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

Monday, September 30, 2019

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo) from The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs

I always look for baking cookbooks in my lists of books to review, but when I saw The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs, I thought I probably had too much experience to give it a fair review. However my husband Nathaniel has not baked a lot, so I asked him to select a recipe to try. He chose Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo) because it was savory, lower-carb, and cheesy.

Overall, the cookbook comes from America's Test Kitchen, so you know the recipes have been tested and tweaked and should be pretty solid. They give great advice for new chefs without talking down to kids, explaining concepts such as "mise en place" and adding safety tips. You will see in this recipe that it tells you when to ask an adult for help. With shows on like Master Chef Junior, this would be an excellent cookbook gift for your rising bakers and pastry chefs!



Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)

Vegetable oil spray
1 cup (8 oz) whole milk
1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (2 oz)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
2 cups (8 oz) tapioca starch*
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 F. Spray 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil spray (making sure to get inside each cup).
  2. Add milk, cheddar cheese, Pecorino cheese, oil, eggs, and salt to blender. Add tapioca starch. (Make sure to add tapioca starch last, or the mixture will turn to glue in the blender.) Place lid on top of blender and hold lid firmly in place with folded dish towel. Process on high speed for 30 seconds. Stop blender.
  3. Use rubber spatula to scrape down sides of blender jar. Replace lid and replace on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour batter evenly into greased muffin tin cups, filling each cup about 3/4 full.
  4. Place muffin tin in oven and bake until rolls are golden and puffed, 25-30 minutes.
  5. Use oven mitts to remove muffin tin from oven (ask an adult for help.) Place muffin tin on cooling rack and let rolls cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes.
  6. Run butter knife around edges of roll to loosen from muffin tin (ask an adult for help - muffin tin will be very hot.) Using your finger tips, gently wiggle rolls to remove from muffin tin and transfer directly to cooling rack. Serve warm. 
Jenny received a copy of this cookbook from the publisher through Edelweiss. It comes out October 1, 2019, the day after this posts.

Notes from JennyBakes:

These notes are actually from Jenny's husband, Nathaniel.

Tapioca starch is also sold as Tapioca Flour, and in my experience that was much easier to find, but I did not realize they were interchangeable at first.

I took them out when they began to be golden but should have waited a bit longer.

Follow the instructions where it says tin if you want them to rise properly. Silicone won't rise as far. I wouldn't describe them as chewy, more as gummy, a level beyond chewiness (this could have been underbaking.) They still come out as very cheesy even if the batter doesn't look very cheesy after the blender.

One note from Jenny: I really like to use these as buns for the giant tofurkey vegetarian sausages, cut into smaller pieces. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Molasses Coffee Cake

As fall approaches, but fall temperatures do not, I find myself drawn more to caramel and salted caramel and molasses than the usual pumpkin and apple. Last week I posted a molasses quick bread recipe, and that one was a bit lighter than this one, which approaches a fancy gingerbread with the glaze. It comes from Dorie Greenspan's Everyday Dorie.


Molasses Coffee Cake

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups (204 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 stick (8 tbsp/4 oz/ 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (132 grams) packed brown sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) unsulfured molasses
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80 ml) hot coffee or espresso (can be made with instant coffee or espresso powder)

For the coffee glaze (optional):1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 tbsp boiling water
5 oz (142 grams) best-quality white chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
2 tsp unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces, at room temperature

Whipped cream, for topping  

Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 F.  Butter a 9-inch round cake pan that's at least 2 inches high (use a springform if you don't have a regular pan that's tall enough), fit a round of parchment paper into the bottom of the pan, butter the paper and dust the interior with flour; tap out the excess.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, ginger, five-spice powder, cinnamon, and pepper.

Working in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the molasses and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the egg and beat for 2 minutes, then beat in the vanilla. Turn the mixer off, add the flour mixture and pulse to begin incorporating it. Then beat on low speed only until the dry ingredients disappear into the batter. With the mixer on low, add the hot coffee, again mixing only until it is incorporated. Scrape the batter into the pan and swivel the pan to even it.

Bake for 28 to 33 minutes, until the cake is beautifully browned and has risen uniformly. It will pull away from the sides of the pan if gently tugged and a tested inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the cake rest for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the sides of the cake. Turn the cake out onto the rack, gently peel off the parchment, invert onto another rack and cool to room temperature; or, if you used a springform, simply remove the ring. The cake may develop a little dip in the center - that's its personality.

To make the optional glaze: Dissolve the instant espresso in the boiling water. Put the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil (you can do this in a microwave oven), stir in the espresso extract that you made, and pour the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 30 seconds and then, using a whisk or small heatproof spatula, stir until the mixture is smooth. Add the butter one piece at a time, stirring until it is melted and incorporated.

