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Fran suggested I create a blog to document my culinary journey. This meander has no real direction, other than what we eat at a restaurant or see on a baking show, and say “Hey, that looks good. Let’s try it.”. (Header photo of Middlebury falls where we grew up is by my life long friend David Griggs. Please visit his website  www.djgriggsphoto.com.)

I don’t brew as much as I did before. Maybe once the summer heat lessens I will brew a little more. I am interested in trying a home brew lager, which requires cooler fermentation temperatures, something we have in the autumn/winter months. We’ll see.
Enjoy.

For anyone either interested in
Ancient Fiction or
with some time on their hands,
try my writer’s blog
toahotelsomeplace.com for samples.
The entire work is available
on Amazon and Kindle .

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When You Wish Upon A Star…

 

(a Cinnamon Star Bread that is,) “Makes no difference who you are.”
I saw this recipe on KAF as part of their CINNAMON STAR BREAD BAKEALONG: CHALLENGE #16.   These are fun ways to improve and augment anyones baking skills, no matter who you are, plus they result in a delicious product (when executed properly.)

Dusted Completed bread

INGREDIENTS

DOUGH

  • 2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ cup potato flour
  • ¼ cup nonfat dry milk
  • ¾ cup + 2 to 4 tablespoons lukewarm water, enough to make a soft, smooth dough
  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

FILLING

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

METHOD

  1. First, measure the flour by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Next, sift the flour, potato flour, and dry milk through a strainer; this is an important step to prevent lumps in the dough. (If you’re using instant mashed potatoes rather than potato flour you can skip this sifting step.)
  2. To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead —I use a mixer and dough hook — to make a soft, smooth dough.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 60 minutes, until it’s nearly doubled in bulk.
  4. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, cover the balls, and allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
  5. On a lightly greased or floured work surface, roll one piece of dough into a 10″ circle. Place the circle on a piece of parchment, brush a thin coat of beaten egg on the surface, then evenly sprinkle with 1/3 of the cinnamon-sugar, leaving 1/4″ of bare dough around the perimeter.
  6. Roll out a second circle the same size as the first, and place it on top of the filling-covered circle. Repeat the layering process — egg, cinnamon sugar, dough circle — leaving the top circle bare.
  7. Place a 2 1/2″ to 3″ round cutter in the center of the dough circle as a guide. I used a 3/4 cup measuring cup and scored the center of the top ring. With a bench knife or sharp knife, cut the circle into 16 equal strips, from the cutter to the edge, through all the layers.
  8. Using two hands, pick up two adjacent strips and twist them away from each other twice so that the top side is facing up again. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough so that you end up with eight pairs of strips.
  9. Pinch the pairs of strips together to create a star-like shape with eight points. Be sure the ends are well pinched or they will separate.
  10. Transfer the star on the parchment to a baking sheet. Cover the star and let it rise until it becomes noticeably puffy, about 45 minutes.
  11. While the star is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
  12. Completed breadBrush the star with a thin coat of the beaten egg. Bake it for 12 to 15 minutes, until it’s nicely golden with dark brown cinnamon streaks; the center should register 200°F on a digital thermometer.
  13. Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.
  14. Store any leftover bread, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

3 Strikes In A Row!

As you may know, I often make a “practice” cake prior to producing the “public” cake. Thanksgiving Windtorte“Practice” cakes do not leave the kitchen, (unless they are good.) I made a practice Thanksgiving cake based on a Spanische Windtorte as seen on GBBO. It looked beautiful and tasted awful. It would have been easier to eat a half cup of sugar with a strawberry chaser.
I fell back to a standard chocolate cake but decorated with a Thanksgiving theme. The feathers are chocolate, white chocolate and butterscotch chips, warmed, mixed with corn syrup, rolled into long thick strings, braided, rolled and cut into equilateral triangles, about 2″ on each side. Fold one side and pinch together forming the feather.

 

Frost the chocolate cake using a spatula to make feathers across the top. Array 18 chocolate frosted cupcakes (I used white cake for variety for the guests) around the frosted chocolate cake. Place the feathers on the cupcakes and add a few to the front side of the turkey body.

