While uploading some pictures I realized, that I've been baking a lot lately. Enough to make a blog post out of it too!
Every year, when the time comes for apricots to appear in stores, I'm always baking an apricot cake like this:
I bake this once or twice a year, so it's very special. It's been so long since the last time, and I lost my favorite recipe (or can't find it, it's on a loose leaf), so I looked into my old school cookbook for the dough instructions. It's very easy but somehow I did not catch the problem in time. When the dough was done it covered only half the baking sheet, so I had to start over right away (have to remember to double the recipe next time). Anyway, it turned out as wonderful as I'd remembered it. I like how the sweet dough goes well with the sour taste of the apricots (even though I sprinkled some sugar on top of the halfs), it's just the right combination of sour and sweet. Yummy!
Edited to include recipe:
Dough for one baking sheet (if you want to make only a 9" x 13" pan use half the recipe):
160g unsalted butter
rind of one lemon (optional)
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
300g all purpose flour
2 teaspoon (flat not heaped) baking powder
6 tablespoons milk
Enough apricot halves to cover the baking sheet (wash and take out the pits)
Preheat oven 200 Celsius.
Combine butter, sugar, eggs, and beat until soft and fluffy. Add lemon rind and almond extract. Add baking powder to flour, add both to butter mixture (a little four, a little milk until all is in the bowl). Spread on baking sheet.
Arrange washed, halfed aprictos with the outside down (press lightly into the dough). Sprinkle some sugar on apricots.
Bake for 20-25 minutes (you can open and check after 15 minutes).
Cut when cooled and dust with iceing sugar before serving.
Then, not long after that I discovered that our apples seemed to go bad all at once. My son suggested to bake an Apple Strudel, which I haven't done in ages. The reason is the flour. I can't find the right one for the dough. In Austria there were two kinds of flour, the rougher one, which would be like All Purpose around here, and the fine flour, probably like Cake & Pastry flour, but not quite.
In the upper part of the photo you see the Cake & Pastry flour Apple Strudel, which let itself strech not too bad (compared to what came next). I think it's O.K. but not optimal. I made another dough with the All Purpose flour next, which was close to a disaster. After both doughs rested for half an hour in the fridge, dough 1 let itself be worked. Dough 2 would not be stretched even a little bit. I don't know how I did it to get it on the sheet anyway. In the end both tasted the same, pretty good. And also, why did the one turn brown and not the other? They were treated the same. But as I said, both tasted fingerlicking good. A repeat was requested already. I still have some apples left ...
Edited to include recipe:
250g (cake & pastry flour) bread flour was suggested by Glen the professional and others, so I will give it a try
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons oil
~ 3/16 liter lukewarm water
a few drops of white vinegar
100g unsalted butter
60g bread crumbs (not the italien kind)
100g sugar mixed with a little cinnemon
3 tablespoons raisins
1kg peeled and sliced apples
Preheat oven 250 Celsius.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. At some point put it out on the counter and knead it very well, slam it against the counter until you have a very smooth surface on the dough. Put some muscle into it, it's important to get it as smooth as possible. It should not stick to your fingers (add a little flour until it stops sticking). When you are satisfied with the dough put it on a plate, brush it with some extra oil, put cellophane over it and let it rest at least half an hour in the fridge (or over night).
While it rests, prepare filling:
Brown butter and bread crumbs (you may want to add an extra table spoon of sugar to this). Let cool. Prepare the apples.
Put some fresh dish towels on the counter, sprinkle with flour. Get the dough and use a rolling bin to gently roll it out a little. Now start stretching the dough into all directions very gently, so it will not break. It should be so thin that you can see through it. The edges will remain a little thicker.
When it's not possible to stretch it any further without ripping holes in it stop. Cut off the thick edge. Brush melted butter on the dough, sprinkle roasted bread crumbs all over, put apples, mixed with raisins and sugar on 1/2 or 2/3 of the dough.
Start rolling the Strudel from the side with the apple filling on it, thucking in the sides. Put it gently on a baking sheet (with baking paper or any other non stick solution on it). Brush with melted butter, stick a fork several times in (along the top) to let air out.
Bake about 30-40 minutes.
This is just one variation of Apple Strudel, there are many.
And today I read Claudia's blog post about how to brew good tea, which was a very good read, and she added a Almond Scones recipe, which I had to give a try right away.
I did not have whipped cream at home, which is a good thing, since I LOVE whipped cream and would have eaten too much of it. I did have strawberry/rhubarb jam, and it's soooo good on warm scones.
Well, there goes my low carb diet. Oh well, it's not going on like that forever, but it's nice to treat the family (and myself) to goodies like that once in a while.
Biko is doing fine. We'll have tests done next week, but I'm hoping that this was a one time event.
Thank you all, for your concern and your comments with lots of great information and experiences.