Stairway to Heavenly

I made this cake several years ago and loved it. I re-made it a couple of years ago and wasn’t impressed. You know what they say in the bakery, try, try again.

After 35 min baking at 350F the center of the cake was only about 150F. I reset the timer for 15 min and at the end of that time the temperature rose to 190F, which is about right. Over baking will cause it to be dry and dense, and mine was both. Darn. Try, try, try again, I guess. (Hint: Have a nice glass of wine as you eat this cake.)

The drizzle frosting is simply confectioners sugar, butter, vanilla, milk and a dash of salt. I dusted the freshly frosted cake with some powdered freeze dried raspberries to temper the sweetness and added some fresh raspberries for decoration and another tart element.

Heavenly White Cake

INGREDIENTS

• 2 ¾ cups sifted cake flour
• 4 tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp Cake Improver
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• 4 egg whites
• 1 ½ cups white sugar
• ¾ cup butter
• 1 cup milk
• Trace of violet food coloring
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 tsp almond extract (optional)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F or 175 C.
  2. Measure sifted flour, baking powder, and salt; sift together three times.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add ½ cup sugar gradually, and continue beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.
  4. Cream butter or margarine (about 3 minutes.) Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, and cream together until light and fluffy (about 6 minutes.) Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Wipe a trace of violet food coloring to the front of the rubber blade of your mixer. This will offset the yellow coloring due to the butter and vanilla. Start and end with dry ingredients.
  5. Mix in flavorings. Add meringue, and beat gently, but thoroughly into batter. Spread batter in desired pan which has been lined on the bottom with parchment paper or silicon sheet.
  6. Bake at 350 F (175 C) for 30 to 35 minutes for a 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan, or two 9” round pans, or three 8” round pans for 25 to 30 minutes or one 9”x4” round pan for 40-50 minutes. (DON’T OVERBAKE!)
  7. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes, then remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Vanilla Drizzle Icing

INGREDIENTS
• 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted before measuring)
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (clear for whiter icing)
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 3 to 4 tablespoons milk

METHOD

  1. Sift the confectioners sugar then measure out 2 cups.
  2. Combine the sifted confectioners’ sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract, salt, and 3 tablespoons milk in a mixing bowl.
  3. Stir until smooth and well blended.
  4. Adjust for desired consistency as needed, adding more milk for drizzling or more confectioners’ sugar for spreading.
  5. Use immediately to top a cake, cookies, and other treats.

The Beautiful Sleeping Aurora

Finally I made the Princess Aurora cake for my granddaughter Vivian’s birthday – 20 Covid days late. The extra days gave me extra time to obsess and agonize on the design and execution. The original design was to be 4 layers of 10” cake for the base and 3 of 8” for the top and serve 60 people. We are down to 9 people and a scaled down cake.

I made most of the decorations a few weeks ago and kept them safely tucked away until now. All the flowers and birds are gumpaste. The roses were made using the typical technique of adding several rows of die cut petals. The other flowers were also die cut and while still flexible placed on a slightly crumpled sheet of parchment paper to give them some contour.

The letters fondant, rolled thick and cut with a die. A sharp knife cut the pattern into the letters which were airbrushed gold and dusted with glitter. The picture frame was cut from rolled gumpaste, allowed to dry and the edges were painted gold. Gumpaste glue stuck the picture to the frame.

The drapes and dress are darker pink dyed, rolled fondant and dusted with silver petal dust. The crown is gold airbrushed gumpaste cut in the shape of Princess Aurora’s crown. Gold glitter was dusted on the still slightly wet crown. The “4” is tempered dark chocolate, airbrushed with gold and dusted (too heavily) with gold glitter. (The fingerprints are mine.)

The top two 6” layers are white cake and the bottom three 8” layers and my extreme chocolate cake (family favorite.) I am not a fan of this white cake. (I constantly and this far unsuccessfully search for a recipe that is light and moist.) The frosting is a simple buttercream with 3:1 butter to shortening ratio.

Many techniques, lots of time, tons of fun making this cake.

