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2014 is the summer of pizza. I’ve gotten ’round to checking out Kay’s Pizza on Burden Lake in Averill Park, NY. It’s a seasonal pizza place, right on Burden Lake. I went with a large group of folks, and in the peak of Kay’s season the parking lot may overflow, but there’s street/lake side parking available as well. Prices are reasonable, and this is group-friendly, though if it’s packed you may be waiting a while.

Clams! $8.25 for a dozen. These were tasty and were served with real butter on the side.
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One large cheese pizza ($8.95 – WHAT?!), and one Baja Chicken ($19.75). These are poofy pan-style pizzas. There is a crust, but it’s more of a line where the cheese/sauce stops and the crust begins. The pies are all uniformly flat/one level.

Cheese was fine, the Baja Chicken is topped with chicken, bacon, jalapeno, onions, black olives, and tomatoes. The Jalapenos added a nice heat level, though I’d probably never order this on my own.
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Buffalo chicken, because buffalo chicken. ($8.95 + $1.80). This was a buffalo chicken where the chicken was tossed in buffalo sauce, but otherwise was on a regular large cheese pizza (with tomato sauce). Eh, okay. Not my fave style of buffalo chicken pizza.

So Kay’s pizzas are the poofy-soft type of pizzas that are really easy to eat. And  a large cheese is a crazy-cheap $8.95. I can see why this place is so popular. Low price-point on the pizza, very family friendly, and right on the lake, so you may have a lake-view (depending on where you are seated). I would go back again since this is a cute piece of local history. Though I’d personally go really early or really late, because it was jam-packed with people when I went. The seating was Manhattan-style, and if you were at a table with chairs (they had booths) you really had to scoot yourself up to the table and wedge in. I was kind of surprised by that, but it makes sense since it’s so popular. It was a little sardine-y, so try to get a booth. Because of the seating, I’d also suggest going with a table of no more than 5-6 people, because it was kind of impossible to hear anyone else at the other side of the table with 8 people.
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Also grabbed a gluten-free Kay’s Specialty Pizza (sausage, peppers, mushrooms). I forget exactly how much this was, but it’s pretty in line with gluten-free pizza prices in this area (like $12-13 for a medium, and then extra for toppings). Kay’s doesn’t make their own gluten-free pizza and is very vocal that these have the potential for cross-contamination, so if you are severely allergic to gluten you should still probably not order it.

It was the flat/gummy type of pizza crust. Crispy for the first few minutes, but then gummy.

 

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Happy Birthday, D! D entered the very end of her twenties, and I wanted to bake her a cake. She’s not doing gluten lately and loves chocolate, so I thought hey, gluten-free chocolate cake made with coconut flour! This is an ultra-decadent and delicious cake. This was an especially special birthday to me, as D also shared it with my belated kitty, who turned 10 (everyone fed her as many treats as she wanted).
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She went out for a wine tasting and nibbles before cake time. Albany John and I had plans earlier in the evening, so we met at our place for cakey good times. I used this nut-free recipe for the cake.

Chocolate Coconut Flour Cake Recipe

2 C coconut flour
1 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 t baking soda
0.5 t baking powder
2 sticks of butter (1 C) at room temp
1 3/4 C sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 3/4 C milk (or milk sub, I used buttermilk. Drop your baking soda to 1.5 t if you’re using regular milk)
1/4 C melted coconut oil
9 eggs

And here’s how I make every recipe so it’s only one dish that gets dirty:

Cream together butter and sugar. Add the eggs (one at a time) and vanilla extract. Then add in the milk. Scoop in the coconut flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix the dry stuff on the top a bit to combine, then mix it all in with the wet ingredients on the bottom. Then add in the melted coconut oil. Stir until well combined. The coconut flour will absorb the liquid while you’re mixing and seem like it’s drying out.

Bake in two 8 or 9 inch buttered cake pans at 350F until a toothpick comes out clean. About 30+ minutes.

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Here’s what your batter looks like when it’s ready to be moved into the cake pans. Kind of looks like frosting, or maybe playdoh.

