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.

Here Today, Scone Tomorrow

Raspberries were on sale ($2.99/package,) the forecast was for light rain, and it was a non-golf day. Whaddya expect? Scone morning everyone!

Dropped berry scones make a delicious, easy, breakfast in 30 minutes. This recipe makes 6 large free-formed scones. I formed these by hand shaping them into hamburger-like 3” diameter patties.

I froze half of them for a future breakfast. Scones can be frozen for up to 3 months, then thawed on the counter for an hour before reheating in the oven. Even easier is to microwave them, still frozen, in 30 second bursts, being careful not to overheat them.

(Cream) Puff the Magic…

I saw a recipe and “how to” video on making cream puffs. I usually make my choux into eclairs or profiteroles, but thought some sweet whipped cream filling would be a nice change.

Natasha Kravchuk used 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup milk instead of just a cup of water. Unlike Natasha, I used an egg wash to darken the tops and give the choux a nice sheen. Other than that, it was the same recipe I normally use. Same with the whipped cream except she used 2x the amount of sugar and vanilla. She also piped the whipped cream leaving the center empty. She (and I ) added a fresh raspberry inside before covering with the cut off top.

Also, I saw a hint to wet the parchment paper before piping the choux. I am not sure if it made a difference but the choux rose nicely and didn’t collapse. A few did have bottoms that bowed in. They were sent to QC for evaluation. We were so concerned we sent a larger number of samples than usual.

The Yolks on Me!

After baking something last week that required a lot of egg whites I had about 8 egg yolks left over. Of course, not being one to waste anything I put them in a container and stored them in the fridge. As they will only last a week or so I decided I needed to use them, and since today is my “day off” and remembering Creme Pat uses lots of egg yolks (4) and choux pastry uses lots of egg yolks (4) I suddenly had a solution. Eclairs!

I also watched an old episode of GBBO where Brendan made choux swans I really wanted to try my hand at them.

I made a batch of choux and piped a couple of dozen eclairs. I made about a half dozen of them shorter and thicker. Those would become the bodies of the swans. When cooled, cut the top of the swan bodies off with scissors. Then cut the tops lengthwise to form wings. Use a fine circular piping tip (#8) to pip the swan head and neck. Pipe a thin (5mm) ‘S’ about 5cm high. These will bake in about 10 minutes. If the necks are thinner they will burn. Trust me on this.

To assemble, pipe a good amount of Creme Pat into the body of the swan. I dipped the swans head and edges of the wings in the chocolate glaze used to coat the eclairs. Gently, (trust me again) push the bottom of the neck into the Creme Pat, then add the wings, chocolate edge up. Take a picture. Enjoy.

Raspberry Scone

Raspberries were on sale here last week so I bought a double pack to add to my Raisin Bran. Unfortunately, the weather changed about the same time and for me Raisin Bran is a summer breakfast. This weather deserves oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar… or perhaps some delicious raspberry dropped scones.

Don’t over mix the dough. If necessary add a tablespoon or two of water to make the dough stick together when trying to make a doughball, which is a snowball made of dough.

These scones are basically a free-form biscuit made by forming the dough into six or seven 200g balls, (each about the size of a small fist) placing on a parchment lined baking sheet and flattening to about an inch thick.

Raspberry Drop 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
• 150-175g fresh raspberries
• 1 cup heavy cream
• Coarse or turbinado sugar for topping

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. Gently fold in the berries. It’s fine if the raspberries break up a little – it adds a nice pink stain to the dough. 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. Spoon the dough into 12 equally-sized pieces on the parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle some coarse or turbinado sugar over the top, if desired.
  7. Bake for 16-19 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The scones should be lightly golden and cooked through.
  8. Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes then carefully remove to a cooling rack.

Hand Pies and Pan Au Chocolat

So, I had some puff pastry left over from the torsades last week, AND I had a half pint of fresh raspberries left over from my breakfast cereal. What am I to do?

I know! I can use some of my 11#s of chocolate for Pan Au Chocolat and puff pastry and raspberries for some hand pies. I posted both recipes and methods elsewhere in this blog so won’t bore you with repetition.

Twist and Shout – With Chocolate

In a continuing search for places to use chocolate I found Chocolate Torsades. The name derives from the French ‘tornado’ for ‘twist.’

There really isn’t a recipe for this. I used my creme patisserie recipe from the eclairs, (I had some left over.) I also had a leftover sheet of puff pastry, and of course lots of existing chocolate. (Still trying to exhaust the old stock.)

