One of America’s Favorites – Apple Strudel

October 19, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Apple strudel

Apple strudel (German: Apfelstrudel; Czech: štrúdl) is a traditional Viennese strudel, a popular pastry in Austria, Bavaria, Northern Italy and in many other countries in Europe that once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867–1918).

The oldest known strudel recipe is from 1697, a handwritten recipe housed at the Wienbibliothek im Rathaus.

Whether as a type of sweet or savory layered pastry with a filling inside, the strudel gained popularity in the 18th century through the Habsburg Empire (1278–1780). Austrian cuisine was formed and influenced by the cuisines of many different peoples during the many centuries of the Austrian Habsburg Empire’s expansion. Strudel is related to the Ottoman Empire’s pastry baklava, which came to Austria from Turkish via Hungarian cuisine.

Strudel is most often associated with the Austrian cuisine, but is also a traditional pastry in the whole area formerly belonging to the Austro-Hungarian empire. In these countries, apple strudel is the most widely known kind of strudel. Apple strudel is considered to be the national dish of Austria along with Wiener Schnitzel and Tafelspitz.

Home made old-fashioned apple strudel in the oven, rolled up and filled with apple filling

Apple strudel consists of an oblong strudel pastry jacket with an apple filling inside. The filling is made of grated cooking apples (usually of a tart, crisp and aromatic variety, such as Winesap apples sugar, cinnamon, and bread crumbs.

Strudel uses an unleavened dough. The basic dough consists of flour, oil (or butter) and salt although as a household recipe, many variations exist.

Apple strudel dough is a thin, elastic dough, consisting of many thin layers and known as “Blätterteig”, the traditional preparation of which is a difficult process. The dough is kneaded by flogging, often against a table top. Dough that appears thick or lumpy after flogging is generally discarded and a new batch is started. After kneading, the dough is rested, then rolled out on a wide surface, and stretched until the dough reaches a thickness similar to phyllo. Cooks say that a single layer should be so thin that one can read a newspaper through it. The dough is also stretched carefully to make it large enough to cover the kneading table.

Filling is arranged in a line on a comparatively small section of dough, after which the dough is folded over the filling, and the remaining dough is wrapped around until all the dough has been used. The strudel is then oven baked, and served warm. Apple strudel is traditionally served in slices, sprinkled with powdered sugar.

In traditional Viennese strudel the filling is spread over 3/4 of the dough and then the strudel is rolled, incorporating the dough through the filling and making a swirl pattern when the strudel is cut across. Perhaps this is the origin of the name which means whorl or whirlpool.

 

Apple strudel, served with vanilla sauce, in Tirol, Austria

Toppings of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, custard, or vanilla sauce are popular in many countries. Apple strudel can be accompanied by tea, coffee or even champagne, and is one of the most common treats at Viennese cafés.

 

 

One of America’s Favorites – Quick Bread

April 20, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 1 Comment
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Banana bread is a type of quick bread

Quick bread is any bread leavened with leavening agents other than yeast or eggs. An advantage of quick breads is their ability to be prepared quickly and reliably, without requiring the time-consuming skilled labor and the climate control needed for traditional yeast breads.

Quick breads include many cakes, brownies and cookies—as well as banana bread, beer bread, biscuits, cornbread, muffins, pancakes, scones, and soda bread.

“Quick bread” most probably originated in the United States at the end of the eighteenth century. Before the creation of quick bread, baked goods were leavened either with yeast or by mixing dough with eggs. “Fast bread” is an alternate name.

The discovery or rediscovery of chemical leavening agents and their widespread military, commercial, and home use in the United States dates back to 1846 with the introduction of commercial baking soda in New York, by Church and Dwight of “Arm & Hammer” fame. This development was extended in 1856 by the introduction of commercial baking powder in Massachusetts, although perhaps the best known form of baking powder is “Calumet”, first introduced in Hammond, Indiana and West Hammond, Illinois (later Calumet City, Illinois) in 1889. Both forms of food-grade chemical leaveners are still being produced under their original names, although not within the same corporate structure.

