Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: French Apple Tart

January 22, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 13 Comments
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French apple cake

I made Leslie Mackie’s French Apple Tart back in the fall, when I had heaps of pink-skinned apples from my CSA.   Good thinking, because the apples I’ve had lately haven’t been so great.  If the tart looks a little familiar, maybe that’s because it’s a sister to the Normandy Apple Tart we made in TWD 1.0 about a year ago.

This tart is easy to make, but it isn’t a quick throw-together.  Get prepared…you can do some of these things in advance.  You need pie dough, apple compote for the filling (this one’s made in the oven) and lots of thinly sliced apples to spiral on top.  It certainly is pretty, though, not to mention delicate and delicious.  Your friends will think it came from a pâtisserie.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Gaye’s Laws of The Kitchen.  It’s also here (and there’s even a video of Leslie and Julia making the tart together).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Rich Chocolate Cake with Salty Dulce de Leche

December 29, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 4 Comments
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rich chocolate cake with salty dulce de leche

So, Christmas came and went in a tinsel-strewn blur.  And now we are just about to say goodbye to 2012 and hang a new calendar on the wall…but first there’s one more party to throw.  New Year’s Eve is a night that calls for sparkle, like these Glitter Ball Cookies, or decadence, like this Rich Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche.

Here’s proof that decadence doesn’t have to be difficult.  This cake is easy to put together because it’s just a single layer.  It’s a dark devil’s food-style cake, so that’s really all you need.  And you can buy the dulce de leche, although I did make David Lebovitz’s homemade version (which, to be honest, is no  more difficult than opening a can). Some chopped nuts or crushed brittle add a little crunch, but even that isn’t totally necessary.  What is necessary, though, is sprinkling of salt– preferably a fancy coarse sea salt– so don’t skip it.  Salty and sweet, just like this year.

Happy New Year!  See you in 2013…

rich chocolate cake with salty dulce de leche

Rich Chocolate Cake with Salty Dulce de Leche- makes one 10-inch round cake
adapted from One Girl Cookies by Dawn Casale and David Crofton

Steph’s Notes:  A half recipe will yield an 8-inch round cake that bakes in 30-35 minutes.  The authors suggest decorating this cake with crushed nut brittle, but chopped salty peanuts or hazelnuts would be just as good (and easier). 

for the cake:
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4  cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plain whole-milk  yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 tablespoons  (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups  granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups all-purpose  flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table  salt

for the topping:
1/2 cup dulce de leche (homemade or store-bought)
a few pinches of kosher salt, fleur de sel or Maldon
about 1/2 cup of roughly chopped, salted nuts or crushed nut brittle for decoration (optional)

-Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease a 10-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with a parchment round.

-To make the cake, pour the hot coffee into a medium bowl and stir in the  cocoa powder until it dissolves.  Stir in the brown sugar, followed by the yogurt  and the vanilla.  Stir thoroughly to ensure that all of the ingredients are  incorporated.

-In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat  the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light-yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and mix for 2  minutes.

-In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  With the mixer running on low speed, mix in a third of the flour mixture and half of  the coffee mixture.  Scrape down the bowl.  Add another third of the flour mixture and all the remaining coffee mixture.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using  \a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining flour mixture until all of the  ingredients are fully incorporated.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

-Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, rotate the pan at the halfway point, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out  clean.  Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 20  minutes.  Run a knife around the edge, and then turn the cake out onto a clean plate, remove the parchment, and  turn the cake back over onto a wire rack.  Let the cake cool completely.

-Put the cooled cake on a serving dish.  In a microwave-safe dish, heat the  dulce de leche on high power for 30 seconds, or until it is just liquid.  Spoon the dulce de leche over the cake, and then sprinkle the salt over the  dulce de leche.  If using nuts or brittle, sprinkle about 1/2 cup around the outer edge of the cake as a delicious decoration.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Finnish Pulla

December 18, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 27 Comments
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Finnish pulla

Oh my gosh–isn’t this loaf the cutest?!?  I’m not in the know with most Scandinavian baked goods, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with Beatrice Ojakangas’s Finnish Pulla bread.  Never heard of it, but I was pretty pleased to discover this baby when it came out of the oven.  It’s a little bit buttery, a little bit sweet, a little bit eggy and scented with cardamom, one of my favorite spices.  Pulla is often shaped into a glorious braided wreath, but I made half a recipe, so I did a loaf instead.

The recipe didn’t suggest making the dough ahead of time, but I wanted to take care of it on Saturday night so I could have fresh-baked bread with jam for breakfast on Sunday morning.  I made the dough all the way through the shaping stage (it was a dream to work with in the cooler temps), then put my braided loaf on a parchment lined sheet tray, loosely covered it in plastic and stuck it in the fridge before I went to bed.  Early Sunday morning, I took it out and left it on the counter to come to room temperature for a little over an hour before I baked it.  Seemed like a good strategy.

