Solo Flying On Annual Cake Day

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summary: annual Cake Day; revised vinarterta recipe to add weights; staying at home again; Amaretto to the rescue; What? No Scrabble??

I made this cake on 15 November. Because I have WAY too much time on my hands now, it has taken me this long to write the report….

Vinarterta 2020

This is the first year in ages that my sister and I have not arranged to have way too much fun with our annual Scrabble Clout and Cake Making Day. It’s all due to being under quasi house-arrest again because of COVID-19 lockdowns. (Shouldn’t they change the name to COVID-19-20??) :stomp: :stomp:

Of course, we’re still allowed outside, and we’re still allowed to go to the grocery store. But are in a “red zone” and have been advised by the government to “Limit close contact to your household (the people you live with) and stay at least 2 metres apart from everyone else and not visit any other household or allow visitors in [our] home. If [we] live alone, [we] can have close contact with only one other household“.

At first, when my sister and I agreed that we would not be making cake together this year, I announced via email to everyone that we just wouldn’t make the cake at all.

  • My Reasoning:
    » Rationing has been imposed.
    » I would have to make the cake by myself and have no Scrabble game as a reward for my labours.
    » With the continued COVID-19 gathering restrictions, we will have nobody to serve the cake to.
    » Half of our family think my ground almond substitution for almond extract is wrong.
    » I can’t stand almond extract and…
    “I won’t!” said Mary.
    “I’ll make you,” said Colin. “They shall drag you in.”
    “Shall they, Mr. Rajah!” said Mary fiercely. […] “I’m going,” she said. “And I won’t come back!”

There it is then: The real reason for me refusing to make Vinarterta this year is the idea and memory of the revolting stench of almond extract.

And then T reminded me that we had said we would try using Amaretto in place of the vile extract. He was so excited about the prospect that when we went to the liquor store to get wine, along with the Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons, he slipped a bottle of Amaretto onto the cashier’s counter.

So. Yeah. (heeheehee – I love starting and ending a sentence with “So” followed by “Yeah”) This year, I ended up making vinarterta after all. In November! On the 15th! In plenty of time for it to cure properly for Christmas. (continue reading )

Wild Variation on Potato Focaccine (BBB November 2020)

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BBB November 2020 summary: recipe for Wild Focaccine; playing with the recipe; wildly divergent; fixing the hydration; deciding between sage and oregano still growing in the garden; we’re harbouring a thief; information about Bread Baking Babes; Who me?? Late again? But, but, but… I baked and ate on time!!

Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Potato Focaccine

On the instant a score of the famished brutes were scrambling for the bread
– Jack London, Call of the Wild, Chapter III

Wild Focaccine

Okay, so there aren’t 20 people living here. And we’re not exactly famished. But when it comes to seeing warm bread on the table, well….

This month, Elle chose potato focaccine for us to bake. Here is what the inimitable Carol Field has to say about focaccine:

Focaccia […] is sometimes shaped into small focacce, or focaccine, little discs made just to fit into the palm of the hand. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, since these little breads were originally baked as a simple treat for children, hungry bystanders, or for the bakers themsleves on the one day of the week that country women produced the family’s bread. […]
      No one knows who invented the first focaccia, but the contribution, like the discovery of fire or creation of the wheel, has enriched the experience of the civilization that followed. […]
      There are two distinct types of savory focaccia in Italy: low chewy ones that rise to about 1/2 to 3/4 inch, and much thicker ones from Puglia that get their height and soft texture from the presence of mashed potatoes in the dough. […] [T]his fragrant rustic bread […] is meant to be eaten at any hour of the day, and its flavors satisfy in their simplicity, for they come from the best that nature has to offer. […] LET THE BAKING BEGIN!
– Carol Field, Focaccia: Simple Breads from the Italian Oven | Introduction, p. 17

Both Carol Field’s recipes for focaccine and the BBB potato focaccine recipe call for commercial yeast. But during this extended time of semi-house-arrest, we have been thrilled with our Jane Mason starter. I couldn’t NOT use it. Besides, our commercial yeast expired and had to be tossed into the compost bin…. (continue reading )

Toasted Oats Bread

summary: toasting rolled oats; great bread; inspiration comes from 2 spots simultaneously: friend posting on FB and a recipe in Artisan Sourdough by Casper André Ludd and Martin Ivar Hveem Fjeld; directions? I don’ need no stinkin’ directions!

Toasted Oats Tartine Variation

Today I made my best ever bread. Whole wheat and oats.
Effortlessly light
What I have always wanted to make.
POOF! in the oven. I have never seen oven spring before.
– Gordon C, FB, 1 November 2020, 13:00

How cool is that?!

When I saw Gordon’s message, I’d just finished reading “Artisan Sourdough” by Casper André Lugg and Martin Ivar Hveem Fjeld and had already decided I neeeeeeeded to try their toasted oatmeal bread recipe soon. They toast rolled oats in a single layer on a baking tray for about 10 minutes at 350F and then soak the oats overnight in water before adding them to the dough made with whole-grain spelt and white wheat flours.

Toasted Oats, Artisan Sourdough, p.144

Most people have some kind of relationship with oats, because few grains have such character. […] [H]owever, oat flour has poor baking properties, so we only add for flavor. We toast them in flake form in the oven before we soak them. Toasting gives a wonderfully earthy and full-bodied character to the bread.
– Casper André Ludd and Martin Ivar Hveem Fjeld, Toasted Oats, Artisan Sourdough, p144

Now I could not wait to make oatmeal bread! (continue reading )

Mum’s Fruit Cake – revised

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summary: Mum’s Christmas Cake; PRM’s revision; guest-post; how to show off;

I confess that I have never made this cake… we always used to count on my mother to send us some. Many thanks to Mum for allowing me to post my grandmother’s recipe. […] Since Christmas 2011, my sister has taken over making the cake.
– me, recipes from OUR kitchen: Dark Fruit Cake, 2013

Christmas Cake 2019

My sister, P, is a great cook; she is the kind of cook who is intuitive and likes to make alterations to improve the final product. Alterations like replacing loathesome maraschino cherries with dried cherries, or entirely omitting luridly coloured candied peel, or using cashews in place of almonds, or…. (continue reading )