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Posts Tagged ‘baking’

I can hardly believe I’m writing this, because I am generally very conservative (literally) about words.  I try not to change them.  In my opinion, this aids in communication, and communication is much more important to me than words – even though words are beautiful and exciting treasure-maps… I digress. 

About a year ago, I discovered Baked French Toast.  That stuff is good, and it is so much easier than frying bread a few slices at a time.  It isn’t French Toast.  It probably shouldn’t even say “French Toast” in the name, since it isn’t fried in butter, and that’s an important distinction. 

Then in the spring I was researching recipes for my friends’ annual potluck St. Patrick’s Day party, and I ran across a recipe for bread pudding that sounded a whole lot like Baked French Toast.  So I did some research.  Yep.  Same thing.  Also, if you don’t use cream and you make it more savory, it’s the same thing as “dressing” (or, if you put it inside a bird you’re roasting, “stuffing”) at Thanskgiving and Christmas.  It is even basically  identical to Monkey Bread. 

If you get really broad, maybe even what we call “casseroles” could be in the same category.  A starch is chopped up, mixed with other sweet or savory fillings, soaked in a sauce, and baked. 

One of my friends long ago persuaded me that “casserole” is a yucky word.  This was at the same time that I was first considering eating them.  The best alternative term we could come up with was “hot dish”, that some small sections of our country use for the same thing.  But it sounds so pedantic. 

Enter “bramble bake”.  Today.  I saw a recipe on Pinterest for a “Blueberry Bramble Bake”, which, it turned out, was a bread pudding with blueberries and cream cheese.  But the name, as the Dread Pirate Roberts and Anne of Green Gables would agree, is the important thing, and “bramble bake” rang in my ears.  I hoped that it simply already was the elusive term I’d been waiting for.  Maybe it was, except that none of the rest of the world realized. 

Back in history – and history about words matters to me – it seems that it meant something baked out of the fruit of a thorny shrub, like blackberries are.  “Bramble” is a word for such a plant, and it conjures images of tangled branches, blends of depth and shadow, sprinkled with a surprise of sweetness or other sharp point here and there.  And after people grew tired of only using the phrase for actual bramble pastries, it came to be applied to things baked with other berries. 

Here’s where we enter the scene.  Because “bramble” is a lovely metaphor for the collection of flavors and textures jumbled together and baked, I am inviting you to join me in using “bramble bake” to describe all of the things in this blog: baked French toasts, bread puddings, dressings and stuffings, casseroles and hot dishes. 

What are your favorite bramble bakes? 

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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Cream together in a stand mixer:

2 sticks of butter

1 t. vanilla

1 c. brown sugar

Add:

1 egg YOLK

2 eggs

Beat well.

Mix in until just combined:

3 c. all purpose flour (I live near Denver, CO.  If you live at a lower altitude, reduce flour by 1/4 to 1/2 c.)

1 t. salt

1 t. baking POWDER

Pour in:

1 1/2 to 2 c. semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

1/2 c. white sugar

Stir/knead until sugar and flour are incorporated.

Refrigerate dough.

After at least a few hours (until the dough is thoroughly chilled) scoop out 3-T. sized cookies. Shape into balls, then flatten to about 1/4 inch tall and about 2 1/2 inches diameter.

Bake at 350 for about 14 minutes (ovens vary, adjust bake time accordingly). Sprinkle a little extra salt if desired, immediately upon removing from oven. Remove from pan and let cool briefly on a rack before gobbling up every gooey bite.

I don’t know about you, but it drives me crazy when I find a recipe on a blog and I have to scroll through pages of prep photos and stories about husbands, children, and grocery stores before I get to the need-to-know information to make the food!  So I put my recipe at the top.  But I do want to let my regular readers know that I have been researching and testing chocolate chip cookie recipes for about a year now, and I’m very happy with these results.  There is a more complicated recipe that I like slightly better, but this version is one of the best I’ve *ever* tasted!  

My sister makes amazing cookies.  I think that three things make them amazing: her laziness (using a stand mixer and taking frequent, sometimes day-long breaks), the huge size of the cookies, and using margarine.  I want big, soft, not-too-cake-like cookies myself, but faster and with butter instead of margarine.  These cookies are not crumbly.  They are not crunchy like store-bought cookies.  They are not flat.  

I like the flavor of butter in my cookies.  These have it. 

I like my cookies to have extra dimension in their flavor: sweet, chocolate, butter, salt, and a touch of caramel.  These accomplish that.

I like my cookies to be just a tiny bit gooey in the center, and not dark brown on the edges.  Here they are.  

A long time ago I read a suggestion of adding extra fat without too much extra liquid, by adding an egg yolk.  I’ve tried with and without the extra yolk, and I think it makes a difference in helping the cookie to stand up and stay gooey.  

Baking powder makes the cookies fluffier/taller than baking soda.  

Adding the white sugar at the end causes the outsides to caramelize during cooking, for an ever-so-slight crispiness encasing the soft cookie.  Using a little more brown sugar than white also contributes to the deeper flavor.

I’m liking Guittard’s Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, all GMO free, yummy flavor, and excellent melting.  They’re sold at my local Safeway and Sprouts stores.  

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Tonight I’m thinking about how I’m not sure what my life is accomplishing. But on the bright side, I just made bread without a recipe, and it seems to be working.  I just kind of scooped and sprinkled and dumped, with yeast and oats and whole wheat flour and a handful of bread flour and honey, chia and flax and butter and milk (no yogurt since the stuff I had didn’t smell quite so great).  It was a fun experiment.  Recently I heard someone saying they don’t like baking because you have to be too precise.  I tend to disagree.

How ought one to communicate that they’re desperate for affirmation – as in, one cannot, on one’s own, perceive how God is making good use of them?

And, having begun asking such questions, how does one communicate need for time, need for physical affection, need to be given things/provided for?

At what point does hunger classify as a need? Or just a desire? “I’d like a snack” vs. “this is getting unhealthy” vs. “if I don’t get food soon, I’ll probably die”? Because I can tell I’m hungry for those things that communicate love.  I feel the lack, see how I could be a stronger person if I had them.  But if I’m not in dire need, is it right to be so bold as to ask for other people to give me attention?  Is anyone obligated to give attention to my needs?  Is there any point where it would be right to be “demanding”?

I’ve also been wondering, how do people keep going, who don’t know God? How do they survive the loneliness? Is it possible to be intentionally more numb to it, by being less self-aware and more focused on, say, entertainment?

Or would it solve a lot of these problems if I was more others-aware? But then, can you really give, give, give when you feel starved?

I’ve been focusing on random things.  Is it worthwhile to know things like improvising bread without a recipe? The history of medieval Spain? The way that purple and blue and orange go together? How to teach cube roots?  The work of the Holy Spirit during the pre-Jesus days?  Maybe these things go together.  Maybe they’re good in themselves.  Maybe someday they’ll combine to usefulness for a different stage of my life.

I read another quote from Anne of Green Gables today, but I can’t get myself to agree with it: “I believe that the nicest and sweetest of days are not those which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”

While my bread was rising, and earlier in the day, I searched Pinterest making fanciful plans to visit Scotland – or less fanciful ones to do an afternoon trip to Ft. Collins.  I am feeling restless.  I want to be beautiful and in beauty and seeing beauty.  I want to go places I’ve never been, and really soak them in – not just drive through.  I want to see old things, but they might make me cry if they’re abandoned, and so many old things are.  Who abandons *castles*, after all?  If you ever don’t want your castle, give it to me; I’ll see that it’s inhabited!

What is my place?

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

To

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