December 30, 2008

French Yule Log



A Daring Bakers December Challenge


Our fabulous challenge for December is a French Yule Log from Flore at Plaisir Gourmand. [http://plaisirgourmand.perso.cegetel.net/index.html]. Our fabulous hostesses are Hilda of Saffron & Blueberry (http://saffronandblueberry.blogspot.com/) and Marion of (Il en faut peu pour etre heureux (http://ilenfautpeupour.canalblog.com/).

This is a show stopping recipe that is perfect for the holidays. My extended family thoroughly enjoyed the Yule Log, including the sugared slices of star fruit. The side decorations of praline turned out to be slightly addictive, causing more than one person to revisit the log and sneak a piece off the side. Thanks Hilda & Marion for a wonderful holiday dessert!

This recipe comes almost entirely, except for one small labeled portion and some of the variations courtesy of our dear Daring Baker Fairy Tartelette, from the website: Florilège Gourmand (address above) which belongs to Flore and is unreal. Her website is in French and different portions of the recipe have been pulled from the recipes in the entremets section.

1) Dacquoise Biscuit
2) Mousse
3) Ganache Insert
4) Praline (Crisp) Insert
5) Creme Brulee Insert
6) Icing


The assembly will essentially be a Dacquoise Biscuit at the bottom, and the inserts inter-layered with mousse, with an icing finish.


Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)

Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking

Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper

Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.

Ingredients:
2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s (caster) sugar
2Tbsp (15g) brown rice flour & sweet rice flour blend (1 Tb each)
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

Finely mix the almond meal and the caster sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds). Sift the flour into the mix. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff. Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it. Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm). Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse

Preparation time: 20mn

Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula

Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.

Gelatin is the gelifying agent in all of the following recipes, but if you would like to use agar-agar, here are the equivalencies: 8g powdered gelatin = 1 (0.25 oz) envelope powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp Agar-Agar. 1 Tbsp. of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 tsp. of agar-agar powder.

Ingredients:
2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 2+1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content) or MimicCream

Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3. In a double boiler (or one small saucepan in a larger one), heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
5. Add in the rest of the cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert

Preparation time: 10mn

Equipment: pan, whisk.
If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.

Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

Ingredients:
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content) or MimicCream
5 oz (135g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened

Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge). While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth. Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

Element #4 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert

Preparation time: 10 mn (+ optional 15mn if you make lace crepes)

Equipment: Small saucepan, baking sheet (if you make lace crepes).
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin (or use an empty bottle of olive oil).

Note: Feuillete means layered (as in with leaves) so a Praline Feuillete is a Praline version of a delicate crisp. There are non-praline variations below. The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. To our knowledge they are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own using the recipe below or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them.

To make 2.1oz / 60g of gavottes (lace crepes - recipe by Ferich Mounia):
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
2/3 Tbsp (8g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup – 2tsp (35g) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp / 0.5 oz (15g) beaten egg
1 tsp (3.5g) granulated sugar
½ tsp vegetable oil
Heat the milk and butter together until butter is completely melted. Remove from the heat.
Sift flour into milk-butter mixture while beating, add egg and granulated sugar. Make sure there are no lumps.
Grease a baking sheet and spread batter thinly over it.
Bake at 430°F (220°C) for a few minutes until the crepe is golden and crispy. Let cool.

Ingredients for the Praline Feuillete:


3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or corn flakes or pulverized Gorilla Munch

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert

Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking

Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper

Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc...

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content) or MimicCream
½ cup (115g) star fruit puree
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white). Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.

Tartelette says:You can bake it without a water bath since it is going to go inside the log (the aesthetics of it won't matter as much since it will be covered with other things)....BUT I would recommend a water bath for the following reasons:
- you will get a much nicer mouth feel when it is done
- you will be able to control its baking point and desired consistency much better
- it bakes for such a long time that I fear it will get overdone without a water bath
Now...since it is baked in a pan and it is sometimes difficult to find another large pan to set it in for a water bath, even a small amount of water in your water bath will help the heat be distributed evenly in the baking process. Even as little as 1 inch will help.
Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing

Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)

Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan

Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.

Ingredients:
4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content) or MimicCream
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
Add to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

How To Assemble your French Yule Log

Depending on whether your mold is going to hold the assembly upside down until you unmold it or right side up, this order will be different.


THIS IS FOR UNMOLDING FROM UPSIDE DOWN TO RIGHT SIDE UP.


You will want to tap your mold gently on the countertop after each time you pipe mousse in to get rid of any air bubbles.

1) Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with rhodoid (clear hard plastic, I usually use transparencies cut to the desired shape, it’s easier to find than cellulose acetate which is what rhodoid translates to in English) OR plastic film. Rhodoid will give you a smoother shape but you may have a hard time using it depending on the kind of mold you’re using.

You have two choices for Step 2, you can either have Dacquoise on the top and bottom of your log as in version A or you can have Dacquoise simply on the bottom of your log. Reverse this order to make the Yule log from the bottom to the top.

2) Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there. If you are using an actual Yule mold which is in the shape of a half-pipe, you want the Dacquoise to cover the entire half-pipe portion of the mold.
3) Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4) Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
5) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6) Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
7) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight eidge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
10) Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.


THE NEXT DAY...


Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan. Cover the cake with the icing. Let set. Return to the freezer. Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.

December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas



May this day be joyous for you and your family.

November 30, 2008

Caramelized Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting


A November Daring Baker's Challenge


This month's challenge is for a wonderfully moist and flavorful cake. It is fabulous eaten plain or with the caramelized butter frosting. This recipe is from Shuna Fish Lydon of the blog Eggbeater and her recipe can be found on the website Bay Area Bites. Our hostesses for November are: Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex of Blondie & Brownie (she's Brownie of the duo), and Jenny of Foray into Food. My family thoroughly enjoyed this cake and actually preferred it without the frosting. This recipe is a keeper.
Recipe
CAKE
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp chia seed meal
1/2 cup chestnut flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup arrowroot starch
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 350F and butter or grease one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan or a large tube pan.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt, and cream the mixture until light and fluffy. Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform. Sift flours, chia seed meal and baking powder together in a bowl.
3. Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.} Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform.
4. Turn batter into prepared cake pan. Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.
CARAMEL SYRUP
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
1. In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly and is dark amber in color. When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.
2. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}
Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.
CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream or almond milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste
1. Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.
Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month. To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light.

