Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ka'kat - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 80th installment. The recipe is Ka'kat.
Another flatbread recipe from Baking with Julia - so easy, and very good!  It's billed in the cookbook as 'Middle Eastern street food".  The recipe is a basic white bread, with a little bit of mahleb for seasoning.  Mahleb is a spice made from the ground stones of a cherry.  Sadly, I couldn't find it in my nearby stores (and with no time to spare, no time to search high and low), so based on a suggestion I found on the web, I substituted a combination of ground fennel seed and cardamom.  It's only a quarter teaspoon, but I think it helped the flavor.

First, make a sponge with yeast, sugar, flour and water, which you allow to rise briefly: 
Before rising
After rising - the spoon is diappearing...

Next, you mix in salt, seasoning (in my case, mahleb substitute) and then the rest of the flour, making a rather soft dough, which you knead for 10 minutes.  Let the dough rise for 1-2 hours, and then cut it into 32 pieces, roll each piece out into a long "snake", and then form rings on the oiled baking sheets.  These rise for 30 minutes, covered in plastic wrap. It's hard to tell from the photo, but these are just about 3 inches across.

 I should have oiled the plastic wrap - this was a little sticky, and I lost some "rise" when I pulled the stuck wrap off the rolls.

Coat with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seets and bake.  They are kind of like mini bagels, although not as dense as that (no boiling step).  

These were very good warm, and kept well - I reheated them, uncovered, in the oven the next day, and the surfaces got crisp, which was very good.  I would definitely consider making this one again - I thought the recipe's comparison to soft pretzels was true (although they are sprinkled with seeds instead of salt!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Matzos - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 79th installment. The recipe is Matzos.
Another flatbread - although familiar with matzos from the supermarket, it didn't occur to me as something one could prepare at home, so this was an interesting one to try.
This has, of course, a super simple ingredient list - flour, water, salt, and pepper.  I also included the optional sesame seeds, to make it a bit more interesting.
You mix up the dough, which is a little on the dry side, and then just divide up the dough and roll it out very thinly.  I can see that evenness is key to getting it to bake evenly (hence the slighly charred edges and light middle sections on my pile of matzos :-). You prick the dough sheet with a fork, and sprinkle with salt.
The baking method is to pre-heat a baking sheet with the oven up high (500 degrees or more), and then place the dough sheet on that hot metal baking sheet.  Bake for a minute, turn it over, and bake for another minute.  Mine took slighly longer, since I suspect I hadn't rolled it out as thinly as I might.
I like the simplicity of this recipe, and the result was good (better than the supermarket variety!).

Sweet Ricotta Pie - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 78th installment. The recipe is Sweet Ricotta Pie.
It was great to bake something "homey" after the last couple of recipes, and I really liked this recipe.  This recipe is another one from Nick Malgieri, and relatively uncomplicated.
The crust is a rich one with eggs in it, and was easy to handle.  You mix it, chill it, and then roll it out.    Two thirds of the crust is used for the bottom, and the last third for the lattice top.
The filling is a mix of ricotta, eggs, sugar and flavoring.  I did not have anisette, but as suggested in the recipe, substituted vanilla and Grand Marnier as the flavoring. I only had part-skim ricotta, which seemed wrong ;-) so I made some additional homemade whole milk ricotta:
(Side note: If you haven't tried making cheese, and want to try, check out Urban Cheescraft - I received a DIY cheese kit as a gift, and it has been fun and so easy to use.)
I think the richer whole milk ricotta helped make the flavor and texture better.
Pour the filling into the crust, sprinkle with cinnamon, and then put on the lattice - one set of strips across, and then the other at an angle.
Here's the pie before baking:
It baked up perfectly, and then you let it cool before serving.  Here's a photo of how the filling and crust look when you cut into it:
I think it's delicious! Kind of like a cross between cheesecake and custard pie - what could be bad about that?  :-)  

Pebble Bread - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 77th installment. The recipe is Pebble Bread.

Talk about whiplash - from the ultra-complicated previous recipe to this very simple Moroccan flatbread...
Sponge before rising
Sponge after rising
This one starts with a "sponge" (starter) of flour, yeast, and water that sits for 24 hours.  It's smooth when you mix it up initially, and then the liquid separates out so during the rising: 
You stir the liquid in, and then mix in barley flour, wheat flour and salt to make the dough.   Knead the dough until smooth, and then rise for three hours.  At that point, it's time to shape it.   You split the dough up into eight pieces, and for each one, roll it out, dip in breifly in water, and then put it out and use your fingers to make the dimples (traditionally resulting from baking it on hot pebbles!).  
Dough in the skillet
This dimpled dough is cooked on one side in a hot skillet for a few minutes, followed by broiling until golden on top.  
The bread was very good, and went well as an accompaniment to our curry for dinner.  It made a lot, so we had some left for the next day.  It didn't really stay moist, but I toasted it, and it was OK that way.  I think I would prepare this again if making a Moroccan meal, although definitely for a crowd, so you would eat it all up on the day it is baked, as suggested in the recipe.

Not-Your-Usual Lemon Meringue Pie - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 76th installment. The recipe is Not-Your-Usual Lemon Meringue Pie.
(Catching up on posting! I baked these back in March, but finally getting to posting now!)

