Friday, February 27, 2009

Birthday Cake- Golden Chiffon Cake

Aundra's birthday cake this year.  Not as fancy as last year's, but still very good.  I made a chiffon cake for this.  We were going to be at 6000 feet, and I didn't want to mess around with baking.  I also knew that I had to freeze this cake, and didn't want it to dry out.  It stayed really moist. Chiffon cake is very similar to angel food, I think.  It's frosted with a nice french buttercream, flavored with strawberry sauce.

Chiffon Cake- makes 2 8-inch layers
224 g. cake flour
7 g. baking powder
194 g. sugar #1
zest from 1/2 lemon
113 g. vegetable oil
112 g. egg yolks
128 g. water
6 g. vanilla
226 g. egg whites
96 g. sugar #2
1 g. cream of tartar

Sift together the flour, baking powder, first sugar; add the lemon zest.
In a separate bowl, whisk the liquid ingredients; add the dry ingredients slowly to make a smooth batter.
Whip the egg whites, sugar #2 and cream of tartar to medium peaks.
Fold the meringue into the batter in three stages until there are no streaks.
Pour into ungreased, papered pans- 550 g. per pan.
Bake at 335 degrees convection for about 30 minutes or until done.
Remove from pans when cooled.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Buttermilk Scones

I volunteered to provide breakfast for the teachers at Abbie's school on conference day in February.  I made two scones- bacon and cheddar, and cherry-corn.  I also made one of Ina's breakfast recipes, orange yogurt with fruit.  Add a little Peet's coffee, and you have some happy teachers!
This recipe is from pastry school so all the ingredients are listed in grams.  This makes 2 8-inch rounds, 16 scones.  
For the bacon and cheddar scones, I cooked the bacon in the oven, then chopped it up letting it cool.  I have grated cheddar cheese for this recipe, and also diced it, which I like better.  I also add a little pepper, and some fresh rosemary.
If you want to make cherry-corn scones, chop the cherries a bit, add 50 g. cornmeal to the dry ingredients.

Buttermilk Scones
892.5 g. a/p flour
22 g. baking powder
6.5 g. baking soda
62.5 g. sugar
12.5 g. salt
280 g. unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces (about 2 sticks)
125 g. eggs
612.5 g. buttermilk
2 cups of inclusions ( 1 cup of bacon and 1 cup of cheddar cheese, or 1 1/2 -2 cups dried cherries)
egg wash (I use the leftover egg and a little milk)

Combine dry ingredients into a big bowl.
Combine wet ingredients into a pitcher, or large measuring cup.
Add butter to the dry ingredients, mixing with your hands.  Break up the butter into the flour until it is in pea-sized or slightly larger chunks.  Add inclusions.
Pour in the liquid, and continue to mix with hands or a large spatula, until combined.
Spray or grease and flour 2 8-inch cake pans.  Press equal amounts of dough into each pan.  Unmold the dough onto a floured cutting board, and cut the dough into 8 pie-slices.  Arrange the slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash.  Sprinkle sugar on sweet scones, and cheese on savory.   Bake at 400 degrees convection (or 425 regular oven), 15 minutes.
You can also freeze them and bake from the freezer 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

My little buffet-

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pastry School- Pate Choux, Gougeres, Choquettes

This is the last of the pastry school posts.  The photo above shows the proper consistency of Pate a Choux (cabbage).
How to hold a pastry bag.
My piping skills.  Lovely, eh?

This was so cool, and yet it terrified me.  The instructor is showing us how to sprinkle sugar onto the pate a choux to make Chouquettes.  She dumped a bunch of the sugar on the sheet pan closest to her, then lifted the tray perpendicular to the table, letting the pearl sugar fall over the dough.
I was afraid they would all slide off the sheet.
Gougeres- baked pate a choux.  You can fill with savory or sweet fillings using a piping bag, or make profiteroles with these- add ice cream and chocolate sauce.
These are the baked Chouquettes, with the pearl sugar.
My take for the day- chouquettes, brownies, financiers and madeleines.

Linzer Kranzel

This is another recipe from Uta, who gave me the recipe for the Rosquillos de Vino- Wine Ring Cookies.  She's been translating recipes from her German cookbook for me.  These are really good- vanilla flavor is nice, and I like the nuts and sugar on the outside.  But the strange thing about these cookies is the first ingredient- 4 HARD BOILED EGG YOLKS.  You push them through a sieve.  Here is photo of egg yolks pushed through a sieve.  
One ingredient that may be a little hard to find is vanilla sugar.  This product is made from dextrose, (sugar) and vanilla flavor.  I found it at Andronico's, a local grocery store, but I think you can find it at Cost Plus, and certainly on-line.  

I made my cookies a little on the thick side- so my sandwiches are a mouthful.  I had homemade cherry and strawberry jam in my fridge- no currant jelly- so I did half cherry, half strawberry.  I put about a 1/4 cup of each in a small saucepan over low heat, and cooked it down to a syrup.  Then I pressed it through a small sieve to take out the solid chunks of fruit.