Frost one cupcake with white buttercream, form some red dyed gum paste into the snood and waddle and invert a chocolate chip (pointy side down) into the top as an eye.

Boom!

Chocolate Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
  2. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.
  4. To make the frosting, use the second set of ingredients. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Stir in the cocoa and confectioners’ sugar alternately with the milk and vanilla. Beat to a spreading consistency.
  5. Split the layers of cooled cake horizontally, cover the top of each layer with frosting, then stack them onto a serving plate. Frost the outside of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk

METHOD

  1. Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave, or in the top of a double boiler. In a large bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and 1/2 cup of the milk. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture. Add remaining milk, a little at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.
  2. Let stand until spreadable (frosting will thicken as it cools).

Heavenly White Cake (Cupcakes)

INGREDIENTS                                               

  • 2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Measure sifted flour, baking powder, and salt; sift together three times.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually, and continue beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.
  3. Cream butter or margarine. Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Mix in flavorings. Add meringue, and beat thoroughly into batter. Spread batter in a 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan which has been lined on the bottom with parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes, then remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. This cake may also be baked in two 9 inch round pans for 30 to 35 minutes, or in three 8 inch round pans for 25 to 30 minutes.

Just a Pretty Face

As my regulars know, I am a big GBBO fan. For the past couple of years I have been mesmerized by Mary Berry’s Spanische Windtorte. When asked to bring a dessert of my choice to Thanksgiving dinner, I thought, “What a perfect opportunity to try the windtorte.” (Full disclosure, Fran suggested this, it was not my original thought.) Substituting pumpkins and colored leaves for the violets satisfied my sense of holiday decorum. Well, the result is that this was a very pretty cake and I think I would have done very well in the GBBO Technical Challenge. However, it would have been easier to eat a couple of tablespoons of pure sugar as that is exactly what it tasted like. If it weren’t for the whipped cream and berry mixture filling the cake, it would have no edible redeeming value. Pretty, but also, pretty disappointing.

I made the below recipe of French meringue and piped two 8″ diameter disks and three 8″ diameter rings onto parchment paper. These were baked at 200F for an hour. With some difficulty the meringue was lifted from the paper. One disk was used as the base and the three rings were stacked, one at a time, using several thick meringue mounds to “glue” them together. The whole structure was then baked for 45 min, again at 200F.

6 small

Once cooled, the balance of the meringue was used to “frost” the side of the cake. By this time the meringue was a bit thin and even vigorous beating could not thicken it. I should have made a new batch, but struggled on (this was just a practice cake after all.) The resultant side of the cake was not as smooth I would have liked, but was ok. I simply trimmed the bottom of the cake where meringue dripped.

The cake was filled with the whipped cream and berry mixture from the recipe below and the top added. This resulted in the very pretty cake seen above.

INGREDIENTS

For the French meringue shell

For the Swiss meringue decoration

For the filling

METHOD

  1. Line 3 large baking trays with baking parchment. Draw 2 x 20cm/8in circles on 2 of the trays and 1 x 20cm/8in circle on 1 of the trays. (You should end up with 5 x 20cm/8in circles). Preheat the oven to 200F.
  2. For the meringue shell, tip the egg whites and cream of tartar into a large spotlessly clean bowl and whisk with an electric mixer on high speed until the whites form stiff peaks. Add the caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously to make a thick, glossy meringue.
  3. Spoon two-thirds of the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm/⅝in plain nozzle. Pipe a thick ring inside one of the circles on the baking tray and continue spiraling until the entire circle is filled. Repeat with a second circle. These create the base and the top of the meringue cake.
  4. Repeat the process with the 3 remaining circles, except don’t fill in the circles, so that you have three hoops of meringue – these create the sides of the meringue shell. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  5. When the meringues are dry, gently slide 1 of the cooked, filled meringues onto a 30cm/12in heatproof (to 200F) serving plate. Spoon the remaining meringue into the piping bag and pipe 8 blobs of meringue, evenly spaced around the edge of the circle. Place 1 of the meringue hoops on top and press down very gently to stick the hoop to the base.
  6. Repeat the process with the remaining 2 hoops of meringue. Roughly pipe the remaining one-third of meringue around the sides to disguise the hoops. Using a spatula smooth out the meringue so that the sides are smooth and straight and look like a cake. Bake on the serving plate for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  7. For the Swiss meringue decoration, set a large mixing bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Tip the egg whites and sugar into the bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the meringue reaches 70C on a sugar thermometer.
  8. Remove from the heat and continue whisking until cool and stiff. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Pipe a pretty border around the base, the middle and the top edge of the meringue shell. Pipe a border around the outside edge and the middle of the filled meringue circle that will become the lid. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  9. For the filling, whip the cream and icing sugar together in a bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Whisk in the orange blossom water and gently fold in the strawberries and raspberries. Spoon into the cooled meringue cake shell. Top with the decorated meringue lid.

