Baking with Colette

St. Patrick's Day Irish Soda Bread-Louise's Recipe

Hello Bakers.

    Thursday is Saint Patrick's Day. That means corned beef and cabbage, green beer (maybe)
and Irish Soda Bread.
For years,  wherever I was working I would start to make my usual Irish Soda Bread a week before Saint Patrick's Day. It was always popular and a great way to tease the holiday.
It's a perfectly good Irish American soda bread recipe. In fact it is delicious. I hear your question, gentle reader, the soda bread we make here in the states is often sweeter then the soda bread made in Ireland.
    Recently one of my colleagues at Sur La Table, Louise, gave me her soda bread recipe. In fact, she gave me a packet of her recipes. I was thrilled.
Louise is a natural and talented baker and she held pastry chef and baking positions in several Los Angeles tea rooms and bakeries.
For ten years she was the pastry chef at Chado Tea Room. Now she works with us at Sur La Table and helps prep out recipes before class . She doesn't mind when I pepper her with questions. She is my link to a Los Angeles I wasn't here to bake or cook in. We are always so happy when she is with us in the kitchen at SLT, Farmer's Market.
     Now, here is where we come to the little did they know part....Louise, now retired and living quietly, had been in the past, a frequent contributor to many magazines and newspapers. Her recipes were everywhere.
Now back then in order for your recipe to printed and for you to be sought out to write recipes for Sunset Magazine and the Los Angeles Times you had to know what you were doing.
Magazines and newspapers had test kitchens staffed with expert bakers and cooks. Recipes were tested an average of three times before they went in to print. 
This is a huge contrast to today where very little testing is done. And recipes are vetted by reviews more then anything else.
     For this blog post we are returning to an earlier time - when you could cut a recipe out of a magazine and confidently make whatever it was without wasting time trolling through reviews.
   When I was a young cook, Thursday was food section day. That was always exciting.
I was clipping recipes out of the Chicago Tribune food pages at 12. The pink notebook that I glued my recipes into is still on the bookshelf.
The only time a recipe from a magazine or newspaper didn't work was when I screwed it up. 
And yes, I remember every time I did.

    In honor of Louise and Saint Patrick's Day, I encourage you to make this delicious Irish Soda Bread recipe.
I modernized it just a bit - the ingredients are by weight and yes, bakers percents. 

 Let me know what you are baking for Saint Patrick's Day, I would love to hear from you.
Happy Saint Patrick's Day.
Stay safe and of course,
Happy Baking!

Irish Soda Bread:
Louise's original recipe was published by Sunset magazine in March of 1992.
Serves 10-12

Stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl
Spatula or wooden spoon
10" oven proof skillet, fry pan - cast iron, greased
or a 10" cake pan, grease and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
bowl for soaking raisins

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) (170g) currants, dark or golden raisins
1 tea bag (black tea, preferably Irish breakfast)
Boiling water to cover raisins

3 cups (13.5 ounces) (383g) Unbleached all purpose flour (I used King Arthur) (100%)
1/2 cup sugar (3.5 ounces) (99g) Granulated sugar (26%)
1 Tablespoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 Eggs (3.4 ounces) (96g) (27%)
1 1/2 cup (12 ounces) (340g) Buttermilk (96%) ***if you don't have buttermilk combine 11 1/2 ounces milk with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons Melted butter (1.5 ounces) (43g) (11%)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Oven: 350 degrees

1. Cover currants or raisins with boiling water, add teabag to bowl and submerge.
Let sit for 5 minutes and then strain out the tea. Blot raisins dry with a paper towel.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Place in mixer bowl or large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla.

4. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until evenly moistened.
By hand this will take about 20 strokes.

If using the mixer, mix on low speed about 1 1/2 minutes.
The mixture will look quite wet - that's ok.

5. Place in prepared pan. Smooth surface with bowl scraper. Brush with extra buttermilk
and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
6. Using a serrated knife, score the surface of the loaf with an "X".

7. Bake at 350 degrees.
8. Start checking in 45 minutes. Irish soda bread is done when a cake tester or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Leftover Irish soda bread will keep a day or two, well wrapped, at room temperature or frozen up to one month.

