Tag Archives: Baked

Gourmet’s Orange Pumpkin Cloverleafs

We live on a hill.  Some may not call it that, but I do, and depending on which direction you approach our hill, it resembles something quite large with very steep roads leading to it, making it a challenge if one happens to be stuck behind a truck, a school bus, or someone who has passed a driver's test but hasn't yet figured out that the gas pedal is what makes the car proceed in a forward motion if it's properly in gear.

But I digress.

Living on this hill provides us a view of the Pacific from one window and from two others, the skyline of the area near downtown and the mountains in the eastern part of the county.  Actually, the view of the Pacific is about 16 inches if I strain, sneaking out my ruler just to make sure, and the other more a craning of my neck around my neighbor's Texas Cherry Brush hedge that is more like a jungle.  On days like today when the weather is not exactly as most expect it to be, I look at both horizons and notice the dark grey upper sky heavy with rain clouds.  The sun is struggling to shine somewhere East casting the mountains in varying shades of grey and adding to the ominous look of the storm clouds.  The Pacific is indiscernible, as grey as the sky. 

I love rainy days. 

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So it seems appropriate that I bring you something that is about as close to packaged sunshine as I can find.  If you're lucky enough to get one right from the oven, the warmth speaks for itself.

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Cracked-Wheat Topknots

When it comes to baking bread, I’m still in the semi-novice stage.  Sure, I’ve baked many a loaf in my life, and some far better than others, but I’ve got a comfort zone that’s quite different than the wild and frequently erratic boundaries I work within when it comes to cooking in general.

No, bread is still somewhat of a novelty.

When I make bread, it’s an occasion in and of itself.  And although I’m getting better at actually accomplishing other things when I’ve got a batch going, I’ll never quite get to the point where I won’t worry about whether I’ll forget the dough in my oven proofer
after I’ve left to run some errands, or sitting patiently in a strange place on the floor, no longer basking in the warmth cast by the winter sunshine.  Or just wondering why there is so much difference between one recipe and the next when it comes to yeast.

Many expect the liquid we mix the yeast with to be a specific temperature — usually between 105-115 degrees F — and we’re admonished that if the yeast doesn’t bubble and foam happily in the little bowl, then we’re to toss it and begin again.

Other recipes tell us to just throw everything in a mixing bowl at one time, not worrying about the temperature or a waiting time — and never a threat of possibly needing to begin again or risk less than puffy gluten-packed wonderfulness.

But when I get that first whiff of bread in the oven, there’s no way I can take it for granted, and as much as I’d like to admit that we’ll use it for sandwiches during the week, or that I’ll let it cool completely, then freeze it like a more organized and purposeful cook than I might be, I know we’ll simply enjoy it.  We’ll enjoy it like fresh cookies hot from the oven, or a sweet pie baked for a special occasion.

The guys will look at it, then at me, then back at the bread and ask, with hope and longing in their eyes, “Is this for eating?”

Clearly, we need to get a grip!  So when Sandy of At the Baker’s Bench posed an offer to our recent holiday cookie-baking group to join her in baking bread throughout February, I thought absolutely, and “Let Us Bake Bread” was launched.  Once a week for a month I’ll post one of the recipes featured in Gourmet’s article, “Roll with it” in this month’s issue.  I decided to get it rolling with Cracked-Wheat Topknots because I’m a fan of crunchiness in bread regardless of whether it’s due to nuts or whole grains, and I just happened to have some bulgar in my pantry just waiting for a place to get happy.

In case you’ve forgotten who my cookie conspirators were, I’m joined in this yeasty frivolity by Judy of No Fear Entertaining, Courtney of Coco Cooks, Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes, and Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen.

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Tuiles and Orange Yogurt Sabayon

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Thursday:  8:10 am

I swore I'd not be late on this month's Daring Baker's challenge.  I even mentioned to others I'd complete it two weeks into the month, but time has a way of passing so quickly these days and before I knew it, this week was upon me and bearing down hard.

Two days ago, I cut some forms for the tuiles we are to have made.  And even yesterday, I retrieved some egg whites from the freezer to thaw so I could begin work.  But did I?  No.  So here I am today just getting started.

I know what you're thinking.  What a slacker.  And you'd be right, but it's only a bit after 8am, and I've got plenty of time even with the refrigeration time that's required for the recipe.

I'm thinking that zabaglione or pots de creme should go with my tuiles.  But I'll let you know.  So come back later even though you've got hundreds of others to visit.  I'll be posting in stages.  This month's challenge is
brought to us by
Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte
aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by
Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

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The good news is that it's still Thursday.  Even better?  I'm done with the tuiles!  They're very easy to make, but do require a 30-minute refrigeration time before baking, and if you're me, then you forgot to turn on the oven and had to wait an addition period of time after the cookies were were already on the chilled baking sheets.  It never fails…

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Very few ingredients are needed to make tuiles:  only 1/4 c. softened butter, 1/2 c. sifted powdered sugar, 1/2 c. sifted all-purpose flour, 2 large egg whites, and a splash of vanilla.

