TWD – Rustic Potato Loaves

Rustic Potato Loaves.    Hmm.   As much as I love bread (and I do love bread) I have never tried or even heard of rustic potato loaves.   This is a recipe I wouldn’t have tried on my own in a million years.    But, that’s why I joined the TWD group.   To push myself into new, er… adventures.

Color me surprised to discover that this is delicious bread.    Really delicious.     Fast, easy, flexible and delicious.   What’s not to like?

Fresh out of the oven

Fresh out of the oven

The recipe begins with good, old fashioned russet potatoes.    They are boiled, cooled and air dried to make sure that no extra moisture is retained.    I chose to leave the potato skins on as called for in the recipe.    Every little extra bit of nutrition helps, especially when baking white bread.


The yeast is proofed with 1/2 cup of potato water and then mashed with the potatoes and a little olive oil.


After mashing, the flour is added and the resulting mixture is dry.   Extremely dry!


I’m wondering how this can possibly come together but thank goodness that the recipe cautions to have faith in the process.   Rules follower that I am, I hang in there.    My kitchen aid mixer was (barely) up to the task but a few minutes later the dough started to come together.


The potato peels look pretty horrible here, but they do break up quite a bit during the mixing process.   The long, long mixing process wondering whether my kitchen aid will make it for the entire 11 minutes.


The dough was easy to shape into loaves and after a quick 20 minute rise ready to bake.    Unfortunately, I didn’t do a very good job of pressing the seam together so, emphasis on the RUSTIC portion of my potato bread.   Still, it really was delicious.


Next time, and assuming my kitchen aid holds up, there will be a next time, I will experiment with adding herbs and swapping out some of the all-purpose flour with whole grains.

For the recipe please visit our host Dawn of Simply Sweet.


TWD – Croissants

Our recipe this week for the TWD Baking with Julia group is croissants.   For the recipe, please visit Amanda at Girl+Food=Love


Wow.   When I first purchased the Baking with Julia book this was the recipe that jumped out at me.    And now, that day week is finally here.    It is with some excitement and a great deal of trepidation that I begin.

The book describes how wonderful a croissant can be from a “patient and gifted baker”.   I don’t think either adjective has ever been applied to me.    Foolishly undaunted, I am ready to begin.

Day 1

Make the dough.   This looks simple enough.    Until I realize that the recipe calls for compressed (fresh) yeast rather than the dry or (lifetime supply) of instant yeast that I have on hand.   I spend the next 30 minutes researching how to convert compressed yeast into instant yeast.   I keep finding differing sources so I finally decided to go with the SAF conversion printed right on the package.   1 ounce of compressed yeast = 9 grams of instant yeast plus 18 grams of extra liquid.    Thank goodness I have a good scale.

Next challenge is to convert skim milk into whole milk but luckily I have heavy cream in the refrigerator.  Phew.

Looking a little dry so I added additional liquid

Looking a little dry so I added additional liquid

The dough assembly really is quite straightforward, flour yeast, sugar and milk.   A short rest and then into the refrigerator for an overnight stay.

The last step for the day is to whip up the butter, wrap it tight and send that into the refrigerator to chill out with the dough.

Butter ready to chill

Butter ready to chill

Day 2

Read the instructions for how to roll the dough.   Reread.   Reread again.   Realize I need some visuals so I head to my computer to look for the video.   Luckily, the PBS Video with Esther McManus is available online.

Hmmm… while watching the video I realize that I forgot to add 2 tablespoons of flour to the butter.   Esther explains that this will help reduce the water content in the butter and, frankly that sounds important.   Dang.

Pull out the butter, chop it up into 1/2 inch pieces (again) and whip it up with 2 tablespoons of flour.   Send back to refrigerator and hope that the butter is not too oily from all the mixing and that the dough will hang out for another day.

I plan to get a good night’s sleep and start early with the rolling tomorrow.   Sigh.

Day 3

Ah.   Now I see where the patience comes in.    The dough is rolled out, packaged around the butter and then pounded with a rolling pin to integrate the butter into the dough.   Then comes more rolling and folding each with a two hour rest in the refrigerator.

