Sunday, December 2, 2012

Osmanthus Flower and Goji Berry Jelly (桂花糕)

I quite enjoyed the flavor of osmanthus jelly when I had it at a restaurant during dim sum and declared to my other dining companions that I could easily recreate it at home. Those who know me know that I say this a lot and nothing ever really materializes from these declarations. However, a year later when I came across a packet of dried osmanthus flowers in the grocery store (more accurately my local Chinese market, because honestly you probably wouldn't find osmanthus flowers in your local grocery store), I bought it in preparation for a future attempt at making osmanthus jelly. The osmanthus jelly was once again back on my radar. That was about two months ago. It probably would have been at least another six months had my mom not suggested that we make some for Thanksgiving recently. I also made the pumpkin roulade already posted here, chocolate chip and almond cookies, and a french apple tart, but more on that in an upcoming post.
Anyway, after about a year and a half, one of the many declarations I made was finally realized. I looked up recipes for osmanthus jelly and decided to go with one from Christine's Recipes since her recipes haven't failed me in the past and I already had all the basic ingredients. This dessert really could not be simpler since you're just making jello from an osmanthus flower flavored syrup. If you don't have a chinese market near you, you can probably find dried osmanthus flowers in a specialty tea shop or purchase it online. The same method can be used for other dried flowers and teas as well. Try this for a light, easy, make ahead dessert.

Osmanthus Jelly
Adapted from Christine's Recipes
Makes one 8 by 8 inch pan

1L water
300 g rock sugar (you can use whatever granulated sugar as well, add it to your taste)
3 tbsp dried osmanthus flowers
3 tbsp + 2.5 tsp unflavored gelatin, (about 5 envelopes, although the packets aren't always consistent)
                                                           Use 5.5 envelopes/+ 1 tsp gelatin for a firmer, moldable jelly
2 tbsp dried goji berries, rehydrated in water for a few minutes and drained

Put 1 cup of the water aside in a small bowl. Heat the remaining water to a gentle boil, add sugar and dried osmanthus flowers, gently simmer until sugar is dissolved. Adjust to your taste. Strain syrup to remove the osmanthus flowers. You can also put the flowers in a tea bag or a cheesecloth bundle for easier removal.

In the 1 cup of water set aside, sprinkle in the gelatin and let sit for a minute. Add the bloomed gelatin to the sugar syrup and stir until dissolved. Mix in the drained goji berries if using and pour into molds or an 8 by 8 inch pan to set. Sprinkle some dried osmanthus flowers over the top for decoration if you'd like. Once the jelly reaches room temp, you can place it in the fridge to set completely. Once completely set, unmold or cut into squares and serve.

Blueberry Pancakes

I have to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of pancakes. For those of you who love pancakes, this probably makes no sense. I do enjoy a nice fluffy pancake now and then, but until now, I haven't found a recipe that produces results as good as those you'd find in a restaurant. This recipe for pancakes from America's Test Kitchen is darn good, even for an occasional pancake-eater like myself.

I've found that buttermilk is crucial, for me anyways, in producing a tender pancake. Although the recipe suggests using milk and lemon juice if you don't have buttermilk, it doesn't produce the same exact results in my experience. The basic recipe here can be varied in many ways by adding nuts, other fruits, and spices to the batter. It can also be drizzled with chocolate sauce, coconut syrup, honey, etc. rather than the more traditional maple syrup. The picture here isn't as pretty as the original pic, but it's just as delicious.

Blueberry Pancakes
Recipe from America's Test Kitchen

2 cups buttermilk
2 cups(10 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted/cooled
vegetable oil for pan
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, rinsed/dried

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Whisk the egg and butter into the buttermilk. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Do not overmix.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add a tsp of the oil to the pan and swirl to coat the pan. Drop 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan for each pancake, sprinkle blueberries over the top of each. Cook until large bubbles form, then flip the pancake and cook until golden brown.

