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Archive for June, 2009



  • Yesterday at Wimbledon, amidst all the Pimm’s and strawberries and cream and prawn and avocado salads (oh, and the tennis, too), it was the yeast doughnut covered in strawberry glaze that had me at hello.  It’s been ages since I’ve last seen the inside of a Dunkin’ Donuts or a Krispy Kreme and I was in desperate need of a fix.  Alas, the minute I awoke this morning I had one thing on my mind: to turn my kitchen into a doughnut plant.  A few hours and a few (dozen) doughnuts in my belly later and I’d say the mission was accomplished.  Brightly colored American doughnut chains, eat your hearts out.

  • Yeast Doughnuts: Dunkin’ and Krispy Style

  • For the doughnuts:
  • (adapted from Alton Brown)

  • 1 ½ cups (360  ml) milk
  • 2 ½ ounces (70 grams) vegetable shortening, approximately ⅓ cup
  • 2 packages (14 grams) instant yeast
  • ⅓ cup (75 ml) warm water (105 to 1115 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 32 ounces (910 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface
  • Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying (approximately 1 quart/960 ml, depending on fryer)

  • Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

  • In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.  Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  •  
  • On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to ⅜-inch thick. Cut out dough using a 2 ½-inch doughnut cutter or pastry ring and using a ⅞-inch ring for the center hole, if desired (I found it much easier/less sticky not to make a hole, but I like the look of both). Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

  • Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to between 350 and 365 degrees Fahrenheit. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing/filling.
  • Yield: Alton says 20-25 doughnuts, but if my output was anything to go by, I’d say at least 30.

 

  • For the glaze:
  • (from Recipezaar)
  • 3 cups (300 grams) confectioners’/icing sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup cold water 
  • Mix all ingredients together in the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment. Pour into medium bowl and  set aside until doughnuts have cooled.  Dip each doughnut in glaze and place on wire rack to harden.  

Yield: enough to glaze 20-25 doughnuts.

½  cup (125 grams) butter*
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (200 grams) sifted confectioners’/icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder

Cream butter and shortening. Gradually add sugar ½ cup at a time. Add milk and vanilla, beat until light and fluffy. Beat in cocoa powder. When cool, make small hole to insert frosting . Take a knife and carefully make a large cavity inside of the doughnut to hold the frosting. Fill the doughnuts generously with frosting using a pastry bag fitted with a large, round tip (I used Ateco #804) and dust heavily with powdered sugar.

Yield: enough to fill 10-12 doughnuts.

 * The original recipe called for ¼ cup butter and ¼ cup vegetable shortening, but I ran out of shortening making the doughnuts and sadly the only place I can find Crisco in this country is at Selfridges in Oxford Circus, a place to be avoided at all costs on the weekend.  Considering the fact that I’ve already devoured half a dozen, I’d say either way would work just fine.  

 

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“I’m not eating again for a week!”


This familiar phrase, uttered time and time again by someone or other in my family after a painfully large meal, has come to typify my experience with food.  We share the ultimate love/hate relationship, food and I, and we have since I was old enough to sneak my eight-year-old hands into the cupboard to steal a few Oreo cookies when my mother wasn’t looking.  I often wonder if anyone else feels this way about food and, as with most things in life, have had many a discussion with my brother, affectionately known henceforth as Frau Dr. Weiderberg (FDW), about it.  What I’ve come to find is that perhaps this relationship is one that runs through my family, for one reason or another.  We just love food.  We love thinking about it.  We love talking about it.  We love making it.  And we love eating it, most of all, even to the point where we feel the need to exclaim out loud that we’ll never take another bite.  In the end, of course, we do eat again (and usually within a few hours, which is why the human digestive system continues to amaze me) and the food brings us such joy and comfort that for a moment we forget the pain, both physical and otherwise.  Because how bad can life be when the smell of chocolate pecan pie is wafting from the oven? 


