It’s Wednesday and I don’t (usually) play golf on Wednesday. What will I do to occupy my time? What will I do? Well, I froze some choux pastry a couple of months ago, just to have some for an emergency. Choux freezes well but should be used within a few months. Plus I had some leftover chocolate glaze. All I needed was some creme patisserie (which I made before dawn today,) and I could have some eclairs! (I also made a loaf of bread later in the morning.) A very full day!!
I am not sure there is much better than a fresh, warm, chocolate babka. For anyone who is unfamiliar with this bread/pastry/cake I strongly suggest you don’t wait but either make or buy a loaf. Warning, this recipe could ruin you for store bought.
I was going to take a few pictures to illustrate how to make and shape a babka, but the woman who posted this recipe did a great job of it. https://prettysimplesweet.com/shaping-babka. Copy and paste this link into your browser for details.
INGREDIENTS For the dough: • 3¾ cups (530 g) all-purpose flour , plus extra for dusting • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar • 1 tablespoon (10g) instant yeast • 3 large eggs • ½ cup (120 ml) water • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt • ⅔ cup (150 g) unsalted butter , at room temperature, cut into small cubes • Neutral oil (sunflower, canola) for dressing For the chocolate filling: • ½ cup (50 g) powdered sugar • ⅓ cup (30 g) unsweetened cocoa powder • 130 g dark chocolate , melted* • ½ cup (120 g) unsalted butter , melted • ⅔ cup (120 g) chocolate chips or chunks OR 1 cup (100g/3.5oz) pecans, coarsely chopped (optional) For the sugar syrup: • ½ cup (120ml) water • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
METHOD Making the dough:
Place flour, sugar, and yeast in a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed until combined. Add eggs and water, and mix on medium speed until dough comes together, 2-3 minutes. Add salt, then butter, adding a few cubes at a time, mixing until incorporated. Continue mixing for about 10 minutes on medium speed, until dough is completely smooth, elastic, shiny, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. During mixing, you will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Place dough in a large bowl brushed with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in the fridge for at least half a day or overnight.
Grease two loaf pans (9×4 inch) with oil and line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Divide dough in half and keep one half covered in the fridge. Making the filling:
Whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate, and butter until you have a spreadable paste.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface and shape into a rectangle measuring 15×11 inches. Position dough so that a long side is closest to you. Using an offset spatula, spread half of the chocolate mixture over the rectangle, leaving a ¾ inch border all around. Sprinkle half of the pecans or chocolate chips on top of the chocolate. Shaping the dough:
Use both hands to roll up the rectangle like a roulade, starting from the long side closest to you and ending at the other long end. Press to seal the dampened end onto the roulade, then use both hands to even out the roll into a perfect thick cigar. Rest the cigar on its seam.
Trim about ¾ inch off both ends of the roulade with a serrated knife. Then use the knife to gently cut the roll in half lengthwise, starting at the top and finishing at the seam, essentially dividing the log into two long even halves, with the layers of dough and filling visible along the length of both halves. With the cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of each half, then lift the right half over the left half. Repeat this process, but this time lifting the left half over the right, to create a simple two-pronged plait. Gently squeeze together the other ends so that you are left with the two halves, intertwined, showing the filling on top. Carefully lift the cake into a loaf pan. Don’t worry if there are gaps in the pan since the cake will rise and will eventually look fine, even if you feel like it’s messy at this point. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap or a wet tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours. Repeat to make the second cake.
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C, making sure to allow plenty of time for it to heat fully before the cakes have finished rising. Remove plastic wrap or tea towels, place cakes on middle rack of oven, and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean with no dough attached.
While the cakes are in the oven, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove from heat and set aside to cool. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, brush the syrup over them. Use all of the syrup, even if it looks a lot. Let cakes cool until they are warm, then remove from pans and let cool completely before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Babka will stay fresh for 24 hours in an airtight container at room temperature. Don’t place in the fridge.
Babka freezes well for up to 2 months. To thaw, leave on counter or overnight in the fridge.
To melt butter and chocolate, place them in a heat-proof bowl, and heat in the microwave in 20 second-intervals, stirring in between each interval, until melted and smooth (or alternatively, set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally).
I recently picked another quart of blackberries from my garden and decided some fresh blackberry muffins would be a nice treat. Actually, half of the QA department thought it was a good idea and why would I object?
I found this recipe from an Oregon blackberry grower—how could I go wrong? I actually saw the same ingredients, ratios and method on several websites. Well, they all got it right. These are easy, quick and delicious.
Although the blackberries were fresh from the garden I froze them for a couple of hours. This kept the blackberry juice from diffusing out into the muffin batter. I also cut them in half to help the dispersion throughout the batter.
BLACKBERRY MUFFINS INGREDIENTS
FOR THE BATTTER • ½ C all-purpose flour • ¾ C sugar • ½ t salt • 2 t baking powder • ⅓ C vegetable oil • 1 egg • 1 t vanilla extract • ⅓ – ½ C milk • 1 C fresh frozen blackberries or fresh (cut in half)
FOR THE STREUSEL TOPPING • ½ C sugar • ⅓ C all-purpose flour • ¼ C butter melted • 1 t ground cinnamon • Optional – ½ t ground cardamom METHOD
Preheat oven to 400°F .