Set the cake, on the rack, on a piece of foil to catch drips. Pour as much of the glaze as you want over the cake and use a long spatula or a table knife to spread it.

Put the cake in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to set the glaze, then return it to room temperature before serving. Pass any remaining glaze at the table.

Notes from JennyBakes:

-I don't have a tall enough round pan, something that keeps happening (my old springform won't close) so I used a 9" square pan and thought it was fine!
-I bet you could play with the spices in this. Don't let not having 5-spice powder stop you!
-I feel like the dip in the middle is a failure of recipe but just made it as described first. Next I'll need to do a little research. More structure, maybe? Another egg?
-I didn't take the cake out as fast as it recommends but had no problems, unlike some true gingerbreads that stick like crazy
-Do not use white chocolate CHIPS for this recipe. I speak from glompy experience. I also misread the amount of cream in the glaze so mine was a little rubby.
-I used leftover coffee from breakfast (still hot) for the cake, but used espresso powder in the glaze. I didn't bother making an extract because I knew it would dissolve just fine in the hot cream.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Molasses Sweet Bread from The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery

I came across the up and coming revised edition of The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery in NetGalley and knew I'd want to look through it. It is a pretty standard primary source in this region, and I've seen chefs mention it on shows like Mind of a Chef and in their own cookbooks.

More from the publisher:
From springhouse to smokehouse, from hearth to garden, Southern Appalachian foodways are celebrated afresh in this newly revised edition of The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery. First published in 1984—one of the wildly popular Foxfire books drawn from a wealth of material gathered by Foxfire students in Rabun Gap, Georgia—the volume combines hundreds of unpretentious, delectable recipes with the practical knowledge, wisdom, and riveting stories of those who have cooked this way for generations. A tremendous resource for all interested in the region’s culinary culture, it is now reimagined with today’s heightened interest in cultural-specific cooking and food-lovers culture in mind. This edition features new documentation, photographs, and recipes drawn from Foxfire’s extensive archives while maintaining all the reminiscences and sharp humor of the amazing people originally interviewed.
Appalachian-born chef Sean Brock contributes a passionate foreword to this edition, witnessing to the book’s spellbinding influence on him and its continued relevance. T. J. Smith, editor of the revised edition, provides a fascinating perspective on the book’s original creation and this revision. They invite you to join Foxfire for the first time or once again for a journey into the delicious world of wild foods, traditional favorites, and tastes found only in Southern Appalachia.
The pictures they have added to the revised edition are amazing and capture the faces of an aging white population. The information is useful to some and otherwise informative from a folklore and/or historical standpoint. I may never need to store items with ice blocks or skin a rabbit, but I am always interested in traditional baked goods that are usually made with seasonal ingredients or ingredients you would otherwise have on hand.



Molasses Sweet Bread

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp ginger
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup molasses or 2/3 cup molasses and 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg

Sift together dry ingredients and add melted butter and the molasses. Mix well, adding buttermilk and egg. Pour into a loaf pan and bake in a 350 F oven for 45-50 minutes.

This cookbook should be a staple in Southern and Appalachian kitchens, and then probably should be on hand for all preppers and anyone who wants to be prepared to live through an  apocalypse (let's be honest, survival is survival.)

Other baked goods I've marked to try:
  • Corn Cakes
  • Old-Fashioned Gingerbread
  • Arizona's Gingerbread (Arizona is a person)
  • Cinnamon Rolls
  • Honey Tea Cakes
  • Molasses Cookies
  • Vanilla Wafers
The revised edition comes out September 16, 2019, and I thank the publisher for providing me an early copy for review.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies (gluten-free, grain-free)

We recently visited a local bakery, The Bakery off Augusta, and bought a few items to try. As we were leaving we snagged samples of a chocolate cookie that ended up being super delicious. The woman at the cash register said they were gluten free and only had four ingredients! So I stood there and said, hmm, chocolate, nuts, sugar, and eggs?

And that's when I knew I had to figure out how to make these chewy gooey cookies.


It didn't take long to find the likely recipe online, although it has five ingredients (also vanilla.) I think these are made for Passover because they contain no flour or leavening. I was most intrigued by the mixing method, which takes advantage of the egg whites to thicken the cookie batter and add structure to the cookies.