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You’ll have to pat the batter into the pan. Coconut flour batters are vastly different than their wheat flour brethren.

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Seriously. It doesn’t fall or anything. You just plop it in…
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And smooth it out.

This made a little more than two 9-inch cake pans for me (my pans were shallow, though) so I baked the remaining batter in a little pan. It was good out of the oven. Kind of like a cakey brownie texture.

So, after we bake it, we let them cool. You can cut them in half if you want and make a 4 layer cake, but I’m not that delicate and didn’t want to mess this up for the birthday girl.

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I made a whipped chocolate ganache frosting and frosted the cake the night before. You can see the holes in the cake where I put skewers to then wrap in plastic wrap. Or as Albany John called it “I thought you were creating a protective force field to keep me out of it,”.

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I wasn’t super jazzed with my frosting skills or how the ganache came out (it was more like buttercream).
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Then I slathered the frosted cake in more liquid chocolate ganache.

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More chocolate ganache fixes everything, right?

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Well, come cake time, we had a cozy little set up going (this is as close to decorating as I’ll ever get).
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Happy Birthday, to an awesome friend.

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Marshmallows! I’ve been making marshmallows lately using Butter’s basic marshmallow recipe.
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They’re great with a little cocoa, especially if you put in peppermint oil. Daniel B. loaned me his kitchenaid mixer before he hightailed it off to New Jersey. Instead of languishing in storage, it had been languishing on my shelf. So at least I know I don’t need a big ole Kitchenaid taking up space in my kitchen. But I figured that I should TRY to use the mixer while I have it. And what likes a big stand mixer more than marshmallows?

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Here’s what I started out with – sugar, gelatin, corn syrup, peppermint essential oil, and powdered sugar. I had Knox gelatine sitting in my pantry, but have since purchased Great Lakes Unflavored Beef Gelatin from Amazon. It’s cheaper per lb than the Knox packets, and unlike Knox, there is no SMELL. OMG, Knox smells like a freaking barn once you hydrate the powdered gelatin. So it’s better and cheaper than Knox. Sign me up. But if you’re not sure you’re going to do much with gelatin the Knox will be fine as an intro. The flavor thankfully doesn’t linger into the final product. But then again I made mine aggressively peppermint-y.

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Corn syrup, granulated sugar, water. Boil for a minute, then add it to your soaked gelatin in the kitchenaid mixer.

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Whirl around for about 10 minutes, add in peppermint oil (I used about 10 drops for a VERY aggressively pepperminty marshmallow), then whip for 2 more minutes.

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Parchment paper in a pan – plop in your marshmallow and even it out. You can put powdered sugar on top and press with more parchment paper for a more even look, but I wasn’t terribly concerned about that with my first batch.
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Let it sit for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Then sprinkle more powdered sugar on a piece of parchment paper (parchment paper is your friend, here).
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Gently pull off the parchment paper.
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Almost there…
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Sprinkle more powdered sugar on top. The sieve really helps reduce the amount of sugar you’d use than if you tried this by hand.
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Use your handy dandy bench scraper or sharp knife and start cutting away!
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Once you have some squares or shapes, roll them in more powdered sugar to keep them from sticking.

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Surprise your husbear with hot cocoa and fresh marshmallows in the morning when your project is complete!

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Spring is here, which means my winter of tarts will likely be coming to an end. Or maybe I’ll just start using seasonal stuff in my tarts.  I bought a few tart pans, and my favorite is this Fox Run 14″ x 5″ tart pan. The shape makes me happy.

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I’ve been using this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for a sweet tart shell that doesn’t really shrink. It’s pretty awesome, and the best part is it’s all made in the food processor in a cinch. The recipe makes a bit more than you’ll need for the tart shell. By the way, Smitten Kitchen’s Whole Lemon Tart is also an awesome recipe. The filling is SUPER lemony and also made entirely in a blender (which I <3 for clean up). I made that recipe with a full tart shell recipe in a larger circular tart pan, and oh man was that ever a hit.

