Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 71st installment. The recipe is Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps.

This was one of those few recipes without a photo in the book, leaving me wondering if mine were turning out correctly.  It's a thin wafery (but soft) cocoa cookie, sandwiched together with chocolate mint ganache.  How could I go wrong? ;-)  The ganache recipe has you soak fresh mint in the hot cream, and then pour over chopped chocolate, and I used peppermint extract instead, since I had no fresh mint on hand.   I was too time-strapped to watch the video (yes, too time-strapped to watch a few minute online video - that sounds insane ;-) so I just guessed at the "nightcap" shape for the ganache decoration on top, based on the description in the book.  Looking forward to seeing other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers' versions of this!

The cookies seemed a little floppy (visible in the photo above) - I think I was expecting something crisp, rather than spongy.  So, I'm not quite sure I got this to match what the recipe writer was looking for.  They are pretty yummy, especially the ganache part (of course!)
Cookies after baking

Mixed-Starter Bread - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 70th installment. The recipe is Mixed-Starter Bread.

This recipe was a French-style bread dough, made in several stages over two days.  It was delicious, and kept quite well, which I find is the case when the bread has a slower start and rise. You start with a small piece of dough, soak it in water, and add add a small amount of flour, and that is the first starter.  It rises for eight hours, at which point you put that starter into water, soften it for a few minutes and then add another small amount of flour.  This rises for four hours.  

At this point, it is very liquid and bubbly:

Now it's time to turn it into dough, with a small quantity of yeast (just 1/2 teaspoon), plenty of flour and salt.   This rises for 1.5 hours, and then you can shape and have the final rise before baking.  I tried several shapes - the basic baguette, the "wheat ear" (having not watched the video, I was just winging it in terms of the cuts to make the shape!) and the mini "Pain Fendu", with a channel down the middle, kind of baking up like two skinny short baguettes.  Here they are, on the peel, after rising, and before going in the oven:
Baked it on the baking stone, with a cast iron skillet of water in the oven, per the directions.  We really liked the bread!  I'm not sure if it's better than the speedier French bread recipe we did earlier - I'd need to try them side-by-side to know for sure.
I was glad the recipe included a time table, so I was guided on how to split this over the two days.  It wasn't a lot of hands-on time, but I did need to be time conscious in order to keep on top of getting the steps done without staying up too late the first night.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Cranberry Crackle Tart - TWD: Baking Chez Moi

Here's the next installment of Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi - Cranberry Crackle Tart.
This was fluffy, tasty and  easy!  I've never made a pie with cranberries as the main fruit.  Dorie suggests two possible crusts you can use - I chose the Galette dough, which is a lot like an American pie crust, and mixed in the food procesor.  You roll it out, put it in the pan, and then use a pastry wheel to cut the edge off down below the rim of the pie pan, so you're making a tart with a low edge, inside a regular pan (I was glad it didn't call for a special pan for this - I may use this technique for future tart baking)  Pre-bake the crust (I used pie weights to keep it from puffing up), and then spread it with jam.  I found a strawberry/raspberry/cranberry jam, and used that:

Next, you whip up meringue, mix in cranberries, and pile that on top of the jam. I use the stand mixer with whisk attachment for meringue, and it is pretty reliable. Meringue is fun to play with, making swirls on top of the pie....


It bakes for a fairly long time at a low temperature. I'm not quite sure if I baked it long enough, but it seemed like the right consistency inside.   

We had many desserts already lined up for the Thanksgiving dinner, so had this as a pre-Thanksgiving treat.