Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Homemade Sandwich Buns

It's been about a year since I've been making my own buns.  I have to warn you, once you start, it's hard to stop.  They are so good, they make store bought ones like Pepperidge Farm taste like saw dust.  I plan out my menus every week and for the nights when I want to have burgers or chicken salad (anything requiring a bun),  I have to plan it for a night where I know that day I will have time to make the buns because I kind of refuse to buy store bought ones, unless it's an emergency.

I was going to post this on the blog on Friday, with it being Memorial Day weekend and all, kind of the official start to the grilling season.  But, life with 5 kids does not always present the opportunity to sit and type.  It ended up being a busy weekend, with our pool being opened for the season and I raced a 5K.  So, here it is Tuesday and I am finally writing about the rolls I've been meaning to write about for over a year.

I wish I had the courage to try to make my own rolls when I lived in Japan.  Since a burger is not a customary food in Japan, it is very hard to find buns.  We used to have a running joke, "how many stores do you need to go to to make a burger?".  When I found buns, they were in packs of four, and I used to buy them ALL and freeze them until we needed them.  These rolls put those rolls to shame!  Friends in Japan, make these, they will not disappoint.
Light Brioche Buns:

Oven:  350'

3 TBSP warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 tsp yeast
2 1/2 TBSP sugar
2 eggs
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 TBSP unsalted butter
optional:  sesame seeds, dried onions (for garnish on tops)

1) In large glass measuring cup or bowl, combine warm milk, water, yeast, and sugar.  Set aside for five minutes until foamy.

2) In bowl of mixer, combine flours and salt.   Using dough hook, cut in butter, until dough forms small clumps.  (you can also do this by hand and cut the butter in with a fork or pastry blender).  If using mixer, keep dough hook on, slowly blend in the yeast mixture and 1 beaten egg.  Keep mixing until dough comes together, it will be slightly sticky.  Knead for about 8 minutes until smooth, it is okay for dough to be slightly sticky, otherwise the buns will be tough.

3) Grease a large bowl, place the dough ball in it, cover it, and let it sit until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.

4) Punch dough down, cut in 8 equal pieces for large buns or as I like to do, cut in two pieces, and from the first piece, cut it into 4 pieces, roll them into a ball gently, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  For the second piece, cut into 8 pieces and gently roll into balls.  This will make slider rolls, which are great for small kids.

5) Cover the buns loosely, and let rise 1-2 more hours until doubled in size.

6) Beat the last egg.  Brush it on the tops of the buns.  Sprinkle the tops with desired garnish, or leave plain, your choice.  Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes ( I rotated the pan 180' half way through). The tops will turn golden brown.  Let cool before serving.

Source:  Smitten Kitchen

(So, I always have people asking me how I do it, here's my quick version of how these buns happened:
12:30-Make batter in kitchen aid, while it's mixing, finish feeding baby lunch- put dough in bowl to rise, finish dishes, put baby in for nap, do laundry, come back at 2:00, form rolls, set aside to rise, get baby, go get kids from school, 3:45-preheat oven, cook buns while dinner is cooking and kids are doing homework or playing outside. 6:00 eat dinner- it's all good)

They made this dinner extra special, more to come on this party in your mouth soon:
I know somebody who really likes these buns:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Homemade Lime Sherbet

I admit, I have never really been a fan of sherbet, that is, until last year.  On hot days, I don't like to eat, so I found that a nice cold fruit smoothie was not only refreshing but filled me up.  I had a really tasty smoothie at Jamba Juice last summer, and it had lime sherbet in it.  I find myself substituting sherbet into my smoothies instead of yogurt now.  I bought some lime sherbet when I moved into my new house and my kids were eating it up faster that I could use it in my smoothies, so I knew the flavor would go over well with everyone.

After making the peanut butter ice cream last week, I've been inspired to keep more homemade stuff on hand in the freezer, since it really is just so easy.  In my Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, there are a LOT of ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, and frozen ice recipes.  My son and I found a recipe for a sherbet cake we are going to make together, involving lemon and raspberry sherbet (first I need to get a springform pan).  I thought it would be a good idea to make our own sherbet for the cake, but since we don't have the pan yet, I decided we'd try lime as our tester flavor of sherbet.

How good was the lime sherbet?  So good that I made it last night and it's completely gone now.  We all had a bowl for dessert last night and then Hazel and I had our strawberry lime smoothies for lunch.  In fact, it was so good, there's no question that I will ever have any other type of sherbet in my freezer but homemade.  In fact, I actually whipped up a batch of orange sherbet while the kids were eating dinner and that's in the freezer now (think creamsicle- check back soon for this recipe).

And you're welcome!
Lime Sherbet:

1 TBSP lime zest
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 6 limes)
1 1/2 cup cold water
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
2 tsp triple sec or vodka (or 1 tsp vanilla- I make my own vanilla, and it's from vodka and vanilla beans so I figured it'd be an ok substitute)
2/3 cup heavy cream

1) Put sugar, lime zest, and salt in bowl of food processor, fitted with blade.  Pulse for 1 minute until zest is incorporated into the sugar.

