Baking Chez Moi: Vanilla Brown Butter Weekend Cake

Well. This was an easy one. It required no special equipment, and I had all the required ingredients at home. Only butter (browned), eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla, rum and salt. Pretty easy, right? It was.

First thing was to brown the butter. Have you browned butter yet? You should. It makes everything better, and only takes a few minutes to produce. But the flavor? More interesting, nuttier, and basically WAAAAAAY better.IMG_3645

Then whisk the eggs and sugar together. Then the vanilla, rum and heavy cream.

I used some not-quite-finished homemade vanilla extract. I’m using rum, so I measured out two tablespoons of that, and fished out a bean and scraped out the seeds. The batter ended up flecked with little black dots of the vanilla. We all know that equals extra deliciousness!

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I mixed in the flour and folded in the brown butter. And poured it into the pan. And voila! Cake!

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The top portion of the cake came off with the aluminum foil that I used to keep it from browning very much. That’s the bit I got to taste. I’m delivering it tomorrow for the teacher luncheon hosted by third grade. I think I’ll quarter up some strawberries and macerate them overnight with some sugar to serve along side of it. And hopefully I’ll hear good reviews from the teachers.

If the way it smells while baking is any indication, this is a delicious cake!

Want to see what other bakers from Baking Chez Moi are making? Here’s the link to see how their Vanilla Weekend Cakes came out

Tuesdays With Dorie: Palets de Dames

Welcome to the inagural post for the new Tuesdays With Dorie bake-a-long. We’re working from Dorie’s newest book: Baking Chez Moi. Its a beautiful book filled with simple homey French baking. Sounds complicated? Mais, non! According to Dorie, the French leave the fancy baking to the professionals and bake simple things at home.

These tiny cookes could not have been easier to bake. The ingredients were simple enough: butter, sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla extract. I mixed up a 1/2 batch in a small bowl with a fork. Easy, Peasy! Dorie was kind enough to put metric (weight) measurements for each recipe, so dividing the recipe in half was super simple

Things had to get a little creative when it came to rolling them out, though. Dorie said to use a two teaspoon scoop. Hmmm, my smallest scoop is (I learned) four teaspoons. I scooped the batter onto my cookie sheet and then cut each ball of batter in half, and then rolled each half into a tiny little ball. They ended up about as big as my thumnail, before baking. Totally adorable. I got 19 cookies.

They baked for about 9 minutes, cooled for a few and then got a dunk in a confectioners sugar frosting. Also very simple (sugar, milk and a drop of lemon juice).

Dorie suggests sprinkling with sanding sugar for some extra sparkle. Instead of sugar, I ground up some sea salt and sprinkled that on top to cut the cloying sweentess of the confectioners sugar.

Two out of my three kids enjoyed these cookies. The one who didn’t enjoy them REALLY loves chocolate, so that might be why he didn’t like them. They remind me of the ubitquious black-and-white cookie that you find in delis all over the northeast. All that’s missing is the dip into melted chocolate!

If this is an indication of how this book is going to go along, I think I’m in for a tasty–and non intimidating–adventure.

 

I do have pictures to go with this. but my computer seems to have eaten them. I will do my best to add them when I figure out what happened!

tap, tap. is this thing on? and pumpkin bread

ok, I know I’ve been away from this blog for a long time. My last post was December, 2013. Having three children in school really threw me for a loop. The driving. The homework. The crying. Its not that I stopped cooking–I just stopped taking pictures of it and telling you about it.

I know that my absence has been noted. Even WordPress has changed things around.  I’ll have to get used to the new editor and remember how to put pictures into this post.

And so I bring you pumpkin bread.  We love the stuff. My son, Adam, eats two pumpkin muffins for breakfast EVERY morning. Yes, every morning. And I am more than happy to supply him with that breakfast. I like this recipe because it calls for oil and not butter. I like that because if I decide to make pumpkin bread RIGHT NOW, I can, and not have to wait for the butter to soften.

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The muffins (or loaves) freeze beautifully, so don’t worry that you can’t use several dozen muffins before they go bad. Stick ’em in the freezer and defrost as you need them. I take a few out at night and in the morning they look like they just came out of the oven.

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I hate it when I get batter on my muffin pans, and I also hate when the muffins aren’t all the same size. I finally figured out if I use two scoops of batter in each muffin cup. I use the same scooper that I use for scooping cookie batter. This is the scoop I use. It’s purple. They come in tons of sizes, and I found it in my local resturant supply store. The scooper is a life saver. Also that resturant supply store is a life saver–but that is a topic for a whole other post…

Pumpkin Bread
makes about 3 dozen muffins or 3 loaves

3 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin
3 cups flour (I use a mix of AP and White Whole Wheat)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup water or milk (or a combination)

Mix sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs and pumpkin together
In separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices
Add the dry ingredients into the wet in three additions, alternating with the milk.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes for muffins, or about 50 for loaves.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Challah

Oh, Hello!

