French Fridays with Dorie: Gâteau Basque

August 1, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Posted in french fridays with dorie, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things | 20 Comments
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gâteau Basque

Somehow I almost never miss a week of TWD but I hadn’t made an FFWD recipe in like forever.  When I saw that Gâteau Basque was up, I thought it would be a good time to pop back around and say hello.  Not surprisingly, Gâteau Basque is a traditional pastry of the French Basque Country.  You can read up on it here and here, but it’s basically a layer of either pastry cream or cherry jam sandwiched between two almost cookie-like tart crusts.  Hmmm…I wonder if it was the inspiration for Dorie’s Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake?

We made Gâteau Basque on weekends at the shop where I used to work (and they probably still do).  We used a bit of almond flour and almond extract in our dough there, so I had assumed that flavoring was traditional…but that’s not in Dorie’s version, so maybe it’s not.  Sometimes less is more, but sometimes more is more, so at the shop we always filled ours with pastry cream and fruit.  I can admit that I’m a little greedy when it comes to sweets, and “more is more” is the way I like it, so that’s what I did here at home, too.  I didn’t have cherry jam but I did have some dark cherries that I candied a couple of weeks ago…I dropped them on top of the pastry cream and they worked nicely.

This is pretty easy to make, and you can bust out all the components a day ahead of time.  The dough is sticky, but forgiving, and you can even more or less pat it into the round shapes you need without too much rolling.  It’s really delicious, and beautiful, too, with a pretty crosshatch pattern on top of the golden crust.  For the recipe, see Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Don’t forget to check out my fellow francophiles’ posts.

TWD BWJ Rewind: Sweet Berry Fougasse

July 29, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, 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: Vanilla Pound Cake

July 15, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in bundt cakes, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 23 Comments
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vanilla pound cake

I love a good Bundt, and I think Flo Braker’s Vanilla Pound Cake recipe makes a particularly handsome one.  I’ve been sort of afraid that my nice little 6-cup Bundt pan (that I always use to make half recipes) has been losing its non-stick abilities, but with a good spraying and flouring this cake fell right out, no problem. The cake was no problem to mix either– super straightforward.  The only trick I had up my sleeve was to swap the vanilla extract for a smear of vanilla paste.

vanilla pound cake

The cake is really tender…it’s not dry at all.  Because I only made a half-sized cake, I really watched the baking time and took it out of the oven at just under 40 minutes. I think this cake would go with just about anything, but summer fruit sounds particularly good to me.  I had jar of dark cherries that I poached in the fridge, so we had half our cake with those.  The other half’s in the freezer, but the recipe mentions toasting stale slices as the base for ice cream sundaes, which makes me think about recreating a yummy, fancy affogato concoction my husband had at Brooklyn Farmacy a couple of weeks ago.

vanilla pound cake

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

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Leaf-Shaped Fougasse

July 1, 2014 at 11:43 am | Posted in groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 13 Comments
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leaf-shaped fougasse

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends!  

In a kitchen without A/C, mid-summer bread baking is not really my idea of a good time, but the oven doesn’t need to be on too long for Craig Kominiak’s Leaf-Shaped Fougasse.  From what I gather, French fougasse is similar to Italian focaccia, and the teardrop leaf shape is traditional in Provence.  I should research the technical differences between the two breads, because I’m sure there are some, but for this purpose, we made the same easy dough recipe that we used for the focaccia last year (overnight rise and all that stuff).  I thought that getting the dough into the teardrop shape would be diffucult, but it wasn’t at all and I followed Cher’s suggestion to easily cut the pattern in the dough by snipping it with kitchen shears.  Also, I did my cutting directly on my sheet pan (which I sprinkled with cornmeal but did not line with parchment), and that saved me from having to delicately move around and transfer the shaped bread.

I find soft, bubbly, salty, oily bread like this to be addictive, and the hole pattern in the fougasse makes for little sections that are way too easy to rip off and snack on.  After R & I demolished the left side, I quickly wrapped up the right side for the freezer, just to stop ourselves from eating the whole thing in one go.  The word “fougasse” makes me think of the band Fugazi, but I guess that’s for another blog.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (a modified version of the dough recipe itself is also here and there’s a video here that includes Kominiak shaping, cutting and baking the fougasse).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Phylloccine Ice Cream Sandwiches

June 17, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, ice creams & frozen, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 14 Comments
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phylloccine ice cream sandwiches

Gale Gand’s Pylloccine Ice Cream Sandwiches are the cutest things to come out of my kitchen in a long time– retro and adorbs! 

I had no idea what “phylloccine” meant, and went along pronouncing it incorrectly in my head all week, until about five minutes ago, when I finally read the recipe intro and found the explanation was right there all along.  “Phylloccine” equals “phyllo fettuccine,” which just equals phyllo dough rolled up and cut into long strips.  The strips get scrunched into sandwich-able rounds and buttered and sugared and baked.  While the recipe calls for a mix of summer berries with this, I just had strawberries and simply diced them and tossed them with simple syup.  It also calls for whipped cream, but I skipped it entirely…the ice cream was plenty, I think.  Gotta trim calories where I can.

These were really great and easy to make.  I loved the crispy, sugary phyllo.  Apart from baklava, I seem to forget how good phyllo is in sweet applications.  Unlike a regular ice cream sandwich, these are too delicate and crumbly to pick up and eat with your hands (not to mention all those loose fruit bits), so definitely grab forks.