I’m not sure whether others would deem it unhealthy, this obsession with food, but I do know that it makes me awfully happy, and because of that I tend to think it’s one of the healthiest aspects of my life.  And so I continue to celebrate good food, to cook and bake for people to the point where they are begging me to give their stomachs a rest, to trek miles in a foreign city while the rest of the tourists are visiting museums just to find the perfect paella or Liege waffle.  I just make sure I force myself to go on a gruelling bike ride with FDW (who is more effective and terrifying than any personal trainer) or spend a few hours contorting myself into ungodly positions in yoga class afterwards.  Or I go off hunting for more food I’ve researched, as is often the case when I’m travelling.  It may not be the perfect balance, but it seems to be working for at least two of the Roses.


And so, without further adoand in speaking of unhealthy obsessions (though, really, how unhealthy can something with carrots in it be anyway?!), I find it fitting that my first recipe here should also be one of my oldest, the very first sweet treat I ventured to bake for anyone outside my family (a fond memory of it once being made in college for a kindred spirit’s birthday and featuring Legolas from The Lord of the Rings springs to mind, but that’s another story entirelyand the one recipe I always come back to, time and time again, spurred on by the voices of friends and family who just won’t take “No” or, far more likely in my case, “But, I want to try something new!” for an answer.  I have my mother to thank for this one who, although she hid the Oreos from us at all costs, would take the time to indulge us in all of Maria Tillman Jackson Rogers glories on a special occasion.  And thanks to Maria, too, the creator of this recipe according to the ancient photocopied version found in my mother’s cookbook, for creating such a delightful obsession (a quick Google search for Ms. Rogers led me to a snippet of an obituary about a mother who cooked her son’s way through Harvard with her Creole recipes.  Incidentally, he later compiled these recipes into a book, though I wasn’t about to purchase a subscription to read the rest of the article online, and so I’m afraid my shoddy detective work ends there.  I’m not sure, but I’d like to believe it’s the same Maria who helped me cook my way through college and beyond).  And, finally, to food itself, the inspiration behind this first blog of mine, for comforting me in dark times, bringing me so much to smile about and look forward to, whether I’m on holiday or just on my way home from work at night, and inspiring me day after day, inspiration which I hope to both catalog for myself and share with the world (wide web).  Here goes nothing…

 

Maria Tillman Jackson Rogers’ Carrot Cake

 

For the cake:

1 pound (455 grams) carrots, approximately

2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar

1 ½ (360 ml) cups vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 cups (255 grams) flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup (115 grams) coarsely chopped pecans

 

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius/Gas mark 3).

2.  Trim, scrape and grate the carrots, then measure them; there should be about three cups.  Set aside.

3.  Combine the sugar and oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Start beating.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well.

4.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  

5.  Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture while beating.

6.  Add the grated carrots and nuts and blend well.

7.  Lightly oil three nine-inch cake pans.  Line the bottoms with circles of wax or parchment paper; oil the paper.  Pour the batter into the pans.  Place in the oven and bake 45 minutes.  Prepare the cream cheese frosting while the cake is in the oven and then place frosting in refrigerator until ready to frost.

8.  Turn the cakes onto wire racks and let cool.  Remove the paper liners.  Frost with the cream cheese frosting.  Enjoy!

 

Yield: 8 or more (if you’re lucky) servings.

 

For the cream cheese frosting*:

2 cups (200 grams) confectioners’/icing sugar

1 eight-ounce (225 gram) package cream cheese

4 tablespoons (55 grams) butter at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

 

1.  Add the cream cheese, butter and vanilla.  Beat until smooth and creamy.  

 

Yield: enough frosting for a three-layer carrot cake.

 

* I often tend to double this recipe, which inevitably means I end up with leftover frosting for everyone to fight over, but it also ensures there’s plenty enough to thickly coat all three layers.  Note to self: don’t overdo the frosting too much or you’ll end up with the sadly all too familiar Leaning Tower of Carrot Cake.  

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