October 28, 2008

Pizza by Peter Reinhart




October Daring Baker Challenge

The challenge this month is hosted by Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums. Rosa chose the pizza recipe from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Maker's Apprentice. This is a wonderful recipe that I've made a number of times to great reviews from my family. In the past, I've topped this pizza with herbed pesto and edam, the classic pepperoni and mozzarella cheese, or ground buffalo and a variety of Italian cheeses.


This time I wanted to satisfy my curiosity about fried sage on pizza. It turned out beautifully and we barely had enough of the sage leaves left from the batch I fried up to put on the pizza. Now we have a new topping option for our family pizza night.


Basic Pizza Dough

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup corn flour
1 cup oat flour
1 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
2 tsp chia seed meal
2 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold (40 degree Fahrenheit)
1 Tb sugar or agave syrup
Cornmeal flour for dusting

DAY ONE

1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl.

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. If the dough is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with parchment paper. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or fewer pieces if you want to make larger pizzas).

5. Sprinkle some corn flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with oil. Slip the pan into a plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to three days.

DAY TWO

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on a shelf in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven at hot as possible (500 Degree F/260 Degrees C).

10. Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9 - 12 inches/23 - 30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180 g piece of dough).

11. Lightly top the dough with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

12. Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jally pan. Close the door and bake for about 5 - 8 minutes.

13. After baking 2 minutes, take a peek at the pizza. For more even baking, rotate the pizza 180 degrees.

14. Take the pizza out of ht eoven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3 - 5 minutes before slicing or serving.


Topping

Olive oil
Minced fresh sage leaves
Minced shallot
Fried Sage leaves

1. Spread olive oil over the top of the dough. Sprinkle the minced sage and shallot over the top.

2. Place the fried sage leaves on the top of the pizza just before serving.


Fried Sage Leaves

handful fresh large sage leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup water
pinch salt
smidgeon black pepper

1. In a small bowl, place in the brown rice flour, water, salt and pepper, then stir. Dip each leave into the batter and allow the excess batter to drip off.


2. In a heavy sauce pan, pour in 1 inch of olive oil and heat to 365°F on a deep-fat thermometer. Fry sage in batches, turning as needed. Using a pair of tongs remove the sage leaves from the oil and place in a paper towel lined pan to drain.

September 27, 2008

Lavosh With Tepary Bean & Mustard Green Relish



A Daring Baker's September Challenge

This month we are making Daring Bakers history as our September challenge is vegan and/or gluten free. For the first time ever, the torch has been passed to « Alternative » Daring Bakers : Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl. We wanted to make something savory this month, and we chose the recipe for Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (pp 178 - 180).

Here's a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids...It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian). The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)...

The key to a crisp lavash,...is to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

* The key to crispy crackers is rolling out the dough as thinly as possible. We noticed that the crackers turned out better if you divide the dough in half before rolling. You’ll roll out the dough as per the directions, decorate and cook the crackers in two batches.

Lavosh Recipe

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe) or 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup millet flour, 1/2 cup arrowroot starch, 1 tsp chia seed meal
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

RECIPE - Recipe Reference: The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

Tepary Bean & Mustard Green Relish Recipe

1 cup cooked brown tepary beans
1/2 cup mustard greens, finely sliced
1/2 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tb sesame seeds
1 Tb olive oil

Place all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and stir together. Serve with crackers.

August 31, 2008

Apricot & Nectarine Eclairs


The August Daring Baker's Challenge

This month's challenge is hosted by Meeta and Tony. They choose the the Chocolate Eclair recipe from Pierre Herme. The recipe is from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme written by Dorie Greenspan. The complete recipe can be found on either Tony or Meeta's blog.

This recipe is composed of three parts: pate a choux or cream puff dough, pastry cream and chocolate glaze. I used a blend of chestnut flour and almond meal for the cream puff dough. While my eclairs puffed up beautifully, although the interior cavity didn't run the length of the eclair. I simply slit the side of the eclair, so I could fill it. For the pastry cream, I added a minced apricot and nectarine. It was a delicious and addictive cream, with most of it eaten before we stopped and filled a few of the eclairs. Lastly, I topped the eclair off with the chocolate glaze.

This is a great recipe and one my family thoroughly enjoyed. My daughter's favorite part was eating little scoops of the glaze, once it had cooled in the refrigerator. My husband preferred the complete eclair and my son liked the plain eclair without chocolate of cream filling. I found my caloric downfall in the apricot nectarine filling.

Happy Labor Day!

July 30, 2008

Amaretto Gateau with Midori Pistachio Praline Buttercream


A July Daring Bakers Challenge


This month's Daring Baker's Challenge was hosted by Chris of Mele Cotte. The recipe is for the Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream from Great Cakes by Carol Walter.

This is the second version of this cake that I made while on vacation with my family this month. The first one was devoured by my family before I had even finished making the buttercream. It was wonderful to know how delicious the cake was, but I really wanted to taste this cake all put together.

I waited until everyone was tired out from an afternoon spent in the hot Florida sun. While they were recovering, I hit the kitchen and whipped up another version of this cake. The gateau is made of almond meal and flavored with Amaretto. Then I brushed an Amaretto sugar syrup on each layer before spreading out the buttercream. The bottom layer of Swiss buttercream is pistachio praline flavored with Midori, a honeydew liquour. The top layer of buttercream is only flavored with Midori. The top layer of cake is covered with a lime curd glaze and then topped with chocolate ganache flavored with vanilla cognac. I had to use so much Midori liquour to get a nice flavor that we were jokingly calling this cake a "Snockered Gateau."

My family and I are on our way home and I'm having trouble with my internet connection. As soon as I can, I'll post my version of this recipe. If you would like to take a look the recipe now, visit Christ at Mele Cotte for the complete recipe.

Thanks Chris for a fabulous challenge. We thoroughly enjoyed eating this cake and it was a dream to make.