Paul Hollywood's Ciabatta with Folds and Baker's Percentages

Hello Bakers,

My guess is that many of you are fans of the Great British Baking Show. I cannot get enough of this show.
I find it so inspiring. I want to do the challenges myself.
Now I love, love to bake and just, watching that show just wants me to bake more.
It goes further then that - my dream job would be to host or judge on that show. How much fun would that be?
There was a bread episode in Season Five that involved ciabatta. The contestants had to make Paul Hollywood's Ciabatta.
Now you can tell Paul is one of those bread guys - he loves bread and making bread and he has been doing it for ages. When he talks about baking bread in Greece and throughout Europe - I start to sweat and gentle reader, I never sweat.
Why do I sweat?  Because I imagine that baking bread in Greece and wherever else Paul traveled and baked was an amazing experience. That's kind of experience and learning that goes right into your bones and stays forever.
I never had the chance to bake like that in Europe but I did in the States and I can you it is heady stuff.
Back to earth and the kitchen.
Ciabatta is a bread that originally comes from the Lake Como region of Italy. There are regional breads in every area of Italy and it would take years to master them all.
Ciabatta is hydrated, really hydrated this recipe is 80% hydration which means hand shaping is next to impossible. It is coaxed more then shaped. It takes water, extra flour and a bowl scraper to get this dough were it needs to go and you have to be gentle.
The shape is that of a medieval slipper and that is also where the name comes from.
Ciabatta is another word for slipper - not modern slippers - more Merchant of Venice slippers - but Como not Venice.
The first time I made Paul Hollywood's Ciabatta, Daniel, my chef husband was not overly impressed.
The air bubbles, technically called "alevole" were not big enough and it was too flat.
Daniel is from that region of Italy and therefore takes a passionate view on Ciabatta.
Paul Hollywood's directions did not include folding the dough but I decided with the second batch to add three folds, thirty minutes apart. Since I was folding, I decreased the mixing time from 5-8 minutes to 3.
The results were amazing and Daniel pronounced it "very good". This is his highest praise.
When that is his comment about my baking or cooking, then I know I have done well.

I am putting this recipe baker's percentages. This will help you all with your baker's percentage practice.
There are also many versions of Paul Hollywood's ciabatta recipe on the internet. This is what happens when you are famous.But by having it baker's percentage you can make any size batch you like. It also employs the double hydration technique which is great for mixing a well hydrated dough.
I did added an additional 25g of water - just to get my crumb a little more open.
This recipe is authentic to modern day ciabatta.  In the early days when people were wearing medieval slippers, it probably had less salt since salt was heavily taxed at that time and a point of much contention.

For two good size ciabatta, I recommend you use 500g of flour. If you want one cut it in half, 250g.
Ciabatta freezes well and can be refreshed, once thawed, in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes.
Happy Baking!

Ciabatta with Folds adapted from The Great British Baking Show and Paul Hollywood's original recipe.

Stand mixer or dough whisk
Plastic bowl scraper
Medium bowl or small rectangle shaped plastic bin (tub)
 - brushed with olive oil.
Half sheet tray lined with parchment paper and dusted with flour
Spray bottle with water


500g Unbleached all purpose flour (100%)
10g Instant yeast (2%)
300g Water (water 1#) (60%)
40g Olive Oil (20%)
10g Salt (2%)
125g Water (water #2 )(25%)

Additional flour for dusting the top of the ciabatta
Additional water - helps with dough sticking.

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the flour, yeast, water,
olive oil, salt mix on low speed for 45 seconds.
2. With the mixer running, add the second amount of water in a slow stream.
3. Increase the speed to medium (speed 4) and mix for 2 more minutes.

4. Using the bowl scraper, transfer the dough to the oiled bowl or a rectangle shaped plastic tub and cover. Set a timer for 30 minutes.

