Key Lime Day

Today should be the last of a long line of rainy days. At least I hope so. I have two days of golf this week, something that hasn’t happened since December.

To celebrate the sun I decided to make some Key Lime Tartlets. I guessed how much tart dough I would need, and was pretty close.

I used all the prepared tart pans that I had and missed by two! Not bad.

I also guessed how much key lime filling would be required and missed it by a country mile. (Which makes me wonder, is a country mile longer that a city or suburb mile?)

If you know (or follow me) you know I am not one to throw away anything, so I made two 6” graham cracker pie crusts to use the excellent left over filling

Once the tart dough rested 30 minutes in the fridge I rolled it, and used a cookie cutter to cut circles about the diameter of each tart pan, plus twice the height. Once pressed into the pan I docked the bottoms with a knife then lined them with parchment paper. It’s easier to line them if you crumple the paper first.

I should have applied the egg was before filling the paper lined cups with beans. I had to unload, egg wash, and replace the paper and beans. Live and learn.

I used Italian merengue to counter the tartness of the key lime. I also added some lime zest to counter the sweetness of the merengue… a never ending wormhole.

The filling was sharp, the shell sweet and melt-in-your-mouth, and the merengue perfect. What more could you ask for?

Key Lime Tartlets

INGREDIENTS

SHELL
• 100 g cold butter cut into small cubes
• 200 g all-purpose flour
• 60 g icing sugar
• ½ tsp vanilla
• ¼ tsp salt
• 2 egg – 1 for the dough and the other 1 reserved for an egg wash

FILLING
• zest (grated rind) of 1 lime
• 4 large egg yolks
• 14-ounce can (397g) sweetened condensed milk, (1 1/4 cups)
• 3/4 cup (170g) Key lime juice or lime juice
• 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon lime oil, optional

METHOD

SHELL

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix butter with sugar
  3. Add salt then vanilla
  4. Add egg
  5. Stir in flour. Mix by hand until incorporated
  6. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 min
  7. Butter tartlet pans, or use non-stick pans
  8. Roll dough to about ⅛” thick
  9. Lay over tart mold and press into all crevices
  10. Roll top to cut off excess
  11. Prick holes in bottom and sides of formed dough
  12. Fill tarts with pastry weights (I put beans in a cupcake paper and remove 5 minutes before the end of the bake.)
  13. Paint edges of the tartlet with the egg wash.
  14. Bake in preheated oven 350 deg F (175 C) for 15 min
  15. Immediately remove from pans and cool on a wire rack

FILLING

  1. Whisk the lime zest and egg yolks at high speed of an electric mixer for about 4 minutes. The mixture will lighten in color and thicken somewhat, appearing similar to Hollandaise sauce.
  2. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk, mixing until smooth. Beat at high speed for 3 minutes; the filling will become slightly thicker and gain a bit of volume.
  3. Add the lime juice, stirring just to combine. The mixture will thicken again. Add lime oil to taste.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust and return the tart (on the baking sheet) to the oven. Bake the tart for 18 to 22 minutes, until it appears set around the edges though still a bit wobbly in the center. The center should read about 145°F on a digital thermometer.
  5. Remove the tart from the oven and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
  6. Once chilled, serve the key lime pies cold with whipped cream and a lime slice if desired. Store leftover pies in the refrigerator (covered) for up to 1 week. If they last that long!

Notes
Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Up to 1 day in advance, you can prepare the crust ingredients and the filling ingredients separately. Store each covered tightly in the refrigerator until ready to assemble and bake. Likewise, as noted in set 4, you can bake the key lime pies and store in the refrigerator for 1 day before serving. Key lime pies freeze well, up to 2–3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

ITALIAN MERINGUE

INGREDIENTS
• 150g (or ¾ cup) granulated sugar
• 60ml (or ¼ cup) water
• 60g (or ¼ cup) egg whites (about 2 large egg whites)

METHOD

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat over low heat, stirring until the sugar has
    dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to medium-high and allow the syrup to come to a boil.
  2. In the meantime, add the egg whites to a medium-sized, heatproof bowl and mix (with a mixer fitted with the
    whisk attachment) until foamy and the whites are almost able to hold soft peaks.
  3. Once the syrup is boiling, clip on a candy (or sugar) thermometer.
  4. Cook until the syrup reaches 116°C/240°F, then take the pan off the heat and slowly drizzle the hot syrup into
    the bowl with the foamy egg whites, mixing continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Don’t pour the
    syrup onto the whisk, or the syrup may splatter against the sides of the bowl (or into your face!). Instead, aim
    for a spot close to the whisk.
  5. Once all the syrup has been added, keep mixing until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch and the
    meringue has cooled down to body temperature.
  6. Use immediately or keep in the fridge (covered) until ready to use. It’s a very stable meringue, so it won’t start
    weeping, leaking or collapsing.