This particular pictured filling was cheesecake with some random bits of fresh strawberries (that were going south quickly). Cheesecake fillings are super easy – cream cheese + sugar + stuff (this can be cream, sour cream, milk, egg… something to thin it out a bit)
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The recipe makes more than this rectangular tart pan needs, so I flipped over a mini muffin/cupcake tray and wrapped some pieces with remaining dough. Filled with some whipped cream and aww, yeah. Yum! They are very tan because I forgot about them while par baking the tart shell in the background. Filled with cream, they just tasted like crunchy pie crust. Cream fixes everything, right?

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Hodgson Mill posted a recipe for “Gluten Free Baked Beignets“. I used quotes because there is no way you can all these beignets in any way, shape, or form.  However, they are perfect as gluten-free scones. Not as light as wheat-based scones, but pretty decent for coconut flour scones. Hodgson Mill took my criticism well on Twitter. But seriously, don’t confuse these for beignets. It’s like calling a dinner roll a funnel cake. Two completely different things.

I don’t have any issues with gluten, but I will jump on any recipe that uses coconut flour. I can’t get enough of the stuff.

Baking in my Bathing Suit has been gluten-free lately, and she came over to help me make these.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

2T Warm Water
1 t yeast
1/2 t sugar
(Proof the three above ingredients if you want, otherwise just toss it all together)

1 C Gluten Free AP Flour
1/2 C Coconut flour
2 T Sugar
1 t baking soda1/2 t xanthan gum
3 T coconut oil, melted
1/2 C milk
1 t lemon juice
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract

Combine all of the dry stuff, then drizzle in the melted coconut oil and mix so it evenly distributes and looks kind of clumpy. Then add in the liquids (including the proofed yeast, if not, toss in the yeasty trio now). Mix well.
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Here’s what it looks like when it’s all combined and mixed. Then you cover it and let it rise for about an hour.

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Put some parchment paper on the baking sheet you intend to use. Sprinkle with some gluten free flour
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Plop the risen dough on this sheet, then knead/fold it for a little while so the dough comes back together.

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Then roll it out into as much of a rectangle as you can make, he he. (Straight lines are not my strength)

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Then cut into triangles. Or however you want them shaped.

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Spread them out a bit on the parchment-lined pan. Then cover and let them rise another +/-30 minutes. (note: I made these in winter, so my house is cooler and a 30 minute rise time is normal. In the summer this may be reduced to less than 30 minutes)
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Here’s how they look after poofing for a half hour. Wow, lookin’ pretty scone-y.
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And here they are fresh out of the oven. 400F until the edges just start to get a slight tan. I think this was about 8 minutes for my in my convection oven.
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Figured I’d try them tossed in powdered sugar in the spirit of beignets. Also because these aren’t very sweet.
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They looked pretty, but you can leave the powdered sugar off your own. Not much stuck to them.
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But these gluten free scones were great with some freshly macerated fruit!

 

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Snow can’t stop me from bringing the heat! I shoveled out the grill, cleaned her off, and smoked up some pork shoulder and ribs. As you can see, one of her wheels got lost in all of this snow somewhere along the way.

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The night before I’d picked up some baby back ribs at Roma. Just a bit over $5 for a half rack. Not too shabby. Sure beats restaurant prices.

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And I also can’t say no to $2.99/lb pork shoulder.

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I made my own rib rub up. A little spicy kick, but nothing outrageous.

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Rubbed liberally on both pieces of pork, and let them sit over night.

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Here they are after a night in the fridge.
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Coals got all nice & toasty.
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Dumped the coals over half of the bottom of the grill with some applewood chips in tin foil on top of the coals.. Put a pan on the other side to catch any meat drips.

