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.
Tags: savory, tart
This Alsatian Onion Tart is our third Michel Richard puff pastry recipe in a row! This is a great easy recipe to toss together for brunch or lunch (or dinner) if you have some puff in the freezer already. It’s actually designed to use scrap puff pastry that’s been rerolled, but I didn’t have enough scrap and sacrificed a fresh sheet. It was worth it.
This is very similar to the flammkuchen I like to get at German beer hall in my neighborhood (except I think they use a flatbread base instead of puff pastry). It’s almost like a pizza topped with slightly sweet, soft onions simmered in chicken broth, bacon and a touch of cream. I put some fresh thyme on mine, too…hopefully the Alsatians won’t mind.
While the recipe specifies four very large onions for the topping, two of my onions were most definitely small and the other two were medium-sized at best. I was crying so freaking much chopping them, I don’t think I could have physically handled anymore. I had plenty for a nice thick layer anyway. I actually thought it looked like too much cooked onion but I put it all on there. Also, I used turkey bacon instead of slab bacon so I skipped the blanching step and just gave it a quick sauté. Oh yeah, and I baked my tart at 400° because I like puff to be a little browner than I’ve found I can get it at 350°. You can prep the components a day in advance and assemble the tart right before baking.
The recipe says this tart is best just baked, but I had leftovers that I reheated in a 325° oven the next day, and they were great.
Tags: appetizers, savory, snacks
I’m no interior designer. This has been made painfully obvious to me by my home decorating choices (more accurately called mistakes). Right now I’m trying to choose a few paint colors and I just can’t. I can’t. I need a glass of wine and a treat. Thankfully, that I can do, and easily, too, with Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Pizzettes. These little one bite snacky hors d’oeuvres are meant to use up the scraps from the other week’s Sunny-Side Up Apricot Pastries. Homemade puff pastry (heck, even store-bought– it’s expensive!) is a no-waste situation. I only made two of the apricot pastries so I really didn’t have a whole lot of scrap to go with here and just got six pizzettes. Even so, I made two versions with goat cheese– one with tomato and the other with sautéed leeks. I’m annoyed that I forgot to put a little parsley leaf on top of each tomato one…my picture would have been cuter! See what I mean? I fail on the design details.
These were a tasty little snack with glass (or two) of wine. They were best warm, though. The room temp one I tried had definitely lost some of its crispiness.
Tags: baking, breakfast
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.
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!
Tags: baking, cake, dessert, fruit
I’ve had a busy September. It’s one of the nicest months of the year in New York City, but I’ve hardly been home to enjoy it. (Not that I’m complaining…I’ve been here and here instead, and it was all in the name of fun.) Luckily, I was able to squeeze in the Raspberry-Plum Crostata from Leslie Mackie before I began running around. This crostata recipe originally called for a raspberry-fig combo, but I swapped out the figs for plums, just because I already had them. I also tweaked the proportions a bit, and instead of a 1:1 ratio of each fruit, I used 2 parts plums to 1 part raspberries (keeping the combined weight the same 1.5 pounds called for in the recipe). I decreased the sugar in the filling a little, too.
The crust dough is soft and needs to be worked with gently and quickly. Despite its fussiness, it’s easily patched, and I liked the interesting sesame-almond flavoring it has going on. The filling was tasty, too, and that hot pink color makes me a happy girl. I’ll make this one again, and maybe next time I’ll go buy the figs.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert, fruit
These Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes from Marcel Desaulniers were an easy little treat to make with my CSA plums. The batter was a simple butter cake, flavored with orange zest. I made half a recipe (6 cakelettes), so I just mixed it by hand. I had to sub some plain yogurt for the buttermilk, but that worked out fine. The recipe calls for the cakes to be baked in ramekins or custard cups…I was worried that I’d never get them out (although sounds like I needn’t have been), so I used some shallower mini pie tins instead, buttered and floured.
These were good, although the plums (even though they turned very soft in the oven) wanted to jump onto our forks all in one piece. I liked them best with whipped cream. For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (there’s also a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, biscuits, breakfast
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.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
Markus Farbinger’s Viennese Poppy Seed Torte is one of the more unusual things I’ve baked. Now, I’m aware that poppy seeds are widely used in foods all over the world and are not unusual at all, but we Americans– especially those of us who are many generations and more than a couple hundred years removed from our ethnic roots– normally just mix a mere tablespoon of them into lemon muffins or white cake, or sprinkle them on top of bagels or crackers. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid we’ll fail a drug test, but any recipe that calls for two cups of poppy seeds sounds a little strange. The Austrians sure know their pastries though, so I knew this would be tasty, no doubt.
Those two cups of poppy seeds are whizzed up in a coffee/spice grinder, and along with cake crumbs (I used a frozen slice of leftover Vanilla Pound Cake, also put through the same coffee grinder) become the dry ingredients for the cake. The crowning jewels on top are poached apricot halves. I found the cutest little apricots with rosy cheeks at the Greenmarket. I didn’t bother to blanch and peel them before poaching…the skins slipped right off anyway once they cooled, and I think poaching them skin-on helped infuse the flesh with that rosy color. I’m saving the poaching liquid, btw, which I think will be nice as a fruity simple syrup for drinks or poured on top of raspberries and vanilla ice cream.
Based on visuals alone, I’d assume a dark colored cake like this would be dense and heavy. But it’s quite light and springy (thanks to the meringue that’s folded into the batter), moist and not too sweet. It really tastes like poppy seeds (as it should), and since they are ground into flour, they don’t get stuck in your teeth! I made a half-recipe..a full makes a big 10-inch cake…and debated the pan size for a while before settling on a 8-inch round.