    NOTES
    Italian meringue can be made two days in advance and stored in the fridge until needed (covered with plastic wrap).

8 Crazy Days

Hanukkah starts Sunday at sundown. Jelly donuts are always a part of our Hanukkah celebration. Of course, it’s part of many of our celebrations… like Thursdays, or the First of The Month Days and many others.

Making these donuts is strait forward with only a couple of possible pitfalls. One is to overwork the dough. Knead it for 2 minutes only! Another is to be sure it fully proofed. When poked, the dough should bounce back slowly, but bounce back. Lastly, regulate the frying temperature. Too hot and they will bake on the outside but not on the inside. Too cold and the donuts will be greasy.

You don’t need an occasion or excuse to make donuts. Try them anytime. It’s a fun bake and the results are delicious.

JELLY DOUGHNUTS

INGREDIENTS
• 1 tablespoon dry yeast
• ¾ cup about 100° F milk
• ¼ cup melted butter
• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
• 2 ½ to 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
• ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• Vegetable oil for frying
• ¾ cup jam or jelly, any flavor
For the Coating:
• 1 cup sugar
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
METHOD

  1. Generously flour a clean work surface and lightly oil a medium-size bowl.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, add the warm milk, then sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Using the dough hook in the stand mixer, stir to dissolve and allow it to sit until it gets foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the butter, salt and sugar, and stir to combine. Blend in the egg and egg yolk, then beat in 2 cups of the flour. Beat until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, then beat in another ½ cup flour plus the nutmeg.
  3. When the batter has formed into a cohesive ball, turn it onto the floured work surface and knead the dough for two minutes. (No more!) Add more flour as needed if the dough feels too sticky. Form the dough into a ball, and place in the oiled bowl. Cover with a dishtowel or plastic wrap and let sit in a warm, draft-free place until the dough has doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Check with the poke test.
  4. Re-flour your work surface. Turn the dough onto the floured surface and roll it out with a floured rolling pin to a ½-inch thickness.
  5. Depending on how big you want your final donuts (2 1/2 – 3 inch) cookie cutter, cut as many rounds as you can,. Gather the scraps, let them sit for another 15 minutes, then roll the dough out again, and cut as many more circles as possible. Place the circles on a very lightly floured baking sheet with a couple of inches between each doughnut, cover with a clean dishtowel or loose plastic wrap, and let sit for about 1 hour, until they are quite puffy, about 1 inch thick.
  6. About 15 minutes before you are going to fry the doughnuts, place paper towels on a clean surface. Make the sugar coating: In a shallow bowl, mix together the 1 cup sugar with the cinnamon. And pour at least 2 inches of oil into a deep skillet or pan. Heat to 375° F over medium heat.
  7. Use a spatula to transfer two or three doughnuts into the pan. They will rise and bob on the surface; fry for about 1 minute, until golden brown on the underside, then flip them and cook until the second side is golden brown, another 1 to 2 minutes. You can occasionally gently press the doughnuts down into the oil to cook the sides evenly. Remove the doughnuts, allowing excess oil to drain back into the pan, and let them rest for a minute on the paper towels.
  8. Then place them in the bowl with the sugar coating and turn to coat completely.
  9. Use a chopstick or wooden dowel to poke a hole into the side of each doughnut, and as you slide it in, give it a wiggle to create a small pocket in the center of the doughnut. Fill a pastry bag or sturdy plastic bag with the jelly. Insert the pastry bag into the hole on the side of the doughnut. Gently squeeze a couple of teaspoons of jelly into the middle of the doughnut. Remove the bag carefully from the doughnut, and repeat until all the doughnuts are filled.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Charlotte, Vermont 05445

I was born and raised just a few miles from Charlotte, VT and never knew that had a pastry named for them. “Oh! What was that QC?” Sorry, I was just told Charlottes were not named for that town, rather the name originated from a pastry made in British, unless you prefer the “alternate facts” that point to Russian origins.

