you should know: they’re like manna from heaven. Though almond croissants are generally a pastry chef's trick to make day-old-croissants new again (split the croissant, spread it with almond crème and bake until golden brown and intoxicatingly fragrant), they're always my number one pick in a pastry counter. I can think of no greater food with which to end, or start, a brand new year.

A good or even amazing almond croissant is easy to come by in Paris or New York, but elsewhere, say, in the tiny upstate New York town where we're spending our New Years, you have to make your own. Believe me, it is well worth the tiny effort.

Here’s my recipe, bar none one of my favorites from Feast (p.s. if you don't have croissants, this works on day-old bread, too).

ALMOND CROISSANTS | SERVES 6

1 recipe almond cream (see below)
6 day-old croissants, halved crosswise
Skin-on sliced almonds, for sprinkling
Powdered sugar, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide all but 1/3 cup/75 ml of the almond cream over the bottom halves of the croissants. Cover with the top halves, using your hand to flatten the croissants just slightly. Spread more almond cream over the top of the croissants with an offset spatula, leaving some of the edges bare. Sprinkle with almonds. 

Bake on the prepared baking sheet until the cream is cooked through and the top is golden brown, about 20 minutes, covering the top with foil if needed to prevent overbrowning. Dust generously with powdered sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

ALMOND CREAM | aka frangipane 

Almond cream, or frangipane, is a sweetened ground-almond or almond flour base for desserts, pies, tarts, and more.

1/2 cup unsalted room-temperature butter
1/2 cup unbleached sugar 
1 cup ground almonds or almond flour
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons oat flour or all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add ground almonds or almond flour and beat together. Add in the egg and egg yolk, one at a time, and then the vanilla extract. Stir in the flour and sea salt, scraping the bottom for any dry or unmixed bits, until the mixture is evenly fluffy and smooth. 

Store in a container with an airtight lid in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. (Makes enough for 6 croissants or 6 almond toasts)

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite 


4.22.2013

feeding the soul



Starting a new job is always hard. But I’ve sort of been through the ringer with this one. In the span of my first three months, I went through company layoffs, loosing two great editors and getting news that the company might sell. Then, Greta got an endless cough (file that under “no one sleeps”), pink eye, and stitches (note to your child’s nursery—do not hide Easter eggs anywhere near a wrought iron gate). Between that, a never ending winter and the crowded commute on the F train, my spirit was suffering a bit. Not serious suffering, like living through war and poverty suffering, but not its light and joyful self. 

It’s times like this I’m incredibly grateful for a good friend and her birthday—the perfect excuse to flee all responsibility for one uninterrupted hour (a near impossible find for two mothers) with her, a pizza and a glass of pink champagne. A whole hour of real (non-work-related) adult conversation? As she put it, “it’s the first time I’ve ever finished telling you a story without stopping every thirty seconds to say ‘here’s your grapes,’ ‘yes I can get your more milk,’ and ‘do you need to go potty?’” Mommies, I know you get this.



Besides the usual (how our husbands annoy us and are at the same time insanely amazing), here’s what I learned in that hour—that nothing, nothing can heal the spirit like face time with someone you love. File that under feeding the soul. And in the same file, goes cooking that baked oatmeal that’s been calling your name ever since you read about it on this blog post last week (from another new mommy who gets it—hey, in these circles, making baked oatmeal is a much bigger accomplishment than it sounds). When something, or someone is calling to you, listen. 

Here’s the thing—to be creative, you have to create. To dream, you to have time to close your eyes. To shine, you have to see the light. And to feed the soul, well, sometimes you need to bake oatmeal, or play hookie for an hour, or order champagne in the middle of the day. Trust me, everything and everyone around you will be better for it.


Baked Oatmeal with Caramelized Bananas, Vanilla and Hazelnuts
Adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson (via Orangette by Molly Wizenberg)
Serves 6


Baked Oatmeal
½ cup hazelnuts (blanched or skins removed)
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup skin-on sliced almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg, beaten
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, cooled slightly
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Roasted Bananas
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 bananas, halved lengthwise

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Toast the nuts in the oven until lightly toasted and fragrant, 8 minutes. Remove and cool.

Meanwhile, stir together the oats, almonds, baking power, cinnamon and salt in a 2-quart baking dish.

Whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, half the butter and vanilla in a bowl or large liquid measuring cup. Pour evenly over the oats and stir lightly to make sure all the oats are evenly moistened. Drizzle the remaining butter over the top.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden and the oats have set.

While the oatmeal bakes, heat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla bean in a shallow pan. Add the bananas and cook over low heat until the bananas are golden and buttery, adding a splash of water as needed, about 5 minutes. Keep warm over very low heat.

Top the baked oatmeal with the bananas and the vanilla-brown sugar syrup. Serve warm.

11.12.2012

{bake shop} Carrot Banana Hazelnut Bread









Did you ever wonder why moms make so much banana bread? I hadn't given it much thought until this weekend, but now I know. If you have kids, bananas are a staple. An utter must. Since the amount of kids I might need to feed can jump from one to five in an instant at the whim of our little social bee, I now stock them in the double digits. This also means that there are bananas of varying ripeness on hand, and more and more often lately, the smashed carried all day in my purse in case Greta got an instant case of the hungries bruised and beaten banana that gets stuck back in the fridge if still uneaten when day is done.  

This lovely bread—as inviting as a breakfast bread as it is an after-nap weekend snack—is the happy accident when a few of those bruisers and last night's leftover carrot mash were calling to me "Reinvent me. Bake! Make me beautiful again!" 

And here's the big reveal...there were. I topped my Carrot-Banana bread with sprinkling of sunflower seeds, rolled oats and hazelnuts (and walnuts on the other) for extra flavor and fiber, but you could add any combo of nuts, seeds and grains to the top (or insides) or yours. Give it a little love, it's deserving. 

~
Carrot-Banana-Hazelnut Bread

Makes 2 large loaves or 4 to 5 small loaves

4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups raw organic sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
10 ounces pure carrot puree (1 1/4 cups)
2 cups white whole-wheat flour or whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 very ripe smashed bananas
¼ cup rolled oats or barley
¼ cup lightly toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped (or walnuts)
3 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter 2 standard loaf pans or 4 to 5 mini pans and dust evenly with flour.

Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer in a medium bowl on medium-high speed until thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Add the oil and carrot puree. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and cinnamon and stir into the batter until evenly combined. Pour into the prepared pans and top with oats, nuts and sunflower seeds. Bake until the breads spring back lightly when touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes, or 20 to 22 minutes for small loaves. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Wrap well and set aside to ripen overnight or eat warm with butter.     



Photos and Recipes © Sarah Copeland 2012
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Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.