Fruit Braided Tarts

Ok, so I made fruit tarts in braided tart shells. Should the title be Braided Tarts with Fruit, or Fruit Braided Tarts, or Braided Fruit Tarts? Reminds me of Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

QC had the day off and was out with some friends, leaving me home alone, heh, heh, heh. What to do, oh what to do?

There were braided tart shells in the freezer and I recently bought a kiwi and picked an orange from my neighbor’s tree. I promised a couple of friends I would make them some fruit tarts when everything came together and yesterday all the stars aligned.

First freshen the frozen tart shells (notice the braided sides) in the over at 400F for 5-8 minutes, then an additional 5 minutes at 320F.

Peel and cut the kiwi into thin slices and slice the orange and strawberries.

Make the Crème Diplomat and pipe into the cool shells, add the fruit in your best imitation of a pretty pattern. Sprinkle a few blueberries around the other fruit for color.

Serve as soon as possible as the Crème Diplomat will deflate fairly quickly.

A good, quiet “me” day.

Crème Diplomat

INGREDIENTS
• ½c sugar
• ¼c corn starch
• Pinch salt
• 2 c whole milk
• 4 egg yolks
• 2 Tbl butter
• 2 cups heavy cream, cold

METHOD

  1. Whisk eggs and milk together and add to all other ingredients (except vanilla) to a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to boil whisking constantly
  3. Cook until thickened (it will look lumpy, its ok)
  4. Sieve lumpy mixture into a bowl and add 1 tsp vanilla, mix thoroughly
  5. When incorporated, cover with plastic directly on the cream and cool about an hour.
  6. Whip the cold heavy cream to medium peaks.
  7. Fold a few spoonfuls of the custard into the cream. Gradually add the rest of the custard, being careful to not knock the air out.

Notes

  1. You can make the custard or creme patisserie ahead of time, it will keep for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge. However, I would not add the whipped cream until you were ready to serve it. It is best served immediately.
  2. Mix crème patisserie 1::1 with whipped cream if making crème patisserie in advance,

L1’s Should Do This Tort(e). It’s Simple!

I saw a picture of a chocolate – raspberry torte on King Arthur Baking’s website. With no hesitation I thought, “I am so making that.” However, my extreme chocolate cake cannot be beat and basic chocolate whipped cream is a piece of cake. (Well, sometimes cake, but this time torte.)

I made the cake and placed both 9” layers in the freezer, one to chill, the other to freeze until needed sometime in the future. Once chilled I sliced one layer in half. I used the toothpick and floss method, something I showed my 3 year old granddaughter today. She had never seen that before (no big surprise, after all she is only 3) but I am sure she will not forget it. That girl forgets nothing!

She and I then whipped up some chocolate whip cream, spread half over the top of the lower layer and spread about 4 oz of raspberries randomly around the cake. Be sure the whipped cream is thick enough so you can bury the raspberries.

Place the second layer of cake over the first and (we piped, KAF spread,) whipped cream over the top, adding the rest of the raspberries. KAF suggested dusting with cocoa, we decided to use powered sugar. I used 6 oz raspberries total.

Chocolate Whipped Cream

INGREDIENTS

  • 454 g (2 Cups) Milk
  • 56 g (4 Tbl) Caster Sugar
  • 20 g (4 Tbl) Special Dark Cocoa
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla

METHOD

  1. Chill mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  2. Add milk to mixing bowl and whip to soft peaks
  3. Slowly add caster sugar until firm peaks
  4. Add cocoa, but start the mixer slowly to keep the cocoa from flying all over.
  5. Increase the mixer speed to form stiff peaks and assure the cocoa is fully incorporated.

Good Bakery Morning

I wanted to try a new recipe for blueberry muffins that purported to yield soft, moist, not dense muffins. I also had some new ‘tulip’ muffin papers to try. These were advertised to not need a muffin pan (read that as one less pan to wash.) In use, the papers were too thin, therefore too flimsy to not need the support of a muffin pan.