5 After 30 minutes uncover the dough and wet your finger (adding water is better then adding more flour) grasp the dough at the top of the bowl and stretch it out about six inches. and fold it over it self.
Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and stretch again. Continue with all four sides of the bowl. After the last fold, turn the dough over. The smooth side will be facing up. Cover.
By the way, there are some excellent plastic bowl covers made by Covermate. The plastic is BPA free and they can be reused. I find mine at BigLots but Amazon has them too.
Here is the link: They are great for yeast dough.

6. Set the timer for another 30 minutes. Repeat two more times.
7. After the last fold, cover the dough and let it sit for 20 minutes.
8. Using the bowl scraper, carefully loosen the sides of the dough and unmold the dough onto the prepared sheet tray.
9. If making the larger batch, dip the bowl scraper in flour and using a rocking motion cut the dough in two. Gently make space between the two pieces of dough. Dust each with flour.

10. Place the rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
11. Let the oven preheat for 15 minutes.
12. Spray the ciabatta with a light mist of water and put it into the oven.
13. At 25 minutes, check for color and double pan.
14. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake for 12-15 more minutes. The internal temperature should be at 210 - slightly higher is ok and when picked up (with oven mitts or dry towel) the ciabatta should feel very light. If it feels heavy put it back in the oven for an additional 5-7 minutes.
If it is getting too dark, reduce the oven temperature. One of the most challenging things about ciabatta is baking out the excess moisture.

Hi Everyone, there is a mistake in the percentages for the olive oil - it should read 8% not 20%. Thanks to Mike for pointing that out. Because this is an older post - it is more complicated to edit then a newer one. Happy Baking! Colette

Mascarpone Pound Cake

Hello Bakers,

   Last week one of my Craftsy students asked me if I had a Mascarpone pound cake recipe.
I felt bad because I thought I had one but could not find it anywhere. So, I bregan poking around the internet and in my library and came up empty handed.
I really don't like disappointing you so I decided to adapt a cream cheese pound cake from
way back when and see what happened.
   I chose a cream cheese pound cake from Gourmet's Best Desserts published in 1988.
This was one of the first cookbooks I received when I joined, The Good Cook Cookbook
Club. One of the perks of the club was that you got your first four books for a dollar each!
Every month after that, a little catalog of cookbooks came in the mail. All you had to do was to buy two books a year and keep up with the form that said you didn't want any books that month.
That's where I got into trouble.
  At this time was very busy running my B&B  and my restaurant. I had a husband, who ran the business with me and a baby who was the most adorable baby in the history of babies, at least I thought so.
So the books kept coming, because I ordered them or had forgotten to mail out the form.
    Eventually I had to quit the club. I sent them a sad but truthful letter telling them
that my husband had threatened to divorce me if I didn't leave the club. The bookshelf in the kitchen was bursting with books.
Incidentally, one of the first things I did when,years later, that marriage ended was to rejoin The Good Cook cookbook club. :)
    Gourmet's Best Desserts is a gem. The photographs may feel a little dated but they
really bring back memories of that wonderful magazine.
Sorry, nobody did it better then Gourmet.
   Here is Mascarpone pound cake - a little revamped and totally delicious. The mascarpone affects
the crumb directly, giving it a silken texture.

   Enough chat - here is the low down on Mascarpone. It has almost as much fat as butter, 70-75%.
When it is being mixed, it has a tendency to break, the water in the cheese separates out. When this happens, it is a mess. Maybe some of you have had this experience when making Tiramisu.
Because of this I am adding the mascarpone alternatively with the flour. This will give the fat in the cheese lots of insulation and it won't break.
   I hope you enjoy making this pound cake. I swirled mine with streusel so that I could send it to work with my current husband, who loves to have cake for breakfast.
Happy Baking!

Mascarpone Pound Cake

1 loaf pan or 1 small Bundt pan - greased, line the loaf pan with a parchment paper sling
Stand Mixer or hand held mixer fitted with paddle attachment
Offset spatula
Parchment paper if using loaf pan

8 ounces (227g) butter
8.75 ounces (248g) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
4 eggs, lightly mixed
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
8 ounces (227g) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional: Streusel or Jam
Streusel recipe is at the bottom of the page.

