Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Brioche Tart with White Secret Sauce - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 88th installment. The recipe is Brioche Tart with White Secret Sauce.
This tart is delicious, and one of those desserts with a number of steps, although the result is not necessarily formal looking. The components are:

  • Brioche dough baked into a tart "crust" shape
  • White "secret sauce"
  • Fruit poached in carmelized sugar syrup
All this butter will be beaten into the dough!
This was a multi-day process - prepare brioche dough starter (yeast, milk, flour), let that rise, and then add in more flour, and mix up the dough, beating in lots of butter.  A power mixer is essential for this - the dough gets beaten for 15 minutes even before the butter is added, and then about 7 minutes to get the butter blended in.  The dough separates as you add the butter, but then magically comes back together. 

This dough rises for a couple of hours, and then you put it into the fridge overnight to continue rising.

The next day, half of this recipe of dough is made into a tart shape, which you then place inside a 10" ring (I used a springform pan, without the bottom panel).  The crust is allowed to rise for 45 minutes or so.
Next step is to pour in a custard consisting of creme fraiche and egg.  Onto that, you sprinkle sugar, which absorbs into the custard.  This is baked until the custard is set.  Myhich kind of crowded the custard into the center.

This is baked until the custard is set.  My crust puffed up quite a bit while rising, which kind of crowded the custard into the center.The toppings are a sabayon sauce-type sauce - egg yolks plus vanilla bean, whipped over hot water and then caramelized sugar syrup (with plenty of white wine is poured in and it is whipped further as it cools off.  Fold in some whipped cream, and that's the sauce.  Additional caramelized sugar and wine syrup is used to poach fruit - I used peaches, nectarines and plums, which were all available locally. 
I liked the opportunity to try something new - a bread dough used as a crust, and the syrup used for two purposes - poaching fruit and sweetening vanilla sauce.  A lot of work, but we really enjoyed the result. 
I used the second half of the brioche dough to make some loaves - one full size and one mini:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Pita Breads - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 87th installment. The recipe is Pita Breads.
I opened the book to the recipe for this week, Pita Breads, and found notes I had made from a previous time.  I think I must have baked this at the time I first got the book - I remember being fascinated by the video, seeing the way they puffed in the oven (more on that later....)
Sponge after rising and mixing in salt and olive oil
This recipe was very simple, although it needs time to rise.  You mix up a sponge using yeast, water, and whole wheat flour, and let that sit for 30 minutes to eight hours.  In this case, I didn't have eight hours, so I left it for three hours.  Once it's had time to sit, you stir in salt and olive oil, followed by all-purpose flour, and then a good 10 minutes of kneading. 

The dough rises for 2-3 hours, and then it's time to roll it out.  The batch of dough makes 16 breads, each about 6" or more.  You need to roll it fairly thin, but thanks to the long rising, kneading, and oil, this dough is fairly sturdy, and just needed a little flour to help keep it from sticking.  

I baked the rounds on the pizza stone, at 450 degrees, for just 3-5 minutes.  And I remember this from last time - some of them puffed wonderfully, and some did not.  I would love to know the secret of this so I can get it right every time!
We ate this bread wrapped around greek-flavored lamb and vegetables, and it was still good the next day for breakfast and lunch.  I stored it in a plastic bag to keep it soft.  Very good!  I would make this one again, although if anyone out there has got the secret to puffing pita bread, I want to hear it :-)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Miniature Florentine Squares - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 86th installment. The recipe is Minature Florentine Squares and/or Glazed Mini Rounds.
I almost got whiplash, going from Swedish Oatmeal Hardtack to these petit four-type pastries.  The surprise this week was how simple these actually were!   The pastries were really delicious, and it was fun to make mini cakes in two shapes, each of which had a different filling. 
These were two different variations on a tiny pastry, using the same cake as a base.  You bake a square or round cake out of Ladyfinger Genoise, which (apparently) is one of the sturdier Genoise recipes. It's the same batter you use to pipe out ladyfingers, and contained 2 eggs and 4 yolks, all within this 9" layer of cake.  It includes the step of beating air into the eggs+yolks until they "form a ribbon" - I have thought my ladyfingers were a bit flat in the past, so I took some extra time with this step to make sure the batter was really thick enough.  I wanted to try both shapes, so I baked a square (9") cake, and split it in two parts.
Once the cake is cooled, you split it horizontally into two thinner layers - I cut mine in half before that, so one half is designated for squares and one half for rounds.

