Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cinnamon Rolls

These taste and smell amazing. As long as they aren't over baked, they are soft, and pliable. Really nice.

Ingredients: Dough
2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup whole milk (I used buttermilk), heated to 105-115F.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
5.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground mace
2 tsp. salt
Grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temp.

Ingredients: Filling
6 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. freshly grated cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients: Pecan stickiness
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1.5 cups chopped pecans

Method: Dough
1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and let stand until foamy (around 5 min.).
2. Add the granulated sugar, eggs, 5 cups of flour, mace, orange zest, and butter.
3. Stir by hand or with a wooden spoon until a rough mass forms.
4. Using a plastic scraper, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
5. Knead the dough, working in the remaining flour, until it is smooth and elastic. (around 6 min). The dough should be soft, but not sticky.
6. Form the dough into a ball, and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for around 2 hours, until it has doubled in bulk.
7. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.
8. Divide the dough in two.
9. Roll out half the dough into a 10 x 16 inch rectangle.

Method: Part Assembly & Filling
1. Butter the sides of two 9-inch cake pans.
2. In a small bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon.
3. Spread half the melted butter oven the rolled out dough, and then sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar mixture on top.
4. Starting from the short side away from you, tightly roll the dough towards yourself.
5. Cut the dough into 2 inch rounds.
6. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Method: Pecan Stickiness & Assembly
1. Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon, and mix thoroughly.
2. Place this concoction on the bottom of the cake pans.
3. Sprinkle the pecans over the top.
4. Place the 2 inch round on top of the pecans.
5. Cover with a kitchen towel, and allow to rise at room temp. for another 30-40 min.
6. Preheat the oven to 400F.
7. Bake until a toothpick placed in the center of a bun comes out clean - around 25-30 min.
8. Let the buns cool for 5 min.
9. Carefully place a serving tray/plate over the top of the cake pan. Invert the pan (careful as the butter-sugar mixture will be very hot), and remove the cake pan.
10. Serve when the buns are cool enough to touch.

These can also be warmed up in the microwave for 15seconds the day after, and they still taste amazing.

Taken from Williams -Sonoma Essentials of Baking by Cathy Burgett, Elinor Klivans and Lou Seibert Pappas, pp.68-9.

Double Plum Tart

Fresh Italian prune plums from the local farmers market were used as well as prunes soaked in a liquid of red wine, cinnamon, star anise and orange. If I were to make this tart again, I would cook the prunes as directed, and then let them steep in the red wine mixture overnight. I think this way they would plump up, and have a smoother, softer texture. Overall though, a tasty tart with a soft marzipan like almond cream base.

Ingredients: Dried Prune Soak
1/2 cup dry red wine (ie. Chianti, Rioja or Cabernet Sauvignon)
2 wide strips of orange zest
juice of 1/2 and orange
1.5 Tbs. sugar
1/2 piece of star anise (or one 1-inch piece of cinnamon) - I actually only had ground star anise, so I used a few pinches of that as well as the 1-inch cinnamon
14 pitted prunes
1-2Tbs. corn starch
1-2 Tbs. cold water

Ingredients: Tart Base
1.25 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Ingredients: Almond Cream
3/4 stick unsalted butter, at room temp.
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup ground blanched almonds
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 large egg
2 tsp. dark rum

Method: Tart Base
1. Preheat oven to 375F or 190C.
2. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter, and process until large moist crumbs form.
3. Transfer the dough to a round tart pan (9inch or 13cm in diameter).
4. With floured fingers press the dough into the pan.
5. Freeze until firm (around 15min, can also be left overnight)
6. Take out the freezer, and prick all over with a fork.
7. Cover with aluminum foil (butter the shiny side and place the buttered side down over the crust.
8. Bake for 25 min.
9. Slowly remove foil, and gently press down any bubbles with the back of a spoon. Let cool down to room temp (keep in the tart pan).

Method: Poaching the Prunes
1. Bring the wine, zest, orange juice, sugar, star anise (and/or cinnamon) to a boil in a small saucepan.
2. Boil for 1-2 min.
3. Add prunes, and boil for 3 min.
4. Transfer the prunes to a bowl.*
5. Remove the star anise and/or cinnamon and bring liquid to a boil once more.
6. In a separate bowl combine 1 Tbs. of cornstarch with 1 Tbs. of cold water .
7. Add to the red wine mixture. If the mixture doesn't thicken to a jam like consistency, repeat this step again.
8. Set aside the jam like red wine mixture.

