Monday, December 26, 2011


Tuesdays with Dorie, the wonderful group of bakers who have been baking through Dorie Greenspan's fabulous book, Baking from My Home to Yours,  finishes up this week.  (I still have 19 recipes left to bake, so I'm going to keep on posting till I finish!  And the group will soon begin to bake through another Dorie book, Baking with Julia.)  Yayyy!

This week, Dorie herself chose the last recipe, Thumbprints.  Check out Dorie's blog for the complete recipe and a wonderful perspective on the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.

When I started to write this post, I found myself writing only about Dorie and her book and how it has changed how I bake.  I decided to save that for another post in a day or two.  For now, let me just say that Dorie's is the most-used cookbook on my shelf, the one I always write in, the one that has given me the most pleasure, and the one that has brought me the most positive compliments about baking from family and friends.  If anyone reading this post does not yet own Baking from My Home to Yours, you need to rush right out and buy it.

My much-loved Baking from My Home to Yours
And now for this week's TWD pick!  They are wonderful little peanut butter thumbprint cookies with encouragement to use a variety of jams or chocolate to fill the thumbprint.  I mixed up the dough and prepared the chopped peanuts which will coat the cookies.  This coating, by the way, makes these cookies extra special and quite pretty.
Mixing up the batter
I intended to take pictures all along the way, but got caught up in the process of baking!  So here's the first batch cooling, after I added the filling.  I used cherry preserves on most of them but on some, I spooned in a bit of shaved chocolate which melted very nicely on the warm cookies.  Then I had the inspired notion to spoon a bit of preserves on top of the chocolate.  Those were the best of the bunch.  That little bit of chocolate was an unexpected happy surprise!
The finished cookies
Thanks, Dorie, for encouraging me to be brave and experimental in my baking, and for standing beside me as I baked through all of the recipes.  Like the aroma of cookies in the oven, your warm enthusiasm for the joy of baking continues to envelope not only many home  bakers but also their family and friends who have had the pleasure to eat the terrific baked goods.  Thank you! 
Peggy the Baker, Dorie, Peggy's husband Rich in Kingston, Ontario

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rugelach & Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

Today I baked one recipe that I made before but which needed a little tweaking and one that I had not yet baked.

Last year I baked Rugelach for the holiday reception for my co-workers and when my friend Lynne passed down the goodie table, she exclaimed, "Rugelach!  Who made the Rugelach?  It's wonderful!!"  So I decided to bake the Rugelach again for these same coworkers.    The problem in the past is that Dorie says to heat up 2/3 cup preserves to smear on the dough.  The past two times I've baked these, I've dutifully tried to use up all  the preserves, only to find that a lot of it oozed out while baking and made things stickier and ickier than I'd like.  So this time I used about half and the results were much better.  I also decided to cut down a little bit on the chocolate, for the same reason.  I'm very pleased with how this year's Rugelach turned out.

Traces left from rolling up some of the Rugelach!
Rugelach for the party.

 I'm about 20 recipes behind in baking through the whole of Dorie Greenspan's great book, Baking from My Home to Yours.  The rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers officially finish next week, but I'll be playing catch up just a little longer!  This week I baked Dorie's Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake which is to be made in a 10 1/2 inch tart pan.  I had a 9 inch tart pan which I must confess I failed to measure before I started.  So the batter was really near the tippy top of the pan and baked over a little during the baking.   I had to bake it longer than the recipe says--not a surprise.  I feared that I wouldn't be able to slide the cake out because the top edge of the cake was pretty firmly stuck to the fluted tart pan ring.  But I gave it a little nudge all around with the side of a knife and it came out very easily.  This goes off to work with my husband who promises to take a taste and report back.
A bit of a spillover because my pan was too small!
The final product looked lovely!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Madeleines and a Separate Cinnamon Experiment

Well, it's Tuesday and I was all set to post this week's delicious treat made from Dorie Greenspan's great book, Baking from My Home to Yours.  So I made Earl Gray Madeleine's, only to discover that that was last week's pick for the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.  I guess while I was away in Seattle and Corvallis last week, time marched on!

Since we're in the home stretch of the book, I'm going to share my pictures of my madeleines anyway.  Better late than never!

