Friday, September 28, 2007

Frangipane for Bookclub

Well, it was Sunday again and I was ready for baking, I had some lovely pears from my CSA package and I had frangipane on my mind. Marzipan, almonds and any combinations involving them are probably right there at the top of my list.

It was a pretty time consuming recipe, what with baking a tart, poaching pears and then assembling with frangipane and baking the final product. With the recipe I had, I ended up with 3 small tarts and one large 9" tart.

For some reason I found that the pastry didn't come together at all. I ended up having to add another egg yolk and a bit of milk. I ended up with a crumble that I threw into some pans. It looked a little odd, but I congratulated myself for following the first rule of pastry and avoiding working with the dough too much, although it looked weird, it came out well as a nice crispy pastry. If I were serving this in a restaurant (ha ha ha!!) I don't think it would go well as I noticed as I ate one of the smaller tarts, it was really hard to cut through, and I ended up making a big clatter on my plate. I distinctly remember this happening to me at a restaurant in New York and although the taste was good, it was just embarrassing chasing this impossible to cut tart around a plate making lots of noise with my cutlery!

The rest of the recipe went well, I thought it was unfortunate that the almond meal I ended up with was whole almonds. It made for a much more 'rustic' tart but no-one that tasted seemed to mind, I was just disappointed with the flecks of almond skin instead of pristine creamy frangipane.

The part that went really well was the assembly of throwing the pears in the frangipane. This was a one shot deal, just chuck them in and hope for the best, and it looked wonderful.

I'd say this was something you'd want to serve soon after cooking, it looked a bit strange when I served it the next day, I guess a dusting of confectioners sugar would have helped if I'd had it to hand, but thankfully everyone at bookclub thought it was delicious, so that was a winner!

I wont re-write the recipe as I got it from the wonderful dessert first and she did a much better job with her beautiful tart!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tackling Yeast Breads-Week 5 of Pastry and Baking at Grossmont College.

Well, we've all got our proper uniforms now, and we've had a go at piping, made banana cake and cookies, chiffon cake and delicious biscuits and this week we tackled yeast breads.

The class of 35 is split into 5 teams of 7 and I've really been lucky with my team, we all seem to work together really well, I'm probably the oldest but we all have strengths and weaknesses, we're working together as a team, and teaching each other when we're confused or having trouble.

This week we made pizza dough, and we kneaded it ourselves, crikey thats quite hard work!! We then made dinner rolls. They delicious, so cute and easy to make that I'm definitely going to make an effort to make more of this kind of stuff.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Black bean burgers-ugly but tasty!

I tried the black eyed pea cakes from fatfree vegan and it seemed like such a clever idea making bean burgers in muffin tins, I can make a bunch for my lunches and dinners. I also liked the remoulade but hated the tofu aftertaste, so tried making that with a mixture of mayo and buttermilk instead, adding sundried tomatoes for a bit of a deeper flavor. This is why I ended up using the rest of the tofu remoulade in the burgers.

I think in the future I'd try coating in breadcrumbs rather than polenta. I'm so glad I finally discovered chipotle chiles, mmmm! That remoulade will go really brilliant with chips or veggies to dip in.

Black Bean Burgers
Small onions or 1 large
2 pieces of bread made into breadcrumbs
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup chipotle remoulade (1 chipotle, 1 tsp sauce and 1/2 cup tofu, or a couple of eggs would work too)
salt and pepper
Polenta/cornmeal for coating

Oven 375F, Prepare a 12 cup muffin pan with oil spray

Sautee the onions with the sundried tomatoes until they are clear, then add garlic and cook for a further minute. Cool a little before processing
Put half the black beans with the breadcrumbs and the onions and remoulade, in a food processor and switch on until smooth. Mix in the black beans.
The mix was pretty sloppy, I'd probably have added more breadcrumbs.
Slop mix into cornmeal to coat then put into muffin tins, then cook for 45 mins at 375.

Chipotle remoulade (inspired by what do I know)
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Buttermilk
1 Chipotle Chilli
1 tbsp accompanying sauce
1 tbsp Lime
2 tbsp Sundried Tomatoes (not in oil)

Put everything in a jar and use an immersion blender to mix to a smooth sauce.

My First Post-Chocolate Truffle Birthday Cake

For my first post it only seemed appropriate that I start with a delicious chocolate cake. It was my colleague's birthday and I knew that my best option would be a nice rich chocolate cake, inspired by smitten kitchen's delicious looking cake.

I made a lovely chocolate fudge cake and then two types of ganache for the filling and decoration, unfortunately the white chocolate ganache didn't set, so although it worked just about ok in the middle, oozing out a little and mixing with the darker chocolate on the sides, it was impossible to pipe with so I just served it on the side. It was delicious though! The dark chocolate ganache was much easier to work with. Instead of piping a decoration, I garnished with white chocolate truffles.

It disappeared in a matter of minutes and I thought it was delicious. I think if I made it again I would cut the two layers in half and put something light like fruit with cream between the layers.

I added a couple of sachets of instant coffee to the boiling water to make the cake a bit richer and I used salted butter and omitted the salt.

Chocolate Fudge Cake -The Cake Bible-Rose Levey Beranbaum
Unsweetened Cocoa (Dutch Processed) 3oz
Boiling water 12.5oz
3 large eggs 5.25 oz
vanilla 1.5tbsp
sifted cake flour 10.5 oz
light brown sugar 15.25oz

baking powder 2.5 tsp
baking soda 0.75tsp
salt 0.75tsp
unsalted butter 8 ounces

Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare two 9 inch cake pans by putting parchment on the bottom, greased and floured

In a medium bowl whisk together the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
In another bowl combine the eggs, 1/4 of the cocoa mixture and vanilla.
In a large mixing bowl lightly combine the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and remaining cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed(high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scape down the sides.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about 1/2 full. Bake 20-30 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back if pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink back from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.

Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight.

White Chocolate Ganache-Bon Apetit I made around 1/2 of the white choc ganache and didn't follow the recipe very carefully!
3 cups chilled whipping cream

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 pound good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker's), finely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

4 tablespoons amaretto or other almond liqueur (I didnt include this)

Bring 1 cup cream and butter to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat. Add white chocolate and stir until smooth. Whisk in vanilla. Pour 1 1/2 cups white chocolate filling into small bowl; cover and freeze until cold, about 2 hours.

Let remaining white chocolate mixture in saucepan stand at room temperature until lukewarm, about 20 minutes.

Using electric mixer, beat remaining 2 cups cream and almond extract in large bowl until peaks form. Working in 3 batches, fold in lukewarm white chocolate mixture. Refrigerate whipped cream frosting just until medium peaks hold, folding occasionally, about 3 hours.

Dark Chocolate Ganache- from Smitten Kitchen I made about 2/3 of this recipe
1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate (I used Trader Joes Bittersweet Belgian Chocolate)

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter

Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth. Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency).

I made the cakes a day before and put the white chocolate ganache in the center, then covered with he dark chocolate ganache and then topped with white chocolate cherry truffles and served the disaster runny white chocolate sauce on the side.