Posts by Beth

Bready or Not: British Flapjacks

Posted by on Jan 22, 2020 in Blog, Bready or Not, breakfast, british, chocolate | 0 comments

Time for flapjacks–British-style flapjacks, which are like American granola bars! This recipe, modified from British baking goddess Mary Berry, is super-easy and delicious.

British Flapjacks

In advance of my big trip to the UK last June, I wanted to make numerous British, Scottish, and French goodies so I could then find the legit thing over there to see if I did it right.

British Flapjacks

I ended up eating a lot of different flapjacks. Not only are they common to find at bakery counters everywhere, but in grocery stores I found a lot of what Americans call energy bars are labeled as flapjacks instead.

British Flapjacks

This particular flapjack is more like a bakery-style flapjack: like a toffee-rich granola bar. A drizzle of chocolate, I found, added some necessary contrast and balance.

British Flapjacks

My husband took these to work. A Scottish-born co-worker gave one a try and actually asked, “Is this a flapjack?” I cheered and danced when I heard that. I did it! I made a recognizable flapjack!

British Flapjacks

I found the original version of this recipe in Mary Berry’s cookbook Baking with Mary Berry. Unlike most (or maybe all) of her other cookbooks, this one is in American measurements, though it still features loads of British goods. Click on the picture below to find it on Amazon.

I modified another recipe from this book, too. Find my take on British-style Gingerbread here!

Bready or Not: British Flapjacks

What the British call flapjacks are more closely related to American granola bars. Chewy and delicious, they are perfect for breakfasts and snacks. Recipe modified from Mary Berry's recipe in Baking with Mary Berry.
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: British
Keyword: bars, chocolate, granola
Author: Beth Cato

Equipment

  • 8x12x1-inch pan (small jelly roll pan)

Ingredients

Flapjacks

  • 9 Tablespoons unsalted butter 1 stick plus 1 Tablespoon
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled old-fashioned oats

Chocolate Drizzle

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon shortening

Instructions

  • Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line pan with aluminum foil and apply grease or nonstick spray. Set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, gently heat the butter, corn syrup, and sugar until everything is melted together with the sugar dissolved. Stir in oats to completely coat.
  • Scoop everything into the prepared pan. Use an uneven spatula to spread out evenly.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Let cool for about 5 minutes. Leaving contents in pan, slice into thin rectangular bars. Let completely cool.
  • Use foil to lift contents onto cutting board. Slice again to separate.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl, heat up chocolate chips with shortening, cooking in 20 second bursts and stirring well between each time, until chocolate smoothly stirs together. Use a fork to drizzle over flapjacks.
  • Store in sealed container at room temperature.

OM NOM NOM!

    Read More

    Book Blog: The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese by Kathe Lison

    Posted by on Jan 17, 2020 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

    I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

    whole fromage

    The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese by Kathe Lison
    out now; Indiebound, B&N, and Amazon

    New life goal: become a cheese knight.

    That is a real thing in France, if you are so blessed by one of many local brotherhoods/sisterhoods of local cheese. The facts of cheese knighthood are among many very real delights described in this book by Kathe Lison, a Wisconsin native who arose from humble beginnings of Kraft boxed macaroni and cheese to explore the cultural and historical nuances of French fromage. If you’re a history geek (ME!) who loves cheese (ME!) with a yearning to travel, even if vicariously through literature (ME! ME!) this book will hit all of your sweet spots (and savory spots besides).

    I found out about this book by listening to a podcast of the author in conversation with travel guru Rick Steves upon the subject of French cheese. The book delves much deeper into the subject, and does so in an easy-to-relate-to breezy tone. Chapters focus on cheeses such as Salers, chevre in southwestern France, Camembert and the mythology around it, Reblochon, Comte, Roquefort and its caves, sheep cheese of the Pyrenees, and of course, Langre and its cheese knights. There is a great deal about traditional methods of cheesemaking, the ever-changing industrialization of it, and the peculiarities of AOC labels and terroir.

    This was my first book of 2020 and I hope it sets my destiny for the year–one filled with delicious artisanal cheese.

