Friday, March 28, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge: Perfect Party Cake by Dorie

This is my first post for The Daring Bakers. This months recipe was selected by Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts. Check our her blog and check out The Daring Bakers blog to see other peoples results.
WOW! What a cake. I loved every part of this cake. I have always wanted to make this kind of butter cream icing. My favorite bakery from home, Bethel Bakery had icing like this. Who knew it was so easy to make. For this challenge I stayed pretty true to the original. I used lime zest instead of lemon in the batter. I stuck with the raspberry preserves in the layers and also added fresh berries to the top of my cake.

I had a bit of trouble cutting the two cakes in half. I always cut unevenly, as you can see in the layers. It doesn't effect the taste, but visually is unappealling. I have seen people use dental floss and pull through the cake instead of cutting, maybe I will try next time.

I think the next time I make this cake I will just make a vanilla butter cream, or almond and put a custard or pastry cream in the layers. I think toasted almonds on the out side instead of coconut would be great too.

For the Cake:

2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Butter cream:
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing:

2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves,
Stirred vigorously or warmed gently till spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2 –inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each with parchment paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To make the cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixing bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle attachment, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, and then add 1/3 of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk /egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool or 5 minutes, then unmold them and peel off paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
To make the Butter cream: Put the sugar and egg whites in a heat proof mixing bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like a shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the butter cream on medium-speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. During this time, the butter cream may curdle or spate-just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon Juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then add the vanilla. You should have a shiny, smooth, velvety, pristine white bitter cream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the butte cream and set aside briefly.
To assemble the cake: Using a sharp serrated knife, and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up in a cake plate. Spread it with on third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about a quarter of the butter cream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and butter cream and then do the same with the third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have butter cream left over). Place the last layer cut side down on the top of the cake and uses the remaining butter cream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting gently all over the sides and top.
Taken from:
Baking: From My Home to Yours
Page 250-252 by Dorie Greenspan

Toasted Hazelnut Cream Pie

For her birthday my mother received a package of fresh hazelnuts form her friend in Oregon. She was searching for a recipe to try and we decided upon Toasted Hazelnut Cream Pie, off of the Oregon Hazelnut Growers web site. It is very similar to a pecan pie, except for a layer of custard on the bottom and using a different nut. Over all, I was very pleased with the results. I did not like the crust, all shortening is not my favorite, but the flavor or the hazelnuts was great. To get fresh hazelnuts ready to eat you must first blanch them in boiling water with baking soda. The reaction causes the water to turn black! It is something else. the smell is similar to blanching green beans or maybe peanuts. Then you rum he nuts together to remove the skins and roast them in the oven.
Instead of cream cheese I used marscarpone. I also used Lyle's Golden Syrup instead of corn syrup. I love this stuff and would recommend trying it.
Hazelnut Caramel Pie

1-1/3 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
3 tablespoons water
3 eggs
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1-1/2 cups roasted & chopped Oregon hazelnuts Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in bowl. Cut in shortening until uniform, but coarse. Sprinkle with water, toss with fork and press into ball. On lightly floured surface, roll out pastry 1-1/2 inches larger than inverted 9-inch pie plate. Fit into plate and trim 1/2 inch beyond edge of plate; fold under to make double thickness around edge and flute or trim even with edge; decorate with small pastry cut outs. Beat together eggs, sugar, syrup, 1/4 teaspoon salt and vanilla. Stir in butter and hazelnuts. Pour into pie shell. Bake in a 375 oven for 45 minutes, or until set in center. Cool. Hazelnut Cream Caramel Pie: Beat together 4 ounces cream cheese (softened), 1 egg and 2 tablespoons milk until smooth. Pour into pie shell. Bake in 375 oven for 15 minutes. Add caramel/nut filling and bake as directed above.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Carmel Flan

This weeks Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was picked by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. In honor or the flan, we are making a big Mexican meal. Making chile rellenos, enchiladas with tomatilla sauce, Spanish rice, refried beans, grilled fish, and chips and salsa. Corona with lime and margaritas. Also I am making another Dorie cookie, the salt and pepper chocolate short bread cookies. Not everyone likes flan, and I can't really understand this. I love flan. The silky texture, the caramel burnt sugar top, the dense custard.

