Monday, November 18, 2019

Cardamom Cake

I continue my experiments from The Nordic Baking Book, but don't want to post all recipes just in respect to others actually buying the book. Instead I thought I'd reflect on my experience to see if I could do better next time.


I love cardamom, and love that the Swedish love cardamom, so when I saw a recipe for cardamom cake I knew I'd end up trying it. The recipe is fairly simple but I should have known when I saw it was a butter cake that I would struggle.

Why does the world want to make butter cakes when they are always dry? Or what is it that I do wrong that everyone else does right? The recipe says the batter will be quite thick, and it was. But it also took at least 20 minutes longer than specified for the toothpicks to come out mostly clean, and I still had a stripe of somewhat less baked cake in the rise of the upper half.

In the one picture of this cake in the giant cookbook, it's in a smaller bundt type shape, and it makes me wonder if it doesn't bake more evenly in that kind of shape. But the recipe calls for a loaf pan.

I liked the idea in the beginning of the recipe of adding the generous amount of spice during the butter and sugar creaming process. I would like to try that for more recipes (the only other time I have done this is when rubbing citrus zest into sugar before creaming, always with positive returns.)

This recipe also calls for 3/4 cup sour cream. I had some leftover ricotta in the fridge and almost just tried half and half on a whim, but thought I should make it as stated first. The batter was a rather unappealing gray after adding the sour cream (to the cardamom infused butter and sugar which was already a strange color.)

I'm going to try some of the "cake moistening" tips I found on the internet when I eat this for breakfast, but I'm also wondering if the conversion might be at fault, either in temperature or measurements. I was reading the section about yeast, because I want to make buns, which seem very important in nordic nations, but wow who would have expected yeast to vary so substantially in different countries? But it does. Fresh yeast is preferred and simply what is used in Scandinavia. It would be hard for me to find in South Carolina, and even if I did, it would not necessarily be the same amount by weight. And I will need to convert it to dry yeast. But - should I convert it against Scandinavian equivalents or American? Argh. It is currently clear as mud but I suppose all I can do is try one way and then evaluate.

Can I make french toast out of a cake like this? Maybe that would be a better use of it.... I can at least toast it. It's pretty dang dense.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Chokladsnittar or Chocolate Cuts

I continue to bake my way through The Nordic Baking Book by Magnus Nilsson. I started trying some of the cookie recipes to see if I wanted to give them away for the holidays. Today I made a chocolate cookie that you bake in logs and then cut while still hot, but I made the logs the wrong shape and they were never going to bake on the inside, so I made somewhat of a Swedish biscotti (cut them and baked one more time.) Not exactly a success but they smelled good and tasted good, even if I did it wrong and maybe invented something new.


Chocolate Cuts (Chokladsnittar)

7 3/4 oz (1 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp) sugar
7 oz (1 + 3/4 sticks), at room temperature
11 oz (2 1/2 cups) weak (soft) wheat flour
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla sugar

To decorate:
egg wash
pearl sugar

1. Place the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat until pale and fluffy.
2. Add the remaining dry ingredients by sifting them into the bowl. Work until just combined. Don't overwork the dough or you will get a poor texture.
3. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work counter, and divide it into four equal pieces.
4. Roll each piece out into a roll, about 3 cm/ 1 1/4 inches in diameter, and place them on the prepared baking sheets, 2 rolls on each sheet, as they will spread out a little.
5. Press each roll down lightly to flatten it slightly.
6. Preheat oven to 350 F, and line two baking sheets with baking (parchment) paper.
7. Brush each roll lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar, if you like.
8. Bake them for about 12 minutes. They should not get any real color from baking, but still need to be cooked through and not to become chewy. They should fluff up and crack a bit during baking.
9. Remove from the oven and leave the hot and slightly flattened rolls to cool down a little. When they are still warm and starting to firm up, use a sharp knife to cut diagonally across the rolls into pieces. Leave to cool completely.

