Pear and Butterscotch Cobbler and a BOOK GIVEAWAY!

November 11, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in biscuits & scones, breakfast things, sweet things | 9 Comments
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pear and butterscotch cobbler

I’ve found that a lot of people shy away from making one type of dough or another.  Some people claim, “Oh, I don’t do pie dough,” while others say, “I stay away from yeast.”  When my friends at Quirk Books asked me if I wanted to help celebrate the release of their new book, Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries by Russell van Kraayenburg, of course I jumped at the chance.  Russell writes the gorgeous blog Chasing Delicious, and that guy can bake.  His new book is full of tips and information to make a rainbow of doughs including: scone, biscuit, pie, shortcrust, sweetcrust, choux, brioche, puff, croissant, Danish and phyllo.  Whatever your personal dough demon is, you can work through it with this book.  Russell gives a master dough recipe for each type (which he explains by using easy ratios) and then several recipes using the various doughs.

For me, biscuits were my dough nemesis until a few years ago, when I worked at a bakery and had to crank out trays of breakfast pastries every morning at 6 am.  After all that practice, now I own those suckers!  I was super pleased to give Russell’s biscuit dough a try as part of Quirk’s Biscuit Week Challenge.  I spied a plum cobbler recipe in his book and couldn’t get the thought out of my head– sweet, soft fruit under a tender, cakey, slightly savory biscuit crust.  When I remembered a few Bartlett pears and a bit of homemade butterscotch sauce in the fridge, a light blub went on in my head and I was inspired to make a Pear and Butterscotch Cobbler using up my odds and ends and Russell’s biscuit dough.  He’s even put together a video to show step-by-step how to make perfect biscuits. Because the dough is dropped on the fruit here, instead of rolled and cut, a tender cobbler topping is almost guaranteed, even if you think you’re dough-challenged.

The kind folks at Quirk Books sent me a copy of Making Dough,  and now I want to send a copy to one of you!  Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Tuesday, November 17 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you if you’re chosen.

Pear and Butterscotch Cobbler– serves 4 to 6 
inspired by (and using) a recipe in Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries by Russell van Kraayenburg

Notes: If you don’t already have butterscotch sauce on hand, you can approximate the flavors here with 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, a pinch of salt and 1 tbsp of butter cut into little bits.  Toss with the pears and other filling ingredients.

1 1/2 pounds firm-ripe Bartlett or Bosc pears
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided
1 tbsp rum (optional)
1/4 c plus 2 tbsp homemade butterscotch sauce (I used this one)
1/2 recipe of Russell’s prepared biscuit dough
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

 tbsp brown sugar

– Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat oven to 400°F.

– Peel and core the pears and cut each into large chunks.  In a medium bowl, gently toss the pear chunks with cornstarch and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon.  Add the rum, if using, and butterscotch sauce and toss just to coat. (Your butterscotch sauce will work best here if it’s room temperature or barley warm.)

– Turn the fruit mixture into a 1-quart baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and keep oven on.

– Pinch off small handful-size clumps (about 2″ in diameter) of the prepared biscuit dough and scatter them on top of the filling so that the clumps touch.  Be careful as your baking dish will be hot!

– Lightly brush the biscuit clumps with melted butter (I dabbed with a pastry brush) and sprinkle with the 1 tbsp brown sugar and remaining 1/4 tsp cinnamon.

– Bake for another 20 minutes, until the biscuits are golden and the filling is bubbly.  Cool to warm or room temperature before serving.

Please note that the publisher, Quirk Books, sent me a copy of this book.

***Giveaway Winner Update: I used to generate a random comment number to find the winner. Congratulations to Anne!  I’ll be in touch soon.***

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Twice-Baked Brioche

September 15, 2015 at 5:52 pm | Posted in breakfast things, BWJ, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 5 Comments
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twice-baked brioche

After making the dough for Nancy Silverton’s Brioche Tart with White Secret Sauce, I had enough of it leftover for a brioche loaf to tuck into the freezer.  Twice-Baked Brioche, or bostock, is just the thing to make with extra brioche, especially if it’s a little stale.  It’s the brioche equivalent of an almond croissant.  Take slices of brioche, douse them in a orange flavored syrup, smear them with almond fangipane and sprinkle them with sliced almonds.  Then pop them in the oven until toasty brown.

