Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Baking with Buttermilk


For some reason I've ended up with a quart of buttermilk each week for about the past month. A recipe calls for just about 1/2 cup and then you are left with the rest and what do you do with it? Well normally I will make buttermilk pancakes (I have been craving those almost every day for breakfast!), buttermilk english muffins or buttermilk biscuits. Today I decided to try a few new recipes using this wonderful ingredient.

But what exactly is buttermilk? Well a long, long time ago buttermilk was the liquid that was left over after churning butter. Then the buttermilk ferments naturally to a thick, tangy cream. Today bacteria is added to low fat milk and then heated. A common misconception is that is is high in fat, but it is normally made with low fat/skim milk and does not contain any butter. One of these days I plan to make my own butter and then will have this natural buttermilk at my disposal and I wonder just how different it tastes from what I buy at the store.


Buttermilk-Blueberry Bran Muffins with Crumb Topping

This recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz who adapted it from Pastries from La Brea Bakery by Nancy Silverton.

I used the basic recipe but substituted the whole raisins for blueberries, replaced the vegetable oil with almond oil and added a crumb topping. Because who doesn't love a little more delicious sugar on top of a muffin? I think next time I will use dried blueberries instead of the raisins and then a combination of fresh and dried blueberries. That sounds just about perfect!

Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 T. light brown sugar
1 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 T. butter, melted

Combine dry ingredients in small bowl. Add melted butter and stir until combined. Sprinkle generously on top of batter just before placing in the oven.


For those of you who think that bran muffins are dry, tasteless and boring then you MUST try this recipe. These are the most moist muffins I have ever had and the addition of blueberries and crumb topping just makes them even more delicious!


The second recipe I tried is from the wonderful book Leslie Mackie's Macrina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook: Favorite Breads, Pastries, Sweets and Savories. This cookbook was a gift from my sister-in-law a few years ago and each and every recipe from this book is incredible! And if you are ever in Seattle, you must make a trip to the Macrina Bakery and try all the delicious pastries and breads.

Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread

The rise on the bread is just beautiful, the texture is light and not heavy at all. The crust is perfect. I love this loaf of bread. It is great for toast with a cup of tea or a pb&j sandwich (yes, I still eat these ALL the time!).

Delicious baked goods made with buttermilk, what could be better?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Celebrating


Today I am celebrating because I passed my glucose test and I don't have gestational diabetes! Which is a very good thing because it would be so hard for me to give up the wonderful carbs, sweets, sugar, fruit and all the foods that are excluded from a diabetes diet. So I decided to celebrate by making some cinnamon-swirl cupcakes, which taste a bit like snickerdoodles. I love all forms of cinnamon and sugar...cinnamon rolls, cinnamon-sugar doughnuts, cinnamon toast, the list goes on and on.

Being thankful and celebrating this good news made me think of all the other things, large and small, that make me happy and that I am thankful for today.

* That I'm almost 7 months pregnant with our first child, a baby girl!

* My wonderful, handsome husband.

* Absolutely amazing family & friends.

* A freshly mowed lawn, thanks to our new gardener (after waiting 8 years to hire someone!)

* Getting to celebrate one of my best friend's baby at a shower this weekend.

* My awesome dad is building a crib for the baby! And we get to use the bassinet that my father-in-law made over 34 years ago for my husband!

There are so many more things that I am thankful for today but these are at the top of my mind this morning.

What are you celebrating today?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Back to Basics


I'm so happy to say that I have been back on the baking bandwagon for the past month or so and it makes me feel like my old self! Last week I had a craving for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and those were delicious (no pictures, too busy enjoying them). This week I went crazy with homemade bread. Amazing english muffins, whole wheat bread and ciabatta sandwich loaves. All the recipes are from The Bread Baker's Apprentice and the bread I have baked from this book are just wonderful. Now the hard part is deciding what type of bread I want to eat!

Today's lunch: turkey, bacon, avocado and mache lettuce on a homemade ciabatta loaf, AMAZING!

*****

On another note, I was doing some shopping at TJ Maxx and I found these cute note cards and adorable little shoes for $5 and I just can't wait for my little one to wear them!


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