François Payard’s Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies Recipe 
As seen on Food Republic
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Serving Size: 12 4-inch cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners' sugar
pinch of salt
2 3/4 cups walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
  1. Place a rack each in the upper and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. 
  3. Combine the cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar, salt and walnuts in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 minute. 
  4. With the mixer running, slowly add the egg whites and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 3 minutes, until the mixture has slightly thickened. Do not overmix it, or the egg whites will thicken too much. 
  5. With a 2-ounce cookie or ice cream scoop or a generous tablespoon, scoop the batter onto the prepared baking sheet, to make cookies that are 4 inches in diameter. Scoop 5 cookies on each pan, about 3 inches apart so that they don’t stick when they spread. If you have extra batter, wait until the first batch of cookies is baked before scooping the next batch. 
  6. Put the cookies in the oven, and immediately lower the temperature to 320°F. 
  7. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until small thin cracks appear on the surface of the cookies. Switch the pans halfway through baking. 
  8. Pull the parchment paper with the cookies onto a wire cooling rack, and let cool completely before removing the cookies from the paper. 
  9. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. 
Notes from JennyBakes:

I feel my version was lumpier and less refined than the bakery's but I will tweak a few things next time - more finely chopped nuts, maybe mixed slightly less, maybe more manual spreading of the batter, which kept its shape from how it was placed on the cookie sheet. I think I may have underbaked them a bit, since mine were thicker. The bottoms were nicely baked but inside was more gooey than chewy, not so much that it was gross, but definitely borderline.

I'm also curious about trying this with different nuts. I think this recipe is dying to be made from Oregon hazelnuts! Also instead of Dutch-processed cocoa I used cocoa powder from my co-worker Libby who brought it to me from Ecuador!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Classic Tiramisu

My book club has its first meeting of the season tonight, and for our first book of the season we read The Delight of Being Ordinary by Roland Merullo, a fictionalized imagining of the Pope and Dalai Lama on a road trip through Italy. In addition to a lot of pop philosophy and anti-fascist sentiments, there are a lot of scenes with food, including tiramisu.

“We finished our pasta, and decided to order coffee and a bowl of tiramisu. Why not? We’d been up most of the night. We were on vacation. At that point my lovely wife was kind enough to bring up the story – commonly heard in Italy – that tiramisu (in Italian the word means 'pick me up') originated in the bordellos, where the working women needed a dose of espresso and a measure of liqueur in order to make it through the long nights. Rosa went into some detail. Neither the Pope nor the Dalai Lama could think of anything to say in response.”
Quite the story! Whether or not it is true, I feel there are many different opinions about what makes a traditional tiramisu. I was surprised to find that everyone agrees that egg yolks are involved. Some argue whipped egg whites should also be included but I used a recipe that used cream instead. I also used instant espresso, which I'm sure I'll regret, it probably is weak. This recipe also only said rum or cognac but all I had was amaretto - in the research I did, amaretto should be one of the most accepted, so that's what I used.

Tiramisu is hard to capture - this is right after assembly through the container. We will eat it after it sits over 24 hours.
Classic Tiramisu
(as labeled by the New York Times) 

Ingredients

For the cream:

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar, divided
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup/227 grams mascarpone (8 ounces)

For the assembly:

  • 1 ¾ cups good espresso or very strong coffee
  • 2 tablespoons rum or cognac
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • About 24 ladyfingers (from one 7-ounce/200-gram package)
  • 1 to 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, for shaving (optional)

Preparation

  1. Using an electric mixer in a medium bowl, whip together egg yolks and 1/4 cup/50 grams sugar until very pale yellow and about tripled in volume. A slight ribbon should fall from the beaters (or whisk attachment) when lifted from the bowl. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, wiping out the medium bowl used to whip the yolks and set aside.
  2. In the medium bowl, whip cream and remaining 1/4 cup/50 grams sugar until it creates soft-medium peaks. Add mascarpone and continue to whip until it creates a soft, spreadable mixture with medium peaks. Gently fold the mascarpone mixture into the sweetened egg yolks until combined.
  3. Combine espresso and rum in a shallow bowl and set aside.
  4. Using a sifter, dust the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish (an 8x8-inch dish, or a 9-inch round cake pan would also work here) with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.
  5. Working one at a time, quickly dip each ladyfinger into the espresso mixture -- they are quite porous and will fall apart if left in the liquid too long -- and place them rounded side up at the bottom of the baking dish. Repeat, using half the ladyfingers, until you’ve got an even layer, breaking the ladyfingers in half as needed to fill in any obvious gaps (a little space in between is O.K.). Spread half the mascarpone mixture onto the ladyfingers in one even layer. Repeat with remaining espresso-dipped ladyfingers and mascarpone mixture.
  6. Dust top layer with remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder. Top with shaved or finely grated chocolate, if desired.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (if you can wait 24 hours, all the better) before slicing or scooping to serve.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Coconut Bars from Keto Sweet Tooth Cookbook

My husband and I try to eat pretty low-sugar, low-carb. Another version of that diet is the Keto diet, and while we are not strict Keto practitioners, recipes from that realm are often aligned with how we eat. So when I saw Keto Sweet Tooth Cookbook in NetGalley, I requested a copy to look at. I found a lot of recipes I thought I could make, although a few had ingredients I would have to buy for a few of them. I went for one where I had everything on hand.

