I made that!

East African Fried Goodness

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Playing With Yeast by brandi on February 10, 2009

The lovely people at Party Corps are throwing a fundraiser party for International Pediatric Outreach Project & Heal Africa, to bring physical therapy practice and education to the Democratic Republic of Congo. They asked me to create a simple (and cheap) bite sized treat for the party, preferably an East African recipe. So I’m going with a sweetened up version of Mandazi, basically a spicy East African donut. Today I tested it out on some friends.

I started with a donut dough that I doctored up with some traditional mandazi spices: ginger, cardamom, allspice & cinnamon.


It’s been several hours since grinding it and my kitchen still smells like fresh ground cardamom, which is very much NOT a bad thing.

I let the dough rise and chilled it for a day (mostly because I ran out of time and needed to go to work). Then I rolled it out and stamped little discs.


I fried them up and tossed them with some sugar that was mixed with the spices.


And they were delicious! And so cutsey pie! And we ate all 50 of them! Which we weren’t supposed to do. John showed up and it was “oops” all around. But no worries, tomorrow I get to make 400 of them!


60-80 doughnut holes (depending on size)

1 ¾ tsp instant yeast
¾ cup whole milk
3 cups + 2 tbsp AP flour
7 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
4 oz butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp of each: ground ginger, ground cardamom, ground allspice, ground cinnamon

tossing sugar: 1 cup sugar mixed with 1/8 tsp of each: ground ginger, ground cardamom, ground allspice, ground cinnamon

– Mix yeast, 2 ¾ cup flour and spices.
– Mix in milk.
– In another bowl mix egg yolks, sugar, salt & vanilla extract.
– Add ½ cup flour.
– Add melted butter.
– Add egg mixture to flour/milk mixture.
– Mix on low with paddle for 1 minute.
– Add remaining 2 tbsp of flour and mix on high for 1 minute. The dough will be very sticky.
– Gather dough into a ball and place in oiled bowl.
– Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ – 2 hours.
– Deflate dough and put in fridge for 1 hour to firm up.
– Roll dough on floured surface to 1/2″ thick.
– Cut out doughnut shapes.
– Let rise for 30 minutes while heating oil up to 370 degrees.
– Fry in batches of 6-10 doughnuts for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes, tossing constantly to make sure both sides fry evenly, until cooked through.
– Toss in tossing sugar.


Lester muffins

Posted in Playing With Yeast by brandi on January 30, 2009

Known more conventionally as English muffins.

Today I’m taking Lester out for a spin, to see what kind of flavor he’s packing. John blows through English muffins like no one I’ve seen before, so it seemed like a good project. I KNOW they’ll get eaten. Well, unless they suck.

It seems like a tasty dough, with a cup of Lester, milk, butter & honey. But it’s funny how when I take photos, it looks like every other dough…I promise I don’t just have a closet full of dough that I keep shaping (wouldn’t that be nice though?). I let the dough rise for a couple of hours and then portioned into little discs to rise some more.


And then I get to pull out the cast iron skillet, a favorite in my kitchen that I definitely don’t use enough.


Cook them on low heat for a bit and then flip them and cook the other side.


Let them cool and I’ve got english muffins!


They really LOOK like english muffins!

Introducing Lester.

Posted in Playing With Yeast by brandi on January 27, 2009

Let me just say this: I LOVE SAN FRANCISCO. It is home, and it is like no other city. That being said, I can’t afford to live here anymore (Do you have any idea how pathetic the salary is for a pastry chef?). So some day, I will leave. There’s a long list of things that I want to get done before saying my goodbye. I’d like to ride my bike along the California coastline, climb Mt Shasta, spend a summer working on one of California’s amazing organic family farms, eat at Gary Danko, drive through one of those big redwood tree tunnels (do those even exist?). Near the top of that list is to exploit something that the bay area has that no other place can (literally) touch: wild yeast.

