A Remiss is as Good as a Re-mile

I was remiss in not documenting the baking I did for our synagogue’s Oneg (celebration of the joy of Shabbat after Friday night services) a couple of weeks ago. All of the recipes are posted elsewhere. Search this blog for the various key words for more detail.

We were one of three families providing pastries etc for the Oneg. I made Gooey Strawberry Brownies. (Previously I made raspberry brownies so tried strawberry this time.)  Due to the size of the strawberry jammy bits the brownies ended up very moist and “gooey,” which is not a bad thing. Somehow, only half of the brownies made it onto the serving tray, so sadly, the other half had to come home with me.

I also made sweet whipped cream filled, chocolate drizzled profiteroles. I find choux pastries easy to make and freeze well for a last minute snack when invited out, or if friends stop by. I actually saw them online a few weeks ago and decided they would be good to add to my Oneg selection.

There is nothing like a couple of dozen tartlets with cream patisserie filling and blueberry topping. Tartlets and cream patisserie are quick and easy to make, and again the tart shells freeze for future use, if necessary.  It wasn’t necessary to freeze any, they were decimated at the oneg. I like to glaze pastries with apple jelly to add that nice shine. Last year I could not find any apply jelly in the stores, or even anyone who had heard of it, so I made a couple of pints and am still using it.

And finally I decided to make some fig newtons with some of the huge store of figs I have in the cupboard prior to this year’s harvest.

Oh! I almost forgot.  I had some sugar cookies in the freezer so added them to the mix on a whim. A few months ago I froze them in cylinders so I could just cut them into disks and bake them. I used them all up so need to make another batch.

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What The Fig!!

Well, it finally happened. The figs in our backyard tree are ripe and ready for harvest. To date, we have harvested about 55 pounds (about 25 Kilos) of figs. Let me be clear. That is the first harvest. We probably have 2 or 3 more to go.  Prolific tree, I just wish the apricot and plum trees would take a lesson. I made several pints of fig preserve and several fig newton filling (alone with some homemade fig newtons), fig and brie tarts and froze a few pounds for future consideration.

Picking the figs proved somewhat challenging. It turns out many people are allergic to the sap and/or leaves of the fig tree. As luck would have it, all of us were, some more than others. Soap (Dawn dishwashing detergent) and water and time worked well to remove the itch and rash. It was gone the next day. Next time, long sleeves and gloves.

After the figs were washed, dried and sorted the best were sliced (about ½” thick) and frozen. Some were laid out on parchment lined baking sheets and put in the freezer. Others were sliced and put into zip lock bags and a simple syrup with Fruit Fresh added were frozen. We shall see which method we like better.

Picking Figs

Picking 2

Picking

Frances and I picked the first half of the harvest. Daniel, The Young and Tall, joined us after his work the next day to  help with the high fruit. Rosie, the Supervisor as ever vigilant.Supervisor

 

Washing, Sorting and Processing

The fruit was washed, dried (wet fruit spoils faster) and spread as a single layer on paper towels in the refrigerator for processing the next day (after rash). Note to self: Use gloves on day two also.

The cut figs were boiled to 220oF and either mashed with a potato masher (Frances’ method) or food processed with a couple quick pulses (my method) and canned. I added a couple more pulses for the newton filling, which seemed about right in the final product.

Here are a couple of tips about making the fig newtons. The recipe makes just the right amount of cookie batter vs. filling, try it. After cutting the rolled dough to an 8”x14” sheet, roll it as rectangular and with as straight edges as possible. It will make the cookies look better.  Also, before trying to fold the dough over and pinching shut cut the sheet in half, or ever thirds, crosswise. This makes the soft dough easier to fold smoothly. More also, be bold when folding. Like flipping eggs in a frying pan. Just go for it. If you don’t fold far enough for the un-filled edges to meet, it’s a bear to try to stretch the top layer to meet the bottom to seal.

For the tartlets, be sure to use enough Brie (or other cheese) to fill half the shell. Too little and the cheese does not add enough flavor. You can always add a piece of cheese to the top to compensate. I also sprinkled the tartlets with a little flaked sea salt to offset the fig sweetness.

