Sunday, May 1, 2016

Kouign-amann

Apricot filled swirls and plain sugary crowns.

I want to admit here and now I make many baking mistakes. This one I crossed referenced two recipes and forgot the salt. It makes a difference not only in taste but structure. I also over proofed the pastry because I was in a rush. Shame on me. This is The Daring Kitchen's April challenge. 

Maybe another day I'll try these again. 

The basic recipe that will work is: 
300g/10 1/2 oz / 2 2/5 cups strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting
5g / 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast OR 6.75g / 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
5g / 1 tsp salt
200ml / 6 3/4 fl oz / 4/5 cup warm water
25g / 1oz / 1 3/4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
250g / 9oz / 1 1/5 sticks / 1 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, in a block
100g / 3 1/2 oz / scant 1/2 cup caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
Egg wash

Make a bread dough with the flour, yeast, salt, water and melted 1.75 tablespoon of butter. 

On the second rise laminate the buttering into the dough. (Yes, I'm assuming you know what that means, but generally because I'm talking to myself.) 

Turn the dough a total of three times. Resting an hour after each turn. 

On the final round sprinkle a ton of sugar on the dough, give it a turn and cut it. Don't let it rest with the sugar in the dough or it will seep and ruin and the lamination. 

Cut into squares, collect the corners and put the pastry into sprayed muffin tin. 

If you are making a swirl, spread a cup of apricot preserves over the dough, roll into spins, put those in a muffin tin. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle more sugar on top. Rise 30-90 minutes, until the pastry is ready for the oven. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the pan while hot or they will stick. 




Gateau Basque

In an attempt to expand my horizons I've been looking at classic cake recipes trying to figure which are within my abilities. I came across the Gateau Basque and thought it seemed just the ticket. 

It's rather a cookie dough (ish) with almond flour cake filled with cooked pastry cream and cherries. Or just cherries or just pastry cream. I'm a sucker for pastry cream. I don't have a favorite recipe for one, so I do as I generally find them written but this one I had to improvise upon because I was short on corn starch. You have the recipe I actually made below. Lesson learned:check your pantry before starting a recipe! 

Here's the big momma cake, the diamond pattern in the crust is a thing.
The filling to crust ratio is perfect, if you like pastry cream, which I do! 

I want to say this recipe is not my typical in that you make more dough than what you need for the recipe. It's sloppy to do things that way but alas I didn't have it in me to go looking for too many variations on a theme. Nor did I want to break the recipe down into thirds, because I'm lazy. You use 2/3 of the dough and make cookies with the other third. 

DOUGH
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon oil
1/2 teaspoon almond oil
1 cup almond flour

FILLING
2 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1/4 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons cherry liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup brandied cherries, drained, optional
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of milk, for brushing

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in the large bowl. In a different bowl cream sugar and butter. Once creamed add eggs and oils. Mix 3 or 4 minutes. To the eggs add the flour mixture and almond flour. Blend thoroughly. Divide into 3 1 pound packets. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. 

In a sauce pan bring the milk to a simmer. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar together. Add the flour and cornstarch. Blend well. Add half of the hot milk to the egg mixture, quickly mix it together. Add the remaining milk. Pour back into the sauce pan and heat slowly, stirring continuously switching between a whisk and a spatula, to scrape the bottom. Cook 8-10 minutes until it is thick and no longer tastes like raw flour. Add the liqueur and vanilla. Pour into a large bowl, butter a parchment paper and press that onto the filling so a skin doesn't form. Cool on the counter 30 minutes. 

 Preheat oven 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch spring form pan with cooking spray. 

Roll the first disc about 12 inches. Place it in the pan, into the corners of the pan. Trim the dough so it about 1.5 inches up the side of the pan. (A tart pan might be easier for this cake, but we're not in for easy, are we?) Pour the filling into the pan, spread it flat. Sprinkle the cherries over the filling if you're using them. Using a knife tip push the edge of the bottom dough toward the center of the pan, so when you put the top on you can shove it down the sides of the pan, to seal in the filling. 

Roll the top slightly bigger than 9 inches, transfer it to the top of the cake, over the filling. Be gentle this is a very tender dough. Score in a diamond pattern, brush with egg wash and bake 50-60 minutes, until golden brown. 

Make cookies with the remaining dough, or maybe a little tart shell or something like that. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Golden Almond Lemon Cake


Golden Almond Lemon Cake

How has April come and nearly gone without a post? So much for my once weekly commitment. 

April isn't over yet and I'm shooting for four posts before it's all said and done, so there! It's about striving towards a goal, is it not? 

I went surfing the web to find a recipe that fits the personality of Shelly for whom I made this cake. As always, if you work with me I make you a cake on your birthday. Easy are the people who put in specific requests. Cheesecake? Sure! Carrot Cake? No problem. But the vague, "surprise me" is fun and crazy making. 

I'm not beyond experimenting on a person's birthday cake. Other less adventurous people might feel the need to try a cake out before serving it to others. I have no such compunction. We all can be surprised together. I mean it's cake, how bad can it really be? 

So why this cake in particular? Mz. Shelly is both sunny like a lemon and a little nutty, like the almonds. She's also way more complex than you might imagine just at first glance. This cake looks regular but it has lemons and lemon oil, toasted almonds, sour cream, tons of butter and turbinado sugar. Sweet jesus, that is the whole she-bang. 