Method: Almond Cream
1. Put the butter and sugar in a food processor and process until the mixture is smooth.
2. Add the ground almonds, and process until well combined.
3. Add the flour and cornstarch, process to blend.
4. Add the egg and process to blend once more. Then process again for 15 seconds extra.
5. Add the rum, and process to combine.
6. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Method: Assembly
1. On the base of the tart, spread the red wine jam.
2. Scrape the almond cream into the room temperature tart base, and smooth with a butter knife.
3. Wash and halve the fresh Italian plums.
4. Place the plums and prunes in the almond cream.
5. Bake for 50-60 min.
7. Best served on the day it is made.
*At this stage you can either go on as directed, or you can soak the prunes in the liquid overnight, for moister prunes.
Taken from multiple sources, the base from "Food" magazine, the majority is however from the amazing Dorrie Greenspan, Baking from my Home to Yours. As well as some additions I made as well.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hazelnut-Cornmeal Cake

I've recently been re-introduced to the wonderful flavor of hazelnuts, and so this cake is dedicated to the amazing taste that is hazelnut.

This cake has a wonderful texture, crunchy and moist. Pairs wonderfully with coffee.

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned (don't be too worried about skinning the hazelnuts, they taste just fine with the skins on, but the cake isn't as pretty)
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp.
3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs separated
1 tsp. rum
juice of 1/2 lemon
Confectioners sugar for dusting

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 350F.
2. Butter a 8-inch round cake pan, or a 9-inch springform pan (which I used).
3. In a food processor, combine the hazelnuts and corn flour. Process until the nuts are finely ground.
4. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt onto a sheet of parchment paper. Stir in the ground nut mixture.
5. In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar. Using a whisk beat vigorously until the mixture is light in color and fluffy (about 3 min).
6. Whisk in the egg yolks, and rum.
7. In a separate bowl, stir together the lemon juice and egg whites.
8. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (do not overwhisk, as this will make the cake dry).
9. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until almost incorporated.
10. Fold in 1/2 of the egg whites.
11. Fold in another 1/3 of the dry, then the other 1/2 of the eggs whites.
12. Add the remaining dry ingredients and using a light motion with the spatula fold in until the batter is smooth, and fluffy.
13. Spread the batter in the pan.
14. Bake the cake for 25-35 min. Or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
15. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 5 min. Then remove from the pan and back onto the wire rack (the same way up as you took it out of the oven).
16. Let the cake cool to room temperature with a damp tea towel placed over the top (to protect the cake from drying out as it cools).
17. In a fine sieve, place around 1-2 Tbs. of confectioners sugar and sift over the top of the cake. Serve.

Taken from Williams -Sonoma Essentials of Baking by Cathy Burgett, Elinor Klivans and Lou Seibert Pappas, pp. 222-3.

Carrot Cake

This has a rich cream cheese icing and filling, with a lightly spiced cake base.

Ingredients: Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. freshly grated cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
9 grated carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs

Ingredients: Frosting
8 ounces of cream cheese, at room temp.
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp.
1 pound of confectioners sugar, sifted
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1.5 cups toasted coconut
1/2 cup toasted and chopped walnuts

Method: Cakes
1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Butter 3 9 x 2 inch round cake pans, or 2 9 inch springform pans (which is what I used). Flour the insides and tap our the excess. If using 3 pans, make sure you have 3 racks in the oven that are evenly spaced apart.
3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
4. In another bowl stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.
5. Using a stand mixer, mix together the oil and sugar together, until they are smooth.
6. Add the eggs one by one, and beat until the batter is smooth.
7. Reduce the speed and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear.
8. Gently mix in the carrots by hand.
9. Divide the batter evenly among the pans.
10. Bake for 40-50 min, or until a small knife comes out clean, and the cake has just started to move away from the sides of the pans.
11. Allow to cool for 5 min on a cooling rack, and then unmold the cakes.

Method: Frosting
1. Combine the cream cheese and butter in the stand mixer bowl, and using a paddle attachment mix until smooth and creamy.
2. Gradually add the sugar and beat until smooth.
3. Add the lemon juice and mix until combined.

