Archive for July, 2011

Pipe Dream #45: To Wipe Out Wonderbread – Braided Lemon Bread

I don’t eat bread very often. I usually have enough carbs in my diet (ahem), and plus, have you ever tried making a sandwich? If I go to Jimmy John’s, I’m not paying six dollars for a ham, tomato, lettuce, mayo and bread I could eat at home. I’m paying for someone to take all of those ingredients out of the fridge in single servings and arrange them. Making a good sandwich, like making a good salad, requires a lot of patience and creativity.

Wonderbread is basically horrible nutritionally and flavorfully. Give me something whole grain, with wheatberries in it or something.  I like to chew my bread, not have it dissolve in my mouth like so much angel food cake.

That being said, this lemon bread is not a superfoodwholegrainsubstantial bread. It is made with all purpose flour, and it is filled with lemon curd and cream cheese. Hello. I know I probably sound hypocritical right now. But this bread is part rustic substantial bread and part unhealthy goodness. So it is bad for you, but it won’t melt in your mouth. Man, I’m making this bread sound worse and worse. I should put this on my resume somewhere. Proficient public relations writer: cannot describe anything in an appealing way.

I’ll get lots of call-backs, I’m sure…

Point of the story, this bread is fabulous and decadent and almost wholesome. My family ate the whole thing when it was fresh from the oven. We couldn’t wait.

I apologize for the picture quality/lack of explanatory shots in this post. For a great tutorial on how to braid the loaf (man, I want that on a business card), click on the link in the recipe. SmittenKitchen does such a nice job of it. And also, this recipe includes lemon curd. You can find my recipe here or another recipe on the Ahnternit or buy some from your local grocer.

Braided Lemon Bread

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup (1 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour

Sponge (above)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, 1 beaten for dough, 1 beaten with 1 teaspoon water for brushing bread
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
Pearl sugar* or sparkling white sugar for sprinkling

Lemon cream cheese filling
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons (5/8 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (2 ounces) homemade (recipe below) or prepared lemon curd

Make sponge: In a small bowl, combine the sponge ingredients. Stir well to combine, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.

Make dough in a stand mixer: Combine the sponge, sour cream, butter, egg, sugar, salt and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass. Switch to the dough hook and knead on until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes. ??Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until quite puffy and nearly doubled.


Make dough by hand: Whisk together sour cream, butter, egg, sugar and vanilla in a large, wide bowl. Stir in sponge. Add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon as best as you can; you may need to get your hands in there to form it into a shaggy ball. Turn ball of dough and any incorporated scraps onto a counter and knead until a smooth, soft dough forms, about 5 to 10 minutes. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until quite puffy and nearly doubled.


Make the filling (while dough rises): Combine all the filling ingredients (except the lemon curd) in a small bowl, mixing until smooth and lump-free. Reserve the filling and lemon curd until ready to fill the braids.

Prepare bread: Gently deflate the dough and roll it out on a very well floured counter to a 10″ x 15″ rectangle. Transfer rectangle to a large piece of parchment paper, please; I did not and it led to all sorts of trouble. With the side of your hand, lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, dividing it into three equal columns. Spread the cream cheese filling down the center section, leaving the top and bottom two inches free of filling. Spread the lemon curd over the cream cheese filling.

To form the mock braid, cut crosswise strips one inch apart down the length of the outer columns of you dough (the parts without filling). Make sure you have an equal amount of 1-inch strips down the right and left sides. Be careful not to cut your parchment paper; if you have a bench scraper, this is a great time to use it. Remove the four corner segments. To “braid”, begin by folding top flap down and bottom flap up over the filling. Lift the top dough strip and gently bring it diagonally across the filling. Repeat on the right side, and continue down the entire braid, alternating strips until you are out. You can tuck the last couple that hand off decoratively under the end of the braid.

Carefully transfer the dough and the parchment paper to a baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic and set it aside to rise for 45 to 50 minutes, until quite puffy.

