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Apr 2, 2014 11:42 AM

What are you baking these days? April 2014 edition! [Through April 30, 2014]

April flours bring...
good food from our ovens for family and friends.

What are you baking this month?

My own list, inspired by recent CH threads, includes an orange cake and orange bread.

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  1. I made a "surprise inside cake." Perhaps that was too ambitious. It was supposed to be an elephant

    10 Replies
    1. re: Siegal

      Well now that you've told me, of COURSE it's an elephant. The texture on the cake looks terrific.

      1. re: MidwesternerTT

        Haha! Thanks. Maybe next time I'll try something simpler like a heart!

        1. re: Siegal

          I see elephant! That's adorable.

          1. re: rabaja

            Yes , adorable!

            I'd like to try for a pink elephant. Where did you find the instructions for this?

            1. re: BangorDin

              I used my standard pound cake recipe (Paul dean sour cream pound cake) and kind of followed instructions here :

              The only thing I did different is instead of baking a colored cake in loaf form I baked it in a sheet pan so there would be a lot less waste
              Post pictures!

          2. re: Siegal

            Okay then, it's not an attempt to age pound cake into blue cheese, which was my first reaction. ;-)

            1. re: Siegal

              I'm still trying to figure out how they got the caramel into the Caramilk bar, but you got an elephant into a cake! How did you do it?

              1. re: Siegal

                I was so inspired by this that I made a surprise cheese quickbread. I just cut the surprise one (coloured with tomato paste) into squares as this was just really intended as a proof of concept.

              2. I'm happy to report that my last two bread attempts were successful--the Dill Rye from Kneadlessly Simple is amazing--very dill heavy with dill seed, and pickling liquid from some dill pickles. The King Arthur's Flour kneadless bread also turned out well--though a little crumbly.

                My next project is the roasted pear and dark chocolate scones from smittenkitchen and a lemon strawberry muffin--though I'm still looking for a recipe for that. Any suggestions? I have a lemon blueberry recipe I like, I could just substitute strawberries?

                7 Replies
                1. re: SarahCW

                  Yay, glad your bread turned out well!

                  As for the lemon strawberry muffin, I would probably just use your good blueberry muffin recipe. "If it ain't broke..."

                  Speaking of which, I made the Bouchon Bakery cookbook's blueberry muffins last month and they were THE BEST blueberry muffins I've ever had. I literally could not stop eating them. Served them to my extremely picky and critical mother and even she said they were to die for.

                  So... if you want a 2 day muffin project, maybe you could try it out with strawberries for the sake of this thread :)


                  1. re: nothingswrong

                    That looks good! I actually don't have a problem with two day projects, I'm just not sure how the strawberries will work. I'm thinking of roasting them off to get some of the liquid off and intensify the flavor, and then reducing some of the other liquid. Otherwise I've heard that strawberries can make baked goods mushy!

                    1. re: SarahCW

                      They can sometimes. I've made strawberry muffins before and just chopped them to about 1/4" and let them sit on paper towels until stirring them in.

                      One of my favorite ways to use fresh strawberries in baked goods is to puree them, strain out the seeds, then bring to a simmer in a small pot. Cook until thick and reduced by about half and let cool slightly.

                      This concentrated puree is SUPER flavorful. I use it to beat into frostings, layer into cheesecake or coffee cake (like a strawberry streusel), or use in place of jam like on shortbread or bars.

                      It adds a serious punch of fresh strawberry flavor without all the mushiness.

                      1. re: nothingswrong

                        TJ's freeze-dried berries work really well in baking. No bleeding, and they taste pretty fresh. You need to press the ones on the surface down into the batter so they're not exposed to direct heat. They rehydrate during baking but don't take up so much liquid that the batter needs adjusting.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          Agreed on TJ's freeze-dried berries! I had excellent experiences using their freeze-dried strawberries in home made ice cream, too.

                        2. re: nothingswrong

                          This is actually what I did--I roasted the strawberries and then pureed them and then found a recipe that called for the puree. The batter was super dry, because I didn't use pastry flour, so I added some yogurt to thin it a tiny bit. They have kind of an odd texture on the top, but taste good. I'm sure my nieces will like them--they're 4-5 yrs old! I did make the scones and freeze the dough for cooking first thing tomorrow. The roasted pears tasted AMAZING, I now want to just roast them and eat them for everyday treats.

