Monday, May 26, 2008

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns - Tuesdays with Dorie

Madame Chow of Madame Chow's Kitchen chose this week's recipe for Pecan Honey Sticky Buns.

As we had already done Dorie's Brioche Raisin Snails I sailed into this challenge feeling very confident. The initial dough mixing gave my KitchenAid a real punch up, so much so that for some reason the bowl is now stuck on the stand and I can't lift it off. Patience....

First rising and the dough slappings went very smoothly but the second day was no fun. Of course, the glaze and filling were easy, but trying to get the ultra buttery, soft brioche dough to form anything near a 16 inch square seemed almost impossible. Finally, with a lot of patching, it formed some sort of wavy rectangle. Rolling the dough into a cylinder was almost as difficult; thanks to my trusty offset spatula the very sticky dough finally formed into a messy, uneven cylinder. It took a couple of hours to rise but most of the buns touched.

Out of the oven and being prepared for their photo shoot. I sampled three of them (is three out of 15 a sample?). While the initial flavors of brioche, pecans and honey/brown sugar are delicious, there was a salty aftertaste that spoiled the buns. Dorie said two teaspoons of salt for the Brioche loaves. If I make these again, I'll add one teaspoon of salt only.Maybe it was the aftertaste of so many whole pecans? I wonder if other TWD'ers feel the same about the taste. It did not happen with the Brioche Raisin Snails. Onward to the French Brownies - yum.

Here's the recipe:

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

Makes 15 buns
For the Glaze:
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup honey
1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces)
For the Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Buns:
1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight)
Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this).
To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissovle the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out asbest you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinle over the pecans.
To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.
To shape the buns: On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glae recipe accordingly).
With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they're very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.
Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns ahve doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.
Getting ready to bake: When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven.
The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful - the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.

What You'll Need for the Golden Brioche Dough (this recipe makes enough for two brioche loaves. If you divide the dough in half, you would use half for the sticky buns, and you can freeze the other half for a later date, or make a brioche loaf out of it!):
2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm
What You'll Need for the Glaze (you would brush this on brioche loaves, but not on the sticky buns):
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can-- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. (After this, you can proceed with the recipe to make the brioche loaves, or make the sticky buns instead, or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)
The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.
Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)
Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.
Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Madeleines - Tuesdays with Dorie

Everything about these pretty little French cakes is delicate and light - the batter, the cookie shape,the fresh lemon scent.....

They were a breeze to bake and the portion of batter was small, only for a tray of 12 so they could be whipped up in a few minutes. I prepared them on Saturday and let them stay in the fridge until Monday evening before taking them out to bake. They were ready at 12 minutes. I found that it was necessary to gently prize the sides of each cookie from around the shell and them to jiggle them out with a knife and my fingers - they were so delicate that a couple of them crumbled when I used the usual method of flipping the tray. If I look really hard I can see a slight bump on some of them but maybe I'm only imagining my bump success.

Just perfect with a cup of tea and lemon! I would make these again in a shot, only use 2 pans to get a double batch. Thank you Tara of Smells Like Home for this week's great pick.

Here's Dorie's recipe:

Traditional Madeleines
Madeleines are among the most recognizable pastries in the French repertoire because of their look: they are made in scallop-shaped molds from which they emerge ridged on one side, plump and full-bellied on the other and golden. That they are among the best known is thanks to Marcel Proust, who immortalized them in his novel Remembrance of Things Past. Everyone seems to know the story of Proust's narrator dipping the cookie into his tea and having the first taste bring back a flood of childhood memories. With that short entry, Proust and the madeleine gained such celebrity that even people who've never tasted the cookie refer to it with confidence as a touchstone. Yet when you take away all the literary allusions and all the romance, what you're left with is a tea cake that deserves to be famous for its deliciousness alone.

The madeleine is a beautiful, if somewhat plain, cookie made from the kind of batter you'd use for a sponge cake. What distinguishes it is its lightness; its texture—the tiny-bubbled crumb is très raffiné; and its flavor, a delicate mix of lemon, vanilla and butter.

This recipe is for a classic madeleine like the one I learned to make in Paris—it's the kind that would make Proust happy. But there are other kinds of madeleines, madeleines Proust might not approve of but that would please most everyone else. When you're ready for a different take on the classic, try Mini Madeleines, Earl Grey Madeleines and the far-from-traditional Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines. I don't even want to imagine what Proust would think of those!

Just to set the record straight, while it's Proust who gets all the credit for making madeleines a household name, the honor really belongs to King Stanislas Leszczynski of Poland, who, in the eighteenth century, tasted a tea cake made by a local woman in Commercy, France. He was so delighted with the cookie that he named it after the baker, Madeleine.

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Working in a mixer bowl, or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl. Working with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines. (For convenience, you can spoon the batter into the madeleine molds, cover and refrigerate, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge; see below for instructions on prepping the pans.)

GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds, or up to 36 mini madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Or, if you have a nonstick pan (or pans), give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If you have a silicone pan, no prep is needed. Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don't worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven's heat will take care of that. Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.

If you are making minis and have more batter, bake the next batch(es), making certain that you cool, then properly prepare the pan(s) before baking.

Just before serving, dust the madeleines with confectioners' sugar.

makes 12 large or 36 mini cookies

serving: Serve the cookies when they are only slightly warm or when they reach room temperature, with tea or espresso.

storing: Although the batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, the madeleines should be eaten soon after they are made. You can keep them overnight in a sealed container, but they really are better on day 1. If you must store them, wrap them airtight and freeze them; they'll keep for up to 2 months.

