Sunday, June 27, 2010

Classic Brownies

I made these quick and easy to prepare, loved by all brownies yesterday. It had a unanimous vote when I asked the six tween girls (two of them mine) if they wanted cupcakes or brownies for treats upon completing their school homework. All of them shouted at the same time, "BROWNIES!!".

Now, who doesn't like brownies...they come in various textures - fudgy, gooey and cakey - a cross between a chocolate cake and a cookie.

These were adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Classic Brownies recipe, on page 88-89 of Baking, From my home to yours. I followed the recipe as is, but omitted the optional expresso powder. They were brownie-licious!!

Now, as I was preparing my brownies, BFF called to see if they could drop by and I quickly measured the ingredients for a second batch... you can never have too much brownies!!

The six girls came back from their swim in the pool and devoured 'em brownies... and since I made two batches and did not want to have so many leftovers in the house, I put four brownies each in plastic bags to send home with each girl. This morning, I made another batch (yes, that's batch #3) as my daughters said they only had two yesterday and wanted to enjoy some some more. I later sent half of the batch through my daughter for her friend (daughter received invitation to join friend's family for lunch and movie to celebrate her birthday).

I have six brownies left on the kitchen top and have been on my best behavior not to go near them!! :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Baking With Dorie: Summer Fruit Gallette

* I almost fell off my chair when moderating comments one morning - Ms Greenspan herself left one!! Of course, this is my fav post thus far :) Having said that, I am equally elated to receive comments from anyone of you!! so keep the comments coming :)

These rustic-looking gallettes are amongst the prettiest things I've ever baked. They are so lovely to look at, and what a pleasure it was making them!! 

Thank you Elizabeth of Gluten-Free Baking 101 for choosing this week's Baking with Dorie (BWD) recipe, from pages 366-7 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours.

The recommended fruit for this recipe were apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums or rhubards. Now, these are all imported fruits from where I came from and not necessarily easy to find. I chose raspberries and blueberries for my galette filling - I knew the contrast of their colours would make pretty desserts. I must say this was a very expensive bake for me!! :) But it was all worth it.

A litte bit about gallettes, according to Dorie, by its very nature, a galette is rustic and not meant to be perfect. It's a round pie dough folded over the edges of a filling, and what makes it so charming are its pleats, bends and wrinkles. Charming indeed!!

This recipe came without a picture, so I had to google for some and also, of course used the Cranberry Lime Gallette recipe on pages 364-365 for reference. I think the look of my galettes look pretty close to Dorie's but then again, with these rustic gallettes, anything goes!!

These were quite simple to make, but you'll need to have some time to spare to refrigerate and let the dough rest before baking. And my, I just love Dorie's Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough (page 442). I foresee myself baking tons of goods using this dough recipe!!

I made a single crust and divided it into three to get smaller galettes; a raspberry gallette, a blueberry gallette and a mixed raspberry and blueberry one. I love the raspberry galette the most - the blueberry one was a bit too sour for my liking, but my second daughter loved it very much. The poured custard was great to add some sweetness to the sour fruits.

I served them as they were. I had actually wanted to sprinkle them with some confectioner's sugar but I forgot!! Now come to think of it, they would have been great with vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream too.

Look at the gallettes before they went into the oven. Aren't they pretty??

I am just loving baking along with BWD. I never would've thought of choosing this recipe to bake. Thanks again to Elizabeth and of course, our hard-working founder Grapefruit!!

Check out BWD's blogroll to see how the other bakers tackled this.

This week, it's my turn to post the recipe. Here goes:

Summer Fruit Galette by Dorie Greenspan

from Baking From My Home to Yours

Good For Almost Everything Pie Dough for a single crust, chilled (pg 442)

2-3 tablespoons jam or marmalade

about 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs

Fresh summer fruit: about 10 apricots, 8-10 nectarines, 8 ripe but firm peaches, 8-10 firm plums or 2 stalks rhubarb

Decorating (coarse) or granulated sugar, for dusting

For the Custard

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/3 cup sugar

1 large egg

¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Getting Ready

Center rack in the oven and preheat to oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment (see below) or a silicone mat.

To make it easier to move the pie dough onto the baking sheet, roll the dough between sheets of parchment paper ( in which case, you can use one of the rolling sheets to line the baking sheet) or wax paper or plastic wrap. Alternatively work on a well-floured surface, taking care to keep the dough moving by turning it and flouring the surface often.

Roll the dough into a large 1/8 inch thick circle. Using a pastry wheel or a paring knife, time the dough to a 13 inch diameter. Using a cake pan or a pot lid as a template and the tip of a bunt kitchen knife as a marker, lightly trace a 9 inch circle in the center of the dough- this is the area for the filling.

With the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread some of the jam over the circle- how much will depend of the jam flavor you want. Sprinkle over the crumbs, adding a little more than 2 tablespoons if you think you’ve got particularly juicy fruit. Put a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper over the dough and refrigerate it while you prepare the fruit.