Note: If you don't have buttermilk, you can use 2 cups of whole milk mixed with 1 tbsp of lemon juice as the original recipe suggests. However, I've never really found that this substitute gives you exactly the same results, so I would recommend buttermilk if possible.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Flour Bakery Tarts, Fruit + Pastry Cream and Chocolate

I not so recently made these tarts for a family dinner. It's been a few years, I think, since I've made a fruit tart, but I was quite pleased with these. There's nothing wrong with a beautiful platter of fresh fruit, but this just makes it a bit more special. The recipe is made up of components from a few of Joanne Chang's recipes. I had first heard about Joanne Chang's Chocolate Truffle Tart from another blogger who mentioned it in one of her posts and a search turned up the following recipe on Baking with Lisa. I decided to take the same tart shell and make fruit tarts by using a pastry cream from another one of Joanne's recipes.
The tart shell sounded very promising because according to other bakers, the fact that there is no water in the tart shell means less shrinkage(Seinfeld, anyone?) in the oven. Surprisingly, even without pie weights, these tart shells did not shrink significantly and came out very nicely. I decided to make individual tarts because they're easier to share and fruit tarts can be difficult to cut nicely. The tart dough was easy to make and although it was a bit crumbly out of the fridge, it's easier to work with when you warm it up slightly with your hand. You can also just patch up holes if you need to as the dough is very forgiving. I did poke the bottoms of the tart shells with a fork to allow steam to escape, but that may not be necessary if you're using a tart ring as suggested in the recipe since steam may be able to escape from underneath.

The baked chocolate truffle filling is rich, but pleasingly so and is exactly like the texture of a truffle, go figure. I topped the chocolate tarts with raspberries simply because I had them around and I like raspberries, but feel free to leave as is and dust with cocoa. As for the mixed fruit tarts, I've made pastry cream many times, but was excited to try this one as it uses cake flour instead of cornstarch. It came out great and while it's hard to tell the difference, this one seems a bit softer than pastry creams made with cornstarch. Both are good and Joanne also seems to use both cake flour and cornstarch in her recipes, so it depends on whatever you feel like or have in your kitchen.
Since the pastry cream comes from an eclair recipe, I used a bit more whipped cream to lighten the pastry cream than what is listed in the recipe below. I think the pastry cream filling for a tart should be a bit lighter, so start with what is listed below and whip up some more cream if you would like it lighter. Top the fruit tarts with whatever is in season and looks good from your market.

Chocolate Truffle Tart and Mixed Fruit Tart
Recipe from Joanne Chang via Baking with Lisa and Food and Wine

Pate Sucree(Tart Shell)
1 stick unsalted butter(4 oz), room temp
1/4 cup(50 g) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt or 1/4 tsp fine salt
1 cup(140 g) all purpose flour
1 large egg yolk

Cream butter, salt, and sugar in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer for 2-3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Add the flour and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Add the egg yolk and mix on low speed until it just comes together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough with a rolling pin to a 1/4 inch thick. Fit into a 10 inch tart ring and trim off excess. Poke the bottom of the shell with a fork so steam can escape. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Bake tart shell for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack. (I made individual tart shells with about 50 g of dough for each tart shell and baked them for about 15-20 minutes. I got 20 small tart shells from 3x the recipe above.)

Chocolate Filling for Chocolate Truffle Tart
Makes enough filling for 1 10-inch tart shell or 12 individual tarts

8 oz(228 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup(180 g) heavy cream
1/2 cup(120 g) milk
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 tsp kosher salt, half the amount of fine salt

Preheat oven to 350 deg F.  Put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat cream and milk over medium heat until almost simmering. Pour the milk and cream over the chocolate and let sit for a little bit before whisking. Whisk until chocolate is melted, add egg yolks one at a time, then the butter and salt, and whisk until incorporated.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the prebaked tart shell. Bake about 15 minutes or until the edge starts to set and the center is still wiggly. Let cool for a few hours on a wire rack. Dust with cocoa before serving or top with raspberries about an hour into cooling like I did. Best served the day it's made at room temp.