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 BWJ: Savory Wheat Crackers

June 3, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, other savory, savory things, tuesdays with dorie | 12 Comments
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savory wheat crackers

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Savory Wheat Crackers were a nice little snack to munch on with a chilled glass of wine this past (very fine) weekend.  I’ve made crackers before…here, for instance.  Also, in the restaurants I’ve worked in, pastry always had to make the crackers to go with the cheese plates.  Rolling cracker dough out with a pasta machine (or a sheeter like we had at my first job) is my pro tip from those days.  It gets them super thin, although you have to use a fair amount of flour to not shred the dough in the roller.  I took these to the second thinnest setting in my machine and then topped my crisps with nigella seeds, ground coriander and fleur de sel.

This whole wheat cracker dough is super basic….no leavening necessary.  It comes together with a whiz in the food processor, although my dough was a little sticky, so I added some supplemental AP flour to make it behave. The recipe makes a lot of dough…even the half recipe I made yielded tray after tray of crackers!  They have to be rolled, cut and baked in batches.  It was like a Nabisco factory in my kitchen on Sunday.  Actually, I forgot to cut two of the trays before I put them in the oven– I just broke those into big shards after they were cool.  Real Nabisco would so fire me.  You need a ripping hot oven for these and will likely have to tack on a few minutes to the stated baking time. My crackers took 6-7 minutes to bake through, rather than the three minutes in the recipe.  One minute too many, though, and the crackers will be charcoal (and yes, I did torch a tray myself)!

I made a little spread out of famer’s cheese and flowering chives to snack on with these crackers.  I have lots more to eat up, so I’ll have to think up some other ideas.  For the cracker recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Tropical Napoleons

May 20, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Posted in groups, other sweet, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 13 Comments
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tropical napoleons

Charlotte Akoto’s recipe for Tropical Napoleons is in a section of the book called “Grand Pastries,” which seems to mean plated desserts.  I have to say that a lot of them look kinda dated to me, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still taste great.  This dessert, with layers of coconut and sesame meringue, fruit and rum whipped cream is really light, but so satisfying.  I wouldn’t turn down Eaton mess or a pavlova, so I knew I would like this one, too.

Despite its “grand” status, this recipe isn’t really that involved.  Whipped cream and sliced fruit are easy enough to prep.  If you don’t have a good selection of tropical fruit (I wish I could buy passion fruit in Brooklyn from any corner fruit guy like I could when we lived in Sydney), just go with straight-up berries.  Even the meringue is a simple one to make, and a quick stencil cut from a yogurt lid makes perfect meringue disks.  I baked my meringues on a Silpat and they took almost twice as long as the recipe said to get fully crisp.  If anything gives you trouble, it will be getting those meringues off your sheet pan after they’re baked– they’re meant to be really thin, which also makes them really brittle.  I only broke one before discovering that if I ran an offset spatula carefully around its outer edge before kind of pressing the spatula down into the Silpat and scooting it underneath the meringue, it would come off in one piece.  The meringues are sweet, so I cut back a bit on the sugar in the cream.

 For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.   There’s a video here of the episode.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll

 

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Scallop and Pesto Purses

May 6, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, other savory, savory things, tuesdays with dorie | 18 Comments
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scallop and pesto purses

I’ve been trying to lay off the sweets a bit lately.  No more dessert every night, I’ll mostly keep that to weekends.  This is because I can tell my trainer would like it if I dropped a few pounds.  The things I do for this guy….I even got up early to run a 5K on Sunday!  He’s right of course, and he has made me strong, so at least that running was a piece of cake (unlike the cake I’m not eating).

I do miss baking stuff more than once a week, though, so it’s nice to have a little savory project to put together.  To tell the truth, these Scallop and Pesto Purses, courtesy of Gale Gand, were more of a quick assembly task than a real baking project.  Take a nice, fat sea scallop and a schmear of pesto, bundle it up in a phyllo dough wrapper and pop it in the oven.  These purses are intended to be elegant appetizers, but I will probably never have a dinner party sophisticated enough to serve them (pigs in a blanket, anyone?).  After I snapped this photo, I put a few of them together on each plate with a bit of salad, and we had them as dinner…with the rosé, obvi.  They were really tasty and the scallops cooked nicely inside (which I was worried about since I couldn’t really tell what was going on in there).  The juices from the scallop did make the bottom of the purses soft, but we were knife and forking it, so it wasn’t a big deal.

I pounded together a little bit of parsley pesto for these in my new mortar and pestle.  It was my first time making pesto this way– normally I use the food processor– and it was so good, I made more a few nights later for pasta.

scallop and pesto purses

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

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Cantuccini

April 15, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 20 Comments
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cantuccini

Nick Malgieri’s Cantuccini are thinly sliced, super crisp biscotti.  I put almonds and cardamom in mine, but I bet pretty much any nut/sweet spice combo you want would work well.  Citrus zest and dried fruit would be fine additions, too.  Oh, I wonder if anyone will add chocolate?

The canutccini have to be baked twice, which takes a bit of time, but the dough itself is really quick to make.  The recipe gives “by hand” instructions, but I just tossed everything into my stand mixer.  I probably had that dough ready to go in the oven faster than I was able to make the ghetto cappuccino I dunked them into later!  Just like with the hazelnut biscotti from a couple of years back, lightly wetting your hands helps with shaping sticky dough into a log.  I wish I’d made a fatter log so I would have had cookies that looked more like the slim little half-moons in the book.

The recipe notes say that cantuccini are typically enjoyed with the sweet wine vin santo.  I’ll be looking for a bottle of that at the wine shop this afternoon, since I have lots more of these to eat up (even though I made just a third of the recipe).  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  There’s also a version of it here.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Potato Lefse

April 1, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, 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!

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