Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hazelnut Baby Loaves - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 92nd installment. The recipe is Hazelnut Baby Loaves.
Thank goodness for simple recipes - a nice interlude between complicated ones.  This cake is delicious, and I will definitely add it to the roster.  I was lucky to have a family gathering that coincided with my baking time, since it makes 8 large servings.  
The cake is kind of reminded me of a pound cake, but lighter.  Butter and sugar beaten until fluffy, and then you alternately fold in the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and ground hazelnuts) with the wet ingredients (creme fraiche, almond extract).  
Looks a little messy when in progress, but it does come together. 

The recipe calls for mini loaf pans (4.25" by 2.5"), which I don't own, so I used some small square ceramic pans, plus muffin tins for the rest of the batter. The muffin shapes weren't as attractive as the little squares, but gave a good portion size. 

I think the portion size called for by the recipe might be a bit large - these squares are smaller than the mini loaf pans would be, and with the cream topping, it was plenty for one person.   I'd like to try making it in a larger pan, so the serving sizes could be variable.

You serve the cakes topped with a conbination of whipped cream and mascarpone cheese (mmmmm). The cake would be very nice topped with fruit as well.  

Raspberry Swirls - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 91st installment. The recipe is Raspberry Swirls.
These are shown in the cookbook photo with chocolate/nutty side up, but I wondered if they were more attractive with the swirl showing.
This was the second recipe for October, and I got it baked (and eaten :-) but neglected to post about it.  November has caught me off guard, as my mind is still in August somewhere....
This was a fun one, and delicious as well.  It's included in the "Cakes for Occasions" section, and was a little bit fussy, but actually took less time than some of the more "casual" recipes.  I enjoyed the construction process.  
It starts with a basic Genoise (sponge) cake batter, which you bake in a greased and floured foil-lined jelly roll pan - this is the "Sheet Genoise" recipe from the "Batters and Doughs" chapter.  Once it's baked (8 minutes, because it's thin), you take it out of the pan and off the foil for cooking - peeling off the foil went OK, thanks to the grease and flour.
Once the cake is cooled, you cut it into four rectangles - each of these will be one roll.  The recipe calls for raspberry jam for the filling, and I did two rectangles with that, and two with our natural food store version of Nutella:

Rolled cake, not terribly round
Each rectangle gets rolled with a piece of parchment being used as a guide, and the baking sheet as a tool, you roll and press to get the roll wrapped firmly (hard to photograph - no free hands!).  Then, keeping the paper wrapped around the outside, you let the rolls sit for 30+ minutes. After they sits, you slice the rolls into inch-wide slices.  I am still wondering if I baked the cake too long - my rolls seemed kind of squashed, and the cake cracked significantly as a result of rolling - perhaps less baking would make it more flexible.
Slices ready for dipping

Each slice is dipped in a cocoa-based glaze (heavy cream, sugar, and cocoa in equal proportions!) and then in chopped pistachios and unsweetened shredded coconut.  The combination of vanilla cake, bittersweet chocolate glaze, crunchy toppings, and raspberry is wonderful.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tourte Milanese - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 90th installment. The recipe is Tourte Milanese.
 Another puff-pastry creation - this one was a fancy but also kind of rustic meat, cheese, vegetable and egg-filled pie called Tourte Milanese. The chef for this recipe is Michel Richard - I always love seeing those episodes with him and Julia together, as Michel Richard is so animated and funny, and Julia clearly is enjoying herself.
I used my own puff pastry for this, and assembled the ingredients  - the full pound of puff pastry, softly scrambled eggs (10 of them - yow!) with herbs,  roasted red peppers, sauteed spinach, sliced Swiss cheese and sliced ham.   Three-quarters of the pastry is rolled out, fitted into the buttered pan (8.5" springform), and then chilled to firm up.  The ingredients are layered in as a sort of mirror image, with eggs on top and bottom, spinach, ham, and cheese inside those, and peppers in the middle.  Pretty simple to put together, once you get all the prep work done.

Before baking

The remaining dough is fitted on top, and then egg wash applied.     You chill the assembled creation for 30-60 minutes, and then bake for an hour and a quarter (I think I went even a little longer), until puffed and golden.

After cooling for a short time, you run a knife around the edge and remove it from the pan.  I had a few struggles with this, as seen by the minor flaws on the edges of the unmolded torte, so perhaps this needed more butter on the pan (more butter?!).  Despite the imperfections (that's the "rustic" part :-), it was really quite yummy.  The tourte is big and would serve a crowd (we ate slices over the course of a week...) This would be a good choice for a brunch, since you can prepare it ahead, and use store-bought puff pastry as well.  The slices also have a bit of a "wow" factor with the different colorful layers.

Twice-Baked Brioche - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 89th installment. The recipe is Twice-Baked Brioche.
The title of this recipe just made me wonder - it sounds kind of boring (is this just zweiback?), but it produced a delicious result.  I wouldn't say that my Twice-Baked Brioche looked gorgeous, but it tasted amazing.  
You start with the basic brioche dough - same as with Savory Brioche Pockets, Pecan Sticky Buns, and Brioche Tart.  One really cool side effect of this recipe is that now I've made brioche dough enough times that it is starting to feel more routine.  It really gives the Kitchen Aid mixer a workout, but so far the mixer's been able to handle it.  I seem to consistently need to add additional flour  (between 1/2 cup and 1 cup) to get the right quality in the dough, "slapping" the sides of the bowl as the mixer goes around.  I'm not sure what the story is with that - the recipe says you may need to add a small Iamount of additional flour, but I always need more. 
You make small loaves out of the dough, mixing in dried cherries.  The recipe called for sour cherries, but I only could find sweet cherries, so I used those.  I also made a couple of loaves with chocolate chunks and a couple with chocolate AND cherries.   The recipe calls for 10 mini loaves, in pans that measure 4" by 2" (!!!).  I have a few mini loaf pans (not 10!) and they don't have those dimensions.  Talk about a mismatch of might be good to provide more appropriate directions for the home baker, since even if you had the right size pan, you would likely not have 10 of them.  I used the mini loaf pans I had, plus some small ceramic square "mini cake" pans, and then just guessed at the amount of dough for each.  It worked out pretty well. 

The dough gets shaped, and then is given a rise in the pans, followed by baking until lightly browned, which would be slightly underbaked if you were just going to eat them.

The additional two components of this are orange sugar syrup (boil sugar, water, orange juice and vanilla) and almond cream.   The almond "cream" does not actually have cream - you mix butter, almond paste, ground almonds, eggs, flour and almond extract into a sticky paste.Next steps are cutting edges off loaves to square them, and then dipping each side of each loaf into the orange vanilla syrup, to moisten the bread thoroughly.  Here's the result of that step.

At this point, you "frost" each moistened loaf with the almond cream, and sprinkle with a few sliced almonds. Here they are, ready to go into the oven. 
Bake on a parchment-lined sheet until golden brown (about 20 minutes) and you're done.  Wow!  These were so delicious.  And now I finally understand what the magical flavor is in those yummy almond croissants.
The recipe suggests that you use the syrup/almond cream treatment on just a slice of brioche (tried that - yum!) or croissants (fresh or stale).  I have some syrup and cream left, so I may give that a try - it sounds fabulous.

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 :-).