The recipe I used was Dorie's Earl Gray Madeleines which attempt to flavor the little sponge cakes with Earl Gray tea.  The technique is to melt the butter and then put the tea leaves into the melted butter and allow it to infuse for 15 minutes.  Then you put the tea and melted butter through a cheese-cloth lined strainer.  (That would have been a good photo to shoot!)  The other flavor used in these cookies is lemon zest, which my husband thinks is the dominant flavor.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As it happens, Dorie herself referred to madeleines in her blog post today!  To get them puffy, her recent discovery is to place plastic wrap on the batter and refrigerate it for an hour, then spoon the batter into the pans, cover with plastic again, and refrigerate for another hour.  Then put a baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Then pop in the pans and bake.  This is the suggestion she learned from  Phillippe Conticini of Patisserie des Reves in Paris.  

Here's what I did:
In the cute little mini madeleine pan

In my silicone madeleine pan

The mini madeleines

Minis next to the regulars

The interesting occurrence was the uneven baking.  Notice how some of the mini madeleines are browner than others?  And notice the brown stripe on the regular-sized madeleines?  What's with this?

I sprinkled them all with powdered sugar and they were very much enjoyed.  But I have to figure out my oven.

Since I'm a week late with my post, I might as well share a non-Dorie but very interesting experiment.  When visiting my son and his wonderful girlfriend Rose in Corvallis last week, I brought them a present of four different cinnamon's from Penzey's, one each from Ceylon, China, Indonesia, and Viet Nam.  Wonderful Rose saw this as a perfect opportunity to do a taste test of cinnamon rolls and what a wonderful experiment it was!

The four kinds of cinnamon

Rose rolling out the dough

Four different cinnamon/sugar mixtures

And raisins

Rolls rising

Can't you just smell them?!!!

The cinnamons definitely had distinctive tastes and all were yummy.  Our preference was the Chinese cinnamon in the cinnamon rolls.  The Vietnamese had a more robust flavor--almost too much for cinnamon rolls but outstanding in Dorie's Double Apple Bundt Cake.  The Ceylon and Indonesian cinnamons were unique, but not as tasty as the Chinese.

Hopefully I'll be back on track next week!  The Tuesdays with Dorie bakers will finish up the book this month.  I am a bit behind with 20 recipes left to bake.  I will finish, but not this month!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Normandy Apple Tart & Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie Tart

We are on the home stretch in baking through Dorie Greenspan's fabulous book, Baking from my Home to Yours.  Since I joined the Tuesdays with Dorie crowd after they got  started, I had already begun to bake some of the recipes.  That's the deal with this week's two tarts.

I baked the Normandy Apple Tart for New Year's Day 2010.  It was very apple-y and very beautiful.  The thing I remember about this tart is the lovely applesauce which is spread on the lovely sweet tart crust.  And how gloriously beautiful the tart is.  For the recipe, scoot on over to Tracey's Culinary Adventures.
Normandy Apple Tart

I also baked the Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie/Tart last year.  Pumpkin pie is not my favorite dish, but boy did people love this.  Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture!  The filling made quite a bit more than would fill the crust, but I baked it up in custard cups and people ate it right up.  For the recipe, check with Judy of Judy's Gross Eats.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dorie's Favorite Pecan Pie

For Thanksgiving, I baked Dorie Greenspan's Favorite Pecan Pie, one of the last of the recipes in her great book, Baking from My Home to Yours.   In her comments, Dorie says that she has thought that most pecan pies are too sweet and so she kept experimenting until she figured out  how to make a non-sweet pecan pie.  The secret is to add bittersweet chocolate and 2 teaspoons of espresso powder.

People loved this pie!

I was disappointed in the shrinking crust, but I knew it would taste great.
Mixing up the filling

Adding in the pecans
Covering the already browned crust rim

The end result!  Puffy and yummy!
With my traditional apple pie and its crumb topping.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bittersweet Brownies and Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte

As I close in on the last couple of dozen recipes in Dorie Greenspan's fabulous book, Baking from My Home to Yours, I am trying to bake the choices of the Tuesdays with Dorie gang and also catch up by baking some recipes that were chosen before I joined the group.

This week, I baked Bittersweet Brownies (one of the TWD selections) and Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte (my catch-up recipe).  First off, I got out lots of butter and eggs and allowed them to come to room temperature.

Getting ready with eggs and BUTTER
The brownies are easy to make with butter, sugar, melted bittersweet chocolate and just a little flour.  There are no nuts in this recipe, but the texture of the finished product is so wonderfully fudgy that I didn't miss the nuts.  I cut them in gorgeous pieces . . . .but you'll just have to take my word for it because I neglected to get a picture before they were consumed by the attendees of our contra dance planning committee!

The Torte has a lovely pre-baked crust which is supposed to go up the sides of a spring form pan.  It's chilled, then partially baked while lined with form-fitting foil and pie weights.  What happened to my crust, however, was that the sides squished down so I couldn't pour in as much of the filling as I wanted to.  There is a layer of cherry preserves on the crust, then the cream cheese/eggs/cottage cheese/vanilla filling.

