Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rustic Potato Loaves

The Pie Queen used to make potato bread when I was a kid. She was taught by a kind woman in the neighborhood. It's one of THOSE memories for me. Eating potato bread hot out of the oven with real butter (not margarine) melting into all of its crevices. So, it had to be one of the recipes I tried this year. I didn't use her recipe (although I have it and will probably experiment with that one as well), I used one from Baking with Julia. I've been transcribing some of the recipes I've used from this book, but this one is just too long. Apologies. You'll have to either buy your own copy of the book or come on over to my house and copy the recipe.*

I do, however, have a few things to say about this recipe. To start with, in spite of its length and wordiness, this is one of the easiest bread recipes ever. Really. Mash up the potatoes, add some flour and other stuff, put it in the Kitchenaid with the dough hook (yes, I cheated again, Julia told me to),

let it rise, shape it, let it rise again, bake, done. No 15 minutes of kneading. No complicated shaping. Simple. Rustic. The skins are left on the potatoes in this recipe, which I like. It adds color and variation to the dough.

The taste of this is so hard to describe. It's so much more complex than any regular bread, even sourdough. And the texture of it is complex as well. I guess the best way to describe it is--hearty. I finished baking the bread shortly before dinnertime, so we used it for chicken salad sandwiches for dinner. My family isn't really the sandwich-for-dinner type, but with this bread it was a completely satisfying meal.

Of course, my favorite way to eat it is hot with loads of butter. The recipe's guidance to "cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing" will ALWAYS go unheeded by me.

TGIP Rating--Rustic Potato Loaves--KEEPER (but try Mom's recipe too)

* I decided to go ahead and transcribe it anyway. The printable version is here.

Next up: Let's see--with Independence Day this weekend, I'm inclined to make something All-American--aside from apple pie I don't know what that means. But we also have our housewarming this weekend which may call for cookies. Will have to decide later.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Once upon a time, a very long time ago indeed, I was a freshman in college. I had a roommate who made cinnamon rolls. From scratch. Without a recipe. She astonished me. An 18-year old who could do something so complex! It was a process filled with the mysteries of yeast, multiple risings, and using dishtowels for tight rolling. None of which were things I had encountered before. I was so astonished, in fact, by her ability to make something that was clearly so complicated, that I never attempted to make them myself. Until now.

I had heard about Alton's Overnight Cinnamon Rolls from the Priestess. I figured Fathers' Day would be a perfect opportunity to try them. I knew if anyone could make Cinnamon Rolls easy enough for even me to make, it would be Alton Brown.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls *click here for printable version* *or here*
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2006

Prep Time: 45 min
Inactive Prep Time: 10 hr 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Level: Intermediate
Serves: 12 rolls

4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 large whole egg, room temperature
2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
20 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Vegetable oil or cooking spray

8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
3/4-ounce unsalted butter, melted, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons

2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened, approximately 1/4 cup
3 tablespoons milk
5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups


For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook.

Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle.

Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough.

Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness.

Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls.

Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off.

Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

Alton wins. These were so easy and so tasty. Yes, I cheated on my pledge to do all things by hand (again), and used my mixer to knead the dough. My excuse? Alton said so.

I messed up a little on the icing. I took "cream cheese, softened" a little too literally, and bought whipped cream cheese. Mainly because I thought it would make it easier. I didn't realize until I was in the midst of making the icing that the difference in density between regular and whipped cream cheese would amount to a difference in the amount going into the mixture. So I tried adding more. And more. And then I got greedy and thought maybe I could achieve that wonderful thick cream cheese frosting they use at Cinnabon*. No. I just ended up with an icing that leaned toward the cheese side and didn't have enough sugar to balance. BUT. It was still very tasty.

A lot of times, for me, cinnamon roll dough is too dense and dry and the only really delicious part is the middle (where there's more cinnamon) and the icing. This dough is soft and tender and sweet and delicious. And it is incredibly easy to work with. I thought the rolling would be difficult. Not at all. And in the whole process of rolling, cutting, and transferring to the baking dish...I only lost this much of the cinnamon sugar:

Pretty good, eh? If my children weren't so persnickety, I would make these every weekend.

TGIP Rating--Overnight Cinnamon Rolls--KEEPER (I'd also like to try them with some finely chopped pecans added to the cinnamon sugar--yum)

Next up: No special occasions this week. I think I'm going to try a different bread recipe. Rustic Potato Loaves from Baking with Julia. I love potato bread.

* If you have a copycat recipe of the Cinnabon frosting, I'd love it if you shared! :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fresh Fruit Galette

Cheating confession #1: I've used this galette recipe before. But I've only ever made it with apples, never with fresh berries as the recipe suggests. There have been so many lovely looking berries in the grocery store lately, I thought I'd give it a shot this week. Knowing that not everyone worships certain fruits the way I do, I decided to make two different ones: blackberry and cherry (I'll put cherries in anything, no lie, I love them so). No lard in the dough, so it's vegetarian--bonus for guests. This crust turns out nice and crispy. The filling is not too sweet. The dough is really easy to make, a little soft, but still fairly easy to work with (cheating confession #2--I didn't make it by hand, I used my food processor--I had a lot going on Friday).