There are many variations of Charlotte cakes. After sampling so many amazing pastries in Paris, I decided to try some mini charlottes. They retain the charlotte basics of lady fingers, creams and berries. In this version the lady fingers are smaller than usual to fit into my entremet cups. The creme chiboust may not be “authentic” but maintains the essential of being a blend of creme patisserie and Italian meringue.

For the the creme patisserie in eclairs I made last week I used the “old fashioned method” of tempering the eggs and adding back into the hot mixture. I prefer Martha Stewarts method of adding everything to the sauce pan, except the vanilla, heating until it thickens, sieving, then adding the vanilla and stir. Depending on how thick you want the final creampat you can heat the mixture as long or short as you wish.

Once the creampat is cooled, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Meanwhile heat the sugar/water mixture to 240F. Drizzle the hot sugar water into the whipped egg whites and beat on high to firm peaks.

Fold the Italian meringue into the creampat without deflating the meringue. Pipe the resultant creme chiboust into hemispherical molds, cover with plastic directly on the creme chiboust and freeze. The diameter of the molds should be at least 1 cm less than the molds you will use to make the charlottes.

I was pleased (surprised?) how well the raspberry jelly set up and then released from the plastic wrap. I used agar agar to set the jelly (and everywhere else throughout this bake) to keep everything vegetarian.

I set all the ingredients required for the chocolate mousse and took a picture. Unfortunately, that is the only picture I took during the process. Imagine, if you will, chocolate and butter on a Bain Marie. Imagine the stand mixer making whipped cream, then being cleaned and making a meringue, both with soft peaks. Imagine folding the two whipped ingredients into the cooled chocolate. Now, you are up to date.

Making the raspberry/white chocolate mousse is very similar to making the dark chocolate mousse. In fact, pretend the red raspberry puree is chocolate and you won’t even miss photos in the above section.

Imagine, if you will, I actually took pictures while making the raspberry mousse. Dang! I took a picture of all the ingredients (left) and of the completed raspberry confit (right,) but missed all the intermediate steps.

The first batch of lady fingers were piped with too much space between them. Plus they were over baked and cracked when trying to bend them into the entremet molds. The lines of lady fingers should touch when baked to create a “sheet” that is smooth on one side and have the rounded “lady finger” look on the other. The second batch were just right, but only filled 8 of the 12 molds. The third batch were slightly underdone so I let them dry in the turned-off oven for a few more minutes. While they were then slightly over done, I was able to salvage enough to finish all twelve molds.

Charlottes are traditionally wrapped with a ribbon. The set mousse should hold the cake together but the ribbon looks pretty and suggests it is (erroneously) required to hold the cake together.

I found the chocolate releases from parchment paper easier than from acetate. Most of my photos show the first attempt using acetate.

4” x 1/2” strips of parchment paper, coated with chocolate and allowed to dry some were folded over and the ends put together to form the loops of the bow. Other short straight pieces were used for the ends of the ribbons. A little chocolate was used to glue the parts onto the side of a charlotte to resemble a ribbon bow.

Sliced raspberries and blueberries plus some chocolate shavings sprinkled on top finished the charlottes. They need to be refrigerated or frozen until serving. QC and I decided the flavor and texture were excellent, but other pastries I previously made were as good and much, much easier.

Mini Red Berry / Chocolate Charlotte

Crème Chiboust

INGREDIENTS
Crème Patisserie
• ½ c sugar
• ¼ c corn starch
• Pinch salt
• 2 c whole milk
• 4 egg yolks
• 2 Tbl butter
• 2 tsp vanilla
Italian Meringue
• 1 cup sugar (200g)
• 1/2 cup water
• 4 large room temperature egg whites
• 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

METHOD
Crème Patisserie

  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 vanilla, mix thoroughly
  5. When incorporated, cover with plastic directly on the cream and cool about an hour.

Italian Meringue

  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Heat over high heat, stirring only until it comes to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, stop stirring. Cook until sugar syrup registers 240°F (115°C) on an instant-read or candy thermometer. Brush down sides of pot as necessary with a pastry brush dipped in water.
  2. Meanwhile, combine egg whites and cream of tartar or lemon juice in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (see note). Set mixer to medium speed and mix until soft peaks form (when lifted, the head of the mixer should form gentle peaks in the egg whites that very slowly collapse back into themselves), about 2 minutes.
  3. With the mixer running, carefully and slowly drizzle in hot sugar syrup. (Hot sugar is just as dangerous as fryer oil, so use caution!) Increase speed to high and whip to stiff peaks.

