Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rewind! Rugelach!

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie bakers will have a party-table full of delicious baked goods to share.  I myself have been baking sooooo much the past few weeks that I hardly know where to start:  chocolate chunkers, walnut tea cakes, caramel corn (not really baking but wonderful nevertheless), bundt cakes, carrot muffins, and breads and pizzas.  I keep forgetting to take pictures before the goodies have been consumed, but here's my entry for this week:   Rugelach.

Dorie's dough is so easy to make and even easier to roll out.  I spread on a little apricot jam, and then the filling of sugar, cinnamon, currants, and shaved chocolate.  They turned out really well.  I brought some to a party at work and immediately my friend Lynne said "Who made the rugelach???"  When I confessed that I had made them she said (while holding the third cookie) that they were better than anything she had tasted in a lonnnnggg time.  When Lynne bought Rugelach in some fancy bakeries she had been sorely disappointed.  She asked for the recipe (doesn't that often happen when you share some of Dorie's treats?) which I was happy to share with the advice to buy the book.

Happy Holidays to all of my baking friends!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cardamom Crumb Cake

I can't remember when I last used cardamom so I wasn't too optimistic that there would be any in my spice cupboard.   I found a little plastic bag labeled "cardamom" in my cupboard, but when I opened the bag and took a sniff I might as well have been sniffing a never-used plastic bag.  No fragrance whatsoever!

After a trip to the store and with a fresh bottle of cardamom in hand, I whipped up the crumbs for the cake.  I did this in the food processor and I don't recommend this method because my crumbs were way too small--more like cereal dust in the bottom of the cereal bag.

We stayed up late playing board games with visiting kids and I got up early to bake the cake.  All went well (aside from the not so pretty crumb topping).  Two family members had to hit the road early so they took their fresh-out-of-the-oven pieces on a paper plate--not the most ideal presentation.  The rest of the family ate up the remainder of the coffee cake and commented that it had "complex flavors", "It's like coffee cake but different", and "spicy but not cinnamon spicy."

Thanks to Jill of Jill's Blog for choosing this recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie gang- - - it gave me an opportunity to add another spice to my collection!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pineapple-Coconut Family Cake

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick was Apple-Coconut Family Cake--a wonderful and fairly simple cake.  This time, I decided to take Dorie's "playing around" advice and I substitutes pineapple for apples, added 1/2 cup of ground walnuts and 1/2 cup walnut pieces.  All I can say is that it was a beautiful cake and was very yummy!  My family renamed it Pina Colada Cake!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Translucent Maple Tuiles

Fragile, pretty cookies were the challenge chosen by Clivia of Bubie's Little Baker this week for the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.  I attempted these some time ago and found them to be very fragile so I approached these with a bit of trepidation.

Making the batter is easy:  mix butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar.  Stir in a little flour.  Refrigerate.   It's the baking that is tricky.  You roll the dough into little balls about the size of a cherry and bake until lacy and golden.  Mine turned out a bit darker than I hoped, even though I reduced the time in the oven.  But I was able to get them off the cookie sheet and let them rest on a rolling pin without having them break apart!  Isn't that success?!

Chocolate Armagnac Cake--The Cake that got Dorie Fired!

This cake has a wonderful story:  on Dorie's first job as a pastry chef, she got bored making the same two items every day for several weeks.  So she decided to modify the whiskey/raisin cake by soaking cut up prunes in Armagnac.  The cake was a fantastic success--except it was not the cake that was advertised on the menu.  So Dorie was fired for "creative insubordination."  Amazing!

I've wanted to make this cake for some time and finally had an occasion--an invitation to join friends for dinner and the admonition to bake only "if it makes you happy."

I love Dorie's recipes although many require multiple steps.  I think most of her recipes are "four-bowl" recipes.  This lovely, fudgey, chocolaty cake required a whopping eight bowls but it was well worth it!

You chop the prunes, then simmer them in water. (First pot.)

When most of the water has evaporated, you pour in the cognac and light it!  Can you see the blue glow?

When the flame subsides, pour into a little bowl and allow to cool. (Second bowl--forgot to take a picture of my cute little blue pyrex bowl!)

Grind up pecans in the bowl of the Cuisinart (bowl #3) then mix with flour and salt in bowl # 4.

Melt the chocolate, butter, and a bit of water in a double boiler. (Fifth bowl.)

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in another bowl (that's number 6).

Stir in the chocolate mixture, then the nut mixture, and then the prunes soaked in cognac.

Beat the egg whites in bowl #7.

Fold the whites into the cake batter.