Method: Assembly
1. Place half the cake on a plate, and spread the cream cheese frosting on it.
2. Place the other half on top.
3. Using a rubber spatula, spread the remaining frosting over the cake. Beginning with the top, and then the sides.
4. Smooth with a butter knife if desired.
5. Sprinkle on the toasted coconut on the top, and using the palm of your hand lightly press the coconut into the sides of the cake.
6. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the roasted walnut bits.
7. Place in the fridge for 30 min so that the icing can set.

Once again from the truly amazing book Baking: From My Home To Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, pp. 253-255.

Cecilia's Linzer Sables

These are a classic. You can fill them with any jam you like, you can use any shape you like, and I imagine any combination of spices as well.

1.5 cups finely ground almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts (I used walnuts)
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp. freshly grated cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground cloves
1 large egg
2 tsp. water
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp.
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup jam (I used raspberry jam)

1. Whisk together the ground nuts, flour, cinnamon, salt, and cloves.
2. Using a fork, stir the egg and the water together in a small bowl.
3. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed.
4. Add the egg mixture and beat for 1 min more.
5. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Don't work the dough much, and if need be mix the dough by hand if the mixer is unable to do it for you.
6. Divide the dough in half. Put the dough between two large sheets of plastic wrap, and press down with your hands until fairly flat. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is around 1/4 inch thick. Make sure that at this time you make sure the dough is not stuck to the plastic wrap.
7. Place on a chopping board (still covered with plastic wrap) and place in the freezer for 45 min.
8. Center a rack in the oven, and preheat to 375F.
9. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
10. Take out the dough from the freezer. Remove the plastic wrap from 1/2.
11. Cut out the shapes, making sure that you cut a small window in 1/2 of the cookies, so that the jam can be viewed. Make sure you save the scrapes, so that you can combine them with the other half's worth of scraps, and re-freeze to make more cookies.
12. Place cut outs on the baking sheet, and bake for 11-13 min. Or until they are lightly golden and firm to the touch.
13. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
14. When cool, spread the jam on.

From Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan, pp.134-6.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Peach Cream Cheese Tart

This is a mild cake in the sense that it isn't overwhelming in any way. It is mildly sweet and mildly flavorsome. It is much better at room temperature then when cold as the flavors intensify, and the texture is much more pleasing.

Ingredients: Lemon Zest Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest
2/3 cup chilled, unsalted butter
1 large egg beaten
1/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream (you may need extra)

Ingredients: Cheese Filling
8 oz. cream cheese at room temp.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp. salt

Ingredients: Fruit Topping
2 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
4-6 large, ripe peaches. You can also use apples or pears.

Ingredients: Glaze
1/2 cup apricot jam
3 Tbs. brandy
3 Tbs. water

Method: Tart Crust
1. Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, salt, sugar, and lemon zest together on low speed for 30 seconds.
2. Cut the chilled butter into 1/2-inch pieces.
3. Add the butter to the flour mixture and combine on low speed for 1-1.5 min. Until the mixture looks crumbly, with dough the size of peas.
4. Whisk the egg with the cream and add to the flour mixture, mixing on low speed until the dough is just combined.
5. Mix for 10 seconds longer. If the dough is too dry to form a ball, add a little more cream - 1 Tbs. at a time.
6. Gently mold the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
7. Roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness on a generously floured flat surface. Fold it over the rolling pin and gently transfer to a greased tart pan. Press it lightly into place.
8. Preheat oven to 375F.

Method: Filling
1. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar together using the medium setting until fluffy.
2. Add the mascarpone and vanilla extract and beat on medium until combined.
3. Add the eggs and beat on medium-high for 1 min.
4. Add the flour and salt, mix on low speed until integrated.
5. Spoon into the unbaked tart crust.

Method: Fruit Topping
1. In a medium bowl mix the cinnamon and sugar together.
2. Peel and cut up the peaches (or apples or pears) into segments.
3. Coat the fruit in the cinnamon and sugar mixture, and place on top of the filling. Try and place the pieces as close together as you can.
4. Bake for 50-55min.