2) With the food processor running, add the water and lime juice.  Mix for 1 minute until all the sugar is dissolved.  Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl that has a lid.

3) Add alcohol or vanilla to the strained mixture, stir, cover, and place in the freezer.  Leave in freezer for about 30-45 minutes, until the temperature of the liquid is about 40'.  Do not let it freeze.

4) After removing the liquid from the freezer, pour the heavy cream into a bowl.  Using a whisk, beat the cream until stiff peaks form.  (I cheated and used a hand beater, and whipped it on medium until stiff peaks formed).

5) While slowly whisking the cream, after the stiff peaks formed, keep whisking while adding the liquid mixture from the freezer.  Turn the ice cream maker on, while it is turning, slowly pour this liquid into it.

6) Run the ice cream maker for about 25-30 minutes until the sherbet is thick and creamy.  Place in an airtight container with a lid and freeze for about 3 hours until firm before serving.

Source:  Cook's Illusrated Cookbook

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Zucchini Coconut Breakfast Cookies

I was inspired to make these while thumbing through the current King Arthur Flour catalog.  I'm a big fan of zucchini bread, and have never been a coconut fan.  When I was sitting on the couch after getting my wisdom teeth out, I watched an episode of America's Test Kitchen, where they made a three layer coconut cake and for some reason, coconut sounded really good.  Then, of course, this catalog comes in the mail that day and I HAD to make these.  

The original recipe in the catalog was for popovers or a loaf, but I did a lot of alterations on the recipe and the batter was thick, so I opted to scoop the dough onto a parchment lined sheet for a soft muffin top-like cookie- YUM!  I made them Sunday, it's the closest to solid food I can eat since they're soft and easily chewed.  They were so good and gone by Monday afternoon- hit with the kids too- that I made another batch last night.  The coconut is not a prevalent flavor, but it adds a nice sweetness not to be ignored.  If you're looking for a variation on your zucchini bread, give this a try.
Zucchini Coconut Breakfast Cookies:

Oven:  350'

2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups grated zucchini (I didn't measure, just used two medium sized zucchini)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1) Preheat the oven to 350'.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) Beat sugar, brown sugar, and butter until smooth and fluffy, about 4 minutes on medium high.

3) Add eggs and vanilla, mix, then scrape sides down, mix again.

4) Combine flours, baking soda, and baking powder, set aside.  Shred zucchini and set aside.

5) Slowly add dry ingredients to bowl of mixer and mix until combined.  Scrape down sides.  Add in zucchini and coconut, mix again until combined. Scrape down sides.

6) Use a large cookie scoop, drop batter onto prepared baking sheets.  I'd say it was about 3 TBSP sized scoop or more.  I was able to yield 15 cookies each time.

7) Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Be sure to rotate halfway through.  Cookies are done when cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

8) Let cool, then glaze.

2 TBSP butter, softened
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2-3 TBSP milk
1/2 tsp vanilla (or coconut extract)

optional:  toast 1/4 cup coconut and sprinkle on top after glazing.

Cream the butter and confectioner's sugar.  Add in vanilla.  Slowly add milk until desired thickness.  I wanted mine slightly thicker than pudding, so it wasn't too runny.

Source:  Inspired by King Arthur Flour catalog 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

OK, my Mother's Day was less than ideal.  My husband left on a business trip early in the morning, I'm still recovering from my three wisdom teeth being pulled, and this picture sums up the attitudes of my kids at many points throughout the day.
The weather, however, was amazing and what better to do on a beautiful sunny day when you can't chew food, than make ice cream.

This peanut butter ice cream recipe is sooo delicious.  It is the BEST peanut butter ice cream I have ever had!  There is a place called Far Fars near my parent's house that makes homemade ice cream, and their peanut butter ice cream was my favorite before this- but there is no comparison, this takes the cake!  I didn't even need to add hot fudge or peanut butter cups to top it off.  The peanut butter flavor was so prevalent and rich!

I would like to thank David Lebovitz for making my Mother's Day everything I wanted it to be by writing this totally amazing and super simple ice cream recipe.  I will try to never buy store bought ice cream again!  Try this today, but be careful not to eat the whole batch in one sitting.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mother's out there!

Peanut Butter Ice Cream:

3/4 cup peanut butter (I like Whole Foods Brand)
2 2/3 cup half and half
3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

1) Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor, blend until combined. Pour mixture into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled.

2) Once chilled, pour into the bowl of your ice cream maker.  Let mix for 20-25 minutes until it begins to harden.  Place in an airtight, covered container in the freezer to finish hardening.

Source:  Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz via dinneranddessert blog

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lemon layer cake with Lemon mousse and Raspberry curd Filling

Now, thats a title for a cake, isn't it?  Well, I just realized it's been over two weeks since I've made a post.  For that I'm sorry, but with my husband's awesome travel schedule and the two photography classes I've been taking, I haven't had time to do anything else but make it through the day.  Also, now that I know how to take a good picture, stuff that I had already shot and had waiting to be posted doesn't seem good enough anymore.  I just got a new mega camera and I'm still playing around with it.  I hope to get some awesomely delicious shots up this week.

