Monday, September 18, 2017

Apfel Quark Kuchen - Apple Quark Cake

I am always on the hunt for a new apple recipe, and when I decided to make the quark recipe from Slow Cook Modern, the hunt became a hunt for a recipe for apple and quark. I have encountered recipes calling for quark before, usually from Germany, and was excited to try this soft cheese. The end result was good, halfway between a cheesecake and a custard, at least how the recipe turned out with the quark mixed in with other things.

In the slow cooker, the recipe called for one ingredient - 1/2 gallon of buttermilk, which you cook on low for 2-8 hours, until the curd starts to set and separate from the whey. Mine cooker for 3.5 hours before I decided it was ready; I'm not sure if I should have left it longer but didn't want to overcook it. Then it went into a cheesecloth lined strainer for another 4 hours. Then the solids went into the fridge overnight, because I was going apple picking the next day.



Hendersonville, NC, is only about 45 minutes north of where we live. There is a magical road between it and Chimney Rock, NC, called Chimney Rock Road. It contains apple orchard after apple orchard. We've tried several places along there, and really like the apple selection at Granddad's Apples n' Such. It was packed full of people this weekend with long lines for the bakery and the apple line. I was relieved to find my favorite baking apple - the mutsu - in abundance. Last year I waited too long and they didn't have any.


Quark - check. Apples - check. I guess I had everything I needed!


Since quark is a German ingredient, the best recipes I found were also in German. I also discovered I only had a smaller springform pan, having thrown mine away because it no longer closed. So this was a big risk, both using Bing to translate a recipe and attempting to cut it in half. I'll leave the recipe with the same amounts as the normal recipe, and you can picture me cutting eggs in half. 


Apfel-Quark-Kuchen aka Apple Quark Cake
(recipe translated and slightly adapted from Annemarie Wildeisen's Kochen)

Crust ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk

Filling ingredients:
1 orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2/3 cup quark
2-3 apples
powdered sugar to taste

1. Butter and flour a 9" springform pan and chill in fridge while making the crust. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Cream butter and sugar. Stir in eggs and don't worry about curdling.
3. Sift flour and baking powder and mix into the butter mixture. Stir in the milk. Transfer to springform pan and pull up slightly along the edge using a small spatula or spoon. Put back in fridge.
4. Zest the orange and squeeze it for juice. Blend orange juice, vanilla, cornstarch, sugar, eggs, and quark until smooth. 
5. Peel, quarter, and core the apples, then dice. Mix with quark mixture and spread on crust.
6. Bake about 50 minutes. If it browns too quickly, cover with foil.
7. When baked, rest at least 10 minutes before removing from the mold. Sprinkle as desired with powdered sugar.


This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party, well, partly. I was provided a copy of Slow Cook Modern, which is where the quark recipe comes from, but I found the cake recipe elsewhere.

I did make the eggplant tian with olive marinated mozzarella from Slow Cook Modern, the same weekend as this cake.  






Monday, September 11, 2017

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Salted Honey Butter

I thumbed through F*ck That's Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well by Action Bronson with Rachel Wharton, and found a lot of delicious things. The host of the show of the same name on VICELAND has created a book that seems a lot like him - a mixture of recipes from family and chef friends, some foods that are comfort or memory-based, like a cheese bagel, some recipes from his travels, and others that are just plain delicious. The cookbook is loud and randomly organized and has a big pasta section, but the recipes in here are the real deal.

Since I'm a baker first, I elected to make a baked good, although read through the end of this post to see a picture of the pasta recipe I had to try.

This cookie recipe is one he got from another chef. I will put shorter directions below, but you can find more background information and more detailed directions in the cookbook. (It's late and I don't want to type that much!)


