Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Bakerina Lives!

One of my main inspirations for starting this blog was a fine writer and wonderfully talented foodie, Jen McAllister, who had a blog called Prepare to Meet Your Bakerina. I stumbled upon her site when I was searching for a particular bakery to visit in NYC, and she had posted the unfortunate news of the establishment's demise. But she hooked me in with her witty prose and excellent recipes.

However, at some point, the rent became too high in NYC, and the Bakerina became disenchanted with her job, and decided to enter law school in California. As might imagine, law school leaves little time for blogging, so she has been sadly absent from her web site for some years now. But imagine my joy when I reconnected with her on Facebook! And as always, she inspires me to make delicious baked goods.

Most recently, the Bakerina discussed a ham, cheese and olive quick bread that she made from the legendary boulanger Lionel Poilane's book, Faire Son Pain, that other than being a little too salty, she said was among the best things she's ever made. I did an internet search, but I couldn't find that exact recipe (even in French).

However, I did find one by Dorie Greenspan that Jen confirmed was very close, except that Dorie substitutes milk for the wine in the Poilane recipe. As I am always drowning in milk due to my cow share, that was fine by me. And the loaf turned out marvelously well--a perfect luncheon item with a simple salad on the side. How elegant, sophisticated and perfectly Parisian! OOH LA LA!

Ham, Cheese, and Olive Loaf
(Source: adapted from Brown Eyed Baker and Serious Eats)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 scant tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 lb. ham, small dice (about 1/2 cup)
1 packed cup coarsely grated cheese, plus 1/2 cup diced cheese (cheddar, Emmenthal, and/or Gruyere are all appropriate choices for this)
1/3 cup each (=2/3 cup total) pitted green and black olives, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rings (or chopped is fine, too)

Preheat the oven to 400F and grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan (or use flour-added cooking spray). Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. In another bowl lightly beat the eggs then whisk in the milk, olive oil and ham. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine. Use a spatula to fold in the cheese and olives.

Pour into the pan and bake on the center rack for ten minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F and continue to bake for 45-50 minutes more, until puffed, golden and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let rest on a rack for five minutes before turning it out. Let cool for at least ten minutes before cutting.

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