Opera Cake - Daring Bakers Challenge

This is a wonderful challenge. It all started for me with a leisurely weekend, all to myself, to make the Opera Cake. It's a no-rush, not at the last minute production and for once I left myself plenty of time.

Here's my Opera Cake diary:

Woke up on Saturday morning and eased myself into the day with 3 cups of coffee and some blogger browsing.

Made the Buttercream. Grrrr! If I was poetically inclined I would write an "Ode to Buttercream."

Had some more coffee and rearranged my cake decorations and spices, for the umpteenth time.

Made the Syrup.

Moseyed out to the liquor store and bought some Baileys Irish Creme for the mousse.

Then things started to get really challenging, difficult, nerve-wracking - the cheap white chocolate I had bought went all grainy in the mousse so I chucked it out.

Sunday I got some Ghirardelli chocolate (I like this make) but decided to leave out the mousse and just use it for the glaze. White chocolate is so awfully, awfully sweet.

Very excited I started the Jaconde - quite tricky; the first set I made got burned at the sides so I made another batch and lowered the oven setting to 400 F. These came out a respectable pale yellow.

Greatest fun - coloring and flavoring the buttercream. I decided on three flavors, one lemon/yellow, one cherry/pink and one pistachio/green. It felt like painting. The assembling was easy; once the edges were trimmed it started looking quite pro.

Monday - made the glaze. Ooey, gooey, delicious! Left my finished Opera Cake in the fridge overnight and took photos in the morning - then off to work we went. It was a success at work - some people absolutely loved it, others said they found it a bit sweet, I am ecstatic about the cake - it tastes like a sophisticated petit four. Oh yes, I will definitely make this again. What a wonderful learning experience, to make a French cake like this. I have a "do" coming up on June 11, so I'll otherwise make this one again or try the Tish Boyle one with coffee and chocolate.

Thank you Ivonne andLis for this great challenge.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Florida Pie - Tuesdays with Dorie

Thank you Dianne of Dianne's Dishes for choosing this super pie. This is a pie that takes quite a lot of patience - boiling and stirring the cream and coconut mixture took me about 20 minutes, even more, until I could see a very slight thickening. I ended up dragging a chair into the kitchen so I could stove watch in comfort. I wasn't too sure about how pale yellow the egg yokes should be but beat them at high speed for about 10 minutes - until they were a nice yellow, but certainly not pale. After that it was plain sailing.Felt ever so tempted to add a drop of green food coloring to make it a green lime pie but resisted - it might have spoiled it.

Had a strange experience doing the meringue - the recipe said to heat the egg white and sugar and keep beating until the egg white was hot to the touch - so I kept on sticking my finger into the foam. I smelled something burning - it was the base of the egg white under the foam - so next time I'll know to test below the foam. Picked out the few burned spots and did the whisking and broiler thing. Am not too confident about how it will taste. I didn't add any more coconut as I felt the pie had enough. I hope we are not all eating burned meringue tomorrow.

Here's the recipe:

Florida Pie
1 9-inch graham cracker crust (page 235), fully baked and cooled, or a store-bought crust (I swapped for a ginger cookie crust)
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
4 large eggs, separated
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh Key (or regular) lime juice (from about 5 regular limes)
1/4 cup of sugar

Getting Ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment of a silicone mat.

Put the cream and 1 cup of the coconut in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the cream is reduced by half and the mixture is slightly thickened. Scrape the coconut cream into a bowl and set it aside while you prepare the lime filling.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl beat the egg yolks at high speed until thick and pale. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the condensed milk. Still on low, add half of the lime juice. When it is incorporated, add the reaming juice, again mixing until it is blended. Spread the coconut cream in the bottom of the graham cracker crust, and pour over the lime filling.

Bake the pie for 12 minutes. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes, then freeze the pie for at least 1 hour.

To Finish the Pie with Meringue:

Put the 4 egg whites and the sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, whisking all the while, until the whites are hot to the touch. Transfer the whites to a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer in a large bowl, and beat the whites at high speed until they reach room temperature and hold firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining 1/2 cup coconut into the meringue.

Spread the meringue over the top of the pie, and run the pie under the broiler until the top of the meringue is golden brown. (Or, if you've got a blowtorch, you can use it to brown the meringue.) Return the pie to the freezer for another 30 minutes or for up to 3 hours before serving.

Recipe for Ginger Snap Cookie Crust
1/4 cup butter
1-1/4 cups gingersnap cookies, finely crushed (about 30 cookies)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter, blend in cookie crumbs with a wooden spoon, until well mixed. Press into 9 inch pie plate; freeze for 10 minutes then bake for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Peanut Butter Torte - Tuesdays with Dorie

This is so full of lovely favorites my mouth was watering as I made it - cream cheese mixed with lots of cream; peanuts; cookies; chocolate; and of course PB. I haven't tried it yet as it's going to work tomorrow but I made quite a few inroads into leftover ingredients - in fact there are no cookies or peanuts left. So much for saving stuff for future baking!

It was quite relaxing to make - no anxiety about rising, temperature and so on - just mixing and mushing. I've never boiled cream for ganache before - does anyone know why this makes a good ganache, compared with just adding room temperature cream?

I used about 34 Oreo's and 5 tablespoons of butter to get the crust to come up the pan; fewer than that just wouldn't do it.

Here's the recipe

Peanut Butter Torte
1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
2 ½ c. heavy cream
1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ c salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy)
2 tablespoons whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
Getting ready: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Crape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.
Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.
Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.
To Finish The Torte: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.
Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and , working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.
Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.
When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.