June 29, 2008

Chestnut Pumpkin Danish


A June Daring Baker's Challenge

This month's challenge was hosted by the lovely Kelly of Sass & Veracity and the fabulous Ben from What's Cookin'?. They selected the "Danish Braid" from Sherry Yard's "Secret of Baking". Kelly and Ben chose for us to make danishes for a variety of reasons, one of them would allow us as Daring Bakers to get creative with our fillings and the shapes of our braids.

Pumpkin is a favorite flavor in my house, attaining a level of popularity that out shines any fruit including apple. When I started contemplating what flavors to use, my kids wanted to know what was wrong with using pumpkin. Absolutely nothing, I assured them, so pumpkin it is.

The dough was easy to make and worked very well with all the changes I made to make it gluten and dairy free. The finished dough turned out flaky and flavorful as well. I made a braid and several smaller pinwheel danishes with the dough, but the pinwheels were devoured by my eager family when they first came out of the oven.

This was a wonderful challenge for a gluten free baker with learning to make laminated dough and then make different shapes with the dough. My family loved the danish, everything from the crisp flaky dough to the pumpkin custard filling. I served it on Father's Day for breakfast and we almost ate the entire danish at one sitting. Simply delicious.

Thanks Kelly and Ben for a great challenge!

Recipe

Dough

½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup chestnut flour
¼ cup + 1 Tb arrowroot starch
¼ cup + 2 Tb sweet rice flour
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp chia seed meal
½ tsp pectin powder
1 pkg dry active yeast
¼ cup + 2 Tb almond milk
Pinch monocalcium phosphate powder *
3 Tb cane sugar
1 Tb chestnut spread **
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, chilled & beaten

Shortening Block

1/3 cup vegetable shortening
2 Tb coconut oil
2 Tb sweet rice flour


Dough

1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flours, salt, chia seed meal and pectin. Stir and make sure the chia seed meal and pectin are thoroughly incorporated through out the flours.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the yeast, almond milk and calcium powder. Start mixing on low speed. Slowly add the sugar, vanilla extract, chestnut spread and egg. Continue mixing and slowly add the dry ingredients into the bowl. If the dough is sticky add a tablespoon of flour.

3. Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper and wrap it. Then place it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Shortening Block

1. In a mixing bowl, dump in the vegetable shortening, coconut oil and flour. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape the sides down and beat for 1 more minute.

2. Transfer the shortening mixture to a small bowl. Leave at room temperature.


Layering the Dough & Shortening Block

1. Once the dough has chilled for 30 minutes, turn it out on a parchment paper covered surface. Sprinkle with flour and then cover with parchment paper. Roll out the dough into a rectangle that is ¼ inch thick. If the dough is sticky, keep sprinkling it with flour. After it is rolled out, slightly score the dough into thirds. Spread some of the shortening block on the middle and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left side into the center and then the right side on top of the left side. Wrap in the parchment paper and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. This is the end of the first turn.

2. Remove from the freezer and rotate the dough. Repeat the above steps and place back in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes. This is the end of the second turn. Repeat the same for the third and fourth turns.

3. Once the fourth turn has been completed, leave the dough in the freezer for at least 5 hours or overnight. The dough is now ready to be used. If you aren’t going to use it within 24 hours, roll out the dough until it is about 1 inch in thickness. Then wrap it in plastic wrap and place back in the freezer. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.


Making the Braid

1. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. On another sheet of parchment paper, sprinkle it with some flour and then lay down the Danish dough. Sprinkle the top with flour and cover with parchment paper. Roll out into a rectangle that is ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes and then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.

2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 3 - 4 inch long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the other side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.

3. Spoon the filling in the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom flaps, fold down the top flap over the filling to cover it. Then, fold the bottom flap up to cover the filling. This helps to keep the braid net and to hold in the filling. Begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.


Chestnut Pumpkin Danish Filling

2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp chia seed meal
¼ cup arrowroot starch
½ tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture has thickened.

2. Spoon the mixture down the center of the danish dough.

3. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container if you are not planning to use the filling right away.


Chestnut Glaze

1 Tb chestnut spread

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 Tb almond milk

1. Place the ingredients in a small bowl and stir together. Work the mixture with the back of a spoon to work out any lumps that might remain.

2. Pour over the top of the warm danish.

Proofing and Baking

1. Set the baking sheet with the Danish on it in a warm location. Cover the Danish and allow it to rise for 2 hours or until it has doubled in volume.

2. Near the end of the time the bread needs to rise, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

3. Bake the Danish for 10 minutes then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake about 15 – 20 minutes more or until it is golden brown.

4. Cool and serve the braid either warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze for 1 month.


* The monocalcium phosphate powder is part of the Pomona’s Universal Pectin package.

** Chestnut Spread is by Clement Faugier (crème de marrons de l’ardeche).

June 18, 2008

Honey Chocolate Chip Cookies


Chocolate chips cookies are a fixture at our house. I periodically tinker with the recipe or try new ones just to see what my family thinks about them. Lately, I've been trying out making some of our favorite baked goods with honey. We've been enjoying trying out different flavors of honey, from the mild clover honey to the robust mesquite honey.

For this experiment, I used the Honey Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from the Culinary Institute Arts Encyclopedic Cookbook, edited by Rose Berolzheimer. These cookies turned out beautifully with a hint of honey. My daughter was thrilled with these cookies and preferred them slightly warmed.

Recipe

1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1/2 tsp chia seed meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium sized bowl, dump in the flours, chia seed meal, baking powder and sea salt. Stir and make sure the chia seed meal is mixed through out.

3. In a small bowl, pour in the honey, egg and vanilla extract. Stir to combine.

4. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir together. Dump in the nuts and chocolate chips, then fold them into the batter.

Substitutions

1. You can substitute 1 cup of a gluten free flour mix for the individual flours. If the flour mix has xanthan gum, do not add the chia seed meal.

2. You can substitute 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum for the chia seed meal.

June 14, 2008

Rustic Millet Bread - Testing A Biga

It has been a busy time at our house the last week and a half. School and sporting activities are finishing off for the summer. We've been darting here and there around town for the last ten days. There have been school programs, last dance classes and several karate belt tests.