Notes from JennyBakes:

This is a crumbly dough. I saw a few versions online that included egg, which might have helped bring the dough together a bit, but I really struggled. I added a bit of vanilla extract since I didn't have vanilla sugar. But baking them twice did make them a bit crunchy, probably perfect with coffee!

Monday, November 04, 2019

Thick Oven-Baked Pancake with Apple (Appelpannkaka)

I've been slowly baking my way through the pancakes & waffles section of The Nordic Baking Book by Magnus Nilsson, avoiding the salt-pork and blood pancake versions for now. I had some apples I still hadn't used from North Carolina and a longer morning, so I made a 1/4 version of what will follow to try to make an individual pancake. In the end I wish I'd baked it for the full time because the best parts were the fully browned parts, but it was good enough to share... knowing I'd probably improve it if I make it again.
\

Appelpannkaka (Swedish Thick Oven-Baked Pancake)

Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour
Serves: 4

250 g/9 oz (2 cups plus 1 tbsp) weak (soft) wheat flour*
4 eggs
good pinch of salt
1 litre/34 fl oz (4 1/4 cups) milk
50g/2 oz (3 1/2 tbsp butter)
2 apples, cut into slices**
sugar and ground cinnamon, to sprinkle

Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 C/Gas Mark 7.

Combine the flour, eggs, salt and half the milk in a mixing bowl and whisk until no lumps remain. Add the rest of the milk, whisking continuously.

Put the butter into a 30x40 cm/12x16 inch roasting pan and heat in the oven until the butter has completely melted.

Add the 2 sliced apples and sprinkle some sugar and ground cinnamon on top.

Pour the batter into the hot pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until it is dark golden and completely set.

Remove from the oven and leave to sit for 5 minutes, which will make it much easier to remove from the pan. Serve with your preferred combination of accompaniments.***

Notes from JennyBakes:

* - I used all-purpose flour
** - I peeled my apple and used about half of a mutsu
*** - Original non-apple recipe suggests sugared lingonberries and cream, or with jam and a sprinkling of sugar.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Pumpkin Tea Cake

 Another recipe from the revised Tartine cookbook, because I had leftover pumpkin puree in the fridge that was going to go bad otherwise. I was hoping for a loaf cake similar to the Starbucks pumpkin loaf because it is one of those things I find myself ordering too often a certain time of year.


It gets close! I held back from adding things like white chocolate chips or anything on top to respect the original recipe the first time, and this cake is very tasty, but I definitely would have liked it even more with a bit of texture, whether it came from pepitas on top or some kind of chunk throughout.



Pumpkin Tea Cake

Ingredients:


1 3/4 cups (230 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup (255 g) pumpkin puree
1 cup (240 ml) vegetable oil such as safflower or sunflower
1 1/3 cups (265 g) sugar, plus more for topping
3/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9x5 in (23x12 cm) loaf pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. In another mixing bowl, beat together the pumpkin puree, oil, sugar, and salt on medium speed or by hand until well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition until incorporated before adding the next egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. On low speed add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat on medium speed for 5-10 seconds to make a smooth batter. The butter should have the consistency of a thick puree.
  4. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Sprinkle evenly with 2 tbsp of sugar. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, and then invert onto the rack, turn rightside up, and let cool completely. Serve the cake at room temperature. It will keep, well wrapped, at room temperature for 4 days or in the refrigerator for about 1 week.
 Notes from JennyBakes:
  • I used a review copy of this cookbook with this recipe in it so it may not be accurate or official, but it is the recipe I made! Ha. 
  • I actually think I only used 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg or so because 2 seemed like a lot... in the end there is enough batter that it probably could have taken it.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Lacy Brown Butter and Ricotta Cookies

I follow Stella Parks (bravetart) in Instagram, and she is a baker who develops recipes for Serious Eats. She kept posting about these cookies so even though I went to the apple orchard and had a peck of apples to deal with, I made these cookies instead. I have no regrets.