I know its been a while. I’ve been baking. but not blogging or taking pictures. Life has been  CRAZY. My boys started kindergarten in August. So, I’ve got three kids in three different classes, and that means 3 different teachers who want my time. Which is a lot. Plus, I’m training for another marathon, and planning another Ragnar Relay. so, I’m busy. But hopefully I’ll be back here more often. Gotta get back into the habit..

So, that brings us to this week’s assignment: Challah. I’ve baked this one before, and I bake challah almost every week for french toast or for my synagogue. My standard recipe is from Marcy Goldman and uses fresh yeast. This recipe isn’t really all that different except that it uses milk and butter. Which makes this bread delicious. BUT it makes the bread dairy (duh). But people who keep kosher don’t mix meat and milk, and challah is traditionally served at shabbat dinner. In most homes Shabbat dinner is a meat meal–soup, roast chicken, etc. And so a bread with milk and butter in it just won’t fly.

I mixed it up this morning when I realized that we were running low on french toast. I managed to get it all kneaded together before we left for school and popped it in the fridge to rise. In the evening I braided it, let it rise and baked it off.
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of course, my house smelled delicious.

I sliced into it today to taste it with some butter. It was delicious. Tomorrow it’ll turn into about 20 slices for French toast.

To see some other lovely examples of this challah, visit the LYL post at Tuesdays with Dorie

 

Tuesdays With Dorie: Cheese and Tomato Galette

I was both looking forward to and dreading this recipe. It uses the same dough as the blueberry peach gallette that I made last summer, and if my memory serves correctly, it was not a joy to work with, even though it was delicious.

No matter, I set out to make the dough again. Flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and cold butter go into a bowl
Untitledthe butter gets ‘cut’ in (this job is so much easier with a pastry blender than with my warm hands) and an ice water/sour cream mixture gets blended into it to make the dough.
I probably only used 1/2 of the liquid that the recipe called for. I divided the dough in half and put the two disks into the fridge to chill out for about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, I roasted some tomatoes. The recipe simply calls for sliced tomatoes, but I didn’t want my mediocre tomatoes to mess this up, and I knew that roasting them would bring more sweetenss and tomato-flavor to the party. So I sliced them and laid them on a parchment lined sheet pan, and sprinkled them with a bit of magic salt to add a little garlic and herb flavor. I roasted them for about 2 hours at 200 degrees. They came out of the oven perfect, still a little moist, but far from the watery mass that went into the oven.
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Once the tomatoes were cool, I rolled out the rounds of dough. and layered on monterey jack cheese, fresh mozzarella and some tomatoes. Then I folded the dough up around everything to make a free-form tart
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I’ve got to admit that this process was significantly easier than it was last year when I did this at my parents house. They’ve got a beautiful textured stone countertop. it is lovely to look at, but for rolling out pastry dough….well, you can imagine. My marble counter top did much better, as did a traditional rolling pin.

The tarts came out of the oven smelling wonderful. The dough was crispy….especially on the bottom, and the cheese and tomatoes were delicious.
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I ate it with a big salad of mixed greens. A glass of red wine would have been lovely. Dorothy even ate a good portion of this. And if that doesn’t tell you what you need to know about this recipe, then I don’t know what will. It was Good!

I enjoyed the other galette as two lunches later in the week. The book says that its best eaten on the day it is made, but I didn’t really feel like any quality had been lost in the fridge or toaster oven re-heat.
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Take a look at other tasty examples of this recipe at Tuesdays With Dorie, I’m sure other bakers had a good time baking this one!

Galette Dough
3 Tablespoons sour cream
1/3 cup ice water
1 cup AP flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

mix sour cream and ice water together in a large measuring cup
mix dry ingredients together and then cut in butter
with a spoon, add water/sour cream until dough is just moist enough to hold together (I only used about 1/2 of the liquid)
divide dough in half and wrap disks in plastic. store in fridge for at least 2 hours.
you can freeze the dough for up to a month. thaw in the fridge overnight

Cheese and Tomato Galette
1/2 recipe galette dough

2 oz Montery Jack Cheese
2 oz Mozzarella (fresh)
1/4 cup basil leaves, torn or cut into chiffonade
2-3 firm but ripe tomatoes, in 1/4 inch slices. I roasted mine

Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick (I roll mine between two sheets of plastic wrap)
place dough on parchment lined baking sheet, and put both cheeses and top with tomatoes. leave about 1 inch empty on the edges
fold up the edges to enclose the filling

bake at 400 for about 40 minutes. until browned and bubbly

Good Snacking: Refrigerator Pickles

Way, way back in the winter, I met my friend Miel for lunch. She’s a delightfully wacky displaced New Yorker. And she is always doing interesting things. And this time she gave me a jar filled with her home-made refrigerator pickles.