Esther had a great idea to document the process on the parchment paper.

Esther had a great idea to document the process on the parchment paper.

Eight hours into day 3 I elect to freeze the dough and rest up for a new day before shaping the croissants.

A few days later…

After an overnight thaw, I start early in the day to roll out half of the dough.    I decide to keep it simple and stick with traditional croissants.   After watching the video, the rolling and shaping was easier than I expected.     Unfortunately, after 3+ hours at room temperature the croissants had barely risen and they certainly didn’t look puffy.   Maybe I didn’t calculate so well on my yeast conversion after all?   I decide to put the shaped croissants in my warming oven at a nice gentle 80 degree temperature.

Aiyeeeee!   Major tactical error!

All that butter I worked so hard to incorporate in the dough...

All that butter I worked so hard to incorporate in the dough…

What a mess.   But… they did rise!   I’ve got way too much time invested in this project so there is no way I am quitting now.   I carefully clean up the melted butter and begin baking.

Shockingly, these didn’t turn out half bad!


Were they delicious?  Yes indeedy.   Were they all eaten?   Another responding yes.

Would I bake croissants again?   Well, I’ll certainly bake up the other half of the dough I still have in the freezer.   And I’ll even try some with chocolate.     Still… I’m not sure that the investment in time and planning is worth it except for a very, very special occasion.


TWD – Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

This week our TWD Baking with Julia group is making Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies.    For the recipe, please visit Peggy of Galettista.

The recipe is pretty straightforward.   A mocha enhanced version of chocolate chip cookies.

My favorite method to measure flour.

My favorite method to measure flour.

I’m going to skip the suspense and tell you right now that this recipe didn’t turn out very well for me. One… I didn’t chill the dough long enough.    I got impatient and tried to bake the cookies after only a 1 hour chill.   What can I say?   The dough smelled so good I just couldn’t wait.

Doesn't that look good?

Doesn’t that look good?

Two… my dark chocolate was not “baking” grade and melted dreadfully during baking.    It was high quality chocolate, just not so nice for baking.

The chocolate looks good at this point...

The chocolate looks good at this point…

I peeked while the cookies were baking.   Just to check. Mocha Choc Chip Cookies5 The resulting cookies? As you might guess, they were runny and as flat as a pancake.    They tasted good.   I loved the mocha flavoring added to the fairly traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe. Mocha Choc Chip Cookies6 I will try this recipe again, just on a day when I’m feeling a little more patient.


TWD – Boca Negra

This week’s recipe for our TWD baking group is Boca Negra.     I’d never heard of Boca Negra before but any recipe with this much chocolate has to be good.


The recipe is very simple and really didn’t take long to assemble.     Bring some bourbon and sugar to a boil, remove from heat and then stir in lots of chopped chocolate.    Next step is to stir in 2(!) cubes of butter one small piece at a time.    This part of the process turned out to be quite a workout.    I found my arms getting tired and my mind wandering looOng before I was finished.     The next time I make this recipe I would probably do this step over a double boiler to keep the chocolate warm.

The cake is baked in a water filled broiler pan.   I found it a bit of a challenge to transport this ‘setup’ to the oven without letting any water slosh over into the cake but maybe I need more practice.

I baked the cake for the exact duration specified in the recipe; unveiled; and…. Ruh oh.     My beautiful cake started to fall apart.    Yikes!

I quickly reassembled and patched up the cracks as best I could.    I baked for an additional 15 minutes.     Then I popped it into the refrigerator to chill before I tried again.


This time success!   Maybe not the prettiest Boca Negra ever but it was absolutely delicious.

Especially with the bourbon flavored cream topping.  Yum!


This is most definitely a special occasion dessert with plenty of calories to spare :)

For the recipe, please visit Cathy of A Frederick Food Garden.


TWD – Focaccia

This week’s recipe for TWD Baking with Julia is Focaccia.    As you might suspect from the name of my blog, I’m a big fan of bread.   Especially artisan breads like Focaccia.   