Tender White Cake

INGREDIENTS
• 326g (2¾c) Unbleached Cake Flour Blend
• 333g (1⅔c) sugar; superfine sugar is best
• 1 Tablespoon baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 170g (12Tbl) unsalted butter, softened
• 4 large eggs whites plus 1 whole large egg
• 227g (1c) whole milk (2% plus 4Tbl Heavy Cream)
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon almond extract

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8″ x 2″ or 9″ x 2″ round pans; a 9″ x 13″ pan; or 2 standard cupcake pans (20 to 24 cupcakes) by greasing and flouring; or lining with parchment, then greasing the parchment. Note: Make sure your 8″ round pans are at least 2″ deep; if they’re not, use one of the other pan options.
  2. Mix all of the dry ingredients on slow speed to blend. Add the soft butter and mix until evenly crumbly, like fine damp sand. It may form a paste, depending on the temperature of the butter, how much it’s mixed, and granulation of the sugar used.
  3. Add the egg whites one at a time, then the whole egg, beating well after each addition to begin building the structure of the cake. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt (or milk) with the vanilla and almond extracts. Add this mixture, 1/3 at a time, to the batter. Beat 1 to 2 minutes after each addition, until fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes for 8″ or 9″ rounds; 23 to 26 minutes for a 9″ x 13″ x 2″ sheet cake; or 20 minutes for cupcakes. A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven, remove from the pan, if desired (not advisable for a 9″ x 13″ sheet cake), cool on a rack, and frost.
  6. Yield: Two 8″ or 9″ round layers; one 9″x 13″ x 2″ sheet cake, or 20 to 24 cupcakes.

Basic Crusting Buttercream

INGREDIENTS:
• 1/2 cup solid high ratio shortening (1/4 cup Crisco, ¾ cup butter)
• 1/2 cup butter softened (see above)
• 1 tablespoon of merengue powder
• 1 teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract (or extract of choice)
• 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (approx. 1 lb.)
• 2 tablespoons milk
METHOD

  1. In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer.
  2. Add vanilla and milk.
  3. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating on a slow speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often.
  4. Keep bowl or covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks.
  5. Don’t over whip or it will bring air to the icing and will be impossible to smooth.
    NOTE:
    If you have a kitchen Aid use white attachment, not whip attachment.
    YIELD: Makes about 3 cups.

One for the Sour, Two for the Dough

All through the pandemic’s shut downs, social isolations and maskings I resisted joining the crowd and never made sourdough bread. Things are starting to open up, so I made my first ever sourdough boule.

As it so happens I kept my copy of King Arthur Baking’s February 2022 catalog that has a recipe for multigrain sourdough, and as it happens, I bought a jar of King Arthur’s sourdough starter when I was in Vermont last summer. This starter has been nurtured in New England since the 1700’s. KAF recommends feeding their starter within 10 days after receiving it. Well, it was a bit longer for me… nearly 10 months. It was a lot of work to revive it, but it was certainly worth the effort!

I had most of the ingredients on hand, but had to make some substitutions. Apparently, malted wheat flakes are in short supply so I used rolled oats instead. To created the malt flavor I added 2 tablespoons of diastatic malt powder. I am also not a fan of sunflower seeds so substituted roasted pine nuts, which I crushed after roasting but before mixing into the dough. For some reason, lost in the mists of baking history, I had some KAF Artisan Bread Topping —perfect.

Other than those substitutions I followed KAF’s instructions below, which resulted in an outstanding loaf with a great crust and crumb. Oh! I almost forgot. I baked it in an Dutch over with extra steam from hot water poured in a hot pan at the bottom of the over when the bread was put in the over.

Sourdough Pine Nut Boule

INGREDIENTS
Soaker
• 1 cup (120g) rolled oatmeal
• 2/3 cup (152g) boiling water
• 2 Tbl Diastolic Malt Powder
Dough
• 1 cups (227g) ripe (fed) sourdough starter
• ¾ cup (170g) to ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (190g) lukewarm water
• 3 ½ cup (420g) bread flour
• ½ cup (71g) toasted pine nuts
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
Topping
• 1 – 2 tablespoon sesame seeds or The Works Bread Topping, or your favorite blend of seeds

METHOD
For the soaker

  1. Put the oatmeal and diastolic malt powder in a heat proof bowl and mix in boiling water.
  2. Stir until combined and cool to lukewarm

For the dough

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the ripe starter and ¾ cup of water, mix to combine
  2. Add the soaker and remaining ingredients, and mix and knead approx 8 minutes until you’ve made a soft dough, adding additional water or flour as needed.
  3. Cover the dough in the bowl, and let it rise until it’s almost doubled, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface, and gently fold it over a few times to deflate it. Shape it into a large round.
  5. Place the round in a covered baker, about 4.2-quart and 10″ diameter, that’s been sprayed with non-stick baking spray and put on the cover. Let the loaf rise until it’s very puffy, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  6. Just before baking, brush with water, and sprinkle with seeds. Use a lame or a very sharp knife to make four slashes across the top of the loaf, in a crosshatch pattern.
  7. Bake the bread for 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375F and uncover the loaf if in a covered baker, and continue to bake 10 to 15 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. (A loaf baked on a baking sheet will need to bake for 38 to 45 minutes total.)
  8. Remove the bread from the oven, let sit in the baker for 5 minutes, then turn out and cool on a rack.

