Baking: From My Home to Yours: Coffee Caramel Pots de Creme and book review

I made some friands yesterday which left me with 5 egg yolks to use and I still needed to try one more recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours for the month so it was the perfect time to make pots de creme!

I’ve made one of Dorie’s pots de creme recipes in the past (not sure which book it came from) and loved it, so thought this should be a rather simple task for extraordinary results. Well…I’m not sure this has been my week cooking wise, because I’ve had an unusual amount of trouble.

First when I combined the sugar and the coffee in a saucepan and stirred to get the sugar to melt and caramelize, the coffee started burning badly. So I had to scrap that and start again. For my second attempt, I just chucked the sugar into the saucepan until it turned into caramel, then I added the coffee and the warm milk/cream mixture. The caramel immediately seized so I had to bring it back up to boiling to get the caramel to separate from the coffee. Then from there I set it aside to infuse for 20 minutes and completed everything else as per the instructions – adding egg yolks, eggs, and the remaining sugar, creating the water bath, baking in a low oven. Pretty standard stuff.

The result…well it’s nice but we didn’t really get the caramel flavour, the coffee completely overtook the dessert. Which is not a bad thing, but not what we were looking forward to. Would I make these again? Definitely, but I wouldn’t use the coffee method that Dorie recommends. I’d just add some instant espresso to the milk/cream mixture. There’d be a whole lot less coffee wastage that way (it ended up being 2 cups of beans which is absurd for 6-8 dessert cups).

Baking: From My Home to Yours is an excellent book for the home baker. It has a wealth of different types of baked goods to choose from and all the recipes I’ve looked at seem very approachable and with good results (apart from my disappointing lack of caramel flavour in the pots de creme). I am glad I added this book to my cookbook shelf.

There are still many recipes I’d like to try from the book, and I’m sure I’ll be back with more recipes from it on Throwback Thursdays. If you want to join in on the fun, check out the Food52 Baking Club Facebook group and you’ll also get a chance to see what other bakers have done this month. I love this group,  especially given the access you get to cookbook authors – Dorie commented on my cinnamon squares yesterday! It’s a lot of fun.

To see the other two recipes I’ve tried from this book click on the links below:

Baking: From My Home to Yours: Cinnamon Squares

Trying to work out what to bake from this book has proven rather difficult because there are so many options. But when I wanted to put together something quick that I could serve for dessert tonight, I noticed this easy cake recipe that didn’t even require a mixer that cooked in 40 minutes calling my name.

It’s a cinnamon cake batter with a cinnamon sugar espresso and chocolate crumble in the middle, with a chocolate butter icing. See…it called to me!

I lined one of my square baking tins with baking paper and set to work, mixing the dry ingredients in a bowl then adding the milk, eggs and vanilla that I had whisked together in a small jug and then once those were combined, I folded in the melted butter until it became homogenous. I poured half the batter into the pan, then sprinkled over the crumble that I’d stirred together in a small bowl, then poured over the rest of the batter and threw it in the oven. Baked cinnamon goodness – it wafts through the whole house. We went to school pick up and thought we could still smell it a block away.

After it cooled I put the icing ingredients (just chocolate and butter) into the container I melted the butter in for the batter and melted it on low power in the microwave and stirred it together until it became smooth. Then I just poured it on top of the cake and spread it in swooping swirls with the back of a spoon.

This cake is definitely an easy recipe to keep in your back pocket (on your kindle app on your phone) for when you want something special but don’t have much time. And all the ingredients you’re likely to have on hand, I know I always do. Another winning Dorie recipe!

Throwback Thursday: Lemon Sugar Cookies from Dorie’s Cookies

Throwback to the very start of Food52’s Baking Club, April 2017, when we were all baking from Dorie’s Cookies, a compendium of every possible cookie you could imagine, beautifully photographed and equally beautiful tasting. I fell in love with what looks like a Plain Jane cookie but are probably one of my top 3 cookies of all time…Dorie’s lemon sugar cookies.

The recipe can be found on Dorie’s website, so head over there to try them out to see what I’m talking about. They are super simple to put together, if you’re a regular cookie baker and are fairly organized, you can knock them out in about an hour.

It’s basically creamed butter, sugar and lemon zest, add eggs and vanilla, your mixed dried ingredients (flour, bicarb, baking powder, salt) and lemon juice. Dorie says 1-2 lemons…my average Australian lemons that you get from Woolworths (oh to have a lemon tree or a friend with one!) are small so I always need 2, and I make sure to add the zest from both for a bit of extra zing. I set aside 1/2 cup of sugar for dredging and I use my #60 cookie scoop to portion the dough and get 64 cookies every time.

