There's a place in Vancouver called Gourmet Warehouse that I have been avoiding since the day I first heard about it.
Row after row of baking gear, kitchen gadgets, linens and...SALT.
It has everything. There is stuff in there you didn't even KNOW you needed.
It's so awesome. You would LOVE it.
Those are the kinds of things people say about this place to woo me, to break me down and lure me in. Do they know the way to my heart or what?
As a general rule, I'm not into stuff: coveting it, buying it, stashing it away. I much prefer consumables—things that disappear or get used up over time—like food. Or, better yet, experiences that involve doing something and allow me to skip the acquisition phase entirely.
Clutter drives me crazy. I spend at least as much time—if not more—devising ways to dispose of things as planning my purchases. Why have two or three or four when one will do just fine?
But the kitchen, well, it's an exception. I have an unsightly number of pans (you never know when you're going to need to bake a 5-layer birthday cake, or two angel food cakes, or muffins in the shape of maple leaves), a drawer full of one-use wonders (turkey chain or butter ruler, anyone?) and a cabinet packed with bulky appliances (which, in my defense, I do use...but maybe just so I can say I use them).
Yet there's always something more I'm just itching to add, like brioche moulds. Because I make brioche all the time? Well maybe I would if I had moulds.
So I finally caved and stepped inside the much-loved Gourmet Warehouse a few weeks ago. We escaped relatively unscathed (well $80 lighter, but brioche mould-free), but it might have been because we rode bikes there. Whatever. Small victories.
Notes: I'm happy(?) to report that my muffin tins got the job done.
Source: I followed Fanny's instructions for brioche over at Foodbeam, only to discover another 5-minute recipe at her new blog, Comme un lait fraise, just now. You know what that means: brioche again this weekend. Man, with all this brioche baking, I could really use some moulds...
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
When I started baking for Kafka's Coffee & Tea last summer, I wasn't sure what to expect.
What I got was...
...a chance to share my sweets with strangers.
...weekday conversations with real people.**
...a lot of amazing macchiatos.
But I also noticed that:
...instead of scaling back on copywriting work, I was writing all day and then baking a few evenings a week—sometimes into the night.
...I lacked the time and interest to experiment in the kitchen.
...R. and his work colleagues were going hungry and my poor little blog was suffering.
All that to say, it's been a slice, but I'm saying so long to baking for business (at least for now). Thanks to all who came for the coffee cake. I hope you'll keep heading to Kafka's for the coffee and keep visiting here to see what I'm cooking up next.
The Casual Baker
p.s. I'll be baking for the café until the end of April, so you still have time to squeeze in a hello and one last slice!
* A weak reference to a solid book.
** Don't laugh until you've freelanced full-time from home for an almost entirely foreign roster of clients. Still think I'm crazy? Fair enough.
Labels: Away from the kitchen
Monday, April 04, 2011
Remember back on March 19, when the moon was the largest it has been in almost two decades?
Well, here in the Starbott household, there were big science-y things going on too. Nothing cosmic, but definitely some chemistry.
Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels
2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
5-6 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, melted
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
Mix the warm water and 1 tablespoon of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let the mixture sit until it becomes foamy (about 10 minutes).
Add the first cup of flour and mix, on low, until combined. Add 4 more cups of flour, plus the salt, and mix until combined. Beat on medium-low until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add another 1/2 cup of flour and mix on low for 1 minute. If the dough is still sticky, add the last 1/2 cup of flour and mix to combine.
Knead the dough a few times on a lightly floured surface until it forms a smooth ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm spot until double in size (about 1 hour).
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment.
Retrieve the pretzel dough, knead it once or twice to eliminate bubbles and then divide the ball into 16 equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a strip about 18 inches long, twist it into a pretzel shape and place it on one of the prepared baking sheets. Make sure to leave plenty of room between pretzels. Cover loosely and let rise for about 15 minutes.
While the pretzels are proofing, fill a large pot with 2 inches of water and bring it to a boil. Add the baking soda and 2 tablespoons of sugar, and watch it foam up! Reduce the temperature, as needed, to maintain a simmer.
Poach the pretzels, 3-4 at a time, for 1 minute on each side. Use a slotted spoon to move the pretzels back to the baking sheet. Continue until all of the pretzels are poached.
In a small bowl, beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Lightly brush the tops of the poached pretzels with egg wash. Bake until golden (about 12-15 minutes).
Meanwhile, prepare the cinnamon sugar topping. Melt the butter in a small bowl, just large enough to fit a single pretzel. In another small bowl, mix the cinnamon and sugar.
Once the baked pretzels are cool enough to handle, dip the top of each one into the melted butter followed by the cinnamon sugar mixture.
From here, you can either return the finished pretzels to the cooling rack or head straight for your mouth.
Best eaten right away, or at least that day.
Source: A sweet twist (pun most definitely intended) on this Martha Stewart recipe, via Smitten Kitchen.
Labels: Yeast breads