The Scarlet Pumpernickel

Well maybe not scarlet, but not dark brown either. I slowly bought all the ingredients (or so I thought) to make a pumpernickel boule. KAF had a recipe I liked and ordered all the odd ingredients (or so I thought) to make it on my Wednesday “me day.” Somehow I missed it was supposed to be “White Whole Wheat Flour,” well, I had normal off-white whole wheat flour and it would have to do. I did buy the Deli Rye Flavor and the “Vital Wheat Gluten.” I forgot the Pumpernickel Artisan Bread Flavor is currently out of stock at KAF and is only on my wish list. With inspir/desperation, I removed 1//2 cup of the specified flours, added 1/2 cup pumpernickel flour, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. According to comments on the KAF recipe omitting the Pumpernickel Artisan Bread Flavor will cause the bread to be a lighter color than the expected (and desired) chocolate/coffee/pumpernickel brown. It is, in fact, a good rye bread color. Actually, the taste was pretty darned ok also.pumpernickel boule 1

PUMPERNICKEL BOULE

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Pumpernickel Artisan Bread Flavor
  • 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten, recommended to prevent a collapsed loaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon Deli Rye Flavor, optional, for more assertive rye flavor
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm water

METHOD

  1. Combine all of the ingredients and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until the dough is elastic and slightly sticky.
  2. Let the dough rise in a lightly greased, covered bowl for 1 to 2 hours; it should become puffy.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled surface. Gently deflate it, and shape it into a ball.
  4. Place the shaped loaf into a round brotform covered with a flour dusted liner.
  5. Let the loaf rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it’s almost doubled in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425°F with the stoneware baker (e.g., Emile Henry) inside to pre-heat it.
  7. Spray the bottom of the stoneware baker with olive oil and carefully tip the loaf into it.  The loaf will deflate slightly, so be careful.
  8. Slash the loaf diagonally in several places, and cover with the lid. .
  9. Bake the loaf for 30 to 40 minutes, remove the lid, and bake for another 5 minutes; the bread will be dark. When done, it’ll be crusty, and a digital thermometer inserted into the center will read 190°F to 200°F.
  10. Remove the bread from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool completely.

…Thrill on Blueberry Hill

Having just washed some rust and dirt from my hands caused by carrying some rebar I bought at Home Depot (for the uninformed, rebar is a steel rod with ridges for use in reinforced concrete, or in my case, stakes for anchoring wooden tripods framing  our frost blanket tripodnew citrus trees to hold frost blankets,) I caught up with Fran who was just leaving the produce section of the supermarket, when she said: “Look, I bought some blueberries.”

 

 

Hence:blueberry muffins cropped
Jordan Marsh BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
by KAF
INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup (8 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2½ cups blueberries, fresh preferred
  • ¼ cup sugar, for topping

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin; or line the tin with papers, and grease the papers.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl and beating well after each addition.
  4. Beat in the baking powder, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Add the flour alternately with the milk, beating gently just to combine. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  6. Mash 1/2 cup of the blueberries. Add the mashed and whole berries to the batter, stirring just to combine and distribute.
  7. Scoop the batter by the heaping 1/4-cupful into the prepared muffin pan; a muffin scoop works well here.
  8. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon granulated sugar atop each muffin, if desired. It’s traditional — go for it!
  9. Bake the muffins for about 30 minutes, until they’re light golden brown on top, and a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.
  10. Remove the muffins from the oven, loosen their edges from the pan, and after about 5 minutes transfer them to a rack to cool.