French Chocolate Torsades (Puff Pastry Twists)

INGREDIENTS
• 4 egg yolks
• 1/2 cup of sugar
• 2 tablespoons of flour
• 1 1/2 cups of milk
• 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla
• 1 tablespoon of butter
• 1/4 teaspoon of salt
• 1 sheet Puff pastry (270 g)
• Chocolate chips dark or milk
• 1 egg for egg wash
• Sparkling sugar

METHOD
For the custard

  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.

    For the Chocolate Torsades
  6. Preheat oven to 410 degrees (215 Celsius)
  7. Roll out puff pastry about 14 inches long or just use the store bought roll
  8. Spread a thin layer of the vanilla custard on top
  9. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top
  10. Fold in half and cut into strips
  11. Twist each strip a few times to create the twist
  12. Whisk one egg in a small bowl and brush the tops of the twists with the egg wash
  13. Place chocolate torsades on baking sheet with parchment paper
  14. Sprinkle with sparkling sugar
  15. Bake at 400 degrees (215 Celsius) for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

The Problem With Golf

You don’t hear it mentioned often, but there is a major problem with the game of golf. Although it is possible the problem is with those who play golf.

I play three times a week, which means there are four mornings a week that I don’t play golf and therein lies the problem. What am I going to do with those four mornings?

Sadly, sort of, I saw a new recipe for cinnamon buns this week, and I am not playing golf this morning…. so.

King Arthur Baking published this recipe for Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Buns. Often, once the bun cools, while still flavorful, it becomes more dense. Not these! They remain soft and fresh up to four days after baking. The secret is using a tangzhong in the dough batter. Tangzhong is a mix of milk and flour which is mixed and heated to a thick paste before adding the rest of the dough ingredients. It’s easy, you only need to know to do it.

I made the recipe as listed below, except not having whole milk I mixed 2% milk and whipping cream in a 80:20 ratio. I also only used the cream for the icing. The result is outstanding! We are waiting for the QC report, but manufacturing gives these rolls a big thumbs up!

Perfectly Pillowy Cinnamon Rolls


https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/perfectly-pillowy-cinnamon-rolls-recipe

INGREDIENTS

Tangzhong
• 1/2 cup (113g) whole milk
• 3 tablespoons (23g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour

Dough
• 2/3 cup (151g) whole milk, cold
• 2 1/2 cups (300g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar
• 2 teaspoons instant yeast
• 4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, softened

Filling
• 1 tablespoon (14g) butter, melted
• 1/2 cup (107g) light brown sugar, packed
• 2 tablespoons (15g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
• 4 teaspoons (10g) cinnamon
• 1/16 teaspoon (pinch) salt

Icing
• 3 tablespoons (42g) butter, melted, divided
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/16 teaspoon (pinch) salt
• 1 1/2 cups (170g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
• 1 to 2 tablespoons (14g to 28g) milk, cream, or buttermilk; enough to thin to desired consistency

METHOD

  1. To make the tangzhong: Combine both the ingredients in a small saucepan, and whisk until no lumps remain.
  2. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook the mixture, stirring regularly, until thickened, paste-like, and the spoon or spatula leaves lines on the bottom of the pan. This should take 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the strength of your burner.
  3. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl, the bowl of a stand mixer, or the bucket of a bread machine (whatever you plan to knead the dough in).
  4. To make the dough: Add the ingredients to the mixing bowl in the order listed; the heat from the tangzhong will help to warm the cold milk.
  5. Mix — by hand, on low speed of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, or in a bread machine set to the dough cycle — to bring the dough together. Next, knead the dough until it’s smooth, elastic, and tacky. This will take up to 15 minutes by hand, 10 to 12 minutes on medium-low speed of a mixer, or the length of the dough cycle in a bread machine.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a reusable cover.
  7. Let the dough rise until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 60 to 90 minutes (depending on the warmth of your kitchen).
  8. To make the filling: While the dough is rising, put the melted butter into a medium bowl and add the remaining ingredients, stirring until the mixture is the texture of damp sand. Set aside.
  9. To assemble the rolls: Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper.
  10. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and press it into a 10” x 12” rectangle that’s about 1/2” thick. For evenly shaped rolls, try to pat the dough into an actual rectangle (with corners), rather than an oval.
  11. Sprinkle the filling over the dough, covering all but a 1/2” strip along one long side.
  12. Starting with the filling-covered long side, roll the dough into a log.
  13. Score the dough lightly into eight equal 1 1/2” to 2” pieces. Cut the dough at the score marks, using dental floss for the cleanest cut. If you don’t have dental floss, a bench knife or sharp knife will work.
  14. Place the rolls onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them so there’s at least 2” between each one and they’re 2” away from the edges of the pan; a 3-2-3 arrangement works well. To prevent them from unraveling while they rise and bake, tuck the ends of the spirals underneath the rolls so that they’re held in place.
  15. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap or a reusable cover and let them rise for 30 to 60 minutes (depending on the warmth of your kitchen). The rolls should be puffy and the dough shouldn’t bounce back immediately when gently pressed.
  16. About 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake, position a rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  17. Bake the rolls for 14 to 18 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown and a digital thermometer inserted into the center of one roll reads 190°F. Bake for the lesser amount of time for extra-soft rolls, and the longer amount of time for rolls with a bit more color and slightly firmer texture.
  18. Remove the rolls from the oven, place the pan on a rack, and brush the hot rolls with 1 1/2 tablespoons (21g) of the melted butter. Let the rolls cool for 10 to 15 minutes before icing.
  19. To make the icing: Combine the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons (21g) melted butter with the remaining icing ingredients in a medium bowl, mixing with a spatula until smooth.
  20. Ice the rolls and serve immediately. If you’re planning to serve the rolls later, wait to ice them until just before serving. Store icing at room temperature, tightly covered, until you’re ready to use it.
  21. Store completely cooled rolls, un-iced and well wrapped, for a couple of days at room temperature; or freeze for up to 1 month.
  22. To reheat leftover rolls: These rolls stay wonderfully soft for at least 3 days. The best way to enjoy them for breakfast is to bake them the day before, store them tightly sealed (and un-iced) at room temperature overnight, then the next morning lightly cover the rolls with foil and warm them in a 300°F to 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Spread with icing and enjoy.

