Tags: baking, cake, dessert
So folks, we’ve come to the end of TWD Baking with Julia. The last recipe…I can hardly believe it. I admit that I have skipped a handful of them, but still, 107 completed recipes from one cookbook isn’t too shabby. The biggest and the toughest has been saved for last– a Glorious Wedding Cake! This is three tall, stacked tiers of dense almond cake sandwiched with jam and a crisp layer of almond dacquoise, topped off with rum-laced buttercream and decorated with marzipan fruit. I mean, Martha Stewart even gets not one, but two episodes devoted to this thing. Unfortunately though, no one asked me to make them a wedding cake in the past few weeks, so I had to go small instead of big on this one. Instead of a three tier show-stopper, I made a single tier cutie. Maybe it’s not so glorious, and I guess it’s basically the top tier that married couples put into the freezer for their first anniversary (R and I eloped…no cake for us, so I’m unclear on these traditions).
You may notice that there isn’t an interior shot of this cake. That’s because I definitely did something wrong with the almond cake layers. What, I am still not sure, but I was too stingy to waste all the almond paste and eggs that went into making it, so I just ploughed ahead with what I had. I’ll tell you though that there was a lot of patchwork involved and I am too embarrassed to show you what was going on in there. It was still delicious, so whatevs. No one paid me to make it for them after all.
Since my cake was tiny, the rest came together with out too much trouble. The dacquoise (almond meringue) layer was wonderful to crunch through and the egg yolk-based buttercream was super luxe. Rather than the marzipan cherries and raspberries Martha made, I did some strawberries and also some flowers and ivy leaves using the wacky hodgepodge of gum paste flower tools I have in my red pastry toolbox.
Tags: baking, bread, breakfast
We’ve used Nancy Silverton’s brioche recipe left and right by now, but we’ve never just made plain brioche with it. Brioche is one of my favorite breads to make…all eggy and buttery and stuff. It’s easy to mix and to work with, when the temperature is right. I’ve made a different Dorie brioche loaf recipe before, so this time, I tried to make brioche à tête. For some reason I own three of the small fluted molds used for this…why, I don’t remember. My tête shaping skills need a little work. These looked more like brioche à goose egg. No matter, it tasted the same– delicious! Salty butter and plum jam were my toppings of choice here.
Tags: baking, bread
Baking bread isn’t my typical 90° day activity. I didn’t really have any other choice, though, if I wanted to get Beatrice Ojakangas’s Swedish Limpa made within the first two weeks of this month. Limpa, if you haven’t had it (I hadn’t myself until today), is a rye bread favored with orange zest, fennel, anise and caraway seeds and molasses and brown sugar. It’s often eaten at Christmas time in Sweden…in my house it will be eaten in mid-August.
I don’t have any anise in my spice collection and didn’t really feel like getting any either, since I’m not much of a licorice fan…I just used a bit more caraway and fennel to compensate. The recipe makes two loaves, which is a bit much for us, so I made half. The bread is traditionally baked in round cake pans, but I’ll be putting most of it into the freezer for later. With easy future toasting in mind, I baked my half-recipe in a 9″x5″ loaf pan instead.
This bread is delicious! I’m the one who added the molasses and sugar to the dough, yet somehow I forgot until the first bite that it would be slightly sweet. And the orange zest, seeds and rye–yum! Seriously, heat wave be damned…I’m glad I turned the oven on for this one. The recipe notes say the bread goes well with meat and cheese, and I believe it, but it’s also not bad with just a smear of salty butter.
Tags: baking, dessert
I’ve been on a chocolate tear here for the last few weeks. I guess though that caramel is really the dominate flavor in Charlotte Akoto’s Cocoa Nests with Caramel Mousse. And I guess I should actually call the “mousse” that I made “cream” since I totally dumbed down her mousse recipe and just made a caramel whipped cream.
The nests are decoratively piped cocoa meringues, dried to a crisp in a low oven. I wanted to skip the gelatin and egg yolk bombe-based mousse in the recipe, so I just made a dry caramel (on the dark side) with a bit of sugar, poured in some cream and let it come up to a boil. Then I chilled the mix for several hours before I whipped it like regular cream. This is something I’ve made at the restaurant before, and it’s pretty freakin’ tasty. It’s sweet though, and I knew the meringue nests would be, too, so instead of making the nut praline garnish, I just scattered some chopped toasted hazelnuts over the finished dessert. This was a fun project and reminiscent of a pavlova.
Tags: baking, bread, breakfast
I don’t have much more to say about Beatrice Ojakangas’s Danish recipe, since I’ve covered most of it once or twice before. It’s damn good, no matter what form it takes, even the simplest Danish Slice.