I’ve tried a lot of different Focaccia recipes and this one ranks as a favorite.   It was very easy to make, the dough was really active and it was also very versatile.    The biggest challenge is a matter of planning since the dough has to rest for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Well, that plus the requirement to use up lots of gallon-size freezer bags.   Maybe I should purchase some Ziploc stock?


I followed the recipe exactly and kneaded my dough via machine.   After two rising periods the dough is divided into thirds and placed into the aforementioned freezer bags for 24-36 hours in the refrigerator.   This part of the process provided some entertainment value when my husband opened a refrigerator drawer and was startled to discover three large bags lurking.

After the rest period, the dough is carefully removed from the freezer bags, dusted with flour and allowed to rest before shaping.


After shaping, the dough is brushed with olive oil, fresh herbs and coarse salt.    How can something with olive oil, herbs and salt possibly taste anything but delicious?


I thought the resulting bread was delicious and this recipe is definitely a keeper.

For the recipe please visit Sharmini of Wandering Through.


TWD – French Apple Tart

This week’s recipe for our TWD – Baking with Julia group is French Apple Tart.   For the recipe please visit Laws of the Kitchen.

This is an absolutely beautiful tart that really presents well.  It really looks a lot more difficult than it is.


My husband came home to find this on the counter and couldn’t believe his good fortune.    Surprise.   No special reason, just another Tuesday baking project.   (He really likes this group!)

This tart specifies the pie crust recipe from the same book.   I happened to have some of that very pie dough just waiting to be used from the freezer.   I really like this pie crust recipe and felt that it handled beautifully after an overnight thaw.

The crust is fitted in a tart shell and then filled with rice (or other weights) and pre-baked.


I did have a very scary moment before the crust was baked when I picked up the tart to move it to the fridge for chilling.    Note to self: don’t hold up a removable-bottom tart pan from the middle of the pan.  Doh!

Disaster averted I moved on to the next phase.   While the crust is cooling, you bake some apples with cinnamon and sugar and then blend up with bread crumbs (yes, bread crumbs!) to give it some body.


The final stage is to slice apples and arrange them “prettily” on the top.    I usually don’t go in for this sort of fussy detail and you can tell that I was starting to lose focus by the time I got to the middle.

I found that I had to cook the tart longer than called for (about 10 minutes?) in order to get the apples to brown up on the top.   I kept pulling it out of the oven and then putting it back in for another few minutes.


Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed with the overall taste of the tart.   The tart body seemed a little like glorified applesauce.    Well, I supposed that is actually what it is.   In any case, the taste was very good it just didn’t seem to live up to the glorious beauty of the tart.

Still, I would make this tart again for a special occasion.


TWD – Pizza with Onion Confit

This weeks recipe for our TWD group was Pizza with Onion Confit.    Pizza… YUM!

Pizza with Onion Confit

I’m a huge pizza fan but have trouble convincing my husband that it can be ‘healthy’ enough to include in our diet on a regular basis.  So, I was pretty excited to have a legitimate excuse for a pizza dinner.

The pizza dough was very easy to work with.   It is an extremely active dough and needs to rise in a warm spot.   I didn’t read the instructions very carefully though and covered the dough on the first rise.   Thank goodness that it didn’t explode in my warming oven.   I still shudder at the prospect of cleaning up that mess.    I did take the time to snap a quick picture before I whisked the plastic wrap off.

First Rise

I wrapped up half of the pizza dough to save for the next day (woo hah… two pizza dinners!).   Low and behold, even in the fridge the dough was active enough that it was trying to bust the seams on the plastic wrap.

I made a small batch of onion confit the day before I made the pizza.    The onion confit was quite delicious but I wanted the option to try out some additional toppings on my pizza.   I wasn’t terribly creative.   Half of the pizza was onion confit with goat cheese and kalamata olives.   The other half of the pizza was tomato sauce, feta cheese, spinach and kalamata olives.   Cheese and kalamata olives are must haves for me.


This is definitely a recipe I would make again.   The pizza cooked easily with a nice crisp crust on a baking stone.   Both topping combinations were delicious but I am looking forward to seeing what other members of the group came up with.

For the recipe please visit Paul of The Boy Can Bake.


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