Finnish pulla

Pulla reminds me of challah, but with cardamom and pearl sugar (which I bought at an IKEA in Jersey about a year ago and until Sunday had still never used).  I’m glad to have this recipe on my radar now, and I bet leftovers will make good French toast (or will that be Finnish toast??).  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read  Erin’s The Daily Morsel.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Gingerbread Baby Cakes

December 4, 2012 at 12:02 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 22 Comments
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gingerbread baby cakes

What–December already?!?  Seems I am refusing to belive it, because every time I went to label the stuff I made at work today, I wrote “11/” and then had to turn that second one into a goofy two.  I feel not quite ready to tackle this month.

Johanne Killeen’s Gingerbread Baby Cakes should help me get into the December spirit.  These cakes may be little, but they are strong, with a spicy molasses, ginger and black pepper punch.  Espresso and cocoa add extra dark, bitter notes.  I want to say that I loved these, because they came out so darn cute, but really, they were too intense for me…too adult for my juvenile taste buds.  I don’t have baby cake molds, but I do have baby tube pans, which made a fine substitute.  I have two cakes left, and I’m thinking they will be cubed for a trifle with sweet cream and stuff to temper their spicy bite.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Karen’s Kitchen Stories (it’s also here).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Best-Ever Brownies

November 20, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 15 Comments
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Rick Katz’s brownies for Julia

It wasn’t until yesterday when I actually got cracking on Rick Katz’s Best-Ever Brownies, that I realized I’ve made this recipe before.  Back in Season 1 of TWD.  Only then they were called Rick Katz’s Brownies for Juila.  Different book, same recipe, same strange egg whipping technique.  I am cheaply recycling the photo, because I missed my light window both yesterday and today (curses to work!).

Well, there is one difference between the two recipes.  This version in Baking with Julia calls for 1/4 cup of extra flour.  I prefer it with that extra little bit of flour…I think it gives the brownies a bit more structure.  The batch I made yesterday looks the same as the one in the photo, but they are a little taller.  This time I made half a recipe and baked it in a 9″ x 5″ metal loaf pan lined with parchment for 30 minutes exactly.  Then I pulled them out of the oven to come to room temperature before I put them in the fridge to chill through.  I did the same thing the last time around, because I remembered this made the chocolate goo solidify into chew.  They were good brownies back then, and they are still good now.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Monica’s A Beautiful Mess.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD blogroll!

Pumpkin Waffles

November 18, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Posted in breakfast things, pancakes & waffles, sweet things | 5 Comments
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pumpkin waffles

It may be all about dinner on Thursday, but somehow this year I’m not cooking the turkey, so I get to focus on a lazy holiday breakfast instead.  The next few days are gonna be go-time at work, cranking out orders for pecan and pumpkin pies and cranberry upside-down cakes.  I know already that it will be pastry versus the savory kitchen, battling for space in the one convection oven we have.  If I come out alive, sleeping in and having breakfast at home will feel good after all this.

Waffles are a perfect way to use up that open can of pumpkin we always seem to have in the fridge this time of year.  And I don’t use my waffle iron that often, so making them seems a little more special than pancakes. These pumpkin waffles have all the usual warm spices I associate with pumpkiny treats, and they cook up to that beautiful rusty orange color of autumn leaves. Maple syrup is my normal waffle topping, but I’m kind of thinking that cranberry sauce would be pretty good, too.

pumpkin waffles

Pumpkin Waffles- makes 4-6 large round waffles 
from Pumpkin Waffles Blog

Steph’s Note:  Don’t have a kitchen scale?  This recipe with volume measurements can be found here.

50 g light brown sugar
24 g cornstarch
156 g all-purpose flour
7.2 g baking powder
3.0 g salt
3.0 g cinnamon
3.5 g ginger
0.5 g cloves
0.6 g freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs
240 g whole milk
244 g canned solid-pack pumpkin
56 g unsalted butter, melted and warm

maple syrup and butter for serving

-Heat the oven to 200°F and heat a waffle iron, preferably a Belgian waffle iron.

-Combine brown sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Whisk together to break apart the cornstarch. Add the remaining dry ingredients, and whisk to blend.

-Separate the eggs– yolks go in a medium-sized bowl and whites get set aside in a smaller bowl.

-Add pumpkin and milk to the egg yolks. Whisk to blend and set aside.

-Whip egg whites with a hand mixer on high to stiff peaks (you could do this by hand instead)– about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Set aside.

-Pour melted butter into the yolk/milk/pumpkin mixture. As you pour, whisk to combine.

-Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix them together until just combined. A little lumpiness is fine. That will smooth out when the egg whites are added.