With a cup of strong coffee in the morning or warm, with a little scoop of ice cream for dessert, this is really good…yup, really good.  Going on the repeat list.  I may even keep a little pot of frangipane in the freezer to have on hand whenever I crave bostock.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Granola Energy Bars

January 13, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, breakfast things, cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 20 Comments
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granola energy bars

Granola and yogurt is my standard weekday morning brekkie.   It’s fast, it’s easy and I like it.  Sometimes I add a banana to jazz it up but, all in all, I keep it all pretty plain, so it’s fairly healthy.  A lot of store-bought granola is anything but, with loads of sugar and add-ins.  Store-bought granola bars are usually the same way…more like candy bars than healthy snacks.  I eat enough sugar for dessert, so I try to avoid those “extra” sweets during the day.  If you wanna control what goes in it, I guess you gotta make it yourself!

These Granola Energy Bars are loaded with nuts, seeds, dried fruit (I used raisins, cherries and apricots) and oats, of course, bound together with brown rice syrup.  I think the brown rice syrup helps keep the bars chewy, too, but corn syrup or golden syrup would be likely substitutes if you can’t find it easily.  These were a cinch to make, and I feel good about what went into them.  And they’re filling, too, if you just need a little something to hold you over.

I bought the brown rice syrup at the health food store just for this recipe, so I’m not sure what I’ll do with the rest of the jar…apart from making more granola bars.  Perhaps I’ll tweak the recipe to make my own homemade, fresh version of the candy bar kind with mini chocolate chips and peanuts, for dessert, of course.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll and please join us, if you haven’t already!

TWD BWJ Rewind: Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Loaf

December 30, 2014 at 12:42 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 5 Comments
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cranberry-walnut pumpkin loaf

Happy New Year!  This time last year, I resolved to do a better job of using up odds and ends in the kitchen.  I’ve done a pretty good job with that in 2014, and, in fact, this Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Loaf from Steve Sullivan used up some leftover pumpkin puree and cranberries I had hiding in the freezer.  Of course, now I have half a loaf of bread in freezer instead, so maybe it’s actually a wash for the time being.

The group made this bread back in the fall of 2012, and two years later I don’t remember why I skipped out on it at the time.  When I hear “pumpkin bread,” I usually think of a quick bread, but this is actually a yeasted loaf.  It’s a bit like a lean brioche with a bit of pumpkin puree (I used canned) mixed in, along with fresh cranberries, walnuts and raisins.  I imagine you could play around with those add-ins a bit.

I changed two things when I made this bread.  First, the recipe calls for an overnight rest in the refrigerator, followed by a lengthy stay on the counter the next day to come back up to room temp.  I, of course, did not properly familiarize myself with the recipe before I jumped in, so I was totally unprepared for that.  Instead of the fridge rest, I gave it a second countertop rise (a little over an hour) in the bowl before shaping it and giving it it’s final proof.  Second, the recipe divides the dough into three mini loaf pans.  I don’t have those pans, so I cut the recipe in half and made a medium-sized loaf (8″x4″) instead.  I got a nice, tall loaf so thankfully my changes didn’t do anything bad to the dough.

I like this bread!  It doesn’t taste much of pumpkin, but the puree gives it a pretty golden-orange color.  And the pops of cranberries, raisins and walnuts are nice.  It makes good cinnamon toast, like we had it here, for breakfast.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll to see if anyone else did a rewind this week, and see the links page from the Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Loaf week a couple of years ago!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Sunny-Side up Apricot Pastries

October 7, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, BWJ, general pastry, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 14 Comments
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sunny-side up apricot pastires

Michel Richard is a chef with a sense of humor.  Case in point, these cute Sunny-Side Up Apricot Pastries.  At first glance, they’re fried eggs on toast.  At first bite, they’re poached fruit and pastry cream on top of crispy puff pastry.

Before you can have these for breakfast (or for dessert, if you are like I am and this is too much to process in the morning), you have to make pastry cream and poach fruit.  I’d take care of these a day in advance.  You also have to deal with the puff pastry situation and decide if you are going to buy it or make it.  I’ve worked in restaurant and bakery kitchens for more than 10 years now…while not every place I’ve worked has made puff from scratch, a few of them have, so I’ve laminated me some dough.  Frankly, it can be a pain in the neck (literally). On a large scale, those of us with no upper body strength (who me?) struggle to roll a ginormous batch by hand if there isn’t a dough sheeter.  If the kitchen’s too hot, butter oozes everywhere.  It’s often a rush-job because no one bothers to mention that they took the last sheets from the freezer and left me with nothing for the day’s production.  But, I’ve made this very puff pastry dough recipe at home before–I actually chose it several years ago when I hosted a Daring Bakers Challenge— and I know that it’s not hard at all, especially if you make it a day or two before you need it and the temps are relatively cool.  If you are on the fence, a half-batch is super-approachable, doesn’t take too much counter space to roll and will give you plenty of puff for treats.  And if you’re still on the fence, just get a nice store-bought one….I do it all the time, so no judgments.

puff pastry dough

Apricots aren’t in season here anymore, so I had planned to just use canned ones instead (and also skip the recipe’s poaching step).  Then at the Greenmarket this weekend, I saw that nectarines are still around, so I picked out a few of the smallest “apricot-sized” ones and went ahead with those.  I gave them a gentle poach and left their skins on.  I thought they were pretty, but they kind of wrinkled up in the oven.  Next time they’re coming off.  Next time I’ll also leave the puff a little fatter than the book indicates.  I think the recipe says to roll it too thin, so while the front and back ends puffed nicely, the sides were a little flatter than I would have liked.  Super crispy, though.

These were delicious, and a fun weekend kitchen project.  I’ll make them again, especially since I have extra homemade puff in the freezer now.  Here’s a document that I typed up about making puff pastry for my DB Challenge back in 2009…somewhere near the end are some tips and suggestions.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). There’s a video of the BWJ episode showing how to make both the puff pastry dough and the pastries. Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Baking Powder Biscuits

August 19, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in biscuits & scones, breakfast things, BWJ, groups, tuesdays with dorie | 15 Comments
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baking powder biscuits

Marion Cunningham’s Baking Powder Biscuits were good for breakfast, and also good for dessert, all dressed up like shortcakes.  These were easy to make.  I didn’t want to do an all shortening biscuit like the recipe called for, so I swapped out half of it for butter.  I rubbed my shortening/butter and dry ingredients together the night before and stashed the mix in a container in the fridge…in the morning I just had to work in the milk.  They didn’t rise as high as I wished they would have (maybe I should have patted them out less? or maybe they really do work best with all shortening?), but they were very tender, not dense at all.  I made square biscuits instead of round, just so I didn’t have to deal with scrap and reroll.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here)  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.

TWD BWJ Rewind: Sweet Berry Fougasse

July 29, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, BWJ, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 9 Comments
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sweet berry fougasse

I went from no fougasse ever to two fougasses (or is the plural Fugazi?) in one month.  The group made Craig Kominiak’s Sweet Berry Fougasse back in September of last year, but we were given a choice of two things and I skipped it to make muffins instead.  When we did Leaf-Shaped Fougasse a couple of weeks ago, it dawned on me that I could also make enough focaccia dough to turn the extra into the Sweet Berry Fougasse for this week’s make-up.  Know what that’s called?  That’s called strategery.

With the dough ready-made (I had it frozen and took it out the night before baking to thaw in the fridge) and blueberries and raspberries from the greenmarket, all I had to do to put this together was mix up a little sweet streusel topping and turn on the oven.  This was good…it made a fine breakfast treat without the little twinge of shame that I have when I start the day with half a pound of butter.  I pretty much want every coffee cake or muffin I eat to have streusel on it, so it was nice on bread, too, and helped sweeten up the juicy berries.  I probably wouldn’t bother to make this from scratch start-to-finish, but more likely if I have some extra focaccia dough on my hands again.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (a version is also here and there’s a video here that includes Kominiak making all things focaccia and fougasse).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll to see the other recipes folks revisited this week (and the Blogroll from September)!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Potato Lefse

April 1, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, BWJ, groups, pancakes & waffles, tuesdays with dorie | 22 Comments
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potato lefse

I didn’t really know much about Potato Lefse before Beatrice Ojakangas’s TWD recipe of the week.  I quizzed my half-Norwegian friend, and she told me that they are kind of like crêpes and that there’s also a non-potato variety.  She said she’s never made them herself, but buys premade ones and reheats them.  Ha–looks like I’m one up on you now, Karen!  That was mean…I should invite her over for leftovers and see what she thinks.

