Friday, September 23, 2016

Carrement Chocolat, the Fancy Cake from Dorie Greenspan (Baking Chez Moi)

My sister came to Atlanta for her birthday (September 4) on Labor Day weekend. I wanted to bake her a cake - I am fifteen years older than she and used to bake her cakes when she was a little girl. So I went out of order in Baking Chez Moi and baked the cake on the cover of the book.

Now I can say I baked the cake on the cover, but mine was a far cry from the gorgeous cake on the cover. Mine tasted incredible but was not a work of art.

Hers is a work of art.

I weighed the ingredients and put the cake together in stages as she recommends. So I made the ganache, the chocolate shards, the syrup, the filling on the day before. I made the cake the day of the gathering to celebrate my sister. I wish I had made the whole thing the day before.

I baked it in a pan with tall sides.

It's a one layer cake that is then sliced and the filling put in between the sliced off top and the bottom.

Here's how it looked in the end:

But even though it didn't look like the book cover, it was melt in your mouth delicious and I would make it again for another special occasion.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Bouchon Bakery: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

My second foray into Bouchon Bakery cookbook occurred today when I baked the oatmeal raisin cookies on page 32.

I am dedicated to weighing everything, but I didn't weigh the vanilla paste. I used my measuring spoon instead! Ingredients all gathered below. I've never weighed eggs before. I broke two eggs and then whisked them to break them up so I could pour off the excess.

I was supposed to sift the cinnamon and the soda into the flour, but I did the cinnamon and the salt. The Kosher salt had no inclination to go through the sieve!

Maybe because my brown sugar is not new, the lumps didn't break up with the whisk as described. I got a pestle and broke them up with it instead. Then I whisked it all together.

Creamed butter - supposed to look like mayonnaise.

I forgot to take photos for the adding of the dry ingredients, the flour/cinnamon/soda/salt mix. Then when it was time to add the oatmeal, the directions said to pulse 10 times. That kind of instruction goes with a food processor and this was being made in a stand mixer. I turned it quickly on and off ten times, but it didn't make sense to me. I used my rubber spatula to fold the oats in and then to fold in the raisins.

I made the small version of the cookies so that the recipe made a dozen cookies. It is designed to make six huge cookies, which I guess would be the size of salad plates. I had no desire - these are more than big enough for me. I baked in a convection oven and my cookies look darker than the photo in the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. But these taste DELICIOUS. 

My son-in-law and daughter each ate one and had a fit over how good these are.

 Confession: the photo below is of the recipe with golden raisins in it, but my grandchildren don't like raisins, so I baked six with golden raisins and six with chocolate chips. In the photo above, the left six are made with raisins and the right six are made with chocolate chips.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bouchon Bakery First Bake: Pecan Sandies

I didn't want just to bake out of Dorie Greenspan and I've had Thomas Keller: Bouchard Bakery which includes many recipes by Sebastian Rouxel who heads up the Bakery. I
decided to bake out of it as well. The beginning recipes are cookie recipes and the first recipe is for pecan sandies, baked by Thomas Keller's mom on a regular basis. The recipe is on page 10.

I had a great time with them and am on board with baking my way through this cookbook as well.

As a woman who owns four sets of measuring cups, I am delighted to acknowledge that I am now only using my scale. I use the cups to dip out whatever I am measuring, but I go by the scale altogether these days.

So first I weighed all the ingredients and had them prepped and ready:

I even weighed the individual cookies. They were supposed to weigh 3 ounces each. I had a few that were slightly light so I ended up with 19 cookies instead of the 18 that the recipe promised and the last one was on the light side!
The instructions said to flatten each mound to about two inches. I have another cookie recipe that says to grease and sugar the bottom of a glass to accomplish this so since the recipe didn't say how to flatten them, I employed this method. I used the paper from the unsalted butter to grease the bottom of the glass and then dipped it into powdered sugar. They looked like the photo below going into the oven.

The photo above is how they looked coming out after 18 minutes in a convection oven. I cooled them for five minutes in the pan and then moved them to a cooling rack and covered them with powdered sugar.

They are so delicious that I took a bite before I took the photo!

I gave most of them to my friend Julia who has boys at her house when I ate lunch with her today. I hope they enjoy much better than the ones in the bag at the grocery!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Baking Chez Moi Plain and Simple Almond Cake

When I read about this cake, my immediate response was, "Well, that will never work for me."

There are only three ingredients: eggs, sugar and almond flour. The first challenge was finding almond flour, which was, of course, available at Whole Foods. But with just three ingredients and the instructions to use a gentle hand, I approached this cake with fear and trembling.