The papers would have been good had I squeezed them into a pan small enough to help them maintain a round shape. They weren’t bad, but not perfect. Perhaps a heavier paper, or using 2 or 3 of them to make the papers stiffer? On the positive side they did not leak resulting in a clean pan which require no washing.

The recipe was very good. The muffins were not stodgy, rather were moist, soft and just a bit crumbly. Nearly perfect, or at least very good.

While the oven was hot I also made a batch of apple/raisin ‘scones’. Scones are in quotes as they are un-traditional. I made them in an ring mold pan to force them to rise up the sides rather than spread horizontally. (They did.) The same brown sugar and cinnamon crumble was used on both the scones and muffins. It was a good experiment, but I prefer my standard, traditional drop berry scones topped with sparkling sugar.

I was bored as the scones baked so using Dan’s modified waffle recipe I made a batch of waffles to freeze and nuke for a quick breakfast before an early tee time.

I just cancelled golf for tomorrow due to a forecast 100% chance of 55 degree rain. Now… what to do with another day off? Hmmmm….

Blueberry Muffins

INGREDIENTS
Streusel Topping
• ½ cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Muffins
• 1¾ cups (220g) all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ cup (115g) room temperature unsalted butter
• ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
• ¼ cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
• 2 large room temperature eggs
• ½ cup (120g) room temperature sour cream or plain/vanilla yogurt
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• ¼ cup (60ml) room temperature milk
• 1½ cups (250g) fresh or frozen blueberries
METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or use cupcake liners. Grease/line a second pan with 2 liners because this recipe yields about 14 muffins. Set aside.
  2. Mix all of the streusel ingredients together. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract on medium speed until combined. By hand, add the dry ingredients and milk into the wet ingredients and stir gently, no more than 4 stirs. Gently, fold in the blueberries.
  5. Spoon the batter into liners, filling them all the way to the top. Top each with streusel, gently pressing it down into the surface so it sticks. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). Bake for an additional 18-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 205-210 °F or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 23-25 minutes, give or take. Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes in the muffin pan, then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.
  6. Muffins stay fresh covered at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Apple/Raisin Ring Scones

INGREDIENTS
• 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/3 cup sugar
• Zest of 1 small lemon (I used a small mandarin orange)
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
• 1 cup diced apple
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 1 cup heavy cream
• Brown sugar/cinnamon streusel (see above)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and zest. Pulse a few times to incorporate.
  3. Add the cubed butter and pulse to incorporate. The mixture should resemble very coarse sand.
  4. Empty the flour mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the cream and stir until just barely incorporated.
  5. Dice the apples leaving the skin. Use the outside of the apple removing a majority of the inside without skin. The skin will add some color to the scone. The dough should just be moist, not wet, but also not crumbly or powdery looking. If it looks too dry, add a tablespoon of cold water.
  6. Add and mix in the diced apple and raisins
  7. Spoon the dough into 6 ring molds sprinkle some streusel over the top, if desired.
  8. Bake for 16-19 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The scones should be lightly golden and cooked through.
  9. Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes then carefully remove to a cooling rack.

Waffles ala Dan

INGREDIENTS
• 2 eggs (separated)
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 ¾ cups milk
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 1 tablespoon white sugar
• 4 teaspoons baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¼ cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
METHOD

  1. Preheat waffle iron.
  2. Whip egg whites to firm peaks.
  3. Beat egg yolks in large bowl with hand beater until fluffy.
  4. Gently mix flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla, just until smooth.
  5. Fold in egg whites until just combined.
  6. Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve hot.

Idle Hands Make…

This afternoon’s ‘to do’ list contained nothing pressing. Tuesday I hard boiled eggs to include in our dinner salad and to make egg salad Wednesday. Today I baked a loaf of sandwich bread because I love egg salad on fresh baked bread. And as long as I was making bread I decided to replace the hamburger rolls I froze a few weeks ago. (I wasn’t happy with the rise of those whole wheat buns.) Today I mixed a double recipe of bread dough and shaped half into a loaf to bake at 425 deg and the rest into hamburger rolls to be baked at 375 deg.

