Friday, October 29, 2010

FFwD: Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake

Dear Baking Groups,

Please send a wheelbarrow for my family to cart me around in.

- the Queen of Chub

OK, it's not quite that bad, but after a week of apple pie, donuts, and cinnamon rolls haunting my counters, I felt it was time to cut back.

I cut this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake, down to 1/4 recipe and baked it in a 5" pan. Good thing, since this cake was definitely chow-down worthy.

I cut back on the corresponding amount of apples because it just seemed there were too many apples for the small amount of cake batter.

I thought it was very tasty and delish. Interestingly, I thought it was very similar to the Fold Over Pear Torte in both taste and appearance that we made a few weeks ago for TWD.

If you'd like to see the recipe... please go check out the FFWD site (this month only, recipes are supplied), or get a copy of Dorie's new book "Around my French Table".

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Doughnuts (and Cinnamon Rolls!)

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

This was my first time making donuts. I guess I was thinking donut-making was far more complicated.

It's not.

A standard yeast dough is rolled out and the donuts are cut and allowed to rise.

A few minutes in hot oil and voila! Donuts!

Who knew?

The whole experience went really well and I didn't have any problems except one. My oil got too hot and I think some donuts got darker than I expected. However, if I ever decide to do some serious donut making, I'll dig out my deep fryer, with it's temperature control, and then I'll be golden. Like donuts.

And how did they taste? Wonderful! They were just as good or better than any purchased donuts I've tried. If I make these again, I'm definitely going to try a chocolate glaze. Those would rock!

Quickly, before I go, I'll share what I did with the rest of the dough (I made 1/2 recipe and only made 6 donuts... I don't need platefuls of donuts around my house!) I rolled out the rest of the dough into a rectangle about a scant 1/4 inch thick and layered on melted butter, a generous sprinkling of cinnamon, and sugar and rolled them up into cinnamon rolls.

I thought I'd try making them in a muffin tin, for a change of pace.

They were quite good, but I think I won't make them in a muffin tin again. They seemed dryer and more chewy on the bottoms. Still good, though.

OK, that's that. Thanks to Lori for a fun and tasty challenge!

Yeast Doughnuts:
Recipe from Alton Brown on the Food Network
Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 25 minutes
Rising time - 1.5 hours total
Cooking time - 12 minutes
Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size

Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz (can substitute butter, margarine or lard)
Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ oz
Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
Eggs, Large, beaten 2
White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ oz
All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + extra for dusting surface
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)

1. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
2. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
4. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
5. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
6. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
7. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
8. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
9. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
10. Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
11. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).
12. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TWD: All-American, All-Delicious Apple Pie

Emily of Sandmuffin chose All-American All-Delicious Apple Pie for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

The fun thing about apple pie is that you can change it up by using different varieties of apples. I used a combination of Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious.

Granny is the only one of those that you hear being recommended for apple pie. The others bake up soft, as you can tell by looking at the cut slice... no distinct slices of apple that you can tell.

But you know what, I liked this version just fine. The taste was outstanding and I liked the slightly pinkish tint.

I was half lazy this time and used a store bought bottom crust. I made a full batch of Dorie's pie dough, though, and used half for the top crust. (I'm saving the other half for the cranberry galette coming up next month.)

All in all, this apple pie was a winner in my book.

Thank you Emily for choosing this recipe. You'll find the recipe on Emily's blog or in Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours".

Friday, October 22, 2010

FFwD: Hachis Parmentier

In this, the fourth installment of French Fridays with Dorie, we tackled a dish some of us couldn't pronounce, Hachis Parmentier. Which is fancy-talk for shepherd's pie.

The shepherd's pie of my childhood consisted of a layer each of hamburger, corn, and tater tots. I know, classy, huh?

Compared to that, Hachis Parmentier is very classy. The bottom layer consists of sausage and beef, first cooked in homemade boullion. The upper layer is creamy mashed potatoes topped with Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses.

You can see it here before baking, dotted with butter.

I really enjoyed this, a real meat-and-potatoes meal. Literally. The meat layer was packed with flavor. Sadly, neither of my boys liked it. (Their tastes are probably more in line with the tater tot version.)

Although I enjoyed it, the amount of dirty dishes generated will probably push it into the "special occasions" section of my cooking repertoire. (And this isn't all of them!)

If you'd like to see the recipe... please go check out the FFWD site (this month only, recipes are supplied), or get a copy of Dorie's new book "Around my French Table".

