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.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

BBA Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread

We've had an ice storm in Atlanta, but since I have power, I'm just baking up a storm inside!

Yesterday I made the Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread from BBA.  It is absolutely delicious and looks just like Reinhart's photo, so I am well pleased.  I loved raisin bread as a child and today the smell of it toasting warms my heart.

There are two ways to make this bread - as a loaf with cinnamon and raisins studded throughout or he suggests as an alternative, adding a cinnamon sugar swirl to an already delicious bread.  Since the recipe made two loaves, I did one as a loaf and the second as a swirl.

I found it an easy bread to mix and make.  Since I'm used to making breads that add dry ingredients gradually to the yeast raised in warm water, it's always unnerving to me to put all the dry ingredients into the mixer and then add the liquids.  But I'm an oldest child and always follow the rules, so I do what he tells me to.

The dough was quite sticky and I probably added about a handful of flour in tablespoons as it mixed to get it to come together in a bread dough.

Here are the raisins, draining, and the walnuts, chopped.

Here is the dough rounded up before putting it into the greased bowl to rise.

I rolled one half of the dough out to make a regular loaf.  I forgot to take a photo of the cinnamon swirl being created.  I did use a brush and brushed water over the dough before adding the cinnamon sugar to help it stick.  Don't know if that was a good idea or not.

Here are the two loaves in their pans to rise.  The one on the right has the cinnamon swirl.

He suggested that you brush the tops of the baked loaves with melted butter as soon as they are out of the bread pans and roll them in the cinnamon sugar, so I did that with the non-swirled loaf.

Here is the loaf sliced - made absolutely delicious toast,  reminding me of childhood (although the bread we had from the grocery didn't had walnuts in it!)

Below is the cinnamon swirl loaf.  I don't care what the filling is, I can't ever make swirled bread that doesn't have a gap in it when it cooks.  So disappointing.

 Slicing further into the loaf, you can see the gap around the swirl.  Would love it if someone knew how to keep that from happening.  I roll tightly and pinch the seam together at the bottom.  I wonder if wetting the dough surface before I put the cinnamon on makes that happen?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

BBA Cinnamon Buns and Sticky Buns

These cinnamon buns sounded really good - not too sweet and gooey - so I was excited to try them.   I decided to make the cinnamon buns rather than the sticky buns and mixed up the dough.  I liked it that they had the zest of a lemon in them.  He said 1 tsp but I didn't measure - just grated the lemon zest and put it into the dough.

The dough was a little soft so I had to add a little flour - just a smidgeon, but it came together better after I had done that.  

I have real Ceylon cinnamon that I buy from My Spice Sage.  I put it in my adult children's stockings every Christmas and also get some for me.  It's so much better than what we buy in the grocery store!

The recipe didn't make a ton of rolls - just a dozen.  They rose on the cookie sheet on which they would be baked.

This is how they looked coming out of the oven.  And then I glazed them - I made the recipe's suggested amount of glaze.  Next time I will cut it in half.  I have about 3/4 of a cup in my refrigerator right this minute.

They were really delicious and everyone I gave them to, loved them.