Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Baking Powder Biscuits: TWD Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 63rd installment. The recipe is Baking Powder Biscuits.

Well, it's hard to go wrong with a Marion Cunningham recipe for a quick bread (although I still question the sunken muffins from a previous installment :-).  Her Breakfast Book is one of my staple cookbooks.
This recipe was quite easy, and the results were great.  It seemed to be a traditional method of rubbing in the butter, and then adding the liquid. Butter and gentle handling really make the biscuits better.  I don't usually put them next to each other, but it makes the sides softer, which was nice. 
Forget the artistic photos - here's what really happens to baked goods around here....

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Poppy Seed Torte: TWD Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 62nd installment. The recipe is Poppy Seed Torte.
This was an unusual recipe, so it was a fun change of pace.  It was quite different from any typical "American" style cake that I've baked - including:
  • 2 cups of poppy seeds ground in the coffee grinder
  • 1.5 cups of cake crumbs (and no other flour - it's a cake made from cake!)
  • 7 eggs
  • flavorings of cinnamon, lemon, and espresso
Here's what the poppy seeds plus cake crumbs looked like (I used pound cake from the grocery store....)

Butter, some sugar, and egg yolks get mixed, and then you alternate adding the mix of poppy seeds and cake crumbs with the seven (!!) stiffly beaten egg whites.  Here it is in the middle of that process:

It looked like a mess, but eventually came together.  After putting the batter in the pan, you top it with poached apricots, and then bake.  Once it comes out of the pan, you top the (now kind of shrunken) apricots with additional poached apricots that look nice and pretty.

Before baking
After baking, and before re-apricotting
The recipe was a bit fussy (lots of dirty bowls!) but we really liked the result.  It was great with coffee.  After the first taste, when we did find it not quite sweet enough, I put on the optional apricot jam glaze, and that was perfect. I bet it would be good with other fruit as well.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Vanilla Pound Cake: TWD Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 61st installment. The recipe is Vanilla Pound Cake.
This recipe was quite straightforward, and turned out well.  I had just attended a cake baking class at Flour bakery in Boston, so was inspired to add some vanilla seeds from a vanilla bean - I think it made the flavor a little better, but it would be good with an even more intense vanilla flavor next time. This is a large recipe and the dough gets very fluffy as you beat it:
 I think of pound cake as rather solid, but this dough was definitely full of air. 
 It mixed and baked exactly as described, and I was very happy when I got it out of the pan successfully (always a bit apprehensive of those ridges in the Bundt pan...).
It looks a little plain on the cake plate, but we ate it with tropical fruit on top (star fruit, mango, pineapple) during our World Cup viewing party, and then again the next day plain and with ice cream (yummy!)

Leaf-Shaped Fougasse: TWD Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 60th installment. The recipe is Leaf-Shaped Fougasse.
Another try at the Foccacia , this time with a fancier shape.  This was yummy, although, again, not as puffy and dimpled as I expected. I liked the fresh herbs and olive oil (no surprise), and it was useful to have a single edge razor tool (which I got from King Arthur Flour) for making the slashes.  This recipe also has you spray the inside of the oven - it wasn't clear that increased the humidity much.  In the past, I've used ice cubes in order to make moisture inside the oven (I think I got that from an older Julia Child book somewhere or other....). 

Before baking

Monday, June 30, 2014

Phylloccine Ice Cream Sandwiches: TWD Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 59th installment. The recipe is Phylloccine Ice Cream Sandwiches
For some reason, the phrase "from the sublime to the ridiculous" occurred to me as I went from Savory Wheat Crackers (totally minimalist) to Phyllocine Ice Cream Sandwiches (really wacky).    Phyllo + Fettuccine = Phyllocine :-)  Not an ice cream sandwich you can eat with your hands, but delicious anyway.
This turned out to be a pretty streamlined recipe, despite its appearance.  I was thrilled to not be handling entire sheets of phyllo - you unroll the package, remove the wrapping paper, re-roll and then cut crosswise into strips, to make fettuccine-like strands.  Not too difficult! Here are the "nests" on the baking sheets - you put a pile of fluffed-out phyllo strips on the baking sheet, and then splash with butter and sprinkle with sugar.  

After they bake, you put on some simple raspberry sauce and rasperries, then ice cream, and top with another "nest", throw on the whipped cream, and then spear it with a fruit skewer.   Here's the assembly line:

I would definitely try this one again because the flavors were delicious, and it looked fancy without being a ton of work.   My nests were a little bit dense - I think next time I will fluff and separate the strips a little more.
Whew - caught up with June...on to July....

Savory Wheat Crackers: TWD Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 58th installment. The recipe is Savory Wheat Crackers.

These were very easy, and the result was good.  I think I would like to try them again, because I like the idea of being able to whip up some crackers with simple ingredients, but they weren't as crisp as I wanted them to be. I tried to avoid overbaking them, but I think I underbaked as a result - it was difficult to know how long to keep them in the oven. 

The dough has a minimum of ingredients and was easy to roll out.  I didn't have the nigella seeds, so I used sesame, anise and poppy seed.  It seems like you could top them with anything (parmesan cheese?)

We ate these with cheese and hummus.  I did have to re-bake the ones I saved for the next day, as they became very soft.  Once they spent a few minutes in the oven, they were back to being crisp.
(This entry is in the 'better late than never department' - I actually baked these earlier this month, but life has been so hectic, I didn't get a chance to post until now.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tropical Napoleons: TWD Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 57th installment. The recipe is Tropical Napoleons.
This recipe was surprisingly easy - initially I wasn't too sure I wanted to make it, since I was short on time, but I, and the family were glad I did.  It's a good idea to watch the video, since that demystified the recipe for me.  The photo in the cookbook looked complicated, but the video make the process look easy. You use a template to spread out consistently shaped meringue disks, and then layer them with whipped cream and fruit.  Yummy!  Kind of like a differently shaped pavlova.   I made three variations - the one above with strawberries, mango, and kiwi, one with just strawberries, and one with only cream and wafers.  I didn't choose to stir coconut into the meringue, but I did make some wafers with coconut and sesame seeds on them.  It was a nice complement to the cream and fruit.

Based on bakers' comments on the Tuesdays with Dorie comments thread, I was ready to try various baking sheet options to see what would work.  I've experience the nightmare of sticking meringue before.  I tried 
  1. Silpat (silicone mat)
  2. greased and floured parchment
  3. greased and floured baking sheet.   
Surprisingly, Silpat was the worst.  I think it might have been the woven texture of the mat, which got in the way of it releasing. My favorite was either the greased and floured parchment (fussy, but easy because you could peel away the parchment) or the greased and floured baking sheet.  I was actually surprised that I was able to get the wafers off that one.  You MUST have a metal spatula with a thin, sharp edge to get under the wafers - these would be a major headache without it.