Method: Glaze
1. About 10 min before the tart is due out of the oven, stir the apricot jam, brandy and water together in a small saucepan set over medium heat.
2. Continue heating until the mixture thickens slightly (about 5 min).
3. Cool for about 5 min.
4. Remove the tart from the oven and brush the glaze over the top.

Let the tart cool for at least 1 hour before serving. To keep, cover and place in the refrigerator. Will keep for 2 days. Serve at room temp.

Taken from Rebecca Rather and Alison Oresman, The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes from the Texas Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe pp. 40-1.

Mexican Chocolate Cakes

OK, they are ugly, but they are amazing - trust me. They are rich (so rich I was unable to finish one), dense and sweet. The consistency is somewhat like a brownie, but the added cinnamon adds a touch of differentiation. Really tasty.

Ingredients: Cake
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbs. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1.5 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt

Ingredients: Chocolate-Pecan Glaze
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup high quality dark cocoa powder (I simply used the Dutch-process cocoa powder I used for the cake)
2 cups sifted powdered sugar (sifted then measured)
1 Tbs. rum or vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Method: Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Grease a 9 inch tube pan, or a 10-12 cup bundt pan, or 6 mini bundt pans. This will also make nice cupcakes (depending on size between 12-18).
3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat.
4. Add the cocoa and whisk until smooth.
5. Add the water and whisk until smooth - do not bring to a boil.
6. Remove from the heat. Add the sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract all at once to the mixture. Whisk until smooth.
7. Add the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon all at once; whisk until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated. Don't fret over the small lumps.
8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
9. If using one large pan bake for 40-45 min. I used mini bundts and I baked for 30min. Cupcakes require around 20min. The cake(s) should feel firm to the touch, and should pull away slightly from the pan.
10. Let the cake cool in pan for around 20 min, cupcakes for 10 min.

Method: Glaze
1. Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet and toast them for 7-9 min, at 350F.
2. Chop the pecans.
3. Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan.
4. Add the milk, cocoa, and powdered sugar and whisk until glossy.
5. Remove from heat and add the pecans, salt and rum.

Method: Assembly
1. Remove the Cake from the pan(s).
2. Spoon glaze over the cake(s).

This cake can be kept covered at room temp for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen for 3 weeks without the glaze.

Taken from The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes from the Texan Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe. By Rebecca Rather, and Alison Oresman pp. 67-9.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Apple Shortbread Cake

This is a plain cake that goes well with a coffee or a tea. It is sweet, but not too sweet.

Ingredients: Shortbread
2.5 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 stick + 5 Tbs. unsalted butter at room temp.
1 cup + 2 Tbs sugar
1 large egg
1 large yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients: Caramelized Apples
3 apples (I used fuji)
3 Tbs unsalted butter
3 Tbs sugar

Method: Shortbread
1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. With a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on low speed. Beat until soft and smooth.
3. Add 1 cup of the sugar, and mix until it mixes well into the butter.
4. Reduce the speed to low, and add the egg and egg yolk, beating until they are incorporated.
5. Beat in the vanilla extract.
6. Take the bowl out of the mixer, and using a rubber spatula add the flour mixture in until it is just incorporated.
7. Turn onto a work surface and mix in any remaining dry ingredients by hand.
8. Divide the dough into 2, and make each into a flat disk. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 15-30min.
9. Center a rack in the oven, and preheat to 350F. Lightly butter a 9 inch springform pan, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
10. Make the caramelized apples.

Method: Caramelized Apples
1. Peel and core the apples, chop in half, cut each half lengthwise into 8 slices, and then crosswise.
2. Put a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter.
3. When the butter has melted, sprinkle over the sugar. Cook together for 1-2 min (you want the sugar to caramelize not burn, so adjust the heat accordingly).
4. Toss in the apples. Turn the apples once or twice, until they are tender but not soft (around 3-5min). They should have a golden color.
5. Transfer to a plate.

Method: Assembly
1. Work with 1 piece of dough at a time. For the bottom layer put the dough in the springform pan and spread out with finger tips until it covers the bottom of the pan.
2. Place a layer of caramelized apples on top (at this stage you can add some spices if you like to the apples).
3. On a work surface, spread out the second piece of dough on the plastic wrap until you have a size that will cover the top of the caramelized apples.
4. Place the dough on top of the apples, and remove the plastic wrap. Use your fingers to even it out if necessary.
5. Brush the top of the cake with a little water. Sprinkle over the 2 tsp of sugar.
6. Bake for 35-40 min, or until the top of the cake is lightly golden, and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
7. Place on a cooling rack and cool for 20 min.
8. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan, and remove the sides of the pan.

