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.

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