Baking the crust
It was super tasty, although my "hidden" berries snuck up to the top.

A little bit of cherry preserves sneaking out

A lovely week of baking!  Next time, I'll try to remember to keep my camera handy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Far Breton

Two great advantages of baking through Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking from My Home to Yours, are learning some new techniques (it's so much fun to set something on fire!), and baking creations that are beloved in other parts of the world but previously unknown to me.  Such is the case with this week's pick, a Far Breton.  It's a lovely pudding-y cake with prunes that have been soaked in Armagnac.  It was so much fun to light the cognac and watch the lovely blue flames burn away the alcohol, leaving only the amazing taste behind.

I took this to my weekly brunch and the gentlemen were particularly pleased with it.

Going into the oven

Coming out of the oven

Ready to serve

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Fig Cake for Fall

I'm only a day late this week but I am determined to keep up with the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers as we are in the home stretch of baking through Dorie Greenspan's Baking from my home to Yours.  

This week's pick was A Fig Cake for Fall chosen by Ursala of Cookie Rookie.

I've never baked with figs.  Actually, I've never eaten figs before (unless you count Fig Newtons which I'm sure does not count!)  The recipe calls for softening the figs in a mixture of Ruby Port and honey.  So I sent my husband off to buy the port and realized that we now have quite a collection of bottles of various alcoholic beverages used only for baking, thanks to Dorie!

The batter is a very small amount of sugar, lots of butter and 3 eggs which you beat for a long time.  It looks curdled, but as she promises, it eventually improves.  The dry ingredients include cornmeal and flour, and I feared that the cake would be a bit gritty.

The cake actually turned out to be quite pretty and, as I've come to expect from Dorie's recipes, very tasty.  A good first try with figs.

Curdles galore
Keep beating--it will turn out all right!

Stirring in the dry incredients
The beautiful Fig Cake for Fall
With the rubyport/honey sauce.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ginger Jazzed Brownies plus two catch-up cookies!

This week's Tuesday's with Dorie pick was Ginger Jazzed Brownies, chosen by Hildy of Bubie's Little Baker.  Although I had baked these in the past, I was delighted to bake them again.

The brownies are super ginger-y because they include 2 Tbsp. of fresh ginger as well as some ground ginger.  I baked these to take to the contra dance, and they were a big hit.  So much so that some dancers followed me into the kitchen in search of crumbs from the carrying box!  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture--of the brownies or the hungry dancers!

In my effort to catch up with the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers, and to bring enough snacks to the dance, I also made two cookie recipes that I had not yet baked:  Coconut Butter Cookies and Traditional Madeleines.

The dough for the Coconut Butter Cookies was delicious!  It had to be the lime zest, the coconut, and the ground macadamia nuts.  The dough is put into a gallon zip lock bag and then rolled out, then refrigerated.  I love this technique!  And it is so easy to slit the bag and cut the cookie dough into nice, even squares.  They spread a bit in baking, but they were delicious and much admired.
Coconut Butter Cookies

Next I baked Dorie's Traditional Madeleines.  It was great to be able to make the batter a day ahead; I did as she suggested and poured the batter into the molds and let them rest in the refrigerator overnight.  I have a silicone madeleine pan and have only used it a couple of times.  The results were interesting.  Notice that brown stripe down the center?  A little like a chipmunk!  I don't think the cookies bake evenly in the silicone pan but they are oh so fun to pop out of their molds!
Traditional Madeleines baked in a silicone pan
Madeleines close up

After baking three things with butter and eggs, it dawned on me that my son-in-law who would be playing fiddle at the dance, is experimenting with vegan eating this month.  He wouldn't be able to eat any of the goodies!  So I made a very easy Vegan cookie recipe--these, too, were devoured.  In my mind, they don't measure up to any of Dorie's recipes, but they tasted pretty good for having no butter, eggs, sugar, or flour.

Vegan oatmeal cookies
No dairy, no wheat, no sugar, but tasted fine.

