It’s the weekend…

…and you know what that means. Baking time!

So apparently dulce de leche is the next hot thing to sweet (interesting typo – I meant ‘sweep,’ obviously) all the food blogs. With good reason. This weekend I made three batches (all you do is boil sweetened condensed milk in its can for two hours, making sure that it’s always submerged – otherwise it can explode) and poured them all into a jar to keep for later baking projects.

I could seriously just eat it with a spoon, but I will resist. In order to reduce the temptation, I used some of it (that amount right there, actually) in Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bites from Smitten Kitchen.

They turned out pretty well, I think. There were a few moments of panic this morning when I added the ‘chocolate’ glaze. I was using my carob powder (of course) which as I’ve said before behaves very bizarrely when used as a substitute for actual chocolate. The substitution for cocoa powder is easy, but weird things begin to happen when you melt carob chips or combine carob powder with shortening to replace chocolate. It’s like the carob just soaks up every bit of moisture added to it. Here it soaked up 1/2 stick of butter, 3 tablespoons of shortening, and 2 teaspoons of corn syrup without a moment’s hesitation.

I should have taken pictures to show you how frightening and unearthly this looks, but I was gripped with terror.

I assumed it was meant to be ganache-like, but I didn’t have any cream, so after a brief ‘milk or more butter’ debate, I added some milk. And some more milk. And still more milk. It never really reached a pourable consistency, but I started to worry that, like icing, I would take it too far and it wouldn’t set properly once I’d spread it on the cheesecake, so I stopped. I think it worked all right. It needs perfecting, though, as my experiences with carob replacing actual chocolate is still pretty hit-and-miss and I don’t know enough about it to troubleshoot on the fly…

And here they are all packed up to share since there’s no way I’ll manage to finish these before they’ve gotten too old.

I also made Amish Cinnamon/Friendship Bread. One of the acquisition editors at work brought me in a bag of the starter and some of the bread, which was very yummy, so I was anxious to get going. This is interesting as you basically make your own yeast by mixing milk, sugar, and flour and letting it all ferment. The starter takes almost a month to make and supposedly the Amish are the only ones who know how to make it, so you have to get it from a friend who got it from a friend, etc., and then pass it along to a friend who’ll pass it along to a friend, etc. (they’re not really, but it’s a nice story).

Once you have the starter, it takes ten days of mushing the bag it’s in (or stirring it if you’ve put it in a bowl), and adding some more milk, sugar, and flour on certain days. Then on the tenth day, it’s time to separate out the portions of starter to pass on to others and to bake!

Very yummy, indeed. There seem to be mixed opinions on whether or not you can actually freeze the starter, but since the Internet has managed to dispel the myth of the starter’s recipe, I’m going to give it a try and see how it goes. I’ve got two frozen to just make the bread with and one frozen to become the starter to make more starter once I’ve made the next two batches of bread.

I’ll keep you posted. 😉