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, 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: 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.
This beautiful time of year is when I want to bottle up everything fresh and hoard it for drearier times. I’ve just made concord grape jam and now I’m adding tomato jam to my little fridge stash.
Tomato jam might sound a tad strange, but this isn’t a clear jelly…it’s more of a cross between tomato sauce and ketchup. I’m sure you could eat it straight up on toast although I use it like a condiment. I first came across this when we lived in Sydney and I’d get the most delicious egg sandwiches with tomato jam at the Pyrmont Growers’ Market. I miss Sydney a lot…we’ve been back for several years now, but I still think about it all the time. I like that I can recreate bits and pieces of our time there, and now every September, when I have more fresh tomatoes than we can possibly eat, I made a batch of tomato jam.
I’ve spiced my tomato jam up the way I like it best, with cumin and coriander, but you can adjust or change the seasonings to your own taste. It isn’t just awesome on fried egg sandwiches, but also on burgers, sausages (and sausage rolls!), potatoes and savory pies.
Tomato Jam— makes about a pint
inspired by Citrus and Candy
Steph’s Notes: This is a pretty small batch of jam– small enough that I just store it in the fridge and use it up over the course of a few weeks. I do recommend using a sterilized jar and lid though.
1 1/4 lb ripe tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped (red, white or yellow)
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
dash of cayenne pepper or hot pepper flakes
dash of ground black pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
-Begin by peeling the tomatoes: Bring a pot of water to the boil. With a sharp paring knife, score a small cross on the bottom of each tomato. Blanch the tomatoes for a minute in the boiling water or until the skin just starts peeling. Drain and then peel the skin off the tomatoes. Remove the cores and roughly chop into chunks (I think the seeds are fine).
-Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan (I used a 2-quart saucepan), then sauté onions with the salt for about 10 minutes or until the onions have softened and are lightly caramelized (golden but not brown). Add the garlic and spices and continue to sauté for a minute until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute.
-Deglaze with the balsamic vinegar, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan, then add the sugar and chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until it’s thick and darkened. (You can add a splash of water if it looks too dry.)
-Taste the jam (carefully, as obviously it will be quite hot) and add extra salt, hot pepper or vinegar if it needs an adjustment.
-Store the jam in a sterilized jar and keep it in the fridge for up to a few weeks.