                          1. re: SarahCW

                            Ooh! How did you roast the pears?? I have one sitting on the counter right now and wanted to do something with it.

                  2. Thanks for starting the new thread...I was just about to!

                    1. Yesterday I baked 3 loaves of whole wheat bread.

                      1. I took my Vienna bread baguettes recipe and added a Dutch crunch topping to it. Wow! One of the best bread recipes that I have made. Home made Dutch crunch bread is so much better than what I've been able to buy.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Antilope

                          What do you enjoy about the Dutch crunch topping? Does it taste like anything? Or is it all textural?

                          I remember seeing this bread for the first time in a cookbook (I believe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice) and marveling over it. I've never had a Dutch crunch bread.

                          You're making me wonder if it would be good atop my next batch of baguettes.

                          1. re: nothingswrong

                            It's the texture and the flavor. I grind the rice flour in my Vitamix blender. The Dutch crunch has a slightly sweet, yeasty flavor along with the crunch.

                            1. re: Antilope

                              Thanks. I may give it a try next time!

                              1. re: Antilope

                                What kind of rice do you use? It's weird, but I've only ever seen Dutch crunch bread sold commercially in Ontario and in northern California. I love it.

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  Dutch Crunch Topping

                                  Makes enough for 3 regular size (350g ea - 12 oz ea) baguettes

                                  Ingredients adapted from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice - Dutch Crunch Topping, instructions are my own.

                                  1 Tbsp (7.5g) bread flour
                                  3/4 cup (150g) white rice flour - I grind my own from Calrose medium grain rice
                                  3/4 tsp (2.3g) instant yeast
                                  2 tsp (8.3g) white granulated sugar
                                  1/4 tsp (1.5g) table salt
                                  2 tsp (9.3g) vegetable oil
                                  6 to 8 Tbsp (100g) of water

                                  If you can buy white rice flour, use that, or grind your own rice flour.

                                  I use Calrose type medium grained rice. I live in Sacramento, CA and they grow a lot of this type of rice in the area. It's my favorite rice for most uses. Any raw white grain rice (except Minute Rice) will work.

                                  Grind 3/4 cup (150g) of raw white rice in a Vitamix blender (a coffee/spice grinder also works) on high speed until it turns to a smooth flour.

                                  Mix ingredients together in small mixing bowl. You want a paste-like consistency that will stick to the bread and not run off. I add the water, last, a tablespoon at a time. If you get it too thin, add another tablespoon or two of bread flour. It should be like a cake frosting, though not as smooth.

                                  Cover Dutch crunch topping paste and allow to rest 30 minutes.

                                  Allow formed loaves of bread to rise 25 minutes.

                                  Apply rice paste topping to bread. I use a teaspoon or frosting spatula. The top of the bread should be covered in a smooth and even layer about 1/8 inch thick.

                                  Allow bread to rise another 30 minutes.

                                  Bake at 375-F for 35 to 45 minutes, until bread is done (195-F center temperature) and desired crust color is achieved.

                                  As the Dutch crunch bread rises and bakes, cracks will form on the Dutch crunch topping surface.

                                  1. re: Antilope

                                    Here's a picture of my Dutch crunch baguettes prepared from the above Dutch crunch topping recipe. Also known as Alligator bread or Tiger bread.

                                    1. re: Antilope

                                      I am trying this this weekend! I have Calrose rice. I also have rice flour but am not sure if it's the right kind.

                                      1. re: buttertart

                                        Peter Reinhart's book (The Bread Baker's Apprentice) just mentions "rice flour", not any particular kind of white rice.

                                        You can view his recipe in this book preview at Amazon. Look at the bottom of page 264 (click on picture of book to start preview):

                                        1. re: Antilope

                                          I have that book. No surprise, right? Thanks!

                                          1. re: Antilope

                                            ...just don't use sweet (sushi) rice flour as it has completely different properties- fantastic for some things though!

                                          2. re: buttertart

                                            I love dutch crunch, but no longer live in CA so I make my own. I've used loads of different rice flour, white and brown, with success. The least successful crunch was with the "glutinous" rice flour I use for making butter mochi (Mochiko)