Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Chocolate Ruffle Cake

February 23, 2016 at 7:33 pm | Posted in BWJ, cakes & tortes, groups, layer cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 21 Comments
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chocolate ruffle cake

I know that I’m a week off with this one, but it took some extra time for me to get motivated to make Alice Medrich’s Chocolate Ruffle Cake from Baking with Julia.  Maybe I’ll get to that Hot Chocolate Panna Cotta from Baking Chez Moi for a rewind week.  I had my hands full with this one, what with making a genoise, a cake filling and all kinds of chocolate deco work.  It is impressive, though, with its beautiful ruffly top and sharp chocolate band.  This cake could easily be spread out as a weekend project, although once I did get off my duff, I just charged through it.

I was only making this cake for the two of us so I downsized the recipe by half to fit into a 6-inch pan.  Since the cake was smaller, I figured I could get away with slicing it into just two layers instead of three.  I like when one bit of simplification leads to another, and with only two layers to sandwich, I skipped the chocolate cream filling layer in favor of just plain cream.  Oh, and instead of using whipped creme fraiche as my filling and topping, I used whipped cream stabilized with a nice blob of mascarpone (so tasty!).  I only did this because wanted it to hold up for a few days…even a 6-inch cake takes us a while to eat up.  Also rather than fresh (winter) raspberries in the filling, I used some booze-preserved cherries that I jarred over the summer, and the cherry booze liquid became my soaking syrup for the cake.  Sounds like I made a lot of changes, but really, they were pretty minor tweaks.  Dorie says in to recipe intro that we can think of this cake as a variable format rather than a precise formula, so I felt free to do so.  Anyway, it’s delicious– I basically turned it into a Black Forest cake.

The chocolate work can seem intimidating, and I can hardly describe the process myself, so if the book’s instructions aren’t clear, these videos of the TV episode are really helpful.  No tempering is involved, so it’s really not that bad, even if it does take a few practice swipes get get nice ruffles.  Mine weren’t perfect– and I’m the “chocolatier” (it is embarrassing for me to say that!) at the restaurant I work for– but they were good enough to make a lovely, swirly-twirly arrangement on top of the cake.

chocolate ruffle cake

If you’re up for a weekend challenge, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan for the recipe.  There are also a couple of videos of Alice and Julia making the cake together.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of this week’s TWD Blogroll!  

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Buttermilk Bread

February 2, 2016 at 12:01 am | Posted in BWJ, groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 13 Comments
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buttermilk bread

Lora Brody’s Buttermilk Bread is one I’ve been wanting to make for a while now.  Sounds simple and homey and a nice thing to bake on a cold day.

The recipe in the book calls for making the bread dough in a bread machine, which I don’t have, so I made it in my stand mixer instead.  I  swapped a 50/50 water/liquid buttermilk combo for the water/powdered buttermilk in the recipe.  While I used the full 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast, I think I could have gotten away with just 2 teaspoons. I basically followed the mixing instructions we used when we did the White Loaves years ago, since they seemed pretty standard for this type of bread.  I then switched back to Brody’s instructions for rising and baking.

This made a nice sandwich loaf, and maybe next time I’ll try it in the cloverleaf roll variation.  The bread has maple syrup in the dough, so there’s a hint of sweetness there, and I think the crust is really good (I’m the weirdo who likes the end pieces).  I’m looking forward to pulling slices from the freezer for grilled cheese!

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Babas

January 19, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Posted in BWJ, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 5 Comments
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babas

I’ve never made rum babas before.  I’ve eaten my fair share, though, mostly at Italian bakeries. David Blom’s Babas recipe brought these pastries into my own kitchen.

Babas are little sweet yeast bread pastries, kind of like brioche and often with currants, that are soaked in rum syrup until they are practically oozing it, and then filled with something creamy.  In my opinion, what’s not to like?  The group made Blom’s Savarin recipe, which is similar but in made in a large cake form, a couple of years ago.  For some reason, I skipped it so I am glad to have done this one.

I don’t have baba molds but I still wanted them to have the nice tall shape of the ones in the shops so I used my popover tin.  I got half as many babas as the recipe said so I guess that means my tin is bigger than the molds I should have used.  Whatevs– R and I split them in half.  Once they were cool I gave them a good dunking in simple syrup, adding rum directly to the syrup.   And then I brushed more rum all over the outside!  Didn’t make the pastry cream filling the recipe called for…too lazy.  Instead I whipped some cream and mascarpone together with which to stuff my babas and added a homemade candied cherry on top.