Tips from the KAB Bakers

With origins in Japan’s yukone (or yudane), tangzhong is a yeast bread technique popularized across Asia by Chinese cookbook author Yvonne Chen. Tangzhong involves cooking some of a bread recipe’s flour in liquid prior to adding it to the remaining dough ingredients. Bringing the temperature of the flour and liquid to 65°C (149°F) pre-gelatinizes the flour’s starches, which makes them more able to retain liquid — thus enhancing the resulting loaf’s softness and shelf life.

These rolls are bakery-sized, meaning big enough to enjoy as an indulgent breakfast or snack. For smaller-sized rolls perfect for a side dish at brunch, score and divide the dough into ten 1” to 1 1/2” pieces and bake for 13 to 16 minutes.

Do you enjoy your cinnamon rolls with tangy, thick cream cheese frosting instead of vanilla icing? Stir in 4 to 6 tablespoons (57g to 90g) softened cream cheese to the icing along with the other ingredients. The softer the cream cheese is, the easier this will be to do. Resist the urge to add more than 2 teaspoons of milk until the icing is fully mixed. If it’s too thick for your liking, add more milk a teaspoon at a time to get it to the consistency you prefer.

Wondering about all the liquid choices for thinning the frosting? Milk is certainly the most convenient, but if you have cream or buttermilk, the former will add an extra layer of richness, while the latter will add a subtle tang to balance out the sweetness.

A Day In The Life – Act I

So, I started the morning with Pain Au Chocolat, (making, not eating.) I have some opened chocolate I need to use before I open the new bag. To me, baking is a hobby so I like to make everything I can from scratch. I don’t use mixes or other short cuts…. except for puff pastry. In the past I made puff pastry a few times and must admit that what I make is not nearly as good as what is available in the super market.

I buy two brands of puff pastry. Trader Joe sells a box with two 10”x10” sheets. TJ’s is good when you don’t want a huge puff when baked. If you knock it before baking it will puff less than 100%, which is what I used for todays pastry. Pepperidge Farms puff pastry also comes in two sheets per box, but each sheet is conveniently individually wrapped. This pastry puffs 200% if baked without knocking, a little less if you do. Pepperidge Farms is available year round, while TJ’s is only available from roughly Thanksgiving to New Year’s. Buy a few boxes and put them in the bottom of your freezer. I do.

Using Trader Joe’s puff pastry makes Pain Au Chocolat a snap. There is the added benefit it is also delicious.

Pain au Chocolate


INGREDIENTS
Puff pastry (Trader Joe’s)
Chocolate ( I used Guittard’s 63%)
Confectioner’s sugar

METHOD

  1. Roll out puff pastry
  2. Dust with confectioner’s sugar
  3. Cut into 2” wide (Trader Joe’s Puff Pastry – cut 5 long strips, then cut each in half)
  4. Lay chocolate at one end, roll one time, press down gently and roll again, press gently again
  5. Add second row of chocolate and roll one last time, press gently
  6. Chill overnight or at least 2 hours.
  7. Brush with egg wash
  8. Bake 360 deg 20-25 min on parchment lined baking sheet