Almost inconceivable isn't it? A member of the Daring Bakers who has completed three of challenges with mixed results (remember my Red Velvet Cake? Apparently Petroleum BP are interested in my recipe - they're looking for a new type of impermeable rubber for car tyres) who hasn't cooked one thing for Dorie Greenspan's From my Home to Yours.
From My Home to Yours has captured the imagination of the baking sector of the food bloggers like no other book. A google search for Dorie Blog Recipes brings up more than 77000 results, and not all of these lead back to her own personal blog.
Us Brits haven't embraced baking in the same way as Americans (or Canadians). Perhaps it's too easy to buy sub-par cakes from the local supermarket or over-priced pastries from the local bakery. The real truth is, the more you bake, the easier it becomes. And, if, like us, you have a small family, most cookies or muffins can be frozen for future snacking. Furthermore, for the price of a box of cakes from the bakery, you can buy the foundation ingredients for several dozen more sweet treats.
It is my experience through speaking with inexperienced cooks (and it must be something in the water - the only people I have ever spoken to who share my passion for baking and cooking in general have been online.) that they feel baking is an insurmountable challenge or a relic from the 1950s - and one that should stay in museums. This is a pity because making a batch of cookies or muffins is so easy that even young children can do it. Not only this, you can control exactly what goes into your recipes: no preservatives, no colourings (Red Velvet Cake excepted), no hidden baddies. You can sneak healthy things into baking that taste delicious but that would otherwise be shunned by fussy children. The Carrot Cake is a perfect example.
But, I'm not here to proselytise about baking, those who want to bake will do so, those who don't, won't and they won't be here reading my tirade anyway. They'll probably be at the gym.
What you want to to know is what I finally decided to cook from Dorie's Magnum Opus, right?
Don't get too excited. The pictures are fairly obvious visual clues. It was something quick but delicious. And versatile, as my illustrations indicate. Dulce de Leche Duos.
I love Dulce de Leche. The day I first discovered a tin of it, in the Mexican grocery section of a supermarket in LaCrosse, was the day my world changed. I have never been a huge fan of caramel, finding it too chewy and teeth-hurty, plus it always gave me stomach ache (which is also the reason I don't eat penny sweets, although inflation has guaranteed that penny sweets are now 5 penny sweets). You will never find me sucking a toffee. But, I am a sucker for anything unusual in a tin and couldn't resist this: La Lechera Dulce de Leche, produced by Nestle.
When I got back home, I used this tin of thick, sticky, slightly bitter, slightly milky but very sweet tasting tanned goodness on a banoffi pie. I have also made my own Dulce de Leche, which is incredibly simple but requires a keen eye and four hours patience. It is a lot quicker to pop out to the local supermarket and buy your own. If you do want to make your own, simply boil an unopened can of Evaporated Milk in a large pan of water for four hours, making sure the pan never runs dry, lest the can should explode, spraying your kitchen and innocent standbys with scalding hot, sticky caramel.
I experimented with various fillings to try and find the best combination. Paul's favourite was Peanut Butter and Jam. I also tried some of the leftover frozen Diplomat Cream which tasted great but looked like lard for some reason! Some of my other experimentations were not as successful but I've shared them here with you today to give you some inspiration....enjoy!
DULCE DE LECHE DUOS - makes 60
Taken from Dorie Greenbergs Baking from My Home to Yours
2.5 Cups Plain Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
8 ozs (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
3/4 Cup Dulce de Leche (use shop bought for this recipe)
3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Caster Sugar
2 Large Eggs
Line 2 large baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
Preheat oven to 175c.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and leave to one side.
In a large bowl, using your standalone mixer or (in my case) an electric hand whisk, mix the butter until it becomes softened and splattered all over the bowl. Scrape it down and add the sugars and Dulce de Leche. Mix until pale and fluffy, a couple of minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time and beat for a minute after each addition.
The mixture will look split and curdled but this doesn't matter.
Add the flour in about three additions mixing each addition only until it has been absorbed. No more or you will overwork the mixture and get tough cookies (ha!).
Using a teaspoon or a small cookie scoop, drop spoonfuls onto your prepared sheets, leaving two inches between them. They spread out - a lot.
Cook for 10-12 minutes, turning the sheets around in the oven halfway through, until they are honey coloured but still soft to the touch. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes, then carefully remove to a cooling rack, using a spatula.
Serve as they are, stuffed with ice cream or spread with more Dulce de Leche or any filling of your choice.