February 2013 A Note from Marcy

 

February 2013 A Note from Marcy

 


  
 

It's February and time to make the hamantashen.  There's a whole collection of great fillings. Enjoy free Bakery Style Hamantashen Dough to start you off. There's also Lemon-Lime Hamantaschen, Cherry Cheesecake Hamantashen and of course, prune, poppy and apricot. Scroll down for the Purim Recipe Collection.

 

Dear Bakers and Friends,


I couldn’t resist this last minute nudge to get you to bake hamantashen if in fact you weren’t inclined or perhaps didn’t realize how wonderful hamantashen are. These are wonderful little pastries, filled with delectable fillings, bake to a tender-crisp finish. They are the best part of Purim, the holiday they belong to. Truth is, I hadn’t really intended to go all out baking hamantashen myself this year but then I committed to a hamantashen session with a friend. Making hamantashen with a couple of friends is very much like a Purim barn-raising.  The work of rolling, filling and baking goes faster if you have company.  But as I made a list of who gets a bundle of my private stash hamantashen my eyes grew large seeing the list grow. It was impressive. But what really has inspired me is that each and every person on my list is particular appreciative. Just envisioning their delight, delights me.  And so here I am, rolling, filling, baking, and boxing up hamantashen I will be delivering every day this week until not a spec of dough remains.  

There are two free doughs to start with an amazing collection of fillings that are irresistible.

Some Baking Notes :

Dried Fruit
It might be late but I get all my dried fruit from www.BellaViva.com . Nothing beats their apricots as well as all their other dried fruits. In my blueberry filling, by the way, I also added diced pluots (from BellaViva) sweetened with pomegranate juice. If you can’t get BellaViva fruit (but you might as well order because Passover compotes are not too far off), be discerning about the dried fruit you are using in your fillings.


Poppy Seed Filling

I rarely make 100% scratch poppy seed filling these days primarily because my poppy seed filling lovers are few. But I do tweak store-bought poppy seed filling by adding ground walnuts, ground raisins, cinnamon, fresh lemon juice, a grated apple and a dollop of jam of some sort. This makes my poppy seed filling a shining star. I can only gently suggest you give it a try. Speaking of which, to differentiate poppy seed filled hamantashen from their prune counterparts I use a fluted or serrated edged cookie cutter for the poppy ones. Once they are egg-washed, I sprinkle on a few poppy seeds on the outside so that at a glance, you see what you are getting.


Sugar Dusting
I dust my hamantashen with sugar after I egg-wash them. This makes them particularly crisp and delectable. The dough isn’t that sweet and the added sugar dusting makes my hamantashen a cut above. Do you have to do it? Not at all – but they are better this way. Just sayin’.

Double Sheeting

For sure, when making these pastries, double stack your baking sheet. This will ensure they are bake beautifully without any scorched bottoms or edges. If you want to make full use of your oven then use the middle rack as well but in that case, don’t double-stack the pans, just use two sheets of parchment (I tend to bake two racks at a time and move the middle sheet to the bottom for the last 10 minutes of baking, i.e revolve your baking sheets)

Lemon-Lime Hamantaschen

I couldn’t resist nudging you to bake hamantashen if in fact you weren’t inclined or perhaps didn’t realize how wonderful hamantashen are. Little pastries, filled with delectable fillings, bake to a tender-crisp finish. Truth is, I hadn’t really intended to go all out baking hamantashen myself this Purim, but then I committed to a roll-in with a friend. As I made a list of who would get a bundle of hamantashen my eyes grew large seeing the list grow. But what really has inspired me is that each and every person on my list is particular appreciative. Envisioning their delight, delights me.

Bakery Style Hamantashen Dough Free!!
Orange and Oil Hamantaschen Dough Free !!
Cherry Cheesecake Hamantashen
Apple Pie Hamantashen
Apricot Hamantashen Filling
My Special Chocolate Peanut Butter Hamantashen Filling
Mango Apricot Hamantaschen Filling
Fresh Blueberry Hamantashen Filling
Pear and Peach Hamantashen Filling
Sour Cherry and Cranberry Filling
Lemon Prune Hamantaschen Filling





Dear Bakers and Friends,

It's a baking bonanza! It's Super Bowl time, King's Cake aka Mardi Gras time, hearty-healthy February, almost Purim, Oscar time, and of course, my favourite holiday, Valentine's Day.  You probably didn't know it's also National Fiber Month, Hot Breakfast Cereal Month (well that makes perfect sense) and February 5th is Nutella Day, February 9th is Bagel Day (for that visit my bagel collection at this month's www.Clabbergirl.com) as well as Pizza Day. And what's not to love about February 21st?  Turns out hat's National Sticky Bun Day then it's National Banana Bread Day. Chock up the baking occasions, add the wind chill factor and my head's in a spin as to what to bake and share with you. So I've gone a little this way and a little that way with the offerings this month.