Separate the two layers, and then brush the bottom layer of cake lightly with a mixture of sweet wine and sugar (I used an Apple "Ice Wine" that we bought locally).  Next, you spread on a layer of preserves, which had been pushed through a strainer to make it smooth (fussy, but I could see the reason for it).  The squares got red current jelly and the rounds got apricot preserves.

Put the top layer back on, so the preserves are now sandwiched in the middle.  The next step for the rounds is to cut 1 1/2" circles out of the cake (cutting rounds out of a rectangle left me with some cake scraps - really difficult to figure out what to do with those :-).  For both shapes, you apply a glaze made of white chocolate which has been melted by mixing in heavy cream which you've heated up. The white chocolate is so easily melted that you just pour the cream over and stir for a while, and you've got your glaze.  Spread the glaze over the rectangle cake, just on top, not worrying if a little drips.  For the rounds, you glaze each one individually, by putting some on the top and letting it run down the sides.  A bit more fussy, and my rounds don't look quite as polished as those in the cook book.  Once nice technique suggestion in the book was to put wax paper or parchment below, and scrape the dripped glaze up, push it through a strainer, and then use it to finish your glazing step - definitely less waste that way. 

At this point, you decorate and finish.  On the florentine squares, you pipe some chocolate in lines, lengthwise, and then draw an implement with thin points (I used a fork, but something as thin as a skewer would be better) crosswise to give the marbled appearance.  Once you've marbled the entire rectangle, you cut small squares out of it, using a very sharp knife and wiping it off between cuts to keep it as neat as possible.    With respect to the chocolate lines, the recipe called for melted milk and dark chocolates in alternating lines. My attempt to melt milk chocolate was a complete bust.  I tried to melt it in the microwave, and it just seized up and became hard and granular.  Applying more heat didn't help, and part of it actually burned.  I think my microwave method for semisweet chocolate (50% power for 2 minutes, checking and stirring as you go) needs some refinement when used for milk chocolate.  Having messed that up, I had no milk chocolate left, so I just piped dark chocolate.

The rounds get piped with lines or dots of chocolate, and decorated with candied violets.  I skipped that ingredient, although if we'd had violets in the yard, I might have been crazy enough to try candying them :-).

Swedish Oatmeal Hardtack - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 85th installment. The recipe is Swedish Oatmeal Hardtack.
(Running late on this blog - I'm getting the baking done with the BWD group schedule, but not the blogging :-)
This recipe made a nice 'oatey', slightly sweet cracker, and I loved the change of pace of making something with very few ingredients.  They include shortening, butter, sugar, oats, flour and buttermilk, with a little salt and baking soda.
The method was quite simple - cream the shortening, butter and sugar, and then add the mixed dry ingredients plus buttermilk.  You chill for a half hour, and then roll out the dough on a greased cookie sheet.  I got a thickness of between 1/8 and 1/4 inch.

"Pebble" the dough with a hardtack rolling pin (ok, didn't have one of those :-) or a fork, use a pastry wheel to cut the dough into rectangles, and then bake for a total of about 10 minutes.

You need to watch carefully to be sure they don't overbrown - even rolling helps it brown evening, but inevitably, the edges get a little browner, which I like.    I will definitely make these again - they were wonderful with cheese, soup, salad, or by themselves as a snack.  I might try rolling them slightly thinner, as the middle pieces were more flaky/chewy than crisp, and I liked the crunchy parts the best, both for flavor and texture.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

White Chocolate Patty Cake - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 84th installment. The recipe is White Chocolate Patty Cake.