Pour the batter into the springform pan (does that count as a bowl?  I don't think so.) and bake.  Allow to cool completely.

Make the glaze in bowl number 8 and smooth it over the cake.  Beautiful and intensely delicious!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Devilish Shortcakes

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Devilish Shortcakes.  Ok, so today is Wednesday and I am officially one day late.  It's not as if I haven't been baking--in the past two weeks I've made my apple dumplings and tiny chocolate chip cookies, plus Dorie's Apple Pie Cake, Granola Grabbers, Pumpkin Muffins, Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, and Toasted Almond Scones.  No pictures, of course, since it's been a bit hectic here and people consumed everything as it came out of the oven.

What with the contractors in the house finishing up our wood floor, and the furnace men installing a new furnace yesterday, I didn't bake yesterday.  These shortcakes seemed to call out for fresh raspberries and we had our first significant snowfall today so there just aren't fresh raspberries to be had.  There was some left over fresh pineapple from Sunday's brunch, but somehow that did not appeal.  Then I had an inspiration:  caramel.  I made Dorie's caramel sauce and we had the shortcakes with a bit of vanilla ice cream and some warm caramel drizzled over.  Lovely!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Classic Brownies

Thanksgiving Week!  On Thursday I'm planning to make Dorie's "Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good" from Around My French Table.  But it's Tuesday today and I need to bake!

Our house has been in a bit of an uproar as we are having a new hardwood floor installed in the living room.  What with the chaos of home improvement, I haven't been able to bake much.  Once I got home from work today, I decided to make the Russian Grandmother Apple Cake from Baking.  I made the dough, and only then noticed that it needed to be chilled for a couple of hours.  It's in the fridge now but after working all day and dealing with home improvement project, I didn't feel like staying up late cutting apples.   So I threw together some Classic Brownies:  quick, easy, delicious.  And a reward for hard work!

I'll be baking quite a bit during the next few days, but the brownies were definitely a good "rewind" choice.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cranberry Lime Galette

For the second week in a row, we Tuesdays with Dorie bakers have a go at cranberries.  I have come to expect every recipe in Dorie Greenspan's wonderful book Baking from My Home to Yours to be uniquely wonderful and yummy.  The Cranberry Lime Galette, selected by the baking sisters of Celestial Confections, is a combination of flavors that I would not have thought of, but it was wonderfully tart and very tasty.

A galette is a perfect pie crust onto which you spread a secret base of ground nuts (I used hazelnuts) and breadcrumbs so that the juicy filling does not seep through.

A mixture of cranberries, an apple, chopped ginger, lime zest and brown sugar is combined (I used my hands to do this) and placed on top.  The edges are folded in, brushed with water, and sprinkled with sugar.

Forty minutes later you have a beautiful galette!  My tasters thought it was fabulous and so did I! 

I can see how results would be variable, depending on how much ginger you used (1 1/2 inches of chopped is the requirement and I used the thinnish part of the root), the kind of apple you choose, whether or not you chill the dough.   It would also be fun to experiment with the ratio of cranberries to apples.  I'm looking forward to seeing what other Tuesday with Dorie bakers did this week! 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


One satisfying thing about baking this recipe--and one that is confirmation that I do love to bake--is that this cake needs a 9" spring form pan and I had it!  (My baking pan collection is growing!  I also have one 10" and two 8" spring form pans.)

This cake seemed simple in that you make a jam of cranberries, orange and sugar and then while it is cooling, you make a soft dough which is chilled for 15 minutes or so.  Then half of the dough is rolled into a circle, just big enough to fit into the pan.  The jam is smeared on and then the other half of the dough is placed on top.  A little sprinkle of sugar and into the oven it goes.  The hardest thing was to allow it to cool to room temperature.

My guests and I loved the result!  It was oh so pretty, the cakey-shortbread was terrific and the cranberries worked well--not too tart and not too sweet.

I meant to take pictures all along the way, but only got this one picture of the last piece.
Thanks to Jessica for choosing the recipe this week for the Tuesdays with Dorie crowd.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Peanuttiest Blondies

There is something so satisfying about chopping chocolate and peanuts!

Those are two essential ingredients in this week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick, Peanuttiest Blondies.  Another secret ingredient is a little bit of cinnamon.  And then, of course, there is butter, brown sugar, vanilla.  The combination produced a lovely aroma throughout the house last night.  And lovely, chewy blondies to munch on today,

Thanks to Nicole of Bakeologie for choosing this week's recipe.  If you want to make them yourself, they are posted on her blog.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

This week's pick for French Fridays with Dorie was a lovely apple cake, baked in a spring form pan with lots of cut up apple chunks.  We ate it up in no time!