-Slide the whipped egg whites out of the bowl and onto the mixture you just prepared. Gently fold them in until no white bits are obvious.

-Brush the waffle iron with a little vegetable oil. Working in batches, cook the batter in the waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions until crisp and golden. Set the waffles directly on the oven rack to keep warm. Do not stack them.

-Serve the waffles with the syrup and butter.  You can freeze leftover waffles to recrisp another day.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

October 28, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Posted in cupcakes, sweet things | 14 Comments
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devil's food cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

I needed a little weekend baking project to help take my mind off the Frankenstorm that’s coming our way.  Spooky.  It’s time for Halloween cupcakes anyway…I make them every year, mostly to use my orange and black sprinkles.  I think devil’s food is appropriate for Halloween, and it helps that it’s my favorite species of chocolate cake.  I have a particular fondness for oil-based devil’s food like this one from Zoë Bakes.  So moist, oh my gosh.  And isn’t cream cheese frosting good on just about any cake?  Looking forward to eating one of these from the fridge tonight.

Happy Halloween, and stay safe (and dry)!

devil's food cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Devil’s Food Cupcakes- makes 3 dozen
from Zoë Bakes

Steph’s Note:  I made one-third of the cupcake recipe below to get one dozen cupcakes, but I still used the full amount of frosting.

3 cups granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups  all-purpose flour
1 1/8 cups cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed), sifted if lumpy.
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk or buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup hot coffee
1/4 cup rum or brandy (or replace with extra coffee)

-Heat the oven to 350°F and prepare 3 dozen muffin tins with papers

-Combine all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and whisk until combined, set aside.

-Whisk together, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla until well combined. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the hot coffee and rum to the batter and whisk until totally blended and smooth, about 2 minutes. The batter will be quite runny.

-Fill a measuring cup or pitcher (you can fill directly from the mixing bowl if you have a steady hand) with the batter and then fill the muffin cups about 2/3 – 3/4 full.

-Bake the cupcakes for about 18-20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

-Allow to cool completely on a cake rack, removing the cupcakes from the tin after about 15 minutes, and then frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
from Zoë Bakes

Steph’s Note:  I used the full amount of frosting to decorate 12 cupcakes.

1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon golden syrup (can substitute with honey)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

-Combine all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and cream together until smooth.  (I used a hand mixer for this.)

Concord Grape Pie

September 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Posted in pies & tarts, sweet things | 16 Comments
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concord grape pie

Last Saturday, my CSA workshift rolled around (cuz you know, apparently CSAs are socialist).  To tell the truth, I was kind of dreading standing there for three hours early on a weekend morning, but as it turned out, the weather was great and I got the job I wsa hoping for.  I got to weigh out the coveted concord grapes that were last week’s fruit share.  Actually I got to dole out both grapes and advice.  Pretty much everyone who came through asked what to do with them.  How about eat them…juice them…jam them…pie them?!?!  Being the grape mistress also meant I got first dibs on leftovers when we cleaned up.  I took home a few extra stems…enough in total to make both concord grape jam and a little pie of my own.

Concord grapes are like the grapiest grapes there are.  They’re the grapes that “grape-flavored” things imitate.  And they are the most dreamy shade of purpley blue.  When I recommended to my fellow CSA-ers that they make a pie, most of them looked at me like I had two heads.  I guess a grape pie does sound a little weird, but it is so, so delicious.  Jammy and sweet and purple.

Now that I’ve talked up these grapes, here’s the bad news.  They have seeds.  Hard seeds that are unpleasant to eat, and IMO must be removed.  Making a pie from them is a labor of love, but I’m willing to put in the time to de-seed.  I don’t mind so much turning on the radio and zoning out with a little kitchen prep.  Anyway, it is a once a year treat, and the time spent makes every bite taste that much better.

concord grape pie

Concord Grape Pie- makes a 9-inch pie
heavily adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit (September 2008)

Steph’s Note: If concords aren’t available where you live, or you’d like a more year-round, less labor-intensive alternative, see the original recipe (which uses seedless red grapes).

8 cups stemmed concord grapes (about 2 1/2 pounds), rinsed well and patted dry
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
squeeze of lemon juice
double-crust recipe of your favorite flaky pastry dough (I used Dorie’s), divided into two disks and well-chilled
1 large egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)
1 T turbinado or granulated sugar

-Slice grapes in half and remove the seeds.  Transfer grapes (and their skins, which tend to easily slip off–don’t worry about it) to large sieve set over large bowl.  Drain off grape liquid, saving 2 tablespoons.

-Whisk 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt in another large bowl to blend.  Mix in drained grapes, reserved juice and squeeze of lemon juice.