In the midst of all this I was trying to finesse a special request cake recipe for the kids. I thought I had it just right and the power goes out. Five hours of twilight and a cake in a rapidly cooling oven. High temperatures and the need for air conditioning had over whelmed the utilities. I hoped the residual heat in the oven would keep the cake baking, but instead it deflated and turned into a flabby Frisbee.

I decided to drown my cake baking sorrows in another kitchen experiment. I pulled out my copy of Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb and flipped to the pages on making pre-ferments. I'd tried my hand at making bread with a poolish and this time I would try to making bread with an Italian style biga pre-ferment.

An Italian style biga is usually firm pre-ferment for making bread. Like making sourdough, the biga is a sponge of flours, yeast and water. The difference is that the biga is made with cool water and the texture is firmer than other styles, like the poolish. They also take longer to rise, due to the thicker dough. According Reinhart, a biga will stay active for up to 3 days if kept refrigerated, will freeze for up to 6 months.

I didn't use a binding agent like xanthan gum or chia seed gel for this rustic bread. It's the combination of flours that keeps the bread together. If you alter the flours used in this recipe, make sure to add a binder when you make it. You would use 1 teaspoon xanthan gum or 1 teaspoon chia seed gel. Add both to the dry ingredients and thoroughly mix into the flours.

This is a lovely bread, full of holes and delightfully flavorful. I sliced thin strips of bread and toasted them. Then I made a bean relish of navy beans, carrots, radishes, dill, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. It was delicious and made a wonderful appetizer to our meal. My husband and I thoroughly nibbled on these while we waited for dinner to cook. Our children preferred eating hunks of the bread all alone.

Making the Biga Pre-Ferment (Firm)

½ cup millet flour
½ cup gluten free oat flour
½ cup arrowroot starch
¼ cup sweet potato flour
1 package active dry yeast
2/3 to ¾ cup cool water (65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 Tb agave syrup

1. In a small bowl, measure out a small amount of the water and then pour in the yeast. Allow it to soften for about 5 minutes before using.

2. In a large bowl, dump in the flours and stir together. Slowly add the softened yeast and agave syrup to the bowl. Then begin to stir, slowly add enough of the rest of the water until the dough is smooth and slightly firm. The dough shouldn’t be loose and runny.

3. Cover the dough and set aside for it to rise at room temperature for 3 to 5 hours.

4. Use right away or store the biga in the refrigerator to retard it overnight.


Rustic Bread*

1 1/3 cup biga
½ cup millet flour
½ cup oat flour
½ cup arrowroot starch
¾ cup sweet potato flour
2 tsp sea salt
1 package active dry yeast
¼ cup almond milk, room temperature
1 Tb agave syrup
1 ½ Tb olive oil
½ cup cool water (65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit)
Olive oil
Hot water for steaming bowl

1. If the biga has been in the refrigerator, set out for an hour before using. Then measure out the biga into a large bowl.

2. Dump the various flours, salt, and yeast in the bowl. Stir until the yeast is thoroughly mixed throughout.

3. In a large measuring cup, pour in the agave syrup, olive oil and water. Gently stir together and pour into the bowl of dry ingredients. Use the spoon to work the dough together taking care to work the biga into the dough.

4. Cover the dough and set aside to rise for 2 to 4 hours or until the dough is 1 ½ times its original size.

5. Set out 3 pieces of parchment paper and then divide the dough in to 3 equal pieces. Place the individual portions dough into the center of each piece of parchment paper. Shape into a rectangular shape and brush olive oil over the top of the bread. Do not press or squeeze, so that the air remains in the dough. Cover the loaves and allow to rise for 2 hours or until it rises 1 ½ times its original size.

6. Place a pizza stone or bread baking stone on a rack placed into the center of the oven. Place a heat proof bowl on a rack below the baking stone for steaming. When the bread is just about finished rising, preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. Place a loaf on parchment paper on the baking stone. Pour about 2 cups of hot water into the heat proof bowl. Then spritz water over the loaf and the sides of the oven.

8. Bake for 2 minutes. Spritz the oven with water again. Bake for another 5 minutes and then reduce the oven’s heat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 20 minutes until the loaf is a golden brown or sounds hollow when thumped.

9. Cool for 1 hour before cutting and eating.

* I didn't use a binding agent like xanthan gum or chia seed gel for this rustic bread. It's the combination of flours that keeps the bread together. If you alter the flours used in this recipe, make sure to add a binder when you make it. You would use 1 teaspoon xanthan gum or 1 teaspoon chia seed gel. Add both to the dry ingredients and thoroughly mix into the flours.

June 2, 2008

Muffuletta


If you haven't been introduced to a fabulous New Orleans sandwich, the Muffuletta, then read on. The layered sandwich originated at the Central Grocery, a small Italian-American grocery store in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The muffuletta is a delightful meal of a soft light bread filled with a variety of meats, cheeses and a zesty olive salad.

My gluten free version of the muffuletta is based on the recipe from Nola Cuisine. Danno has created a wonderful sandwich that he based on the one from Terry Thompson-Anderson's book, Cajun-Creole Cooking. This recipe makes a fabulous tender loaf of bread that's perfect for letting the filling of a sandwich shine through and a spicy olive salad for the filling.

Since this was one of our favorite sandwiches, my husband and I were thrilled with how it turned out. Our children really enjoyed it, however they weren't as keen on the olive salad. This recipe makes enough for one meal for four people, but don't count on leftovers. My family made sure that every scrumptious bit was devoured, before asking me to make this one again.

Recipes


Muffuletta Bread

1 cup warm water (110 - 115 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp cane sugar
2 tsp chia seed meal
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup gf oat flour
1/2 cup arrowroot starch
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tb vegetable shortening
sesame seeds

Egg Wash
1 egg, beaten
2 Tb cold water

1. In a large bowl, pour in the yeast, sugar and water. Stir and let stand for 30 minutes or until the yeast is bubbly. While the yeast is proofing, cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium sized bowl, dump in the flours, chia seed meal, salt and shortening. Using a fork, work the shortening into the flour until it is in small bits.

3. Slowly stir the flour into the yeast until the dough comes together. Then set the dough on the paper covered cookie sheet and shape into a round loaf. Set the cookie sheet in a warm location and allow the bread to rise for 1 1/2 hours.