TOPPING

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon

Mix together sugar, flour, butter, and teaspoons cinnamon. Mix to a coarse granular consistency, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.

Guess Who Came to Dinners?

We just had a weekend guest, and sadly, put her on a plane to return to her home last night. This woman prefers to eat healthy, in moderation and occasionally diet. Boy did she come to the wrong place!

We started with some rugelach. I made apple/cinnamon, chocolate and hand pies
chocolate/blackberry. They are very similar except the for filling.  I added an apple tart, (I got to use my new spiralizer so am happy.) Fran and I had some fruit dumplings from Apple Hill (much like my hand pies but bigger, so I added blueberry, apply and blackberry hand pie/filled rough puff pastry dumplings. For dinner we had my homemade pizza margherita: sweet/salty sauce, home made dough (ala pizza 2 Independent Pizza in Seattle), basil and fresh mozzarella, baked 6 minutes at 600 degrees in my gas grill. I added some garlic bread knots to accompany.  It was so good, I made second one for Sunday night.  Unfortunately, we at all the garlic bread knots, so I made some chocolate mousse with pink whipped cream topping. Oh, we also had a salad.

mousse

RUGELACH

INGREDIENTS

CRUST

  • 16 tablespoons (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature (2 T cream cheese = 28g. 3/4 Cup = 12 T, ¾ C = 4oz.)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flourrugelach1

FILLING CINNAMON RAISIN

  • 1/2 cup brown sugarrugelach2
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or currants
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • water for brushing dough

DARK CHOCOLATE:

  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp unsweetened cocoa power
  • ¼ Tsp cinnamon (optional)

TOPPING

  • granulated sugar or coarse white sparkling sugar
  • milk or cream

METHOD

  1. To make the dough using a mixer: Beat together the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and salt until smooth. Add the flour, mixing to make a stiff dough.
  2. Divide the dough into three equal portions. Press each gently into a disk. Make the disks as round as possible, smoothing their edges; this will allow you to roll the disks into a perfectly round circle, making the resulting rugelach more attractive.  (Note how :perfect this dough circle is.) Wrap the disks in plastic, and chill the dough for about 1 hour, until it’s firm but not rock hard. Or chill longer (up to overnight), then warm for about 45 to 60 minutes at room temperature, until the dough softens enough to roll out without cracking.
  3. To make the CINNAMON RAISIN FILLING: process the sugar, walnuts, dried fruit, and cinnamon in a food processor or blender until finely chopped and well combined (but not pasty). Don’t have a food processor? Simply stir together the filling ingredients; your filling will be chunky rather than smooth.
  4. To make the CHOCOLATE FILLING: Whisk together 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder; add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, if desired. Sprinkle atop rolled-out dough. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) mini chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate.
  5. Working with one piece of dough at a time, place it on a generously floured surface. Roll it into a 10″ circle and brush it lightly with water. For a flavorful touch, brush the rolled-out rugelach dough with a thin layer of boiled cider, warmed apple or 

    currant jelly, or puréed fruit preserves, instead of water.

  6. Use your fingers to spread about 1/3 of the filling onto the round, going all the way to the edges and gently patting the filling to help anchor it to the dough.
  7. Using a pizza cutter, baker’s bench knife, or sharp knife, divide the dough into 12 equal wedges. Roll each wedge up, beginning with the wide end and ending with the narrow end. Place the rolls point-side down on a baking sheet; lining the baking sheet with parchment will help with cleanup. Repeat with the remaining two pieces of dough.
  8. Brush the rugelach with milk or cream; and sprinkle with granulated or coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Refrigerate the rugelach while the oven is preheating.
  10. Bake the rugelach for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and cool right on the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  11. Store leftover rugelach in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

APPLE TART

TART SHELLS

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 100 g cold butter cut into small cubes
  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 60 g icing sugar (Splenda?)
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg (50g)

APPLE FILLING

  • 3 apples (sliced thin or spiralized with skins on)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon

METHOD

  1. Mix butter with sugar
  2. Add salt then vanilla
  3. Add egg
  4. Stir in flour.
    1. Mix by hand until incorporated
    2. Add 3-5 Tbl water to make dough sticky
  5. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 min
  6. Butter tartlet pans
    1. Roll dough to about ⅛” thick
    2. Lay over tart mold and press into all crevices
    3. Roll top to cut off excess
  7. Prick holes in bottom and sides of formed dough
  8. Add pastry weights to each pan
  9. Bake in preheated oven 350o F (175o C) for 17 min
    1. Remove pastry weights with 5 min left in the bake
    2. Remove pastry shells from pans and let cool on wire rack
  10. Fill cooled tart shell with sliced apples. I put them in a spiral shape but any way will do
  11. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the apples.
  12. Cover exposed edges of tart with aluminum foil to prevent over browning.
  13. Back at 375 F for 20-30 min. When apples have reduced and mixture is bubbling.
  14. Remove from over and cool on a wire rack.

Sweet and Salty Pizza Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons (4 large leaves) fresh basil, coarsely chopped

METHOD

  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over a medium heat until hot.
  2. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring and mashing tomatoes with potato masher until crushed.
  4. Stir in basil.
  5. Place in small bowl; cool to room temperature This sauce may be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated or up to 2 months ahead and frozen.

Japanese Cream Pans

If you have previously read my blog you know I tend to create a title that is a little sarcastic, punny (not puny as in “small”, but punny and in “with puns”) and snarky. This time, I admit my ignorance. For fear of insulting a people and culture I of which I have little knowledge, I simply titled this one as Japanese Cream Pans.Final Cream Pans

Another more snarky point: I tried one of these pastries courtesy of my son’s mother in law’s cousin, or my cousin-in-law once removed. (I made that up. I find it annoying to have to describe a full family tree to delineate the connection of two people related via someone’s marriage.)

Anyway, these pastries are light, soft and delicious. I found a recipe online and followed it with two exceptions and one caution Rolled formed doughlearned after making them. See below.

You can make the tangzhong and cream filling as much as 3 days in advance. Both will stay in the refrigerator that long if covered. Tangzhong is a water roux used to lighten the texture and provides the more tender crumb these pastries require.

Flattened dough

INGREDIENTS

Cream Pan Dough:

  • 2 1/2 c. bread flour
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 4 T. sugar
  • 3 T. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. tangzhong
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. milk

Tangzhong:

Cream Filled unfolded dough

  • 1/3 c. bread flour
  • 1 c. water

Japanese custard cream:

  • 1 3/4 c. milk
  • 4 T. unsalted butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 5 T. flour
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract, or seeds scraped out of 1 vanilla bean pod)

Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 2-3 T. waterCream Filled Folded dough

METHOD

  1. Make the tangzhong. In a small saucepan, gently heat the bread flour + water, while slowly whisking.  When the mixture thickens, and swirl lines appear – remove from heat and cool.  You will only end up using half of this mixture – store the other half in the refrigerator (covered) for up to 3 days.
  2. Make the cream pan dough.  Add the tangzhong, butter, sugar, salt, and egg beaten with the milk to a mixer bowl.  On top of those ingredients, add the bread flour.  Make a depression in the center of the bread flour, and add the yeast.  Turn the mixer fitted with adough hook to low until a basic dough is formed. The increase speed to medium to knead for 8 minutes, then allow the dough to rise (covered) for 1 hour in a warm place.  Punch down, and allow to rise another 30 minutes.) While the dough is rising, make the custard cream.
  3. HERE IS ONE OF THE CHANGES: I use the Martha Stewart method of making cream patisserie. Put all the ingredients into a large sauce pan and heat with constant stirring until the mixture begins to set (looks like loose scrambled eggs), strain the mixture and add the vanilla. Much easier that tempering the eggs etc.
  4. The original recipe follows here:
    1. Scald the milk and butter in a large pyrex measuring cup by microwaving for 2-3 minutes.
    2. Beat the egg yolk with a whisk, and add the flour, cornstarch, salt, and sugar. Whisk together to form a thick paste.
    3. Add about 1/3 of the warm milk mixture to the paste, and whisk constantly. (This step tempers the egg, and loosens up the paste so that you can add the remaining warm milk.)  Add the second 1/3 of the warm milk, and whisk until combined.  Then add the last 1/3 of the warm milk, and whisk until combined.
    4. Strain the egg mixture into a saucepan. (This will catch any lumps, and any bits of egg that may have “scrambled”.)
    5. Add the vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract, or scraped vanilla bean guts), then slowly heat the saucepan over medium low heat (whisking constantly). When the mixture thickens so that swirl lines appear, remove from heat and continue whisking another 30 seconds.
  5. Refrigerate the custard cream until cold and thick in a covered container for several hours.
  6. Dust a work surface liberally with flour. Divide the dough into 16 pieces.  Using a cookie scoop, portion out 16 balls of chilled custard cream.  (I usually set the custard portions on top a sheet of Reynold’s non-stick foil.)
  7. I WAS NOT HAPPY WITH BAKING THE CREAM. Skip this and inject the cream after the pastry has cooled. Be gentle with the dough, don’t over deflate. This will keep it lighter and less bread-like.
  8. The original instructions follow here.
    1. Flatten each piece of dough with the palm of your hand and place in a small custard cup. Use a small spoon to put a portion of chilled custard into the depression.
    2. Pinch the edges upwards to seal and place seam side down on a silicone lined cookie sheet.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another 30-60 minutes. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash, and bake at 335 degrees for 15 minutes. Use a dilute egg wash. I increased the water from 1 Tablespoon to 3.
  10. Remove from oven and cool thoroughly.
  11. Inject cooled creampat. You should feel the pastry become heavy. That is enough filling.
  12. Refrigerate to store.