The recipe is from Baking with Julia and here it is in its entirety with commentary, etc.

Galette Dough *click here for printable version*

Makes enough for two 8-inch galettes

The cornmeal in this wonderfully buttery dough not only gives it a bit of crunch, it makes it crisp enough to stand up to soft and syrupy fillings and sturdy enough to be rolled to extreme thinness. You can use this dough to line a tart pan, but it is particularly well suited to rustic tarts called galettes--flat, open-face, free-from tarts whose edges are folded over the filling like the ruffled top of a drawstring purse.

The dough is made quickly either by hand or in a food processor and produces enough for two galettes.

3 tablespoons sour cream (or yogurt or buttermilk)
1/3 cup (approximately) ice water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 to 8 pieces

To make the dough by hand: stir the sour cream and 1/3 cup ice water together in a small bowl and set aside. Put the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and stir with a fork to mix. Drop the butter pieces into the bowl, tossing them once or twice just to coat them with flour. With a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour, aiming for pieces of butter that range in size from bread crumbs to small peas. The smaller pieces will make the dough tender, the larger ones will make it flaky.

Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you've added all of the sour cream, the dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if it's not, add additional cold water, 1 teaspoon at a time. With your hands, gather the curds of dough together. (You'll have a soft, malleable dough, the kind you might want to overwork.)

To make the dough in a food processor: stir the sour cream and 1/3 cup ice water together in a small bowl; set aside. Put the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in the work bowl of a processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse to combine. Drop the butter pieces into the bowl and pulse 8 to 10 times, or until the mixture is speckled with pieces of butter that vary in size from bread crumbs to peas. With the machine running, add the sour cream mixture and process just until the dough forms soft, moist curds.

Chilling the dough: turn dough out of bowl or processor, divide it in half, and press each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours.

Storing: The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two, or it can be wrapped airtight and frozen for a month. Thaw, still wrapped, in the refrigerator. It is convenient to roll the dough into rounds, place parchment between each round, and freeze them wrapped in plastic; this way, you'll need only about 20 minutes to defrost a round of dough at room temperature before it can be filled, folded into a galette, and baked.

Berry Galette

Makes 4 to 6 servings

This, as heirloom cookbooks used to say, is a keeper. It is so simple and inviting and so enjoyable to construct that you'll find yourself turning to it frequently. It's called a galette because it's flat, open-faced and free-form--the crust is rolled into a circle the filling is piled in the center, and the edges of the crust are turned in and ruffled. The filling can be mixed berries as suggested here (if you include strawberries, don't include many, as they're too watery. peeled soft fruits like peaches or apricots, or, in fall and winter, tart apples or sweet pears.

1/2 recipe Galette Dough, chilled

1-1/2 cups mixed fresh berries (or cut-up peeled fruit)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll it into an 11-inch circle that's about 1/8 inch thick. Since the dough is soft, you'll need to lift it now and then and toss some more flour under it and over the top. Roll up the dough around your rolling pin and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.

Spread the berries over the dough, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar over the fruit and drizzle on the honey, if you're using it.

Cut the butter into slivers and scatter it on top of the fruit. Fold the uncovered border of dough up over the filling, allowing the dough to pleat as you lift it up and work your way around the galette. (Because you're folding a wide edge of dough onto a smaller part of the circle, it will pleat naturally--just go with it.)

Dip a pastry brush in water, give the edge of the crust a light coating, and then sprinkle the crust with the remaining teaspoon of sugar.

Baking the galette: Bake the galette for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and crisp. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the galette rest on the sheet for 10 minutes. Slip a wide spatula or a small baking sheet under the galette and slide it onto the cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, cutting the tart with a pizza wheel or a sharp knife.

Storing: The galette is best eaten the day it is made.

Contributing Baker: Flo Braker

I did opt to use the honey, I used spun as opposed to traditional. I also like to sprinkle a little bit of lemon zest over the filling before folding the crust over it. Lemon zest is another thing that I use in absolutely everything, from pastas, to chicken dishes, to desserts.

As you can see, the cherry one let go of a lot more juice than the blackberry. I don't know if that's just because cherries have a lot more juice in them to begin with, or if there was a small tear in the crust that allowed the juice to run out. Whatever. It didn't matter. The crust stayed crisp in spite of sitting in juice for a while.

I served it with homemade vanilla frozen yogurt which has a little bit of tartness to it that made the whole dish absolutely delicious.

TGIP Rating--KEEPER--As Flo said. Try with every kind of fruit imaginable.