Crème Chiboust

  1. Stir the cooled crème patisserie to loosen slightly then mix in about one-third of the meringue. Then add the crème patisserie mixture to the remaining meringue and mix in.
  2. The crème chiboust is ready to use.

Lady Fingers

INGREDIENTS
• 4 large separated eggs
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
• 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 4 teaspoons cornstarch
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• Powdered sugar, for dusting

METHOD

  1. Separate 4 large egg yolks, placing the yolks into the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric mixer) and the whites into a small bowl. Let sit out until room temperature. Meanwhile, arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round tip.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract to the egg yolks. Beat with the whisk attachment on medium speed until the egg yolks are lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until doubled in volume, very pale yellow, falls off the whisk in thick ribbons, and the whisk leaves visible lines through the egg yolk mixture when the mixer is running, about 2 minutes more.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Clean and dry the stand mixer and whisk attachment.
  4. Add the reserved egg whites and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar to the stand mixer. Attach the whisk attachment and turn on to on medium-low speed. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar and beat until the mixture is foamy and beginning to grow in volume, about 2 minutes.
  5. Increase the speed to medium and beat until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until glossy and stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes more.
  6. Add half of the egg yolk mixture and fold until just combined. Add the remaining egg yolk mixture and fold until almost fully incorporated, some streaks are okay. Do not over-mix.
  7. Sift 1 cup all-purpose flour, 4 teaspoons cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt into the egg mixture. Fold together until just incorporated with no dry bits remaining, it’s okay if the mixture is not smooth. Do not over-mix.
  8. Transfer the mixture to the pastry bag. Pipe 4-inch long ladyfingers onto the baking sheets, spacing them 3/4 to 1-inch apart, 20 per sheet. Dust an even layer of powdered sugar over the ladyfingers.
  9. Bake until puffed and just turning golden around the bottom, 11 – 14 minutes, until they feel firm, but not brown.
  10. Let the ladyfingers cool completely on the baking sheets.

RECIPE NOTES: Ladyfingers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 10 days

Agar Agar Raspberry Jelly

INGREDIENTS
• 2 Cups Raspberries
• 1/2 Cup Sugar
• 2 tsp Agar Agar powder
• 1/4 Cup Water
METHOD

  1. Pour the 1/4 cup water and 2 cups raspberries into a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until raspberries have softened.
  2. Use a stick blender to puree the mixture.
  3. Strain to remove the raspberry seeds.
  4. Pour the 1/4 cup water in saucepan and add 2 tsp agar agar powder. Mix well. cook on medium heat.
  5. Stir in agar until completely dissolved. Add raspberry juice and mix well.
  6. Add sugar, heat the mixture to a rolling boil and continue to cook the mixture for 2 minutes.
  7. Pour into a baking dish or into silicone molds.
  8. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.
  9. Remove and cut into desired shapes.

Dark Chocolate Mousse

INGREDIENTS
• 2 Cups
• 4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons salted butter, diced
• 2 tablespoons expresso or hot water
• 1 cup cold heavy cream
• 3 large eggs separated
• 1 tablespoon sugar

METHOD

  1. Combine the chocolate, butter, and espresso in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not simmering, water, stirring frequently until smooth.
  2. Remove from the heat and let cool until the chocolate is just slightly warmer than body temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks, then refrigerate. Once the melted chocolate is sufficiently cool, whip the egg whites in a medium bowl until they are foamy and beginning to hold a shape. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat to soft peaks.
  4. When the chocolate is cool, stir in the yolks. Gently stir in about one-third of the whipped cream. Fold in half the whites just until incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites, and finally the remaining whipped cream.
  5. Add the mousse to a piping bag and twist close. Store in the refrigerator until required.