Linzer Kranzel

4 hard boiled eggs, yolks only
120 g powder sugar 4.2 oz
200 g butter 7 oz
2 packages vanilla sugar
1 dash of salt
300 g flour sifted 10.6 oz
120 g almonds coarsely chopped 4.2 oz
100 g sugar 3.5 oz
2 raw egg yolks
½ cup currant jelly or currant jam

Hard boil eggs and put egg yolks through fine sieve. Stir in 80 g (2.8 oz) powder sugar and butter till creamy. Add vanilla sugar, salt and flour and kneed into dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 2 hours in refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 200 C. – 390 F
Meanwhile mix sugar and chopped almonds. Beat raw egg yolks.
Roll out dough to 4mm and cut our rings or round cookies. Brush on one side with egg mixture, press into almond and sugar mixture and bake top up for ca. 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully remove cookies and let cool. Brush underside with warmed and stirred currant jelly or jam and put two rings together. Dust with remaining powder sugar.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pastry School- Pie Dough

This was my favorite project at pastry school.  I've made a lot of pies, and although I understand the basic principles of making a flaky pie crust, I am not able to do it with consistent results.  We used the big 20 quart mixers to make a batch of 9 pie shells- 3 for each group member.  The photo above shows the dry ingredients and butter.  Notice the huge piece of butter in the pan.
The butter is being worked into the flour.  There are now smaller pieces of butter.
Turning out the dough, now with added ice water, onto the table top.
Our group's pie dough.  Notice the huge smears of butter.  The sad face on the little one is to show that it is smaller than the others.
Apples waiting to go in the pies.  I peeled, cored and sliced 2 1/2 flats of apples for the pies.  We did one communal filling recipe.  I was constantly impressed with the large volumes of ingredients during my week there.
 My crusts ready for filling.

We did a lattice crust for the apple pie.  Not traditional, but I was happy to be able to try this.
My pecan pie ready to go into the oven.  
My baked apple pie.  I was a little disappointed with the apple pie.  The apples weren't cooked enough, and the filling had cornstarch, instead of flour as a thickener.  The crust came out great, though.
Pecan pie ready to go home.  These were really good!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pastry School- Madelines and Financiers

Madelines are these nice little cookie/cakes that are usually in the shape of a shell.  My girls love them.  I see them at Starbucks and in the grocery store in little packages.  They cost a fortune, and really aren't that good.  If you have one that's made fresh, however, they are much better.  I think the shelf life for a Madeline is maybe 24 hours.  The photo above shows one of my groupmates piping dough into a Madeline mold.
Using a knife to release some of the air bubbles.
 Madelines out of the oven.
This is a photo of our instructor piping Financier batter into molds.  Financiers are little gold cakes, like Madelines, but they are made with brown butter.  They are traditionally piped into molds to make them look like gold bars.  I liked the Financiers better than the Madelines.  The girls did not.
Madeline and Financier molds.  The instructor shows how to hold a piping bag so that the bag is wrapped around your hand, and the tail end doesn't drop into your work.
My piped Financiers- in the first row.
Finished Financiers with almonds, (there's almond meal in the recipe), and blackberries.

Pastry School- Banana Bread

So on some level I feel like, "Banana bread?  Chocolate chip cookies?  Is this what I paid for?" Yes, it is.  You have to imagine the scale of this kitchen.  It was huge.  If you forgot to pick up a spatula before you started mixing, you had to walk way across the room to pick one up, before you could finish the task at hand.  So when we began making these "simple" formulas, it was never considered easy.  We had huge amounts of ingredients, new equipment to master, we were working in groups- enough said there- and were trying to perform all these mixing methods properly.  It was challenging, and as the week went on, the time crunch became more and more of an obstacle.  
So this is Day 2, and we made Banana Bread, Coffee Cake, and Scones, I think.  The photo above shows the mashed banana mixed with buttermilk.
Group 1's Banana Bread, ready for the oven.
So here are all the groups' breads cooling on the racks.  I have to say, I tasted it in class, but put my loaf in the freezer once I got home.  Every day we brought home more food.  I had to freeze some of it, or it would just go to waste.

Pastry School- Cookies

How was pastry school?  It was GREAT!  I can't wait to go back again.  It was a VERY hard week on the family, but Husband handled everything like a pro.  I learned a lot about the science of baking- how ingredients function in a recipe, methods of mixing, how to fix mistakes.  I was really kind of sad to not go back on Monday morning.
Day 1 was mostly lecture.  We went over the ingredients and their functions, as well as mixing processes.  We made Oatmeal Raisin and Chocolate Chip cookies that first day.  Here are photos of our hunks of dough.
The cookies we made.
The photo below shows a great way to store cookie dough in the freezer.  You form the dough into a log, label it, then slice and bake what you need.
I just made a batch of chocolate chip  today.  I scooped out the dough in portions onto a piece of parchment, and froze the portions.  I'll put them in a ziplock bag- should do that soon!- and take out as many as I need, and bake them off.  In this class, we talked a lot about how fast things go stale, how long you can safely keep batter or finished products in the fridge, and how long in the freezer.  A chocolate chip cookie a couple hours out of the oven is WAY better than one that's 3 days old.  So I like the idea of having a stash of dough in the freezer for cookie emergencies- a common occurrence around here.