Well, this week has been almost entirely focused on my brother’s arrival with his 5 1/2 daughter next Thursday. He’s the oldest but now he is on my turf. He is an amazing cook and wine connaisseur and I am lucky enough to live in a city rich in diverse foods and ethnicities. We also have quite a few wine shops and wine tasting events that he will appreciate. I have been shopping in order to make easy items like lasagna and quiches that we can pop out of the freezer coming back from the beach or before going out. There won’t be much club going or bar hopping since there is a child but there is plenty to do around Charleston to keep busy.
In that spirit I have benn making quite a few breakfast treats that they can enjoy while visiting that would be a nice change from croissants and tartines.
So my sunday prep. work was : make and bake cinnamon buns, cinnamon and walnuts buns, make and refrigerate dough for brioche, and make and refrigerate dough for danishes.
I talked to my niece on the phone this afternoon and she already told me she wanted to help me make my brownies and madeleines when she is here. The child helped me with a pan of madeleines at the tender age of 3… she loves food…yeah!!!
Recipes and pictures will have to wait until tomorrow though…
My grandmother loved cooking with apples, in sweet and savory dishes. Her specialty or signature dessert was this apple pie made with a shortbread crust and covered with a homemade apple compote. Nothing fancy, nothing grand looking, but it tasted so good. I wanted to make something this afternoon that remimded of her. Around Easter I always get sentimental and miss everybody back home. Easter is big in our family, first because of the religious aspect, but also because of the connection we make each year around the dinner table, hunting our eggs and devoring our chocolate.
I found this recipe on www.fredkitchen.canalblog.com under the "pour le gouter" section (as soon as I find out how to do a hot link, you won’t have to deal with all this…anybody care to help?) . Instead of making it with pears like she did, I chose Granny Smith apples, and it worked just fine. It was delicious warm with a scoop of creme fraiche but I just had another slice cold and it still just as good, a little easier to cut if anything.
You might want to call it Deep Dish Apple Tatin, flufflier, cramier but just as good in caramel and butter.
Gateau Tatin aux pommes
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
150 g creme fraiche or sour cream
tsp. baking powder
With the cup of sugar, make a cramel: put in a pot on stove with a little water and let cook until golden brown. Pour the caramel into a 9 inch cake pan and reserve.
Peel, core and slice the apples. Put them in a nice pattern in the bottom of the pan, reserve.
In bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Add the flour and baking powder, then the sour cream.
Pour over the apples and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clear.
…trial size wedding cake for when your friends come for dinner!
T & D came last weekend and since I’ll be making their cake, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do a test run.
Guess what recipe I chose for the cake…? Yes! the Jam filled butter cake recipe posted a few days ago. Their cake is going to be 4 tiers, very simple. The decorations mimic the pattern on their enveloppes and ties their whole theme together: early afternoon wedding, casual with some flair, because after the reception everybody kicks their shoes off for a Cinco de Mayo party at the beach.
Back to the cake, the bottom layer and the 3rd one are going to be vanilla with a strawberry and Grand Marnier filling, the 2nd and top tiers are going to be chocolate cake with almond Amaretto filling. For the chocolate tiers I took the same recipe but reduced the amount of flour and added cocoa powder and melted chocolate. The buttercream was a very simple French Buttercream, not too sweet but good in vanilla. My only complaint, there are a lot of crumbs left on my spatula when I go spread the buttercream, and a long chill is necessary after your crumb coating.
They loved it and agreed that the layers needed more booze….it’s going to be a fun reception!
I love finding a recipe that can work in many different ways, whether it is a cake or a brioche or a danish dough. Same goes with a bread recipe. The other night I took the dough for my sourdough baguette and made focaccia.
I’ve got Cinnamon Buns proofing and I’d better go check on them…will be back for that post tommorrow.
I have never had a bad experience with any of the recipes in Bo Friberg’s book, The Professional Pastry Chef , and I have used his book quite a lot at the restaurant when I got started and I wanted to impress the bosses or the patrons. I like the fact that he gives the recipes scaled for large and small productions and that he always provides the history of the food in question.