    Read More

    Bready or Not: Fougasse

    Posted by on Jan 15, 2020 in Blog, Bready or Not, French, yeast bread | 0 comments

    Bready or Not goes full-on bready with this week’s feature: Fougasse, a French style of bread fragrant with herbs and formed into two leaf-shaped loaves.

    Bready or Not: Fougasse

    I first encountered this bread on the Great British Bake Off, where it was presented as a technical challenge with minimal instructions. (I highly recommend watching season 4 episode 6 prior to baking, if you can, as it provides great tips and visuals of the bread).

    Bready or Not: Fougasse

    I found this bread dough surprisingly easy to work with. I opted to make it in my Kitchen Aid, which is in line with the original recipe, but it could certainly be mixed in a bread machine or by hand.

    Bready or Not: Fougasse

    The end result reminded me of focaccia with the herby, salty flavor, but I found the leaf shape of the fougasse to be incredibly fun. It really makes for a great presentation.

    To use Bake Off terminology, this bread is a technical challenge that also works as a showstopper.

    Bready or Not: Fougasse

    Modified from Paul Hollywood’s recipe as published on the BBC’s site.

    Bready or Not: Fougasse

    This herby bread is of French origin and designed to make two large loaves that resembled big, flat leaves. Recipe is modified from Paul Hollywood, as featured on the Great British Bake Off. Amounts are provided below in cups and in weight, with a recommendation to follow the weight for more accuracy.
    Course: Bread, Side Dish
    Cuisine: French
    Keyword: french, yeast bread
    Author: Beth Cato

    Equipment

    • 2 large baking sheets
    • parchment paper
    • pizza cutter
    • pastry brush

    Ingredients

    • 2 Tablespoons olive oil plus more for greasing and drizzling
    • 500 grams bread flour plus more for dusting (1 lb, 2 ounces)
    • 10 grams fine sea salt (1/4 teaspoon)
    • 7 grams instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
    • 350 ml warm water (12 ounces)
    • 4 teaspoons chopped rosemary plus more to finish
    • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
    • fine cornmeal for dusting, or substitute semolina flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • sea salt flakes to finish

    Instructions

    • Grease a large container with some olive oil. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
    • In a mixer with a dough hook (or with a dough whisk and arm muscle), combine the bread flour and sea salt. Add yeast, followed by the measured olive oil and most of the warm water. Mix on low speed. As the dough comes together, slowly add the rest of the water. Continue to mix on medium speed for about 7 or 8 minutes. Add the herbs and make sure they are evenly distributed. Dough should be quite elastic and easy to work with.
    • Dump the dough into the oiled container. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until at least doubled, about an hour. Dough should be bouncy and shiny.
    • Dust a work surface with extra flour and cornmeal (or semolina). Tip the dough onto the surface. It should be loose and flowing. Divide dough in half.
    • Place each piece of dough on the prepared parchment. Spread into a flat oval, then use a pizza cutter to slice twice down the middle (to make a stem) with six cuts on the side of each leaf (see photograph for example). Gently stretch out the dough to emphasize the holes.
    • Cover both loaves with plastic wrap and allow to set for 20 minutes as the oven preheats to 430-degrees.
    • Brush or spray additional olive oil atop each leaf, then sprinkle on the dried oregano.
    • Bake for about 7 minutes, then switch positions of bread on the oven racks. Continue baking another 8 minutes or so (15 to 20 minutes total) until each fougasse is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from oven. Immediately brush more olive oil on top, followed by a sprinkling of sea salt.
    • Bread is delicious fresh or at room temperature. Loaves can be well-wrapped and frozen for later enjoyment.

    OM NOM NOM!

      Read More

      Bready or Not Original: Millionaire Shortbread

      Posted by on Jan 8, 2020 in Blog, blondies, Bready or Not, british, chocolate | 0 comments

      Millionaire Shortbread. Gorgeous. Delicious. A little bit of extra effort to make, but SO WORTH IT.

      Bready or Not Original: Millionaire Shortbread

      I wanted to concoct the best-possible Millionaire Shortbread. This involved strenuous testing of recipes. Much baking. Much reliance on test subjects (husband and his co-workers).