Dorie Greenspan From My Home to Yours. pp. 208-9 and 408.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Experiments with Brioche: Jam Buns

A slightly sweet, deeply rich bun. It can be made with or without the icing.
I used around 1/2 the brioche dough. I baked half of the and then froze the other half. They will keep for 2 months tightly wrapped in the freezer. Defrost overnight, and then treat as you would normally (30 min rising time, and then bake).

1/2 brioche dough
2 Tbs raspberry jam
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp water
1. On a lightly floured bench, roll out brioche dough into a rectangle roughly 16 x 12 inches, with the narrow edge towards you.
2. Spread the jam evenly over the dough, leaving a couple of cm (1 inch) spare around the edge farthest from you.
3. Roll the dough from the edge closest to you, to the edge farthest away from you. Making sure that the roll is tight.
4. Using a sharp knife cut the jam log into 1 inch rolls, and place on the baking sheet. At this stage you can tightly wrap the log with glad wrap and place in the freezer - it keeps for around 2 months.
5. Preheat the oven to 375F.
6. Allow the buns to rise for 30 min.
7. Bake for around 20-25 min. Make sure at around half way through baking, you rotate the baking sheet, for even baking.
8. Place on a cooling rack to cool.
9. Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and add the 1 tsp of water. Stir until combined, and drizzle on top of the rolls.

Experiments with Brioche: Nectarine and Brandy Tart

This is made using around 1/3 of the brioche dough. It makes a wonderful, crispy tart. The nectarines are not fully bakes, and so they are soft fleshed, but hold their shape. The brandy adds a bit of zest, to an otherwise plain tart.

1/3 of Brioche dough (see Experiments with Brioche: Dinner Rolls.
1 large fresh nectarine, washed and cut into slices
1 Tbs. brandy
2 Tbs demera sugar
1-2 Tbs apricot jam

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.. Roll out 1/3 of the dough into a circle.

3. Combine the nectarine pieces, sugar and rum in a small bowl.

4. Smear the bottom of the dough with apricot jam.

5. Place the nectarine pieces in the center.

6. Roll the edges of the dough inwards, to form a crust.

7. Preheat the oven to 375F.

8. Allow the dough to rise for 30 min in a warm place.

9. Bake for 20-25 min, or until the crust is a golden brown and the jam is bubbling.

10. Place on a cooling rack.
11. Serve by itself or with whipped cream, or ice cream.

Experiments with Brioche: Dinner Rolls

The premise behind my experiments is that I try to do something different with brioche dough. The amount of dough I give here, in this recipe, was the same dough I used for all three recipes.
These dinner rolls are a buttery wonder. They are rich and crispy, really rather nice.
Ingredients: Basic Brioche Dough
2 packets of active dry yeast
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch milk
3.75 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
3 eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature (but still slightly firm) cut into 2 Tbs pieces
1. Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved.
2. Add the flour and salt, and fit the mixer with a dough hook.
3. Put a tea towel over the mixer (to prevent the flour from covering everything when you mix it).
4. Turn the mixer on and off for a few short pulses, then remove the towel.
5. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for 1 - 2mins, just until the flour is moistened.
6. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar.
7. Increase the speed to medium and beat for around 3 min, until the dough makes a ball.
8. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2 Tbs sized chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next piece. The dough will soft, and more like a batter then a conventional dough at this stage.
9. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl (around 10 min).
10. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to rise in a warm place for 30-40min.
11. Pick the dough up from the sides, and let it fall back down into the bowl with a slap.
12. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Every 30min for the next 2 hours, slap the dough down in the bowl.
13. Leave the dough in the fridge overnight.
14. Use as you please.
Method: Dinner Rolls
1. Cover a baking sheet with baking parchment.
2. Simply roll handfuls of the dough into balls, and place onto the baking sheet. Using a sharp knife cut a cross into the top of the rolls.
3. Preheat oven to 375F.
3. Allow to rise at room temperature for 30min.
4. Bake for 15-25 min (depending on the size of the rolls). They will be baked when they are a light brown color, and when tapped sound hollow.
5. Let cool on a cooling rack.
The basic recipe for brioche is taken from Dorie Greenspans Baking From My Home To Yours, pp. 48-50.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Brioche Pluot Tart

This tart should be served on the day it is baked. You can use a number of different fruits, apricots, plums, pluots. Most stone fruits would work with this.