See you next week when we make apple cake. Yum, can't wait!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

TWD: Caramel Pumpkin Pie

Janell of Mortensen Family Memoirs picked Caramel Pumpkin Pie for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

Basically, this is pumpkin pie with a healthy dose of home-made caramel mixed in with the typical ingredients.

At first, I wasn't too crazy about it. But that might have something to do with the fact that I got distracted and walked away from my first batch of melting sugar. Big mistake! Big enough that I might have ruined my pan, unless I can figure out how to get the layer of black that seems to be super-glued to it off. (Suggestions welcome.)

Once I got over it, though, I decided this was a pretty darn good piece of pumpkin pie. Kind of like "Extreme Pumpkin Pie" or "Adults Only" pumpkin pie (neither of the kids liked it).

I really don't taste caramel, per se. More like a deeper, richer flavored pumpkin pie.

Definitely an alternative for the Thankgsiving dessert table, in my opinion.

P.S. I totally cheated and used store-bought pie shell... that's why it's so perfect! Also, I didn't go as dark with the caramel as instructed. I know from experience that I don't like it that bitter.

OK, that's that. if you'd like to see the recipe, please visit Janell's blog, or find a copy of Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours".

Friday, October 15, 2010

FFWD: Vietnamese Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup

Up this week for French Fridays with Dorie is Vietnamese Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup.

I know it doesn't look like much, does it?

Don't let the simple look of this soup fool you, though. It was packed with flavor galore. Coconut milk, onion, garlic, cilantro, coriander, peppercorn, and lime - they're all in there.

And it was fantastic!

I followed the recipe except for a few minor deviations. First were the noodles... I couldn't find either rice vermicelli or Chinese egg noodles, so I used what I had on hand. My Thai friend calls these bean threads or cellophane noodles.

Aren't they cool? They're almost see through. Never mind that they have no taste whatsoever, but they have a fun, chewy texture.

The only other change, besides leaving out the chilies, was that I whizzed the broth with my immersion blender. Why? I don't know... just felt like it.

OK, that's it for this week. If you'd like to see the recipe, for this month only, you can find it on the FFwD site, or Dorie Greenspan's book "Around My French Table".

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

TWD: Fold-Over Pear Torte

Cakelaw of Laws of the Kitchen selected Fold-Over Pear Torte for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

But honestly, doesn't it look more like some sort of potato-filled quiche?

That's what I kept thinking when I was sampling the first piece.

Fortunately, it was a lot more interesting than eggs and potatoes. It seemed to fall somewhere between a really dense cake and a custardy tart. And the most noticeable taste? Not the pears. Nope, it was the brandy.

Which is OK with me, I like a little rum or brandy or amaretto in desserts.

With the pie crust, pears and boozy custardy filling (oh, and I used figs instead of apricots since that's what I had on hand), it was an altogether tasty and somewhat unusual dessert. One I'm glad I tried.

Allrighty! That's that. If you'd like to see the recipe, please stop by Cakelaw's blog or find yourself a copy of Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours".

Friday, October 8, 2010

FFWD: Gerard's Mustard Tart

Up this week for French Fridays with Dorie is Gerard's Mustard Tart.

Mustard tart? Yeah. OK.

I guess.

I can do tarts and I like mustard well enough... so, hey, I figured I'd give it a whirl.

Dorie's main version included carrots and leeks with the mustardy custard filling. A tomato version was given as an alternate and since it IS tomato season and I just happened to have a pile of tomatoes fresh from the garden, that's the direction I went. I added some dried basil too.

The tart was wonderful! I cut the recipe down to 1/3 of the batch and made one 4-inch tart (although I had enough custard left over so I could have probably made two of them). It was perfect for dinner... so much so that I didn't even share! Sorry family. Maybe next time.

This month only, you can find the recipes on the FFWD website. After that, you're just gonna have to get your hands on the book. Au revoir (that's "goodbye" in French) until next week!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

TWD: Double Apple Bundt Cake

Lynne of Honey Muffin chose Double Apple Bundt Cake for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

This moist and tasty cake was a HUGE hit this Sunday when friends and family came over for the football game (go, Bengals!) My husband pulled the old "I'm inviting people over for the football game, and oh by the way, can you feed us?" Not in those words exactly, but you know the routine... the puppy dog eyes, the hopeful smile.

What the heck... I had a cake to make, might as well have a gang of hungry football fans to feed it to.

As I said, this was much loved. Even my husband, a die-hard chocolate fan and not an apples-and-cinnamon fan, kept going back for seconds and thirds. With both shredded apple and apple butter in the cake, I can see why it was so moist and apple-icious.

Thank you Lynne for choosing this recipe. You'll find the recipe on Lynne's blog or in Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours".