Sunday, May 31, 2015

French Orange Cream Tart

This might be my favorite recipe so far from
The Baking Bible.

I loved everything about it.
Everyone who scored a slice of this tart
loved it.
Including kids.

It's one of those desserts that is 
dangerous to have around.
A little sliver here....
A little sliver there.....

Image result for iwani food torch images

First thing on the agenda was
ordering a torch.   I've been
more than leery of these incendiary devices,
but it was time to face the fire.

The sweet cookie crust was super easy;
butter, flour, salt, turbinado sugar, egg yolk and cream.
I skipped the baggy step and poured it into 
a bowl, using the back of a large spoon
smooshing it together, 
a la 
Knitty Baker Jenn's renegade method.

After a rest in the frig,  the dough was pressed
into the tart pan rather
than rolling it out.
I saw this on a video and decided
to give it a go.
It was so much fun that middle granddaughter
turned the leftover dough into two 
mini pies the same way.

Rose did say to brush the baked crust if it cracked
with white chocolate.
The grocery store was out of Lindt white chocolate
but they did have Lindt white truffles.

Eleven truffles melted and one for moi.

The filling couldn't have been easier to mix up.
First orange and lemon zest are pulverized 
with sugar.
Heavenly fragrance, that.

The orange and lemon juice are reduced and cooled

This is added to lots and lots of egg yolks,
sugar mixture, heavy cream and Grand Marnier,

I did add a bit of orange oil.

My size mixer doesn't have a splash guard
but it wasn't necessary.
I didn't get splashed.

Popped into the oven and baked, the hardest part
was letting it cool and set.
This is a frequent hazard of TBB recipes,
but it was very late and  the tart was tucked
overnight in the frig.

The next morning
the condensation was blotted with paper towels
and the tart liberally covered with powdered sugar.
Even though it was dry, it started melting quickly.
Maybe next time it should be at room temperature? 

Time to ignite the torch,
except I never got the chance.
Let's just say the male species in my sphere
took it upon themselves to have a go
caramelizing the tart.
And they did not take turns willingly.
New Toy....

Even the overly dark torched sugar spots
were incredibly tasty.

This recipe is definitely on the make again many times list.

Rose Levy Berenbaum 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Stilton Cheese Cakes


I despise blue cheese.

If it is not in a Gorgonzola sauce swimming with gnocchi,  
I don't want to be anywhere near it.  

So I REALLY did NOT  want to  make this recipe.  Couldn't fathom it.  
Who would I pawn offer it to?  

There have been many recipes which made my
head explode on this Heavenly Bakers/Alpha Baker journey.
Recipes that were way too difficult for a novice like me.
Recipes that just didn't sound enticing.

Some recipes actually made me want to curl up
underneath a blanket rather than face pre-heating the oven.
Others necessitated recruiting a navigator,
usually my daughter,
to keep me on the straight and narrow.

What do I do next?

Let's not forget the charts, outlines,  pages and pages
of notes deciphering complicated instructions.

There have been flour explosions, cocoa powder explosions,
spilled sugar, spilled cake pans of batter,
spilled everything.
Plus loads and loads of dishes to wash.

And then the humiliation of attempting to
take a happy snap of pathetic pie lattice,
burned biscuits and lopsided cakes.

Because while I wasn't looking
this baking train turned into a 
photography contest.

Through it all, I never wanted
to run away from a weekly bake.
Until now.
Did I mention I find blue cheese revolting?

What keeps me here instead of throwing in the dish towel?

Something new or different that 
I would never choose to make on my own.
Or something  I've always wanted to bake 
but never had the nerve.

The Alpha Bakers.
The little gaggle of bakers who bake
week after week, 
whether it's a win or fail recipe.
The recipe tales, the spectacular results,
the hilarious disasters.

I feel your pain

The amazing prize worthy photography skills,
and charming out of focus blurry ones, and thankfully 
their ability to simplify a recipe
so I have a chance at understanding
the process.
Their encouragement to keep soldiering on.
Their cheers with any bit of success.
Their willingness to instantly come to the rescue
during a catastrophe.
Their kindness in never criticizing.
They make it fun
when often times it really isn't.
And isn't that the point of baking?
otherwise who's going to buy the book?

