recipes and talk about:
natural foods
whole grains
local foods
the heirloom garden

December 27, 2009 in daring bakers29 comments

daring bakers: gingerbread house

the only decent full view i shot - daring bakers dec 2009 gingerbread house

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

This post dedicated to the memory of Aunt Alice, who made a gingerbread house and brought it to family Christmas (Mom’s side) every year. And every year the kids gleefully demolished it. Read more on daring bakers: gingerbread house…

daring bakers: halloween boo-burgers

halloween boo-burgers! that doesn't sound too much like boogers, does it?

okay, fine, “macarons”

Well, en français they’re called macarons. Silly Frenchies. Macarons were October’s Daring Bakers Challenge. I filled them with lime-colored peppermint buttercream, and decided they looked like little hamburgers, and since it’s that time of the year, they’re now officially Halloween Boo-Burgers. Yay!

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I must be a real hick, because I’ve participated in Daring Bakers challenges two months now, and I’d never heard of either month’s baked good. Vols-au-vent? Macarons? Double-you-tee-eff, mate?

Turns out macarons aren’t those coconut cookie things. They’re simple-looking cookies made of almond flour and powdered sugar folded into egg whites that have been beaten into a meringue and slightly sweetened with granulated sugar. As a result, they’re kind of nutty and kind of sweet, but not overly so. A perfect macaron will have a thin crunchy outside, chewy inside, and crunchy “feet” at the base.

so close...must eat...

It’s quite easy to become obsessed with achieving the perfect feet.

macarons, first try

Word among the Daring Bakers was that this particular macaron recipe was a bit finicky. My first attempt, plain macarons, came out pretty well…. Read more on daring bakers: halloween boo-burgers…

daring bakers: nanaimo bars

nanaimo bars stacked

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and Recipes for whole wheat graham crackers and Nanaimo bars at the end of the post.

Read more on daring bakers: nanaimo bars…

May 28, 2010 in daring bakers, desserts4 comments

daring bakers: piece montée, or croquembouche

the small piece montee / croquembouche

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

I’m going to suck it up and pick one name to stick with for this post…so croquembouche it is. I like the sound of it and how it rolls off the tongue. Try it yourself: CROAK-EM-BOOSH. Isn’t that fun? “Piece montée,” on the other hand, means “mounted piece.” So you can see that, clearly, “croquembouche” is the superior term. Read more on daring bakers: piece montée, or croquembouche…

February 28, 2010 in daring bakers, desserts5 comments

daring bakers: tiramisu!

the whole tiramisu, daring bakers feb. 2010

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Boy was I excited earlier this month to find that February’s Daring Bakers challenge would be tiramisu. It’s a dessert I’ve always enjoyed in restaurants — that is, when I’ve had room…and who ever has room? Mom and I agree that one day we should order dessert first, and then if we’re still hungry get something after. Who says dessert has to be last, anyway? Read more on daring bakers: tiramisu!…

September 29, 2009 in daring bakers, vegetarian3 comments


vols-au-vent filled with roasted summer vegetables

The September 2009 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

When I read that my first Daring Bakers challenge would be to make puff pastry, and then form them into vols-au-vent — a French phrase that roughly translates to “windblown” for their lightness and airy height — I was trepidatious. Why couldn’t my de-virgination be a nice cake or something? Sure, it might be a complicated cake, but it would have a basis in something recognizable.

brushing egg wash on the vols-au-vent

After several weeks, I took a deep breath and jumped in.

baked empty vols-au-vent shell

The result was light, flaky, buttery pastry baked in shaped shells, begging to be stuffed with fillings sweet or savory. Read more on vols-au-vent…