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), the demand for portable and quickly-made food was high, while skilled labor for traditional breadmaking was scarce. This encouraged the adoption of bread which was rapidly made and leavened with baking soda, instead of yeast. The shortage of chemical leaveners in the American South during the Civil War contributed to a food crisis there.

As the Industrial Revolution accelerated, the marketing of mass-produced prepackaged foods was eased by the use of chemical leaveners, which could produce consistent products regardless of variations in source ingredients, time of year, geographical location, weather conditions, and many other factors that could cause problems with environmentally sensitive, temperamental yeast formulations. These factors were traded off against the loss of traditional yeast flavor, nutrition, and texture.

Preparing a quick bread generally involves two mixing containers. One contains all dry ingredients (including chemical leavening agents or agent) and one contains all wet ingredients (possibly including liquid ingredients that are slightly acidic in order to initiate the leavening process). In some variations, the dry ingredients are in a bowl and the wet ingredients are heated sauces in a saucepan off-heat and cooled.

During the chemical leavening process, agents (one or more food-grade chemicals—usually a weak acid and a weak base) are added into the dough during mixing. These agents undergo a chemical reaction to produce carbon dioxide, which increases the baked good’s volume and produces a porous structure and lighter texture. Yeast breads often take hours to rise, and the resulting baked good’s texture can vary greatly based on external factors such as temperature and humidity. By contrast, breads made with chemical leavening agents are relatively uniform, reliable, and quick. Usually, the resulting baked good is softer and lighter than a traditional yeast bread.

Chemical leavening agents include a weak base, such as baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) plus a weak acid, such as cream of tartar, lemon juice, or cultured buttermilk, to create an acid–base reaction that releases carbon dioxide. (Quick bread leavened specifically with baking soda is often called “soda bread”.) Baking powder contains both an acid and a base in dry powdered form, and simply needs a liquid medium in which to react. Other alternative leavening agents are egg whites mechanically beaten to form stiff peaks, as in the case of many waffle recipes, or steam, in the case of cream puffs. Nevertheless, in a commercial process, designated chemical leavening acids and bases are used to make gas production consistent and controlled. Almost all quick breads have the same basic ingredients: flour, leavening, eggs, fat (butter, margarine, shortening, or oil), and liquid such as milk. Ingredients beyond these basic constituents are added for variations in flavor and texture. The type of bread produced varies based predominantly on the method of mixing, the major flavoring, and the ratio of liquid in the batter. Some batters are thin enough to pour, and others thick enough to mold into lumps.

There are three basic methods for making quick breads, which may combine the “rise” of the chemical leavener with advantageous “lift” from other ingredients:

* The stirring method (also known as the quick-bread method, blending method, or muffin method) is used for pancakes, muffins, corn bread, dumplings, and fritters. It calls for measurement of dry and wet ingredients separately, then quickly mixing the two. Often the wet ingredients include beaten eggs, which have trapped air that helps the product to rise. In these recipes, the fats are liquid, such as cooking oil. Usually mixing is done using a tool with a wide head such as a spoon or spatula to prevent the dough from becoming over-beaten, which would break down the egg’s lift.
* The creaming method is frequently used for cake batters. The butter and sugar are “creamed”, or beaten together until smooth and fluffy. Eggs and liquid flavoring are mixed in, and finally dry and liquid ingredients are added in. The creaming method combines rise gained from air bubbles in the creamed butter with the rise from the chemical leaveners. Gentle folding in of the final ingredients avoids destroying these air pockets.
* The shortening method, also known as the biscuit method, is used for biscuits and sometimes scones. This method cuts solid fat (whether lard, butter, or vegetable shortening) into flour and other dry ingredients using a food processor, pastry blender, or two hand-held forks. The layering from this process gives rise and adds flakiness as the folds of fat melt during baking. This technique is said to produce “shortened” cakes and breads, regardless of whether or not the chosen fat is vegetable shortening.