Monday, October 25, 2010

All American, All Delicious Apple Pie

Weather wise, I know what's coming.  Soon the farm market will close down, the leaves will be off the trees, and the snow will begin to fall.  But now is the best time of year for apples.  Here in upstate New York we have many, many local varieties from which to choose and today I made a pie with my favorite pie apple, Northern Spy.

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick is All American, All Delicious Apple Pie.   This is a two-crusted pie (which is how I've made it in the past) but today I decided to use a crumb topping (1 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, a handful of chopped pecans, 1/2 cup buttter cut into the dry ingredients).

The house smelled terrific and the pie was beautiful and tasty.  A perfect dessert for a fall day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hachis Parmentier

It's cold and rainy here in upstate New York and a perfect day to fill the kitchen with wonderful smells.  This week's French Fridays with Dorie pick is a fancy shepherd's pie.  Chopped chuck is simmered in a mixture that becomes a lovely broth.  Cooked sausage is added to this and then lovely mashed potatoes smoothed on top.  With a bit of gruyere and a half an hour in the oven, this was a wonderful meal.  We also had green beans and, of course, red wine.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gerard's Mustard Tart

I'm primarily a baker but I am such a fan of Dorie Greenspan's recipes that in addition to baking through Baking from my home to yours, I'm also participating in French Fridays with Dorie and I'm cooking through her new book, Around my French Table.

Although I'm a little out of sync with the selections for  French Fridays, here is a report on one of  the October recipes.

Gerard's Mustard Tart is beautiful to look at, easy and fun to make, and tastes delicious!   Think quiche with tang.  And a perfect crust.  The crust is Dorie's Tart Dough, the filling is basically eggs, cream and two kinds of mustard.  The veggies are thin strips of leeks and carrots which have been steamed and which are arranged like spokes on a wheel.  A definite hit at the Hands Four Dance potluck this past Saturday!

French Chocolate Brownies

In Dorie Greenspan's great book Baking from My Home to Yours she offers 15 brownie recipes! I've made 14 of them now and the amazing thing is that they are all so different.  Each is wonderful in it's own way and the French Chocolate Brownies that I made a few days ago are no exception.

I think of brownies as being very easy and very chocolatey.  Differences are often those of texture--cakey, moist, chewy, gooey.  These fall into the cakey variety and they are wonderfully delicious.

The reason I have put off baking these (they are number 14 out of 15 brownie recipes remember!) is that they have raisins in them.  I'm a big fan of raisins to be eaten by themselves or in raisin bread but I don't much like them in cookies because they tend to be dry and hard.  And putting them into something chocolatey, well, chocolate is usually only improved by the addition of caramel in my view.

But these brownies were great fun to make and really, really tasty.  The fun part was to soften up those raisins by simmering them in a little water until the water almost evaporated.  Then you throw in 1 1/2 tablespoons of rum, heat that up and light it!

I tried to take a picture of the flame, but it went too fast!  Just imagine a pretty blue ball and a WHoooooffFF sound!

You melt some good chocolate and stir in some butter.

Then mix up the eggs and sugar, add in a little flour, the chocolate and the rummy raisins and into the oven it goes!

The result was delicious, cakey, moist brownies!  

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

Even when I was little and went to my Grandma Frances' house for Thanksgiving, apple pie always won out over pumpkin.  This week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick was intriguing.  Notice that word CARAMEL in front of Pumpkin?  As far as I'm concerned, anything with caramel in it is  bound to be delicious.

Usually I make the recipe exactly as written the first time around but I decided to make these as little pie tartlets so that Rich could take them to choir rehearsal.  I used Dorie's fabulous Good for Almost Anything Pie Dough recipe (p442 in Baking), chilled the dough and filled 24 little muffin cups.  I partially baked these (16 minutes at 400 degrees).

Then I started on the caramel for the filling.  I've made caramel in the past and it is always tricky.  You want it dark for maximum flavor, but you definitely don't want it burnt.  I started out by heating the sugar until it melted and while this was happening, I got the tiniest whiff of burn-y smell.  But I added the cream, then the rum and the butter and cooked till smooth.

But as it cooled, I was increasingly suspicious of the burniness and so I just did it again.  I now had two batches of caramel which looked alike.  However, the first batch did taste as if it had burned and the second batch was absolutely scrumptious.

With the caramel made, it was simple to mix up the rest of the filling, stir in the lovely caramel, and fill the little pie shells.  I put a little streusel on a few of them, just to see if that dressed them up a bit.  I baked them for 25 minutes at 350 degrees until a knife came out clean.  (I had left over filling which I ended up stirring into a loaf bread batter--yummy!)