Both the flan and the salt and pepper shortbread cookies were excellent. They complemented each other and the meal. I will make them both many times. The meal was also a treat. We invited a few friends over on a snowy, should-be-spring evening, and the spice of the chili rellanos and the silk of the flan, made for an enjoyable evening. I could eat the same meal over again, even now. LJ took a nap on the couch after we ate.

For the Caramel

1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
squirt of fresh lemon juice

For the Flan

1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1-1/4 cups whole milk
3 large eggs

2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Getting Ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a roasting pan or a 9-x-13-inch baking pan with a double thickness of paper towels. Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat.Put a metal 8-x-2-inch round cake pan-not a nonstick one-in the oven to heat while you prepare the caramel.To Make the Caramel: Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice together in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Put the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar becomes an amber-colored caramel, about 5 minutes-remove the pan from the heat at the first whiff of smoke.Remove the cake pan from the oven and, working with oven mitts, pour the caramel into the pan and immediately tilt the pan to spread the caramel evenly over the bottom; set the pan aside.To Make the Flan: Bring the cream and milk just to a boil.Meanwhile, in a 2-quart glass measuring cup or in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for a minute or two, and then stir in the vanilla. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter of the hot liquid-this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the hot cream and milk. Using a large spoon, skim off the bubbles and foam that you worked up.Put the caramel-lined cake pan in the roasting pan. Pour the custard into the cake pan and slide the setup into the oven. Very carefully pour enough hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. (Don't worry if this sets the cake pan afloat.) Bake the flan for about 35 minutes, or until the top puffs a bit and is golden here and there. A knife inserted into the center of the flan should come out clean.Remove the roasting pan from the oven, transfer the cake pan to a cooking rack and run a knife between the flan and the sides of the pan to loosen it. Let the flan cool to room temperature on the rack, then loosely cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.When ready to serve, once more, run a knife between the flan and the pan. Choose a rimmed serving platter, place the platter over the cake pan, quickly flip the platter and pan over and remove the cake pan-the flan will shimmy out and the caramel sauce will coat the custard.Yield: 6 to 8 Servings

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TWD vs my Kitchen Aid

I did not think my Kitchen Aid was going to make it through my dough tonight. The brioche dough was a bit tricky. My first issue was that I no longer seem to have my bread hook, so I used my paddle attachment. Maybe thats why, but I honestly thought I was going to burn out. The dough was coming out the top and the whole machine was bouncing around. I stopped many times and took out dough and finally got it combined and smooth. I didn't think I could combine so much butter by hand. I think the dough will turn out right but I just hope I didn't take a few years off the life of my beloved Kitchen Aid. Although I must admit I would love the have the bigger bowl of the newer KitchenAid. I have a 1985Classic white one that is great.

While my dough is in the fridge, I made the pastry cream which is one of the best things I have ever tasted. I love this custard. It was straight forward and I made the full recipe so I have 2 cups instead of 1/2 cup called for in the brioche snails. Maybe we will have stuffed french toast for breakfast with the cream and strawberries. Yum!

I am thinking of using poppy seeds instead of raisins. After the raisins in the cake-pie last week I am not yet in the mood. Or dried cherries? Decisions, decisions.

Well, I ended up using the raisins after all. My kids were so entertained with the flaming of the rum. Many oohhs and aahhhs from everyone.

I was not to sure what these were going to taste like and I thought the dough was a bit hard to make, but they are so worth the effort. From my first mouthful I was hooked. Each person I gave one to closed there eyes and nearly moaned when the took a bit. these are good. I made the glaze and I think it adds a nice touch. I would make these again in a heartbeat!

Brioche Raisin Snails

1 cup moist, plump raisins
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 recipe for Golden Brioche Loaves(page 48), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating overnight)
1/2 recipe Pastry Cream (page 448)

For The Optional Glaze
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
About 1 teaspoon water
Drop of pure vanilla extract