Ingredients: Brioche
1.5 tsp. active dry yeast
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbs. sugar
Pinch of salt
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs at room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients: Filling
7-9 large pluots (plums or apricots would do as well, I used both pluots and plums - though pluots were the majority)
2 Tbs. coarsely chopped walnut (or other nut, but not peanut)
3 Tbs. sugar
1/4 cup jam (I used plum because I used pluots, if you use apricots, use apricot jam and so on)

Method: Brioche
1. Put the yeast and warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir until the yeast dissolves.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients, and mix with a dough hook on low speed for 2 min.

3. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 7-10 min (every now and then scrape down the sides of the bowl and the hook with a rubber spatula).

4. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave it in a warm place to rise for 30-40 min.

5. Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it slap into the bowl.

6. Cover again and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours. In this time, check the dough every half hour, and slap the dough down (you want it to stop rising).

7. If you have the time, leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight.

Method: Filling and Assembly
1. Butter a 9 inch tart pan.

2. Press the chilled dough into the pan. Cover and refrigerate for 30 min.

3. While it is in the refrigerator prepare the filling. Cut the pluots into slices (if you have a plum or apricot the is easily removed from its pit, simple cut it in half - I find that pluots for the most part cling, and so halving is imposable).

4. Toss the chopped nuts with the sugar.

5. Remove the tart pan from the fridge and push and press the dough up the sides of the pan.

6. Spread the jam onto the dough, and then place the pluot pieces in concentric circles on top. Sprinkle the sugar and nut mix on top.

7. Place on a baking sheet and let it rise in a warm place for 30 min.

8. Meanwhile center a rack and preheat the oven to 425F.

9. Uncover the tart and bake for around 20 min (check after 15 min - you don't want it too brown).

10. Place a foil tent over the tart and bake for another 10-15min (until the fruit juices are bubbling, and the crust firm and a wonderful brown).

11. Transfer the tart to a rack to cool.

12. After 5 min remove the tart pan.

13. Serve after at least 45 min of cooling time.

Once again, the wonderful Dorie Greenspan, pp. 54-5.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Salt and Pepper Cocoa Shortbread

These are really hard to describe. They are chocolaty, but more like a dark chocolate with a slightly bitter edge. Great with a coffee, or a sweet hot chocolate.

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 sticks unsalted butter
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Sift the flour and cocoa together.

2. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on low speed until soft and smooth.

3. Add the confectioners sugar and mix until the butter is smooth.

4. Add the egg yolk, salt, pepper, and vanilla and mix until smooth.

5. Add the flour and cocoa mixture in 3 additions, beating on low speed - just until incorporated.

6. Put the dough onto a work surface and divide it in half.

7. With each half form it into a 6 inch long rod.

8. Wrap them in glad wrap, and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours (you can freeze these, or they can be refrigerated for up to 4 days).

9. Preheat the oven to 350F.

10. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

11. Cut dough into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick, and place on the baking sheet.

12. Bake for 14-16 min, making sure that at the 7 min mark you swap the trays around from top to bottom and from back to front.

13. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Dorrie Greenspan again, pp. 128-129

Banana & Rum Cake

A moist, fruity cake with a slight taste of rum.

Ingredients: Banana Cake
2.75 cups all-purpose flour

1.25 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1.5 sticks of unsalted butter at room temp
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs at room temp
2 Tbs. rum
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 can of unsweetened coconut milk (can use light as I did)
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup raisins

Ingredients: Rum Syrup
1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water

Ingredients: Cream Filling
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs. confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Method: Banana Cake
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350F.

2. Butter 2 springform pans, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess.

3. Mix the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt together in a bowl.

4. With a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is creamy.

5. Add the sugars and beat for a couple of min.

6. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Then add the vanilla and the rum.