This is a cake I have made several times (and also it is my go to lemon cupcake recipe) and I can't believe I have yet to post it.  I actually made it and brought it to class for everyone to shoot.  I originally made it about one year ago for my dad on his first day back to work after his hip replacement and it was a big hit with the family.  My mom really loved it and she even made it herself, and if I remember correctly, it may have been her first attempt at a cake from scratch.  For that, I am proud to have inspired her to do so.  So, since she liked it so much, I figured why not post the cake for a Mother's Day treat.

Yes, I am an awful daughter and still have her Mother's Day card sitting on my coffee table.  I had every intention of sending it on Thursday, but I was preparing for my three wisdom teeth to be pulled on Friday and totally forgot.  Since I can't eat food, I'll write about it and since I didn't send her a gift, I'll post the recipe in an easy to find place for her as her gift.

This is a 3-layer lemon cake, filled with a fluffly lemon mousse and homemade raspberry curd, and topped off with a freshly whipped cream icing.  I didn't use a standard buttercream because I think it makes the cake too sweet.  I was even thinking about skipping the icing all together and just putting a large dollop of the lemon mousse on top.  The lemon mousse is so good, I could swan dive into it (seriously)!

Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Mousse Raspberry curd and Whipped Cream Icing:

Oven: 325

Lemon Cake:
3 cups flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temp
3 TBSP lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
2 TBSP lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 cup buttermilk (you can make your own w/ 1 cup milk and 1 tsp of either white vinegar or lemon juice)

Raspberry Curd:
1/2 cup (1 stick butter)
12 oz raspberries (frozen or fresh)
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
2-3 tsp fresh lemon juice

Lemon Mousse Filling:
4 oz. cream cheese or marscapone cheese (I used cream cheese)
2 1/2 TBSP unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tsp lemon extract (I didn't have this, so I used lemon juice)
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 cup heavy cream

Whipped cream Icing:
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

For the cake:
1) In bowl of mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

2) Add in eggs one at a time, scrape sides of bowl, mix, then add lemon zest and lemon juice, mix until combined.

3) In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  In three additions, add dry ingredients, alternating with two additions for the buttermilk.  When finished adding final addition of dry ingredients, stop mixer, scrape sides of bowl, and give it one final mix.

4) Line the bottoms of 3 cake pans with parchment paper and grease and flour the sides.  I used 9 inch cake pans because that's all I have.  You can use 8 inch pans, but you might need to increase the bake time to accomodate for the slightly thicker cake.

5) Bake for 25-35 minutes.  Rotate halfway through.  Cakes are done when a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cakes cool on a rack for ten minutes, then invert pan, remove cakes and let them cool completely before frosting.

For the raspberry curd:
1) Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan.  Add the raspberries, sugar, salt, and egg yolks.  Cook over medium heat, mashing the berries.  Stir frequently, until mixture has thickened, about ten minutes.

2) Remove mixture from heat, pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve, set over a bowl.  Press the berries to make sure to get as much liquid out as possible.  Cool to room temp, it will thicken as it cools.  Stir in lemon juice to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  This can be made a few days ahead of time.

For the lemon mousse filling:
1) In bowl of mixer, fitted with paddle, beat butter and cream cheese on medium until smooth.  Add in confectioner's sugar, mix at low until combined.  Add in the lemon juice and zest until combined. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Scrape sides of bowl, mix once more, then set aside.

2) Put heavy cream in a medium bowl and beat with electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Slowly fold the whipped cream mixture into the lemon cream cheese mixture until well combined.

For the Whipped Cream Icing:
1) Beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Mix in the confectioner's sugar and vanilla until smooth.

To assemble:
Place one cake layer on a 10" cake board.  Spread 1/3 of the lemon mousse filling on the cake.  Place 1/3 of the filling in a piping bag with a large tip.  Pipe a circle of the filling around the circumference of the cake (save the rest for the next layer).  Spoon raspberry curd in the center of the piped circle and spread it in atop the layer of mousse.  (You can view a photo of how I learned about this technique in this post I found on Bake at 350 blog). The circle of lemon mousse will help keep the curd in place.  Place the second cake layer on top of this.  Refrigerate for about ten minutes to let it set.  Remove from the refrigerator and repeat laying the mousse, piping the circle of mousse around the circumference, and filling in with the raspberry curd.  Place the third cake layer on top.  Refrigerate for about ten more minutes.

Spread a very thin layer of icing around the edges of the cake and the top.  This is a crumb coat.  Refrigerate to let it set and then remove and continue frosting.  By adding the crumb coat, you will eliminate stray crumbs from appearing in your frosting.  Use the extra frosting to pipe on edging. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Adapted from:
Lemon cake from Confections of Foodie Bride, Raspberry Curd from Beantown Baker, Lemon Mousse from Annie's Eats, Whipped Cream Icing from Pastry Queen cookbook