Summer

the bake off bake along, week 2

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welp, week one started off successfully and innocently enough, so i thought i’d continue on to week two’s theme of the great british bake off: biscuit week. biscuits to americans are those big, thick (yet kinda fluffy) crumbly rolls that are normally served with savory foods, especially gravy. so as the episode rolled on, it was apparent that they are all baking cookies. buuuut, i’m pretty aware of these cultural differences by now. i did once mistake a yorkshire pudding to be a sweet american-style pudding pudding, and was totally disappointed that it would not fulfill my pudding dreams. (source)

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but yeah i get it, cookies = biscuits. let’s get on with it! 

i chose the signature bake, biscotti, this week because arlettes involve rolling pin which i don’t have yet in my measly expat kitchen; too complicated. the showstopper was right out (if anyone bakes that this week, i will be seriously impressed) as it was much too big of a baking commitment. 

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i knew for a biscotti, i wanted to go for something herbal (i like herby) because it’s the height of summer and i’m just feeling herby this week. i had some thyme in my CSA box, and i found that a common accompaniment to thyme is lemon. sounds great! but because i like a good nut, i also wanted pistachios. so: lemon thyme biscotti with pistachios it is! guided by this recipe from cookie monster cooks.

the first thing: get to de-shelling and chopping those roasted, salted pistachin’s. a small part of me regrets choosing pistachios in the shell because of the time suck element, and i was trying to keep to the allotted time the contestants are given. ohhhh well, worth it, i hope! i used one large handful of pistachios in the shell.

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oops, forgot to put on my apron.

after chopping the pistachios, i do some more lemon zesting for the second week in a row. last week my “bald” lemons didn’t fare so well after removing the protective peel, so i think this time i’m going to make lemonade. what do you like to do with your bald lemons?

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de-leafing the thyme is was actually really easy, but only if you know the trick! instead of using a knife or picking the leaves off one by one, i held the stem at the top, pinched the stem, and moved my thumb and pointer finger downwards, collecting the leaves as they came off. much easier than any other way. ohhh, i love the flavor of thyme! {insert about fifty thyme puns here}

all of the preparation of the “flavor ingredients” took a half hour! knew i shoulda got de-shelled pistachin’s! welp, i need a coffee break.

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now, time for mixin’ the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients. in to the pitcher goes the flour, baking powder, salt (i left out a little because of the salted pistachios), and the thyme. the wet ingredients get 2/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons of lemon zest, and then two eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla.  i love how the sugar looks and smells when mixed together with the zest! so lemon oily! nom.

spot the alex foot. what’s a cooking post without a foot, anyway.

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now, mixin’ them together, slowly.  oops, forgot the pistachios! 

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when that’s mixed, it’s time to get it ready to go on the baking tray. the art of biscotti involves precise measurement. that means, it’s time for my tape measure. (note: really good idea to have in your arsenal, expat or not. would not have got through the wedding days without it!)

i’ll plop two long slabs of dough on this tray– initially i was hoping for 9" long, 3" wide, but it ended up being more like 8" x 3", which is okay i guess. (marking the baking paper a little helps!) with wet fingers, i smooth it down, and then sprinkle the tops liberally with sugar. i tried to shape them as uniformly as i possibly could– rectangular, not oval-shaped.

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ready for the oven… first bake is go!
meanwhile, i work on that lemonade i spoke about earlier. going to make it with ginger!

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hmmmm…. the bake is slowly turning oval shaped against my wishes…. how rude. but what can you do. whyyy is it looking like that?!

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welp, after 18 minutes at 150 C (fan oven), i pull ‘er out. the color and firmness look acceptable. i let cool for a full ten minutes before cutting into ¾" sized slices. also, decreased the heat to 140 C. the oval shape doesn’t exactly help get uniform slices, but at this point, we must trudge on.

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then, all the slices get flipped over and ready for the second bake! the recipe said 20-25 minutes but i think i just baked until they were crispy and golden brown, which took less than 20 minutes. having a fan oven is hard sometimes as most recipes are geared toward a standard oven… a lot of guesswork involved.

then i sang “sugar sugar” by the archies to alex for no reason.

and now the bake is finished! lookin’ good, you guys! i have to admit that i finished the bake about five minutes after official time was up. buuuut i didn’t want soft biscotti; who can blame me. sorry paul and mary!

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now the taste test. i first test it for the “snap” when it breaks… while there was a snap, the end pieces gave off a slightly more robust snappiness. maybe another minute or two in the oven?
although they could’ve been just a might snappier, i am so into this taste! thyme and lemon are delicious, and they have just the right combo of sweet and salty. LOVE!

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alex tests……
“i quite like it. a bit crumbly and not as robust of a snap as i remember, but really good.”
what about the flavor?
“very good, i would’ve never thought to put all those things together.”
so, success or not a success?
“definitely success.”

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so! pretty excited about about having these with my tea this week, especially considering the drizzly and stormy forecast! and really looking forward to “bread week” for week three!

although it’s only week two, i’m really liking these weekly baking projects and the way baking (and also cooking) is such a productive and yet creative endeavor  put your time into. add in the delicious-ness factor and i think i’ll be doing this more often!

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