Category Archives: Blizzard

Blizzard Baking: Part Five

I can’t spend a full day baking and NOT make bread.

In class last week our teacher raved about this bread she once had that used the spent mash (grains) leftover from the beer making process. As luck would have it, one of the girls in my class visited a brewery last weekend and went home with a gigantic tub of the stuff. She quickly became everyone’s friend when she brought it to class to share.

So those of us who wanted to got to bring home some of the pungent, (in a good, beer-y kind of way), soggy grains. You use them as you would a regular soaker, where you soak whole grains of all sorts in water before mixing into your dough so you don’t have little crunchies in your bread.

They say beer is liquid bread, and probably for many reasons, but it makes sense since both are just fermented grain. The carbon dioxide and alcohol dispelled by the yeast give beer its bubbles and fun-factor and bread its rise and flavor. And when you combine the two? Well, you get really dark, flavorful bread that will make the most excellent breakfast tomorrow.



Filed under Beer and Vino, Blizzard, Bread, Whole Grains

Blizzard Baking: Part Four

I love snow.

It’s awfully fun to play in, though less fun to shovel.

But shoveling is an excellent way to work off all these croissants.

I’m striving to strike a balance here between excessive snow and excessive butter.


Filed under Blizzard, Pastries

Blizzard Baking: Part Three

Turns out it’s really hard to capture a blizzard on camera.

But it’s even harder to resist eating another one of these brownies.

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Filed under Blizzard, Chocolate, Pastries

Blizzard Baking: Part Two (with recipe!)

Slabs of butter are what make pastry so good.

Once I encased that into the dough, I folded it, rested it for an hour, then rolled it out like this:

Then I folded it, and now it’s resting again for another hour. It is one of those recipes that really tests my patience. So in between I’m making brownies. With more butter. Browned butter to be more exact and delicious.

As I prepared them my dad told me stories of the “snow of ’67” when the drifts were taller than his room window, which naturally led to a indoor snowball fight with his siblings. At this point all I’ll be able to tell about the “snow of 11” will be that I baked some (hopefully) excellent brownies.

If you’d like to tell the same tale, here’s the recipe. (I doubled it for sharing purposes, especially in these blustery times).

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts
from Bon Appetit February 2011

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
2 tsp water
1/4 tsp salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8 x 8 x 2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1⁄4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

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Filed under Blizzard, Chocolate, Recipe

Blizzard Baking: Part One

Oh man oh man. Chicago and pretty much the entire midsection of the country, you know what I’m talking about. They’re calling it the snowpocalypse. Classes are cancelled and everyone is freaking out. I am just excited. This is an opportunity for me to embrace being stuck inside and spend the day cooking and baking. And watch the violent wind have a snow fight with itself. It is seriously crazy out there.

I decided to catch up this blog by chronicling my culinary experiences in the next 48 hours. It’ll be more fun to write than going back and remembering all the things I’ve been making these past couple of weeks.

Thing is, I was supposed to be in class this evening. Last night we started our laminates, or puff pastry and croissant doughs, with butter folded into the dough in the most delicious way. We were supposed to bake them up tonight, but seeing as that isn’t going to happen, I’m going to make some here at home, and bake them up tomorrow. I’m hoping this experience will be much better than my last attempt.

So here we are so far:


I will fold in the butter soon. Then it rests, then I fold, then it rests, then I fold, and on and on and on. Besides this I’ve got a long list of things to make, so grab a beer and get cozy. We’ve got a long blizzard ahead of us.

I might be biased but this is the best brewery name ever! Also, this milk stout is delicious!

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Filed under Beer and Vino, Blizzard, Chocolate