Wipe the apricots, nectarines or plums clean with a damp towel and cut in half; discard the pits. Blanch peaches for 10 seconds in a pot of boiling water, transfer them to a bowl of ice water to cool, then slip off the skins. Halve and pit the peaches or peel rhubarb to remove the strings, and cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces.

Arrange the fruit on the dough, cut side down if using stone fruits, then gently lift the unfilled border of dough up and onto the filling. As you lift the dough and place it on the filling, it will pleat. If you’re not in a rush, freeze the galette for 15 minutes to give the crust a rest.

Brush the dough very lightly with a little water, then sprinkle it with a teaspoon or two of sugar. Bake galette for 25 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the fruit is soft.

Meanwhile, make the custard

Whisk together the melted butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in a bowl; set aside until needed.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven (leave the oven on), and carefully pour the custard around the fruit. Depending one how much juice has accumulated and how much space you have between the fruit, you may not be able to pour all the custard into the galette, but even 2 tablespoons can give the right effect. Pour in as much custard as you can, then carefully return the pan to the oven.

Bake for another 12 to 15 minutes, or until the custard is set- it shouldn’t jiggle when you gently shake the pan. Cool the galette on the baking sheet on a rack to cool. The galette can be served when it is just warm or- my preference- when it has reached room temperature. Dust with confectioners; sugar just before serving.

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough
For a 9 inch Single Crust

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into tbsp size pieces

2 1/2 tablespoons very cold vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces

About 1/4 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don’t overdo the mixing- what you’re aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 6 tbsps of the water- add a little water and pulse once, add some more water, pulse again and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn’t look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a work surface. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling (if your ingredients were very cold and you worked quickly, though, you might be able to roll the dough immediately: the dough should be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Baking With Dorie (Rewind): Lots-Of-Ways Banana Cake

I remember making my first banana cake when I was 17, with the recipe I found in my mother's drawer. It was for a family gathering we were having later that night. And guess what? An aunt, Mak Mok who came for the potluck dinner also came with a banana cake!! I remember another aunt, Mak Ngah and a few other older cousins were telling me that mine tasted better than Mak Mok's!! Of course, I know now that they were being very nice and wanted to encourage me to bake...

This recipe is slightly different that the one I made almost 21 years ago (you would've guessed my age by now, right?).

Lots-Of-Ways Banana Cake was the chosen recipe by Grapefruit of BWD in April. I am on a mission to bake of all BWD previous challenges before I joined the group and hope to complete it by the time my turn to chose a recipe comes in August.

The texture of this cake is very soft and delicate, but they were not crumbly. Their softness were more of the melt-in-your-mouth kind of soft. I subsituted coconut milk with sour cream and sweetened shredded coconut with unsweetened dessicated coconut. I would've loved to add chopped walnuts or pecans but ran out of them. I think the the nuts would definitely add a nice crunch to the soft cake.

I made a one-layer cake and baked it in a 7-inch round cake pan, instead of the 9-inch recommended, just so I could get a taller cake. I believe banana cakes fall under the 'plain and rustic cake' category (my opinion, solely) and thus need not be frosted nor iced. I simply dusted some cocoa powder and the barely there bittersweet taste complimented the cake beautifully.

You may find the recipe on pages 205 & 206 of Baking from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan or here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Baking With Dorie: Lemon Cup Custard

This was my first time making my own custard from scratch and they turn out to be very very easy!! The ingredients were minimal too, but yet I was still intimidated in the beginning, by just looking at the preparation steps one needed too make. I guess the bulk of my anxiety was from the fact that I didn't think my cups would stand the oven temperature, but I'm so glad they did!!

Like Grapefruit wrote in her blog on this recipe here, I had read how the TWD bakers had an issue with the egginess of this recipe, but that did not cause me much concern, as I am ok with egg... in fact, as I'm writing this, I recall that the taste of this lemon custard is very similar to the custard on my favourite store-bought egg tarts (which I can now bake myself, yeay!!).

The truth is, these custards ARE eggy. I let my daughter have the first taste and immediately after having a spoonful, she muttered, telur - which means egg. I then had a taste... the texture, not the taste caught my tastebud first. It was smooth, almost like soft tofu!! It was mildly sweet with a lemony flavour... not bad at all. Oh, let me tell you we had these when it was warm. Later, after having refrigerated them, my daughter asked for some... had a taste and asked me to warm them up. I must agree that they taste better warm!!

I made one half recipe lemon and the other one half, the orange and star anise version.

This version is wonderful too... the subtle orange and spice flavor is very familiar, yet I still can't recall where and when, and in what food I've had a similar taste of these before. My kids preferred the lemon version though. This may be the gourmet version of the simple cup custard.

Thanks, Grapefruit for picking out this recipe. I can now proudly say I know how to make my own custard and may make these again when entertaining. I will however, use very tiny cups just in case my guests can't stand too much egginess!! ;-)