Throwback Thursday: Golden Brioche Loaves from Baking: From My Home to Yours

It didn’t take me long to return to  Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours, the book that we went through in the Food52 Baking Club last month. I searched through our Facebook group for brioche because I wanted to make the Mushrooms on Brioche from Simple and thought I should just make it from scratch. What I quickly found out was that Dorie’s recipe was super popular. And now I can see why!

Dorie describes it as “elegant” and it really is that. And again another example of how bread isn’t hard to make – it just takes time and if you’re lucky, you’ll have a good stand mixer that will do the hard labor for you. First, you mix yeast into some water and milk and then add flour and salt and mix to just moisten the flour before adding eggs and sugar. Then you incorporate butter in small chunks and you beat the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and put it into a greased container at room temperature until it’s nearly doubled. Then you deflate the dough and refrigerate it overnight, deflating again every half hour until it stops rising.

The next day you shape the dough by dividing it in half then each half into four. You shape the smaller portions into 4 logs that you lay crosswise in 2 bread tins and you leave at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans. Here is where I came unstuck. I used the wrong pan size. And so my brioche doesn’t really have much height. Next time I will definitely use smaller tins.

You brush on an egg wash and bake it in a hot oven for about 30 minutes. And the result: golden and deliciously buttery crumb that takes everything up a notch flavour and comfort wise. I cannot wait to make this again!

The Fearless Baker: Drop Biscuits and book review

Today we created something perfect. I was torn with what to bake today for my third and final recipe from The Fearless Baker for the month, should I make the Lemon Buttermilk Glazed Loaf or some scones?! Then I looked in the fridge and noticed we had no cream but didn’t want to commit to an hour of oven baking, so I flicked through some more and came across Erin McDowell’s Drop Biscuit recipe. And ding, ding, ding – we have a winner!

My favourite scone recipe is Date and Lemon Scones that Gary Mehigan made on MasterChef Australia in its first year. The addition of lemon zest just does something to the date flavour that makes it so much richer and I love cracking one open hot out of the oven and slathering it in butter before devouring. So when I saw in the headnote that Erin’s mom would add dried fruit, nuts or chocolate chips to the biscuits, I straight away declared we’re going to try these with dates and lemon zest.

The process was so simple. We chucked the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, bicarb soda and salt into the food processor and pulsed it, then added the cubed butter and mixed until it resembled breadcrumbs. At this stage we added some lemon zest and the dates, the blades chopped them up for us, while the dry mix insured they wouldn’t puree. Lastly we added the wet ingredients that had been mixed together, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla and mixed until the dough just came together.

Scoop them out with 1/4 cup measure onto a lined baking sheet and sprinkle them with raw sugar and ours baked in a moderate oven in 15 minutes.

Don’t they look gloriously golden and crunchy on the outside?! Inside they were soft and warm and flecked with bits of dates. I am so happy with this recipe that I don’t think I’ll go back to my Masterchef scone recipe ever again, especially since I ALWAYS have buttermilk on hand, but rarely have cream.

This book has been so fun to bake from and there are still many recipes I’d love to try – especially her pies and her cakes (including the lemon buttermilk loaf I mentioned above). There are also some raspberry ripple bars that have been calling to me and the peanut butter and jelly whoopie pies. Oh and the butterscotch blondies! Really the list could go on.

Erin’s flourless cocoa cookies I declared as the best naturally gluten free cookie I’ve had. These biscuits are incredible, and the madeleines were my first successful attempt! There’s also a peach pie that I will post about soon that was absolutely stunning.

I did have an incident in December where I *tried* to make the salted caramel swirl meringues and they failed miserably. The caramel sauce itself was good, but I think the weather was too temperamental to be baking meringues successfully and it just ended up one big flat swirly disc – there’s no photo because it was that bad. I turned it into a trifle with some stone fruit and whipped cream, but by the end of that dish, I didn’t want to look at another meringue for a long time. So I doubt I’ll try it again.

This is definitely a book worth picking up, it’s very approachable for the novice baker, but also has some recipes that look more challenging. I love Erin’s sense of humor, especially in her description of the different pastry decorating techniques. This is definitely not the end for this book on my blog – but from here on it’ll be relegated to Throwback Thursday.

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

Throwback Thursday: Custard Yo-Yos from Sweet

There is something about the sandy buttery texture of these biscuits that takes you to your happy place and if you are looking for the perfect indulgent treat, these most certainly are it.

I’ve been making these yo-yos since December when Food52 Baking Club was going through Ottolenghi & Goh’s baking book, Sweet. I worked out rather quickly that simply replacing the flour with gluten free flour would allow for a lovely gluten free option on the cookie platters I gave out at Christmas, and I made batch after batch of these with the first bunch of rhubarb I’ve ever purchased from the grocery store.

Well rhubarb season is over, so it was time to start experimenting with other fillings as our primary school fete is coming up and I’m looking after the cake stall and think these could be a huge hit if I get them just right. These are my first try with changing the filling, and the only thing I did was replace the rhubarb with strawberries (and I even took the time to roast them for 30 minutes in the oven).

The biscuits themselves are a mixture of gluten free flour, custard powder, pure icing sugar, salt, butter and vanilla which are then rolled into 15g balls and flattened with a fork before baking. They’re sandwiched with the roasted strawberries that have been pureed in a food processor with butter and pure icing sugar and a little lemon juice which give that delightful pink color and a tart fruity contrast to the sugary buttery biscuits.