This "pie" was delicious, and it was interesting to prepare the different components.  Each of them might be useful for other projects.   

The lemon part is a lemon curd, made with whole eggs, rather than just yolks, and whipped in the electric mixer so it is kind of fluffy and light, and then cooked double boiler-style over hot water on the stove. 

You tuck that away in the fridge to chill, and then move on to the "crust".

At this point, I wish I had some kind of special graphic icon for "Oh no, not phyllo again" :-)
The "crust" is made by layering together phyllo sheets with butter and sugar, and cutting those stacks into triangles.  You bake them layered between parchment sheets, and weighted with baking sheets, in order to keep them flat.  A lack of consistently sized baking sheets, and a small oven that doesn't fit large baking sheets resulted in a rather uneven set of crusts, with some dark edges. I think in retrospect, I could have tried to size the strips of phyllo to fit completely under my baking sheets, although I suppose this is more like a pie crust with dark edges!  And at that point, I was ready to be done fussing with the phyllo.

The meringue is a straightforward meringue, with brown sugar rather than white sugar, prepared just before serving. Kitchen Aid mixer made it easy to get the loft into the meringue in a hurry.
When it's time to assemble the servings, you put a triangle on a plate, top with some lemon curd, and then pipe meringue onto the curd.  In order to brown the meringue, they suggest using a torch, since using the broiler can melt the delicate curd.  This was a good excuse to buy a culinary torch ;-)  

This gadget is kind of like hardware store meets kitchen, and is a lot of fun, although frivolous.    Given the ice and snow still surrounding us, we did consider taking it outside to melt the ice dams in our gutters!
Once you have a layer of curd and browned meringue, you put on another layer of curd and meringue, brown that, and then top with another triangle.  Whew!  I liked it with just a single layer of curd and meringue, but did a few with all the layers and top "crust" just to see the full creation.

I think this recipe is an example of the pastry chef-style concotion - lots of work, and rather fussy, using an excess of different kitchen tools (double boiler, electric mixer, parchment, pastry bag, torch!). However, it does produce an impressive result.  I served this to my extended family for a Sunday dinner,  to lots of oohs and ahs.  I'm not sure I'd prepare the whole shebang all over again, but the recipe was solid, and all the pieces are parts are something that might be useful for a simpler creation some time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Crème Bruléed Chocolate Bundt - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 75th installment. The recipe is Crème Bruléed Chocolate Bundt.
The chocolate recipes are coming along in rapid succession...not sure how long I can maintain this pace ;-)
This recipe includes a chocolate bundt cake, which is made in the chiffon cake style including cocoa powder, oil, and stiffly beaten egg whites. I used a bit of dark cocoa as well as regular cocoa.

You also make a creme anglais - vanilla cream, cooked gently over hot water, with a vanilla bean for flavoring.    The cream chills for at least a couple of hours, or overnight.
To assemble the cake, you pile some Chambord-soaked raspberries into the center of the cake, drizzle the cream over the entire cake, sprinkle with sugar and then turn the cream into crème brulée by browning the sugar with a hand-held blowtorch.  Alas, I have no blowtorch, so I tried a couple of ways to do this - I sprinkled the cream with sugar and then browned it in a dish under the broiler.  It looked pretty, but then there was no attractive way to put it on the cake.  In the end, I decided the best way was to just drizzle the sauce (without browning) on the individual pieces of cake.  This was also more flexible since we weren't going to eat the entire cake in one sitting.  This cake was great - I would even consider making the cake on its own without the accessories

Marquise au Chocolat - TWD: Baking Chez Moi

Next installment of Tuesdays with Dorie, Baking Chez Moi.  The recipe is Marquise au Chocolat.
This is an extremely rich chocolate mousse, frozen in a loaf pan.  It was very quick to make and delicious.  The method was straightforward.  You do need to have eggs that you trust enough to eat raw, since they do not get cooked.  Melt chocolate and butter together, and then beat the eggs yolks with sugar until thick: 
Fold the chocolate into the egg mixture - you don't go crazy here, but just get it mostly combined:
Then you whip heavy cream with a bit more sugar, and fold that into the chocolate and egg mixture:
This step was a little challenging, as it didn't seem to want to blend, and I didn't want to knock all the air out of it.  Eventually it came together into a uniform color and texture:
The recipe calls for it to be packed into a large loaf pan lined with plastic wrap, and then frozen.  I knew I didn't have a crowd to eat it all at once, and I wanted more flexibility, so I divided it up among three mini loaf pans.  The recipe suggests some variations for making and serving, including putting crushed cookies into the mousse before freezing.  I made one loaf with Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, which tasted great, but kind of fractured when we cut it.  Perhaps making the larger loaf is better, because the structure is less likely to fall apart.  
I would like to figure out how to get it to pack into the pan a little more smoothly.  The plastic wrap created some wrinkles and gaps that look a little messy.  
 I also made the suggested Hard-Crack Chocolate Sauce from the book - it is semisweet chocolate melted with a bit of coconut oil, so that the hot sauce hardens immediately when it hits the frozen dessert.