Monday, December 26, 2016

Sweet Potato Cake

One of the greatest joys of the Christmas season is giving gifts, isn't that what everyone says.  Its true. I was thinking back over the last few months and the challenges we have faced as a family. Challenges I never thought would be realities.  But then do we ever 'expect' these kinds of things? Some days its like moving through mud.  Taking one moment at a time because a day seems overwhelming. Temporarily denying things because it hurts too much to think about. Laughing with friends to dull the pain.  Keeping busy and distracted by the season.

The real exciting thing for me this Christmas was being able to give my children moments of simple joy, opening presents.  So simple. So needed. It wasn't like in years past.  What was different this year?  The feeling was so very  focused for me on that exact moment when I could see the smile, the joy, the excitement crossing their faces. Maybe it was just the sharp contrast of the deep sadness I have been feeling with the moments of elation.  It was magical.

Sweet Potato Cake
In my next venture with this cake, because there will seriously be a next time, I will use 4 egg whites, 1 cup sugar, a pinch more cream of tartar and a whole teaspoon of vanilla.  Why? I could not stop stealing a bit here and there of the frosting, the kids couldnt stop.  There just needs to be more of it! Hubba, hubba, hubba!

1 1/2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick or 115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (190 grams) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (will help stabilize egg whites, don’t worry if you don’t have it)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8- to 9-inch square pan with parchment paper, then butter the paper and sides of the pan. Or you could use nonstick spray.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add vanilla and eggs, and beat until just combined. Mix in sweet potato puree, then stir in dry ingredients just until they disappear.

Spread batter in prepared pan, and bake cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cake rest in pan for 5 minutes on a cooling rack, then invert onto cooling rack, and let cool completely.

Make frosting:
Place egg whites, granulated sugar, a pinch of salt and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Whisk mixture for 3 minutes, until whites are warmed. Remove bowl from top of saucepan, then, with an electric mixer, beat egg white mixture on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 4 to 7 minutes longer. Add vanilla and mix until combined.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Breakfast Pizza

I liked mine sprinkled with Frank's Red Hot Sauce.
This was a Sunday morning breakfast that really should have been a Sunday brunch.  Packed with protein and deliciousness, it also packs a bacon fat punch.  But hey, I had to give it a try. It was a treat.

My daughter had her friend J over.  Love giving her treats because she is such a full of gratitude kind of girl.  I love that about her.  Everyone loves seeing gratitude in people don't they?  Entitlement is such a turn off.  At least for me.  Seeing J enjoy a meal and smiling about it gives me such joy.  Isn't that what being a cook is all about.  At least for me, when I make a meal for someone and they really enjoy it, it makes me feel good.  I accomplished something.
If your bacon and dough is already made then this pizza is a snap.  I will write it as if you don't. Pizza dough recipe underneath.  It is a make ahead pizza dough but if you want to make it the same day then you could use this recipe instead.

6-8 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
dash of Tabasco (optional)
1 pound bacon
1 pound mozzarella

Preheat your oven to 450F.  Make sure there is a rack on the bottom of the oven.

While the oven is heating, roll out your dough.  Either put cornmeal on your pan or nonstick cooking spray.

Top with mozzarella.

In a bowl, combine eggs with milk and beat with a fork or whisk.  Warm frying pan and put a little butter or oil in it, coating the bottom.  Pour eggs in.  Keep pulling the cooked egg on bottom to the top.  Don't over cook them, undercook!  The eggs will continue baking in the oven when they are on the pizza.  Season eggs with salt and pepper.  Even better with a dash of Tabasco.

Break up eggs into small pieces, scatter all over pizza.

Top with bacon all around.

Bake on bottom shelf of oven.


Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour
1 3/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces/60g) olive oil
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 tablespoon sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

On the second day:
8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.