4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. With a pastry brush cover the egg wash over the top of the loaf. Then sprinkle the top with sesame seeds. Place the cookie sheet in the loaf in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and cook the loaf for an additional 25 minutes. The bread should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.

Substitutions

1. You can substitute 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend for the flours in this recipe.

2. You can substitute 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum for the chia seed meal in this recipe.

3. You can substitute agave syrup for the cane sugar in this recipe.



Olive Salad


2/3 cups green olives with garlic, pitted & chopped
1/2 cup Calamatta olives (or black), pitted & chopped
1 cup cauliflower, chopped
2 Tb capers
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
1/3 cup carrot, sliced thin
1/3 cup jarred pearl onions, chopped
1/3 cup radish, sliced thin
1 Tb parsley, finely chopped
3 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp grains of paradise
2 Tb red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tb lemon juice
2 tsp olive brining liquid (from the green olives)
Sea salt & black pepper to taste (salt may not be needed)

1. In a large bowl, dump all the ingredients into the bowl and stir together. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator.

2. Allow the salad to sit for at least 3 days before eating. The salad gets better with time.

Substitutions

My version is nightshade free, if you can eat them you can add pepperoncini, 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes and 1/4 cup pimentos to increase the spiciness of the dish.

Building the Sandwich

1 loaf Muffuletta Bread
Salami
Ham
Mozzarella
Provolone
Olive Salad

1. Slice the loaf in half, using a pastry brush coat each side of the loaf with the olive oil from the olive salad.

2. Layer the meat and cheese on the bottom of the bread. Then top with the olive salad. Put the top on the salad and lightly press down. Slice into quarters or eighths and serve.

May 31, 2008

Pecan Pralines - New Orleans Style


When I was younger and my family would head back home to see the grandparents each summer. As we traveled, my parents would look for a Stuckey's Pecan Candy Shoppe for a break from driving. Stuckey's were known for their wonderful candy, like pecan rolls and divinity. At our first stop my parents would always buy a couple of boxes of divinity and pralines for us to enjoy as we traveled.

For my Praline Rooibos Opera Cake, I made these New Orleans style pralines for the flavoring of the cake. The recipe I used is from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. In these pralines, the sugar is opaque rather than clear.

The flavor is delicious with a slight hint of caramel. My children weren't that fond of these candies, but my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Recipe

1 cup sugar
2 Tb glucose*
1/4 cup water
1 Tb mesquite honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 Tb vegetable shortening
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup pecan halves or pieces
small bowl of water
pastry brush
candy thermometer

1. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set out two sauce pans, a medium one for making pralines and another half filled with water. Place two soup spoons and a whisk in the water. Then set the pot on low and allow the utensils to warm while you make the pralines.

2. Dump in the sugar, glucose and water in the medium sauce pan. Cover the pan and set over medium heat for 4 minutes. At the end of this time, remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Bring the mixture to a boil. Insert a candy thermometer into the sugar mixture. Do not stir the sugar mixture until after the syrup is cooked. If any stray sugar crystals appear on the side of the pan, using a pastry brush lightly dipped in water.

3. The sugar will form bubbles that will get very large as it cooks. After the sugar has cooked for about 8 minutes, it will turn a light golden brown. When the temperature reaches 335 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the pan from the heat. Allow the pan to cool for about 1 minute before adding the other ingredients.

4. Pour the honey, brown sugar, vegetable shortening and salt in to the pan. Using the warm whisk, blend the ingredients into the syrup. Then add the pecans and whisk again.

5. Scoop out a soup spoon sized serving of the praline with the warm soup spoons. Then set the spoonfuls on the parchment paper. If the praline begins to harden before you have finished scooping out the candy, place the pan over low heat until it softens again. Let the candy cool to room temperature before serving. Store the pralines at room temperature in a covered container.

* Glucose - I used Wilton's Glucose for this recipe, purchased it from Michael's Craft Store. I found it on the cake decorating aisle. You can substitute corn syrup or sugar syrup in place of the glucose.

May 28, 2008

Praline Rooibos Opera Cake


A May Daring Bakers Challenge

This month's challenge was brought to us by Lis of La Mia Cucina, Fran of Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie, Shea of Whistful and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice. Our baking this month is dedicated to Barbara of Winos and Foodies, who is no longer an active member of the Daring Bakers, but will always be an honorary Daring Bakers for her bravery and character in the face of a challenge. To our wonderful hostesses, thank you for an incredible frolic in the kitchen. Barbara, thank you for showing us all how to live life with courage and great joy. The lovely Barbara, is the force behind the food blog event called, A Taste of Yellow, it supports the LiveSTRONG Foundation started by Lance Armstrong.

The Opera Cake is an elegant and beautiful French dessert that was believed to have been created around the early 1900s. Many people credit Louis Clichy with inventing the cake that is sometimes referred to as the Clichy Cake. This recipe is based on the Opera Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle & Timothy Moriarty's Chocolate Passion.

I had a great deal of fun making this recipe, making New Orlean style pecan pralines, roasting pecans for pecan meal, making syrup and joconde. My children weren't thrilled in the beginning with this recipe, but they quickly came around when they tasted the cake. A light and moist sponge cake, it is delicious alone and with the buttercream. The ones I made for my husband and myself had the extra layer of the white chocolate mousse made with honey, Rooibos tea, and Jack Daniels. Alas, there isn't much of this cake left over. The Opera Cake is a thoroughly delightful recipe and one I'll make again.

Recipe

Joconde, The Cake Layer
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup pecan meal *
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3 large eggs
1 tsp chia seed meal
2 Tb brown rice flour
2 Tb sweet rice flour
1 1/2 Tb vegetable shortening, melted

1. Divide your oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a jelly roll pan (15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1) with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, or a mixing bowl (if you are using a hand mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy.

3. Change to the paddle attachment, and beat in the almond and pecan meal, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light, about 3 minutes.

4. Slowly add the flour and beat on low speed just until it is combined. Be careful not to over mix.

5. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the meringue into the nut mixture and then fold in the melted shortening. Spread the batter, evenly to cover the entire surface of the pan.