The photo above is yet another Bundt cake, in the same pretty swirly pan, but this one is fancier than what meets the eye. I found it on Pastry Joe, (where has he been all my life?) it's his take on Rose Levy Beranbaum's cake (she I have known about for 20 years.) Her Cake Bible is on my bookshelf and I go back to it all the time. Hey Julie/Julia fans, someone should recreate that book and blog about it. Maybe that's so like 2005?

I'd detail out the recipe, but there's a link and Joe covered it pretty well. Oh and I haven't tasted yet. There might be a post script about this whole thing. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Carrots with Candied Ginger

I love carrots. I love ginger. I love white pepper.

Oh sweet jesus these were mighty good. I made them for Easter and before I forget what I did I'm putting it down here.

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut evenly
water
kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, diced very small
pinch of white pepper

In a skillet with a lid add the carrots and water enough to steam and a pinch of salt. Cook until slightly tender. Once tender add the butter, ginger and white pepper. Add a little more salt if needed. Simmer and toss to coat with the butter about 5 minutes.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Fresh Strawberry Elderflower Cake

Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
It is spring!
That means strawberries. I had a reason to bake a cake and I had strawberries in the fridge. I used to love pink cake when I was growing up, but come to find out it's hard to make without using Jell-O (not that I mind Jell-O) but I wanted to shoot for a more natural flavor. This is what I came up with:

1.5 pounds strawberries
1 cup sugar

2.5 cups flour
1.25 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
.5 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1.5 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
0.50 teaspoon almond extract
3 eggs
red food color, if you wish

Syrup
0.25 cup sugar
0.25 cup water
2 tablespoons elderflower liqueur

Frosting
1 cup whipping cream
2 8oz packages cream cheese
0.75 cup sugar
1 tablespoon elderflower liqueur

Cook the strawberries and cup of sugar down until they are thick. Cool. They should measure around 2 cups.
Preheat oven 350 degree.
Prepare 2 9-inch pans with spray and parchment.

Put the strawberries, and all the ingredients for the cake, except the eggs into a food processor. Process. Scrape the sides. Add the eggs one at a time.

Scrape the sides, whirl it one more time and pour into prepared pans. I measure the pans on a scale to make sure they have the same weight batter in them. The old school, what I learned in the bakery is stick your finger straight up and down in the pan, see where the batter comes up to on your finger in relation to your digit and make sure the pans are even that way. The scale is easier, but less tactile.

Bake 35 minutes. Cool completely.

To make the syrup on the stove top, in a small pan combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil, make sure the sugar is dissolved. Cool. Add the liqueur.

For the frosting whip the cream to stiff peaks, set aside. Cream the cream cheese, making sure to scrape the sides and that it is smooth before adding sugar. Add the sugar and beat for a good 5 minutes to make sure the sugar dissolves. Add the liqueur to the cream cheese. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.

To assemble: When the cake is cool remove it from the pans. Using a pastry brush, brush the syrup on the top of the cake layers. Flip them over and brush the syrup on the bottom layers. Top the layers and sides with frosting and enjoy.



Sunday, March 20, 2016

Dutch Baby Pancake

This serves two people if you like each other and have a little fruit and sausage on the side.

I used a 6 inch non-stick commercial skillet. I think it would do better in an 8 inch cast iron. It was thicker than most the dutch baby pancakes I've seen in Illinois' restaurants.

Alison is a fan of the pancake so I see them when I'm with her. I thought let me make this for her to please her, which I did and it did and here it is for posterity.

Preheat oven 425

In a blender mix
0.50 cup flour
0.50 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
0.50 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

lemon half
powdered sugar

Put the skillet in the oven while it's preheating. You want a hot skillet.
Blend the flour, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt.
Once the oven it to temp, put the butter in the skillet to melt. Swirl the pan. When the butter is melted pour in the batter.
Bake for 15 minutes. (for a 6 inch pan, maybe 12 for a bigger pan.)

Remove from the oven, squirt half the lemon on the dutch baby and top with powdered sugar.

Be the bell of the brunch ball. These are impressive.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Butter Mochi - Chocolate!

It seems like butter mochi is Hawaii's take on the Japanese dessert regular mochi. It's easier to make than traditional mochi and it's super easy to eat. 

Chocolate Butter Mochi

2 cups (9.25 ounces) glutinous rice flour, not plain rice flour. 
2 cups (16 ounces) white sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter
1 cup (6.25 ounces) chocolate chips
Like brownies but better!
24 ounces evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs beaten

This is how you do it: 
In a large bowl combine the rice flour, sugar and baking soda. Mix it. 
In a microwave safe dish combine the butter and chocolate. Heat in 20 increments stirring until it's completely smooth. 
In a bowl of a mixer pour in the chocolate mixture. Add the milk, vanilla and eggs. 

To the wet mixture add the flour/sugar mixture. Stir until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl. 

Prepare a 9x13 inch pan by spraying the heck out of it with cooking spray. Then do it again. Pour the batter into the pan. It will be very loose. Bake 50-60 minutes. The center will still be jiggly, but a knife inserted will come out clean.  Let it cool before cutting it. This is better if you don't refrigerate it. 

Serve to your friends and be amazed at how much they love it!