Next up: Alton Brown's Overnight Cinnamon Rolls. Just in time for Fathers' Day.

Sometimes my kitchen looks like the scene of a particularly grisly murder.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ice-cream Cookie Cups

So, Seconda wanted to have a Pie-Day project of her own. She wanted to make ice cream. I couldn't explain the nitty-gritty of why ice cream isn't a BAKING project, even though there's COOKING involved. So, I baked something to put the ice cream in. These cookie cups. It was interesting. The dough was a little difficult to work with.

Thankfully, I have a silpat rolling mat, so I was able to use the flexibility of that to my advantage know, sometimes dough is forgiving and you can patch cracks with leftover dough. I thought regular muffin-size cups seemed too small (although, they'd probably be perfect for a kids' party). So, I doubled the recipe and used my jumbo muffin tin to make 12 cups (as opposed to 10 with the regular size, recipe as written).

And they were actually kind of yummy. (And Seconda was proud)

The best part, of course, was the ice cream. Which isn't a BAKING project (do I have to explain to you why?). Alton Brown. Is a genius. Proven again with this Mint Chip Ice Cream (the chips are chopped Andes mints--Alton calls them "chocolate-mint candies", but we all know what he's talking about, yes?).

His recipe calls for peppermint OIL. Hmm. I couldn't find it in the baking aisle. It seems like something that would be very common, I don't know. I used peppermint extract, and doubled the amount, I think it's just not as potent as the oil. Whatever. It was so delicious. isn't necessarily green.

TGIP Rating--Ice-cream Cookie Cups--KEEPER (and it's okay to make the smaller version)
--Mint Chip Ice Cream--KEEPER (just TRY to not make this once a week all summer long. I dare you, spiker.)

Next up: I have no idea. Throw some out for me. Seriously. We're having guests over on Friday. I'd love to make a dessert that is vegetarian and has no nuts.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Midweek Kitchen Recommendation

Go here:

And by "go here", I don't mean just go to the website (which you can do by clicking on the picture). I mean go to the patisserie itself. Pick up a Kouing-Aman (that's what is in the picture). Or get beignets and coffee. Or have a lovely lunch. Everything I've tasted is delicious (and I've tasted quite a few of their offerings in the past 24 hours). If you don't live in Salt Lake, come visit me and I'll take you there!

I think I may take a class there later this month: SUMMER TARTS. And since I'm a summer tart myself, that works out perfectly. Anybody want to join me? 40th birthday is July 20. I like cake. Oh, drat. They're closed for the month of July. Whaaat?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sour Cherry Clafouti(s)

For Larry, Betsy, Michael, and Wendy.

As I mentioned last week, I baked this recipe because of a play I read with these four glorious people (and my husband). It was an entirely new concept for me. I've never made anything like it or (I don't think) tasted anything like it. It's sort of custard-y. It sort of has the texture of bread pudding. It was interesting.

The recipe I used is from The Martha Stewart Cookbook (which I use as a resource for lots of basics). She has some other clafoutis recipes online, but not this one, so I'm posting it here:

Sour Cherry Clafouti (some recipes spell it with an -s at the end, some don't *shrug*)
Makes 6 servings

*click here for printable version*

3 cups pitted fresh sour cherries (canned or frozen may be used)
3 tablespoons Cognac
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the cherries with the Cognac and set aside.

Butter a 9-inch glass pie plate or a fluted porcelain tart dish. Dust the bottom with 1 teaspoon of the sugar.

In a blender, combine the milk, cream, eggs, remaining sugar, vanilla, salt, and flour. Blend at high speed for 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the blender once.

Pour 1/2 cup batter into the dish. Arrange the cherries over it in an even layer and drizzle with the Cognac. Pour the remaining batter over the cherries.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top is puffed and golden brown and the batter is set. Serve hot or warm.

I used these canned cherries (because they are what I use in pies, and I prefer tart to overly sweet).

I liked the tartness, but if I were to make this again, I would definitely use fresh cherries. I also used Brandy rather than Cognac. It's what I had on hand and, honestly, it didn't seem like it would make much difference. I have to confess, I don't use my blender very much at all, let alone for baking, but it seemed to do the trick with the custard.

And, naturally, I made whipped cream to go with it. I mean, why not? It actually seemed like a sort of breakfast-y treat to me. Maybe it's the slight egg-y flavor of the custard, or the fruit. I don't know. But I might have to have some for breakfast tomorrow.

TGIP Rating--Sour Cherry Clafouti--UNDECIDED. It was good. It wasn't great. I may try it again with fresh cherries. It is a very easy dessert to make.

Next up: Seconda has especially requested that we make homemade ice cream this weekend. We're having family over for a BBQ Saturday night, so it seems like a good idea. But that doesn't involve baking. So...I think I'll try my hand at...cookie ice cream bowls.