Here is what he says about brioche:
"This light and French specialty, so rich in buter and eggs, is said to have gotten its name from the French word "brier", which means to pound. I assume this related to the dough’s lengthy kneading process, which long ago, before electric mixers, simply meant pounding the dough until it reaches the desired consistnecy.
The most typical shape for brioche is a round fluted base with slightly slopping sides and a round knot on top. (…) Brioche dough is very versatile and is used frequently for encasing other foods: it can be wrapped around a wheel of cheese, it is used for : Beef en croute", and in the Russian classsic: Kulebiaka (Coulibiac in French) where the dough is filled with layers of salmon, rice, eggs and herbs. Individual baked brioche are sometimes hollowed out and filled with savory stews or fruit and cream for dessert."
…and to think I decided for the plain old traditional way…makes me want to mix another batch for sunday’s dinner…Beef en croute anyone?
For 18 individual Brioches:
For the Sponge: mix together 1 oz. fresh compressed yeast (or 0.5 dry), 1/2 cup warm milk, 2 Tb. honey and 4 oz. bread flour. cover and let rise until doubled.
For the dough:
add to the sponge 2 tsp. of salt, 2oz. granulated sugar, 4 eggs. Mix in 1/2 pound cake flour and 4 to 8 oz. cake flour. Start by adding 4, and if the dough is too sticky continue to add up to 8. Incorporate 4 oz. very soft butter
The dough should not stick to the sides of the bowl and have a shiny appearance. Cover and refrigerate 5 to 6 hours, or until doubled. If you want to use it earlier, let rise at room temp. Punch the dough down and shape into individual molds. Bake at 375 degrees until hollow when tapped, about 20 minutes.
I have always been a brioche lover. I owe my love of anything sweet to my grandmother but no one in my family is a bread baker. I am the only one who really enjoys spending hours mixing and kneading dough, filling danishes and parisiennes and making brioches. I love it warm from the oven on a sunday morning, toasted with some Nutella as an afternoon snack. What I also enjoys about it is the versatility of the dough. While I was working at the restaurant, the chefs would have me bake it into loaves or cut into rounds to use with their foie gras or rillettes.
Sunday morning I got my usual treat of brioche and strawberry jam, but our guests also enjoyed it as crostinis for an appetizer while grilling some steaks. I will post the recipe tomorrow, adapted from Bo Friberg’s The Professional Pastry Chef, and promise to have figured out by then how to do a hot link so I don’t have to link a whole url!!!. ..you get pics though..
As promised here are the recipes I used for the previous post.
For the cake, I was looking for a recipe close to that of a Gateau de Savoie, but without the fuss of separating the eggs and beating the whites to a foam. …I get lazy like that sometimes. This cake fits the bill perfectly. It is buttery and smooth, yet not too rich and takes notime to put together. The addition of homemade strawberry jam does not hurt either. Next time, I think I will use the Lemon preserve in there, with some whipped cream added in between the layers.
It came out so nice that I have decided to use it for 2 of the tiers of the wedding cake I am making for B.’s buddy next month. On a simpler note, this cake is so good with a cup of tea as an afternoon snack…
Here is the recipe:
Plain & Simple Jam-Filled Butter Cake , adapted from Flo Braker INGREDIENTS:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces ( 1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup jam of choice, such as apricot, plum or strawberry
1/4 cup powdered sugar
INSTRUCTIONS: Bring all ingredients to room temperature. Adjust rack to lower third of oven; preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9-inch round springform pan; insert a round of parchment or waxed paper in bottom of pan.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper; set aside.
Using an electric mixer, preferably with paddle attachment, beat the butter in a large bowl at medium speed until it is smooth and creamy.
Maintaining the same speed, add the sugar in a steady stream. When all the sugar is added, stop the machine and scrape the mixture clinging to the sides of the bowl into the center of the bowl. Continue to cream at the same speed for 3 minutes, or until the mixture is light in color and fluffy in appearance. Add the extracts in the final moments of beating the butter and sugar.