7. Lower the speed and add the bananas. Keep it on low speed while you add the coconut milk and the flour - add the dry ingredients and liquid ingredients alternately, adding the flour mixture in three portions and the coconut milk in two (begin and end with the dry ingredients).

8. Mix until everything is just Incorporated.

9. Using a rubber spatula gently stir in the coconut and raisins.

10. Divide the batter between the two pans.

11. Bake for around 45 min, or until the cakes are a deep golden brown.

Method: Rum Syrup (make this while the cake is in the oven)
1. Stir the water and the sugar together in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then bring it to a boil.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the rum.

3. Pour the syrup in a heat-proof bowl and let it cool down.

Method: Assembly
1. Transfer baked cakes to a cooling rack to for 5 min, and then unmold and place back on the racks.

2. With a thin knife, poke small slits all over the cakes.

4. With a pastry brush, slowly brush on the rum syrup on the cake.

5. Leave the cakes to cool to room temp.

6. Prepare the whipped cream filling (whisk the cream and sugar together, until thick and pretty firm - then mix in the vanilla extract by hand).

7. Add a thick layer of whipped cream onto one of the cakes and then place the other cake on top.
Once again from Baking From My Home To Yours, Dorie Greenspan pp. 204-5.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Zucchini & Apple Bread

I had a challenge this week, I was given 1/2 a beautiful, huge, home grown zucchini to use. I used half of it for a roast zucchini stuffed with brown rice, and the other half for this bread.
I know what you're thinking, boring, tasteless, dry bread - but this isn't. It is a moist, flavorsome bread that tastes more like a cake due to the addition of freshly grated cinnamon and nutmeg. Really very nice; nice to make (quick preparation) and tasty as well.

1/2 cup (50 grams) pecans or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup shredded raw zucchini (1-2 zucchini)
1/2 cup peeled and grated raw apple, (about 1 large apple)
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (120 ml) safflower or canola oil
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Grease (or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray) a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan. Set aside.

2. Toast the pecans or walnuts for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop coarsely.

3. Grate the zucchini, using a medium grater, and then peel and grate the apple. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract until well blended (about 2 minutes).

5. Beat in the grated zucchini and apple.

6. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined.

7. Then fold in the nuts and coconut.

8. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes.

9. Place on a wire rack to cool and then remove the bread from the pan.

Well wrapped, this bread will keep for several days at room temperature or for several days in the refrigerator (if frosted).

Friday, August 3, 2007

Chocolate Brandy Cake

This is a dense, rich and moist cake - nearly a meal in itself.

Ingredients: Cake
2/3 cup finely ground pecans
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
12 plump, moist prunes, cut into bits
1/4 cup water + 3 Tbs water
1/4 cup brandy (or Armagnac, cognac, or whisky)
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup sugar

Ingredients: Glaze
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 Tbs vegetable oil

1. Center a rack in the oven, and preheat to 375F.

2. Butter a springform pan, and fit the bottom with parchment paper, then butter the paper. Dust the inside of the springofm with flour, and tap out the excess. Put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

3. Whisk together the nuts, flour and salt.

2. Put the prunes and 1/4 cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, being careful not to burn the prunes until the water almost evaporates.

3. Take the pan from the heat, and add the brandy. Set the brandy aflame. When the flames die out transfer the fruit and any liquid to a bowl and let it cool down.

4. Combine the chocolate, butter and the remaining 3Tbs of water in a bowl and microwave until the chocolate is just melted and not very hot - you don't want the butter and chocolate to separate.

5. In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until thick and pale, about 2 min.

6. Switch to a rubber spatula and, one by one, stir in the chocolate and butter mixture, the nut mixture, and the prunes with any liquid. Fold in the flour.

7. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until firm, glossy peaks form.

8. Stir about 1/4 of the eggs whites into the batter, and then fold in the rest.

9. Pour into the springform.

10. Bake for 28-38 min, until it is puffed, firm on top and starting to come away from the sides of the pan. A thin knife should come out streaky, but not wet.

11. Take the cake and place on a rack to cool for 10 min. Carefully remove the sides of the pan, pull off the bottom of the pan, and let the cake cool down on the rack.

12. Melt the chocolate for the glaze with the oil (in the microwave will do) and then pour on top of the cake. Smooth with a knife.