Getting Ready: Line one large or two smaller baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Put the raisins in a small saucepan, cover them with hot water and let them steep for about 4 minutes, until they are plumped. Drain the raisins, return them to the saucepan and, stirring constantly, warm them over low heat. When the raisins are very hot, pull the pan from the heat and pour over the rum. Standing back, ignite the rum. Stair until the flames go out, then cover and set aside. (The raisins and rum an be kept in a covered jar for up to 1 day.)
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together.
On a flour dusted surface, roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches wide and 16 inches long, with a short end toward you. Spread the pastry cream across the dough, leaving 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Scatter the raisins over the pastry cream and sprinkle the raisins and cream with the cinnamon sugar. Starting wit 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 up to 2 months; see Storing for further instructions. Or, if you do not want to make the full recipe, use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder.)
With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends if they're ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into rounds a scant 1 inch thick. Put the snails on the lined baking sheet(s), leaving some puff space between them.
Lightly cover the snails with wax paper and set the baking sheet(s) in a warm place until the snails have doubles in volume--they'll be puffy and soft--about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Getting Ready To Bake: When the snails have almost fully risen, preheat the oven: depending on the number of baking sheets you have, either center a rack in the oven or position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the wax paper, and bake the snails for about 25 minutes (rotate the sheets if you're using two, from top to bottom and front to back after 15 minutes), or until they are puffed and richly browned. Using a metal spatula, transfer the snails onto a cooling rack.

If You Want To Glaze The Snails: Put a piece of wax paper under the rack of warm rolls to act as a drip catcher. Put the confectioners' sugar into a small bowl, and stir in a teaspoon of water. Keep adding water drop by drop until you have an icing that falls from the tip of a spoon. Add the vanilla extract, then drizzle the icing over the hot snails.

Golden Brioche Loaves

2 packets active dry yeast
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 3/3 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

For The Glaze
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.
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.

Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.
Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk-- this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.
Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are full incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool it quickly--as I always do--put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

Monday, March 17, 2008


After making my TWD recipe this week I had about 1 1/2 cups of egg whites. What to make? Macaroons! One of my favorite cookies, they are so easy to make. The recipe I use is on the back or the box of almond paste. I think the added flavor or the almond paste is essential. These cookies only take seconds to put together and always turn out as you would hope.

Coconut Almond Macaroons

One of our most requested recipes.
Yield:40 cookies
Time:Time to assemble: 15 minutesTime to bake: 16 minutes per trayTotal Time: 65 minutes
In theBaking Aisle
1/2 cup egg whites, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-7 oz box Odense Almond Paste
2 cups powdered sugar
14 oz package sweetened flaked coconutOptional: Melting chocolate, to drizzle over cookies
Equipment:Electric mixer
Box grater
1 Preheat to oven to 325 F with oven rack in center. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
2 With a mixer beat the egg whites until frothy and white. Add the vanilla and beat until egg whites hold a peak but are not stiff or dry. Using a rubber spatula scrape the egg whites carefully into a large bowl.
3 On the large hole side of grater, grate the almond paste into the mixing bowl (no need to wash out). Add the sugar and beat on low to medium speed until mixture is well mixed and has the texture of small crumbs.
4 Add coconut to the sugar mixture and beat on low until ingredients are well incorporated.
5 Add coconut mixture to egg whites. Using a rubber spatula gently fold together until all ingredients are mixed together.
6 Using two spoons* drop tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets. Bake cookies one sheet at a time for 16 minutes, or until lightly browned on bottom, and firm to touch.
7 Place cookie sheets on wire racks to cool cookies. When cool leave plain or decorate with drizzles of chocolate. Store in cookie tins or plastic containers between layers of wax paper. *Note: A small scoop with a wire release can be used in place of two spoons for a faster method and a more uniform shaped cookie.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Allspice Muffins

I was looking for a new muffin to try and decided on Allspice Muffins from Dorie Greenspan. They have a crumb top and turned out really great. I have never used just allspice to season a baked good before and was happy with the result. It has a flavor all its own.

While making these muffins I was thinking about the ingredients.

The flour I use is from
King Aurthur Flour. I love this flour and this company. They are located in rural Vermont and have a wonderful catalogue and many cookbooks. If you happen to be in Vermont you can take cooking classes also.

Instead of buttering and flouring my tins I have been using Bakers Joy. It saves a ton of time and is very neat and easy to use. It seems to always give perfect results on the crust too. I would highly recommend to anyone to try this product. And to try these muffins!

Allspice Crumb Muffins
by Dorie Greenspan

For topping
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/2 t ground allspice
5 T cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

For Muffins
2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t ground allspice
1/4 t salt
1/4 c light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
3/4 c whole milk
1/4 t pure vanilla
grated zest of 1 lemon

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter or spray 12 regular muffin tins.

To make topping: Put the flour, brown sugar and allspice in a small bowl and sift them together with your fingers to blend. Add the bits of cold butter and toss to coat, then use your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until an irregular crumb if formed.