Pastry Cream for Mixed Fruit Tart
Probably makes enough filling for 1 large tart or 12 individual ones, slightly adapted

2 cups whole milk
1/4 vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 cup granulated sugar + 2 tbsp
5 tbsp cake flour
pinch of salt
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp heavy cream
Mixed Fruit(Figs, berries, plums, nectarines, peaches, grapes, etc.)
Heated Apricot Preserves or Currant Jelly for glazing fruit

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, vanilla bean, and seeds until almost simmering. Whisk the sugar, cake flour, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the egg and egg yolks. Slowly add the hot milk mixture a little at a time, whisking constantly.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil while whisking until the pastry cream thickens. Strain pastry cream through a sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, let cool a bit, then refrigerate at least an hour until cool.

Whip the cream by hand with a large whisk or with a mixer until soft peaks. Whisk the pastry cream and fold whipped cream into the pastry cream until blended.

Spoon lightened pastry cream into tart shell and top with mixed fruit. Lightly brush fruit with melted apricot preserves or currant jelly. Serve the day it's made. If not serving right away, refrigerate until serving.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Bowl of Rice Krispies Treats

Ok, so I wouldn't actually start my day with a bowl of rice krispies treats. They really are intended as "treats" and would not be an appropriate meal substitute, although one person in my house might disagree with me. This recipe is based off the classic Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treats, but I've added additional rice krispies and a bit of milk to suit my taste. I find the original recipe too sweet, even for a treat and the milk is a tip I got from other marshmallow treats-makers online to keep the treats gooey after they cool.

I've heard others say that this recipe would also work with other types of cereal, but as for me, I prefer the original because I think you just can't beat the airy crunch of rice krispies. If I had to choose an acceptable variation, I might give chocolate rice krispies a try.* If you'd like, you can add nuts, chocolate chips, etc. to the rice krispies treats at the end. Even with rice krispies, I have to recommend using Kellogg's Rice Krispies, because I just don't think other brands of puffed rice cereal are as hollow and crispy. Of course, I haven't tried all the brands out there, so I am open to recommendations.

When making these rice krispies treats, it is important to melt down your butter and marshmallows slowly so as to not burn it and do not press too hard on the rice krispies treats when putting them in the pan. I try to compact the mixture as little as possible and prefer to leave it rough than smooth because pressing too hard leads to hard and tough rice krispies treats and nothing is worse than that.

*Update: I have just seen a recipe for marshmallow squares using golden grahams cereal, chocolate chips, and melted marshmallows. I feel this would be good since the smores combination is a sure winner, but I wouldn't categorize it as a variation of these treats since they're based on another preexisting treat.

Rice Krispies Treats
Adapted from Kellogg's

1 stick plus two tablespoons unsalted butter(1/2 cup plus two tablespoons)
20 ounces marshmallows, large or mini(2 10 ounce bags)
1 tablespoon milk
14.5 cups rice krispies cereal(1 12-ounce box plus 3 cups, about 17 ounces total)

Melt the butter over low heat in a large pan. Once melted, add the marshmallows and stir with a heatproof spatula. Just before the marshmallows are completely melted, stir in the milk.

Once everything is completely melted and combined, turn off the heat and add the rice krispies cereal. Mix together with the spatula until all the cereal is coated with the marshmallow mixture. Gently press the cereal-marshmallow mixture into a 10.5 by 15 inch baking pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment and let cool.

Once cooled, cut into squares. Store rice krispies treats in an airtight container.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Preeminent Chocolate Chip Cookie


For years, I've been looking for and testing out different chocolate chip cookie recipes and have never found one that I liked. Despite my occasionally snooty preferences for all things homemade, chocolate chip cookies were one of the few things I preferred from bakeries. Like most everyone else, I like my chocolate chip cookies to be crispy on the outside and slightly chewy in the center. While every recipe I've tried has claimed that this is what I can expect, I am inevitably disappointed time and time again. Eventually, I decided to give up making chocolate chip cookies altogether and to just stick with chocolate chip oatmeal cookies or other variations. However, after this recipe, I think I may have to reevaluate my ranking of cookies and move these chocolate chip cookies to the top.