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: Cornmeal-Currant Biscotti

January 5, 2016 at 12:01 am | Posted in BWJ, cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 4 Comments
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cornmeal-currant biscotti

Seems it’s been over a year since we’ve made a cookie from BWJ, but now here comes Nick Malgieri’s Cornmeal-Currant Biscotti.  These are his take on a classic Venetian cookie called zaletti.  They’re rustic, not too sweet, a little lemony and are a nice nibble with coffee, tea or dessert wine.  Making the dough was easy to do by hand, but I had to watch the video of the TV episode before I formed and cut them into their traditional diamond shapes.  I tried to form them about the same thickness as Malgieri did, but maybe I should have gone a little thinner…I expected them to be crisp and sandy like shortbread, but instead they had a texture reminiscent of a scone, with a bit of grit from the cornmeal. That’s not a bad thing by any means (and three days on, they still seem to keep well), but it left me a bit curious about these cookies.  After doing a little more research on zaletti, I saw that the dough is often rolled out thinner before being cut into the diamonds, or else it is simply done in slice-and-bake form.  I normally think of something called biscotti as twice-baked, but zaletti just hit the oven once (the recipe does give a twice-baked alternative for those wishing to bake them that way).  Forming them thinner would have made them more crisp with their single bake, I’m sure.  They have great flavor, though, and we’re still very much enjoying them.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  There’s a video of Nick and Julia making the cookies together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

TWD BWJ Rewind: Raspberry Swirls

December 29, 2015 at 4:54 pm | Posted in breakfast things, BWJ, cakes & tortes, groups, layer cakes, petit fours, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 7 Comments
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raspberry swirls

Happy New Year, friends!  I want to start 2016 fresh, so it’s time for me to take care of a few pesky things that I’ve left in limbo over the last couple of months.  One is Flo Braker’s Raspberry Swirls recipe, which I actually made along with the group in the fall and then never posted.  This uses a sheet of genoise that’s been cut and coated with raspberry jam and then rolled up jelly-roll style, the jam forming a little red curlicue in the middle. Like Braker’s Miniature Florentine Squares or Glazed Mini-Rounds her Raspberry Swirls are meant to be cut into one or two bite petits fours, but after I rolled them, I decided to leave them more the size of HoHos (or Yodels or Swiss Rolls, depending on your childhood treat preference).  Indeed, these were good…once I glazed them in chocolate and dipped them in coconut and pistachios, they actually reminded me of a rolled up Lamington, an idea I would like to explore further (possibly for Australia Day??).

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 Raspberry Swirls week a few months ago!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Camembert in Brioche

December 1, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BWJ, groups, savory things, snacks, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 8 Comments
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camembert in brioche

The idea of chesse en croute kind of makes me giggle….seems like something from another dinner party era to me.  I do love a good retro treat though, so I was pretty excited to make Lora Brody’s Camembert (or Brie) in Brioche for Thanksgivng pre-dinner snacks.

The recipe in the book calls for making the brioche dough in a bread machine and caramelizing the onions in a slow cooker, but despite my ever-growing collection of gadgets and small appliances, I don’t have either of those in my kitchen arsenal.  I made the dough in my stand mixer instead (subbing warmed lowfat milk for the milk powder and water), with no problem, and followed the instructions to chill it immediately (without letting it rise first) before shaping.  I caramelized the onions in the oven with some thyme…even though I used small Cipollini onions, they did take a couple of hours, and next time I’ll probably just caramelize regular sliced onions on the stovetop.

I didn’t think we could take down the 9-inch wheel of brie the recipe uses, but I wanted a whole wheel rather than just a wedge, so I found a little 4-inch round of camembert and used that.  I only needed to make 1/3 of the brioche dough and use a few Cipollinis to cover it.  My 6-inch cake pans seemed too big to bake the cheese in, so I did it free-form, rolling the dough out into one round parcel that wrapped up the cheese, and making a little decorative twist out of some trim scrap.  Everything held shape very nicely in the oven, I’m happy to report.  Letting it rest for half an hour or so out of the oven keeps the cheese from being too runny and just spilling out of the crust.