Bake bread: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with egg wash, and sprinkle with pearl or coarse sparkling sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Favorite Shots: Asparagus

I enjoy cooking approximately half as much as I enjoy baking. Putting my energy into extravagant cupcakes reminiscent of sea creatures doesn’t leave me with boundless energy, I guess. And usually, my palate doesn’t crave homemade foie gras.

I don’t know why I am mentioning foie gras. I don’t even like foie gras.

So usually, I like to cook simple things for my main meals. Semi-raw things. Like asparagus over a bit of pasta. Or carrots and hummus.

And don’t worry, I’m don’t always eat super healthy or anything. Heaven knows I make up the extra calories at dessert.



Pipe Dream #44: To Outdo Wilton – Marshmallow Fondant

Ok, I admit. Outdoing Wilton in the cake decorating arena might be a bit of a stretch for your humble bakestress. But from all that I’ve read, their fondant tastes like spit from an anteater’s mouth.

I’m not going to apologize for that analogy either. Instead, I’ll give you a better recipe.

First, melt a whole bag of mini marshmallows with about three tablespoons of water. Let it go for 30 second intervals, stirring in between until it’s all melted.

Next, grease your counter with shortening and pour 2/3 of a two pound bag of powdered sugar on it. Pour out the marshmallow mixture onto the sugar and slowly incorporate everything together, including the rest of the sugar from the bag. Make sure your hands are well greased with shortening; it all gets a bit sticky.

Knead everything together until you can form it into a ball. Grease the ball with even more shortening and cover with plastic wrap. Let cool in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Meanways, make your cake.

Give your cake a solid coat of buttercream so the fondant has something to stick to. Ne’er you mind the little coffee granules in the frosting that look like crumbs. That isn’t normal; it’s just me. Also, your buttercream needn’t be perfectly smooth, but you should strive for it. Little things show up under fondant.

Prep your counter by sprinkling it with cornstarch so the fondant won’t stick. This step is essential. I had to keep peeling up the fondant because I didn’t put enough starch down. Don’t be like me.

Remove your fondant from its wrapper and begin to roll it out with a rolling pin covered in corn starch. If the fondant seems dry and tears easily, knead in a teaspoon of water at a time until it is the right consistency. Kneading and rolling take some serious resolve–it is hard work. I was sweating. But not enough that it dripped onto the fondant, so don’t worry about that.

Finally, roll up the fondant onto your rolling pin, and then roll it out onto your prepared cake. After that, it is super easy to trim off the bottom, leaving you with a perfectly smooth, marshmallow-y cake. Unless, you are me and have a crease in your fondant.

Considering that this was my first ever attempt at fondant, however, I have to say I was pretty pleased. Pritty playsed.

Try it, pretty please?! You’ll like it.

Getting back up on the horse soon,


Piping Dream #43: To Pose People Comfortably (Refuting Feminism)

I’m pretty terrible at posing for pictures. I always jank up my shoulders or tip my face weird. I think this transfers somewhat to posing other people for shoots. I haven’t done it a ton, so I don’t exactly know how to make people feel comfortable beyond saying, “Ok now tip your head to the left–no my left–no, you look super great. Ok! Smile like you actually mean it–hey! You know that one song by The Killers?”

Luckily, I have Wades, who is willing to pose for me lots of the time. This shot is from the kitchen. Isn’t she just gorgeous? I don’t have to work really hard trying to pose her either. It’s like she has some innate sense of modelishnessage.

I recently learned that posing men masculinely and women femininely makes for the most attractive pictures. Who woulda thought?

Women, on the other hand, should be posed delicately, always at an angle, with attention drawn to the most feminine parts of their bodies. Like wrists.

Wades’ shot is enough for one post. Any more thoughts on posing people/me?

