Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I had a couple of weeks of working in the culinary kitchens at school, a completely different vibe to the bakery. Kinda busy, seriously hot and manic. But during my time in the culinary kitchens I learned a few things. 

I made crepes for the second time but I used a fry-pan instead of a crepe pan. These are pretty easy to make the trick is to make sure your batter sits for at least an hour, and that you keep the heat pretty low (on my electric stove top it is set at 5 out of 8). 

Crepe Recipe (makes around 12 large crepes)
6 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
3 Tbs butter

Mix using an immersion blender, and then chill for at least an hour before using. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ginger Beer

Yet another utterly unrelated post to baking. Ginger beer. I grew up on this stuff, not like the ginger ale here in America but this burningly good ginger extravaganza. 

We made this baby at school, after we tasted some really good stuff the quarter before us had made which didn't taste boozy at all. However, when we tested the stuff we made, it was incredibly beery...not so good in my book. I want the burn of ginger not of alcohol. 

The chef in charge said that it was probably because the natural yeast/bacteria in the beer had consumed all the sugar, so there wasn't a heap left. I'm guessing the solution would be to add more sugar. 

Hopefully the stuff I'm making at home will work our - I still have nearly a week to go before I can try it out, so fingers are a crossed. 

Once again, ginger beer is relying on the natural bacteria that our environment breeds. So a week before I bottled this baby, I simply grated ginger into water, added some sugar for food and let it sit at room temp (covered in cheese cloth) for about a week feeding it (with more ginger and sugar) every couple of days. This is called a ginger bug. Then you simply cook grated ginger in water, add sugar and let it cool. Add the ginger bug and dilute the solution with some water. Clean out some bottles, pop in the ginger and thats it. Sit and wait for a couple of weeks and you should hopefully have something resembling tastiness, but you never know...

Thank you Josh for the picts on this one!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Star Anise and Grapefruit Cookies

These sounded so weird that I thought I had to try them. I have to say I adore adore adore black licorice so I had no aversion in using star anise, the grapefruit however had me doubting.

The recipe is from the February Bon Appetite and it's by Elizabeth Falkner.

8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup sugar
3 whole star anise
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons finely grated grapefruit peel

Combine chocolate and butter in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 10-second intervals until chocolate is almost melted; remove and stir until melted and smooth. Finely grind 1 teaspoon sugar and 3 star anise in spice mill or small coffee grinder. Transfer to small bowl; whisk in flour, cocoa, coarse salt, and baking powder.
Beat remaining 1/4 cup sugar, eggs, honey, and grapefruit peel in large bowl until thick and smooth. Fold in chocolate, then dry ingredients. Cover bowl; chill batter until cold and firm, at least 45 minutes and up to 1 day.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing mounds 2 inches apart.
Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until dry-looking and tester comes out with moist crumbs still attached, about 10 minutes. Cool on sheet 3 minutes, then transfer to racks and cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight between sheets of waxed paper.

You know the combination worked really well. You would eat a cookie thinking it was chocolate, and it was. The star anise is fairly subtle and then the ending is grapefruit. A pretty amazing cookie.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Earl Gray and Orange Syrup

We have theory nearly everyday, and every Friday we get to make something we've been talking about in theory. For the past couple of weeks we have made jams, and preserves of some kind from an amazing book by Christine Ferber called 'Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber".

It's full of seasonal, kinda bizarre jams and preserves. At school we made a caramel pear jam, a chocolate orange preserve and a marmalade made from mandarins. Some of the ingredients are a smidge obscure, but for the most part most of the recipes are easy to make and rather fascinating in their combinations.

I am currently obsessed (yes utterly obsessed) with tea. And as such, I thought I'd try making one of her preserves that contained tea (several of them do, there is another one in her book which has Jasmine tea in it).

This ended up being a seriously orangey preserve, rather sweet, with a hint of bergamot from the tea. My friend Ayumi adds it to her tea in the mornings and says it's mighty tasty in that!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Red Velvet Cup-Cakes Take Two

It's a method thing. I realized that previously I had written out the recipe for these but failed to give the method, which when I made them multiple times, I realized made a huge difference to the end product.
Main tips: Do not over-mix and make sure to sift the flour.

Red Velvet Cup Cakes Take Two
2.5 cups sifted cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs Dutch Processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1.5 cups granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
3 Tbs red food coloring
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350F, put cup cake wrappers in cup cake baking mold.
2. Sift the flour, salt and cocoa powder into a bowl.
3. Warm the butter up in a microwave for around 15 seconds to get it to room temperature, then place in a mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix.
4. Slowly add the granulated sugar to the butter.
5. Add the red food coloring and vanilla extract to the buttermilk and stir together.
6. Add the eggs, one at a time mixing between each egg to the sugar butter mixture.
7. Add 1/3 of the flour/salt/cocoa mixture to the and mix until just integrated.
8. Add 1/3 buttermilk mixture and mix until integrated. Repeat steps 6 & 7 another two times.
9. In a small bowl add the vinegar and baking soda together.
10. Immediately fold into batter.
11. Fill up the cup cake papers around 1/3 of the way.
12. Bake immediately, rotating 15 min into baking then bake another 6 or so min until a toothpick comes out clean.
13. Let cool, then ice.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bake Sale Baked Goods

I was asked by a friend to make some baked goods for a bake sale she and a group were hosting this week. It was a pretty scary proposition, 320 baked goods (Linzer Cookies, French Macaroons, Fortune Cookies and Red Velvet Cupcakes) made over a few days in my wee kitchen with 1 oven, and two 5 quart blenders.

I had two wonderful people helping me out yesterday (thank you Jamie and Sarah!) and I don't think I would have been able to complete everything without their help.

I made many test batches of goods, especially the macaroons, which I had never made before. I tried two recipes and ended up liking the flavor of the first, but the look of the second. The red velvet cakes also ended up being rather difficult due to the consistency of the batter, but we figured out what worked best.

The recipe that worked (we tried three) was:

Red Velvet Cake (taken and only slightly adapted from "Joy of Baking" http://www.joyofbaking.com/RedVelvetCake.html)
2 1/2 cups (250 grams) sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (15 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
3 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
1 teaspoon white apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

The macaroons were another matter. As mentioned earlier, I loved the taste of the one from Cooking Illustrated Holiday Baking edition, but the texture wasn't right. They were flat, and the color was too bright. So I tried the wonderful Tartelette's macaroons (very similar to: http://tartelette.blogspot.com/2009/02/i-heart-macarons.html).

I thought they looked lovely, I used both pink and blue food coloring (I added the liquid food (4 drops of red to one drop of blue for a very light pink batter) coloring to the sugar and let it dry out so it wouldn't effect the consis
tency of the batter). I like the look, but not the flavor as much, so I would add some vanilla extract to them next time I made them, in the same way I added the liquid food coloring (to the sugar).

All up this was an experience. Many late nights, lots of planning a nd pricing. It was an interesting project, and if given enough time to plan ahead one I would love to do again!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Kimchi - The Beginning

We've started to ferment things in class - doing the ol' sauerkraut and ginger beer thing. But we also made kim chi, which I had never really liked before. So I waited to try the stuff at school. It was actually amazingly tasty. Fresh, gingery and garlicy this stuff is slightly spicy but more....fresh. 

I thought I'd make it at home. We'll see how the results fair!