Quick breads also vary widely in the consistency of their dough or batter. There are four main types of quick bread batter:

Pancake batter is made using the stirring method

* Pour batters, such as pancake batter, have a liquid to dry ratio of about 1:1 and so pours in a steady stream. Also called a “low-ratio” baked good.
* Drop batters, such as cornbread and muffin batters, have a liquid to dry ratio of about 1:2.
* Soft doughs, such as many chocolate chip cookie doughs, have a liquid to dry ratio of about 1:3. Soft doughs stick significantly to work surfaces.
* Stiff doughs, such as pie crust and sugar cookie doughs, have a liquid to dry ratio of about 1:8. Stiff doughs are easy to work in that they only minimally stick to work surfaces, including tools and hands. Also called “high-ratio” baked good.
The above are volumetric ratios and are not based on baker’s percentages or weights.

 

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

May 9, 2019 at 6:00 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints | Leave a comment
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When making Pie Crust………..

Chill the dough before you roll it out for at least 30 minutes and up to a couple of days. Again, if it is very hot out, think about freezing the dough for 10 minutes just before you start to roll it out.

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

January 24, 2019 at 6:00 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints | Leave a comment
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Thank you to Nina C. for passing this hint along……..

Use Flour – Always flour your work surface, rolling pin, hands, cookie cutters, or knife before rolling and cutting dough. When it doubt, lightly flour it!

One of America’s Favorites – Biscuits

October 29, 2018 at 5:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Biscuits

A biscuit in the United States and parts of Canada, is a variety of small baked goods with a firm browned crust and a soft interior. They are made with baking powder or baking soda as a chemical leavening agent rather than yeast. They are similar to British scones or the bannock from the Shetland Isles.

Biscuits, soda breads, and cornbread, among others, are often referred to collectively as “quick breads”, to indicate that they do not need time to rise before baking.

Although the American English and British English use the same word to refer to two distinctly different modern foods, early hard biscuits (North American: cookies), were derived from a simple, storable version of bread. The word “biscuit” itself originates from the medieval Latin word ‘biscoctus’, meaning “twice-cooked”.

The modern Italian baked goods known as biscotti (also meaning “twice-cooked” in Italian) most closely resemble the Medieval Latin item and cooking technique.

In the Hispanic world a bizcocho refers to an array of differing baked goods depending on the country, from Spain and throughout Hispanic America. In the Philippines, a biskotso (also spelled “biscocho”), derived from a word used by the Spanish conquerors, refers to a type of garlic bread.

The definitive explanation for the differences in the usage of “biscuit” in the English speaking world is provided by Elizabeth David in English Bread and Yeast Cookery, in the chapter “Yeast Buns and Small Tea Cakes” and section “Soft Biscuits”. She writes,

It is interesting that these soft biscuits are common to Scotland and Guernsey, and that the term biscuit as applied to a soft product was retained in these places, and in America, whereas in England it has completely died out.

Early European settlers in the United States brought with them a simple, easy style of cooking, most often based on ground wheat and warmed with gravy.

Biscuits and Gravy

The biscuit emerged as a distinct food type in the early 19th century, before the American Civil War. Cooks created a cheaply produced addition for their meals that required no yeast, which was expensive and difficult to store. With no leavening agents except the bitter-tasting pearlash available, beaten biscuits were laboriously beaten and folded to incorporate air into the dough which expanded when heated in the oven causing the biscuit to rise. In eating, the advantage of the biscuit over a slice of bread was that it was harder, and hence kept its shape when wiping up gravy in the popular combination biscuits and gravy.

In 1875, Alexander P. Ashbourne patented the first biscuit cutter. It consisted of a board to roll the biscuits out on, which was hinged to a metal plate with various biscuit cutter shapes mounted to it.