Vegan Oatmeal Cookies
(Dairy, gluten, and sugar free)

Mash three ripe bananas.
Stir into the bananas:
     2 cups rolled oats
     1 cup raisins or chopped dates
     1/3 cup vegetable oil
     1 teaspoon vanilla

Allow batter to rest for 15 minutes.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Squish together the dough with your fingers, as needed.
Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, or until lightly brown.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tarte Noire and French Yogurt Cake

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick is Dorie's wonderful Basic Biscuits chosen by Jennifer of Cooking for Comfort.  It's a great recipe and I was all set to bake the biscuits last night to go with soup that I planned to make for dinner.  But here's what happened: my husband arrived home early and hungry.  Amazingly, we had leftovers in the fridge which we heated up for a quick dinner instead of soup and biscuits.  I thought I'd bake those biscuits today.  But here's what happened:  we were going to have a meeting at our house tonight and I wanted to bake Dorie's Tarte Noire which requires the same amount of cream as the Basic Biscuits.  Cream for biscuits or cream for a tarte?  The tarte won!

The Tarte Noire is a simple Shortbread Tart Dough with a luscious chocolate ganache made from good chocolate, cream and a little bit of butter.  It mixed up wonderfully well, and behaved just as I'd hoped it would, setting up in the shell, holding it's shape, and wonderfully smooth.  I drizzled a bit of caramel sauce on top, just for fun.

The French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze was a lovely pound cake, easy to make and the lemon marmalade glaze on top was just the right touch.  Two beautiful desserts in one day!


And now a word about the biscuits:  I've made them many times.  And oh boy are they delicious!  And easy to make.  So head on over to Jennifer's blog for the recipe, or better still, run right out and by Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Apple Muffin Nut Cake

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is a lovely cake that is more like a muffin.  With apples and  pecans, it made a wonderful addition to the brunch table.  Check out Katrina's blog, Baking with the Boys, for the recipe.

Part of the end-of-summer brunch table

My contribution:  Apple Cake!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Flip Over Plum Cake

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick is an absolutely fabulous Flip Over Plum Cake.   The thing is, you don't flip the cake over, the batter flips itself over!

I have been baking a great deal lately and I thought I'd cleverly make this cake a couple of weeks ahead of time when I had a bunch of plums on hand.  I decided to cut the recipe in half because I didn't have a lot of plums, I'm not crazy about plums, and I have been baking lots and lots of recipes from Dorie's book this month.

You melt butter in a pan, make a really simple batter and pour it over the butter, then drop in plums that have been tossed with sugar.  Couldn't be simpler and what a wonderful result!

This was so delicious that I bought more plums and made the full recipe!  No picture of that, however, because we ate it all up before I remembered to get out my camera!  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rewind! Brioche Plum Tart and Linzer Sables

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie bakers caked Cocoa Salt and Pepper Shortbread.  Having made those in the past, I decided to skip them this week and instead bake two other recipes from the book to continue to try to catch up.  My intention is to systematically bake through the 30 remaining recipes in Dorie Greenspan's fabulous book, Baking from My Home to Yours in an effort to finish the book along with the TWD bakers (who started baking through the book before I did).

This week I baked Dorie's Linzer Sables.  They are lovely cookies with ground almonds and are typically sandwiched with jam.  Well.  Dorie does suggest in her "Playing Around" note that a chocolate ganache works quite well so that's what I did.  The only problem I had was that I loaned out my scalloped cookie cutter and so my cookies were simple circles.  Quite yummy, however.

I also baked the Plum Brioche Tart.  This was really, really fun to make.  The brioche dough is made a day ahead, rises once in a warm spot and then is deflated and put into the refrigerator where it's deflated every half  hour until it gives up and just rests.  The next day, the dough is easily spread into a pie plate.  Dorie suggests spreading on plum preserves, but I chose to use port-pear preserves instead.  An inspired choice!

Brioche dough with port-pear preserves
 I cut up plums, piled them high, and sprinkled on a mixture of sugar, chopped nuts.  The result was lovely to look at and a delicious addition to the brunch table.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Classic Brownies + Double Crusted Blueberry Pie

I love brownies.  Well, let me clarify that statement.  I love all of Dorie's brownies.  We were recently traveling in and around Denver and stopped at a bakery/deli.  There was a request for chocolate raspberry bread pudding (this was good, but I kept thinking how Dorie's Apple Apple Bread Pudding is not just good, it's fabulous).  There was also a request for a brownie.  This brownie was a real disappointment and I think it was, as my husband put it, "the fat is off".  I'm quite sure that if they used butter, they didn't use all butter.  It did not satisfy.

Classic Brownies
So it was with great pleasure that I had an excuse to bake Dorie Greenspan's Classic Brownies along with the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.  Delicious!  Not too cakey and not too gooey.  In other words, just right.

This week I pulled out of the freezer the Double Crusted Blueberry Pie that I made before we left for Denver.  What a lucky stroke that was, as blueberry season is just over here and yet we are extending the season by enjoying this delightful pie.
Double Crusted Blueberry Pie