Taken from Baking: From My Home To Yours, Dorie Greenspan, pp.279-81


These are really good. They are rich, dark and creamy, but they also pack a punch due to the addition of rum. They are finicky to make, especially if your kitchen is like mine and heats up a lot when the oven is on. The best thing to do is to roll your hands in a little cocoa powder (used like flour when touching dough) to prevent the ganache from sticking to your hands.

Ingredients: Truffles
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 Earl Gray teabag (optional)
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbs. light corn syrup
2 Tbs. liquor (I used rum, but kirsch, bourbon or Grand Marinier are good as well. Or you can used brewed coffee, orange juice, or a fruit puree)

Ingredients: Coating
Roasted Hazelnuts

1. Using a serrated knife finely chop the chocolate (the smaller the better as it needs to melt with only the assistance of hot cream).

2. Place the chopped chocolate in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Place the butter in with the chocolate.

3. Bring the cream and corn syrup to boil in a small saucepan (if you like you can add the Earl Gray tea bag at the beginning, and then bring it to a boil. Take the cream off the heat and let the cream and tea bag steep for 10 min. Then put back on the heat and bring to a boil once more).

4. Take the boiling cream off the heat and pour on top of the chocolate and butter.

5. Let it sit for 1min. Then pulse the machine 3 times - scrape down the sides- then pulse the machine 3 more times, and then add the liquor (or other flavoring), and pulse once more.

6. Place in a bowl and put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

7. Roast the hazelnuts in the oven (350F oven for 10 min). Remove the husks (with your fingers or by rubbing them between a tea towel). Chop into pieces - fairly fine, but chunky enough to really taste them,

8. Take the Truffle filling out of the fridge, and take a tablespoon of the mix between lightly cocoa powdered fingers and roll into a semblance of a ball, then place in the hazelnuts*.

9. Put in the fridge, serve when set.

*You can coat the truffles with many things at this time, melted bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder, other types of nuts or toasted coconut.

Taken from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard pp. 16-19.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte

This is a strange one. It is at once sweet (due to the thick layer of jam) and yet strangely savory in the cheese portion. It is very easy to make, and you can use low fat versions of the cheeses as I did, and it sets just as well.

Ingredients: Crust
1.75 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1.5 sticks of unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients: Filling
1/3 cup of thick berry jam (I used raspberry jam, with some fresh raspberries thrown in as well)
9 ounces cream cheese, at room temp.
8 ounces cottage cheese, at room temp.
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly grated cinnamon
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs at room temp.

Method: Crust
1. Butter a 9 inch springform pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Place on a baking sheet.
2. Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse just to blend.
3. Toss in the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
4. Stir the egg yolks and vanilla extract together with a fork, and add to the flour/butter mixture.
5. Pulse until the dough forms clumps - but not a single ball.
6. Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead to get the dry ingredients integrated.
7. Press into the springform pan. The crust should come up the sides around 1.5 inches.
8. Refrigerate for at least 30min.
9. Center a rack in the oven, and preheat the oven to 375F.
10. Fit a piece of buttered aluminium foil against the crust, covering it completely.
11. Fill the crust with dried beans or with rice and slide the baking sheet with the pan into the oven.
12. Bake for 20min, then carefully remove the foil and weights and bake for another 5 min.
13. Transfer to a rack to cool.
14. Lower the temp. of the oven to 350F.

Method: Filling
1. Stir the jam and spread it over the bottom of the crust (it's quite alright to do this when the crust is still warm). It was at this stage I also added fresh raspberries, I simply put them on top of the jam and then squished them down with the back of a fork.
2. Put the cream cheese and cottage cheese into the food processor and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times, for 2 min.
3. Add the sugar, salt and spices, and process for another 30 seconds.
4. Add the eggs and process, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl some more. Process for 1 min.
5. Pour the filling over the jam layer.
6. Bake for 60-70 min, or until the filling is uniformly puffed and no longer jiggly.
7. Gently transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool to room temp. During this time, the cake will lose its puffiness and will collapse to forms a thin layer of cake.
8. Run a blunt knife between the crust and the sides of the pan, then open and remove the sides of the springform.
9. If you like you can dust the slices of cake with icing sugar.

Once again this is from the amazing book by Dorrie Greenspan "Baking: From My Home to Yours" pp. 240-3.