This Week’s Baking

I am on a serious baking kick these days. On Sunday, I tried a new recipe and made three plain pain d’epi and three bacon pain d’epi loaves. I wish I could tell you that putting slices of bacon into my favorite type of bread was my own idea, but one must give credit where credit is due. And credit is very due to Diamonds for Dessert for posting this incredible recipe for bacon pain d’epi.

My only deviation from her recipe was to use bread flour instead of regular white, and instead of doing all six loaves with bacon, I only did three. Not only are these loaves gorgeous (insert photo of gorgeous bread [here] – if I waited to upload any of the photos I take, sadly I’d never find the time to post…), the dough was gorgeous too. It was a dream to work with – like silk to knead. So smooth and elastic. It’s easily the best bread dough I’ve worked with thus far.

This bread was absolutely delicious with the potato soup I made for Sunday dinner. I didn’t have any leeks on hand, so I made the soup with a couple of big red onions instead. Bacon and onions; soup and bread – I can’t think of a better Sunday night dinner for an overcast, windy fall evening. And of course I’m already dreaming up variations on it – I could add green onions and sun dried tomatoes. My home made bacon would be even more awesome than the store bought stuff I had to use in Sunday’s loaf. We ate a little with leftovers for yesterday’s lunch, then had the very last plain loaf this morning with our eggs and bacon for breakfast. Of course, it wasn’t as good as when it was fresh, but it held up pretty good for three days. It still had a nice crust and chewy interior, and was just starting to show signs of staling. This dough recipe is a definite keeper.

I’ve got another batch in it’s first rise now. Instead of doing six small loaves, I’m going to do two larger ones. And we ate the rest of the bacon today sadly – the last four slices are in tonight’s dinner (crockpot balsamic chicken with potatoes). So I’m going to do a plain loaf for one and a sun dried tomato and olive loaf for the other. I’m pretty excited to try this new variation tonight. Now if only I had gotten the bread rising in time to have it with dinner… sigh.

Of course, Sunday baking isn’t complete without sweets. We’ve had a real sweet tooth lately. Must be the change of the seasons. I’m going through flour like nobody’s business. I’ve made tons of double batches of snickerdoodles and chocolate chip cookies (half with added walnuts for husband), and I can’t keep them in the house. Naturally I made a batch of snickerdoodles, but only a single batch this time because I also decided to make some soft ginger cookies. They will now be a repeat at our house too – so good! They’re basically a soft, chewy gingerbread. They actually had a touch too much ginger for my taste (too much ginger actually gives me a bit of a stomach ache, interestingly) so next time I’m going to just use a teaspoon instead of the two the recipe calls for. Other than that, it’s perfect. I love having three, solid go to cookie recipes. And so you can get in the cookie goodness, I’ll share where I found all three. 🙂 Another case of wishing I came up with these myself; that’s how good they are!

Snickerdoodles from Slow Like Honey

Soft Ginger Cookies from Allrecipes

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from Apple a Day

Seriously – make all three. And I found all of these on Pinterest, proving yet again that Pinterest is the coolest thing in the world. I’ve got a couple more cookie recipe pinned – I ought to try them since I’m three for three with the successes.

And in non-cookie, non-bread related business, I’ve been really tempted to make a chocolate lava cake… but it’s quite possible that we have enough sweets in the house for two people at the moment. Possibly.

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Sunday Scores

I feel like I made up for yesterday’s doing nothing in a few short hours this morning. We were up by 8:30 so we could make it to farmers market at opening. I was glad we had the head start too, because it was really hopping today. I stopped by and spoke to a couple of farmers that I’d been emailing about bulk tomatoes, and I think we have a winner – Midnight Sun Organics is going to have canning seconds for about $1.00 per pound, starting in August. I’m going to have to do a mad dash of canning before the baby comes, but it will definitely be worth it.