Holy Wheat! Bat Man!

Last week I noticed I still had a bag of whole wheat flour in the fridge that I have to use. As bread baking day was approaching I thought, “Why not adding some of the whole wheat flour to my regular recipe?” So I substituted one cup whole wheat for the 6-7 cups bread flour that was called for. I also increased the hydration a little. A little confession here. I don’t actually measure the amount of water I add to the recipe. I start with the recommended amount, then just add until it seems about the right hydration. i.e. the “feel of the dough is right. Usually this means it is soft, pliable and a little sticky.

 

IMG_0005

I also thought it might be interesting to use some molasses instead of sugar. This would make the bread healthier (more fiber with whole wheat) and “sugar free” (sort of. Close enough for me.)

I made a standard 1 lb sandwich loaf plus a 2 lb boule with a variety of seeds on top. I had some issues with the seeds sticking to the loaf Dutch Oven with Loaf(actually, not sticking.) Next time, I will add the seeds to the dough prior to the second rise. This should help the adhesion.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 to 6 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons fast acting yeast
  • 2 ¼ cups very warm water (120° to 130°F)

METHOD

  1. In large bowl, stir 3 1/2 cups of the bread flour, one cup whole wheat flour, the sugar, salt, shortening and yeast until well mixed. Add warm water. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 5 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. The whole wheat flour does not absorb the water as fast as the bread flour so the extra long mixing gives it a chance. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle.
  2. Knead with the dough hook for 8 minutes as fast as your mixer will go. My KitchenAide will let me go to 5 (our of 7). Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead by hand until dough is smooth and springy. Grease large bowl with shortening. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 40 to 60 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
  3. Grease bottoms and sides of a 9×5-inch loaf pan with shortening or spray with cooking spray. Place dutch oven in the oven and start heating 30 minutes before the second rise is complete.
  4. Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough in one third and 2 thirds. This will be about 1 lb and 2 lb.  Flatten the smaller portion with hands or rolling pin into 16×6-inch rectangle on lightly floured surface. Roll dough up tightly, beginning at 6-inch side. Press with thumbs to seal after each turn. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Pinch each end of roll to seal. Fold ends under loaf. Place seam side down in pan.
  5. Line a bowl of approximately the same dimensions as your dutch oven with parchment paper. Form the 2 lb portion of dough into a ball. I like to work it a bit on the counter, rolling back and forth between my hands to form a nice smooth ball.  (Next time, I will add the seeds to the smooth side of this ball, then turn over into the lined bowl to rise the second time.)  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 35 to 50 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
  6. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Place a small metal pan in the oven to create steam for the sandwich loaf. The dutch over shouldn’t need extra steam.
  7. When the boule has doubled carefully tip the dough from the bowl into the now very hot dutch oven. The seeds that were on the bottom of the bowl will now (hopefully) be well attached to the dough which will now be on the top.
  8. Heat oven to 425°F. Place both loaves into the over and pour a cup of water into the metal pan.
  9. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to wire rack to cool.

