Tags: baking, cake
A weekend cake- I love it! A good cake does make the weekend even better, if you ask me. (Hopefully it will make the nor’easter we’re about to get socked with better, too!) This one’s a simple loaf cake, but it’s flavored with brown butter, vanilla bean and rum. Simple but special.
I have a French blue steel loaf pan, and I thought it naturally appropriate to use for a French cake. I like that the pan has perfectly straight, not flared, sides. It’s longer and slimmer than the standard 9×5, so I was sure to check it in the oven plenty early.
The ingredients are lovely and fragrant, and the cake smells so good out of the oven, that it’s hard to wrap it up and let it sit overnight like Dorie suggests. It’s less buttery and heavy than a pound cake but has a similar delicious crust. This cake is good on it’s own or with a sauce. (I’m going to try it in early summer as a strawberry shortcake base.) If you can’t eat it all up over the weekend, don’t worry because it freezes nicely. Dorie also says stale slices are good toasted, although I don’t plan on testing that out this time.
Tags: baking, bread
Before making Lauren Groveman’s Eastern European Rye, I began to daydream about a turkey reuben on homemade bread. Liz Lemon is not the only one with very specific food fantasies. I was out of rye flour, though, so I bought a bag of local (okay, not NYC, but NY state) farmer-ground organic rye flour from the Greenmarket and got to mixing. I saw a tip to mix the dough in a stand mixer for 3 minutes, turn it off and let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then back on again for about 12 more minutes of kneading. I did this mixing method, and the dough rose nicely, and apart from my three slash marks, it didn’t split open in the oven. The final dough shaping and rising instructions are a little wacky when you read them in the book, but in this video, Groveman demonstrates those same steps on her pumpernickel loaf recipe. They are still wacky, but are at least understandable after seeing them on video.
The bread that I wound up with was not the Levy’s-like sandwich loaf I was expecting, but a rustic loaf with more of a true whole grain bread feel and a craggily crust. I couldn’t really get nice sandwich-sized slices from it, so no homemade turkey reuben for me this time (since I have a one-track mind, I did go to Mile End yesterday and get one!), but the bread does have great rye and caraway flavor and it’s nice with salty butter or a bit of good cheddar. I think it’ll make a good tomato soup dunker, too.
I assumed that the whole grain rye I used was the culprit for the denser loaf that I got…after reading Alisa’s post this morning, if I make this again I’ll either just reduce the amount of rye I use or sub a bit of it with some extra white flour and see what I get .
Gale Gand’s Inside-Out, Upside-Down Tirami Sù is pretty different from the tiramisu I usually make. The flavors are all here, but this reinterprets the dessert into a mix of textures and temperatures. Instead of ladyfinger biscuits soaked and layered into something so soft you can glide a spoon through, here you get shatteringly crisp phyllo disks sandwiching a luxurious mascarpone sabayon and an icy-cold espresso granita.
I baked off my scrunched up phyllo disks in 4-inch ring molds, which worked really well. I left the ginger out of the sugar sprinkled on top of them, because I didn’t want that flavor here. I did, however, want a nice splash of Kahlúa in my sabayon, so I added that.
This is kind of a posh plated dessert, but you can get the three easy steps (phyllo disks, granita and sabayon) done earlier in the day and just assemble it all right before serving. You really can’t wait to eat it once you’ve put the granita on, because it starts to melt immediately! By the way, I have plenty of granita left in the freezer…I’m thinking of turning it into an espresso-frappe-milkshake-type concoction. Bonus.
Tags: baking, bread
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!
Tags: baking, cake, dessert, holiday
It’s almost Christmas, and that means it’s time to get fancy in the kitchen! Something like a Gingerbread bûche de Noël sounds like the right way to celebrate. Way back in the early days of this space, I made another bûche. That one was all done up with stumps, meringue mushrooms and faux wood grain…this one’s easier in that it’s just a roulade but it’s still a showstopper and, of course, it still has several steps. In addition to a gently-spiced geniose-style gingerbread sponge cake, there’s a cream cheese filling, a marshmallow meringue frosting and, for crunch and sparkle, a pecan praline.