I read the title of this and thought "oh, sheesh, white chocolate...", but then I watched the video and  it sold me on making the cake.  The interchanges between Julia and Marcel Desaulniers are very entertaining, and he just made the recipe look good.  We enjoyed the cake a lot - I might even make it again some time.
One thing that he emphasized was to get good white chocolate that contains cocoa butter.  I got a big block of Callebaut white chocolate, and wow - it tasted better than I expected.  Maybe I really DO like white chocolate :-)
The cake method was nothing really unusual - beat egg yolks (10 of them! yow!) and sugar, add melted chocolate and butter to that mixture and then fold in stiffly beaten egg whiles (6 of those). It baked in two layers and is a somewhat dense, rather than fluffy, cake.

You make a "raspberry crush" (love the name) of frozen raspberries in light syrup and lemon juice, and that is used to top each layer as you sandwich them together.  The whole thing is topped with fresh raspberries, making it look very special (hey, it's in the "cakes for occasions" section of the book...).

Now the wacky part - balloons coated with chocolate!  In order to make little chocolate cups, you blow up small balloons (I bought "water balloons" from the local 5&10) and dip them in a bowl of melted chocolate.

After chilling, pop the balloons and peel the balloon pieces out of the chocolate bowl. This worked OK, although it was pretty toasty in the house, so we needed to freeze the bowls before the balloon scraps would peel away. The suggested way to serve a piece of cake is with a chocolate bowl of raspberries along side, but it seemed perfect for a little scoop of vanilla ice cream under those berries.  Yum!


Savory Puffs - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 83rd installment. The recipe is Savory Puffs.

This recipe was a twist on the normal cream puff recipe - a savory puff with savory fillings.  The cream puff recipe was very straightforward (beating eggs into the hot pan with a wooden spoon), with the unusual additions of onion juice, cucumber juice, and dill.  I made the juices by pressing shredded vegetables, since I don't have a juicer.
Here's the cream puff batter during mixing:

The puffs are piped onto a baking sheet in mini form - either eclair-shaped or round dollop.  I still find it a little challenging to manage the puff batter in a pastry bag - it always seems to sag more than I want, and the shapes are a little wacky and irregular.  Maybe I need more practice :-)

The puffs baked up pretty nicely, and then you split them and fill with savory fillings.  The book has recipe for smoked salmon mousse, and vegetable marscapone.  I like the salmon mousse filling, which was intense.  The vegetable marscapone was lighter - mine seemed a little wet with all the chopped vegetables.  The puffs definitely need to be served shortly after filling, so they don't get soggy.

Overall, a fun recipe, and I think I might try it again sometime for an appetizer course.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fruit Focaccia - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 82nd installment. The recipe is Fruit Focaccia.

I loved this bread, and will definitely want to make it again.  It also got rave reviews from family members who like dried fruit (the chocolate crowd didn't even try it :-)

The first step was to start the fruit soaking in hot water, for three hours, or longer if you like.  The suggested mixture is a total of 3 2/3 cups (wow!), two parts dried cranberries to one part golden raisins.  I used a mix of jumbo raisins in different colors (golden, red, purple). Then, the fruit soaking liquid is used to make the simple dough - yeast, fruit "juice" from soaking, flour, salt, orange rind, and honey.  After kneading the dough ingredients in the power mixer, you add a couple of tablespoons of butter, keep mixing, and then add the soaked fruit.  What a mess it was...I wish I had photographed it at its most unattractive.  But somehow, the fruit was eventually incorporated, and then the dough rises in a bowl for three hours.

After deflating the dough, the next step is chilling for 24 hours in the fridge.  After that, you press the dough out into a jelly roll pan, and let ir rise for three hours (long enough to come to room temperature and start to rise).  Brush with egg glaze so it will be shiny, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar (I got this at the grocery store, labelled "Sugar in the Raw").

Here's the finished bread - enormous!  Good thing it keeps well - it is still good two days later.  If there's still some left in another day, I'll try toasting it.