Milton A. Abel Jr.'s Chocolate Chip Cookies and Salted Honey Butter

2 1/2 cups packed all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste*
1 pound chocolate chips
Salted Honey Butter, for spreading on the cookie



1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy and well blended.
3. Add the eggs and vanilla paste and mix until fully incorporated.**
4. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the dry ingredients, and mix until the dough just comes together.
5. Stir the chocolate chips in by hand.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 2-ounce portions*** and roll them into rounds with your hands. Put them in one layer on the prepared baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes. You may freeze them in a zip-top bag if you're not baking them in the next day or two.
Preheat the oven to 350 F (325 if you have a convection oven.)
7. Line a second sheet with parchment paper, place 6 dough rounds on it, and flatten them slightly, keeping about 2 inches of space around them on all sides.****
8. Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the sheet, and bake for an additional 4 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown around the edges and look like they are just set on the top.*****

Action watching to make sure I use carry-over cooking technique.

Salted Honey Butter

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp salt

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a stiff rubber spatula until light and slightly whipped. To get it really light, use a paddle attachment in a stand mixer.

Notes from JennyBakes:

 * - I live in the south where vanilla bean paste is not stocked in the stores so I just used 1 tbsp vanilla extract.
** - I usually scrape down, add the vanilla and one egg, beat and scrape down, add another egg, repeat.
*** - Okay I didn't weigh this but 2 oz is usually 1/4 cup so that's how big I made them but WOW these are huge. Because of this I baked for 9 minutes and 4 before removing for carryover cooking to take care of the rest.
**** - HE REALLY MEANS THIS. My last batch got too close and made two giant cookies.
***** - I had to play with this timing because my cookies were huge and 1 more minute in the first round worked perfectly.

And now, gaze upon the wonder that is "Egg Noodles with Feta and Paprika," which is simple yet delicious. I mean, f*ck, that's delicious. Of course.

 


This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party

Monday, September 04, 2017

Balsamic Zabaglione with Peaches

I have long been intrigued by vinegar in desserts, ever since making my Grandma's pie crust recipe for the first time. She calls for vinegar, which I would later learn helps prevent the formation of gluten (and allowing for a flakier crust.) I have experimented with roasting strawberries with balsamic and using them with crepes for breakfast, mashed into sauce for pound cake, even turning the flavors into ice cream. My favorite pavlova has a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar, balancing the other flavors and adding depth.

I was asked this year to participate in the ABRAMS Dinner Party, so you will see a series of posts with recipes from their cookbooks. But of course, this is a baking blog, so when the first book was Acid Trip by Michael Harlan Turkell, I knew it would be fun to focus on the dessert aspect. I still really want to make the recipe for vinegar pie, but my tart pan is missing its middle at the moment.

Instead I was drawn to the zabaglione recipe. Traditionally, zabaglione (also sometimes called sabayon) is made with egg yolks, sugar, and wine. This recipe had fruit marinated in vinegar and vinegar in the custard. I was uncertain if it would work and that's why I had to try it! During my brief year of restaurant work, I spent the month of May making sabayon (featured for Mother's Day brunch but also served as a dessert special), so I knew the technique. With this recipe, the custard is much darker in color because of the balsamic, but by the time it has been whipped to coolness and the whipped cream is folded into it, the color is quite light.

I'm going to make a few notes and recommendations to the recipe below, so keep reading!



Balsamic Zabaglione with Peaches in Champagne Vinegar 
from Michael Friedman, The Red Hen, Washington, DC

4 peaches, cut in half, pits removed*
1/4 cup (60 ml) champagne vinegar**
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
1/3 cup (75 ml) balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup (75 ml) honey
5 large egg yolks
zest of 1 lemon, about 1 tbsp

In a medium bowl, toss the peaches in the champagne vinegar and marinate for an hour in the fridge.

In a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and reserve in the refrigerator.

Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water. Heat the water until it comes to just under a boil - you want a good amount of steam. Maintain medium heat on the pot for the steam.

In a medium bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, honey, egg yolks, and lemon zest. Place the bowl over the saucepan (it shouldn't be touching the water) and begin whisking. Rotate the bowl while whisking to ensure all the sauce is being moved.

After 5 to 7 minutes, the zabaglione should have almost doubled in size - if you run your whisk through it and the trail holds in the zabaglione, you're done. Remove the custard from the heat and whisk vigorously until it is cool to the touch.***

Fold the whipped cream into the zabaglione. This will help keep its structure and add great texture and body. Reserve in the refrigerator or immediately spoon over peaches.

