Monthly Archives: July 2010

Dulce de Leche and Gingerbread Ice Cream Sandwiches


I love it when a product delivers as promised.  My friend Brigitte introduced me to a mirror that has changed my life.  This little mirror magnifys to the power of 15 making it unnecessary for me to wear my reading glasses when tweezing my brows. (wearing glasses while tweezing your brows is next to impossible because the frames get in the way of your brows)  I now have impeccably groomed brows. Should you decide to get this mirror do not use it for anything other than tweezing.  Step away immediately after tweezing.  Because this is one scary mirror.  Everything on your face is super magnified and it’s not a pretty sight.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

One product that didn’t deliver as promised was my Donvier Ice Cream machine.  This is a manual machine with a hand crank. Purchased many years ago I thought it would be a fun activity for my dinner guests.  I thought wrong!  After a few spins, people got bored so I was left alone in the kitchen turning the handle myself.  The ice cream was ok, not great.  The machine quickly got relegated to the basement storage room.

Then 3 years ago, I decided to purchase an electric ice cream machine.  I planned to take it up to the cottage and amaze my family and friends with imaginitive flavour combinations.  I decided on the Cuisinart machine because you could make 2 flavours at the same time.  And the price was great.  (In the States and in Canada too!!)  The first summer was so cold I never wanted to make ice cream.  Last summer I was baking my way through Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice Book, so I never had time for ice cream.  But this summer, aaah, this summer is going to be the “Summer of George”  Oops!  Sorry, I mean the summer of ICE CREAM.

I decided to begin with a vanilla base and add flavours from there.  The process is very simple.  Whole milk and sugar are whisked together until the sugar dissolves.  Then you add heavy cream and vanilla.  The mixture gets poured into the chilled cylinder and you hit the on switch and stand back and watch the magic happen. 

It has a clear lid so you can see the mixture freezing.  After 15 minutes you can add your mix ins.  I added Skor bits and dulce de leche sauce.

At this point it has the consistency of a Blizzard.  If you want firmer ice cream, transfer it to a container and let it freeze for a few more hours.

The texture was silky smooth and the addition of the Skor bits gave a great crunch.  The dulce de leche added an amazing deep caramel flavour.  All in all a resounding success.  But, it was a touch too sweet. It needed something to temper the sugar.  All of the sudden it came to me. I would make gingerbread cookies and create ice cream sandwiches.  I’m not sure what I was thinking, turning on my oven at the cottage when it was sweltering (31 degrees C/91 degrees F) outside but once I started thinking about that flavour combo I had to bake the gingerbread cookies.  Inside my kitchen it smelled like December but felt like hell.  It was so wierd.

Of course I had to gild the lilly and roll the outside of the ice cream sandwich in more skor bits.  It was so good!!

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

(adapted from basic vanilla ice cream recipe in Cuisinart recipe booklet)


3/4 cup whole milk, well chilled
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups 35% cream (heavy cream). well chilled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup skor bits
1/2 cup dulce de leche (President’s Choice makes a great one)


1.  In a medium bowl, use a whisk to combine milk and sugar, whisking until sugar is dissolved.

2.  Whisk in heavy cream and vanilla.

3.  Pour into ice cream machine and let mix until thickened, about 20 minutes.

4.  Add skor bits and dulce de leche.  Mix for 5 more minutes.

5.  Transfer ice cream to an airtight container.  Cover surface of ice cream with plastic wrap and then put on lid container.  This will help prevent the formation of ice crystals.  Freeze for an additional 2 hours.

Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

 This recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine.  It makes about 18 large or 30 small gingerbread cookies. 


3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves (totally optional – I leave it out as I hate cloves)
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 12 pieces
¾ cup molasses
2 tablespoons milk


  1. In a food processor, process the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt until combined, about 10 seconds.  Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and process until the mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal, about 15 seconds.
  2. With the machine running, gradually add the molasses and milk.  Process until the dough is evenly moistened and forms a soft mass, about 10 seconds.
  3. Scrape dough out onto a work surface and divide it half.  Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough, ¼ inch thick, between 2 sheets of parchment paper.  Leaving the dough sandwiched between the parchment layers, stack on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower middle positions and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Remove 1 dough sheet from the freezer; place on work surface.  Peel off top parchment sheet and gently lay it back in place.  Flip the dough over; peel off and discard second parchment layer. 
  6. Cut the dough using cookie cutters of your choice.  Transfer shapes to prepared baking sheets, using a wide metal spatula, spacing them ¾ inches apart.  Set scraps aside.  Repeat with remaining dough until baking sheets are full.
  7. Bake the cookies for 8 – 11 minutes, until they are set in the centers and the dough barely retains an imprint when touched very gently with a fingertip. The baking sheets should be rotated from front to back and switching positions top to bottom, halfway through the baking time.  Do not overbake.  Cool cookies on the sheets for 2 minutes, then remove the cookies with a wide metal spatula to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  8. Gather the scraps; repeat rolling, cutting and baking.