1. Preheat your oven to 350 conventional, 325 convection.
2.  Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes.
3. Add the eggs in two increments, mixing for 20 seconds at low speed and then 25 seconds at medium high speed. Add then second increment of egg and repeat mixing sequence.

4. Starting with one third of the flour, alternate adding the flour and the cheese to creamed mixture,
Mixing only until the ingredient disappears. After the last batch of flour is in. Finish mixing with a spatula.
5. Spoon batter evenly in the pan. If you want to do a swirl of streusel or jam, spoon in half, top with your streusel or layer of jam and then the remaining batter.
6. Bake at 350 degrees or 325 convection. Start checking in 40 minutes. A cake tester or skewer inserted in the center should come out clean.
(Mine took 53 minutes in my Wolf Counter top Convection oven.)
7. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then un mold onto a wire rack.
Dust with powdered sugar.

Bowl Scraper

4 ounces (113g) flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.4 ounces (40g)  brown sugar
1 ounce (28g) granulated sugar
3 ounces (85g) cold butter

1. Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl.
2. Cut in butter until it looks like coarse meal - the butter chunks must all disappear.
3. At the end you can mix with your hands - but the mixture should not clump up or be mixed to the point that the butter melts.
Leftover streusel freezes very well.

Sourdough Fruit and/or Berry Muffins

The Instagram Photo

Hello Bakers,

Please forgive me for not writing. It has been forever. The macaron book completely
took over my summer and early fall. It will be out soon.
Now the blog is back and my goal is to post a lot more often.
About ten days ago, I posted a Sourdough Peach muffin on Instagram and got a few requests for the recipe.
I had promised that I would feature that recipe here on the blog and now I am making good on that promise.
I know the proper and hip thing to do would be to be blogging about pumpkin spice and Thanksgiving but I promised and when I promise a recipe I have to make good it.

Don't worry, I have some nice posts planned for your holiday baking - focusing on getting ahead, making the perfect pumpkin pie and in general being the best baker at your holiday gatherings.
This is for all my readers who maintain a sourdough starter, for those of you who don't the starter can be replaced with sour cream or yogurt.
These muffins, made with starter, are really tender and delicious and a great way to use the starter that you would normally discard.
Just a side note - to make these muffins - your starter should not be exhausted or in distress just in maintenance mode - which means you have been feeding and discarding at least once a week.
The starter should be looking like pancake batter - if there is liquid on the top and you haven't fed it in a while, clean it up and give it a feed (usually 300g water and 200g unbleached all purpose or bread flour id perfect) and then let it sit out, covered at room temperature for a few hours.
Then you are ready to bake these delicious muffins.
You can use any fruit you like, blueberries, apples, peaches, and pears. It really is a blank canvas.

Sourdough Muffins

Again, these muffins are delicious. They have less fat then most cake muffins and keep well due to the sour.

Yield 13 muffins
12.5 ounces all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

8 ounces healthy starter
4 ounces melted butter
6 ounces sugar
2 eggs
6 ounces buttermilk or 6 ounces milk mixed wirh 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
or lemon juice.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of one lemon

The mise en place

7 ounces fresh blueberries, chopped peaches (frozen work great), pears, or apples.
Coarse sugar (sometimes called sanding sugar for sprinkling) (optional)

Oven 350 degrees
Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin liners.
1. Sift or whisk together flour, soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside
2. Mix together starter, melted butter, sugar, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, lemon zest until smooth and combined.

3. Combine the wet into the dry ingredients, mixing together with a spatula, Try to use no more then 15-20 strokes. Stop mixing when the flour disappears, Fold in the fruit quickly.
4. Scoop or spoon batter into prepared cups.

5. Garnish with coarse sugar if desired.
6. Bake at 350 degrees, start checking at 25 minutes.
The muffins are done when a cake tester or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
For some reason the second time I baked them they did not take on a lot of color. The oven at school has a top heating element - that made a difference. We can achieve this at home by moving the muffins or anything we are baking to the top third of the oven for the last few minutes of baking.
But don't walk away - they can over brown quickly.
Happy Baking!