Lacy Brown Butter and Ricotta Cookies
(recipe and more information about process and troubleshooting on Serious Eats)

Ingredients
  • 5 ounces unsalted butter (about 10 tablespoons; 140g)
  • 7 ounces granulated sugar (about 1 cup; 195g)
  • 2 teaspoons (10g) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25g) baking soda
  • 4 ounces cold ricotta (about 1/2 cup; 110g), strained if watery
  • 4 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup, spooned; 125g)
Directions

Getting Ready: In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. When it has completely melted, add vanilla pod (if using) and increase heat to medium. Simmer, stirring and scraping with a heat-resistant spatula while butter hisses and pops. When butter is golden yellow and perfectly silent, remove from heat and pour into a medium bowl, making sure to scrape up all the toasty brown bits from along the bottom. Cool until slightly thickened and opaque, but still slightly warm, around 80°F (27°C). This will take about 75 minutes at room temperature or 25 minutes in the fridge; if refrigerating, stir butter every 6 minutes or so to prevent it from hardening around the edges of the bowl.

Make the Dough: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350°F (180°C). When brown butter has cooled, remove vanilla pod (if using) and stir in sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and baking soda. Stir until baking soda is well distributed, about 1 minute, then fold in cold ricotta. Once ingredients are combined, stir in flour to form a soft dough.

Portioning the Dough: Divide into 1-tablespoon portions and arrange on a parchment-lined half sheet pan, leaving about 4 inches between cookies to account for their significant spread. (If you like, the dough can be placed on a parchment-lined plate and frozen until firm, then transferred to a zip-top bag for storage. It can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months.)

Bake until cookies are lacy, thin, and golden brown around the edges, but still rather pale in the middle, about 12 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheet, as the cookies will be doughy and soft while warm. Enjoy after cooling, or store up to 1 week in an airtight container at room temperature.


Notes from JennyBakes:

  •  I was pondering sandwich cookies after making these and so did Stella. She tried them with chocolate hazelnut spread, and I think that would be good, maybe also a fruit butter for fall!
  • Those that I baked only 12 minutes, I liked better in the coming days. More than that and they became a stale crunchy while the 12 minute bakes were soft in the best ways.
  • There are some more complicated ingredients in the original recipe, please see links for those. I removed for simplification and to reflect what I actually did.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Peanut Butter Chess Pie from Sean Brock's South

The recipes in South by Sean Brock focus on perfecting the craft for the best version of old standards. You can feel Sean's painstaking attention to detail in the recipes as well.

I was thrilled to find some creative spins on desserts and knew I needed to make this pie, especially since it had a chocolate cornmeal crust. I did have a copy from the publisher, but hey, the cookbook comes out tomorrow (October 15, 2019.)


I followed the directions carefully for this pie, which meant a lot more fridge time than I would normally give a pie. I'm not sure if I made it right but the insides settle into a pecan pie like center without the nuts, topped by some peanut butter cakey layer, which is topped with ganache. I suspect the peanut butter and the sugar were supposed to be better blended, but this all happened while t baked. The crust rolled out beautifully after letting it chill as recommended.


Peanut Butter Chess Pie

Crust
1 recipe Chocolate Cornmeal Crust dough (recipe in cookbook)

Filling
2 tbsp unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup whole milk
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache
6 oz 60% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream

For the Crust: See the cookbook.

For the Filling: Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Combine the butter and peanut butter in the top of a double boiler. Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water, set over low heat, and insert the top. The water shoudl not touch thte bottom of the insert and should never be hotter than a simmer. Stir the mixture with a silicone spatula until the butter has melted and hte mixture is compeltely combined, scraping down the sides as necessary and being careful not to incorporate air. Remove the top of the double boiler and set aside.

Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in the milk, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the peanut butter mixture.

Place the piecrust on a rimmed baking sheet. Gently pour the filling into the crust and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes more, or until the filling is set and no longer jiggles in the center when the pan is gently shaken. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

When the pie is completely cool, make the ganache: Put the chocolate in a heatproof container. Put the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate, cover, and let stand for 3 minutes. Stir to completely combine the melted chocolate and cream.

Pour the ganache over the top of the pie, rotating the pie if necesary to ensure that the ganache topping is even. Cool for 5 minutes, then refrigerate the pie for at least 2 hours to allow the topping to set before serving.