I took a container full of these to a P&C (PTA) meeting this week and watched as they slowly but surely got sampled, then another and another disappeared. They are deceptively delicious!

Baking: From My Home to Yours: Traditional Madeleines

Food52 Baking Club is going through Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours this month so expect many many treats to be hitting the blog and Instagram. I have loved everything of Dorie’s that I have made so far from her two previous books that we’ve gone through and I am pretty sure this book will follow suit.

For my first bake, I finally tried out my new madeleine pan that I got for Christmas by attempting Dorie’s traditional madeleine recipe. It was really quick and simple to put together. Beating eggs and sugar with lemon zest and vanilla, then carefully folding in a flour mixture and then cooled melted butter. Refrigerate the batter for several hours and then bake in a hot oven for 11-13 minutes. Easy right?!

Well, I think madeleines are actually deceptively tricky, because I didn’t achieve the characteristic hump that you get from refrigerating the dough and I don’t yet know what I did wrong. Maybe the oven wasn’t hot enough or too hot? Maybe I overfilled the pan? But what I do know is that the recipe was yum (gobbled up in no time with our big family) and easy and I will try again to see if I can get it to work properly.

Dorie, I’m trying my best not to fail you!

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Zucchini & Orange Marmalade Tea Cake from Tartine

Throwback to September 2017, when the Food52 Baking Club was going through Tartine Bakery’s book. I could not get my hands on it, despite it being in our local library’s catalogue, so I ended up spending a lot of time just drooling over what other people were making.

The library actually had pulled it from the collection and chucked it in their annual book sale, I guess because they’d decided it wasn’t worth having on the shelf anymore. I ended up buying it for $2! Only trouble was that it was missing 2 pages. Flash forward to yesterday when I spotted the Kindle book on sale for $5. So now I’ve got two versions of it!

Anyhow, we’ve been graciously given so many zucchinis this month, so I’ve been starting to get creative as to how to use them so we don’t get sick of the old faithful recipes. And I remembered a lot of people raving about this tea cake, loaf cake, quick bread, whatever you want to call it, so I thought it would be worth the risk since it was a cooler day to give it a try.

This batter was crazy easy to put together. I used my stand mixer, even though I really could have done it by hand. You beat eggs, oil, sugar and marmalade together, then add in zucchini and salt and then your dry ingredients and toasted walnuts. I toasted them while I was grating the zucchini as the oven preheated. I sprayed my loaf pan and then poured in the batter and sprinkled on a bit of sugar for a nice, sweet top crust. In the oven for 70 minutes, and voila!

The flavour combination was so unusual to me when I first saw it, but having tasted it, boy oh boy, is it a winner! I will definitely be making this again and again when I have zucchinis on hand. Aaron asked if I could make sure that the coworker who gave us only some of the zucchinis we’ve been given could try it and I thought it would be cool to buy the mini loaf pan I saw on sale in January   at David Jones to make miniature versions so he gets a whole cake rather than a portion of a slice. So when I say making it again and again, I mean I’ll be doing it again this weekend even!

Peek-a-boo!

Throwback Thursday: Rolled pavlova with peaches & blackberries from Sweet

Throwback to December 2017, when Food52 Baking Club was going through Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh…so many beautiful desserts and so little time. I managed to make the yoyos and the gingerbread tiles, but figured I’d have to wait til after the silly season was over to return to the book. Well, with Australia Day being tomorrow I thought it was only fitting that I make a pavlova and this book has more than one to choose from!

I’ve never made a rolled pavlova before, but the recipe was really straight forward (see online version here), it’s just egg whites whipped with caster sugar and then 2 teaspoons each vanilla, white wine vinegar and cornflour. Spread it out on a sheet pan, mine was bigger than the recommended size and filled it to the brim and bake for 35 minutes. Even with the bigger pan mine started to overflow, but didn’t quite make it to spill in the oven, so all was well.

Spread over whipped cream, fruit and almonds and roll it up, then place the rest of the cream along the top with remaining fruit and almonds and enjoy! Hopefully you can’t tell from the picture what a mess it was, spilling out everywhere, but it was yum all the same.

I wished I’d had baking paper, but we ran out earlier this week and I haven’t made it to the shops for more so I lined my pan with foil instead. I think this caused the meringue to be a little wet on the bottom, but like I said just before, it was still yum!