Homemade Fig Newtons – HGTV

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pint fresh or preserved figs or 12 ounces dried figs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

If you are using:

  • Fresh figs: Remove stems and boil figs with a cinnamon stick and 2 cups of sugar in 1 cup of water for 45 minutes. Drain and cool.
  • Dried figs: In a bowl, pour boiling water over figs (stems removed) and let rest 10 minutes. Drain all but 2 tablespoons water and stir in 2 tablespoons corn syrup + ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.
  • Preserved figs: Drain syrup.

METHOD

  1. Puree figs in food processor until a thick paste forms (if too thick or thin to spread evenly, add a little water or flour until spreadable consistency is reached).
  2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  4. Add egg and vanilla, mix until smooth
  5. Add orange juice and combined dry ingredients to bowl and mix until dough forms.
  6. Optional: for dough into a flat thick disk and chill to set butter and make it easier to roll and fold.
  7. Roll dough out on a floured surface into a 8”x14” rectangle about ¼” thick.
  8. Cut rectangle in half lengthwise.
  9. Spread fig paste onto half of each rectangle, lengthwise.
  10. Cut the rectangle in half crosswise, or even thirds to facilitate folding.
  11. Fold dough in half lengthwise to cover fig paste and pinch edges to seal.
  12. Slide each newton log onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  13. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees until crust begins to brown.
  14. Slice into cookie-sized segments and cool. Slice while warm to reducing flaking.

Stand Back and Take Your Hands Off My DONUTS!

You probably don’t know just how much Homer Simpson and I have in common. We both live (or lived) in a city named Springfield. He drinks Duffs beer and I use Duff’s cake decorating products. Homer works at a nuclear power plant and I studied Radiation Science in grad school, and we both love DONUTS.img_0004

Yesterday morning was donut day in the 1y Kitchen.  I had a recipe for yeast donuts and Emeril’s recipe (modified) for raspberry jelly donut filling, plus, I had extra crème pat and chocolate ganache waiting in the fridge from some tartlets I made for a party last Sunday which were perfect for a few Boston Cream dessert donuts. What could possibly go wrong with this?

Notes to self:

  1. Check ingredient quantities in the pantry before starting. It may save a quick trip to the market while dough is rising, such as sugar for coating donuts while still hot.
  2. If you are totally out of sugar, save yourself a trip and buy two bags. You will need it eventually.
  3. Make the jelly filling while the donuts are rising. It will need to cool.
  4. Nuke the left-over ganache. You can add a little hot and heavy cream and sugar to sweeten. Mix thoroughly to dissolve the sugar. (Use confectioners or casting sugar, it will be easier to dissolve.)
  5. Add extra egg whites to the container in the fridge. You will want to make more pavlovas soon

Jelly Donuts

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • ½ c milk (100oF – 110oF)
  • ⅓ c sugar (rounded, not level)
  • 2¼ c all-purpose flour
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp room temperature unsalted butter
  • 2 Tsp salt
  • 3 c vegetable oil
  • 1 c fresh raspberry jam

Method

  1. Place yeast, warm milk, and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowimg_0001l. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Place flour in a large bowl. Create a well in the center and add eggs, yeast mixture, ¼ cup sugar, butter, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir dough starts to come together and is sticky. Flour a work surface and knead until dough is smooth, soft, and bounces back when poked with a finger, about 8 minutes (add more flour if necessary). Place in a lightly oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled, 1 – 1½ hours.img_0002
  3. Lightly flour a work surface, roll dough to ¼“thick. Using a 2½” round cutter, cut as many rounds as you can. I rolled the extra into small balls (< 1” diameter) and made donut holes. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise 15 minutes. They didn’t rise much, but they will puff up in the hot oil.
  4. In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat oil until a deep-frying thermometer registers 370 degrees. Using a slotted spoon, or skimmer, carefully slip 2 rounds into oil. Fry until golden, about 40 seconds. Turn doughnuts over; fry until golden on other side, another 40 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, or skimmer, transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Roll in sugar while warm. Fry all dough, and roll in sugar.img_0003
  5. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a #230 tip with jam. Poke the pastry tip into and end of the donut, pipe about 2 teaspoons jam into doughnut. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

