Friday, August 16, 2013

Tartine Country Bread

B R E A D. I love you. I could eat you, romantically of course, every day, at every meal and loaves at a time. It doesn't matter if you're white, wheat or country. I will love you just the same and you'll never have to worry about me cheating on you with Mr. Cookie. As long as we can shake things up and throw goat cheese into the mix every once and a while, our love will be eternal.

I rarely do this, if I ever have, but I won't be including a recipe in this post. Not that I don't have it, but that I don't think I will be doing it justice by posting it on my blog. For Christmas last year, "A" received a copy of the Tartine Bread book from an old college friend. If you haven't heard of Tartine, I will assume you haven't been to San Francisco or don't have the obsession with bread that I do. To prepare myself for the Tartine method, I had been building up my starter and learning how to make bread all over again.  

I'm an experienced bread baker and I had to practice the Tartine method. That should be your first clue why the recipe won't be on the blog. The first few loaves were delicious and turned out fine, but the process to get there left me crying, yelling and pulling my hair out. It was hard and why was the dough SO STICKY!? Then one day it clicked. I remembered all the ratios and knew what the dough should feel like between my fingers. During the long bulk fermentation phase, the billowing air bubbles brewing in the bread is now a welcome comfort. I get it and it gets me. 

So I urge you, if you have any desire to make sourdough bread, please, pick up Chad Robertson's book . It's a work of art with pages upon pages of science and instruction. If that doesn't suit you, he has the most wonderful step-by-step photography that a frustrated baker could ask for. If more proof is needed, look at this bread. I did not a minute of kneading and the dough was able to rise in the fridge overnight as to produce a fresh loaf right before a dinner party.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Cherries

Somehow July sneaked past me and decided not to stop by to say hello. If you asked me what I did last week, I would think I just watched the fireworks booming over Lake Michigan. Sitting on the Michigan-side shores and looking back on a town of my childhood. But apparently that happened just about a month ago, if you believe the calendars. Personally, I think a Time Lord visited Madison and erased my memory to hide our wild adventures.

Yep. That's my story. Time Lord. In July… in Madison, Wisconsin. Quite logical really.

So that means that I made this cake just a few days ago if we're thinking back to last week, "the beginning of July." Rumor has it there was a nasty heat wave that swept though the region and made me think of my stove as the catalyst to the apocalypse. Good thing that "hasn't happened" yet and I made this cake pre-heat wave for a wonderful lady named Kate.

Kate and "A" are grad school friends and soon after moving to Madison we bonded over being Michiganders and living approximately five doors down from each other. After many potlucks, late-night group beers, dog sitting and crazy landlady adventures, I can honestly call this gal a good friend.

And anyone who knows me knows friends get cake, especially on their birthday. And what's a Michigander girl to do for a Michigander's birthday? Make a Michigan "Kate Cake." Ok, maybe the term "Kate Cake" isn't hot yet but trust me! It will be as it is composed of (only what I assume is) Miss. Kate's favorite things: Michigan cherries, (Michigan) red wine and dark chocolate. It doesn't hurt that it's utterly delicious and one of my favorite cakes that I've made! 

Anything that has a tight but moist crumb, chocolate and is easy to decorate is a win in my book. I also can't discredit the fact that it's relatively low sugar and incorporates fresh fruit! So while the cherries are still blooming and the temperatures are mild, make someone you know a Kate Cake! They won't hate you for it.

Chocolate Red Wine Cake
Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted goat butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar (I used a little bit less)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups dry red wine

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan. In a bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat for 2 minutes longer. Working in two batches, alternately fold in the dry ingredients and the wine, until just incorporated.
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack; let cool completely. Top the cake with pitted and sliced cherries reduced in a small sauce pan with a little bit of water.


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