Image result for images of audrey hepburn at cooking school

Yes, the Alpha Bakers.

Not so much Rose.  And not so much Woody.
Their priorities lay elsewhere.
They aren't in the trenches with us
bringing the recipe off the page to life
that they understand so well.
A true folie a deux.

I've stacked Rose's cookbooks.
Not counting her Romantic and Classic Cake booklet,
which is around here somewhere.

One foot, one inch
330 millimeters

Oh, here it is.
Add another quarter inch or 6.35 millimeters.

That's a whole lot of  testing and re-testing,
fine tuning and calibrating.
I get it;
it's not all dark chocolate merriment.

Still,  there was no getting around it.

This was the first recipe I did not want to taste.

So even though I badly wanted to skip this week,
I read it again.

And wondered....

Why Stilton when there are so
 many other members in the blue cheese family?

This question was easily answered and I was off and running,
searching for real Stilton.

Image result for colston bassett stilton

from one of the authenticated UK Stilton dairies,  
was luckily at the same
tiny market which provided me with French sour cherries
for the pie we all made.
Y'all remember that pie?

The pie that made me go  

In for a penny, in for a pound

Once that Stilton was in hand,
enthusiasm began to build.

Here are the ingredients assembled and ready for weighing.
The organic cream cheese found in my regular supermarket
was well worth the extra dollar.
Zero gum thickeners.

Rose called for walnuts to be toasted and the skins rubbed off,
as she often does.
I never enjoyed doing this, until now.
Popped warm out of the oven into a plastic container with a lid, 
I shook the daylights out of 'em.
All but a few stubborn ones released their skins.

Cupcake papers to line the cupcake pan.

Ground walnuts tapped into place with an espresso tamper. 

Unwrapping Sir Stilton,  I was prepared to be bowled over by the aroma.

Stilton smashed with a fork into the sour cream
and tipped in the mixing bowl with cream cheese, sugar,
cornstarch and salt;  then a few eggs.
How simple is that?

The mixture is poured into a baggy, one corner snipped 
and piped into the cupcake pan. 

Out of the oven and cooling down before a long rest
in the refrigerator.

Finally cool enough to try with a could-be-riper pear
and wine.

Hey, it's not so bad! 

Or my favorite
Sparkling Pear Cider from France
which is so exquisite 
my daughter chose it for
her wedding brunch.

For extra fun Trader Joe's organic strawberry jam.

It's even better!

As days went by, the distinctive blue cheese flavor mellowed
becoming a faint note in the background.

These little tidbits were well liked
by blue cheese lovers.
I could tolerate them but I think
I would actually love them without the blue cheese,
doubling up on cream cheese instead.
Such quick and easy little cheesecakes.

That's the other thing that keeps me here,
to be nudged to actually bake out of a collection of cookbooks
gathering dust.
I respect Rose's efforts.  I may get frustrated and annoyed,
I may swear more at my poor little Kitchen Aid mixer than I have ever sworn at anything
in my life.  

Really Rose?
Are you kidding me Rose?
Why, why, why Rose?

I wonder if her ears ring?

But I learn.  I overcome my own inadequacies and lack of patience.
The pay off is a delectable experience.

My family and friends think I'm some sort of baking genie. 
I laugh at the very idea.  I'm just holding on by the seat of my pants
along for the ride, like a water skier behind the wake of a boat.
I know the truth
I point them in the direction of picture perfect results
but they are too busy oooh'ing and ahhh'ing and asking
me to please make it again.

Which is how recipes become a part of family celebrations,
holidays, special occasions or no occasion at all.
That's pretty amazing when you think about it.

Rose's Heavenly Cakes
Miette's Tomboy and Orange Chiffon 

The best part? Reading the Alpha Bakers' posts each week..
That is always the best part.
I applaud their efforts
as much as my family does mine.


The Baking Bible is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Double Chocolate Oriolos

Can you imagine a very good cup of hot chocolate as a cookie?
Rose's Double Chocolate Oriolos are very much
like that.
A humble cookie in itself, it packs quite a lot of 
chocolate punch.

This chocolate cookie power house is simplicity itself, just six ingredients.

Blitzed together in the food processor.

Turned out and wrapped in plastic for a quick chill 
in the frig.

Rolled into balls, smashed with a sugar coated glass, 
baked for a very short while and gently removed to cool.
I find this dough scraper works like a charm on fragile cookies.

I made a second batch and baked them much less to see if the
texture would change.  They were softer and chewier, but
crumbled easier.  It's worth it because the flavor
really shines through. 

Inspired by Kim's gorgeous cookies with
larger sugar crystals, I pulled out 
The Polish Princess gold sugar sprinkles.

And there you have it.
A plate of intensely chocolate buttery cookies.
Those who are not a fan of dark chocolate may find
the flavor overwhelming and even think they taste burnt. 
Those that do like dark chocolate love them.
Cookies can be very subjective.


The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum
is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble 


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Touch of Grace Biscuits

If I could choose only one thing my grandmother made
it would be her biscuits with blackberry freezer jam.
It wasn't until years later that I realized she made biscuits just for us
when we came to visit.

So I really wasn't expecting much in the way of measuring up to
childhood memories with these biscuits from The Bread Bible.
I was pleasantly surprised
Light, delicate crumb, perfect flavor
these biscuits are a winner.

Mis en place 
that was very nearly 
Mis out of place

Whilst chatting on the phone with my daughter about the ingredients,
I mentioned yeast.  
What yeast? she inquired.
The yeast in the biscuits said I

Lo and behold I was all prepped and set and bought ingredients for the wrong biscuits.
These biscuits are super easy. The only problem which really didn't turn into a big problem,
was my vintage ice cream scoop holds a much larger portion than I realized.
I didn't have enough to put in the center of the pan which meant they probably weren't 
as high as they could have been.

It was shocking to pull them out of the oven and find burned tops.  I baked them for the lesser time, too.
Probably my oven is off but next time I'll throw a foil tent over the top.  The bottom crust was perfectly browned.

Honestly, I was so surprised by the light texture.  Sometimes biscuits can be dense and heavy.
Not these!

Warm with butter and strawberry jam they were just perfect.
But really, could I go a step further?
Curiosity consumed me.

I just knew they would make perfect American style
Strawberry Shortcake.
And they did!
This type of shortcake is usually way too heavy for me
but that never stopped me from enjoying it.
This was the right balance.
Next time I make it specifically for berries
I will add a bit more sugar.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Blue-Rhu Pie

Rose's Blue-Rhu pie is delicious!  
 The rhubarb seems to mellow out the blueberries.  The blueberries mellow out the rhubarb 
until it's a faint note in the background.

Even those in my family who don't care for blueberries like this pie. 

Rhubarb is popular in the mid west but not so much here on the west coast.  
It's finally in a few markets.
Rhubarb comes in scores of different varieties, varying from deep red to green. 
but there is only one type in my local stores.
I know one thing after making this pie;  I'm planting rhubarb!

To peel or not to peel
That is the question

The one thing I do not care for is the stringiness in rhubarb so
I chose to peel.  I hated losing all the beautiful skin.

Into the pot with fresh blueberries, lemon zest, sugar and cornstarch.
This recipe is incredibly easy.

It is so nice to actually bake one of Rose's pies with the correct ingredients.
 It thickened perfectly.

The rhubarb takes on a glorious color from the blueberries.

At this point I started suspiciously eyeing the scrumptious mixture.
I wanted more!
After a FB discussion with Faithy, I decided to make another batch
which doubled the recipe.

It filled the pie nicely and there's enough left to spoon over
ice cream when the pie is gone.  
And it's going very quickly.

Definitely getting better at mixing up Rose's cream cheese pie crust dough but
not so much with the lattice.  Not to worry, this pie crust
recipe is delicious. 

Note to self
Next time remember to chill the pie before baking
And don't try weaving lattice at midnight

Recipe available in The Baking Bible