And we got an amazing assortment of fruits and veggies this week – a pint of big red raspberries, a pint of cherries, a zucchini, a bunch of carrots, scallions, rainbow chard (since ours is still recovering),  a pint of small wild black raspberries (the BEST kind), ciabatta bread, two chocoloate croissants (breakfast for me) a chocolate doughnut and cup of coffee (breakfast for husband), half a pint of crimini mushrooms, and a bunch of black eyed Susan wildflowers. What a haul! The red raspberries I think I’ll make up into a tart or a small cobbler. Likely a cobbler, since I’ll be making apple hand pies later. The black raspberries probably won’t make it past today, since I’ve been craving them for my entire pregnancy. The rest of the produce we’ll just play it by ear for dinners this week.

After the market we stopped by the store to pick up the few dry goods we needed this week. For some reason, we really had to load up on condiments like rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, apple cider vinegar and such – isn’t it odd how those things always tend to run out at once? We also picked up some ribs, so we’re going to do Marinated Barbecued Ribs for dinner tonight, and I think I’ll make up some Poor Man’s Risotto with mushrooms to go alongside – we haven’t had that in awhile. To round out my food-centered day, in addition to the raspberry cobbler and apple hand pies, I’m also going to try a delicious-sounding recipe I came across recently for Spiced Chai Cupcakes. I think I’m going to leave off the icing though, so they’ll be more like muffins. So we’ll have plenty of options for breakfasts this week.  

After the market, we picked up some quart canning jars. I found a lady in our neighborhood via a great community networking site called OhSoWe who had two cases of quart canning jars that she didn’t need. I was really surprised that they’re brand new, still in the box. I’m so excited to have them, because it saves me almost $35.00, which is about what they’re retailing for this year. I will be gifting back a few quarts of tomatoes to her in August in thanks. I just need one more case to have all the quart jars I’ll need for this season. But if I can find another two cases, so much the better.

All in all, a good Sunday thus far. It’s quite hot and humid, so unfortunately we’ve had to turn on the air conditioning (which I really hate doing) but since it’s on I have no excuse not to turn on the oven and bake this afternoon. And we’ll hopefully be able to get in some time on the deck this evening once the sun starts to go down. Happy Sunday!

Winter Chill

It is cold in Chicago. So cold that I am loathe to leave the house. But with Christmas less than a week away that’s likely a good thing. My apartment looks like a tornado just went through the toy workshop the North Pole – piles of wrapping paper (this year, it’s store-bought – one is printed with peppermint candies of all shapes and sizes and the other is printed with winterberry branches on snow), ribbons and gift tags, half-finished sewing projects and baking ingredients. But I’ve been getting a lot done. I’ve sewn a lot of gifts this year, including two crayon rolls and mini tote bags for art kits for my nieces. I actually remembered to take pictures of everything before wrapping it, so I’ll get those posted soon I promise – and I’ve even got a new camera that I actually know how to use too!

I need to finish a small zippered bag for a “makeup kit” for my eldest niece – she’s four and loves to do her “makeup” with mommy in the morning. I found some cute little lip balms that are shaped liked cupcakes along with some brightly colored hair clips and nailpolish (which her mother strangely agreed would be fine for me to include). And I do have a little hand sewing left to do, in finishing the play fruit for my younger niece’s other gift – I’ve got to finish the strawberries I started last week as well as do up some lemon and orange slices. I should be able to finish them up this week while parked in front of the television (as I inevitably will be for a least a few hours – I need decompression time after the office job!) 

I’ve done a little bit of baking this year, mostly by doing quick breads. Last week’s cookie baking with my in laws got cancelled because of some nasty weather, but I do plan to do some Russian Tea Cakes (which are husband’s favorite) and some snickerdoodles (which are mine) this evening so we have some tasty munchies this week. I’m also going to do another batch of my Super-Pumpkin Pumpkin Bread so we’ve  got something good for breakfasts this week.

Time just seems to fly by me lately – I still can’t quite figure out where this year has gone. There have certainly been some difficult moments in the last year, but I feel good to have my family around and a good home to comfort me. I probably won’t post a whole lot of new stuff between now and New Year’s because this time of the year is so hectic, but I promise to be back full-swing in January – I’ve got two seed catalogs to continue planning with, and lots of post-Christmas winter projects to – sewing “draft dodgers” for the in front of the doors, sewing house slippers, working on scrapbooks and trying some new things in the kitchen – so stay tuned for all of that. And if I don’t get a chance to say it to you all in between now and then – have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!