I had half a batch of dough left in the freezer from the spandauer pockets I made a couple of weeks ago, and rolled it into a long rectangular that I folded up and around a duo of almond frangipane and pureed prune paste. I brushed the top of my formed Danish with egg wash and sprinkled on some granulated almond bits before baking it. After it had cooled a bit, I made a quick coffee glaze and spooned it over. This is just.so.good. And a piece left over for dessert the next day is nice heated slightly with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream. I think the Danish would be proud.
Tags: baking, bread, breakfast
I’ve made Beatrice Ojakangas’s Danish recipe here once before, when we formed it into an impressive braid. Her dough uses a “quick” method, employing the food processor to break down the butter into chunks in the flour, rather than folding a butter block into a dough. The rough dough does need to rest in the fridge overnight, but after that, all of the lamination work is done quickly and at once, without any waiting in between the turns and folds. Pretty easy, all things considered, and crisp and flaky, too.
There are a variety of little shapes you can form Danish dough into, but I only did the “spandauer,” mostly because it has the coolest name. It’s just a square folded up around a filling like a baby in a papoose. I didn’t feel like trying to hard on those fillings. I thought for all of two seconds about making a pastry cream, before remembering I had some ricotta cheese in the fridge. I drained it for a couple of hours before stirring in a bit of sugar, lemon zest and egg yolk. I topped that off with some rhubarb jam. After the Danishes were out of the oven they got a good squiggling of glaze. These were quite delicious, and would have no doubt been amazing with coffee for breakfast, but we actually had them for dessert. Good anytime of day– that’s what I’m sayin’!
Back when we did that braid, I also tried out my shaping skills on the pinwheel. That one was filled with cream cheese and blueberry jam and sprinkled with pearl sugar. And glazed, too, of course.
Tags: baking, choux, dessert
Normally when I think beignet, I just think donut…well, French donut, I guess. Something made with a donut-like dough. Usually involving yeast. It turns out there’s another type of beignet that I wasn’t really aware of…one made with fried pâte à choux dough, and Norman Love’s Chocolate-Cinnamon Beignets are an example. These ones have cocoa and cinnamon flavoring the choux dough and a filling of caramelized banana pastry cream. Yeah, there are a a bunch of things to make, but mmmmm.
Assembling these beignets is a lot like forming dumplings or ravioli. The choux dough is wrapped and chilled, before being rolled, cut and filled. And then folded, crimped, frozen and fried. I’ve never rolled out choux dough before, so this was a fun exercise. I could have cut the dough into circles like in the recipe (and made half-moons), but I cut it into squares instead (and made triangles) so I wouldn’t have any scraps to waste or otherwise deal with. Different geometry, but it all tastes the same.
These are best served à la minute, right when they’re fried crisp and the filling is warm. The recipe calls for serving the beignets with a sweet walnut and cream sauce, which I’m sure is delicious, but I had some chocolate-tahini sauce I made the other week and I used that instead. I added a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some sliced bananas, just because.
Tags: baking, bread, savory
This Persian Naan flatbread from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid uses the very same dough as the Oasis Naan we did almost four years (what the –??) ago. So I’ve kinda done this one before, but it’s been a while. The dough is actually as simple as it gets– water, flour, yeast and salt. One proof, then shape and bake. The book instructions call for making it by hand…last time I used the food processor…this time I used the KitchenAid…do what you like and rest assured that it will all be good.
The dough bakes up nice and puffy and chewy. It didn’t brown so well on top, so I brushed a little melted butter on at the halfway point and gave the naan an extra couple of minutes in the oven to get a bit of golden spotting. This was a nice bread to have with our Sunday morning fried eggs and avocado. It kind of reminds me of the grocery store Turkish pide bread that I fell in love with when we lived in Oz, but can’t get here.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. There’s also a video of Alford, Duguid and Julia making the bread together, and the authors wrote this article that gives more naan tips. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, bread
Joe Ortiz’s Pain de Campagne is my first home sourdough bread experiment. A whole wheat starter (called “the chef”) is refreshed over a period of several days, hopefully collecting wild yeast from the air in the meantime. There’s a warning in the recipe intro that you might get a flat loaf– no guarantees in the world of wild yeast. I could see the change in my starter over the week and I definitely noticed it’s sour smell increasing, so I had some hope for it, at least.
After almost four days, the final dough is ready to be mixed and later shaped. My bread definitely rose and had a nice shape but it’s quite dense inside. I didn’t really get any large air holes in the crumb and I see that I need to work on my slashing skills. Still makes good, flavorful toast though, with a nice crust, and it won’t go to waste.