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Dec 1, 2013 04:32 PM

What are you baking these days? December 2013 edition! [to 12/31/13]

Greetings from the $#@((^ fruitcake is in the oven side of the job...half of my mother-in-law's recipe, less the angelica and candied grapefruit peel it calls for and that are not to be found in these environs. Three 9x3 in loaves, 2x5 in rounds, and one wee loaf's worth. I love to think about doing it but it is a BIG JOB, believe you me. The batter filled the bottom of my Chinese steamer, the biggest receptacle I have.
Does anyone know what temp it should be when done? They've been in the oven for an hour at 300, and the small round ones are at about 120 deg F, and the little loaf, 130 deg F.
This week was a busy one on the baking front -- a very nice pecan pie and the best soft dinner rolls I ever made -- no recipe. King Arthur bread flour (about 4 cups), the pastry scraps from the pie, 1/2 stick butter, instant yeast, 2 tsp salt, about 1 tb sugar, buzzed up in the fp; 2 eggs and about 1 1/2 c cold milk + ditto hot water mixed to take the chill off, buzzed in to make a soft dough, let rise until double, formed into balls, let rise again in pans, baked 30 mins at 375. Darn good, almost as good as my MIL's. Next pic shows the outstanding texture the bread flour gave them.
This month will certainly be a busy one on that front as well as others, for all here, I what are you baking these days?

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  1. Both the pie and rolls look fantastic, buttertart. I didn't do Thanksgiving baking, as I had dinner at my mother's and the pies (pumpkin and mincemeat) are definitely her thing for that particular feast, and very good.

    I did start my holiday baking on Saturday with a reprise of last year's Dowager Duchess Fruitcake from the Martha Stewart website (which I discovered via CH pavlova), which is essentially a pound cake stuffed with candied citrus peel (I used mostly orange and some lemon) and in my case, candied ginger. This time I made a half recipe, in two 7x3 loaves, which I intend to give to my brother, who was crazy about it last year, when I handed around itty-bitty ones. They're now wrapped in cheesecloth and will get weekly feedings of sherry.

    24 Replies
    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

      I haven't had time to make the Dowager Duchess cake yet though I have a fridge full of oranges ready to be candied! I'd probably get it done more quickly if I used store bought peel. I must remember to try the ginger when I finally get around to it--hopefully this weekend.

        1. re: buttertart

          A candied orange Christmas cake...I must see that as well. Please share pavlova.

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              Dis you make your own candied peel? It seems to me I saw a method described recently that seemed simpler than usual, does that ring a bell? I think I'd want the best quality peel for this cake (which looks wonderful, by the way).

              1. re: buttertart

                There is an easy recipe in Anne Willan's "La Varenne Pratique" (a book you don't have. :) ). I made it once, and it turned out good. Need the recipe posted? Or, buy the book???

                I'm going to be making hazelnut spritz cookies for my sister. That will be followed by pistachio shortbread, both from Nancy Baggett's "The International Cookie Cookbook".

                No snow for me at Christmas this year.....I'm heading to Costa Rica, to a friend's condo, for a week! Yeaaaay! There will be some cooking there.

                1. re: souschef

                  If you could post it? :) And nice about the Christmas trip.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Here's the (simplistic) recipe, though I now question the small quantity of water. It worked for me, though.

                    30gm (2 Tbsp) sugar
                    2 Tbsp water
                    Julienned strips of 1 orange

                    Blanch the orange strips in water for two minutes; drain.

                    Gently heat the sugar and water in a small pan until the sugar has dissolved. Drop in the orange strips. Simmer till evaporation (8-10 min) and the strips are transparent. Lift out with a slotted spoon.

                    1. re: souschef

                      This sounds like a great idea for small quantities. Back with the Lebovitz one later.

                2. re: buttertart

                  Last year, I used all purchased (but good quality), and this year, I used a combination of purchased and homemade. I bet you may be thinking of a comment I made in the November cookbooks thread about a method in Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert. I did ending up using his method, in which you simmer the entire peel of your oranges (post juicing or whatever) until tender, then scrape away the pith, which has softened up so it's very easy to remove, before slicing it and candying. Excellent results, and recommended if you have the book (you must, right?). I'm going to try and do Meyer lemon peel this weekend.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    That must be it. it's the one that came out a couple of years ago? I must do it. I have some Meyer lemons too -- by the way, have you ever seen fresh yuzu for sale, in that produce paradise you live in?

                    1. re: buttertart

                      That's the one. If you don't have it, I can give you the instructions. It's v. simple. I haven't shopped for fresh yuzu, but I know I recall threads on the SF board saying it's available here and there in season (though I'm not sure where it's from).