With the mixer still on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each one thoroughly into the mixture before adding the next. When the mixture appears fluffy, reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three additions alternately with the milk in two additions. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally, and mix until smooth after each addition. Spoon the batter evenly into the pan.
Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Carefully release the springform and remove the metal ring from around the cake. Cool completely before removing the cake from the metal form.
Using a long serrated knife, cut the cake layer in half horizontally. Set the bottom cake layer on a serving plate and spread the jam over the cut surface. Place the top portion of the cake cut-side down on the jam-covered layer.
Assorted Danishes, adapted from Better Homes and Gardens:
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 degrees F to 115 degrees F)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/3 cup milk
1 egg yolk
6 Tbsp. cold butter, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 recipe Powdered Sugar Icing
1. In a bowl stir yeast into warm water to soften. In a second mixing bowl beat the 1/4 cup butter, sugar, and salt until creamy. Add 1/2 cup of the flour, the cardamom, and milk. Add the egg and egg yolk. Add softened yeast; beat until well combined. Stir in remaining flour and the raisins until smooth and dough comes together. Cover bowl; let rise in a warm place until double (about 2 hours). Refrigerate dough 6 hours. (Or omit 2-hour rising time and refrigerate dough 12 to 24 hours.)
2. Grease a baking sheet; set aside. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface.
3. Roll dough into a 15×10-inch rectangle. Place half the butter slices evenly on dough; lightly press butter into dough. Fold dough crosswise into thirds. Rotate dough a quarter turn to the right. Repeat rolling and folding using remaining butter slices. Roll again to 15×10-inch rectangle; fold crosswise into thirds. Give dough a quarter turn to the right.
4. Roll folded dough into a 12×9-inch rectangle. Cut dough into twelve 3-inch squares. Fold corners of square into center, pressing lightly to seal. Place each on prepared baking sheet. Using the rounded side of a floured tablespoon, press firmly to make an indentation in the center of each dough square. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (45 to 55 minutes). (You may see the butter slices soften and begin to melt out of rolls.) Press indentation again, if necessary. Fill with desired filling
5. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan. Brush with melted butter; cool on wire racks. Meanwhile, prepare Powdered Sugar Icing. . Drizzle each with icing. Makes 12 Danish.
Filling ideas: 4 oz. cream cheese, softed and mixed with 1 whole egg and some vanilla, plus 1/4 cup sugar, some jam or any preserve.
Powdered Sugar Icing: In a small bowl, combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 tablespoon milk. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing reaches drizzling consistency.
Plain and Simple Jam filled Butter Cake from Flo Braker
Over the past few weeks I made lemon marmelade, bitter orange marmelade, strawberry jam with bitter orange syrup, plain strawberry and some with crystallized ginger, as well as banana-chocolate jam. The wall has beeen growing and B. said "great! what do you do now…that I will eat later?!"..and the beast was unleashed..
I am not going to post the recipes tonight because I already had my post ready to go and I did a wrong move and lost it, and it’s late and I am fuming and I am tired…so ciao all and I will post them tomorrow. Can’t wait for breakfast!
The weather here in S.C has been playing tricks on us. We were wearing shorts under sunny skies and 80 degrees last week and today it’s chilly but the sun is still bright and warm. I crave something light but still chocolatey when it’s like this. I have been baking dozens of different types of chocolate chip cookies in the past year trying to find that elusive "Perfect One" and I think I have found the ones that fit both our preferences.
I am a sweets fanatic (duh…), and B. is known as the Cookie Monster. I don’t eat cookies or even thought I liked cookies until I had these a few minutes after they are out of the oven. Buttery, melt in your mouth and soft in the center. For me a cookie is like a mom: scents of vanilla, crunchy on the edges but the womb is soft and warm. Once these are cooled and in a tin, I could care less about having one and generally prefer a nice slide of Gateau de Savoie or a big spoonful of Fudgy Brownies, but not with these.. straight out of the oven, still burning my tongue ever so slightly.