Grease a muffin tin or line with muffin liners.
Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
Add oil to a 1 cup measuring cup. Add egg and enough milk (⅓ – ½ cup) to fill to 1-cup line. Add vanilla and almond extract (if using) and whisk to combine.
Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients until just combined, then fold in blackberries. To Make Streusel Topping:
Mix together sugar, flour, butter, cinnamon and cardamom with a fork until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle over muffins before baking.
Divide batter evenly into muffin cups. Sprinkle with streusel topping.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. When muffins are done, cool for a few minutes in the muffin pan before removing to cool on a wire rack.
My friend, Maggie, and I have been trading recipes, tips and techniques for a while now. A couple of weeks ago she sent me this recipe for her biscuits, and it is outstanding. Making the batter takes 10-15 minutes, then 15 minutes in the oven and they are ready.
I followed her method exactly, except I cut the biscuits out with a 2” circular cutter. I then bunched the leftovers into a ball, patted them out and re-cut, twice. This provide a good sample for our Quality Assurance Department, who graded them A+
Maggie’s Six Biscuits
INGREDIENTS • 1 tsp Baking Soda • 1 tsp Salt • 1 tsp Sugar • 1⁄2 tsp Baking Powder • 1 1/2 c AP Flour • 1 stick Cold Butter • 3/4 Sour Milk or Buttermilk (I soured whole milk with a bit o’lemon juice)
Mix the dry ingredients.
Cut in the butter (fingers or pastry thingie, your choice) til it’s a shaggy mess … remembering that the less it’s messed with the flakier it’ll be.
Once it’s at the shaggy mess stage begin adding the liquid a bit at a time until it’s a soft dough … keeping in mind then”remembering” bit notes above.
Knead it a tiny bit.
Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, pat it into a rectangle about 1/2” high, spread some melted butter on it,
Fold in half, pat it into a rectangle about 1” high, spread some melted butter on it.
Cut into 6 pieces, place on parchment papered baking sheet, bake at 425 for about 15 minutes.
We saw a recipe for strawberry popovers from William Sonoma. I decided to try straw, black and rasp berry popovers. While the taste was spot on, the moisture from the berries retarded the bake on the bottom, resulting in the dreaded soggy bottom. I will try again with some freeze dried berries. Luckily, I also made vanilla ice cream to fill the hole where the popover collapsed from the excess moisture. It won’t fix the problem, but who cares?
The flavor and texture of the popover was very good. Can’t wait to try them with the ice cream! Oh, and I didn’t have any mascarpone cheese, hence the vanilla ice cream.
• 1 ½ cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) whole milk • 4 eggs • 1 ½ cups (7 1/2 oz./235 g) all-purpose flour • 3 Tbs. granulated sugar • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest • 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted • 8 strawberries, hulled and very thinly sliced • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting For the mascarpone whipped cream (optional): • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) heavy cream • ½ cup (4 oz./125 g) mascarpone cheese • 3 Tbs. granulated sugar • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Place a standard 12-well muffin pan in an oven and preheat to 425°F (220°C).
In a blender, combine the milk and eggs and blend on high speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add the flour, granulated sugar, salt, lemon zest and vanilla bean paste and blend on high speed until combined, about 30 seconds, stopping the blender to scrape down the sides as needed. Add the melted butter and blend on high speed for 30 seconds.
Remove the pan from the oven and spray the wells with nonstick cooking spray. Working quickly, divide the batter evenly among the prepared wells, filling each about three-fourths full. For each popover, place 4 strawberry slices on the surface of the batter.
Bake the popovers for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C). Continue to bake until the popovers are deep golden brown and the strawberries look slightly dehydrated, 10 to 15 minutes more.
While the popovers are baking, make the mascarpone whipped cream, if desired. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Add the mascarpone cheese, granulated sugar and vanilla and beat until medium peaks form, about 10 seconds.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the popovers cool in the pan for 3 minutes, then dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Using an offset spatula, remove the popovers from the muffin pan. Serve warm with the mascarpone whipped cream, if desired. Makes 12 popovers.
I have been baking a lot of bread recently. With the self-isolation, several of our friends were unable to find bread in the nearly empty supermarkets and as I really like to bake I am giving a lot of bread away – a loaf or two a day. Luckily, I bought an extra 10 lbs of bread flour a couple of weeks ago, along with 5 lbs of AP flour and 4 lbs of sugar.
Today, I am taking a break from bread. I made a raspberry curd filled tart. I really like my chocolate tart with orange drizzle, but saw and adapted the Raspberry Curd to use with my tart shell. Luckily, the curd can be made in advance and refrigerated so today I only had to make the tart shell. (Don’t let me kid you. I also made 2 loaves of white sandwich bread for friends.)