Jenny's notes:
* - I sliced the peaches instead of halving them, but this means there is more vinegar flavor. If you slice, use less vinegar. This will be best with fruit that is ripe and sweet, because that balances the other flavors.
** - If I made this again, I'd either not marinate the fruit in vinegar or just sprinkle.
*** - To save your arms, just hook it back up to the stand mixer you used for the whipped cream. Set the timer for ten minutes and check back. If the bottom of the bowl is cool, you can move on to the folding step.


This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party

Monday, August 28, 2017

Cocoa Pomegranate Pavlova

This comes from one of my favorite winter cookbooks, Wintersweet. Pavlovas are not that difficult to make, but this one has a lot of nuance from the combination of cocoa, cardamom, and balsamic. Don't leave them out, it is subtle and sophisticated. And this was a hit with my book club, even if I made it in the heat of summer.


Cocoa Pomegranate Pavlova

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar (or a scant cup of superfine or caster sugar)
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)

For the topping:

  • ¼ cup Pomegranate Jelly*
  • ½ pomegranate, seeded (½ cup of seeds)
  • 2 cups heavywhipping cream
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (l75°C). Trace a 7-inch (l8-cm) circle on a sheet of parchment paper in heavy-handed pencil using a bowl or cake pan as a guide. Flip the parchment paper over and set it on a cookie sheet (the circle should be visible through the paper).

For the pavlova, process the granulated sugar for 60 seconds in a food processor or blender until finely ground (superfine and caster sugar require no grinding).

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium- high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they form stiff peaks that don’t droop when the beaters are lifted.

With the mixer still running, add the finely ground sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating well, until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Once all of the sugar is added, beat the meringue for 4 to 6 minutes more on medium-high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl, or until the mixture is no longer gritty when rubbed between your fingers. The mixture should cling tightly to the bowl and feel very dense. Sift the cocoa on top. Add the cornstarch, vinegar, and cardamom, if using. Fold everything together with a rubber spatula, rotating the bowl and using light, circular strokes that lift the whites from the bottom and deposit them gently on top of the dry ingredients, until no streaks remain.
Working quickly, dab dots of the soft meringue under each corner of the parchment paper to glue it down so it doesn’t slide around annoyingly while you’re trying to work. Mound the meringue within the marked circle in a big pile. Smooth it into a circular pillow about 2 to 3 inches high with a slight depression in the middle. Don’t bother trying to make it look too perfect—it should be free-form. The batter will spread a bit during baking.

Place the pavlova in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 300°F (l50°C). Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the meringue is set and crisp on the outside, but the center still feels soft underneath. Do not open the oven door until the very end. I know the suspense is killing you, but the more you check, the more it’s going to want to sink and the more you’re going to want to check it again. Where does it end? When it’s finally done, turn off the heat and let the pavlova sit in the oven, with the door propped open with a wooden spoon, to cool down slowly. Remove the pan from the oven when it is completely cool. (The pavlova can be made up to a day ahead of time. Cover it gently with plastic wrap and store it at room temperature.)

At this point, the pavlova should not look particularly pretty. It will likely be cracked and fissured like a volcanic crater, with the center threatening to collapse. All normal. When ready to serve, loosen the pavlova from the parchment paper with a spatula, and gently transfer it to a serving plate or cake pedestal.

For the topping, warm the pomegranate jelly in a microwave or in a small pot on the stove just until loose. Whisk in up to a teaspoon of warm water to loosen the jelly to a syrupy consistency. Drizzle the pomegranate syrup over the middle of the pavlova. Sprinkle half of the pomegranate seeds over the syrup.

In a medium bowl with a whisk or an electric mixer, whip the cream with the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form and the cream mounds nicely in a pile, 1 to 2 minutes. Mound the cream on top of the pomegranate topping, and sprinkle with the remaining pomegranate seeds. Serve right away.

