Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Homemade Calzones (French Bread Part. 2)

Forget about pizza, bread sticks and bread... everyone talks about those a lot. What about Calzones? In my opinion calzones are the best of the best, they are like a pizza burrito!

So, guess what awesomeness we concocted in our kitchen over the weekend? Homemade calzones.

We used the FrenchBread recipe for the crust and made two batches. We made the bread like it says, except after the dough was made and put in the bowl, we just left it in the cool oven until we were ready to make the calzones.... yup, we left it where it was safest, away from dog and cat hair.

When we were ready, we put the dough on a round cooking sheet that was greased with olive oil. We cut the dough in half and kept one half on the sheet and the other went back into the bowl. Then we spread the dough over the cooking sheet, like you would for pizza crust. 

After that, we put the ingredients on half of it, then we folded the part of the dough with nothing on it on top of the other half. Next, we tucked in the crust, making sure it was sealed. We sprinkled some garlic salt the crust once in was sealed, and I put some cheese on my crust. We each made our own calzone... which was probably too much. Next time we will just make two or divide the dough in four.

We put them in the oven without a timer and just kept and eye on them. If I had to guess they were in for about 30 minutes. The oven was preheated to 350°F when we started, but about halfway through we increased it to 400°F. In my opinion, the oven should be preheated to 400°F degrees from the start, because that's when the calzones started to brown. And it would probably take less time to bake, as well. 

It was perfect! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

French Bread


The recipe I found called it french bread, and boy was it good!
This bread was not only delicious, but it smelled fantastic... which is a sure sign it's a good bread recipe! Seriously, if I could capture the smell and put it here, I definitely would!

To make this you need 4 cups of flour, 1 1/2 cups of warm water, 2 Tsp (one packet) of active yeast, 2 tsp of salt and 2 to 3 tsp of sugar. I find it amazing that it uses just five ingredients.

I combined the warm water, sugar and yeast in a measuring cup to test if the yeast was alive. The water absolutely has to be warm, it can't be too hot or too cold, because it will kill the yeast. The reason the sugar is mixed in with this mixture is because it helps the yeast. 

Dough with the paddle attachment
Dough with the dough hook.
Once you see bubbles, pour the mixture in a mixer with 3 3/4 cups flour and the salt. The remaining 1/4 cup of flour is for dusting the counter. Mix the dough for one minute with the paddle attachment, then let it rest, and then resume mixing it with the dough hook for 2 to 3 mins. One thing to note: when you make bread you must pay attention to the weather. If it's humid, you'll most likely need more flour. If it's less humid outside, you'll most likely need more water. If you decide that you need more of either, add it a tsp at a time, but keep in mind that this is a slightly wet dough. It sticks a bit to the sides of the bowl, but is easy to work with.

Next, knead it a couple times, until it can be formed into a nice compact ball. The recipe said to use as much flour as you need to knead into the dough to make it nice and compact, but I honestly didn't use that much.

Once the dough is in a nice ball, lightly grease a bowl and place the dough in the bowl so the dough may rise. While it was rising I put the bowl in the oven (the oven was off). The oven is a nice calm place for the dough to rise. The dough needs to rise at least 11/2 hours, or until it's doubled in size. You can also put plastic wrap over the bowl if you want.

Look at it! It rose!
Now is time for the best part... The shaping. Before you can shape it though, you have to  punch the dough. Once you've punched the dough, cut the dough in half, leaving one half in the bowl and put the other on the counter. At this stage of the game, you can't knead the dough again, or you'll lose all the air you created. So, you pick it up one end in each hand, and stretch it to the length you want. I stretched it 2 to 3 times, stretching it and then folding it over, stretching and folding over... until I got this. 

Once it is to the shape of your liking, pinch the ends. This traps the air in it, so it doesn't end up lop sided. And then repeat with the other loaf.

Now put these back in the oven that's off, or a safe place, for 30 minutes, or until you are almost ready to bake them.

When it's time to bake them, take them out of the safe place and preheat your oven to 450 degrees. It's time to make the slashes. The slashes help release the steam, but they also give the bread a traditional look. To make the slashes, some people use a knife and others use scissors, either way works. Before the loaves went in the oven, I put a little olive oil on them because I was afraid they wouldn't brown properly. But this may not be necessary if you don't want.

Bake them for 20 to 25 minutes. It took 25 minutes for mine to bake.

 The way to tell if they are done is to look at the bottoms. If the bottoms are nice and golden too, they are ready for consumption.

Next time I would...
The next time will probably be in spring, because Mom had a cool idea of adding a little rosemary into the dough. I mean can you imagine that? That would smell amazing.    

The thoughts are... 
Yum! This was fantastic! It was good with butter, by itself, and it was good with my brothers idea: a little olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and dip the bread in that:) Definitely 5 out of 5 whiskers! 

Adapted from this recipe

Friday, February 14, 2014

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Are you ready for this?

This recipe is chocolate with chocolate and then even more chocolate! I mean it's so chocolatey that if you don't smile when you take a bite, there could quite possibly be something wrong with you.

This bundt cake is a chocolate sour cream cake, which is good, but what takes this over the top and knocks your socks off is the ganache and the cake together.

The cake

The extra
The cake
You will need 1 cup (Plus extra for dusting the pan) cocoa powder, 7 1/2 oz. of semisweet chocolate (finely chopped or chocolate chips, for melting), 1 cup boiling water, 2 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 1/4 tsp. salt, 20 Tbsp. (2 1/2 sticks) of butter, 2 1/2 cups brown sugar (firmly packed), 5 eggs, 4 tsp. vanilla, 1 1/2 cups sour cream, 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips. They all must be at room temperature.