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The soft butter and powdered sugar are mixed to a paste, the egg whites added gradually while stirring to bring the mixture together.

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The flour is added gradually as well, stirring, but not over-mixing until everything comes together.  A splash of vanilla is incorporated and then the whole mixture goes into the fridge for about 30 minutes.  Line the baking sheets with parchment or silicone and chill them as well.

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Use some cardboard to cut out the shape you'd like to use.  I used corregated cardboard and then pinched the inside edges before using an offset spatula to spread batter over the forms.

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If you'd like, add some of the cocoa powder to a small amount of the batter and mix well before spooning it into a decorators bag with a plain tip.  Make whatever decorations you'd like and then put the sheets into a 350 degrees F oven for about 7 minutes or until the edges of the tuiles are barely brown.

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Remove them immediately from the pan with a thin edged spatula and use wooden spoon handles or rolling pins to shape them.  But you really have to hurry, because if you don't, then yours will be as flat and crisp as mine, poor little cute things.

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Have some fun making other shapes, too, and maybe, just maybe, you'll be able to twist a few!

Okay, off to make the dessert they'll go in.

6:30 pm

Yes, it's late.  A lot later than I thought I'd be, but the goings on of a day tend to make some things take longer than I'd like.  Especially this dessert which, by comparison, is very easy.

Orange Sabayon

1 lg. egg

1 lg. egg yolk

1/3 c. sugar

zest of 1 orange

1/3 c. freshly squeezed orange juice

1 T lemon juice

For the dessert…

1 orange

0% fat Greek yogurt

Prepare an ice bath in a bowl large enough to set the top pan of a double boiler.

In the top of a double boiler pan, whisk the eggs until foamy.  Gradually mix in the sugar whisking until well combined.  Add the juices and the zest, mixing well.  Place the pan over a gently simmering pan of water and stir the citrus mixture constantly until the mixture thickens like a pudding.  Place the pan in the ice bath and continue to stir until it cools.

To create a light dessert, section an additional orange and place the segments in a wide-mouthed glass.  Make sure they're well drained or the juice will pool in the bottom of the glass.  In a small bowl mix 1/2 of the chilled sabayon and 1/4 c. of the yogurt.  To serve, mound the orange yogurt sabayon over the oranges.  Don't forget to include the tuiles!

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Notes:

  • The tuiles are surprisingly easy to make.  Unfortunately, I baked mine for 7 minutes instead of 5 while I was looking for the browned edges and then didn't move quite fast enough to get them positioned over the rolling pin and wooden spoon handles.  I did have a chance to try it with another batch, so know not to bake them quite so long.
  • The sabayon is also easy to put together.  If you wanted to fatten it up a bit, you could mix it with whipped cream and/or a bit of mascarpone.

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Glazed Crumb Cake with Cardamom and Pecans

We weren’t snackers or dessert eaters when I was growing up, so the idea of crumb cake didn’t occur to me until I had my first job fresh out of high school working in a grocery store when I was 17.  They came individually wrapped, and if I kept my eyes open, I could find a few on the day-old bakery rack for 10 cents. But it wasn’t just crumb cakes.   I remember being fascinated by all the packaged baked goods, amazed that the selection was so huge.  It was like being in a strange kind of food Disneyland having my very own income and anything I wanted to purchase at my fingertips.

My mother didn’t keep too many “goodies” in the house beyond what was packed in our lunches, and even then, variety was almost non-existent.  And grocery stores in general were an oddity to me because she shopped at the Navy Commissary, and rarely took us with her.

So when I came across this recipe for crumb cake in an old magazine, I had to try it, remembering my long ago fascination with those oh-so-moist little cakes and the crumbly tops that make a sweet mess each time you sink your teeth into one.

There will be no hiding the fact that you’ve had your hand in the sweets!

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Caramelly Honey Nut Squares

Today is all about nuts.  Lots and lots of nuts — which is perfect for me about now as I listen to the painters downstairs finally, finally ripping the paper off the floor which has been taped on for more than a week.  I thought yesterday they’d be done, but they’re putting finishing touches here and there.  Clearly, they’re very thorough, which I’m grateful for.  I’m so ready to roll up my sleeves and rearrange my things again.

Dust.  Vacuum.  Hang pictures.  Tackle the pile in the garage to unbury my books.  Gather things for one last big donation of the year…

…then decorate for Christmas.

Like I said — NUTS!  Or in this case, Biscotti Quadrati al Miele e alle NociHoney Nut Squares, Gourmet’s Favorite Cookie from 2003.  These are a delightful bite of flaky cookie crust, creamy honey caramel and three kinds of nuts.  You can’t get much easier for something pleasant, crunchy, and surprisingly, not too sweet.

That makes eleven cookies with one left to go.  Here’s nuts to you! 

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