Since I haven’t perfected the roll I think I will give this recipe another go at a later stage to see if I can do better. It was a real crowd pleaser and I reckon if it looked better it would have had a much bigger wow factor.

Bouchon Bakery: Mille-feuille and book review

I was a bit apprehensive to make mille-feuille. I had no idea if re-rolling the scraps of puff pastry left over from the pithiviers would work and how the assembly of the dessert itself would work given the summer weather. But I pressed ahead and it turned out successful.

I rolled the puff pastry dough out to the size of a cookie sheet and baked it weighted down with another cookie sheet and a baking pan for over an hour. Since the bottom element is out on our oven, I’ve found that the cooking time and temperature are a lot closer to what recipes suggest (normally I would’ve burnt something to a crisp if I cooked it per the book). I used the leftover creme patisserie from the pithiviers as well, and mixed it with a simple French buttercream to create a mousseline. This was frozen in my 9×13″ pyrex casserole dish to ready for assembly. It was then as *simple* as cutting the pastry into 4 slices and the mousseline into 3 and sandwiching them together. I had a lot of help from Aaron at this stage because he has much better knife skills then I do. Getting the mousseline layered on the pastry proved challenging as it was warming up too quickly, but we worked it out by doing some fancy flipping over and back again. Then we just piped some whipped cream on top (cream whisked with vanilla and icing sugar mixture).

I loved how the dessert is flipped on its side to make it easier to cut. No mousseline seeping out the sides this way because you aren’t squashing it all together as you cut it. And it is incredibly delicious. We couldn’t fault it. If anything, I may have been tempted to add some passionfruit to the top, but that’s the Australian vanilla slice lover in me looking for that. It was absolutely perfect!

Bouchon Bakery cookbook has been a lot of fun to explore but there are a few real drawbacks for me. I understand how this is from a professional bakery, but a lot of the recipes do not translate to a home cook very well because of how much is leftover after you make a recipe that you either need to use in something else or chuck out. And the weighing of the eggs – like it is seriously aggravating. I was 5 grams off on an egg yolk measurement and had to crack into another egg just to get the tiniest bit out. I ended up using that egg as the egg wash for the pithivier, but still, I found it most unsatisfying to have to do this for each recipe.

That being said, everything I’ve made so far has been delicious, and the other recipes I’ve seen in the Facebook group have me wanting to make even more. Highest on my list are the cinnamon honey scones. Everyone has been making them and they sound and look amazing! I also still have a pate sucree in my freezer to use up, and I’ve been eyeing off the lemon meringue tart for a while now. So you’ll probably see a bit more of this book in future Throwback Thursday posts. For now, I’m planning how on earth I’m going to narrow down Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours to three must try recipes for next month!

To see the other two recipes I’ve tried from this book click on the links below:

Bouchon Bakery: Pithiviers

I had grand plans to make madeleines and macarons this month. Grand plans. But then I made this apricot tart because our tree was so full of fruit and it left me with extra pastry and extra almond cream and I simply couldn’t let it go to waste. So I poured over the Bouchon Bakery cookbook looking at every recipe that incorporated almond cream (the leftover pastry has been frozen) and saw this recipe for Pithiviers, something I’d never heard of before but was instantly intrigued by. Puff pastry from scratch. Frangipane that is creme patisserie and almond cream whisked together. I can use up the mixed dried fruit that was leftover from our Christmas pudding. I am in!

The puff pastry was obviously the most time consuming, mainly because of the refrigeration time in between folds. You take a simply pastry dough and fold it around a butter block, roll it and fold it again several times (refrigerating for a couple hours between each fold) in order to create this gloriously layered pastry.

For the pithiviers you cut out two 9 inch circles, pipe the filling one of them, then use an egg wash to seal the second one over the other. Egg wash the top and use a pairing knife to draw a design on top (I went with the flower that was described in the book).

This left me with about 600 grams of pastry so I put it in the fridge to use in another recipe.

For the filling I had to make a creme patisserie which is not really new to me, but the method was. Everything was whipped together in the mixer before it went on the heat, where normally you need to be super careful about scrambling the eggs when you incorporate it into the flour and milk and sugar.  I was also surprised that they used custard powder, but love how rich and yellow the creme patisserie became with it in there. I reserved the amount called for in the recipe and saved the rest for another day (more on that soon).

