Tuesday, April 16


Tuesday with Dorie

Contributing Baker: Flo Braker

When I made Dorie's Honey-Spiced Madeleines a few years ago I was certain that I would make madeleines often after that because I was pleasantly surprised at how easy they were to make, but for some reason I never got around to making them again until they appeared on this week's Tuesday with Dorie/Baking with Julia schedule. This recipe was so different from Dorie's because you use a ladyfinger génoise batter which gives them a sponge cake taste and texture.

When I made the French Strawberry Cake with the group last year it was the first time I had made génoise and I didn't have a lot of success with it, so this time I decided to use a hand mixer to whip my eggs and egg yolks so I could feel when it was at the right consistency and I can say that it made so much difference. I am going to make that cake again now that I have had success with these madeleines. The only thing I did differently from the madeleine recipe was I let the batter rest for about ten minutes before giving it a gentle stir and spooning it into the madeleine molds. Mine baked in 10 minutes.

My family gobbled these up, but I have to say I was less enamored with them because I prefer more of a buttery, tender crumb texture in a madeleine. Of the two recipes that I have made so far, I prefer Dorie's recipe over this one. I am glad that I made these, however, and now I won't be so intimidated when a recipe calls for génoise batter. 

Katie and Amy of Counter Dog are the hosts this week. You can see their pretty madeleines and the recipe over on their blog.

Friday, April 12

Chocolate Financiers

French Friday with Dorie

This week's recipe is for a little french cake which derives it's name from French gold ingots. Traditionally these cakes are baked in a financier pan which consists of little rectangles, but since I don't have one of those pans (haven't been lucky enough to score one at a thrift store yet) I used a mini-muffin tin instead. Dorie suggests making berry financiers which sound delicious, but since I have made a few berry cakes recently and since I was craving chocolate, I opted to make chocolate financiers instead.

Dorie tells us that the recipe comes from Jean-Paul Hévin, a most admired Paris chocolatier. It is a simple enough recipe to make. You bring heavy cream to a boil and pour over bittersweet chocolate to make a smooth ganache. Add some whipped egg whites and some brown butter to sifted confectioner's sugar, almond flour, a little bit of all-purpose flour, some baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add the egg white mixture to the ganache and gently mix together and pour into the mini-muffin tin. My little financiers were done at 11 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

These are very moist and rich chocolaty cakes - kind of like decadent brownie bites. Check out French Fridays with Dorie to see the different kinds of financiers that were made this week.

Monday, April 8

Pierre Hermé’s Olive Sablés

French Friday Monday with Dorie

I had a jar of olives languishing in the fridge that I had bought for Dorie's olive tapenade recipe that are packed in not only oil, but also thyme and I wasn't sure how the thyme would taste in a cookie whether it be sweet or savory or a little bit of both - like these cookies. I needn't have worried; however, because the thyme not only makes these cookies smell so fragrant, but also gives them quite a punch of flavor.

You would think the surprising ingredient in this recipe would be the olives, but for me, it was the hard boiled egg yolk. I pretty much followed the recipe as written with only a few slight changes. Since I only made half of the recipe, I only needed half an egg yolk, so instead of grating the hard boiled egg yolk as Dorie directed, I just crumbled it with my fingers. I didn't have potato starch on hand, so I subbed corn starch. I used a hand mixer and after mixing my dough it never came together in the bowl even after adding just a little more of the fruity olive oil, so I dumped the crumbly mixture onto a large piece of plastic wrap and kneaded it with the plastic wrap until the dough came together and then I rolled it into a log and let it chill for 2 hours before baking.

When I unwrapped the log the fragrance of the thyme smelled so wonderful. My cookies baked for exactly 18 minutes in a 325 degree oven and were just starting to get a little color along the edges when I took them out.

These cookies are surprisingly delicious and I say surprisingly mostly because of the thyme in them. They gave the cookies an interesting and unexpected flavor. The taste of the olives are hardly detectable (well to me, but John said he could taste them) and you wouldn't even know what the black specks are if you didn't know there are olives in the recipe. The crumb of these cookies is so tender - just what you expect in a sablé. I really like the savory sweet combination as I did with the seaweed sablés we made last year and am sure I will make these again - especially since they are so easy and quick to make. My only regret is that I didn't make the full recipe so I could have a log of dough to freeze so I can slice and bake some more for another day.

Visit French Fridays with Dorie to see what the rest of the group thought about these delightful cookies. You can find the recipe here.

Tuesday, April 2

Rustic Potato Loaf

Tuesday with Dorie

Contributing Baker: Leslie Mackie

It's already April - can you believe it?! I was happy to see that we had another bread recipe to start the month off and even happier when I saw it was potato bread. I happen to really like potato bread, but when I buy it at the store I am the only one in the family who will eat it, so I decided to cut the recipe in half and only make one loaf.  What is interesting about this recipe is that you leave the potato skins on which I think is really great because that is where all the nutrients are anyway and it turned out that the flecks of potato skin also give the bread a little bit of color.