-Preheat your oven to 375°F.  Roll out one disk of dough on floured surface to a 13-inch round; transfer to pie dish.  Brush dough edge with egg glaze.  Fill with grape mixture.  Roll out the second disk of dough to a 12-inch round.  Top pie with dough; trim overhang to 1/2 inch.  Roll edge under and crimp.  Brush top of pie with glaze; sprinkle with raw sugar.  Cut several slits  in top crust to allow steam to escape.  Chill the pie until your oven is fully heated.

-Bake pie until golden and juices bubble thickly, 60 to 70 minutes, slipping a baking sheet under the pie plate at the halfway point.  Cool the pie on a rack to warm or room temperature, 2 to 3 hours.  You should think about having vanilla ice cream on hand.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Nectarine Upside-Down Chiffon Cake

September 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 14 Comments
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nectarine upside-down chiffon cake

It’s Fridays with Dorie for me this week with  Mary Bergin’s fabulous Nectarine Upside-Down Chiffon Cake.  I made, and ate, this cake a couple of weekends ago.  Then I was so excited to go Montreal for Labor Day weekend, I didn’t post.  We came home and I still didn’t post, because I’ve been too busy looking at Montreal real estate websites and daydreaming about living there!!

This recipe is in a section in the book called “Everyday Delights” but I think it’s pretty fancy.  It’s not just a standard-issue tinned fruit upside-down cake.  Underneath the glistening fresh nectarines is a light chiffon cake bisected by a layer of crispy almond streusel. It’s a bit of work to pull off, but I thought it was worth every bite.  And really, the streusel could be skipped to save a step…it would be just as good, I think.

I had good success with this chiffon.  I was a little worried when I saw the batter almost totally filled my springform, and it did mushroom up in the oven.  But nothing overflowed, thank goodness.  If you are worried, I’d suggest taking out a couple scoops and making them into cupcakes or something.  It was kinda hard to tell if the cake was done, and I think I left it in the oven a few extra miinutes.  When making chiffons, the cake pans are often ungreased so the batter can really climb up the sides.  I’ve learned to (gingerly!) run a thin knife around the edges of the pans about five to ten minutes after the cakes have come out of the oven.  This helps the cakes to not tear away from the sides as they start to cool, which I think can cause them to sink a bit.

nectarine upside-down chiffon cake

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Marlise’s The Double Trouble Kitchen and Susan’s The Little French Bakery.  There’s also a video of Julia and Mary baking this together.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Peach Butter

August 31, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in breakfast things, jams & preserves, sweet things | 6 Comments
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peach butter

We’re at the point in the summer (the end of it, I mean), when I’m freaking out a little about the prospect of a winter full of rutabagas and turnips.  My reaction to this, apparently, is to stash little jars of summery things on the top shelf of my fridge.

I made this peach butter recipe last year, and then promptly ate up without a word to you about it.  So I just made it again.  It’s thicker and more intense than jam.  It’s not only what’s in it (peaches!) that makes it delicious, but also what’s not– no spices and not too much sugar.  I think it’s what crumpets were made for..

More summer stonefruit you should put in jars:  apricots, plums, nectarines (and plums, again).  Happy weekend!

Peach Butter– makes about four cups
from Smitten Kitchen

Steph’s Note:  This can be “properly” canned if you want to store it longer-term.  See the original recipe for tips on that process.

4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) peaches
1 cup (237 ml) water
2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
juice of one lemon

-If you are not using a food mill: Cut a small “x” in the bottom of each peach. Dip each into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, and then into a bowl of cold water for a minute. Slip off the peels.

-Cut your peaches in half and remove the pits, then cut each half into quarters (8 chunks from each peach). Place peach chunks and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until peaches are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they cook evenly. If you have a food mill, run them through it to puree them and remove the skins.  Use a disk with smaller holes if you want a smoother puree.  If you don’t have a food mill — i.e. you already peeled your peaches — you can puree in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender.

-Return the peaches to the pot, add the sugar and lemon juice and bring the mixture to a good strong simmer/gentle boil, cooking them at this level for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more often near the end, as it thickens up and the fruit masses risk scorching on the bottom of the pot.

-There are several methods to test for doneness: You can drizzle a ribbon of sauce across the surface; when that ribbon holds its shape before dissolve into the pot, it is done. Some people use cold or frozen plates; dollop a spoonful in the middle of one and if no water forms a ring around it in a couple of minutes, it is done. Others use a spoon; if the butter remains rounded on a spoon for two minutes, it is done. You can also check the pot itself; the butter is usually done when a wooden spoon leaves a clear train when scraped across the bottom.

-Spoon the peach butter into clean jars (you can sterilize the jars and lids first with boiling water, if you are so inclined), leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top.  Close the jars and let the jam cool to room temperature.  Store the butter in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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