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.
Tags: baking, cake
Green cakes! Icky or intriguing? They may be the color of Frankenstein, but don’t worry. It’s nothing weird…Japanese matcha tea powder gives these financiers a greenish tinge. I’m used to the slightly grassy taste of matcha tea and I’ve made cake and frostings with it before. I think it’s a nice flavor addition to a traditional almond financier. Thinking back to those Tiger Cakes I liked so much a few months ago, I followed Dorie’s Bonne Idee suggestion and turned about half of my batter into matcha tigers with a generous sprinkling of some Dutch dark chocolate vermicelli. These are really good just warm, I think, and I like the way the edge bits get a little crispy.
Tags: baking, cake
Odile’s Fresh Orange Cake is the second bright and easy citrus cake we’ve made recently…the Fluted Carrot-Tangerine Cake was a hit in my house back in January. This cake is a super-cinch to make and the batter is flavored with orange zest and juice. I made half a recipe in a 6-inch pan. After it’s baked, it’s doused in a simple syrup of OJ and sugar. You can use as much of the syrup as you want….go for broke if you like a wetter texture.
You can take that one step further and poach cross-cut orange slices in the syrup. Then you can decorate the top of the cake with a mosaic of beautiful orange pinwheels. I would have done that, but knew I’d be putting half the cake into the freezer, so I just tossed some segments in the syrup and decorated each slice with a few of them instead. The slices I froze were later spooned over with some candied kumquat slices–so tasty!!
Tags: baking, 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.
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!
Tags: baking, cake, chocolate
These Soft-Centered Chocolate Teacup Cakes are rich, delicious and easy to make. Kind of a dangerous combination! They are a take on molten chocolate cake…an almost flourless and uber-chocolatey cake with more gooey, melting chocolate bits hiding in the middle.
They’re hardly more difficult to make than brownies, although you have to whip eggs and sugar until ribbony, so using a stand mixer is a good idea. The batter is divided among teacups or ramekins, which are half-filled, sprinkled with chopped chocolate and then topped off. I have quite a collection of teacups for some reason (reason actually being that they are cute!). I can see these making an adorable dinner party dessert served in mismatched cups. I didn’t get a photo of the insides for you, but you can see here that they’re schlumping a bit in the middle…that’s how you can tell they have soft centers. That dip also makes a perfect landing spot for a bit of whipped cream or ice cream.
Tags: baking, 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!
Tags: baking, bread, cake
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.
Tags: baking, cake
If I think of carrot cake, of course what comes to mind is a layer cake with swirls of cream cheese frosting. Plenty of cream cheese frosting…you know, something like Dorie’s amazeballs Bill’s Big Carrot Cake. Seems that’s not the only carrot cake game in town, though. This Fluted Carrot-Tangerine Cake is another, more subtle take on the most delicious way to get your beta-carotene. Instead of being spicy and earthy and tall, this one is bright and zippy and slim. Ginger, carrot and tangerine (or tangelo in my case) make it the color of sunshine. Okay, so there isn’t any cream cheese frosting, but a quick powdered sugar and juice glaze gives it a nice sweet crust on top. The flavor of the glazed cake reminds me of Fruity Pebbles, but I mean that in a good way!!
This cake does not need to be fluted…I made it in my quiche pan (the removable bottom was no problem), but it can certainly be baked in a regular cake pan. The cute ruffles do give it a bit of pizazz, though, since it’s only a single layer.
Tags: baking, cake
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!