Raspberry/White Chocolate Mousse – with Agar Agar

INGREDIENTS
WHIPPED CREAM – YIELDS ¾ CUPS OF WHIPPED CREAM
• ½ cup Heavy whipping cream
• 2 tablespoons Confectioners sugar
• ¾ teaspoons Cream of tartar
• ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
WHITE CHOCOLATE
• ½ cup White chocolate chips
• 1 ½ tablespoons Heavy whipping cream
STRAWBERRY PURÉE
• 225 grams (8 oz) fresh raspberries
• 1 Tbsp lemon juice
• 58 grams (2 oz) powdered sugar
• 200 grams (7oz) white chocolate
• 1-3 Tbsp warm milk
• 250 ml (1 cup + ½ tablespoon) cold heavy cream
• Red food coloring to suit (1-2 drops)
AGAR AGAR
• 1 Tsp Agar Agar
• 1 Tbl cup water

METHOD
PREPARE WHIPPED CREAM

  1. Before beginning with the recipe, place the mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for at least 10 minutes to chill.
  2. Once the bowl has chilled, add heavy cream and vanilla and beat on low speed until the cream starts to thicken slightly. There will be fewer and larger bubbles.
  3. Add the cream of tartar and powdered sugar and beat with increasingly higher speed until stiff peaks form. Once done, set it in the fridge to chill.

AGAR AGAR MIX

  1. Add 1 teaspoons Agar agar powder to 1 tablespoons lukewarm water
  2. Stir until agar agar is completely dissolved

PREPARING THE RASPBERRY PURÉE

  1. Combine raspberries, lemon juice and confectioners sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the syrup thickens and raspberries are very soft.
  2. Keep stirring occasionally. When the raspberries are very soft and the syrup has thickened, take it off the flame and allow it to cool.
  3. When completely cooled, puree it with an immersion blender. Sieve to remove seeds, add raspberry flavoring and set aside. Measure the syrup – you will require ¾ cup+ 2 Tbl (200 ml) of thick syrup.
  4. Cool to near room temperature.

PREPARING WHITE CHOCOLATE

  1. Heat a pan 1/2 filled with water over low heat. Lower the heat and place the white chocolate bowl over the water when it simmers. Keep stirring the chocolate as it softens and melts.
  2. Add dissolved agar agar and 4-5 Tbl warm milk and mix until the chocolate is thick but runny.

FOR RASPBERRY MOUSSE:

  1. Add half the cooled whipped cream to the cool white chocolate mixture
  2. Add the raspberry purée that was prepared earlier to the whipped cream/white chocolate mixture
  3. Mix gently to not deflate.
  4. Add the rest of the whipped cream to the raspberry -white chocolate.
  5. Add two drops of red food coloring and mix.

Gluten and Dairy Free Scones

I needed to make some snacks for someone with dietary restrictions. The challenge was to make gluten and dairy free pastries, without sacrificing taste and texture. Severe modifications to my drop berry scones filled the bill.

Replacing regular AP flour with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free AP flour, substituting cold cubed Crisco for cold butter and using almond milk instead of whole whipping cream paid the bill in full.

They were delicious, every bit as good as the standard “gluten-y” scones, with comparable texture. While I prefer blueberries for these scones, I have a large bag of Costco frozen mixed fruit (blueberries, raspberries and blackberries) I am trying to use up.

Gluten Free Berry Drop Scones

INGREDIENTS
• 2 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free AP flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/3 cup sugar
• Zest of 1 small lemon (I froze the zest of several lemons and take a pinch when needed)
• 1/2 cup Crisco chilled and cut into cubes
• 150-175g fresh raspberries (about a cup)
• 1 cup almond milk
• 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 Crisco and pulse to incorporate. The mixture should resemble very coarse sand.
  4. Empty the flour mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the almond milk 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 9-12 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.

Conchas Mexicanas Pan Dulce

One of my sons asked if I could make conchas as a surprise treat for his wife for Mother’s Day. Of course, I said yes, then searched the internet to see what the hell conchas are. I found three or four recipes that seemed sensible, watched two YouTube videos on technique, then tried two “practice” batches.

The first batch was ok, but the texture was wrong. They were tight crumbed and tough, although the flavor was acceptable. Bear in mind, I had never eaten (or heard of) a concha before this week, but I do know what good bread texture and flavor is. QC reminded me I couldn’t even pronounce “concha” until a friend corrected me. My pronunciation was so off, she didn’t know what I was talking about until I showed her one and she said “Oh! Concha. I love them.” The sugar topping used vegetable shortening rather than butter. The author thought the resultant topping would be less grainy. I liked the ones with butter better.

Do not press the embossing concha press through the topping or it will slide off, even if the tops of the conchas were well buttered.

The second batch was better. I used butter based topping and bread flour rather than AP. The crumb still wasn’t acceptable but the flavor remained good. QC thought they needed a little more cinnamon so in the final batch I doubled the cinnamon from one-half to a full teaspoon.