I’d never had home-made pickles before. These are pretty low salt and low sugar. They have plenty of garlic and dill flavor, especially if they sit longer than the minimum. They take about 5 minutes to make, and need at least 4 days in the refrigerator before they’re ready to eat. Once my kids had some, they were begging me to make my own so that they could have a constant supply of pickles in the fridge.
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sea salt
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older pickles in the front, new pickles in the back.

You don’t even need official ‘canning’ jars for this. You could easily use jars from tomato sauce or even peanut butter. Don’t let a small jar collection stand in your way. I don’t see why you couldn’t do this in rubbermaid containers.

Refrigerator Pickles
Makes about 3 quarts of pickles

pickling cucumbers (kirby) enough to fill 3 quart size jars. Quartered into spears
2 cloves garlic peeled and halved for each jar (or more, if you want a more pronounced garlic flavor)
2 dill sprigs or 2 teaspoons dill seed for each jar

3 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups vinegar
1 Tablespoon sea salt*
1 Tablespoon sugar

place dill and garlic in each jar, and then pack with your cucumber spears
Boil vinegar, salt and sugar together and then add the water (I use a big measuring cup, and fill it with water and lots of ice to 3 1/2 cups, it cools the brine down almost imeediately
Pour the cool brine into the jars, cover and put into the refrigerator
wait 4 days until they’re ready
the garlic flavor will intensify the longer the pickles sit.

*I can’t say for sure what kind of sea salt I’m using. I took a baggie of it from my inlaws vacation kitchen. Who needs a 5 lb container of sea salt? Its a coarse rock variety. definitely not flaky. Save the flaky stuff for something else, don’t use it here!

Tuesdays With Dorie: Savarin

This week’s assignment was to make a Savarin. A cake I’d never heard of. Brillat-Savarin famously said: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” He also has a cheese named after him. Outside of that I had very little information, or the proper cake pan to make this cake in. I almost rigged up a round pan with an empty can of tomatoes in the center. But, luckily, my parents were coming for a visit and my mom agreed to bring a bunt pan for me to borrow. A traditional Savarin is baked in a smooth ring mold (like a shallow, metal, jello mold) mine would not be so traditional. But, it was fine, and I didn’t have to buy a piece of kitchen equipment that wasn’t going to be used again.
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The batter for this cake is a runny yeast batter. Just water, yeast, a drop of sugar, an egg, butter, and flour….and not a lot. Only 3/4 of a cup. I had serious doubts that it would fill the bottom of the pan. It did–barely. It rose once in the bowl, and then again in the bundt pan.

I left the house to get Dorothy from school and my mom put it in the oven while I was out. It sank.
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It was very concave. Not a whole lot of cake there. But we pressed on. Luckily it came out of the pan without any problem, and when we were ready to eat it, I soaked it with a vanilla simple syrup and a tiny bit of dark rum.
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I skipped the whipped cream completely. David is lactose intolerant, and it was nice to have a practically fat free dessert. I filled the center with macerated strawberries, raspberries, and some chunked up mango.
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The dessert got gobbled up, it was plain, but tasty. The fruit may have stolen the show.
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For more tasty examples, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie page!

If you want to make a Savarin yourself, here is the recipe:

Savarin

6 Tablespoons lukewarm water
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry east
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

soaking syrup
2 cups water
1 cup sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
dark rum
fruit
whipped cream

pour the warm water into a bowl and sprinkle over the yeast and sugar, stir and allow the yeast to ‘bloom’

add the egg and stir briefly, add the flour and mix well, for about 8 minutes (I did this by hand) and then add the butter. Mix until the butter is encorporated

cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place for about 15 minutes. it will rise, but not double.

Butter your pan (I used a bundt pan) and pour the batter in. Let rise for about 30 minutes

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

remove from pan and let cool.

make syrup: combine water and sugar and let boil until sugar is dissolved

when you are ready to serve, soak the savarin completely with the syrup (you’ll have leftover syrup. save for iced coffee!) and sprinkle with a small amount of rum if desired.

Serve with macerated fruit and whipped cream!