Raspberry Curd • 3 cups raspberries • 1/2 cup sugar • 1 tsp Meyer lemon zest • 2 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice • 2 Tbsp water • 2 large egg yolks • 2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch • 1/8 tsp salt • 1 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, diced
Tart Shell • 100 g cold butter cut into small cubes • 200 g almond flour (I may increase this by 50g, not sure yet) • 60 g icing sugar • ½ tsp vanilla • ¼ tsp salt • 2 eggs (100g) Topping
For the raspberry curd, combine raspberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
Bring mixture to a boil (about 5 minutes); reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
Place in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Wipe pan clean and strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a cleaned pan and discard solids.
Whisk together egg yolks and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth.
Stir yolk mixture into raspberry mixture; bring to a boil over medium-low heat (about 5 minutes). Be careful, the mixture can burn if heat it so high. If it does, do not scrape the bottom of the pan.
Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then remove from heat (the mixture should coat the back of a spoon).
Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth.
Place curd into a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.
Chill curd in the refrigerator at least 2 hours, or up to 1 week (if making in advance).
For the tart shell: Mix butter with sugar (I break up the chunks of butter by rubbing them into the sugar with my hands)
Add salt then vanilla
Add egg and mix well
Stir in flour. Mix by hand until incorporated. I did this in 3 parts mixing well between each.
Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 min until it firms up a bit.
Butter (spray) tartlet pan
Coat hands with flour and press the sticky dough into tart mold
Prick holes in bottom and sides of formed dough
Add pastry weights to the pan
Bake in preheated oven 350o F (175o C) for 17 – 20 min
Remove pastry weights with 5 min left in the bake
Remove pastry shells from pans and let cool on wire rack To assemble tart, spoon raspberry curd into cooled tart shell and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula.
Arrange raspberries over filling in a decorative pattern.
Most synagogues host an Oneg after Shabbat services on Friday night. The nameOneg Shabbatmeans joy of the Sabbath in Hebrew and usually refers to a celebratory gathering held after Sabbath services, often with food and socializing.
Our synagogue, Temple Or Rishon, invites each family to host an Oneg once a year and many do so, often joining efforts with other friends or families. We have baked desserts for the Oneg we host with friends every year. This year I made eclairs and chocolate chip/raspberry bit/ganache covered brownies. These have been favorites of the synagogue membership. The recipes for both can be found at eclairs and brownies.
I made two dozen eclairs.
And three dozen brownies. This year I topped them with ground cashews. Last year one friend said they would have been the best brownies he ever had, if they had some nuts on them.
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.
I saw a KAF recipe for Chocolate and Raspberry Brownie Bars. If you are a regular reader, you know I am baking about 800 one and two bite desserts for a fundraiser in March. Since brownies are baked in a sheet pan and cut to bite size, these brownies become a relatively easy way to make 4 dozen desserts (or about 6%) at once.
Basically this is a brownie with both chocolate chips and raspberry jammy bits folded into the batter and coated with a heavy layer of ganache. Once baked, and still warm a thinned coating of seedless raspberry jam is spread over the brownies. (Don’t over bake the brownies!) I cooled the coated brownies in the fridge for a while as I made and cooled to thicken the ganache.
While not essential topping with a raspberry and dusted with confectioners sugar really set this dessert off. (Rats, just ended that sentence with a preposition.)
CHOCOLATE AND RASPBERRY BROWNIE BARS
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups dark cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup Raspberry Jammy Bits
3 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
1 tablespoon water
CHOCOLATE GANACHE GLAZE
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons light corn syrup (20g)
2 2/3 cups (400 g)) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan. To make very even bars, line the pan with aluminum foil before baking, leaving foil sticking up above the edges of the pan.
Crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla until smooth.
Add the sugar and melted butter, stirring until smooth.
Add the flour, chips, and Jammy Bits, again stirring well.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look moist, but not uncooked. Do not overbake! Remove them from the oven.
Heat the seedless raspberry jam with the water, and stir until smooth. Brush over the warm brownies. Set aside to cool for an hour or longer before topping with the ganache.
To make the ganache, heat the cream and corn syrup until they begin to steam. Pour over the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes, add any flavorings, and whisk until smooth. Let cool for 15 minutes or so.
Pour ganache over the brownies while it’s still warm, but has begun to thicken — reheat if it thickens too much as you work. Allow several hours for the ganache to set up fully. You may refrigerate the brownies to hasten the setting of the ganache.
Remove the brownies from the pan using the aluminum foil sling. Heat a knife in hot water, wipe dry and use to cut the brownies. Repeat with each cut.
Just before serving, garnish brownies with fresh raspberries and confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
Here are some samples of one and two bite pastries I am making for a party of about 200 people. We are meeting tonight for a party progress meeting. I decided to give the group a sample of some of the varieties of desserts I am baking for the event.
I have both lemon and mango curd filled profiteroles, cream patisserie filled eclairs and tartlets, vanilla cake with pink icing and raspberry drizzle and vanilla cake with chocolate drizzle. There are mini-raspberry cheesecakes, blueberry and apply mini pie bites, chocolate brownie cups with chocolate mousse and a raspberry drizzle. Some of these were made ahead and frozen until today. The tartlets, eclairs, profiteroles and all icings, drizzles and frostings were made this afternoon.