Tag Archives: baking

When you need a Dutch Crunch and Boudin’s isn’t open…

Dutch crunch topping during the 15 minute rising timeOn a recent visit to San Francisco, I met a delightful little loaf of bread at Boudin‘s. It was called Dutch Crunch and, as the name insinuates, it had a wonderful thick crunchy crust. Not just a thick crust, but a particular crust I’ve seen nowhere else. I decided to stop at the bakery before my flight home so I could take some with me. But alas, the bakery was not open that early on a Sunday. That led to a frantic search online and everything you see below.

Dutch Crunch originates in the Netherlands and is called Tiger Bread there. Any loaf or bun can become a Dutch Crunch simply by making this topping and drizzling the thick batter over the ready to bake bread. If you search online, you can find lots of specific directions for it.

Dutch Crunch Topping

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups rice flour

Mix together, let rise for 15 minutes, drizzle over your bread, and bake the bread as usual. The rise is very quick so make sure you keep an eye on if it you aren’t using a large bowl. Enjoy your crunchy bread!

See the bubbles of the Dutch Crunch topping
See the bubbles of the Dutch Crunch topping
After the topping is stirred down after the 15 minute rising down to half!

After the topping is stirred down after the rising.

Plain old buns with the dutch crunch topping drizzled on

Plain old buns with the dutch crunch topping drizzled on

Dutch Crunch masterpiece Dutch crunch buns

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Buttertart and Nanaimo Bar Statistics: Annie’s Dream Bakery #MRX

As fun as statistics are, there really are very few jobs where you can apply those skills. Unless you want to be a math or statistics teacher, it’s good to have a fall back plan. And if I had my way and unlimited funds, Annie’s Bread Corner would be a flourishing little business right now.
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I’ve visited a ton of bakeries and pastry shops in many different cities and have figured out exactly what my quaint little bakery would be. The focus would be on fresh, out of the oven, warm baked goods. Tall loaves of olive bread, oatmeal bread, and sourdough bread as well as buttertarts, nanaimo bars, and scones would fill up my shop with tantalizing smells.

Of course, you can’t run a successful business unless you manage it well and that’s where my classical education in psychology and statistics comes into play.

  • I would calculate the frequency of inquiries and purchases for each product by time, day, week, and month
  • I would conduct test/control, randomly ordered tests on different times and days of the week determine whether the buttertarts should be made with pecans or hazelnuts
  • I would run regression analyses to determine which products create the highest total sales per individual shopper
  • I would run cluster analyses to determine which products sell better together than alone
  • Most importantly, all potential customers would be required to fill out a demographic profile, including their taste and smell likes and dislikes before being allowed to view, purchase, or smell any items in the store (the entrance will be hermetically sealed)

Now that I think about it, if statistics are this important to a tiny little bakery, I probably won’t have any time to bake. Help please?

Nanaimo Bars (and recipe) for the American Dessertly Challenged

Ah, my dear American friends, you have no idea what you’re missing out on. I constantly mention Nanaimo bars in my posts and tweets and it seems I stump a lot of people. Here is the delicious scoop on my favourite treat.

Top layer: Chocolate
Middle layer: Icing
Bottom layer: Crumb, coconut

The trick is getting the right consistency of the top two layers. The icing needs to be thick enough so it doesn’t goop out and the chocolate layer needs to be soft enough so you can actually bite through it without breaking. (Unless of course this is what you’re intending to do!)

Some people flavour the icing with mint or raspberry or mocha or the chocolate with caramel but that’s just a bastardization of perfection.

 

Nanaimo Bar Recipe

Bottom Layer

1/2 cup  unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

Middle Layer

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 – 3 tablespoons milk or cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (Bird’s) or vanilla pudding powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar (confectioners or icing) sugar

Top Layer

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Butter or spray a 9 x 9 inch pan with a non stick vegetable spray.

Bottom Layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.  Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 – 2 minutes).  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts.  Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan.  Cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

Middle Layer: In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until the mixture is smooth.  If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk.  Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

Top Layer: In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the filling and refrigerate until the chocolate has set.

To prevent the chocolate from cracking, using a sharp knife, bring the squares to room temperature before cutting.

Makes about 25 squares

Here is the original recipe

Here isBottom Layer:
1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa (I use Dutch-processed)
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (200 grams) graham cracker crumbs
1 cup (65 grams) coconut (either sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
Middle Layer:
1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 – 3 tablespoons milk or cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (Bird’s) or vanilla pudding powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (230 grams) powdered sugar (confectioners or icing) sugar
Top Layer:
4 ounces (115 grams) semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butterButter or spray a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) pan with a non stick vegetable spray.

Bottom Layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.  Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 – 2 minutes).  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts.  Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan.  Cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

Middle Layer:  In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until the mixture is smooth.  If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk.  Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

Top Layer: In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the filling and refrigerate until the chocolate has set.

To Serve:  To prevent the chocolate from cracking, using a sharp knife, bring the squares to room temperature before cutting.

Yield: Makes about 25 squares

What’s Your Twitter Segment?

On several occasions now, I’ve come across a comment like, “Everyone on Twitter is smarter/funnier/more dedicated/better than I am.” I even saw a tweet from someone who said something like, “I go to Store ABC because the people on Twitter make me feel dumb.”

Well, if you stop and think about it, the only people you CHOOSE to follow (ignoring courtesy follows) on Twitter are the people you either:

  1. admire,
  2. want to learn from,
  3. want to laugh from,
  4. have similar interests, or
  5. have some commonality with you that prevents you from turning off the follow.

Also think about this, do you follow people who bore you, have a stupid sense of humour, say stupid things? I doubt it. You tune those people out as fast as you can. This means you end up with a finely tuned group of people who make you happy, people who choose the best of their witty remarks, the best of their smart remarks, and the best of all the random junk that’s passing through their brain. It’s a very personalized self-determined segmentation. In my case, it means I follow:

  1. researchers,
  2. gardeners,
  3. birders,
  4. bakers,
  5. online icons, and
  6. a bit of random silliness.

Those are my segments. In the end, these leaves you with a very skewed representation of who is on Twitter. You’re only seeing what you want to see, and it’s dang hard to see what you can’t see. Again, in my case, it seems like everyone on Twitter loves research and works in a professional setting. So, forget that nonsense about how much better or worse people on Twitter are and enjoy what it offers you.

And if you’re interested, here’s what my Twitter interest profile looks like, thanks to Wordle. (Hi Tom!)

twitgroups

 

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