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The porky duo hangs out above the pan, and then I cover the grill, shaking the bottom occasionally to release the dead ashes which clog up air flow. Wound up putting another chimney of coals on here.
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Ribs smoked for about 5 hours before hunger set in. Good amount of smoke, I probably could have let them go another 30 minutes with some sauce, but overall I’m happy with how they came out.
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The pork shoulder I let go for about 7 hours. Nice bark formation on the outside. Planning on using some of the fattier bits for split pea soup

 

Pork rib recipe here:

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Gluten, who eats it, right? While I don’t have a gluten issue, a bunch of my friends seem to have some sort of gluten sensitivity. I’ve personally been eating less gluteny things just because my body hasn’t been craving it, so when it was time to bring something to a Shabbat potluck (or Shabbatluck as I’ve dubbed it), I was scratching my head trying to come up with something gluten free and Kosher. Kosher is kind of difficult for me personally because I have to stop and think about what I’m combining in a dish (like, meat + dairy is a no-no, and pork is out of the question). But toss in gluten-free and Sherlock Jane is on the case! So I figured I’d take a page from the Paleo/Primal cookbook and use sweet potatoes as the crust. I kind of hate labeling foods as paleo, but it’s an easy tag to generally figure out something is crap-free in terms of ingredients. So this is paleoish. or Paleish.

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Start with a tart pan and a shredded sweet potato mixed with some eggs and whatever other seasonings you want to toss in there. I bought this Fox Run 10″ tart pan off of Amazon. It’s a pretty crappy tart pan – doesn’t conduct heat very well for baking, so make sure you’ve got a pizza stone underneath it for true tarts to have even levels of heat through the center. For stuff like this it doesn’t really matter, though. We’re not making anything temperamental here

Any way, press your shredded sweet potato into the pan and bake it at 350F until it looks like this:

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Something like 15-25 minutes, depending on your oven and the amount of sweet potato shreds you’ve got going on. I went pretty sparse, and that became evident when they dried out while cooking (which is good, we want to remove some of that moisture to make a crust. But whatever, because only a psycho flips over their quiche to inspect the crust during a pot luck.

Any way, get out your eggs and milk (or cream), whisk them together, then shred some cheese (see, this is where Albany Jane checks out from Paleo-ville) and pour all of that over the crust. If it looks low in the pan, mix up a little more. Then blop some pesto on top. I had some pesto in the freezer from the summer. Man, it was nice to get a little blast of summer in the pan.

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Cook it at 350F until it sets in the center, somewhere in the 35-45 minute range. If you’re worried about leakage, flip over a baking sheet to catch any drips.

This was a potluck HIT! I was happily surprised. Usually the healthier/gluten-free/paleo dishes at a potluck get picked over, but I heard people asking for slices of this at dinner, so it was neat to see the “healthyish” dish have to get cut into smaller slices not because people wanted to be polite and try it, but because everyone really wanted a bite and liked it.

I’m not such an egg-as-a-main/quiche person myself, so I’d like to play around with this sweet potato crust concept with other savory “pie” type dishes, and sweet dishes.

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Valentine’s is coming up, and I’ve got just the thing to make to spice up your night!

No, seriously – it’ll add some heat (and really, in this chilly weather, let’s add heat where we can).

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Start off with some dried chili peppers and seeds, a nub of cinnamon and 6 oz of cream in a pot on the stove. Heat it on low, covered, until you see some bubbles start on the side. If you want to really infuse the cream with some pepper flavor, keep your heat on low and let it take a while to bubble slightly, like 20 minutes. At this point, you can take it off the heat entirely and let it infuse longer, or continue on to the next step:

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Add the chocolate! Add about 2 oz dark chocolate to the hot cream mixture and stir until it looks like REALLY bangin’ hot chocolate. You could just have really awesome hot chocolate at this point.

Or you could take three egg yolks, beat them with a tablespoon or two of sugar (depending on your sweetness preference), and then slowly add the chili chocolate cream to the eggs (temper, temper, temper) and bam!  You’re done. I strained my cream mixture to get the chili seeds out.

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Unbaked cremes in oven-safe containers sitting in a water bath. Pop them in an oven for about 25 minutes at 300F (285F if you’ve got a convection oven). The tops will firm up, though the creme will still have a bit of a wiggle if you shake the pan.

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All set! A slight skin on the top, but wiggly creme underneath.

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Sprinkle with some sugar on top.

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And then blast it with a blowtorch. I have a mini torch for bruleeing.

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You can eat this now while it’s warm, or refrigerate for later. I liked the heat with the cream.