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.

Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake

Sometime around my birthday our Florida BFF send me a packet of recipes she culled from a selection of magazines. This Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake caught my eye, however, the first attempt hit the bin after QC rated it thumbs down. (Mfg agreed.)

I modified the original recipe from FoodNetwork by swapping out the AP flour for cake flour. This reduced the gluten to make a softer, lighter cake. Pound cake is not expected to be light and airy, but let’s be honest, dense, wet, stodgy cake is not terribly pleasant. I also substituted caster sugar for the cane sugar, reduced the oven temperature from 350F to 325F, increased the number of egg yolks by 2 and eliminated the almond extract. (QC and I do not like almond extract.) The final result was deemed presentable!

Raspberry-Swirl Pound Cake

INGREDIENTS
Cake
• 226g (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
• 198 (1 ¾ cups) cake flour, plus more for the pan
• 6-oz fresh raspberries
• 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
• 248g (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) caster sugar, divided
• 3 large eggs, plus 3 egg yolk, at room temperature
• ¼ cup heavy cream
• 1 1/8 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 4 drops red gel food coloring (or enough to make an intense pink color)
Glaze
• ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
• 2 tablespoons heavy cream for topping (more to thin if necessary)
• 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
• Crushed freeze-dried raspberries, for topping

METHOD

Make the pound cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325˚. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with Baker’s Joy, then line with parchment paper in two overlapping strips, leaving an overhang. Butter the parchment and lightly dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. Combine the fresh raspberries, jam, 2 tablespoons cane sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring and smashing the berries with a wooden spoon, until
    thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing with a rubber spatula. Let cool.
  3. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, 1/4 cup heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a medium bowl until slightly foamy; set aside.
  4. Beat the butter and remaining 1 cup caster sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until well combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and increase the mixer speed to
    medium high. Beat until pale and fluffy, 6 to 7 more minutes.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour until just combined.
  6. Gradually add the egg mixture and beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl, increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth and fluffy, 15 to 30 seconds.
  7. Scoop 3/4 cup batter into the bowl with the raspberry sauce and stir in the red food coloring. Transfer half of the remaining plain batter to the prepared pan and top with half of the raspberry batter; swirl together with a knife. Repeat and swirl the batters together again.
  8. Bake until the top springs back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. (205 F internal temperature)
  9. Transfer to a rack and let cool 15 minutes in the pan. Lift the cake from the pan and remove the parchment; return to the rack to cool completely.

Make the Glaze

  1. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons heavy cream and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extracts in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth; thin with the remaining 1 tablespoon heavy cream, if needed.
  2. Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake and sprinkle with freeze-dried raspberries. Let set at least 20 minutes.

Donuts! Getcha Hot Donuts Here!

My QC department stumbled across a new recipe for cake donuts. “Maybe you would like to try it sometime.” Now if that isn’t throwing the gauntlet down, I don’t know what is.

This recipe makes about a dozen so topped a third of them with vanilla glaze and coated a third with cinnamon/sugar. They were excellent. The plain have always been my fav’s.

Be sure to keep the temperature as close to 350 deg F as you can. Adjust the temperature if need be between batches. I could fit 4 donuts at a time into my large skillet. My temperature was a little hot for the first few donut holes so they turned dark before the centers were fully cooked. Temperature is very important!

Old Fashioned Cake Donut Recipe

https://www.mashed.com/433134/old-fashioned-cake-donut-recipe/

INGREDIENTS
• 1 ½ cup sugar, divided
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 2 eggs
• ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
• 1 cup whole milk
• 4 cups flour
• Oil (for frying)
• 2 tablespoons cinnamon
Glaze (to glaze 5 or 6 donuts)
• 1 Cup confectioners sugar
• 3 Tbl Whole cream
• ½ tsp vanilla

METHOD

  1. In a large bowl, combine one cup of sugar, salt, nutmeg, and baking powder.
  2. Add the eggs, melted butter, and milk to the bowl, then mix.
  3. Add the flour to the dough, beating well until everything is combined. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
  4. Remove the dough from the fridge. In a large frying pan or Dutch oven, heat about one inch of oil to 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. While the oil heats, roll out the dough to about ½ inch thickness on a well-floured surface. Use a donut cutter to cut out circles in the dough. If you don’t have a donut cutter, you could use a biscuit cutter or glass, then a bottle cap for the donut hole. Continue rolling out the dough and cutting out donuts until there’s no dough remaining.
  6. Gently drop the donuts into the hot oil in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cook each side for approximately two minutes, until golden brown, then flip over. Remove the cooked donuts from the oil and place them on a paper towel-lined plate.
  7. In a small bowl, combine ½ cup of sugar and cinnamon. Dip the donuts in the cinnamon-sugar mixture before serving.