Fresh Raspberry Donut Filling

Ingredients

  • 6 oz fresh raspberries
  • ⅔ c water (⅓ added to raspberries, ⅓ for cornstarch below)
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp of citric juice (I used Key Lime juice as we had some in the fridge)
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in ⅓ cup of water (There is a total of ⅔ cups of water)

Method

  1. In a saucepan combine the raspberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the raspberries have broken down.
  2. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain with a fine mesh sieve.
  3. Return the stained mixture to the heat. (There should be about 2 cups of mixture.)
  4. Dissolve the cornstarch in ⅓ cup of water.
  5. Whisk the slurry into the raspberry mixture.
  6. Bring the mixture back to a boil then simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove from heat and cool completely. It will thicken into a thin jelly.

Boston Cream Donutsimg_0006

  1. Follow above directions substituting filling the donuts with crème pat instead of jelly
  2. Dip one flat side of the donut into warmed ganache and set aside to dry.

Biscuits – Revisited

I made buttermilk biscuits again this morning and added a few pictures to this old post. For second breakfast I tried one with just butter to QC check the biscuit flavor and one with home made blackberry jam, just because I could.

Biscuits, a.k.a. “breakfast” are delicious and are best with a dab biscuit_0002of butter, or butter and jam, or just jam, or with bacon and eggs, or… You get the idea.

Wikipedia defines: “A biscuit in the United States and parts of Canada, and widely used in popular American English, is a small baked good with a firm browned crust and a soft interior. They are made with baking biscuit_0003powder or baking soda as a chemical leavening agent rather than yeast. They are similar to British scones or the bannock from the Shetland Isles.”

Biscuits, soda breads, and cornbread, among others, are often referred to collectively as “quick breads,” to indicate that they do not need time to rise before baking.

 INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Using fingertips, rub 3/4 cup chilled butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir until evenly moistened.
  3. Using 1/4 cup dough for each biscuit, drop biscuits onto baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

Small Batch Berry Jam

Confession here: I like seeds in my berry jam. I don’t know why, either some trauma forced on me by my older brother, or perhaps faded memories of my mother making jams or even some totally unrelated reason. The point is my berry jam must have seeds. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find blackberry jam with seeds? Raspberry? No Blackberry Jamproblem, but find a jar of blackberry without that insidious word “seedless” on the label? Good luck. Either you spend an inordinate amount of time searching your supermarket, or go to a farm or specialty market and shell out twice the cash. I look for BOGO’s on berries. It’s like getting jam free, almost.
Or….
Google (the worlds 42) “small batch jam” and find 461,000 results in 0.44 seconds.
I read a lot of them and boiled it down (bad pun) to this:

  • Measure equal weights (not volumes) washed berries and granulated sugar. Obviously for sweeter jam add more sugar, tarter, less. Duh.
  • Mash berries in a saucepan, heat then add sugar in small aliquots. Use a large enough saucepan or you will end up washing two of them. Been there, done that, no t-shirt.
  • Cook at a moderate boil until the temperature reaches 220 deg. and it begins to thicken. Cook less for thinner (think dessert topping) or more for thicker.
  • Skim the light colored foam off the top as it boils.
  • While it is cooking put a canning jar (about a pint size for a pint of berries, go figure) filled to about an inch from of the top with water into the microwave and cook until boiling vigorously.
  • Pour the boiling water out into a small bowl containing your canning lid and funnel.
  • Wait a minute. You aren’t really sterilizing because you will just keep this in the fridge for quick use.
  • Pour the still very hot jam into the jar using the funnel, put on the lids, screw on the top and you are done, except for the clean up. One pan, one spoon and a funnel.
  • Total time, less than 30 min.