Floury Baps

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Floury baps evolved over time for me.  There are so many recipes to make and so many variations on the same item – like the baps – there has to be something special to make me go back and try something a second time.

The first time I made baps I used a recipe from one of my favorite bread books.  Despite that, it didn’t turn out to be my favorite recipe for them.  They were dry and too floury – kind of grainy, definitely blah.

But I really wanted them to turn out.  I wanted to split them in half and load in a fried egg and some bacon and despite the similarity to certain fast food breakfast treats, this actually turned out when I used the second recipe – from Ultimate Bread by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno (1998, a DK Publishing Book).  My variations are minor, meant to reflect the dryness of the desert and the speeded-up rising and baking times of 5000 feet.

The second time I tried these was about a week into May. The Sierra still wore a considerable amount of snow.  Which wouldn’t be noteworthy, except this past Monday the foothills at the end of my street were covered once again in snow.  On June 12. Today the North Valleys will hit 88 degrees.

I love my desert.

As for the baps, apparently they’re meant to be slathered in jam, or opened and filled with cream.  I can see filling them with clotted or whipped cream and fresh, lightly sugared berries, too, though I haven’t tried that yet.

But the fried egg and bacon version was excellent.  So was baking them with grated cheddar inside.  So was loading one with a slice of cooked sausage (the kind that comes in a roll, ready to slice and cook) and a little cheese.

Baps aren’t all that sweet, so I’m not sure why they couldn’t be stuffed with a mix of lentils, corn and salsa, or be used as a sandwich wrap, or be filled with sliced black olives and tomatoes and sprinkled with oregano, other than the fact that might be messy as the filling spills back out.

¾ cup warm water

¾ cup room temperature milk + more for glaze

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (not rapid rise)

1 teaspoon sugar

3 ½ cups unbleached flour

1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt

Combine the milk and water in a measuring cup.  Pour one half of the liquid into a smaller bowl.  Sprinkle yeast and sugar over top and let stand for 5 minutes.

Mix 2 ½ cups of the flour and all the salt in a large bowl.  Form a well in the center and pour in the mixed liquid, sugar and yeast.  Draw in as much flour as necessary to form a sticky dough.  Stir in remaining liquid as needed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.  I use part of the reserved 1 cup flour for dusting the board and kneading into the bread.  When I’m kneading and the dough stops pulling the flour from the board and my hands, it’s time to slow down adding more.  I’ve found while baking yeast breads in the desert that my best loaves come about from doughs that still cling just a little damply to my hands.  Still the soft rounded look of the dough, and they’re not leaving sticky patches or pulling off, but just slightly tacky or damp.

Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes, as long as it feels elastic and smooth.

Leave the dough in a clean bowl covered with a clean dish towel.  Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, roughly 45 minutes at 5000 feet.

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When the dough has risen, punch it down and allow it to rest on the board for 10 minutes, then separate into 8 pieces.  Gently form into soft ovals and flatten slightly with your hand as you put them on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Brush with milk and give each a heavy sifting of flour.  Allow to rise, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes or until doubled in size.  Mine took a really long time to rise, but that was subjective and because I forgot them – I was making devil’s food cupcakes and an olive thyme baguette at the same time.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Dust with flour again, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden.  When first out of the oven, cover the baps on the tray with a clean dish towel for 10 minutes.  Then remove towel and move baps to a wire rack.

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Beer Batter Maple Bacon Spring Break Cupcakes ~ a la Two Broke Girls

I love the show Two Broke Girls, love the relationship between the friends and the entire concept (at least through the second season, which is as far as I’ve binged so far). The idea of owning a bakery has been a dream of mine for a long, long time. The virtual bakery is a way to write my way into the dream, because I’m always going to be a writer first and neither bakery owner nor writer sounds like something that could be added part time.

When I first saw the first season’s two-part finale with Martha Stewart, I became enamored of Max’s Homemade Beer Batter Maple Bacon Spring Break Cupcakes. I went looking for a recipe and found one online that led me to the beer I’m using (a light, citrusy brew) and the idea for a white cake, not chocolate. Have to admit, I didn’t realize Max’s was chocolate and I’m not a fan of chocolate. I made the one I found online [https://londonfare.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/beer-batter-maple-bacon-spring-break-cupcakes/] and it’s good, but I wanted to try it with my own cupcake recipe, a 1-2-3-4 cake, and add in the high altitude parts.

This is the result. I made them on March 21, following intermittent desert rainstorms when our humidity is about as high as it ever gets – 90 percent. The temp was around 40 and while there wasn’t a lot of wind, what there was held icy raindrops even as the sun continued to shine. Because that’s what it does here.

The cakes

6 tablespoons shortening (I used stick Crisco, not the butter flavored)

1 cup sugar minus 1 tablespoon

2 tablespoons hot water

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

1 ½ cups cake flour plus 2 tablespoons (I’ve never used cake flour in my life – this was unbleached)

7/8 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup beer plus 2 tablespoons plus 3 teaspoons

Cream shortening and sugar thoroughly. Add hot water and beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, unbeaten, one at a time, and beat mixture well after each addition. (Note: Breaking the eggs into a glass dish before adding to the batter gives you a chance to check for and pick out any shell fragments.)

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Sift dry ingredients together into a medium sized bowl or if, like me, you don’t have a sifter, put the flour, baking powder and salt into a sieve and shake it into the bowl. Add to the eggs, sugar and shortening alternately with the beer, making sure the batter is always soft enough to stir easily. When dry ingredients and beer are both added, add the vanilla.

Spoon or pour the batter into prepared cupcake tins; makes 12. Bake in a 365 degree oven for 22 to 25 minutes. Check by inserting a sharp knife or toothpick into the center of a cupcake or two to check for doneness; cupcakes are baked when no batter sticks to the tester.

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The frosting

1 ½ sticks butter, softened (I use salted butter for pretty much everything – YMMV)

2 cups powdered sugar

3-4 (or even 5) tablespoons maple syrup

Beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth and well beaten. Add the first cup of powdered sugar and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the syrup. Run the mixer until fairly well mixed, then add the remaining sugar and the other 1 to 2 (or even 3) tablespoons of syrup, one at a time. Frosting should be thick enough to easily frost the cupcakes, not runny.

While the cupcakes are cooling on a rack, cut up as many strips of bacon as desired into half-inch strips. Cook in a frying pan until crispy, drain thoroughly on paper towels.

When the cupcakes are cool, frost with the maple frosting. There’s no rule that requires you to use a decorator bag. A tablespoon, knife or spatula will probably work just about as well. When the cupcakes are frosted, either sprinkle on the bacon, place it artfully, or turn the cupcakes upside down in the bacon bits. There’s no way to do this wrong, and definitely no way to lose.

Devour. Everybody loves bacon.

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