To make a softer crust I coated the top of the loaf with melted butter before baking (hence the darker crust) and once again after it was baked, but still hot.

I also had a cup of heavy cream to use before it expired, and as long as the oven was on, I dropped the temperature and made some multi berry scones, baked at 400 deg.

Remember the hamburger rolls that baked at 375 deg? Well, as long as the oven was going to be dropped to 375 deg and as long as I had some frozen chocolate chip cookie dough that also bakes at 375 deg, I figured, what the heck.?

I have to find more chores to add to the ‘to do’ list. Today was exhausting.

The best part of the day was participating in the Grandparents Drive-Thru Car Parade at Grace’s school! (Unicorn car. You can’t see the fuzzy pink tail.)

Speaking of Grace, here we are making the aforesaid chocolate chip cookies.

The Long and Shortbread of It

We love shortbread cookies, and we love chocolate. Combining the two is a step from ecstasy. Also, this gave me the excuse… I mean opportunity… to use the hexagonal cookie cutters Fran (aka QC) bought me.

Using hexagonal cutters reduces dough waste as there are no gaps between each cut.

Hexagonal Cookie Cutters with the one used on the lower right.
Shortbread Cookies surrounded by Raspberry Hand Pies.

Shortbread Cookies

INGREDIENTS
• 3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 6 to 7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. When the cookies are cool, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl place over a pan of boiling water. Turn the burner down to simmer and heat with stirring until the chocolate is nearly all melted. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.
  6. Drizzle 1/2 of each cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it.

Raspberry Drop Scones and Blackberry Hand Pies

As mentioned elsewhere days without golf can be dangerous. Along with a new Pumpernickel/Rye Bread and High Hydration Honey White Bread I tried a new puff pastry to make blackberry hand pies and raspberry drop scones to freeze and thaw for breakfast.

The more important thing is I was able to try out my new hexagonal cookie cutter. I never liked the square, or triangular (folded squares) hand pies. Circular were good, but the space between the circles wasted a lot of puff pastry. The hexagonal cutter was nearly as efficient as cutting squares, but look more like round pies.

My new hexagonal cookie cutters

I used a larger cutter for the top to assure good coverage of the smaller bottom. I docked the bottom piece with a fork to manage the puff of the pastry.

The edges of the covered pies were pinched with the fork, and egg wash painted on, a steam vent cut on the top and sparkling sugar sprinkled on each pie before baking.

Puits d’Amour – ‘Wells of Love’

We saw this pastry on GBBO. I hadn’t made any complex pastries in a while so thought this would be fun to try. I made a few changes to Prue Leith’s recipe. I used my own recipe for the creme patisserie and choux. The recipe and method below are as I made it.

I also found a new puff pastry I wanted to try. You may know my preferences in puff. Trader Joe’s is good but doesn’t puff as much as Pepperidge Farms. This new one is Wewalka European Bakery Style which seem to have a puff ratio about in the middle. It has good flake an layers. The only problem is they do not recommend freezing it before using.

Puits d’Amour – ‘wells of love’

INGREDIENTS
Puff pastry
Compote:
• 250g strawberries, hulled and chopped
• 25g caster sugar
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 50g raspberries
Crème Pâtissière:
• ½ c sugar
• ¼ c corn starch
• Pinch salt
• 2 c whole milk
• 4 egg yolks
• 2 Tbl butter
4 ½ tsp demerara sugar, to brûlée
Choux Pastry:
• ½ c (65 grams) AP flour
• ½ tsp granulated white sugar
• ¼ tsp salt
• 4 tbsp (55 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
• ½ c (120 ml) water
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Sparkling sugar

