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.
Tags: baking, bread, breakfast
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)!
Tags: baking, bundt, cake, dessert
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.
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.
Tags: baking, bread
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!
Tags: fruit, ice cream
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.
Tags: baking, savory, snacks
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!
Tags: baking, dessert, fruit
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.
Tags: appetizers, savory
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.