These cookies are courtesy of Tish Boyle, Food Editor for Chocolatier Magazine. The plate is resting on one of her books, Chocolate Passion, co-authored by Moriarty.
Soft Baked Chocolate Chunk Cookies:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/ 2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
2/3 cups walnuts (optional, I omitted these)
Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside. In bowl of electric mixer, whisk together the melted butter and sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients until combined. Stir in the chocolate and walnuts. (the dough can be refrigerated, well wrapped for up to 4 dyas or frozen for up to a month) (if you’re gonna make cookie dough, wouldn’t you want to use it right away?…I’ve always found that part of recipe rather funny)
Using a 2tbs. scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared sheets , spacing the cookies 2 inches apart. Bake 2 sheets at a time 15 to 18 minutes, until just browned around the edges. The centers should be soft and slightly puffy (just like my mama’s belly)
Makes about 2 dozens…if they make it to your tin on time!
While B. is busy fixing the gazillions things left to be perfected around the house, I am busy making sure that my oven can indeed bake and speedbake and that I can run danishes as well as cookies as well as homemade strawberry jam…at the same time. If it can’t take the heat…I definitely need to upgrade!
Weird thing: up until last year I was the pastry chef for a small family owned French restaurant. I used to make 100+ baguettes a day, creme brulees, tartes tatins, tartes au citron, chocolate cake, cheesecakes, nougat glace, and creme caramels, every single day, in one day…now I feel slow when I only make 2 to 3 things. I kinda enjoy spending the time, putsing around on the computer while the dough rises, but I miss my Hobbard, I miss my steam oven and my prooofbox…but then I remember why I left: no dweeb big chef who thinks I am after his line job (not in a million years), I can spend $$$ on chocolate and not have the owner raise her eyebrow because she does not know what brand of Valrhona makes the best gateau. I should stop my rant now, and leave it for the (I feel) next post: "from pastry chef to personal trainer"
The above picture is some of what I did over the weekend: Baguette Monge courtesy of the French blog Papilles et Pupilles , papillesetpupillesannexes.blogspot.com,,, 10 Grain Sandwich Bread from the same blog and ciabatta rolls, handwritten recipe from a baker friend of mine.
Baguette Monge: ingredients for 3 baguettes
– 500 g. bread flour
– 100 g. starter
– 5 g. yeast
– 10 g. salt
– 27 cl. warm water
Put the yeast into a bowl, add 10 cl water and let bloom for 20 minutes. in another bowl, mix the flour and salt. Form a well with a spoon and add the yeast/water combo, add the rest of the water and the starter. Mix well with the dough hook and either knead by hand or still with the mixer for a few minutes (up to 12). Let rest in a covered bowl for 20 minutes. Divide the dough in 3 parts and shape into rounds, let rise another 40 minutes. Form into baguettes and put on a baking sheet, let rise 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 425. Sift some flour over the baguettes and cut slits on top with razor blade. Bake for 20 25 minutes.
This bread comes from the Kayser Bakery, located on Monge street in Paris.
Starter: from Eric Kayser, 100% Pain.
Day 1: mix 50g. warm water and 50g bread flour. Let stand at room temp.
day 2: add 100g warm water and 100g flour, add 20g sugar. Let stand at room temp.
Day 3 : add 200g water and 200g flour. Let stand 12 hours.
Remove quantities as needed for recipes, if not used within 8 days, refrigerate and add more water/flour if the starter seems to lose life.
Pain de Mie or Sandwich Bread:
Mix 1.5 tsp. yeast in 80 ml. warm milk. In stand mixer bowl with dough hook mix 400g. flour (I mix 1/2 bread flour, 1/2 10 grain flour), 15g sugar, 1 tsp. salt, add yeast mixture plus 160ml. warm water, mix well and add 30g soft butter until the dough comes together, knead for a few minutes. Let rise in a draft free place until doubled. Punch dough down and form into a loaf, put into a greased loaf pan and let rise again until doubled. Bake in a preheated 400 oven until sounds hollow when tapped.