If you’re the organized type, you can actually break up the steps and knock out the praline and filling a day in advance, but I did it all start to finish in one afternoon, so I can tell you that it’s procrastinator-friendly, too. I did kind of goof up the cake a bit, and you can see it in the center of the spiral. I deflated the cake batter while mixing in the butter at the end. I was pretty annoyed with myself, and worried it would be like eating a rubber mat, but there’s a lot going on with this cake and we also had it with a scoop of eggnog ice cream, so it really wasn’t that noticeable. Next time, I’ll do better with that. Although the marshmallow makes a stunning, glossy, snow-white frosting, I had a lot left over…next time, I’ll also try cutting that amount in half. I’ll reduce the cream of tartar in the frosting a bit as well because I think it gave the marshmallow a slightly acidic taste. If you’re on the fence about gingerbread (I know not everyone is crazy about it), the flavoring here is very subtle…no molasses or cloves or other dark and mysterious flavors.
Tags: baking, bread
Two things you need to have before making Steve Sullivan’s Mixed-Starter Bread are a piece of leftover bread dough and plenty of time. The “old dough” can be just a little hunk of raw dough saved from last night’s pizza party. As for time, we’re talking about a whole weekend. That’s the time needed to feed that old dough and turn it into a big batch of airy new dough.
Once you’ve successfully done your time feeding the starter and kneading and rising your dough, you can make a variety of shapes out of it…like a nice baguette, an amazing couronne, or cute wheat stalk. You can even knead in a heap of walnuts and make a big Walnut Bread. Not wanting to fully stock my freezer with bread loaves, I made a half-recipe of the dough and divided into a somewhat imperfectly snipped wheat stalk (pain d’epi) and a walnut boule.
In the book, the walnut boule is made with an entire batch of the finished mixed-starter dough, so mine is just a baby boule and it baked through much faster than a big guy would have. As a result of reduced oven time, it didn’t brown as much as I would have liked, so I cheated by painting on a little olive oil before its last five minutes of baking. I still wish I’d gotten a both breads a bit darker.
Due to the lack of afternoon light in my house this time of year, I didn’t get a good shot of the cut breads. Even though you feel like you’ve done a lot of waiting while making this dough, it actually doesn’t hang around long enough to develop a sourdough flavor. You get soft white bread with air holes inside and a real crust outside. The walnut version is excellent with cheese, and I’ll take salty butter on the epi, please.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (the mixed-starter bread is also here and the walnut bread is here). There’s also a video of the BWJ episode showing how to make and shape the mixed-starter bread. Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, dessert, holiday, tarts
If you’re still on the fence about what to make for this Thursday’s dessert, let me make your decision harder by throwing one more option your way. This Cranberry Crackle Tart from Baking Chez Moi is for people who don’t mind breaking a bit with Thanksgiving tradition. It has a cookie-like base of sweet tart dough (fondly known to those in professional pastry circles as “STD”…we keep it classy), a layer of jam (which you can’t see here) and a meringue topping with cranberries folded though. The topping is like a crispy-edged marshmallow– the sweetness is interrupted by little bursts of softened, tart berries. This is meant to be a larger tart, but I didn’t need so much for the two of us on a random weeknight, so I just made a couple of individual tartlets (they took quite a bit less time to bake, btw). The big one, with its pretty, swirly meringue top and ruby-colored berries peeking through, would make an impressive dessert for a crowd. And it’s a light one, too, after a big dinner.
The hidden jam layer can be any red jam, really, like strawberry, raspberry or cherry. I made a cranberry sauce ahead of time from the extra berries that weren’t going into the tart and I used that instead. We ate our tarts with whipped cream, and my husband said it reminded him of pavlova with a cookie crust.