When you eat consistently in this lower-sugar way, you don't need as much sweet to taste sweet. So to an outsider, the use of ingredients like straight unsweetened chocolate may seem strange, but it makes sense to the people in it. This recipe is lightly sweetened but is mostly high-fat ingredients. They will be shown plain but we are probably going to melt some of our Stevia-sweetened chocolate chips to drizzle on the top.



Coconut Bars

Makes: 6
Serving Size: 1

2 cups (100g/3.5 oz) unsweetened desiccated coconut
1/2 cup (115g/4 oz) salted butter, melted*
1/4 cup (40g/1.2 oz) granular erythritol*
  1. In a large bowl, combine the coconut, butter, and erythritol. Stir well.
  2. Line a 8.5x5 inch (22x13 cm) loaf pan with parchment paper. Transfer the mixture to the pan and use a spoon to press it down flat. Transfer to the freezer to set for 1 hour.
  3. Cut into 6 equal-sized bars. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Tip: I find using a small bread loaf pan works best for these bars. You can use the confectioners erythritol if you don't have a granular erythritol.

* Notes from JennyBakes: I usually only keep unsalted butter on hand, so I looked it up and found a recommended 1/4 tsp per 1/2 cup butter, and went with it. I had powdered Swerve on hand so that's what I used.

I found quite a few recipes in this cookbook that I would try:
  • Vanilla Cake with Fresh Berries
  • Lemon Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
  • Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
  • Raspberry Souffle
  • Chocolate-Covered Cheesecake Fat Bombs
  • Chocolate Espresso Truffles
Thanks to the publisher for granting me access to a copy through NetGalley; it came out July 9, 2019.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Blackberry Flognarde from Everyday Dorie

Dorie Greenspan writes the best cookbooks - go ahead and fight me, I know I'm right. So I ran into Everyday Dorie in the New Books section of the library where I work and brought it home with me.

In the dessert section, I came across the flognarde which turns out to be clafoutis for any fruit but cherries. I had very good blackberries in season and decided to use them in this recipe. The official recipe in the cookbook is for plums, but then she gives variations for berries, apples, and the original cherry. I have made the changes in the recipe below that are specific to berries, although I only used blackberries. Please read the notes afterward to find out how I made a few ingredient replacements to make it a bit lower carb, since that matters at our house (I figure with a baked pancake like cake, it's easy to adapt in these ways without losing a lot of the recipe integrity.)



Berry Flognarde

It's best to use blueberries, raspberries, and/or blackberries for flognarde. Figure on 1 pint berries. You want them to loosely fill the pie plate. While you can use brandy or cognac, berries are ovely with kirsch (a flora cherry liqueur), grand marnier, or (in lesser quantities, say 1 tbsp) a nut liqueur like amaretto or frangelico.

1 pint berries
1/2 cup (68 grams) all-purpose flour*
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon or a few scrapings of fresh ginger
pinch of fine sea salt
4 tbsp (2 oz; 57 grams) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar*
3 large eggs
2 tbsp Kirsch, Grand Marnier or 1 Tbsp Amaretto or Frangelico
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
about 1/4 cup (25 grams) sliced almonds, for topping (optional)
confectioner's sugar, for dusting (optional)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 F. Choose a 9-inch pie plate, a porcelain quiche pan, or another oven proof pan (preferably not metal) with the capacity of 1 quart. Butter the pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Toss the berries into the pie plate and jiggle them around until you get an even layer.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, spice, and salt.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the sugar. When the mixture is homogeneous, beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the liqueur and vanilla. Whisk in the dry ingredients. The mixture will be thick, so get it as well blended as you can without beating it, and then start stirring in the milk, which will thin the batter considerably. You'll have a pourable batter that might have a few lumps - ignore them. Pour the batter over the berries and scatter over the almonds, if using.

Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the flognarde is puffed all the way to the center, feels firm to the touch, and is golden and cracked across the surface; the juice from the berries might be bubbling - so much the better. A skewer inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer the flognarde, on the baking sheet, to a rack and let cool to room temperature.

Dust the flognarde with confectioner's sugar, if you'd like, slice and serve.

Storing: Some people think you must eat the flognarde at room temperature the day it's made. I (Dorie) love it like that, but I also think it's nice straight from the refrigerator the next day. If you've got leftovers, cover and chill them, and see what you think.

Notes from JennyBakes:

I replaced the flour with almond flour and the sugar with coconut sugar, which is why my flognarde is a bit darker in color. It still worked! 

I used Amaretto with the blackberries. Also, because I had Amaretto.

In my household we use the Viking pronunciation of flognarde which can probably be typed as FLOGNARD!!!! RAH!!