    Glaze
  8. Warm cream (or milk) until steam rises from the surface
  9. Add vanilla
  10. Whisk in sugar until incorporated
  11. Dip donuts into glaze and set aside to cool and harden about 30 minutes.

https://www.mashed.com/433134/old-fashioned-cake-donut-recipe/?utm_campaign=clip

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.

Say Cheese, Please!

Actually, say mozzarella! No baking this past weekend, but I did make home-made mozzarella cheese. I read it is the easiest cheese to make and as I needed to run to the store for some for a pan pizza, I thought I would learn how to make it. For emergencies you understand.

It was reasonably easy, but I think I made a few minor errors this first time. I don’t think the curd set completely. On advice from cheese makers blogs I let it set much longer than the recipe specified, but it was still pretty liquid. I may need more rennet and/or let it set at a warmer temperature.

Once I finished cooking the curd and started to knead and stretch it, I began to see the ‘cottage cheese’ texture, but it never came together to form a glossy mass.

I packed two small balls of cheese in airtight containers with a little left over whey to let it set and continue curing overnight.

Much to my surprise, the final cheese had a good texture and excellent taste. In summary, it is very easy to make, just a little harder than driving the two miles to the market and buying it.

Mozzarella Cheese
https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-homemade-mozzarella-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-174355
Makes about 1 pound of mozzarella
INGREDIENTS
• 1 ¼ cup water
• 1 ½ teaspoon citric acid
• ¼ rennet tablet or ¼ teaspoon liquid rennet (Not Junket rennet, see note below)
• 1 gallon milk, whole or 2%, not ultra-pasteurized*
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
METHOD

  1. Measure out 1 cup of water. Stir in the citric acid until dissolved. Measure out ¼ cup of water in
    a separate bowl. Stir in the rennet until dissolved.
  2. Pour the milk into the pot. Stir in the citric acid solution. Set the pot over medium-high heat and
    warm to 90°F, stirring gently.
  3. Remove the pot from heat and gently stir in the rennet solution. Count to 30. Stop stirring, cover
    the pot, and let it sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
  4. After five minutes, the milk should have set, and it should look and feel like soft silken tofu. If it
    is still liquidy, re-cover the pot and let it sit for another five minutes. Once the milk has set, cut it
    into uniform curds: make several parallel cuts vertically through the curds and then several
    parallel cuts horizontally, creating a grid-like pattern. Make sure your knife reaches all the way
    to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Place the pot back on the stove over medium heat and warm the curds to 105°F. Stir slowly as
    the curds warm, but try not to break them up too much. The curds will eventually clump
    together and separate more completely from the yellow whey.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring gently for another 5 minutes.
  7. Ladle the curds into a microwave-safe bowl with the slotted spoon.
  8. Microwave the curds for one minute. Drain off the whey. Put on your rubber gloves and fold the
    curds over on themselves a few times. At this point, the curds will still be very loose and
    cottage-cheese-like.
  9. Microwave the curds for another 30 seconds and check their internal temperature. If the
    temperature has reached 135°F, continue with stretching the curds. If not, continue
    microwaving in 30-second bursts until they reach temperature. The curds need to reach this
    temperature in order to stretch properly.
  10. Sprinkle the salt over the cheese and squish it with your fingers to incorporate. Using both
    hands, stretch and fold the curds repeatedly. It will start to tighten, become firm, and take on a
    glossy sheen. When this happens, you are ready to shape the mozzarella. Make one large ball,
    two smaller balls, or several bite-sized bocconcini. Try not to over-work the mozzarella.
  11. Using and Storing Your Mozzarella:
  12. The mozzarella can be used immediately or kept refrigerated for a week. To refrigerate, place
    the mozzarella in a small container. Mix a teaspoon of salt with a cup of cool whey and pour this
    over the mozzarella. Cover and refrigerate.
    RECIPE NOTES
  13. Adapted from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company

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.