I don't think I have ever been as pleased with a batch of homemade cookies as I was with these, although it is very important that you do not overcook them or else you will not be left with the best chocolate chip cookies ever. I originally saw these cookies on Emily's blog and these cookies have been all over the internet, but the original recipe is a New York Times adaptation of Jacques Torres's famous chocolate chip cookie. Before I did my research, the similarities between Jacques Torres's chocolate chip cookies and this recipe were what drew me in as I had been wanting to try his recipe for a while now. The 36 hour refrigeration period and outstanding reviews also intrigued me as I actually like recipes that seem a bit more complicated, but still doable. I like to challenge, but not torture myself.

Despite the slightly longer list of ingredients, this recipe is actually very easy. I made smaller cookies as opposed to the larger cookies suggested in the recipe and I used chocolate chips *gasp* as opposed to chocolate disks because I didn't have......okay I did have chocolate disks, but just wasn't sure if this cookie would live up to the hype to warrant using my good quality chocolate in it. My younger sister had also requested chocolate chips instead. Regardless, these cookies still turned out amazing and my worries were unfounded. The combination of bread and cake flour really does result in a fantastic crispy/chewy texture.

I highly recommend that you make these cookies very soon, if not immediately following the conclusion of this post if you have not made it before, even if you think you don't like chocolate chip cookies. They are just that good. I have finally found a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. The only thing I worry about now is that any other cookie recipe will be mediocre in comparison to these.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe infinitesimally adapted from The New York Times
Makes about 40 2.5 inch cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8.5 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8.5 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt or 3/4 tsp fine salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
11 ounces chocolate chips or chocolate disks, semisweet or bittersweet
Sea salt, for sprinkling 

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a handheld mixer, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.

On low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Mix in chocolate. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Scoop mounds of dough (whatever size you like) onto the baking sheet.

Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 12-15 minutes for smaller cookies, 18 to 20 minutes for larger cookies. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer cookies onto a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking the next day.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Creamy Silky Chocolate Pie

My sister and I saw this pie on an episode of Cook's Country and thought it sounded pretty good. It seemed quite simple to put together and I liked the fact that the eggs in the recipe were cooked or at least heated to a temp. at which it should be safe to consume. Most chocolate mousse type recipes have raw eggs and while I'm not terribly concerned about consuming raw eggs since they're pasteurized and hopefully fresh, I do prefer taking the cooked egg route when possible.

This pie turned out nicely, it is very similar to a chocolate mousse pie, but not exactly the same. It is a bit firmer than chocolate mousse once it sets up and is rich but light at the same time. It is appropriately named as I did find it quite silky. It all comes together very quickly once your pie shell is prebaked. We will definitely be making this one again.

French Silk Chocolate Pie
Recipe from Cook's Country and Pie Crust from Martha Stewart
Makes one 9 inch pie

1 cup heavy cream, chilled (More, if topping with whipped cream)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Small pinch of salt
2 tablespoons water
8 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
1  9 inch pie shell, baked and cooled (we used this one)

In a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, combine eggs, sugar, and water. With a handheld electric mixer, beat for 7-10 minutes until it thickens and reaches 160 Deg F. Remove from heat, beat for another 8 minutes until almost cooled.

Add chocolate and vanilla extract to egg mixture, beat until incorporated. Beat in butter, pieces at a time until incorporated.

Whip cream at medium high speed in a standing mixer with whisk attachment or with handheld mixer until stiff peaks, do not overwhip. I like to finish whisking by hand to ensure not overmixing. Fold whipped cream into chocolate-egg mixture until no white streaks remain.

Scrape filling into pie shell and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Top with more whipped cream if desired.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sponge cake + Cheesecake = This

As I mentioned in my mascarpone cheesecake post, I've made many a cheesecake and in the last year or so, I've made more sponge/chiffon cakes than I care to count. So, the only logical next step was that I make something which combines the two, a japanese cheesecake. Actually, I've long known about japanese cheesecakes because I've tried them from the grocery store, but only realized recently that they were made in the style of sponge cakes.

While I used to dislike the idea of a fluffy and spongy cheesecake, I've come around to liking it. I just had to stop thinking of it as a typical cheesecake and start thinking about it as a cream cheese sponge cake. I had trouble deciding whether to categorize this as a cake or a dessert, but the addition of flour and beaten egg whites gives this a texture more similar to cake than typical cheesecake, so I went with the former.