For all my friends unfamiliar with sourdough, here’s a quickie – sourdough is made from wild yeast that is “caught” from the air around us and is grown in a container.  This is called a BARM. You feed it every day with a little water and flour, a total amount of half your BARM’s weight. I made a sourdough starter last year, nursed it for weeks, and then killed it. Somewhere in that exercise I missed the part about letting it out at room temperature before and after feeding it, to wake the little critters up for dinnertime.

I am now starting anew. I would like to introduce you to Lester, son of Fester, the BARM from my work.


Lester lives in my fridge and will provide me with sourdough bread for as long as I take care of him. How awesome is that?

Pizza! Pizza!

Posted in Because, like, I'm Italian, sort of, Playing With Yeast by brandi on January 26, 2009

Last night was a pizza sweatshop! 8 pizzas and still not enough…my friends can EAT. Thank you Nir for whipping up one of your delicious salads. And Jimmy, my dear pie apprentice for sharing your gorgeous banana cream pie.

Yesterday was John’s birthday, and we had about 16 people coming over for dinner to celebrate. In an attempt to be armed and ready, I made my dough the night before and let it hang in the fridge until it was needed. Dough is so weird (in a good way OBVIOUSLY). This was an especially wet pizza dough.


Bronson was on team pizza with me, running the toppings bar while I did the shaping. I’ve only made pizza a couple of times before, and Bronson is a veteran (though he’s from Chicago, and I bat for team thin crust). He helped keep things running smooth, saying things like “Add more flour” and “It needs more flour”.


We kept it in freestyle mode with the flavors, in hopes of appeasing the meat-eaters and vegetarians. There was red sauce. And green sauce (A pesto I had made in the summer with fresh basil and then froze). And sausage, peppers, sautéed onions, chanterelles, and of course: homemade mozzarella.




And my self proclaimed “Best in Show”: Pesto, Red  Yellow Peppers, Mozzarella & Meyer Lemons.


This was one of those meals that really gets my juices bubbling. I made EVERYTHING: the dough, the cheese, the sauces.  All I need now is a farm so I can grow my own veggies…

Today I’m celebrating America

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Playing With Yeast by brandi on January 20, 2009

With apple fritters!


I diced up my apples into adorable little cubes.


And then sautéed them in some butter, vanilla bean, apple cider & cinnamon.


I then dumped my apples onto my donut dough that’s been rising in the meantime.


It may look like just another dough, but there’s layers and layers of those apples folded into it, making it very special indeed.


After my apple laden dough rose a bit more, I cut some circles out of it.


I let my rounds chillax while I prepared my glaze.


Being an Alabama girl, I’m no stranger to deep frying.


Oh you… you…doughnut. You kill me. Literally. I need to get rid of these ASAP. Good thing I have a dinner party to attend tonight!


Between Barack Obama becoming president and me learning how to make apple fritters, it’s truly a great day to be an American. Man, haven’t said that in 8 years!

APPLE FRITTERS RECIPE (from Nancy Silverton):

makes 16-20 fritters

Special Items:

10″ to 12″ large skillet

2 1/2 inch round cutter

Heavy-duty, deep saucepan filled halfway with vegetable oil


2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

2/3 cup whole milk

3 1/4 cups plus 2 TBSP all-purpose flour

4 extra-large egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup sparkling apple cider

1/2 stick (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1TBSP pure vanilla extract

For the apples:

1/2 stick (2 oz) unsalted butter

1 vanilla bean

7 firm and tart Granny Smith apples (2 1/2 lb.), peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes to equal 7 cups

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup sparkling apple cider

For the white glaze:

1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp salt

– To prepare the dough: Place the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, heat the milk until warm to the touch. Pour the milk over the yeast to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the flour to the milk mixture, without stirring. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until the surface of the flour cracks, about 30 to 40 minutes.

– In a small bowl combine the egg yolks and sugar. Add the cider, melted butter, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and 1 1/4 cups of the flour and mix until combined. Add this mixture to the yeast. Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, mix on low for half a minute, then turn up to medium for about 1 minute. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and mix on low for half a minute, then on medium for another half a minute. The dough will be very sticky.

– Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface; scrape the dough out of the bowl, onto the work surface. Clean the mixing bowl and lightly coat it with vegetable oil. Gather the dough and return it to the oiled bowl. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

– To prepare the apples: In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Using a small paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise. With the back of the knife, scrape out the pulp and the seeds of the vanilla bean, and add the scrapings and the pod to the butter. Heat the butter until bubbly. Add the chopped apples, tossing to coat them with butter. Add the cinnamon and sugar, and saute 3 to 5 minutes until slightly softened and the majority of the apples are deep golden. Add the vinegar ad cider, and reduce over medium-high heat. If the apples are becoming too mushy, turn the heat up, so the liquid reduces quickly. If they are still very firm, turn the head down to reduce slowly. The apples should be cooked, but still slightly firm to the touch. Remove the vanilla bean and place the apples on a baking sheet to cool.

– Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and stretch into a rectangle about 2 inches thick. Spread half of the apples over the dough and fold into thirds by bringing the bottom up and the top down, patting with your hands to flatten slightly. Scatter the remaining apples on top and fold into thirds again. Gather the dough together by tucking under the edges and return it to the oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

– Heat the oil to 375 degrees.

– Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and gently roll or pat it into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick, flouring the surface of the dough as necessary. Dip the cutter in flour and, cutter as closely together as possible, cut out the fritters. Place them on a floured surface and allow to rest for 10 minutes, no longer.

– To prepare the glaze: In a small stainless steel bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, combine the powdered sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Heat until just warm, stirring frequently. The glaze should be thin and translucent; if necessary, thin it down with more cream.

– Dip your hands in flour, and stretch the fritters by pulling them gently elongating the round shape into a 4″ oval. Don’t worry if you puncture the dough as you stretch it. Drop directly into the hot oil and fry according to instructions.

– Brush the fritters with glaze while they are warm.


Posted in Playing With Yeast by brandi on December 4, 2008

Today I made ciabatta!


Since I’m really new to bread, I spent alot of time staring at it. I don’t think I got the shape right, and the crumb was tighter than it was supposed to be, but not bad.


And went really well with my curried butternut squash soup!

Brioche Man!

Posted in Playing With Yeast by brandi on December 1, 2008
Meet Mr. Brioche. The bread that started it all for me. And by “all”  I mean this blog.

As charming as he was, we had to eat that brioche. And he was mighty tasty.


BRIOCHE RECIPE (Peter Reinhart):


1/2 cup unbleached bread flour

1 tablespoon instant yeast

1/2 cup lukewarm whole milk


5 large eggs, slightly beaten

3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour

2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 egg, whisked until frothy, for egg wash


– Stir together the flour and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the milk until all the flour is hydrated. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for 20 minutes, or until the sponge rises and then falls when you tap the bowl.


– Add the eggs to the sponge and beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment until smooth. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add to the sponge and eggs and mix for 2 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes to allow the gluten to develop. Then, while mixing on medium, add in the butter one quarter at a time, allowing the butter to be fully assimilated before adding more. Continue to mix for about 6 minutes more. You will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl during this time. The dough will be very soft and smooth.

– Line a sheet pan with parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Transfer the dough to the sheet and spread it to form a large rectangle, about 6 inches by 8 inches. Mist the top with spray oil and cover the pan with plastic wrap. Put this in the refrigerator and chill at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

– Remove from the fridge and shape while very cold. If it warms up or softens, return it to the fridge. No matter what shape you do, only fill the molds or pans half way to allow for expansion during proofing.

– Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Proof the dough until it nearly fills the molds or loaf pans, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Gently brush the tops with egg wash. Cover the dough with plastic wrap that has been lightly misted with spray oil. Continue to proof for another 15 to 30 minutes.

– Preheat the oven to 400F for petites brioches a tete, or 350F for larger shapes. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes for petites brioches a tete, or 35 to 50 minutes for larger shapes.

– Remove the brioches from the pans as soon as they come out of the oven and cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes for small brioches and 1 hour for larger shapes before serving.