I must say that the filling was terrific!  And though when faced with a choice I still might reach for apple pie instead of pumpkin,  I'm sure I'll be baking this recipe again. Thanks to Janell of Mortensen Family Memoirs for getting me to try pumpkin pie!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fold-Over Pear Torte

Since all of the recipes in Baking by Dorie Greenspan have been YUMMY I was expecting just that from this recipe.  But this week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick turned out to be  EXTRAORDINARILY YUMMY!

I was rather casual about this recipe, only glancing through the ingredients to be sure I had them all on hand.  I assumed this torte would be best when warm so I planned to make it so that it would come out of the oven just after dinner.  I had read the recipe just enough to realize I needed to make the pie dough early in the day so it could chill.  When I started to bake in earnest at 4:30 pm, I discovered that the torte needed to cool completely to set.   So much for eating it right after dinner.

The next  surprise was the direction to generously butter an 8" spring form pan. Since there isn't a picture in the book, I had imagined I'd be putting the delicious pie dough on a baking sheet, piling on pears, and folding the edges hap-hazzardly over the top.  But an 8" spring form pan?  Suddenly I became more alert!

Once the dough is made and in the pan (mine came up over the edges), the pear filling is prepared. I worried about my pears because pear season is past and I could only get very, very firm Bosc pears at the farm market.  But I chopped them up, added the diced dried apricots and nuts, and poured the lovely custard filling over all.  The filling is mainly cream with some rum, eggs, sugar, vanilla and a little flour.

Next I had to deal with the top of the crust and Dorie says not to fold it over but rather to push it toward the center like a ruffle.  My edges were uneven and I could not bear to waste any of the lovely crust, so I ruffled as best I could and slid the torte into the oven.

Usually when Dorie advises that you take a peak and make sure something isn't browning too quickly, she is giving necessary advice.  My torte didn't brown quickly at all and in fact, it needed more than 70 minutes before I was satisfied with it.  And my "ruffle" sort of collapsed in on the top.

  Finally, it was cool enough, I released the torte from the pan and sprinkled on some powdered sugar.  All I can say is WOW!  This is fabulous!

This week's wonderful pick was made by Cakelaw and you can find the recipe at her blog.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Double Apple Bundt Cake

Local apples are just becoming abundant here in upstate New York and so I'm delighted to have a "need" to bake apple desserts.  Lynne of Honey Muffin chose this week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick:  Double Apple Bundt Cake, so named because it uses grated apples as well as store-bought apple butter.

I've made this lovely cake before and it was just as good the second time around.  What really astounds me about this bundt cake (and all of Dorie's other bundt cakes) is how easily they slide out of the pan.  When I've used other recipes, some bit of the cake invariably sticks to the pan.  Dorie's cakes are always right in every way!

Not many pictures this time because I was baking up a storm for a house concert with a wonderful traditional music band, Tunescape.  In addition to the Double Apple Bundt Cake, I made Snickery Squares, Granola Grabbers, Chocolate Walnut Tea Cakes (not in Baking, but a Dorie recipe nevertheless), Peanut Butter Criss Crosses and then I popped some Gougeres into the oven for a savory treat!

And did I mention that I made Dorie's big carrot cake for a friend's birthday two days ago?

A very happy few days of baking!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

First FFwD post! Gougeres! (Fancy Cheese Puffs)

This is the first recipe in Dorie Greenspan's fabulous new book Around my French Table, so it's fitting that those of us who are participating in French Fridays with Dorie start with this lovely recipe.

I'm intending to do a lot of baking this weekend so I thought I'd get a head start since Dorie says that these lovely little cheese puffs can be mixed, frozen, then baked when you want to eat them.  Seemed like a great idea to me!

I got everything ready since the directions require you to stir the flour in vigorously.

Then I set the milk, water, butter and salt to boil.

When the liquid is boiling, I added the cup of flour all at once and stirred like mad.  It very quickly formed a ball but I kept stirring to dry out the dough a bit.  So far so good!

Then I beat in five eggs, one at a time and finally the grated cheese.

It was easy to scoop out the dough onto parchment paper.  I intend to bake these on Sunday so I popped 33 of  them into the freezer.

But I saved out 4 because I just had to taste them ToDaY.  They baked up beautifully and boy are they yummy; just the right texture and the perfect cheese flavor.  I would have taken another picture of them on a pretty plate but before I realized what happened, I had eaten them all.   A real winner of a recipe!