On this end, it's been cold as my garage extra freezer - the weather is cold but added to that, my furnace has gone south. Thank goodness for a gas stove and flannel aprons. I've had a few adventures this month (thank you Toyota Road Side Service) and a new tango class to heat up this harsh month.

The new BB website design is coming along (you won't recognize it or me in this new BB -  but I think you will like it). Not too long from now,  you will see a whole new version of BB but the heart and soul should be the same.

Coconut Oil in Baking

I've been listening to Dr. Oz recently and the upshot is this: bake with coconut oil. Coconut oil comes in jars and looks like a greasy white paste. It can be used to replace butter in baking and often is kosher and certainly (unless it says otherwise) dairy free. So it has a lot of great things going for it. Organic coconut oil is nice and natural and has a host of health benefits BUT it does make everything taste coconut-y. So that's great if you love coconut and especially helpful in things like granola bars or banana bread. However, if you want unflavored coconut oil you will have to suss out unflavoured but remember, they can use chemicals to strip coconut of its flavour and some of that is not terrific so try and find one that is naturally unflavoured and chemical free.

I tried my Notting Hill Brownie recipe (try Red Velvet Cupcakes using half coconut oil and half butter and got a dense, fudge-y, chewy brownie that tastes like an Almond Joy. For me that isn't a problem but if you prefer your brownies to taste more mundane, just use unflavoured coconut oil. According to Oz, eating Greek Yogurt before a meal will also help you lose weight (calcium is still being touted as a weight loss tonic as well as a bone builder).  For more weight loss potential?  Oz says burn a nice vanilla candle (I opt for Yankee Candle something in a Vanilla Cupcake such as  http://www.yankeecandle.com/detail/vanilla-cupcake/1093710), inhale, relax and watch the pounds melt off as you get your vanilla fix without even turning on the oven. (Well, it's worth a shot)

Without further ado, I am delighted to present some baking inspirations for February.

From my kitchen to yours,

Marcy Goldman
Author, Master Baker
www.BetterBaking.com
Est. 1997

February Recipes of the Month

 

Romance? Choose something sweet and easy to make – bakers know just how to go courtin’. If you know a baker, just send roses.

Caramel Espresso Cake
Simply Irresistible Caramel Eclairs
Dark Chocolate Fudge Bourbon Cake
Brownie Stuffed Tollhouse Cookies
Jenna’s Strawberry Chocolate Pie
Red Velvet Cupcakes


Purim?
Bakery Style Hamantashen Dough
That's just a beginning - The best of my fillings (and other doughs) are in my cookbook, A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking and in the BB Archives. But this is my most favourite dough (make ahead and freeze the dough and fillings)

Healthy?
Almost Dr. Oz Approved Health Cookies
Healthy has to also taste fantastic and these do. Something about the flax seed (ground) and wheat germ makes these especially golden and crunchy crisp. The dried cranberries add flair but of course, raisins or chocolate chips is another way to go. Did I mention there's also heart-healthy coconut oil in these? This is also a great cookie to fiddle with if you want add hemp hearts or change the sugar for agave or maple syrup. The coconut oil is available organic and pure (but tastes coconut-y) or unflavored. Either way, coconut fat is now considered a heart-healthy fat and is dairy free. Things made with it tend to bake up really well. (Try it to replace half the butter in your next batch of brownies)

Coconut Butter Brownies FREE!
Using half coconut oil makes these a bit more heart healthy. Choose unflavoured coconut oil (which looks like a white greasy paste and comes in a jar) but if you don’t mind organic coconut oil, you will get a wonderful Mounds Bar sort of brownie. The neat thing (aside from the great coconut fat) is that these are dense, chewy, crusty topped and moist brownies. Absolutely delicious. If you want to use this as a base to fiddle with healthier brownies, consider adding hemp hearts, whole-wheat flour, and subbing from of the sugar with agave or coconut sugar. http://www.foodrenegade.com/how-to-choose-a-good-coconut-oil/ for information or this site to order the coconut oil I used OJIO available at http://ultimatesuperfoods.com/ItemDetail.aspx?comcode=FD&plinid=COCOIL&item=VCO32OG&type=pl&plnmain=COCONUT. Note: these will seem greasy when just baked but as they cool, they start to behave.


Previous Monthly Essays from A Note From Marcy:

Essays to tickle your funny bone, wake up your inner baker, twinge on your heartstrings, or make you smile and say, ‘I’ve know the feeling; I know the place”. If you missed an essay, or a season in baking or inner sensibility, we invite you to stroll through our archived Notes From Marcy.