Really they aren’t all that difficult, but they are delicate and you have to be super careful not to overbake or underbake them. I lost my first tray by overbaking which was a bit sad, but the rest came out perfectly as I adjusted the timing.

My only criticism of the recipe is that the icing is either really soft or really hard, rather than being that perfect in between. They set solid if in the fridge but can become a melty mess if you try to serve them at room temperature. I’m getting to the stage where I think I may give up on their icing recipe and look elsewhere for a solution that will be fete appropriate, as the cake stall is going to be outdoors. I do want to keep the strawberry though, as that seems to make them a bit different to the vanilla or lemon or passionfruit fillings you normally see.

Regardless of that, I love this recipe and have written it out in my recipe book for safe keeping. It’s nice to give the gluten free person in your life something that doesn’t feel like they’re compromising. These make a really sweet gift!

The Fearless Baker: Lemon-Rosemary Madeleines

I’ve had my Madeleine pan in the freezer for over a week now, waiting for some free time to have another go at making them. And since I had lemon zest and rosemary on hand, it seemed too perfect not to try Erin McDowell’s variation from The Fearless Baker. And spoiler alert…

…they have a hump! I think I’ve finally worked out what to do with my oven to achieve that characteristic Madeleine appearance and I’m so happy that it wasn’t all that difficult after all, and the recipe was really quick to throw together.

You whisk together eggs and sugar until it’s light and frothy, add vanilla and lemon zest and then add your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt). Slowly pour in some melted butter and continue whisking until fully incorporated, then stir in some chopped fresh rosemary. I then refrigerated the mixture for about an hour and preheated the oven.

I scooped the dough using my #30 scoop and popped them into the oven (a much cooler oven than recommended) and baked them for 12 minutes. I did pull them out at 10 but they were still liquidy in the center, but 2 minutes more did the trick.

I wish they weren’t SO golden around the edges, but I’m not sure I can really correct that with my current set up. This recipe made 22 using my normal pan and the first batch I cooked at the recommended temperature and at 8 minutes they were starting to have a hump but they were already looking pretty dark. So the second batch was done at a lower temperature for longer and next time I make them I’ll try that same method!

We really enjoyed the flavour of these. I put in extra rosemary and I could have easily added more, I love the flavour so much. I have one more recipe for this book this month, and it’s an absolute beauty.  That’ll be up on Friday!

The Fearless Baker: Flourless Cocoa Cookies

This month, Food52 Baking Club is working through Erin McDowell’s book The Fearless Baker. I had the library order this book a few months ago, knowing that this was going to be coming up and was able to get my hands on it for about a week in December, and boy, oh boy am I excited to have it back!

I’ve made these flourless cocoa cookies a few times now, and I have to say they are by far the nicest naturally gluten free cookie I’ve had. They are like a cookie on the outside and while others have described the inside as a brownie, I’d say it’s more like a chocolate truffle – delectably rich and delicious.

People have had trouble with the sticky and thick batter, but I’ve found if you just use a handheld mixer to do the work, the trouble is virtually non-existent. And scooping the dough with a spring loaded cookie scoop keeps them uniform in size and while the shape isn’t smooth, that’s actually part of the charm.

Did I mention they have only 7 ingredients?! You simply whisk some eggs, add icing sugar, salt, cinnamon and cocoa, then stir in some vanilla and chocolate chips. You can seriously have the batter ready to go within 5 minutes. Scoop them onto a baking paper lined cookie sheet, sprinkle some salt on top and in my oven they took 8 minutes to get firm without overcooking.

I have had rave reviews about these every time I’ve made them and they will definitely be staying in my cookie rotation for the foreseeable future. A good start to what should be a great month of baking!

Throwback Thursday: Rose Hibiscus Shortbread Fans from Dorie’s Cookies

I’ve previously done a Throwback Thursday post for Dorie’s Cookies, the book Food52 Baking Club covered in its very first month. This book is seriously an encyclopedia of every type of cookie you could possibly want to make. And every picture is so beautiful.

We made this recipe when we threw a little afternoon tea for Mother’s Day last year (it’s online here). Everything that we made had some form of pink in it – well the sweets, that is. And the fact that this recipe has tea in it, made it even more appropriate for our special afternoon tea table.

I’ve since come to adapt it as a gluten free cookie. In the side bar, Dorie gives the suggestion that rather than part rice flour part all purpose you can use fully all purpose flour, so I take that amount and replace it with gluten free flour, and it turns out great every time.

I had a hard time finding plain hibiscus tea, so started out with a passionfruit hibiscus blend which was nice, then today I noticed that Dorie suggests Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea – and I had Raspberry Zinger tea in my cupboard so I thought I’d give that a whirl. It took almost 2 tea bags, so I sprinkled the rest of the tea leaves over the shortbread along with the sugar sprinkles. A whole new level of deliciousness was achieved. I’m already planning a trip to the markets where I source Celestial Seasonings here to stock up on some more.

I definitely recommend this recipe to anyone who loves tea and shortbread. It really is the perfect cookie. And it’s really quick to put together. You put the tea leaves in with the sugar and smash them about a bit. Then you add the butter and salt and cream the mixture, then the extracts, then the flour. I no longer bake this in a springform cake pan, I free form the circle of dough on a cookie sheet and roll it nice and even. I score the disc into 12 wedges completely, and use the fork prong trick along the edge. I baked this for 20 minutes at 150C and it was done just perfectly. The icing is simply icing sugar and a tablespoon of milk whisked together. Nothing fancy, it doesn’t need it. I’ll be enjoying this over the next few days with my afternoon cuppa.

 

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!