Then I simply put it back in the mixer with the almond cream and after they were mixed thoroughly together, I added about a cup of brandied dried fruits and folded it in. I then tried to pipe a nice spiral on the bottom pastry but ended up smoothing it into a mound because the dried fruits made it quite splotchy.

It bakes for almost 2 hours and in the last few minutes you brush a sugar syrup on top to give it a lovely glossy sheen. It looked beautiful and tasted amazing – Aaron said if I used an apple filling instead of the frangipane/fruit mixture it would taste just like his favorite apple turnovers (there is a recipe for such a treat in this book that I may have to surprise him with at some stage).

I’m really glad I found this recipe and look forward to working out how to use up that creme patisserie and puff pastry in the next few days. Bon appetit!

Throwback Thursday: Cinnamon Rolls from Bravetart

Throwback to November 2017 when Food52 Baking Club tackled the new Bravetart book by Stella Parks and the recipe that caught my eye upon flicking through the book – cinnamon rolls! Or rather, recipesince if you count all the variations there are 8 varieties of cinnamon rolls you can make from the one base recipe. Now of course, I wasn’t going to do this back to back over the course of a month, the waistline is not that forgiving, but I’ve set myself the challenge to make every variety over the next 12 months for birthdays and certain holidays.

The base recipe is pretty simple for a cinnamon roll recipe – you combine some basic dry ingredients in your mixer bowl then melt some butter and stir through yogurt and milk to bring it down to a lower temperature (I’m guessing so you don’t kill the yeast) and then add it to the mixer bowl and knead until well combined and elastic (about 20 minutes). Then you put it in a well greased covered container and let it rise until doubled (about 90 minutes) before rolling out and filling with whatever filling you’ve chosen to make and then turning it into scrolls. What I love most about this recipe is that at this point you can refrigerate them and pull them out while the oven preheats the next morning so you can have fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast. The icing is easy as well, and Stella recommends you put it in a zip lock bag and cut the corner and squeeze the icing out all over the cinnamon rolls straight out of the oven.

These cinnamon rolls are sooooo light and fluffy and really aren’t as labor intensive as you might think. For my son’s 12th birthday I made the apple cinnamon variety (which can be seen in photo directly above and below) which replaces butter for the cream cheese in the icing and adds some apple to the filling. He loves apple anything and he was more than impressed with these!

Below are my two previous attempts from last year: the pumpkin variety for Thanksgiving breakfast…

…and my first attempt at the start of November, the basic cinnamon roll recipe to see if the endeavor would be worthwhile.

Stay tuned for the other 5 variations over the coming months. =)

Bouchon Bakery: Apricot Tart with Almond Cream

One of the cooking clubs I take part in is the Food52 Baking Club and for the month of January we are baking through Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. My aim is to bake at least 3 recipes from the book this month and to review it at the end. For my first bake I’ve chosen the Plum Tart with Almond Cream, using apricots instead of plums because our tree is mass producing them at the moment.

There were three basic components to this tart, none of which were difficult or time consuming (except for refrigeration time before use, which seems to be quite common throughout the book) – a pate sucree, an almond cream and sliced fruit.

The pate sucree was different from other pastry recipes I’ve used in the past as it contains almond meal as well as flour, uses icing sugar mixture instead of granulated or caster sugar and also incorporates vanilla in the dough. Basically, cream the butter and add one portion of the icing sugar, then add the vanilla and incorporate the flour and almond meal and the other portion of the icing sugar that has been sifted together and lastly add the egg. Work the dough and shape it into two discs (it makes enough for 2 tarts) and put it in the fridge to firm up before rolling out and baking.

The almond cream was similarly easy and with almost the same ingredients but proportioned differently. Again cream the butter and add the icing sugar, then a sifted almond meal/flour mixture and finish by adding the eggs. This gets placed in a covered container in the fridge until cold and then piped (I just spooned it) into the prepared unbaked tart base.

Then lastly get your kitchen hands (aka the darling husband and 6 year old daughter) to slice and arrange the apricots on top before placing it in the oven to bake. The recipe says 350F/180C for 45 minutes but our oven being fan forced and running hot tends to cook much quicker so I put it in at 150C and as you can see, it’s still rather dark around the edges.

This will be dessert tomorrow night as it says to refrigerate until cold to get nice, precise slices – but it is rather tempting to slice into now for a late night snack. Overall, I loved the simplicity of ingredients and method for this recipe and having something that looks impressive that can be easily adapted to different seasonal fruits makes this dish one that I can imagine I will gravitate to again.