6. Place the pan in the middle of the oven. Bake until the cake layers are lightly browned and just springy to the touch, about 5 to 9 minutes. Note: I baked mine for 9 minutes.)

7. Place the pan on a heatproof surface, then loosen the cake from the pan. Cover the cake with a piece of parchment paper and lay a cookie sheet upside down on top of the paper and the jellyroll pan. Turn the pan with the cake in it over and remove the jellyroll pan. Carefully peel away the parchment paper from the cake and then cover the cake with it. Note: You may need to hold the cake down with your finger tips as you ease away the parchment paper. Allow the cake to cool until it is room temperature.

* Pecan Meal - I made pecan meal by roasting pecan halves on a cookie sheet in the oven for 15 minutes at 325 degrees. Then I dumped them into the bowl of the food processor along with 2 Tbs of arrowroot starch and processing until the nuts became a fine meal.


Syrup for Joconde

1/4 cup water
3 Tb cane sugar
1/2 to 1 Tb mesquite honey

1. Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the sauce pan and bring to a boil.

2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until it is room temperature.


Butter Cream Layer

1 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tb crushed pecan pralines *
1 egg, beaten
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup vegetable shortening **
1/4 cup coconut oil/butter
2 Tb cocoa butter, melted

1. Combine the sugar, water and praline in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.

2. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy or instant read thermometer. Then remove from the heat.

3. While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk the eggs until they are pale and foamy.

4. When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature, reduce the mixer speed to low and very slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl. Be careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl, but don't worry about it as it will harden.

5. Raise the mixer speed to medium high and continue beating until the eggs are thick, satiny and cool to the touch (about 5 minutes).

6. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the vegetable shortening and cocoa butter. Once the shortening, coconut oil and cocoa butter are incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.

7. Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it's set and firm enough to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes). Note: You may need to chill your buttercream for a longer period of time before it firms up enough to spread.

* Praline - I made New Orlean's style pecan pralines for this recipe and then chopped them. The recipe comes from Sherry Yard's The Secret of Baking. This recipe will be my next blog post and will be posted on Friday, June 1st.

** You can substitute butter or all vegetable shortening in this recipe.

White Chocolate Ganache/Mousse Layer

3.5 oz white chocolate, chopped finely
1/4 cup very strong Rooibos tea *
1/2 Tb mesquite honey
1 Tb Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey
5 Tb vegetable shortening
2 1/2 Tb cocoa butter

1. Dump the white chocolate, Rooibos tea and cocoa butter in a small sauce pan. Then gently stirring together until the chocolate and cocoa butter melts and to keep it smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, pour in the melted chocolate mixture. Begin beating on medium speed, until the mixture is creamy. Then dump in the honey, whiskey and shortening and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy.

3. Refrigerate until you are ready to use. Note: You may need to set the mousse out to warm up in order to spread it.

* Rooibos Tea - It is a tea made from the leaves of the Rooibos bush from South Africa. I used 3 tea bags to 1/3 cup of water make the very strong tea. If you cannot find Rooibos tea, you could substitute Honeybush tea for it. Or you could use 1/4 cup of almond milk or heavy cream instead.

Glaze for Top of Cake

7 oz white chocolate
1 Tb very strong Rooibos tea *
2 Tb vegetable shortening
2 Tb cocoa butter

1. Melt the white chocolate, Rooibos tea and cocoa butter, stirring until melted.

2. Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Smooth with a spatula to get a smooth and even layer.

3. Place the cake in the refrigerator until set.

* Rooibos Tea - * Rooibos Tea - It is a tea made from the leaves of the Rooibos bush from South Africa. I used 3 tea bags to 1/3 cup of water make the very strong tea. If you cannot find Rooibos tea, you could substitute Honeybush tea for it. Or you could use 1 Tb almond milk or heavy cream instead.

Assembly of the Opera Cake

1. Cut strips of parchment paper that are the width of the roll of the parchment paper and 4 inches wide. Have some tape ready to hold the parchment paper together around the cake.

2. Cut out circles of the cake using a round pastry ring or cookie cutter. Using a pastry brush, paint one side of each cake round with the honey syrup.

3. Then set the parchment paper around the cake in a tube and tape to hold the tube shape.

4. Spoon some buttercream on top of the cake round and smooth until the mixture is even. Then ease into the tube another cake layer. Spoon the mousse mixture on top of this cake layer and spread evenly. Set another cake layer into the tube and cover with a layer of buttercream.

5. Place the cake into the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes before glazing. When the buttercream is firm, pour the glaze on top. Then set the cake back into the refrigerator to chill.

6. Top with powdered sugar, colored powdered sugar and a white chocolate treble clef.

May 23, 2008

Kumquat Lychee Preserves & Sweet Puffs


When I was a kid, I loved to go visit my Aunt and Uncle in Pensacola. They had the most wonderful plant in their backyard, a small kumquat tree. I had quite a fondness for kumquats and their tree was the perfect size for me to pick. My Aunt and Uncle weren't that fond of kumquats, so they let me have any ripe fruit on their tree when we were visiting. I loved the sweet tart flavor of the kumquats and the way they burst open in my mouth as I bit down on them.

You can imagine my joy, when I discovered the kumquats had come in season. They were piled in a lovely display at the entrance to Whole Foods. I grabbed several pints to bring home and began to day dream about all the fabulous foods I could make with them. Once they got home, my daughter asked if she could try my kumquats. Delighted, I sliced some up for her to try and warned her that they could have the same flavor as the yellow Sweet Tart candy. She popped one in her mouth and was smitten with their lovely sweetness followed by a hint of tanginess.

Before long, I was down to just a dozen of the beautiful little orange orbs. So, I didn't have enough for the kumquat preserves I had planned on making. Looking through my pantry, a can of lychee fruit caught my eye and I wondered how they would taste with kumquats. A few tasting experiments later and adding some slices of the last of my Clementines, I had the makings of a great recipe for preserves - kumquats, Clementines and lychees. It is a fabulous celebration of sweet and piquant fruit.

