Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Gingerbread Bûche de Noël

This is an absolutely beautiful dessert!  It does take a bit of time, but it is possible to make the pralines, filling, and cake a day ahead so that on serving day, it's only necessary to make the beautiful, billowy frosting and assemble the log.

This was really fun to make, from making the pralines, to watching the cake batter double in size, to making the beautiful frosting.  I was so engrossed that I didn't take pictures!

Whipping up the cake

The finished log

I wasn't quite sure how or when to serve this because there are only three of us in the house.  But Dorie's serving idea included the suggestion to serve it on its own with champagne.  So yesterday I called some friends and invited them to come over that evening  to share the Bûche with some champagne!  They came, we ate, drank, and talked!  A wonderful gathering made possible by baking of the Bûche!  Perhaps it will be a new holiday tradition!

Happy holidays to all!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Rugelach that Won Over France

First, let me say that I think these rugelach are very tasty:  the dough is flaky and flavorful and the filling is so delicious that I was tempted to eat it by the spoonful before it even got spread onto the dough.  Having said that, I admit to having to persevere in order to get these "just right".

My only previous experience with baking rugelach is Dorie's recipe in Baking from My Home to Yours.  Those little cookies are delicious, if a bit fussy and messy.  I was eager to try this recipe and figured I'd have no trouble at all--I have, after all, baked through Dorie's Baking from my Home to Yours and learned a great deal while doing so.

I would have had no trouble at all had I read this recipe carefully!  My first unintentional "variation" was that I mixed all the filling ingredients together--even the cinnamon and sugar which are actually supposed to be sprinkled onto the dough before spreading on the filling.  Maybe that's why I liked tasting it by the spoonful ahead of time!

The dough was easy to make, easy to roll (if a little ragged on the edges) and easy to fill.

A sort of square shape.

Half the square with the filling spread on.

A fairly tidy log

The major goof was in how I cut and baked the first log.  I cut the log in slices a little bit larger than a half inch BUT I placed them flat side down on the parchment paper:  they were happy little pinwheels going into the oven but burnt-on-the-bottom pinwheels coming out of the oven.

Going into the oven
Coming out of the oven--tops look fine, but bottoms
burnt when all that chocolate melted.
My son suggested that I cut them wider and place them in the oven standing up.  Brilliant!  I reread the directions and that's exactly what Dorie intended!  The results were much better!

This is one of those recipes that requires careful reading--and a suspension of initial over-confidence in one's baking ability.  I'm glad I persevered because these ruglelach turned out to be beautiful and delicious treats.

Lovely rugelach!

Check out the other Tuesday with Dorie bakers and bloggers.  And if you want the recipe, buy Baking Chez Moi!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cranberry Crackle Tart

It feels great to be baking again with the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers!  This is the second official posting but I haven't been able to restrain myself to just this week's recipe from Baking Chez Moi.    I also baked the Apple Pielettes, a Granola Cake and the Cherry Brownies.  All yummy!

But to get to this week's recipe:  Cranberry Crackle Tart.

This recipe is unique in it's simplicity.  The tart base is really a platform; Dorie has us trim the dough down about a third of the way from the top edge of the pie pan.  What a novel idea!  The gallette dough was so easy to make and absolutely delicious.  I'm sure I'll be using this dough again and again.

The second layer is jam and I used cherry preserves to spread on the cooled dough.  All was going according to plan until I started whipping up the two egg whites for the final layer.  I don't know if my beater didn't reach down to the bottom of the bowl as well as it should or if my egg whites were slightly cold or if I was impatient, but it took forever for the whites to whip up.  Well maybe not forever, but about 10 minutes.  They finally reached a passable stage and I mixed in the cranberries and spread it on the tart.  No chance to make beautiful swirls with my limp egg whites.

I baked the tart and the meringue looked pretty and slightly crackly, as it should.  For all it's simplicity, I was very pleased with how the Cranberry Crackle Tart tasted.  We just nibbled away at it, a tiny slice at a time.

Almost every time I bake one of Dorie's recipes I learn something new.  This time I learned:

  1. Dorie's very wonderful galette dough is easy to make and quite versatile
  2. a sweet trick is to trim the dough down in a pie plate if you want just a platform for a filling
  3. cranberries do indeed get soft when baked in a meringue
  4. make sure egg whites are at room temperature, especially if you are only whipping up two of them
  5. meringue toppings are very tasty
Be sure to visit the blogs of other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers and, if you haven't already done so, rush right out and buy Dorie's newest book, Baking Chez Moi.
I rolled out the galette dough between sheets of parchment paper.  

The finished tart.

One of the first slivers!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Palets de dames

I pre-ordered Dorie Greenspan's new book, Baking Chez Moi, last March and am delighted to have it in my hands!  Actually, I have two copies:  the pre-ordered book arrived October 27 and the next day I I flew out to Seattle to visit my son.  Due to happy coincidence,  Dorie was on her book tour and I was able to see her at the Hot Stove Society--fittingly on a Tuesday!

I had such a warm greeting from Dorie, it was as if we were old friends.  Having baked through and read all the stories in Baking from My Home to Yours, I do feel a happy kinship with her.  I was thoroughly delighted by her entertaining stories about macaron, salt, butter, efforts to persuade her French friends to give share their simple recipes, and how Julia Child announced whenever she used her fingers while cooking that she had "impeccably clean fingers."

Part of the demonstration at Hot Stove was of the Crackle Cream Puffs and Dorie used a small OXO cookie scoop to scoop out the dough.  I announced that I had a fairly complete closet of baking pans and tools, but hadn't yet bought cookie scoops and then asked which ones she recommend I buy.  She said the small and the medium--but actually, all three would be good!  I immediately ordered both the small and the medium and they were waiting for me when I returned from vacationing in Seattle and Portland.  Just in time to use with the Palets de dames!

And now to this week's recipe:

I baked them the day after I flew home and, happily for my jet-lagged self, the Palets de dames cookies are simple and contain only the essential ingredients:  butter, sugar, and flour.

My new OXO cookie scoops.
Thanks, Dorie,  for the recommendation!

Beating the butter.

Weighing the flour.
Thanks, Dorie, for including weight measurements!

The scooped out dough.

The delicious finished product!

I'm so happy to be re-joining the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers and look forward to all of the sweet treats in Baking Chez Moi.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Today is Tuesday and I was in Seattle with Dorie!

By sheer good luck, I happened to be in Seattle this week visiting my son.  Dorie was here for a book tour and I signed right up for the two-hour event at Hot Stove.  She baked from the new book, Baking Chez Moi, and we had lovely samples . . . plus champagne!  I sat right in front and had a fabulous time!  Can't wait to get home and start baking through the book!