Archive | January, 2011

Second Attempt: Portuguese Sweet Bread

21 Jan

I know I am not alone when I proclaim my love for King Arthur Flour.  Non-bakers may wonder why one flour could be so much better than another and I have no real explanation but can firmly say, “It Just is!”  A visit to King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Shop was a must for me during our quick vacation to Vermont.

The Baker’s Store is located in Norwich, Vermont which is not to far from the Montshire Museum.  If you get there early enough you may even get to try some of their freshly baked breads and goodies but we were moving slowly and we weren’t so lucky.  They did have mini creme filled cupcakes for us to sample though—and they were delicious!

Not to fear, we still got to peruse the aisles for all kinds of flours, baking mixes (including tons of gluten free varieties) and all kinds of exciting baker type stuff.  I splurged and bought myself two whole vanilla beans (among other things) that I can’t wait to use.

One thing I did not buy while I was there (I was worried about exceeding the weight allowance with our luggage) was this book or this book.  Although I was very tempted  and still really want to add them to my growing cookbook collection. (Since January is the month of not spending money-I’ll be heading off to the library to find it.)

Luckily, I was able to find a King Arthur flour recipe online for Portuguese Sweet Bread.  This recipe was a lot different than the one passed on to me from my aunt but it made a really nice loaf of bread–with perfect sweetness.  My mom thought it should have been a bit fluffier and that maybe I had not allowed the yeast to work for long enough.  I’m not sure.

It has been so long since I tried the family recipe—maybe I need to give it one more shot.

Here is the recipe, lovingly borrowed from the King Arthur Flour website:

The  Sponge
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons or packets active dry yeast
1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

The Dough
1 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter*
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel OR 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil (optional)
7 1/2 to 8 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
wash made of 1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water

The Sponge:

Pour the water into a large bowl and dissolve in it the sugar and yeast. Stir in the flour and set aside until the mixture is bubbly and expanded.

The Dough: Scald the milk. Remove from the heat and add the butter, sugar, salt and optional lemon peel. ( I did not add the lemon peel as there was none on hand-but I am sure it would be a nice addition.)

Stir to dissolve and then let the mixture cool to lukewarm.

Beat the eggs and yolk together . Add them and the milk mixture to the proofing sponge. Stir in 6 to 7 cups of flour, one cup at a time, until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Lightly oil the same bowl and set aside.

Knead the dough, adding only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the board. When the dough is smooth and soft, place it in the oiled bowl. Turn to lightly oil the entire surface of the dough. Cover the bowl with greased plastic wrap (to keep the dough from sticking to it) and a clean towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch the dough down and divide into two equal pieces. You can decide to shape the dough into a round loaf or a regular rectangular loaf–which is what I did.  What ever your choice, shape it and place in two greased pans.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap (again greased) and cover with a clean towel. Let the loaves rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 375°F for at least 15 minutes. Brush the loaves with the egg white and water mixture.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom with a finger. When the bread is done, remove it from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

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Vermont=Cheese: A Visit to Cobb Hill

17 Jan

Quick side note:  For those of you who read my last post about the release of my new and improved blog format—I have run into some (many) technical difficulties.  I have been trying to resolve them and it is driving me crazy and I need to take a break from it.  In the meantime, I will continue to post here and will let you know when the new site is ready for the big time.

For me anyway.  I look forward to our annual trip to Vermont so that I can eat cheese.

A lot of cheese.

Sure, I can get Vermont cheese at my local grocery store. But, I can’t buy cheese from Cobb Hill.  And it may be the best cheese ever.

Cobb Hill was started by Donella Meadows in Hartland Vermont and is described as a “live-work experiment.”   The people of Cobb Hill aim to “live in a co-housing community comprised of people learning to live lightly on the earth while forming a connection to a community, the land, and a working farm.”  It is exactly what you think of when you think of a sustainable community.  And, for those of us on the outside who have a strong desire reduce our impact on the planet–it is a very cool place to visit and support.

Just like you would expect on a working farm, they  have chickens, sheep, llamas, and of course, cows. And, they encourage people to stop by and see the animals.

They have cute baby cows.

They have sweet mama cows.

The little babies will even lick your hands.

The llamas will look at you.

Their little store is open to purchase milk, cheese, eggs, some fresh vegetables, and locally raised meats. And, their famous RAW MILK CHEESE.  I know you can find their cheese at the local stores in and around Vermont and New Hampshire-but it is so much more special to go right to the source to get it.

They were milking when we were there and it was really interesting for the kids to see where their milk comes from.  It is amazing to me that many kids have no idea.

If you are in the Southeastern Vermont area and in the mood for cheese—stop by Cobb Hill after a great lunch at Stella’s! You will be glad that you did.

Bloggers Block.

7 Jan

This is what happens when you let your brother baby-sit.

I don’t quite understand it.  I have so much to say about our trip to Vermont, good food over the holidays and plans for the upcoming year.

But, it doesn’t seem to want to come out.

I have sat in front of the screen numerous times trying to hammer out a post only to scrap it and start another.  I have so many unfinished posts just waiting for some attention.

I am hoping this weekend will be the time for me to finish them up and get on with my blog resolutions.

Speaking of blog resolutions–here are mine:

1) I want to focus more on my blog this year.  I have been at it for a little over a year and I love doing it.  I love planning it, thinking about it and writing it.  I especially love knowing that people are reading it and love, love, love comments!

2) I am moving to a self-supported site beginning on Monday, Jan 10th.  I am excited to have a new look better organization.  I still have a bit of work to do to get it where I want it –but that will come in time. If any of you have any suggestions on creating little buttons for blogs—please let me know.  I am struggling over here.

To launch my new and improved website—I will be hosting a giveaway.  Stop by on Monday if you wanna win some cool stuff.

3) I want to write posts about health and fitness, sustainable living and family.  There will be sections on the new Forty Cakes to do just that.

4) I want to work on photography.  This was a plan for last year as well but as soon as I bought an SLR, I dropped it and broke the lens off of the body.  Tomorrow, I will send it in for repair and will begin to learn the basics of good photography.

5) I want to connect with other bloggers more.  I know there are some good ones right in my community and I want to meet them in person.  I may even try to attend one of the blogger conferences.  (Yes, this has gotten very serious.)

6) And as always, I want more readers to find Forty Cakes, like what they read and decide to keep coming back.  I plan to keep my Flikr and Facebook site updated and maybe even Twitter.  (We’ll see about that one.)

So, these are my goals and hopes for my little blog in 2011.

I have so many (non-blog related) little plans and goals for 2011.  Starting on Monday, you can check them out on my Things-I-Want-To-Do List, Places-I-Want-To-Go List, and Food-I-Want-To-Eat List.

(I feel so much better just writing this little post.  If I didn’t have so much work to do I would want to just keep writing.  Maybe later.)