Ingredients for yeast conditioner

If you make conchas do not over knead the dough. It will be, and should be, very slack,. Proof in a warm, dry, draft free environment. I did as one of the authors recommended, when I started, I turned one of my ovens to “Proof” then just before putting in the dough, turned it off. If you don’t have a proofing oven, just put the light on and leave it on. Proof this way for exactly two hours.

I changed how the topping was formed. After rolling, pressing and buttering the dough balls I rolled the topping out between two sheets of parchment paper, then chose a round cookie cutter the same size as the flattened dough balls. This worked much better than using my hands to flatten the topping into disks to put on the buttered dough balls. Trust me on this.

Conchas Mexicanas Pan Dulce

INGREDIENTS:
(Makes about 8-12 conchas it all depends on how large you want them. 10 conchas will be about five inches diameter each.)

DOUGH:
• 1 cup evaporated milk
• 1 tbsp instant yeast-
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 4 cups (560 g) flour (remove 4 Tbl flour and add 4 Tbl cake and bread enhancer.
• 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
• 1 tbsp vanilla
• 3 eggs
• 8 tbsp unsalted butter
• 1/2 tsp salt

TOPPING:
• 1 cup AP flour
• 1 cup powder sugar
• 8 tbsp unsalted butter at room temp
• 1 tbsp vanilla
• (Optional To add chocolate flavor add 1 -2 tsp Hershey’s cocoa)

METHOD

DOUGH

  1. If you have a “proof” setting on your oven turn it on now. If not, turn on the oven light to create a warm environment
  2. Heat evaporated milk for 30 sec in microwave
  3. Add 1 Tbl of the ¾ c sugar and 1 Tbl yeast to the warm milk, mix thoroughly and let sit for 5-10 min
  4. Sift flour, sugar, and cinnamon into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until well combined
  5. Add room temperature (soft) butter, vanilla, and yeast/sugar/evaporated milk mixture to the dry ingredients
  6. Add eggs on at a time start timer for 10 minutes
  7. After 5 minutes add salt and continue kneading
  8. Coat bowl with a light coating of cooking spray, form dough into a ball and cover.
  9. If you turned ON the proof setting turn the oven OFF now
  10. Place covered bowl into your OFF oven with the oven light on and set timer for 2 hours

    TOPPING – (Make the topping after the dough had proofed for 1 ¾ hours to keep it fresher and more pliable)
  11. Sift powdered sugar and flour into a medium sized bowl
  12. Add room temperature butter and vanilla and mix into a smooth paste. (I found it easiest to “knead” with my hands.)
  13. If you are flavoring the topping add the cocoa now and mix thoroughly. You can divide the topping and only flavor half)
  14. Wrap tightly in plastic.

    ASSEMBLY
  15. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  16. Pour dough onto a very lightly floured surface and form into a log
  17. Divide the dough into the number of conchas desired. (8 conchas will be about 5-6” diameter.)
  18. Roll each portion by cupping your hand over the portion and rolling on the table until the little dimple on the bottom disappears. (You may need to pinch the dimple together)
  19. Place the portions on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  20. Rub butter on each roll covering the entire surface
  21. Divide the topping into the same number of conchas
  22. Place each topping portion into a ball then roll between parchment paper sheets to about 1/8” thickness
  23. Cut flattened topping with a round cookie cutter just larger than the diameter of the dough ball
  24. Place a disk of topping on each dough ball and press down firmly. (some people recommend pinching the edge of the topping and dough together .)
  25. Use a concha cutter (or knife) to emboss the traditional “shell” pattern being sure not to cut all the way through the topping.
  26. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  27. Cover concha’s and let rest 30-45 minutes
  28. Bake 15-20 minutes, until bottom is light brown. Don’t be surprised if it requires 28-30 minutes for the bottoms to brown.

Dede’s Bakery President’s Day Continued

While I was waiting for other items to mix/chill/rise/etc I made a few other items this morning.

We were nearly out of bread (amazing.) I made a loaf of my honey high-hydration no-knead bread. This may be the prettiest loaf I have made. The slashes on top were well defined and kept the bread from blowing out anywhere else.

Oh, by the way, there are three-berry scones in the background. I like to freeze them, then on golf days take them from the freezer and snack on them on the course. They don’t seem to help my game, but do make it more enjoyable.

This time, I made the scones bigger than usual. I used some frozen berries we had (ever frugal) and had trouble incorporating them into the dough. They ended up being delicious!

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.