*Don't want to make pomegranate jelly? I used red currant this time around. Cherry would be fine too!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Lime Yogurt Bread

I originally made key lime yogurt cake with raspberry coulis ribbon back in 2009, after seeing it on the blog formerly known as Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, now Sweet ReciPEAs. I needed to make a quick bread for an orientation offered by the library, and pulled the recipe back out. I had even more limited time, so I simplified it a bit both with ingredients and parts, and thought I'd share it again. After all it's been eight years! Eight! Years!


Lime Yogurt Cake
(based on Peabody's original and recommended key lime and raspberry yogurt cake)

1 ½  cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
8 oz. key lime or lime flavored yogurt*
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 large eggs
2 tsp grated lime zest
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
¼  cup vegetable oil
¼ cup cream cheese**
1/3 cup lime juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium sized bowl.

In another bowl (large), whisk together the yogurt, cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lime zest, and vanilla.

Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lime juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lime-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

JennyBakes' notes:
* - Peabody uses vanilla or plain but I thought this would be an easy way to increase the flavor profile of the lime
** - Peabody uses mascarpone but I find it difficult to locate in the summer. I used one of the spreadable pots of cream cheese, or room temperature brick cream cheese would be fine. You can also make mascarpone from scratch, but I was going for easy and with only 1/4 cup, it wasn't going to make or break the bread!

This would probably work with different citrus combinations, definitely lemon, but lime is more interesting!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Apricot Clafouti

Apricot season! Is there any better time? I know it's here when there is a practical avalanche of almost overripe apricots in the produce section. It only lasts a week or so but I was lucky enough to catch it this year. And then I went looking for apricot recipes and decided to make this one.

So many apricot recipes calling for fresh apricots really have you make a jam first. What's the point? I wanted a dish where you could see and taste the actual apricot.


What is the difference between clafouti and cobbler? I think the real question is the difference between a clafouti and an oven pancake. There is slightly more sugar and slightly less flour in a clafouti, and it takes almost twice as long to bake. And when you add this amount of fresh fruit, it takes even longer to get it to brown on top. I could have baked this another ten minutes.

Apricot Clafouti
(recipe from Real Simple)

Unsalted butter, for the pan
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus almost as much more for the pan
3/4 pound apricots (about 5), pitted and halved
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup half and half
2 eggs, lightly beaten
powdered sugar and/or whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Coat a shallow 8-inch ovenproof round dish with butter and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
  3. Place the apricots in the dish in a 
single layer.
  4. Whisk together the flour, sugar, vanilla, half-and-half, and eggs in a bowl until smooth. Pour over the apricots and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until puffed and golden. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream.
 

Monday, August 07, 2017

Chewy Brownie Cookies

I took a screenshot of this recipe once when someone posted it to Litsy, the social media app for book nerds (not a paid advertisement.) When I participated in the 24in48 readathon a few weeks ago, I listened to an audiobook while making these cookies, a practice we in book nerd land call "audiobaking." (There is also "audiocoloring" and "audiocleaning.") I'm pretty sure this recipe originates with Crisco the corporation considering that they refer to it by brand name, and I'm also pretty sure that the chewy texture is largely due to the combination of a lot of sugar plus the Crisco (not a paid advertisement.) So this is one case I wouldn't replace with butter. I made these on a Sunday and they were still soft enough on Wednesday to bring to a work party.


Chewy Brownie Cookies

1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 CRISCO stick or 2/3 cup CRISCO Shortening*
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups (12-oz package) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 375 F.
2. Combine brown sugar, shortening, water, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat eggs into creamed mixture.
3. Combine flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Mix into creamed mixture at low speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Drop rounded measuring tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. 
5. Bake one baking sheet at a time for 7-9 minutes or until cookies are set. Do not overbake. Cool 2 minutes before moving to cool completely.

JennyBakes' notes:
*I use butter flavor, not sure it makes any difference
I find this dough to be a little thinner than regular chocolate chip cookies, probably due to less flour, but this is all about texture so don't add more than it says to. 
Note from person I took recipe from: "Don't scoop too big, or it will be difficult to tell when they're finished baking."