Saturday, March 5, 2011

Easter Ducklings Filled with Strawberry Jam

This post is from March of 2008, yes- recycling again.  I sure have come a long way with yeast, specially after the king cake madness I just put myself through. Visit my Gourmet Girls facebook page for some photos, there's a link in the sidebar.

Easter is probably my favorite holiday, I find it so much more relaxed than Christmas. Jack, my little boy and I have already boiled and colored eggs a few times and have had a great deal of fun doing it, I am not as busy at the restaurant at this time of year so I get to enjoy the holiday. Last week we were in Whole Foods and they had some little bunny shaped breads. They were just precious, but their flavor was lacking- specially for a 6 year old who was expecting something more than just bread. So I set out to make the ducklings, filled them with Strawberry jam and Jack loved them! Next time, I might also add cream cheese to the filling.

One of my cooking goals for this year was to overcome my hesitation (alright-fear) to work with yeast. I have been reading a bit about yeast and have really come to understand it a lot better and as a result had no trouble at all with the yeast in the recipe. I have included the weight measurements as well, because I think most of the trouble I was having with breads in the past had more to do with the amount of flour I added than with the yeast itself. I was producing tough bread, weighing the four has helped that issue out tremendously. A scale has become such an essential tool in my kitchen, I don't know how I ever baked without it. If you don't have a scale, lightly spoon the flour into the measuring cup.

I have written then recipe out in more steps than usual, I wanted to make sure anyone could understand it- even me!

Easter Ducklings

1/4 cup sugar (60 g)
1 cup warm milk (110 F)
2 pkgs. active dry yeast
3 1/3 cup all purpose flour (500 g)
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup strawberry jam

For Decorations:

A paste made out of 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar and a little lemon juice (about 1 teaspoon) and dried currants. Royal icing flowers or fresh pansies for decorating the ducks- if desired.

1. In a medium bowl, stir 1 teaspoon sugar into milk and sprinkle with yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes or until frothy. Stir gently.

2. Sift flour, remaining sugar and salt into a large bowl and set aside.

3. Stir butter into yeast mixture. Lightly beat in one egg.

4. Pour yeast mixture into flour mixture, combining to make a dough.

5. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until soft and elastic, it should no longer feel to sticky. The should should be fairly soft when the kneading is over.

6. Place dough in a large bowl that has been rubbed with a little vegetable oil and cover with a dish towel. Set in a warm place around 78 F and allow to rise for about an hour or until doubled in volume. (I made these in the restaurant's which is quite warm- the dough doubled in about 35 minutes).

7. Remove dough from bowl, flatten out on a floured surface with your hands then roll out gently with a rolling pin to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out 10 rounds with a 3" cookie cutter for the bodies. Cut out 5 smaller rounds for the heads and 5 small ovals for the beaks.

8. Place one egg yolk in a small bowl and beat a little. With a small pastry brush, brush egg yolk on the large rounds. Add about 1 teaspoon strawberry jam to 5 of the large circles. Place another large circle on top and pinch the edges to seal together. Making sure to pinch well so the jam does not leak out during baking.

9. With a little egg yolk, glue heads and beaks to the bodies. Place ducklings on a greased cookie sheet and set aside in a warm and draft free place to rest for 15 minutes.

10. Brush all ducklings with egg yolk and place in a 425 F oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.


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