Fig and Oatmeal and Chocolate, Oh My!

I am expecting to harvest over 100 pounds of fig from our single tree in the back yard. We are leaving the very high figs for the birds and squirrels. They don’t seem to understand that and keep raiding my allotment on the lower branches. To date I ate figs, froze figs, made fig preserves, fig spread, fig newtons, fig cake and now fig/oatmeal/chocolate chip cookies. Daniel is making some figgy pudding, I am planning some fig hand pies and we gave away 20 lbs to friends, family and neighbors. What’s next, Fig fudge? Fig ice cream? Fig bread? You know, sometimes there may be too much of a delicious thing.

cookie and milk small

I searched a number of recipes to find one I liked for fig cookies. The one I chose also had oatmeal and chocolate. Think oatmeal/chocolate/raisin cookies except the fig imparts a softer and more subtle flavor and texture the raisin would. I upped the fig content being sure to not use any fully or over ripe figs. They would kick up the moisture content making the cookies too soggy. I also omitted the coconut (not a favorite of Fran.) Chilling the batter is essential. I chilled for 2 hours and it may not have been enough. The first batch were a little flat, the second were better.

Fig and Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Based on post from fiveandspice at Food52.com

Makes about 2-dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons salted butter, at room temp.
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 9 ounces chopped dark chocolate (I like 70% cacao)
  • 1½ cup chopped fresh figs (not over ripe)

METHOD

  1. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes) in a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the mixer as needed.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together all the remaining ingredients. Stir these into the butter mixture on low speed until fully combined with no dry floury patches left.
  3. Refrigerate the dough 30-60 minutes before proceeding. Heat your oven to 350F. Scoop the dough in 2-3 Tbs. scoops onto baking sheets. Bake each sheet one at a time (keep the full sheets that aren’t being baked in the fridge until it’s their turn) until the cookies are golden around the edges but still look a tad doughy in the middles, about 15-18 minutes, rotating each baking sheet halfway through the bake time.
  4. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Shield of David

Our best friend gave me two gifts for my recent birthday. Now, I am not saying there were ulterior motives here, but she is visiting us this fall. Coincidence? Perhaps not.

The Shield of David (Mogen David, or Jewish Star) is a six pointed star symbolizing the internal and external connections of Torah, God and Israel. A Shield of David bundt pan makes an awesome cake, too.

You may have read elsewhere in this blog, we had a bumper crop of figs in our backyard tree this year. My challenge was how to use all these fresh figs. I froze a few pounds but our freezer is pretty small and already has chocolate chip cookie dough ready for baking, extra tartlet shells for an emergency snack or drop in guests and several quarts of Vermont maple syrup from near my home town in Vermont, so I have frozen enough already.

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Today I made a fig-spice cake in my new pan. Think apple-spice but with figs instead. The Bundt pan worked really well. Spraying with some Baker’s Joy helped the cake slide out of the pan perfectly. The cake is moist with good texture and is sweet.  (It was even  sweeter after dusting with confectioners sugar.) The figs were well dispersed throughout the cake and the edges had a nice caramelized crunch.

 

Based on hungryforlouisiana.com/figging-out-fresh-fig-cake/

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 Tbl white vinegar mixed into 1 Cup milk)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped fresh figs (between 15-20 small to medium figs)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • Confectioner’s sugar and fig leaves for garnish

METHOD

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Using a standing mixer or bowl, whisk eggs briefly. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about one minute. Add oil, and beat until just combined.
  2. In a separate medium bowl, add buttermilk and stir in baking soda.
  3. Beginning with flour, add flour and buttermilk mixture alternately and mix until combined.
  4. Add chopped figs, cinnamon, ginger, salt and nutmeg, and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan, and bake until done (50-60 minutes).
  6. Cool in baking rack for 5-10 minutes, then remove from pan. Allow to cool another 5-10 minutes. Arrange on plate, and garnish with confectioner’s sugar and fresh figs.