Albany John thought it tasted like those cinnamon hearts you get on Valentine’s Day. And when I said “Aww, really?” in a bummed out tone he quickly added “I really LIKE those cinnamon hearts, though. This is like a really good version of it.” haha. He has a higher heat tolerance than I do, so I thought these had a nice chili kick to the creamy chocolate.

 

Quick Recipe Recap:

6 oz cream
Chili peppers (including flakes)
Cinnamon stick
2 oz chocolate
1-2T sugar
3 egg yolks

Cream + chili peppers + cinnamon stick in a pot over low heat until bubbles form around the side (lid on).
Add chocolate and mix until blended with heat on.

Take off heat

In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar together (you don’t want it foamy, just beat it for a minute or two until combined).

Add a bit of the hot cream to the egg mixture in intervals to temper the eggs, otherwise the eggs will cook if you add the hot cream all at once.

Fill two small bowls with this delicious mixture.

Put the bowls in a water bath, bake 300F until the tops have set but the creme still wobbles a bit (~20 minutes, depending on the size of your bowls).

Sprinkle sugar on top, torch, enjoy!

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I was craving some crusty French baguettes. This winter has really re-awakened my love of bread lately. I saw Jude’s take on Peter Reinhart’s French bread recipe and thought I’d give it a whirl. I didn’t wind up with as many airy holes, but the flavor was quite pleasant.

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Here’s the pre-ferment dough the morning after a nice and chilly night in the fridge. Jude says this dough is good for up to 3 days in the fridge. I would like to experiment more with it at 24-48 hours of cold fermenting, instead of the 8-10 I gave it.

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I keep my house at “brisk” temperatures, so it took about 2 hours for it to shake off the chilliness of the fridge.

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Then it was time to make the final dough. Same amounts as the night before. Water, bread flour, salt, yeast.

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And then cut up the pre-ferment dough to use!

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Mix it all up and knead until it becomes a smooth ball. Hm, on second glance, this doesn’t look so smooth. Story of my life.

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After another two or so hours the dough doubled in bulk, and I divided the dough into three equal parts, which is what that handy dandy digital scale in the background is for. I actually was very successful in having equally weighted doughs.

P1030684The shaping. The shaping! These doughs rest seam-side UP before baking.

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I don’t have a cloth to use as a couche, so I used parchment paper for the rise.

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I stuffed tea towels to the sides of the doughs to help give them a proper baguette shape. These rested for a little over an hour, while the oven was heated to 500F.

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The transfer process was a bit delicate – as you can see, my doughs didn’t end up uniformly sized. Oh well, I’ve never been so great at presentation. These went on the back of cookie sheets.

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Slice gashes in the dough to help when it expands in the oven.

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Three baguettes! The top baguette was my favorite in terms of looks. Flavor-wise, they all tasted the same, so no correlation with shape and flavor in this instance. I had my oven set to convection, which evenly cooks everything, but there is a water bath also involved to help steam and brown the exterior of the baguettes. The one on top was put on the bottom shelf initially, while the bottom two were put on the top shelf. I’m impressed to see such variance between these two different levels in my oven! So the next time, I will make sure to put all of my loaves on the rack 2nd from the bottom, just above the bain marie.

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So crackly, and the gashes filled out nicely.

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Less expansion in the gashes that were initially placed on the upper shelf.

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My crumb was a bit tighter than I’d have liked. I used Gold Medal brand bread flour. I’m curious to see how King Arthur flour would fare?

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I saw a rack of lamb for about $10 at one of my local grocery stores. Fresh/never frozen, grass fed, antibiotic-free lamb from New Zealand. Sure, I’ll give it a whirl. I did a pretty decent job. If you get a thermometer, it makes it easy to make. I just set the thermometer at 140F and let it sit 15 minutes to rest after it reached that temperature. 140F renders a medium lamb.

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I seared the outsides of the rack of lamb in a pan on the stove, then slathered it with some dill mustard. To be honest, I preferred the lamb flavor without the powerful kick of mustard.

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I roasted this at about 400F for much longer than I thought I would have to. About 30 minutes.

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But whatevs, this gal made some pretty decent rack of lamb!

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