Making the lefse dough was easy.  It basically starts with super-smooth mashed potatoes that you air dry in the fridge overnight.  Then the next day, you knead flour into the mash and divide the dough into pieces.  Shaping and cooking the dough is where it gets tricky.  There are a whole host of special tools that  hard-core lefse enthusiasts use– a grooved rolling pin and a cloth-covered round board to roll the dough, a big, flat round griddle to cook the lefse on and a long, flat wooden stick to lift and flip them.  Darn, I don’t have any of that stuff.  I poked around the cabinets to see what I could use instead.  This is what I came up with: my regular rolling pin and my Silpat to roll the dough, and a flat cast iron crêpe pan and stick that I have.  It would have been easier to cook these with another person, so one could roll the lefse dough balls while the other cooked them off.  By myself, it was kind of a process, but I got better as I moved along.  My crêpe pan is only 11″ wide, as opposed to 16″ for a lefse pan, so I divided my dough into 16 balls instead of 12.  With plenty of flour, I was able to get them rolled nice and thin on the Silpat.  I didn’t even need that stick to lift them off…I was just kind of able to flip and peel them onto my hand, tortilla-style.  They cooked up perfectly and got nice speckles on the crêpe pan, and the stick came in handy for flipping them.

potato lefse

Apparently, much like a crêpe, you can wrap lefse around lots of fillings (even hot dogs–gotta try that!), but we went the sweet route for breakfast, with butter and cinnamon sugar on some an lingonberry jam on others.  They do taste slightly potatoey, but it’s a pleasant earthiness that was surprisingly nice with the sweet fillings. For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  As Sandra pointed out there’s a video of Beatrice making lefse alongside Martha Stewart.  Beatrice uses slightly different measurements than she does in the book, but it’s a great watch for the process of making, shaping and cooking the dough.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Buttermilk Scones

March 4, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in biscuits & scones, breakfast things, BWJ, groups, tuesdays with dorie | 18 Comments
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buttermilk scones

In order for me to get most breakfast pastries on the table for anything even resembling acceptable breakfast time, I usually have to get started the night before.  While I’m still in my jammies, I’m a disorganized mess.  I generally can’t handle measuring, mixing, baking and cleaning all before I’ve had my Chemex of coffee…so for something like scones, I get the dough made the night before and just set the pieces on a sheet tray in the fridge overnight to bake in the morning.  Always works great.  For some reason, though, I decided last minute to make Marion Cunningham’s Buttermilk Scones on Saturday morning instead of Sunday, and thankfully they came together really easily the morning of.  By the time the oven was preheated, I had the dough made and cut and the dishes (only a few) washed.  I actually used my KitchenAid to mix the scones, since I got used to doing them that way at the shop I worked for up until October.  I just kept a close eye on the size of the butter bits, and then skipped the extra hand-kneading Marion gave hers at the end.  These scones were delicate, just sweet enough, great with jam and easy to make.  This recipe’s definitely going to be made again.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here).  And there’s even a video of Julia and Marion making these together (there’s an interesting option shown using a rolled dough technique…I may try that next time).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Onion Bialys

February 11, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, BWJ, groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 15 Comments
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onion bialys

A toasted bialy with salty butter is my idea of a very fine breakfast.  I’m sure a number of my fellow Americans have never heard of a bialy– I hadn’t before I moved to New York City.  Then after about six years of living here, someone *finally* brought a sack of them in from Kossar’s at the first restaurant I worked for, and I was hooked.  I now know that I can find bialys at almost every bagel shop in the city, but they’re usually pulled out of a plastic bag, and I get the feeling that they aren’t made fresh in-house.  To get my fix, I stock up at Kossar’s anytime I have errands to run on the Lower East Side.  I was pumped to be making Lauren Groveman’s Onion Bialys for TWD this week!  BTW, I feel like every other week we’re making another recipe from Lauren Groveman…

I’d call bialys cousins of the bagel, although they are not boiled, they are flatter than bagels (despite the fact that mine came out looking like balloons), and instead of holes they have awesome caramelized onion-filled centers…so on second thought, even though they have a similar dough, they are really not really like bagels at all.  Speaking of the dough, it was soft and lovely (I didn’t need all the flour called for) and easy to work with.  Of course my bialys took off in the oven, but I’m sure it was my fault.  I did prick the heck out of the centers, but next time I’ll hand stretch them a little more, too.  I don’t really care– they tasted great and had perfect texture.  Fresh from the oven, they are even better than Kossar’s!

For the bialy recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

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