Tags: baking, bread
Two things you need to have before making Steve Sullivan’s Mixed-Starter Bread are a piece of leftover bread dough and plenty of time. The “old dough” can be just a little hunk of raw dough saved from last night’s pizza party. As for time, we’re talking about a whole weekend. That’s the time needed to feed that old dough and turn it into a big batch of airy new dough.
Once you’ve successfully done your time feeding the starter and kneading and rising your dough, you can make a variety of shapes out of it…like a nice baguette, an amazing couronne, or cute wheat stalk. You can even knead in a heap of walnuts and make a big Walnut Bread. Not wanting to fully stock my freezer with bread loaves, I made a half-recipe of the dough and divided into a somewhat imperfectly snipped wheat stalk (pain d’epi) and a walnut boule.
In the book, the walnut boule is made with an entire batch of the finished mixed-starter dough, so mine is just a baby boule and it baked through much faster than a big guy would have. As a result of reduced oven time, it didn’t brown as much as I would have liked, so I cheated by painting on a little olive oil before its last five minutes of baking. I still wish I’d gotten a both breads a bit darker.
Due to the lack of afternoon light in my house this time of year, I didn’t get a good shot of the cut breads. Even though you feel like you’ve done a lot of waiting while making this dough, it actually doesn’t hang around long enough to develop a sourdough flavor. You get soft white bread with air holes inside and a real crust outside. The walnut version is excellent with cheese, and I’ll take salty butter on the epi, please.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (the mixed-starter bread is also here and the walnut bread is here). There’s also a video of the BWJ episode showing how to make and shape the mixed-starter bread. Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
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.
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.
Tags: baking, fruit, tart
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.