Confessions of a Bread Baker’s Apprentice

I am feeling a little lost after finishing the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge. My last post just seemed so final and shockingly, I still have things left unsaid.  So here, in no particular order, are the final thoughts/reflections/confessions of this Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

10.  When the number of  mail order parcels arriving from King Arthur Flour began to rival those from J Crew,  I knew I was a true bread freak.

9.  I spent $30.25 on a 4 ounce bottle of Fiori di Sicilia . No, that’s not a fancy perfume. It’s an aromatic essence of Sicilian flowers.  It is the flavouring used in authentic Italian Panettone bread.  The recipe uses 1/2 an ounce.  I discovered that I hate Panettone bread.  I still have 3.5 ounces left.  Oh well, the bottle is pretty!

8. I still have not mastered the “windowpane test”.  For the uninitiated, this is a test to determine when the dough has been kneaded enough.  After kneading for awhile, you cut off a small piece of the dough and gently stretch and pull it to see if it will hold a paper-thin translucent membrane, without ripping or falling apart.  Every time I tried this test, my dough ripped.  I continued kneading for several more minutes, but my dough still ripped.  TxFarmer, a fellow BBA Challenger,  achieved perfect windowpanes with every loaf she produced. (see the photo below)  She also produced drool worthy photos and gorgeous breads.  I am more than a little envious!

100%全麦面包 <wbr>– <wbr>取长补短

7.  I speak to the woman on the order desk at King Arthur Flour more often than my own mother.

6.  On of my fellow challengers, named Susie, made many of her breads in the shape of the letter S.  She baked 22 of the 43 breads and hasn’t been heard from since last November.  I’m a little worried about her.

5.  I’m thinking it of requesting the Poilâne Miche pillow for my birthday this year. Bread #33 in our Challenge was the Poilâne-Style Miche.  Poilâne is a bakery in Paris famous the world over for their bread. They make a cushion in the shape of their most famous bread.  It is only $82.23 (that includes shipping).  I can have a loaf of the real bread shipped to me for $62.30, but I figure the pillow will never get stale!

4.  I still have not mastered my slashing skills.  Slashing (also known as scoring) the bread prior to baking is done to allow some of the trapped gasses to escape. The tool I bought to slash with is called a lame but it does not work very well.  Someone told me to try a straight edge razor blade (the old fashioned kind) but I can’t find them at my local pharmacy.  I found a web site that will ship me 1000 of them for 2 cents a blade but I worry that my name will be placed on a “persons of interest” list since I am stockpiling dangerous weapons.

3.  I have bought Peter Reinhart”s new book Artisan breads and am considering baking my way through that one!!

2.  Peter Reinhart  may have replaced Nick Malgierei in my baker fantasy dream.

1.   I  don’t even bat an eyelash when the lady at King Arthur Flour tells me that shipping to Canada is a $25.00 flat fee and all I am ordering is a $5.99 bag of Sir Lancelot High Gluten flour because I need a bagel fix bad!

Thanks again to Nicole of Pinch my Salt for organizing this challenge and of course to Peter Reinhart for writing such a wonderful book.  It truly is a fantastic tutorial for anyone interested in learning to bake their own bread.  I am grateful for all the new bread freak friends I have made along the way.

#43. The End! (Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche)

I waited to make the last bread in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge until all my children were home and the whole family was under one roof again.  It only seemed fitting that we should end this together as we were all home together last spring when I began my journey.  So finally, the planets were aligned and we were ready for a family dinner.  It turned out that my nephew was in town visiting, so we invited him to join us.  Only one hitch in the plan.  My nephew’s mom was visiting with him.  It had been a long time since I had seen my (ex) sister-in-law, as she and my brother-in-law were divorced over 12 years ago.  But in the spirit of, “the more the merrier”, we invited her to join us as well. 

I have to admit that it was a bit strange at first, but once I pulled this bread out of the oven, and sliced it up there was no need for any more awkward conversation.   I poured some wine, sliced more bread, served dinner and soon we were all laughing and telling stories about when the kids were little and reminiscing about family holidays of years gone by.  Before I knew it, over 4 hours had flown by.  It was really nice to catch up and have a visit.  I do believe that this is a magical bread, able to bridge any gap and smooth out any awkwardness that life has thrown in your path.

The recipe makes such a huge amount of dough that it has to be kneaded by hand as it will not fit into the mixer.  I began with roasting the onions in the oven and ended up burning them.  I put a second batch in the oven and proceeded to burn them! again!  So then I sliced them thinly and caramelized them on top of the stove where I could keep an eye on them.

I sliced the green onions and chives and grated some Asiago cheese.

 Once the dough is mixed, the green onions and chives are kneaded in and then it’s shaped into a boule and placed in the fridge for an overnight rest to allow the flavours to develop.

The next day, the dough is brushed with olive oil, dimpled and covered with a thin layer of Asiago cheese, the caramelized onions and more cheese.  Into a hot oven and 20 minutes later, golden perfection.

The crust was crunchy on the bottom, chewy on top from all that cheese and the bread had a beautiful open crumb.  A perfect ending to the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge!!