Another thing I think is interesting is that there are only two short rise times for the dough which makes it super easy to whip up a loaf or two even during the week. I stuck to the recipe as written except when I put it in the oven I didn't mist before or during - I just threw some ice cubes on the bottom of the oven before closing the door and hoped for the best. I checked my loaf at 35 minutes and its internal temperature was over 200 degrees.

My loaf unfurled a little during baking, but I think it just added to its rustic look. I do have to say that when I ate that slice you see in the photo above with the melting butter I was a little disappointed because even though it had a nice crisp crust and a soft center, it didn't have the potato flavor that I expected. Surprisingly my husband asked for a piece and really liked it, so after it cooled completely I ate another slice and I was really happy that the flavors had developed more and it had a nice subtle potato flavor with just a hint of a baked potato taste which I am guessing came from the potato skins. John said it was delicious bread and nothing at all like the potato bread I have bought at the store. Yay!

This bread is great just slathered with some butter, but it is also a wonderful sandwich bread. Dawn at Simply Sweet is hosting this week, so you can find the recipe over on her blog. See what the other bakers thought about their rustic potato loaves over at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Friday, March 22

Ispahan Loaf Cake

French Friday with Dorie

Like quite a few people in the group, I have been looking forward to making this exotic cake. I love roses and especially old world roses that have a lovely fragrance to them, so even while this month has been a busy one for me I didn't grumble a bit when I was out on the hunt for rose syrup and rose extract. I did find them locally which I was quite relieved about as I did not have a chance to make this until after work yesterday. 

The batter for this cake was fairly easy to put together, although I seemed to dirty quite a few bowls. You stir whipped egg whites into the batter to lighten it which I have done many times, but this was the first time I had to add additional flour along with the egg whites. I really don't understand that step at all and if anyone knows why we had to do it please let me know because it seemed to make the batter a little lumpy when I added the all-purpose flour. Why go to the trouble of sifting the almond flour and the confectioners' sugar together when you are going to add unsifted all-purpose flour alternately with egg whites at the very end? I also thought the batter would be pink after adding the rose syrup, but even though it turned the milk a pepto bismol pink it didn't make a difference in the batter.

I, of course, did not divide my batter into equal thirds and almost didn't have enough to cover the top of the cake, but I actually like the look of the raspberries peeking out at the top. My oven runs hot, so I started checking on the loaf after 50 minutes and saw that it was browning along the edges, so I tented it with foil and checked every 5 minutes until it was done at 65 minutes. 

It's a pretty cake, but I was really disappointed that it wasn't pink. (Boo!) It has a fine crumb, but is very moist. I was so tired after I baked this yesterday and fixed dinner that I didn't try it until this afternoon. John had a slice as soon as it cooled, but said it had a different kind of flavor that he wasn't sure about. We both have never eaten anything with rose syrup or rose extract before. He at least had tea that his grandmother used to make him when he was a child - rosa de Castilla, but he didn't remember it tasting like this cake. He tried another slice before he went to bed, but said it didn't taste any better than earlier. 

Before I left for work this morning, John was in the kitchen slicing another piece and proclaimed that it still tasted the same. I guess he was expecting the flavors to meld or something, but he said that "flavor" was still there and he didn't care for it. I finally tried a piece after I got home from work and I have to say that I agree with him. Roses may be one of my favorite flowers, but I don't care for the flavor of this cake. Perhaps it's an acquired taste, but I am not sure I will make it again to find out if we like it better the second time around. I have a feeling that John will be slicing a piece of the cake every time he walks through the kitchen - until it's gone - just to check to see if it tastes any better.

I wonder if we are in the minority this week and will be interested in reading what the rest of the group thought. Meanwhile, on a more positive note - I also made the chicken diable last night and that was pretty darn good. I'll be doing a catch up post about it soon.

Wednesday, March 20

Mocha Chocolate Chips

Tuesday Wednesday with Dorie

Contributing Baker: Rick Katz

This has been one of those crazy, busy months for me and I just haven't been able to get into my baking and cooking groove, but I didn't want to miss making these cookies. Mocha Chocolate Chips?! Ooohhh, yeah! What's great about these is that they are so easy to make. I used up some of the leftover chocolate I had on hand - Valrhona white chocolate, Ghiradelli semi-sweet and Trader Joe's 72 percent Belgian dark chocolate pounder bar. I skipped the apricots (they were optional anyway). I had some on hand, but discovered that I had some left in a bag that was waaaay past its 'use by' date and instead of being a lovely apricot color they were a deep, dark brown. After mixing the dough in a stand mixer, I stirred in the chunks of chocolate and put the dough in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours.

There was definitely a more chocolate to dough ratio going on with these cookies. The dark brown sugar and the instant espresso powder gives the dough a lovely mocha color and flavor.

Halfway through baking, our cat was sniffing the air. It smelled like coffee was brewing. The cookies baked up nicely and had a great texture - moist on the inside and a little crispy on the outside. I loved the mocha and chocolate combination and they more than satisfied my chocolate craving, but John thought they were just 'okay'.

Peggy of Galettisa is hosting this week, so go check out her lovely cookies and  the recipe on her blog. Please visit Tuesdays with Dorie to see what the rest of the group thought about them.