                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                        I've got those Cara Cara orange peels (from the dry ones I got quite a while back) going and threw in my breakfast Satsuma peels. They're cooked, have to do the rest later.

                        1. re: buttertart

                          You halve and juice 10 oranges, boil them in water to cover, which it won't, because they are buoyant and you have to stir them every so often, for about 45 mins or so, cut the halves in half, scrape off most of the pith (fun in a tedious sort of way, and the best tool for the job is a gelato spoon, I found), then cut up into 1/4 in strips and boil in sugar syrup (3 c water to 4 1/2 c sugar) until it reaches 225 deg F, which takes longer than you'd expect, maybe 30 mins. Cool in the syrup, spread on rack to dry -- I left it overnight -- then toss in sugar and let dry "overnight", which in this case will be "overday". This is from David Lebovitz's "Ready for Dessert", thanks to Caitlin for mentioning it.
                          Photos are pre- and post-sugaring. The process is rather sticky so I didn't take photos of each step.
                          And yes, souschef, today orange peel, tomorrow the world (or at least SOME chestnuts).

                          1. re: buttertart

                            I actually weighted them down as they simmered to keep them underwater, used the lid of a small LC soup pot. I think I used the peels of 4-5 very large oranges and a half measure of the syrup and ended up with half a pound of candied peel. I diluted the syrup (which is fairly heavy) with water, and it's in a bottle in the fridge, but because I'm not so big on straight orange syrup, I plan to bring it to a simmer with some chopped fresh ginger and maybe a half split vanilla bean, then let it steep and strain to make an orange-ginger-vanilla syrup for soda/cocktails (thinking it'll be good with rum). I have a smaller amount of Meyer lemon peel simmered and scraped, and awaiting candying.

                            And this reminds me, I need to douse my Dowager Duchess cakes...

                            1. re: buttertart

                              Chestnuts? Go for it, Mme La Doyenne!

                              I cut off the pith using a sharp paring knife.

                              1. re: souschef

                                The boiled rinds are fun to scrape. It's really delicious...the satsuma rind especially, tastes almost as good as yuzu rind from Minamoto Kitchoan...

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  I never thought about boiling rinds; I always scraped them off before. I'll try it the next time.

                                    1. re: souschef

                                      It's much easier to scrape the pith away after it's softened from simmering, and you've already accomplished the blanching step.

                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                        Caitlin, the Marzipan short bread recipe you posted do you use unsalted butter?

                                        1. re: smfan

                                          Yes, but even though it's not in the ingredient list, we'd add a bit of salt. (I meant to mention that!)

                  2. re: Chefpaulo

                    I used rum in the cake and soaked it with Amaretto instead of sherry.

                    1. re: pavlova

                      I like the sherry, actually; still boozy, but mellow, and works nicely with the citrus (but I've also made some nice sherry pound cakes). I left the almonds out both times (I always have other almondy treats planned), cut the candied peel smaller, and add the ginger. Great results all around, sounds like!

            2. I wanted to relax this weekend so just a chicken pie for Sunday lunch and a thrown-together free-form apple tart thingy that I baked in an 8x8 dish because I'm cleaning the bottom of my oven right now and can't chance anymore stuff down there.

              Chicken pie was great (the part lard dough really came out so beautifully), but dh's grandmother doesn't like peas so it had strikes against it, I guess.

              Looking forward to Scandinavian and German baking this month, and a few cookies for good measure.

              1. Well, if you are what you eat, I must be a nutty fruitcake (hubby would be all too happy to agree). MIL's fruitcakes are aging in port. They smell heavenly.

                On the flipside, I utterly bombed Nick Malgieri's speculaas recipe. The cookies were floury and rose so much they lost all detail from the speculaas forms. I threw them out for the squirrels. I swear one of the little beasts gave me the finger after it bit into and then threw down one of the cookies. I'm avoiding their gaze now.

                Hopefully the other holiday baking will be up to snuff and I can redeem myself.

                1. Today it was Boston cream candy, an apple crisp and a small batch of apple sauce to finally finish off the baking apples we picked earlier this fall.
                  I love this season and the seemingly constant excuse to bake something!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cheesymama

                    What is Boston Cream Candy? Any relation to the pie?

                    1. re: roxlet

                      It reminds me a lot of the penuche fudge that my grandma used to make every Christmas. Here is the recipe that I use
                      I love Fine Cooking recipes, I have never had anything but successes with them!
                      I have to hide this stuff from myself or I will eat it all, piece by piece!

                  2. Did you say you used the pastry scraps in the rolls? What a clever use of leftover pastry. I've never heard that before!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: roxlet

                      I do that all the time if I'm making both.