Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Sunny-Side up Apricot Pastries

October 7, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, general pastry, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 14 Comments
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sunny-side up apricot pastires

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.

puff pastry dough

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!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Raspberry-Plum Crostata

September 30, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 12 Comments
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raspberry-plum crostata

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.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here and there’s a video, too). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes

September 2, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 11 Comments
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oven-roasted plum cakes

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!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Baking Powder Biscuits

August 19, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in biscuits & scones, breakfast things, groups, tuesdays with dorie | 15 Comments
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baking powder biscuits

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.

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

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Poppy Seed Torte

August 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 17 Comments
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poopy seed torte

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.

poopy seed torte

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (there’s a a video here of Chef Markus making the cake in a totally rad vest). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

French Fridays with Dorie: Gâteau Basque

August 1, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Posted in french fridays with dorie, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things | 20 Comments
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gâteau Basque

Somehow I almost never miss a week of TWD but I hadn’t made an FFWD recipe in like forever.  When I saw that Gâteau Basque was up, I thought it would be a good time to pop back around and say hello.  Not surprisingly, Gâteau Basque is a traditional pastry of the French Basque Country.  You can read up on it here and here, but it’s basically a layer of either pastry cream or cherry jam sandwiched between two almost cookie-like tart crusts.  Hmmm…I wonder if it was the inspiration for Dorie’s Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake?

We made Gâteau Basque on weekends at the shop where I used to work (and they probably still do).  We used a bit of almond flour and almond extract in our dough there, so I had assumed that flavoring was traditional…but that’s not in Dorie’s version, so maybe it’s not.  Sometimes less is more, but sometimes more is more, so at the shop we always filled ours with pastry cream and fruit.  I can admit that I’m a little greedy when it comes to sweets, and “more is more” is the way I like it, so that’s what I did here at home, too.  I didn’t have cherry jam but I did have some dark cherries that I candied a couple of weeks ago…I dropped them on top of the pastry cream and they worked nicely.

This is pretty easy to make, and you can bust out all the components a day ahead of time.  The dough is sticky, but forgiving, and you can even more or less pat it into the round shapes you need without too much rolling.  It’s really delicious, and beautiful, too, with a pretty crosshatch pattern on top of the golden crust.  For the recipe, see Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Don’t forget to check out my fellow francophiles’ posts.

TWD BWJ Rewind: Sweet Berry Fougasse

July 29, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 9 Comments
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sweet berry fougasse

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)!

Raspberry Brûlée

July 23, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Posted in puddings & custards, sweet things | 9 Comments
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raspberry brûlée

The promise of a blueberry pie made my husband finally agree to drive me out to the country for some berry picking last Saturday.  It’s good to know that bribes do work, although I still haven’t made good on my end…this is obviously not blueberry pie.  We came with a quart of U-pick raspberries, too, so using those delicate jewels became my first priority.  Not turning on the oven became my second priority.

You may see the words “raspberry brûlée” and think immediately of Prince, or you may see them and think of crème brûlée…I assure you this is far less fancy than either, even though it looks and tastes like a million bucks.  In fact, apart from straight-up fresh fruit, this might be one of the easiest summer desserts out there.  It’s simply whipped cream folded with fresh raspberries and given a torched sugar top.  It’s fresh and light as air, but with but with a sweet crunch.

A lot of times the broiler works as a reasonable alternative to a kitchen torch.  I’m not sure how it would do in this case though, since whipped cream is not as sturdy as a custard.  You want a bit of runny, melted cream just under the crispy brûléed top, but I suspect the boiler may take melting the cream a step further than a torch would.

Raspberry Brûlée- serves 6-8
adapted from Saveur Magazine, Issue 94 

Steph’s Notes:  The dish can also be made with tayberries (which I have never seen here before) or blackberries, and I’m sure diced peaches or nectarines would be tasty, too.

1 ¼ cups heavy cream
¼-½ cup powdered or superfine sugar (depending on how sweet you like it and how sweet your berries are)
splash of cassis or frambiose (optional)

2 pints raspberries
⅓ cup demerara sugar

- Put the heavy cream into a large bowl and beat until medium peaks form. Add the powdered or superfine sugar and the booze (if using) and continue beat to stiff peaks.

-Add the raspberries to the whipped cream and fold gently to coat.  Carefully transfer raspberries to a wide serving dish or divide them between 6-8 individual gratin dishes and liberally strew the top with demerara sugar. Using a kitchen torch, evenly caramelize the sugar until it gets bubbly and darkened in some spots.  A bit of the top layer of cream will start to “run” in this process, but if you don’t hold the torch too long in one place, what’s underneath will stay whipped.

-Refrigerate brûlée for about 15 minutes to let the sugar harden. If you’ve used one large serving dish, scoop servings into bowls, making sure that each scoop includes some of the crunchy sugar topping. If you used individual gratin dishes, just grab spoons.  Serve immediately.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Vanilla Pound Cake

July 15, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in bundt cakes, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 23 Comments
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vanilla pound cake

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.

vanilla pound cake

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.

vanilla pound cake

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here, along with a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Leaf-Shaped Fougasse

July 1, 2014 at 11:43 am | Posted in groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 13 Comments
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leaf-shaped fougasse

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!

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