METHOD
Compote

  1. Add the strawberries to a pan with the sugar and lemon juice and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the raspberries and cook for a further 5–10 minutes, until reduced to a thick compote (but not a jam). Remove from the heat, cool, then chill.
    Crème Pâtissière
  2. Whisk eggs and milk together and add to all other ingredients (except vanilla) to a medium saucepan.
  3. Bring to boil whisking constantly
  4. Cook until thickened (it will look lumpy, its ok)
  5. Sieve lumpy mixture into a bowl and add 1 tsp vanilla, mix thoroughly
  6. When incorporated, cover with plastic directly on the cream and cool.
  7. Remove from the heat and pass through a sieve into a clean bowl. Add the butter and stir until melted. Leave to cool, cover with cling film and chill until cold.

Cut Pastry Disks

  1. Heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/Gas 7. Lightly dust your worktop and roll out the rough puff to a 35cm square. Using the 10cm cutter, cut out 9 discs. Place on the baking sheets and prick each disc all over with a fork. Chill for 30 minutes.
    Choux
  2. In a bowl whisk the flour with the sugar and salt.
  3. Place the butter and water in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil.
  4. Remove from heat and, with a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture, all at once, and stir until combined. It will look like mashed potatoes. Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about 1-2 minutes). The dough will film the bottom and sides of the saucepan and make cleaning a pain.
  5. Transfer the dough to an electric mixer and beat on low speed to release the steam from the dough (about 1 minute).
  6. Once the dough is lukewarm start adding the lightly beaten eggs (dough will separate and then come together) and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste (dough will fall from a spoon in a thick ribbon).
  7. Pipe the choux in a circle ½cm in from the edge of each disc. Brush each choux ring with beaten egg and sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until puffed, crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. To assemble, spoon the crème pâtissière into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm plain nozzle. Spoon the strawberry compote into the pastry shells and pipe the crème pâtissière over the top. Sprinkle half a teaspoon of demerara sugar on top and, using a blowtorch, brûlée the sugar. Serve immediately.

I’d Give $1000 to be One of Them Millionaires

I saw these on GBBO and decided to give them a go. (Kind of English slang for “try to make them”.) Millionaires Bars are layers of shortbread, caramel and chocolate.

I used a jelly roll pan, which is about 25% bigger than the specified pan. This caused each layer to be thinner than I expected. As they were setting I considered increasing the recipe quantities by about 50%. After cutting and eating them I think I am going to leave them the way they are. They ended up being about 1/4” thick and if I cut them into 1” square pieces they will be perfect bite sized pieces.

Self induced problems: 1) Forgot to use the parchment paper making me worry about releasing the bar from the jelly roll pan. No problem. I cut around the outside and across the center. Each large piece came out easily. 2) I should have poured the chocolate on the caramel before it set. Not doing so caused the chocolate to not adhere to the caramel. Cutting the bars into 1” squares, so you can just pop them into your mouth without taking a bite and “breaking” them, converts the problem into an enhancement.

Overall, these are delicious cookies. The caramel was heated to 242 deg which made it a perfect softness and texture. The chocolate wasn’t tempered but resulted in a nice layer with a good snap. The short bread base was difficult to push to the edges of the pan, but perhaps rolling it out before placing in the pan would help. I also skipped the macadamia nuts as my pantry was bare. If you saw my pantry, you wouldn’t believe that possible.

