Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake - TWD: Baking Chez Moi

Next installment of Tuesdays with Dorie, Baking Chez Moi.  The recipe is Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake.
Given that we had a snowfall on the way, which always makes once think of stockpiling food, it seemed like a good idea to whip this up on Friday evening in preparation for the weekend.  Thinking that Friday night baking frenzy before a storm makes "perfect sense" is just another symptom of baking obsession, but hopefully fellow bakers get what I mean.

I like Dorie's description in Baking Chez Moi of a "weekend cake" being a cake that you can eat over the course of the weekend - as a late morning pick-me-up, or late afternoon snack.   Also found it interesting that the French refer to "le weekend" - using the English word instead a French one.
I think I'm digressing....

This was easy enough to bake on a Friday night after work, and we were indeed glad to have it in the house on the snowy weekend.   It was easy to make, and came out exactly as expected.  It kind of reminded me of the Lemon Loaf Cake from Baking with Julia, since it has heavy cream in it. You melt, and brown the butter - tricky, since you need to watch like a hawk.  My butter didn't really get all that brown, since I took it off the burner fairly quickly.  The recipe also includes the seeds from an entire vanilla bean, although you can use vanilla extract instead.  Overall, it is a very straightforward recipe - I think I had it in the oven within 30 minutes from starting to prepare it.  The cake is delicious, and I will definitely make it again.  I might try browning the butter a bit more, to see if I can get more of that browned butter flavor.  We ate the last slices while sitting out the beginning of our second snowstorm in a week - the big East Coast blizzard.  Good thing we had cake to get us through the crisis :-)

Eastern European Rye - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 73rd installment. The recipe is Eastern European Rye.
What a relief to bake rye bread after fussing with phyllo in the previous installment!  This was relatively easy, and fairly similar to the Pumpernickel Loaves we did in November 2013, although with fewer flavoring ingredients than that one.  The ingredients were fairly straightforward including yeast, rye flour, bread flour, ground caraway seeds and whole caraway seeds.  I watched the video on the PBS site where she makes the Pumpernickel bread, to review how she does the shaping, because, again, the description in the book was confusing.  There's a step where she flattens out each end of the roll in turn, and then tucks it way inside the center by stuffing it in with her hand - I wonder if that's what gives the end its rounded shape (?).  
It didn't look all that gorgeous after shaping :-)

Here are the loaves hanging in their towels - just like the Pumpernickel, I still didn't punch a hole in the towel to hang them from an S hook, despite the recommendation in the recipe.  They did just fine with the towel corners tied.  I wonder if hanging them also helps them get rounder.
I baked them on the baking stone, with water and ice cubes thrown on the floor of the oven, and they did bake up quite nicely, and kept well for a few days.  We used them the first night for Reuben sandwiches...yummy.....

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Granola Energy Bars - TWD: Baking Chez Moi

Next installment of Tuesdays with Dorie, Baking Chez Moi.  The recipe is Granola Energy Bars.
I hadn't planned on preparing this recipe (still reeling from the busy-ness of December :-), but then I looked at the Tuesdays with Dorie site today and saw the links and comments from the group on how easy this recipe is, and figured I could whip it up after work with ingredients on hand.
I'm so glad I did!  It's basically a recipe for homemade granola bars, something I've tried to make a couple of times before.  I've never really found a recipe that's just right before, but I really like this one. This will be a great snack to have on hand for our post-holiday withdrawal - sweet, but grainy and nutty too.  And it was indeed, very easy.

You lightly toast 2 cups of rolled oats and 1 cup of nuts.  She suggests sliced almonds, pepitas and sunflower seeds - I used sliced almonds and roughly chopped macadamia nuts and hazelnuts, because that's what I had on hand.   Mix in dried fruit (1 cup) and coconut, and a bit of salt.   Here's the dry mixture:

Next, you boil together a bit of butter and some brown rice syrup (the secret ingredient to make the bars hold together!), and then pour it over the dry mixture.  Press that into a parchment lined pan, and then bake.  It has to cool completely before cutting.  I will definitely try this one again - planning to experiment with different combinations of fruits and nuts.  It looks like some of the other bakers in the group have tried chocolate - sounds like a bit of a trick to figure out how to get the chocolate chips or chunks in there and not melt them with the hot syrup.  I'll just have to experiment....

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Inside-Out, Upside-Down Tirami Sù - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 72nd installment. The recipe is Inside-Out, Upside-Down Tirami Sù.
We enjoyed this dessert with our New Year's Day feast. The family gave it rave reviews, which made all the fussing with phyllo worth it.  

It has the flavors of Tirami Su, but in different form. You make a sabayon, and combine that with whipped cream and marscapone cheese, for the creamy component. The coffee flavor comes from a coffee granita - combine espresso, water and milk, freeze it and then scrape into shavings with a spoon.  The shell is phyllo - butter and sugar half a sheet of phyllo, and then scrunch it into a disk. The recipe calls for baking them in buttered and sugared 4" cake pans.  I ddin't have those, so used a combination of english muffin rings and tart shells, which were about the right size.

Here are the pans ready for baking.

The phyllo was a little bit fussy to work with. I had trouble peeling the layers apart. I had thawed it in the refrigerator overnight, and then on the counter for a few hours, but I'm still not sure what I could do differently to make it easier. I have no idea if my disks were done correctly, since there was no video to watch - I just kind of folded and squished it into a circle.

The phyllo came from a local Greek deli, which had a whole variety of different types of frozen phyllo - I got "#7" (need to look that up to understand what it means!).

We had leftovers on the following couple of days, although the recipe is correct in saying that the cream and granita do not keep well for very long.

Onward to more phyllo adventures in the future....