After making up the preserves, I began making some sweet puffs that I could fill. The first batch of puffs were literally devoured by my family. My daughter sat and opened each of her sweet puffs filled them with some homemade strawberry preserves. While I was cleaning up the kitchen, my preteen son slipped in and scooted out with the last of the sweet puffs clutched close to his chest. My husband sat in the kitchen laughing and told me I'd have to make more if there were going to be any for breakfast.

My sweet puffs recipe is a variation on the Master Pate a Choux recipe from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. I'm submitting my kumquat lychee preserves to Sugar High Friday, hosted this month by the lovely Tartelette.

Recipes

Kumquat Lychee Preserves

12 kumquats, peeled & seeded
2 clementines, peeled & seeded
1 20-oz can lychee fruit in syrup
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp monocalcium phosphate*
1/4 tsp pectin*
1 medium canning jar & lid, sterilized

Sterilizing Canning Jar(s)

1. Your canning jars need to be thoroughly cleaned before use. Run the jars through your dishwasher or wash and rinse them.

2. Place the jar(s) in a large pot of water, so that the jar is totally covered in water. Then bring the water to a boil. Boil gently for 10 minutes and then keep the jar(s) in the hot water until you are ready to fill them.

Making the Preserves

1. Chop the fruit into medium sized chunks. Then place the fruit and sugar into a food processor. Blend until all the chunks are broken up.

2. In a medium sauce pan, pour in the water and the monocalcium phosphate. Stir until the calcium dissolves.

3. Then sprinkle the pectin across the water and stir together. Break up any small clumps of pectin that remain.

4. Pour in the fruit and sugar mixture, then stir together. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Then cook for 20 minutes.

5. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal.


Miniature Sweet Puffs


4 Tb chestnut flour
2 Tb sweet rice flour
2 Tb arrowroot starch
1 tsp chia seed meal
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cane sugar
2 tsp agave syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup almond milk
3 Tb vegetable shortening
2 large eggs, beaten
hot water for the steaming pan

Egg Wash

1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place one oven rack in the center of the oven and another rack on the lower under it. One the lower oven rack place a heat proof pan or bowl on it.

2. In a medium sized bowl, dump in the flours, chia seed meal, sugar and salt. Stir together, making sure the chia seed meal is thoroughly mixed with the flours.

3. In a medium sized sauce pan, pour in the water, almond milk, agave syrup and vegetable shortening. Bring to a boil. At the first sign of boiling, remove the sauce pan from the heat and dump in the flour mixture. Using a thick wooden spoon, stir the mixture. The dough will become thick and gloppy.

4. Return the sauce pan to the burner and place on medium heat. Stir for about 1 to 2 minutes to cook out the flour flavor.

5. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and using a hand mixer or the paddle attachment from a stand mixer. Mix on low speed making sure the mixture is 180 degrees Fahrenheit or a little less. Add one egg and continue to mix. Scrape down the sides as necessary until the egg is thoroughly incorporated with the dough. Add the second egg and repeat. At this point you can cover the dough and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

6. Transfer the dough to a piping bag using a number 1 tip. Pipe small mounds about 1 inch high and 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Then brush the dough with the egg mixture.

7. Place the cookie sheet into the oven and pour water into the heat proof pan or bowl. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Prop the oven door open slightly with the handle of a wooden spoon.

8. Remove from the oven and cool completely before serving. Makes 30 miniature sweet puffs.


Substitutions

1. You can substitute more clementines for the kumquats in the preserves recipe.

2. You can substitute 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum for the chia seed meal in the sweet puffs recipe.

3. You can substitute 1/2 cup gluten free flour blend for the various flours. If your flour blend has xanthan gum already added to it, then do not add an extra binder (chia seed meal, xanthan or guar gum).

* Monocalcium Phosphate & Pectin - I used Pomona's Universal Pectin. In the box from Pomona, you will find a packet of monocalcium phosphate and a packet of pectin. I purchased my box of Pomona's from Whole Foods. I found it on the baking aisle near the sugar and spices.

May 13, 2008

Cream Cheese Cookies


When I was a kid, my Mom always had homemade cookies or bars in the house for us to eat. My brother's favorite were her blondies, my Dad loved her pecan pie and I craved her peanut butter sauce pan cookies. Mom was always making sure that she rotated her baking so that each of us got something we loved to eat.

For Christmas, Mom would do her baking and always made sure that there was a pecan pie. So that Santa could have a piece of pie. My brother and I, thought Santa would prefer cookies. Mom said, she had it on good authority that Santa preferred pecan pie and a nice hot cup of coffee.

Sometimes she would make these delightful little treats called cream cheese cookies. Slightly crisp on the outside, they are soft and chewy on the inside. My husband thinks these are some of the best cookies he's ever eaten. So, converting her recipe into a gluten free version had become a necessity.

This gluten free version has the crisp exterior, soft interior and all the fabulous flavor of the original wheat version. When my husband realized I had made these cookies for him, he was thrilled. All he could do was smile and reach for a handful of cookies as he made his way to the kitchen table. My daughter thought they were really good, although my son isn't all that keen on the flavor of cream cheese. I thought they were fabulous. Thanks Mom for a terrific recipe.

Recipe

4 Tb vegetable shortening, softened
2 oz cream or Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cane sugar
3 Tb brown rice flour
3 Tb chestnut flour
2 Tb sweet rice flour
1 tsp chia seed meal
1/4 tsp + pinch cream of tartar
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 Tb chopped pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie pan with parchment paper.

2. In a mixing bowl, dump in the butter and cream cheese. Cream on medium speed and then pour in the sugar. Continue to cream until the sugar is thoroughly incorporated. Then dump in the vanilla extract and continue beating.

3. In a small bowl, pour in the flours, chia seed meal, cream of tartar and baking soda. Stir together, making sure the chia seed is mixed into the flour very well.

4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and beating on low speed. When the flour is mixed thoroughly mixed with the cream cheese dump in the pecans. Continue to mix until the pecans spread through out the dough.

5. Drop by spoonfuls on the parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. Makes 21 cookies.

Substitutions

1. You can substitute the Neufchatel cheese with cream cheese. You can also substitute all the cheese with Tofutti cream cheese.