      The resulting feedback? I wrote it down.
      “This shortbread is enjoyed, and feared.”
      “To call them excellent would be an insult to your wife.”

      Bready or Not Original: Millionaire Shortbread

      So yeah. The test subjects approved. I personally would rank this up there with my best all-time bakes, because it really combines the best of everything.

      Bready or Not Original: Millionaire Shortbread

      The shortbread layer is firm yet soft. THEN THAT CARAMEL. It is thick, luscious, and sweet. The chocolate provides the perfect balance, especially with the help of some Maldon salt flakes.

      Bready or Not Original: Millionaire Shortbread

      Do note that the ganache needs to be semisweet chocolate, or an even darker variety. Milk chocolate is just too sweet against that thick caramel. I say that, and I usually prefer milk chocolate.

      Bready or Not Original: Millionaire Shortbread

      I wish I could say how long this keeps in the fridge, but my test subjects were a bit too voracious to provide perspective on that point.

       

      Bready or Not Original: Millionaire Shortbread

      This Millionaire Shortbread is pure rich indulgence, and so worth the extra effort to make!
      Course: Dessert, Snack
      Cuisine: British
      Keyword: bars, chocolate, cookies
      Author: Beth Cato

      Ingredients

      Shortbread Crust

      • 1 cup unsalted butter 2 cubes, softened
      • 1/3 cup white sugar
      • 1/3 cup light brown sugar packed
      • 1 egg yolk
      • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt

      Caramel

      • 2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
      • 14 Tablespoons unsalted butter
      • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
      • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt

      Chocolate Ganache

      • 11 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
      • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter 1/2 stick
      • Maldon sea salt flakes for top, optional

      Instructions

      Shortbread base

      • Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line a 13x9 baking pan with aluminum foil and apply nonstick spray or butter.
      • In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add both sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Follow up with the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Scrape bottom of bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.
      • Gradually work in flour along with the salt. Don't overmix. It should still be crumbly. Drop dough into prepared pan and compress into an even layer. (A piece of waxed paper and a heavy glass make this easier.)
      • Bake shortbread layer for 20 to 25 minutes, until edges are turning golden brown. Set pan aside to cool while the next layer is made.

      Caramel

      • In a large saucepan at medium heat, stir together the condensed milk, butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Stir constantly as it rises to a boil. Immediately drop heat to low, and continue to stir nonstop for about 10 to 15 minutes, until mixture turns a deep caramel color and thickens up; watch out, the caramel can spit out of the pan at times!
      • Remove pot from heat and promptly stir in vanilla extract and salt.
      • Pour caramel over the shortbread, using an uneven spatula or knife if needed to smooth it into an even layer. Cool pan for several hours until it reaches room temperature, or set in fridge to chill.

      Ganache topping

      • In a microwave-safe bowl (or, alternatively, on the stove top in a pot) melt together the chocolate chips and butter. Once it can be stirred smooth, pour over the caramel. Spread out into an even layer. If desired, sprinkle Maldon sea salt flakes over the top.
      • Chill in fridge to let chocolate harden for at least 30 minutes. Use foil to lift contents of pan onto a cutting board. Let chocolate warm again, just a touch, perhaps for 5 or 10 minutes, before slicing into bars (otherwise, the chocolate will crack rather than be sliced through).
      • Store bars in fridge with waxed paper between layers. Keeps for days.

      OM NOM NOM!

        Read More

        Read an Excerpt of my Monarchies of Mau story

        Posted by on Jan 6, 2020 in anthology:story, Blog | 0 comments

        Tales of Excellent CatsWhether you just love a good fantasy story or perhaps are looking to delve into a new RPG setting for 2020, check out this excerpt of my story “By Footpad and Clenched Paw” over at Onyx Path Publishing. My story, about a young cleric with a chronic health condition and a murder to solve, is set in the fantasy world of the Monarchies of Mau. Think fantasy world with magic and quests and all the classic trappings, along with mysterious leftovers from human civilization. Oh, and giant cats. (If you prefer dogs, look up Pugmire, the elevated-canine aspect of this setting.)

        This story is a special one, a tribute to my beloved cat Porom who died of kidney disease a little over two years ago.

        #SFWAPro

        Read More