Millionaire Shortbread Bars

Millionaire Shortbread Bars

Paul Hollywood’s Salted Caramel Bars

https://people.com/food/paul-hollywood-salted-caramel-bars-recipe/

INGREDIENTS
• ⅓ cup granulated sugar
• 1⅓ cups unsalted butter, softened and divided, plus more for greasing
• 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
• ½ tsp. table salt
• ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
• ⅓ cup sweetened condensed milk
• 3 tbsp. golden cane syrup (or honey as a substitute)
• 1 tsp. flaky sea salt
• 7 oz. dark chocolate baking bar, chopped
• ½ cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 300°. Grease a shallow 11×7-inch baking dish with butter.
  2. Line baking dish with parchment paper, allowing paper to extend by 2 inches on each side; grease parchment.
  3. Beat granulated sugar and 2/3 cup butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add flour and table salt; stir with a spoon, and then combine with your hands to form a smooth dough (try not to overwork it). I ended up adding a couple of Tbl water to the dough so it would come together,
  4. Press dough into pan in an even layer, and prick surface all over with a fork. Bake in preheated oven until pale golden and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan, about 45 minutes.
  5. Combine brown sugar, condensed milk, golden syrup (or honey) and remaining 2/3 cup butter in a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until butter melts and mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until the caramel bubbles become larger, mixture thickens and turns a rich, glossy caramel color, about 10 to 12 minutes. Pour caramel evenly over the shortbread, and sprinkle with sea salt. Cool completely until set, about 1 hour.
  6. Melt chocolate, stirring often, in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Pour melted chocolate evenly over caramel layer; spread with an offset spatula until level and smooth. Sprinkle with nuts. Let stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour. Use a knife to release ends of bars from pan; use the parchment paper as handle to remove from pan. Cut into bars.

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

Every Little Leaguer heard to “keep their eye on the ball” ad nauseam. It’s good advice—in more ways than being able to hit a ball.

I had some fresh blueberries and a sheet of puff pastry left over from a previous bake so decided to make some blueberry hand pies. At the same time, as long as the over was hot, I made our granddaughters’ heart shaped Valentine’s Day cakes.

I made the blueberry filling and set it aside to cool to room temperature, then made the two cakes (plus five cupcakes from the extra batter. QC has to have her input, doesn’t she?) I rolled out the puff pastry, cut it into 9 pieces about 3.5” square, put about a half teaspoon of filling on one side, painted half with an egg wash, folded each square into a triangle and sealed the edge with a fork before slashing a small vent hole in the top. Cover with egg wash, a sprinkling of sparkling sugar and put into in the oven at 425 deg for 18 minutes. (The directions said 18- 22 min.)

Well… there’s 18 minutes, and then there’s 18 minutes. In this case 18 minutes was about 3 minutes too long. My hand pies were “well done,” instead of “just right” done. I did not keep my eye on the ball… or the hand pies. QC said they tasted fine, but were too dark to leave the bakery. Oh the trials and tribulations of being the QC department for such a demanding Manufacturing organization. Lesson learned.

The cakes and cupcakes were perfect. More on that closer to Valentine’s Day.

Knot In My Stomach

Actually, it is a lemon knot in my stomach. Dan and Frances gave me some lemons from a neighbor’s tree, permission granted of course. I happen to see a simple recipe for Lemon Knots and decided that would be a great place to use one of the lemons. It was.

It is a very easy recipe, especially since I do not make my own puff pastry. I tried rough puff once, but found the full puff purchased in the market is better than what I could make at home. I may make full puff one day, just for the experience. I’m thinking about it. No promises.

Now, what to do with the other 11 lemons….

I added some sparkling sugar after the egg wash. It provides a little crunch and sweetness balance to the lemon zest.

Lemon Knots with Puff Pastry


https://www.thebittersideofsweet.com/2018/05/30/puff-pastry-lemon-knots/

INGREDIENTS
• 1 sheet Puff Pastry, thawed
• 1 Egg
• 1 tablespoon Water
• 1/3 cup Powdered Sugar
• 3 teaspoons Lemon Juice
• Lemon Zest

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix together egg and water and set aside. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. On floured surface unfold pastry and roll out into a rectangle. Cut 12 strips.
  3. Fold each strip in half from top to bottom. Then make a knot.
  4. Place on baking sheet and brush with egg wash.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. In the meantime, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice.
  7. Brush on cooled knots. Top with lemon zest.