You'll find the recipe in Baking Chez Moi.

I followed all the instructions:

Whisked the egg yolks with the sugar.
Prepared the pan. I must not have done it well because at the end, it was difficult to get out of the pan.

Got the whites ready to whisk.

Stopped when they made soft peaks.

She says to stir in a little of the whites. Then you fold in the remaining whites and about half the almond flour. Finally, you fold in the rest of the almond flour. In order to have a gentle hand in your folding, there are only two additions. You can see unincorporated almond flour in the photo below. I tried and succeeded at getting it all folded in, but next time, still being very gentle, I might try adding the almond flour in three additions. I think it might be easier on the egg whites, but at the same time, the third folding might break them down more. I will only know when I try it.

I baked it in a springform pan and, although that was suggested, it didn't come out of the pan well. I was glad for the height because the cake used the pan height. Here it has cooled for about five minutes and isn't as high as it was right out of the oven. It acted a little like an angel food cake.

She says to cool for five minutes in the pan and then turn it out to cool on the rack. When I turned it out, the upper left stuck to the corner of the pan (between the sides and the bottom) and tore the cake slightly. I did finally get it out, happy to say.

I can't keep all of these desserts around the house, so I cut the cake in half and sent half of it home to my daughter and her family. My son-in-law left me this message: "This almond cake is AMAZING. We are coming to get the other half! See you in a few minutes..."

I agree with him. It is about half the height it had in the pan, but it is incredibly moist, tastes lovely of almonds with no almond extract (which I sometimes think is overpowering) and I will definitely make it again.

If anyone has tried this and has any suggestions about getting it out of the pan, please let me know. Of course, I may simply need to grease and flour the pan better. But I wondered if it needed to cool in the pan longer than five minutes before turning it out.

I forgot to take a photo of the cut cake until it was almost all gone!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Dorie Greenspan: Baking Chez Moi - Brown Butter and Vanilla Weekend Cake

I've been baking a lot, but not posting about it. Rarely does a week go by without my baking bread. Currently, I am enthralled with a Passion for Bread by Lionel Vatinet. I bake his bread once or twice a week. I love his method for getting a good crust which involves baking the loaf under a stainless steel bowl for the first part of the baking and then removing it for the last 2/3 of the baking. The result is a rustic crusted loaf that is absolutely delicious.

I've also been baking a lot of sourdough. My mother died about a year ago and in the process of cleaning out the house, I found her sourdough starter. She ordered it from San Francisco when I was in high school and it was touted as being 100 years old. Well, fifty years later, it is now 150 years old. I brought the starter back to Atlanta - it hadn't been used in years and was not refrigerated - just in a mason jar on her back porch.

I fed the starter and it went crazy, bubbling out of every container onto my kitchen counter.

I have enjoyed sharing it with friends and baking with it myself.

But I have been yearning for a project. I own Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller, and I just bought Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan.

So I've decided to bake my way through both of them. It will take a while - there are tons of recipes in each, but I'm excited about the process. If you are reading this and want to join me, let me know and share photos with me.

So I've now baked the first two recipes in Baking Chez Moi.  The first was a weekend cake. Greenspan says that in France, it is not unusual for a family to bake a cake for the weekend that is a simple loaf cake. The gateau (cake) is reserved for much fancier items.

The first cake in her book is simply that - a weekend cake.

I've learned now to weigh and measure my ingredients all before getting started. Here's the collection of cake ingredients. My Amaretto bottle had exactly the two tablespoons needed!

Prepared the pan. She calls for a 4.5 X 9 pan. I wish I had used an 8.5 pan. My cake wasn't as lofty as her illustration.

Beginning to make the browned butter.

When it looks like this, it is almost done. Just before it is browned butter, the bubbles get very calm and tiny.

The dry ingredients were next. I am currently using pink sea salt - to explain the little mound of pink in the flour.

This photo (above) shows the vanilla bean seeds before they are mixed into sugar.

The photo below is of one of my beautiful eggs from the Moore Farm stand at the Carter Center Farmer's Market.


When the loaf came out, it looked like this.

I may have baked it about 2 minutes too long. It was absolutely delicious. I sliced it into thin slices and took it to the Atlanta Bee Meetup this past Tuesday. Even though there is no honey in it, the beekeepers loved it!  She said to sprinkle powdered sugar over the cake which I did before I cut it but I forgot to photograph it.

Let me know if you try it. I didn't put the recipe here because I think it's important to support the cookbook author. If I ever put up one of my own bakes, I'll share the recipe.