Maybe this isn’t so much something from a bygone era as it is a classic.  Gooey, salty baked cheese, sweet onions and buttery brioche…it’s really so very good.  And quite stunning, too…a perfect holiday appetizer for a crowd.  I even reheated a leftover hunk on Friday, wrapped in foil in a low oven, and it was still just the thing with a glass of wine.

camembert in brioche

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  I do think this is the final recipe in the “Savory Pastries” section of the book….wow!  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Parmesan Puffs

November 17, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Posted in BWJ, groups, other savory, savory things, snacks, tuesdays with dorie | 3 Comments
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parmesan puffs

It doesn’t matter if I’ve made it myself or if I’ve bought it at the store, I try to never waste a scrap of puff pastry.  So much potential in those little buttery off-cuts…pigs in a blanket, palmiers, Michel Richard’s Parmesan Puffs…I could go on, but let’s focus on the Parm Puffs.  Take your leftover bits of puff, cut them into willy-nilly shapes and fry them up in a bit of oil till they’re puffed and golden.  Then sprinkle them with salt and shower them in good grated parmesan.  Cheesy, buttery and salty– they are the perfect holiday party nibble.  My hostess-with-the-mostess tip of the day: Champagne and fried stuff is a match made in heaven. Continue Reading Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Parmesan Puffs…

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Hazelnut Baby Loaves

November 3, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Posted in BWJ, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 4 Comments
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hazelnut baby loaves

For all the yapping I did last week about wanting my own dessert, I have to admit that I shared one of Johanne Killeen’s individual Hazelnut Baby Cakes.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want a whole little loaf cake all to myself…it’s just that a mini loaf is actually kind of a lot of cake.

These mini loaves were easy to make.  I did take them out of the oven a few minutes before the time noted in the recipe, and I did replace one tablespoon of butter with this lovely hazelnut oil that I bough a while back to use in vinaigrettes and keep forgetting about.  Other than that, I followed the recipe as-is.  I was pleased to use my mini loaf pans, which almost never see the light of day.

The cakes themselves aren’t too sweet, so it’s nice to serve them with a little something.  In addition to the suggested mascarpone-whipped cream (sans grappa, thank you), we had our baby cakes with poached pear slices and candied hazelnuts.  Speaking of that cream, after I made my husband a birthday cannoli cake a few months ago and frosted it with mascarpone whipped cream,  I decided that adding a nice blob of mascarpone is the best way to stabilize whipped cream.  It’s light, tastes delicious and holds up perfectly for a few days.  I highly recommend.

hazelnut baby loaves

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  There’s also a video of the TV episode.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Torte Milanese

October 6, 2015 at 11:41 am | Posted in BWJ, groups, other savory, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, veggies | 5 Comments
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torte milanese

This is my “take two” of Michel Richard’s Torte Milanese recipe.  I did the first take last fall, when we prepared Richard’s homemade puff recipe and did other stuff with it.  Pictures of that version were lost, unfortunately, and were never to be seen again, except perhaps by the hackers who encrypted them a few weeks later.  Hope those bastards got hungry.

The only silver lining to all that mess is that I was encouraged to make this tasty torte, which is a full meal of layered scrambled eggs, cheese, veggies and meat encased in puff pastry, again.  And I got to play around with it a little this time.  I used chard in lieu of spinach for the greens, I left out the ham layer and instead crisped up some bacon and cooked them into the scrambled eggs, which I flavored with the herbs I had on hand (thyme and basil), and I used a mix of cheddar and Swiss cheeses.  Even my roasted red pepper layer was actually a combo of red and yellow ones.  I would say that the puff stayed the same, except I used store-bought instead of homemade this time.  Its savory, salty (in a good way) and very filling.  Plus, the tall slices look great with all those layers of good stuff.

The recipe says to bake the torte at 350°, but I don’t think puff pastry bakes well that low, so I started it at 400° and turned it down at the halfway point for the rest of the bake.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

TWD BWJ Rewind: Cheese and Tomato Galette

September 29, 2015 at 1:04 pm | Posted in BWJ, groups, other savory, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, veggies | 13 Comments
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cheese and tomato galette

Flo Braker’s Cheese and Tomato Galette is more of a revisit than a rewind.  I first made this one with the group a couple of years ago, but I’ve also made it many times since.  I hope I’ll still see tomatoes at the Greenmarket here for a couple more weekends, so I can squeeze in one more of these this year!

The dough is the only tricky part about this galette.  It bakes up nice and crisp, but it starts out super sticky.  I roll it well-chilled and directly on the parchment I’m going to use for baking so I move it as little as possible.  After the dough is rolled into a circle, it’s then easy to just slide the parchment onto the baking sheet, top it and pleat it up. 

The recipe specifies the filling as tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and jack, but I play around with the herbs and melting cheeses depending on what’s in the fridge.  I’ve used dill, cilantro or parsley (even pesto–which is amazing!) to replace the basil, and while I do always like to use the mozzarella in here, I’ve subbed the Monterey jack with cheddar, provolone, etc.  Also, I like to season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.  If the tomatoes give off some liquid while the galette bakes, I just tip it out with a spoon at the half-way point so it won’t make the tart watery.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan, or look around…it’s out there.   Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll for other rewinds this week!

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