This recipe can be a bit temperamental, but it has worked out for me better than other japanese cheesecakes I've tried. It can be a little tricky to get your cheesecake to turn out fluffy without collapsing, but following the steps below will help. Take the time to let your ingredients come to room temp, bake the cake in a waterbath, and let it cool slowly in the oven. If you don't want your cheesecake to crack, definitely bake it at the low temp of 302 deg F. As for me, I don't mind a bit of a golden crust on top and the rustic look of a cracked top, so I will occasionally bake the cheesecake at 315 degrees F.

Japanese Cheesecake
Recipe Ever so Slightly Adapted from Christine's Recipes

250 ml milk(whole milk is best, but reduced fat will work)
250g cream cheese, room temp
60g butter, room temp
55g cake flour
20g cornstarch
6 large eggs, separated
130g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 302 degrees F. Line a 9 or 10 inch springform pan with parchment on the bottom and sides. Wrap the springform pan in 2 layers of aluminum foil. Place the springform pan inside a larger pan with sides, this will serve as your water bath.

In a large bowl set over a pot of simmering water, mix the cream cheese and milk with a whisk until the cream cheese is melted. Add the butter and when melted, take the bowl off the pot and let cool. Save the boiling water for your water bath, add more if necessary.

Sift the cake flour and cornstarch together three times.

Once the cheese mixture is somewhat cool, add the egg yolks and whisk together. Add in the salt and vanilla extract. Mix in the sifted flour and cornstarch until just combined.

Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and whisk on medium-high in a stand mixer until frothy. Slowly stream in the sugar and whip until stiff peaks. Whisk a third of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk-cheese mixture to lighten.  Then, fold in the remaining egg whites.

Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. Place the pan-water bath set up into the oven, fill the larger outer pan with the boiling water, about halfway up the springform pan, but not so high that the water spills over the foil.

Bake for about an hour and a half until a cake tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Turn off the oven and let cake cool in the oven with the door ajar for about 40 minutes.

Remove the springform pan from the water bath and let cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate for at least three hours before serving. Serve cold or let warm up slightly at room temp. for a softer texture. Cheesecake will last for a few days in the refrigerator.

Note: Cake can also be baked in two loaf pans for about an hour.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Healthy Root Vegetable Cake(Better than it Sounds)

I first saw this cake in the video below and was immediately intrigued. Although at first, I was just curious as to how it would taste, I started to realize that beet cake would probably taste really good. The earthiness of beets pairs really well with the deep rich flavors of chocolate and if you didn't tell anyone, this could easily pass off as a light chocolate cake with veggie undertones.  Since I first found this recipe, I've come across many other recipes for beet cake. I decided to go with this one because it used less chocolate and more beets. I really wanted to taste the beets in this cake and didn't want to end up with a chocolate cake.

beet cake from tiger in a jar on Vimeo.

It came out great, it is just lightly sweet and chocolatey and the beets make it incredibly moist. I was surprised because the batter was quite thick and dense going into the oven, but it came out light and so soft and spongy that I had trouble picking it up without breaking. This is a great "everyday" type of cake that you could enjoy as a snack on its own and would also be great layered up with frosting for a more special occasion if you so desire.

Beet Cake
Recipe from Tiger in a Jar
Makes a 9 inch round single layer or an 8 by 8 inch square layer

2 cups beet puree
2 cups all purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup butter
4 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt.

With a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the butter with the sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time. Then, add the melted chocolate, the beet puree, and the vanilla. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients and beat for two more minutes. Pour batter into a parchment lined pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool before cutting. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

What I've Been Looking For - The Baguette

It's taken me quite a few tries to finally find a baguette recipe that is pretty close to those you get at a bakery. Leave it to the bakers over at King Arthur to come up with a recipe for the best at home baguette I've tried thus far. It has the holes and chewiness I've been looking for along with the flavor that results from a long rise. Although the ingredients are extremely simple, what you end up with is complex in taste and well worth the effort. I've had this recipe bookmarked for several months and can't believe I've waited this long to try it out. This makes great toast, sandwich bread, and of course is amazing right out of the oven.