Ever your post-feminist,


Pipe Dream #42: To Make My Hip Mother Proud – Seriously The Devil’s Food Cake

My mum is something else. I won’t say much past that or she’ll start crying, and she hates when people draw attention to that.

I asked her what she wanted me to make her for letting me cry on her shoulder for 21 years. She said, “Coffee and chocolate.” I said, “Right on.” Or something to that effect.

The Devil’s Food Cake was rather dry in comparison to my now-favorite chocolate cake (-1), and I experimented with putting undissolved instant coffee granules in the icing. This gave the icing these weird little bitter chunks (-1) and a grainy consistency (-1). However, do you see that fondant!? +2 for an incredibly smooth finish and a pretty decent taste as far as fondant goes. Add in a bonus point for a rich ganache filling, and this cake gets a 0 for overall quality.

Marshmallow fondant tutorial recipe coming right up, I promise.

Also, Mother’s Day was in May. I actually do know that. What you don’t know is that these pictures were taken in May.

Oh snap!

Did you know that one of my mom’s favorite songs to quote is ‘Drama Queen’ by Family Force Five. She always gets us with “oh snap.” Every once in a while, she’ll bust out some rando pop culture tune and my sessies and I have to say, “Mom, that is not ok for you to say in social situations.” I always get convicted when this happens. You try feeling ok when your mom starts singing, “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me…” True story.

Oh snap, Mom, you are pretty and wonderful.

Much love from the hood,

Lalaqueesha Hennesy (my rapper name, generated via Rum & Monkey)

Pipe Dream #41: To Pretend Like I’m Not Working Out

Before the summer, I used to work out. Now, I work too long to really have time to work out, so I console myself by saying I’m doing “lifestyle exercise.” Basically, I hike around a lot.

On this particular spring day, I decided to go on a run in my favorite run place: The Path. I now invite you on a tour of the path.

Conditions were cloudy and wet; I was experimenting with manual mode on my camera. I like manual mode. I spend a lot of time in aperture priority, but manual mode is my second favorite.

I luf trees. Their silhouettes distract me from my burning lungs. Beautiful scenery is my second way of pretending that I’m working out.

I like flowers. They give me hope that the flaming hell kindled in my legs will be extinguished.

This bench is a fabulous duck viewing spot. Of course, I never stop to look at the ducks when I am running. That would be counterproductive to building my endurance.

Oh for pretty. I faked this macro shot.

Silt and sand.

And Lord of the Rings picturesquity.

Thank you for joining me. How did you like your tour? Feel free to tip your tour guide and fill out a satisfaction survey (in the comments section).

My polite tour guide voice is sick,


Pipe Dream #40: To Use Up Leftovers

For some reason, whenever I make chocolate cupcakes, I always have leftover batter. In some cases, I end up filling the liners too full because I don’t want any batter to go to waste, and then they overflow.

Ahem. Exhibit A:

The rest of them were prettier. But see how there was a good quarter inch of overflow that I picked off before frosting? Yep.

Sew anyway, I often use up leftover batter by making mini cupcakes. They are small, meaning they are simpler to decorate, and I can make a full batch of them to give away. Here is another example.

Also b0nus, this is me endeavoring to be a good steward. Yes!

For cute!


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,944 other followers

Lane Cake

Chocolate Clementine Marquise

Spicy Chai Biscotti

Red Wine Pear Trifles

Coconut Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peach Cobbler

Clementine Ginger Tequila Sunrise

S’mores Cake with Malted PB Frosting

Lemon Mousse Crepe Cake

Strawberry Shortcake

Nectarine Brown Butter Upside Down Cake

Raspberry Espresso Fudge Cake

Cherry Clafoutis

Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

Banoffee Pie

Blueberry Bourbon Bread Pudding

Pink Sprinkle Cupcakes

Grapefruit Yogurt Loaf

No-Bake Nests

Butter Pecan Shortbread

Black Garlic Herb Bread

Pumpkin Chiffon Torte

Maple Pecan Brown Butter Cupcakes