2. You may substitute 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum for the chia seed meal.

3. You can substitute the millet flour or more brown rice flour for the chestnut flour.

May 10, 2008

Anasazi Almond Brownies


I cook with a variety of foods that I buy from Native Seeds. They are a nonprofit conservation organization based out of Tucson, Arizona. Their mission is to "...conserve, distribute and document the adapted and diverse varieties of agricultural seed, their wild relatives and the role these seeds play in cultures of the American Southwestern and northwest Mexico." * They are working to retain our crop biodiversity and cultural diversity of traditional foods of Native Americans and the Southwest.

They seek out traditional crops and collect their seeds for raising on their Conservation Farm. Then they collect the seeds to maintain in their Seed Bank and to sell in their retail store and catalog. Additionally, they have created a Gardener's Network from around the country to grow and evaluate the seeds in the Seed Bank.

In their store they sell the seeds they have collected from their Conservation Farm, foods, crafts, books, videos, soaps, salves, and cards. They have a wide variety of food offerings from the Southwest. My family's favorites are the different variety of beans, corn products, agave syrup, and various meals. A unique and recent addition to my kitchen is the Madrone Serving Spoon, carved by the Tarahumara Women's Cooperative in Cusarare, Chihuahua, Mexico. It is the perfect spoon for serving or working a large pot of beans.

This recipe uses the Anasazi beans, a beautiful maroon and cream fleck bean. It was originally collected from the 4 corners region of the US. They have a rich flavor and a creamy texture making them perfect for making brownies.

My family loved these brownies. They were moist and very flavorful. They didn't last long, which thoroughly disappointed my children. My son asked if I could buy some more chocolate so I could make these brownies again.

Recipe

1 cup cooked Anasazi beans, drained
3.5 ounce bar Green & Blacks Organic Dark 70%, melted
1/2 cup + 2 Tb cane sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening, melted
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond meal
1 1/2 tsp chia seed meal
Optional: 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1. Line an 8 x 8 inch pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Dump the cooked beans into the food processor and process until smooth or in a large bowl dump in the beans and mash until the beans are a smooth paste. Pour in the melted chocolate, sugar and salt into the bowl and stir.

3. In a small bowl, dump in the almond meal and the chia seed meal. Stir together and work out any lumps you might have in your almond meal. Then pour this mixture into the bean mixture and stir.

4. Pour in the melted shortening and beaten eggs and stir. Using a spatula ease the brownie mixture into the pan and spread out evenly.

5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before removing the brownies from the pan. Cut and serve. Makes 16 brownies.

Substitutions

1. You can substitute any mild flavor bean for the Anasazi beans in this recipe. You can use Bolita, Pinto, Tepary, Colorado, Moon beans.

2. If you cannot tolerate chocolate you could substitute it with 1/2 cup carob powder.

3. If you would like to use an alternative sweetener, substitute the cane sugar with 2/3 - 3/4 cup honey.

4. I used chia seed meal as my gluten free binder, you could substitute with 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum.

* Quote from the Native Seeds Website.

Disclosure: I am a Native American member of Native Seeds, supporting their conservation efforts.

May 8, 2008

Three Sisters Posole


Posole is a traditional stew made of meat, beans, chilis and served with a variety of garnishes, such as lettuce, radishes, cilantro, lime, oregano, squash, or corn. It is a hearty meal that is very versatile. It can be served as a stew, as a topping for nachos and as a filler for tacos or enchiladas.

I had recently purchased a bag of blue posole from Native Seeds/SEARCH. Their blue posole is raised on a small farm in New Mexico and treated with lime to remove the hulls. The folks at Native Seeds want to make sure that you can enjoy the foods they sell, so they send along a collection of recipes for simply and hearty fare.

My Three Sisters Posole uses Colorado River beans, blue corn posole and roasted butternut squash. The three sisters refers to the main foods of some Native American people in North America. The sisters were beans (typically tepary), maize and squash. These plants were planted in companion mounds, with the corn being planted first. When the corn was 6 inches high, they would alternate squash and beans around the base of the corn. The beans would climb the corn and give nitrogen to the soil. The squash would provide ground cover, inhibiting the growth of weeds and providing mulch to the soil. Additionally, the prickly squash would provide a deterrent to any pests.

This recipe made for a warm and hearty vegan dinner. My children were surprised at how much they enjoyed the meal, although they weren't crazy about using cilantro as a topping. My husband and I thought it was a perfect addition to our collection of vegan meals as it could be served as a stew or filling for a taco or the topping for nachos.

Recipe

1 cup blue or white dried posole (dried whole hominy)
1 cup Colorado River beans or Anasazi beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp grains of paradise or black pepper
Sea Salt to taste
1 roasted butternut squash, quartered
Optional: 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Rinse the beans and posole and then place in cold to soak. You can either soak them for several hours or overnight then drain when ready to use.

2. Place the posole, beans, onions and garlic into a crock pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender.

3. Add the oregano, salt, grains of paradise or pepper and cilantro and stir together. Serve warm over the baked butternut squash and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serves 4.

May 6, 2008

Roasted Sweet Potato Pita


I have been contemplating making Naomi's recipe, from Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried, for Sweet Potato Pita's for some time. Naomi has several versions of her pita bread recipe, first there is the roasted sweet potato, dark coconut and teff. Timing always seemed to be a challenge, but this weekend turned out to be the perfect for trying my hand at making pita bread.

The recipe is very easy to make and very versatile with the various types of flavors that you can use to make them. My first batch of pita, I used the white Jersey sweet potato. They had a light and delicate sweet potato flavor. For the second batch, I used the Garnet sweet potato and the bread had a delectable sweetness and a beautiful orange color.

My first batch made a fabulous flat bread, although none of them puffed up. I did better with my second batch, with about half of them puffing up. We filled these with a light salad of shredded collard greens, radishes, cucumber and celeriac with a light vinaigrette.

This is a fun and very versatile recipe and my family thoroughly enjoyed them. My children thought they made for great snack food. My husband's favorite version was filled with roasted chicken, swiss chard and tomatoes and some wasabi mayonnaise.

Naomi is my adopted gluten free blogger, for the Adopt A Gluten Free Blogger event created by Sea of the Book of Yum. This month Adopt a GF Blogger is being hosted by Rachel at Wheat-Free, Meat-Free.