I recommend watching the videos on the site to learn how to shape your baguettes because they also offer some great tips on ensuring you get the best end product. After a few times, I still haven't really gotten the hang of shaping baguettes yet. However, no matter how it looks, it will still taste amazing if properly risen. Compared to my other bread recipes, this dough is much softer and stickier. The higher moisture content actually contributes to creating those holes you want, so don't be tempted to add too much flour to this dough if it feels sticky. Just sprinkle a light dusting of flour on the outside and it should be easy enough to handle.

Sprinkled with parmesan before baking
If you've been looking for an at home baguette that rivals most bakeries, give this a try. It's actually much easier than you might think. The process is long, but it's mostly just time spent waiting for it to rise. I'm also excited to try the stuffed version next time.

Classic Baguette
Recipe from King Arthur Flour
Makes 3 medium baguettes or 2 larger ones

Starter - Make the night before
1/2 cup cool water
1 cup bread flour
1/16 tsp active dry yeast

Mix the water with the yeast and let sit for about 5 minutes to activate. Then mix in the flour forming a soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place overnight.

All the starter
1-1 1/4 cups warm water
1 tsp dry active yeast
3 - 3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix the warm water with the yeast and let sit for a few minutes to activate. Add all the starter and mix on medium for a minute or so to incorporate the starter. Add the flour gradually and mix on medium low speed until it comes together. Add the salt, then mix for another 5-10 minutes so that the dough is properly kneaded.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and let rise for three hours in a warm place, turning it gently every hour.

After three hours, lightly punch down the dough to eliminate any large gas bubbles, then divide the dough and preshape into a flat oval-like shape. Let rest for 15 minutes. Shape your dough into baguettes by folding the oval lengthwise, sealing the fold with the palm of your hand, then repeating the process, and rolling it out a bit into a log.

Let your baguettes rise another 1 1/2 hours covered with a cloth or oiled plastic wrap. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 425-450 degrees F. Slash your loaves and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding.

You can spritz with water for a crunchier crust, but I like the texture without spritzing. The baguettes keep well for a few days or freeze them and reheat when needed.
After the 3 hour rise

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chiffon Cake II

I don't really know how to start other than ...

Here's another chiffon cake you should add to your repertoire. Like the other basic chiffon cake(Chinese Style Chiffon Cake)  posted on this blog, this recipe can be adapted to make many different variations by simply adding different extracts and juices/liquids. Although the taste of the basic recipe is essentially the same, the addition of cream of tartar as opposed to all baking powder gives the cake a moister, spongier texture. Try it and you'll know what I mean. There is also a higher proportion of eggs to flour and water. I don't think one is better than the other, it's just a matter of preference.

This cake is a bit more complicated than the other one if you want to follow the specific ratio of eggs to flour, but not much more. My aunt weighs her eggs with the shell, then using a ratio of 18 oz eggs to 5.4 oz flour, she determines how much flour to use. It's not much more work to do this, especially since you'll be weighing other ingredients as well. However, if you don't want to go to the trouble of doing this extra step, the cake should still turn out fine using a specific number of eggs and a given amount of flour. Based on the couple of times I've made this, the average weight of 8 large eggs is about 17 oz, so that means on average, you should use 5.1 oz cake flour.

I will continue to make both this as well as my other chiffon cake depending on my mood and what I have in the pantry. I really like that both of these recipes have specific weight measurements because I do find that it ensures more consistent results. The recipe below is a version with lemon extract and orange juice, but you can easily switch these out for something else.

Chiffon Cake II
Recipe Adapted from my Auntie Thelma

8 large eggs, separated(9 medium or 7 extra large eggs)
5.1 oz(145 grams) of cake flour(or determined based on 18 oz eggs/5.4 oz flour ratio)
160 grams granulated sugar(5.6 ounces)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure lemon extract
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
large pinch of salt
3/8 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice

Preheat oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit. Weigh out your ingredients. Sift the flour and baking powder three times.

To the egg yolks, add more than half of the sugar and whisk for 1-2 minutes with a large whisk until it is pale and ribbons fall from the whisk. Add in the extracts and salt. Add the oil, then the juice, whisking thoroughly after each addition. Mix in the sifted flour and baking powder until just combined.

Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and mix in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on high speed until frothy. Then slowly add in the remaining sugar and whip until stiff, but not dry peaks.

To the egg yolk mixture, mix in a third of the egg whites to lighten the mixture. Then, fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful not to deflate the egg whites.

Pour into a 10 inch tube pan and bake for 45 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Invert and let cool completely before removing from pan.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Berry Chiffon Cake

I set out to make a pink cake and this is what happened. My little cousin's favorite color is pink, so I thought it only appropriate to make her a cake that matched her love of the color. She's six, so there aren't very many things she's passionate about yet, though the color pink is one of them. Unfortunately, it's not so easy to make a pink cake without the use of food coloring, especially with the addition of raspberry puree, so what resulted was a greyish pink cake. It was intended to be a strawberry cake, but I just couldn't find good strawberries at this time of year. So, I made it into a raspberry cake with a strawberry raspberry chiffon cake as the base. I filled the cake with a raspberry mascarpone cream filling and frosted it with whipped cream.
The cake overall tasted pretty good, but with fresh puree, the cake would have been much better in flavor and texture. I pureed frozen berries, so the resulting cake was not as moist as it could have been. However, in late fall, it's good to know that you can still make a nice berry flavored cake with frozen berries.

I'm still on the hunt for simple not-nonstick aluminium baking pans that are good quality but at a reasonable price so that I can start baking chiffon layer cakes without using a tube pan. They are actually surprisingly hard to find since nonstick has become the norm in bakeware. I think the cakes baked in such pans might not be as light as cakes baked in a tube pan, but a cake with a hole in the middle doesn't look all that great and is harder to decorate. A cake the size of a 10 inch tube pan is also too big for my family, so another alternative might be to get a smaller tube pan.

I'll just share the berry chiffon cake recipe here because the whipped cream frosting is already on this blog and the filling is just something I mixed up to my taste. I combined raspberry puree with powdered sugar and mascarpone cheese lightened with whipped cream.

Berry Chiffon Cake
Adapted from

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
large pinch of salt
3/4 cup fresh berry puree(I used frozen strawberries and raspberries)
1/4 cup + 3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
7 large eggs, separated, room temp
food coloring(optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Add 8-10 drops of red food coloring to the berry puree or a small amount of gel food coloring if using.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, 1 1/4 cups sugar, salt, and baking powder. In another bowl, whisk together the berry puree, vegetable oil, vanilla, and egg yolks. Mix the berry mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until well combined.

In a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites on medium high speed until foamy, then gradually add in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Continue whisking until stiff peaks. Take a third of the whipped egg whites and whisk vigorously into the berry-egg yolk base to lighten. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites with a spatula until fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into a 10 inch tube pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Invert and let cool completely before unmolding.

A Sweet Sourdough - Part 2

Since the last post on a honey wheat bread made with sourdough starter, I've been looking for other honey wheat bread recipes made with sourdough starter. While the last one is a great honey wheat option for both sweet and savory applications, personally I prefer a honey wheat bread that is much more sweet with a stronger wheat flavor. Since I couldn't really find any recipes that fit what I was looking for, I decided to come up with my own.

I was pretty happy with the outcome. It's sweet, but not overly so and has the stronger wheat flavor I want in a wheat bread. It's good if you have a starter that you need to use. If not, just make honey wheat bread without sourdough starter. Although this will probably be my go to honey wheat bread recipe for now, I don't think I'll ever stop trying out new recipes. Molasses, cocoa powder, and coffee are some of the many add ins and swap outs that would be great in this recipe.

Sweet Honey Wheat Sourdough Bread
Daydreamel Original
Makes one small loaf

1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
1/2 cup warm milk/water
1/3 cup honey
2/3 cup liquid sourdough starter
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups bread flour

Mix the yeast and the milk in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook. Let sit for 2 minutes. Add the starter and the honey. On low speed, mix in the whole wheat flour, then the salt, and finally the bread flour until well combined. Knead for 8-10 minutes adding more flour as necessary.

Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size. Punch down the dough and shape into a loaf.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and let rise for another 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and bake for 35 minutes until it sounds hollow. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.