Serve the pie chilled. Tightly cover any leftovers and refrigerate for up to 3 days.


South by Sean Brock
Available 15 October 2019

Other recipes I marked to try:

  • Sea Island Red Pea Spread with Cucumber Tomato Salad
  • Chilled Summer Squash Soup with Buttermilk and Sunflower Seeds
  • Tomato-Okra Stew
  • Sorghum Seed Crackers
  • Blackberry Cobbler
  • Magnolia Vinegar and Brown Butter Pie (what?)!
  • Buttermilk Pie
  • Hand-Churned Peach Sherbert

Monday, October 07, 2019

Brownies from Tartine

I think anyone who bakes has Tartine on their radar, one of the bakeries that brought artisan baking to the forefront in the United States. Their cookbook of the same name was originally published in 2006, and a revised edition with 68 new recipes came out October 1, 2019. I had a copy to play with from the publisher through NetGalley. I'll put a list of the recipes I want to try at the end of this post, but my husband always tries brownies at a new bakery as a "test" so I decided to go with something simple.


I was surprised to find a different technique than I'd ever used for brownies, and I've made a lot of brownies. This is clearly a recipe they have perfected over time, and a note in the recipe says this reflects their preference for "fudgy" brownies. They also have a recipe for making this same recipe slightly differently for ice-cream sandwiches, and a version that is for rocky road brownies. I went rogue and made a halfish recipe because I had misremembered how much chocolate I needed to buy.

Tartine Brownies
(from the Tartine Revised Ed. Cookbook)

Yields one 9x13 inch baking dish; 12 brownies

3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter
1 lb (450 g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (130 g) all-purpose flour
5 large eggs
2 1/4 cups (400 g) light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 salt
2 cups (200 g) nuts such as walnut or pecan halves (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Butter a 9x13 in glass baking dish.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. If the heat from the butter does not fully melt the chocolate, put the pan back over the heat for 10 seconds and stir until melted. Set aside to cool.

Sift the flour into a small mixing bowl. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until the mixture thickens and becomes pale in color and falls from the beater in a wide ribbon that folds back on itself and slowly dissolves on the surface, 4-5 minutes. Alternately, use a mixing bowl and a whisk to beat the ingredients until the mixture falls from the whisk in a wide ribbon. Using a rubber spatula, fold the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture. Add the flour and fold it in quickly but gently with the rubber spatula so that you don't deflate the air that's been incorporated into the eggs.

Pour the batter into the prepared dish and smooth the top with the spatula. If you are using nuts, evenly distribute them across the batter. Bake until the top looks slightly cracked and feels soft to the touch, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Using a sharp knife, cut into twelve squares, or whatever size you desire. The brownies will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week.

Notes from JennyBakes: Okay so this is my bad but I did a half recipe in a 9" square pan but used 3 eggs. I tried baking for 20 minutes but went to the full 25, was worried about overbaking and ended up underbaking, I think. A bit gooey in the middle but I stuck them in the fridge and they'll be fine. I also forgot to put the walnuts on until they'd baked 5 minutes. I loved the technique of beating the eggs and brown sugar - I've done that with white sugar before (see Alton Brown's cocoa brownies) but I've never used brown sugar in brownies. The texture before adding the chocolate and flour was very viscous and the batter was like chocolate marshmallows.



Tartine (Revised edition) came out October 1, 2019, and like I already stated, I had a review copy.

Other recipes I've marked to try:
  • English Muffins
  • Savory Scones
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Tart
  • Devil's Food Layer Cake
  • Victoria Sponge
  • Almond-Lemon Tea Cake
  • Honey Spice Cake
  • Black Tea Blondies with Caramel Swirl
  • Sweet Potato Cake with Meringue
  • Buttermilk Scones
  • Quiche
  • Chocolate Chess Pie
  • Dutch Apple Pie
  • Matcha Streusel Tart
  • Cake Aux Olives
  • Pumpkin Tea Cake