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.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Scallop and Pesto Purses: TWD Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 56th installment. The recipe is Scallop and Pesto Purses.

This was a phyllo-handling success story (unlike the summer vegetable tart from a previous installment).  I bought phyllo at an Armenian grocery store, where I had a choice of four different kinds (!).  I think it was relatively fresh, and ended up being easy to handle.   These were layers of two sheets, sandwiched together with butter and shredded parmesan cheese, cut into smaller rectangles, and then each rectangle wrapped around a scallop topped by a dollop of pesto and some scallions.  

I got the packages assembled, and tied with buttered strings, as specified.  Once I bundled them up, some cracks formed in the bottom folds, which was worrisome, as I thought it might allow the contents to leak out.  I put them in the fridge for a few hours, and then baked them as specified, for 20 minutes.  I thought the result was OK - good brown crispy phyllo on top, and good savory flavor.  The soggy bases of the "purses" were kind of disappointing, although not surprising - the phyllo doesn't seem dense enough to keep in the liquid of a scallop.  I did dry the scallops before wrapping, but maybe there's some other way to make them not release so much liquid (or maybe the filling could be something less moist.  It seems like this kind of appetizer would be nicer if you could pick it up and eat it, rather than using a plate and fork.    I wasn't sure if the strings were really needed - they were fussy to attach and remove, and squeezing together the top of the purse seemed to form a seal. 

Now to figure out what to do with the rest of the phyllo dough.... :-)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cantuccini: TWD Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 55th installment. The recipe is Cantuccini.
Almond biscotti - can't get enough of them :-)  I didn't even have to shop to bake these -  I was able to make them with what I had on hand.   They were really easy, and I love the fact that the recipe made so many of them. I cut them to the 1/4" width recommended, which is on the thin side compared with some biscotti I have made. They are very crunchy, as described in the recipe - perfect for dipping in coffee or milk. 

Kneading the sticky dough on a board

I found the dough rather sticky to knead and shape.  After reading the P&Q on the TWD site,  I wondered if I should use two eggs instead of three eggs, but I stuck with the recipe and used three.  I used a lot of flour to knead and shape.  I'm not sure if it would help to use fewer eggs - maybe they wouldn't rise the same way.  I'm also not sure why the kneading had to be done on a board...maybe it folds air into them (?).

Logs after baking

The logs seemed a little flattish, but they sliced up and baked up nicely.  It was good advice to let the logs cool thorough, and it helps to use a serrated knife for slicing. 
Slices ready for second round of baking