Tag Archives: muscovado

Ready for cookies

I treat each cookie that I bake like a precious gem, which is especially important if you’re one of those people who are able to eat just one at a sitting… to me, each cookie is just as important as the one baking next to it.
~ David Lebovitz, Ready for Dessert

Some days call for moderation; others, for multiple batches of cookies. If you should choose to start your day by casually leafing through David Lebovitz’s “Ready for Dessert” like I did recently, then you may have to prepare for a not-so-moderate day.

How to resist falling prey to David’s recipes and photos? … c’est difficile à faire.

No one’ll look down on you for losing the battle with yourself to resist making something from David’s book or website, though. I promise.

So I have yet to attempt many of David’s recipes, but the few I have tried so far have made him one of my go-to people for inspiration and in times when I really want something to turn out well. The way I see it, most professional chefs can probably write recipes in their sleep – but not everyone can successfully write recipes for the home cook/baker who fumbles, can’t multitask that well and doesn’t have a gamut of equipment… and have him/her turn out good things at least 90% of the time.

Here are some photos of my attempt at making David’s “nonfat gingersnaps”.

I usually avoid baking recipes with “nonfat” or “healthy” in the title… what is nonfat baking? My approach is to eat salad sans dressing to be really nonfat, or bake real cake. I see no reason to avoid butter completely unless specific health reasons demand it (though I also loathe butter in excess).

When I saw the words “molasses” (never tried using it), “applesauce”, “candied ginger” and “black pepper” in the list of ingredients for these “nonfat gingersnaps” though, I knew I had to overlook its title…

So, attempt these I did. Dough clung to whisk like a pining lover; fragrance whirled around the kitchen in a style not dissimilar to how red wine tends to colour my face. And the muscovado, molasses, cinnamon and double dose of ginger caused magic to bubble in the bowl…

They emerged less crisp and “snappy” than I expected…

…but very nicely spiced, and on re-reading David’s recipe which says “such a soft, chewy texture”, maybe they aren’t TOO far off from what he first whipped up in his kitchen.

I might just have to keep working on it, though. Practice makes perfect, y’know? :-)

Next on the agenda was David’s “chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons” (not to be confused with macarons).

Eight egg whites are used in this recipe, but good news – there is no painful whisking (usually an egg white requisite) involved!

My nose kept hovering too close to the pot in the making of this one.

[Coconut, I like how you make things smell so nice!]

[I also like the fact that you like chocolate as much as, if not more than, I do…]

Though really… if you’re feeling lazy/not-in-the-mood-for-chocolate (it happens, right?) these macaroons are also pretty good on their own…

The recipe said the batter would generate 60 cookies, but somehow I ended up with substantially less than that amount, even taking into account the fact that I made them quite large. There were certainly more than enough to give away, so not complaining.

Enjoy your weekend, dear readers! And I hope you bake some cookies soon.

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Dancing Babka

Dance is a song of the body. Either of joy or pain.
~ Martha Graham

The word ‘yeast’ is still a mental hurdle for me. Something about it sounds complicated, out of my depth, like it’s something for professionals (not me, anyway). My one direct encounter with it came earlier this year when I made some pitta bread at home for a flat dinner. I remember marvelling at it then; but subsequently, the old apprehension came back each time I glimpsed it in a recipe.

I’ve been reading a very inspirational book over the last few nights though, and somehow – I think that led to me walking out of New World with a bottle of active dry yeast last night.

I woke up early this morning, and decided to kick off my day off work with some babka baking from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#57 Bobba’s Babka – Page 246

I was apprehensive about the yeast. I mixed it with the oil and tepid milk and for two long minutes, nothing seemed to ‘activate’… and then, suddenly, it looked like something bad out of my old biology textbook? Alive, gurgling like a deep sea monster, ugh! – it was at once fascinating and very unappetizing…

I waited some more before I poured it doubtfully into the flour mixture, and then it looked like a mini volcanic snowstorm.

Actual bread making. I fell into a sort of happy/painful trance kneading the dough. It was reassuring, of course, to knead like mad while reading “the dough should be thick and a little difficult to mix, even with the mixer”. (although even if I had a mixer, I doubt I would use it in my first few instances of making bread – how else to get in touch with your food, to know it, touch it, sense it – own it??)…

When I added the egg and worked the sticky dough, it squelched like a pair of rain-drenched shoes the whole way and I really thought I would never get to the next stage, which was “so that it is still very sticky but not actually sticking to your hands.”

As it is, I got there, and as my fingers repelled the sticky, springy dough, I exclaimed and promptly forgot about my aching wrists. Wow! If Tessa Kiros had been here in person I would have knocked her over with a huge embrace. :-O As it is, she was spared on this occasion :-)

After 1.5 hours of being placed by the heatpump, it had enlarged to a giant puffy dough:

Muscovado sugar. Deep and luxurious, I measured it out carefully, trying not to spill any. Then I leaned over the cup and gazed at the rich colour, inhaled the delicious flavour… mmmm.

Even better smelling with the addition of cinnamon…

Butter on the other hand, I was much more lavish with today – I didn’t measured this, just dug my knife into the box and took out a random soft pile of it.

I rolled out the bread into two (near) rectangles, and spread the butter and muscovado on to them.

Finally, it was time to plait the bread.

The whole process of baking this was really… seductive. I’m not sure how else I could possibly describe it. My hands were gooey, and bread dough is hardly a sunset, a silk dress, or whatever your normal icons of romance might be – but the emerging flavours and feel of the process pretty much had me walking on air.

So much so that after I brushed egg yolk and milk on the babka and shoved the tray into the oven, I put on some music and danced on my toes. THE AIR SMELLED WONDERFUL.

Babka, done – I gave more than half of it away to a gleeful Malinda and retained the rest of it for my poor flatmates. :-)

PS. Haidee and I were at one of my favourite cafes today – and out popped a mouse! While I was a little concerned about the presence of a mouse in an eating place, I was temporarily distracted by this amusing thing: saying “oh! mouse!” and watching the women around me gasp, kind of shriek and scramble to get up and run. I mean, it’s just a mouse……?