Southern chefs may have had an advantage in creating biscuits. Northern American all-purpose flours, mainly grown in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, are made from the hard spring wheats that grow in the North’s cold-winter climate. Southern American bleached all-purpose flours, originally grown in the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee before national food distribution networks, are made from the soft winter wheat that grows in the warm southern summer. This summer growth results in wheat that has less protein, which is more suited to the creation of quick breads, as well as cookies, cakes and muffins.

Pre-shaped ready-to-bake biscuits can be purchased in supermarkets, in the form of small refrigerated cylindrical segments of dough encased in a cardboard can. These refrigerator biscuits were patented by Ballard and Ballard in 1931.

Biscuits can be prepared for baking in several ways. The dough can be rolled out flat and cut into rounds, which expand when baked into flaky-layered cylinders. If extra liquid is added, the

Open biscuit with honey being drizzled in it

dough’s texture changes to resemble stiff pancake batter so that small spoonfuls can be dropped into the baking sheet to produce “drop biscuits”, which are more amorphous in texture and shape.

Large drop biscuits, because of their size and rough exterior texture, are sometimes referred to as “cat head biscuits”. A common variation on basic biscuits is “cheese biscuits”, made by adding grated Cheddar or American cheese to the basic recipe.

Home cooks may use refrigerator biscuits for a quicker alternative to rolled or drop biscuits. Refrigerator biscuits can even be cooked over a campfire on a stick.

A sweet biscuit layered or topped with fruit (typically strawberries), juice-based syrup, and cream is called shortcake. A type of biscuit called an “angel biscuit” contains yeast as well, as do those made with a sourdough starter.

While there are many different ways to prepare and top biscuits, the ingredients from recipe to recipe are generally the same. Most recipes will call for all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, either milk or buttermilk, and either butter or shortening (about half will also call for a small amount of sugar as well). The amount of each ingredient will vary for each recipe much the general concept is the same for these simple baked goods.

Biscuits
Open biscuit with honey being drizzled in it

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

October 12, 2017 at 5:22 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints | Leave a comment
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Making Pie Crust……..

 

Do not over-handle the pie crust; overworking develops the gluten and toughens the dough. It’s okay to see flakes of yellow from the butter and egg yolk. Also, when working the dough, use your fingertips instead of the warmer palms of the hand.

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

July 24, 2017 at 5:32 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints | Leave a comment
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Making your own Biscuits…..

 

Make sure all of the ingredients, including the flour and baking powder, are cold. Also don’t overwork the dough: Mix just until the liquid is incorporated, and knead just until the dough comes together. And don’t forget the gravy!

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

May 9, 2017 at 5:33 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints | Leave a comment
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Making your own pie………

 
Keep all ingredients cold to slow the development of gluten in the flour. Use butter right out of the refrigerator and add ice-cold water to the dough.

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

February 27, 2017 at 6:05 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints | Leave a comment
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Easy clean-up…..

 
When you’re done with an afternoon of baking, sprinkle your messy countertop with salt, and the doughy, floury mess that’s left behind can be easily wiped away with a damp sponge.

One of America’s Favorites – Monkey Bread

December 19, 2016 at 5:51 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 2 Comments
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monkey-bread

Monkey bread, also called monkey puzzle bread, sticky bread, African coffee cake, golden crown, pinch-me cake, and pluck-it cake is a soft, sweet, sticky pastry served in the United States for breakfast or as a treat. It consists of pieces of soft baked dough sprinkled with cinnamon. It is often served at fairs and festivals.

 

 

 
The origin of the term “monkey bread” comes from the pastry being a finger food, the consumer would pick apart the bread as a monkey would.

 

another-image-of-monkey-bread
Recipes for the bread first appeared in American women’s magazines and community cookbooks in the 1950s, but the dish is still virtually unknown outside the United States. The bread is made with pieces of sweet yeast dough (often frozen), which are baked in a cake pan at high heat after first being individually covered in melted butter, cinnamon, sugar, and chopped pecans. It is traditionally served hot so that the baked segments can be easily torn away with the fingers and eaten by hand.

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