The first thing to do is to grease the bundt cake pan* and dust with the extra cocoa powder. I tapped out the excess over a bowl.

Dusted pan

Boil some water. While you wait combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl, and whisk it together.

Next, combine the cocoa powder and 1 cup boiling water in the bowl you tapped the excess in. Once the cocoa powder is dissolved add the chocolate for melting, and whisk until the mixture is smooth.

Chocolate, cocoa powder, boiling water mixture.
Now it is time to beat the butter until it's creamy. Once it's creamy, add the brown sugar. The combination should be light and fluffy before you add the eggs one at a time. Then add the vanilla.

Brown sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla.

Then, while at a low mixing speed, add the sour cream and flour mixture. You want to alternate between the two, starting with the flour mixture and ending with it.

Once that is combined and mixed well, it's time to add the chocolate mixture. Mix it until you can see no white streaks. Finally, add the chocolate chips.

The batter.
Now, you pour the batter in the pan. You only want to fill the pan 3/4 of the way. I baked both the bundt cake and the loaf* for 57 minutes @ 325 degrees. Once it's done, let it cool upright for 15 minutes, then flip it over and lift the pan off the cake. You have to let the cake cool completely, which is at least an hour.

While the other dogs took naps, Luna was in the kitchen the whole time with me :)

The Ganache 
You'll need 6 oz. of semisweet chocolate, 2 Tbsp. of butter and 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream. Put the chocolate and the butter in a bowl. Pour the whipping cream in a sauce pan, and bring it to a boil. Once the whipping cream is boiled, pour it in the bowl with the chocolate and butter. Whisk it until smooth and ganache-like. 

Pour the ganache over the bundt cake, make sure  the ganache runs along the sides.

Before the ganache.

After the ganache

My thoughts:
This is the kind of desert that you have to have with a glass of milk or water. This is the kind of desert that they play the funny music for on Unique Sweets, It is very delicious. I think that it has to have the ganache, because the cake by itself was alright... but just by itself it tasted like it was missing something. This recipe is 5 out of 5 whiskers.

*A thing to note is that this recipe is orginally from Williams-Sonoma, and the recipe was made for their anniversary bundt cake pan, which holds 15 cups. So if you don't use that cake pan, like me, you will have extra batter. I put the extra batter in a loaf pan, but you could put it in cupcake pans. Whatever you do, just make sure you grease the additional pan too.

The recipe is from here.  

No cats or dogs ate any chocolate in the construction, consumption or photography of this desert . This was strictly a human desert. In fact, the cats seemed rather offended that I placed this by them to take pictures.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


A couple weeks ago Mom and Dad were going to the farmers market, but instead rescued a dog that was hanging out by the highway.

Since then we have been looking for her owners, but have had no success. The woman who manages Bailey's Arms (the rescue group Jack is with) agreed to sponsor Willow if we foster her, which we have.

So, we have 5 dogs and only 4 people... does that mean we're crazy? Probably. But you know what? I think it's a good kind of crazy!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

White Forest Cheesecake Cake

Twas a couple weeks before my Brother's birthday, and he wasn't saying what kind of cake he wanted... so the creative license was handed over to Mom and me. After looking around on Pinterest and other places Mom came across this recipe on Facebook. We decided to do this recipe, we just changed a couple things.

We decided the cake layer would be french vanilla (instead of chocolate) because we thought that would go better with the cheesecake. We also used 2 tsp of amaretto in place of vanilla. For the frosting we mixed one can of pre-made cream cheese frosting with half of Mom's regular white frosting, that way the frosting wasn't as dense as the pre-made frosting usually is, but it would still have a nice cream cheese flavor. We also gave the finished cake a light dusting of powered sugar.

Greased and Parchment lined spring-from pan

We used spring-form pans for both the cake and the cheesecake. We cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pans. Then I greased it with shortening half way up the side, and on the bottom. next, the parchment paper was placed in the pan. Also, a brownie pan with hot water is placed on the bottom rack (to keep the cheesecake from cracking).

Cake batter


The Cake
1 box of french vanilla cake mix. We made it according to the instructions and then poured all of it into one of the spring form pans and then baked according to the box.

Cheesecake batter


The cheesecake
The oven was set to 325 degrees. For the cheesecake, use two 8-ounce cream cheese packages at room temperature, 1/2 cup of white sugar, pinch of salt, 2 eggs at room temperature, 1/3 cup of sour cream, 2 tsp of amaretto or 1 tsp of vanilla (your choice) and one can of cherry pie filling. First, beat the cream cheese until it's workable, which is about 2 minutes. Next, add the sugar and salt, letting it mix for another minute. After that, add the eggs one at a time. Then, add the amaretto and sour cream and mix until smooth.

Next step: pour the batter into the spring form pan and open the cherry filling can. Then, using a fork, pick cherries from the can and scatter them in the cheesecake. It's easier if you put all the cherries in first and then use a knife to swirl them into the cheesecake. Bake for 45 minutes.

Avengers assemble!
After both cakes have cooled, the cake assembly is next! The first step is to cut around the edge of the pan so that the cakes don't rip when you release the spring. Then once you've released the spring, slice the cake into two layers. Put the bottom layer on the plate, then stack the cheesecake layer on top of the cake layer, and finally the last cake layer on top of it all.

We frosted the sides, then the top and Mom made this ledge/fence on the top with the frosting to keep the cherries in place.
My thoughts...
This was so awesome! It was perfectly balanced... it wasn't too sweet at all. This reminded me of an ice cream cake. 5 out of 5!