To make Muffins: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, making sure there are no lumps. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk the melted butter, eggs and milk and vanilla together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and with the whisk or rubber spatula, gently but quickly blend. The batter will be lumpy. Stir in the lemon zest. Divide batter evenly between tins. Sprinkle the crumb topping over each muffin and use your finger tips to gently push the crumbs into the batter.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden. Transfer to a rack to cool for 5 minutes then remove from the mold.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie, III

I must say, this weeksrecipe was WONDERFUL. Russian Grandmas Apple Pie-Cake picked by Natalie of Burned Bits. When I started this recipe I did not get the pie-cake name, but the crust-dough-batter is very unique and flavorful. The texture is different on the top and bottom of the pie-cake too. A ton of apple that goes into the cake and the smell was heavenly! I could not find decorating sugar and used turbanido sugar instead. I like the smoky color and flavor.

I paired this cake-pie with a big German meal: kasespatzle, sweet and sour cabbage, potato pancakes with apple sauce, and pork chops. We had this meal over the weekend when we got a huge snow storm and the house was filled with the smells of great food. We all went out to sled ride and play in the snow and returned to our comfy, warm, fragrant house. There is no place like home.

I loved the story in the book about memories of grandmas cooking. It made me think about watching my great grandma Stella make noodles. I loved when she would put the flour on the table and fill it with eggs and mixed it with her hands right on the table. Then rolling them out by hand and cutting them. Leting them dry in a nylon sack by the window for a few days. I wish we could be older when our great grandparents are alive so we can savor the moments and learn more. But the memories are powerful, however foggy and faint. I have memories of adults stomachs and legs instead of faces. I guess being small, that was my view. I always try to call up a memory of a face and get a midsecion or a smell. I have a huge smell memory. A particular house, with my grandfather's pipe smoke. Or an old library I used to visit. Meals I have eaten and enjoyed. The small of our barn with horses and hay. I can think back and these smells come to me. Or if I ever return, the memories of what I used to do come back.

For The Dough
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
3 1/4 - 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For The Apples
10 medium apples, all one kind or a mix (I like to use Fuji, Golden Delicious and Ida Reds; my grandmother probably used dry baking apples like Cordland and Rome)
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Sugar, preferably decorating (coarse) sugar, for dusting

To Make The Dough: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes more. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the baking powder and salt and mix just to combine. Add the lemon juice - the dough will probably curdle, but don't worry about it. Still working on low speed, slowly but steadily add 3 1/4 cups of the flour, mixing to incorporate it and scraping down the bowl as needed. The dough is meant to be soft, but if you think it looks more like a batter than a dough at this point, add the extra 1/4 cup flour. (The dough usually needs the extra flour.) When properly combined, the dough should almost clean the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or for up to 3 days. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; defrost overnight in the refrigerator.)

To Make The Apples: Peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick; cut the slices in half crosswise if you want. Toss the slices in a bowl with a little lemon juice - even with the juice, the apples may turn brown, but that's fine - and add the raisins. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, sprinkle over the apples and stir to coat evenly. Taste an apple and add more sugar, cinnamon, and/or lemon juice if you like.

Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 9x12-inch baking pan (Pyrex is good) and place it on a baking shee tlined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Remove the dough from the fridge. If it is too hard to roll and it cracks, either let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin to get it moving. Once it's a little more malleable, you've got a few choices. You can roll it on a well-floured work surface or roll it between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. You can even press or roll out pieces of the dough and patch them together in the pan - because of the baking powder in the dough, it will puff and self-heal under the oven's heat. Roll the dough out until it is just a little larger all around than your pan and about 1/4 inch thick - you don't want the dough to be too thin, because you really want to taste it. Transfer the dough to the pan. If the dough comes up the sides of the pan, that's fine; if it doesn't that's fine too.

Give the apples another toss in the bowl, then turn them into the pan and, using your hands, spread them evenely across the bottom.

Roll out the second piece of dough and position it over the apples. Cut the dough so you've got a 1/4 to 1/2 inch overhang and tuck the excess into the sides of the pan, as though you were making a bed. (If you don't have that much overhang, just press what you've got against the sides of the pan.)

Brush the top of the dough lightly with water and sprinkle sugar over the dough. Using a small sharp knife, cut 6 to 8 evenly spaced slits in the dough.

Bake for 65 to 80 minutes, or until the dough is a nice golden brown and the juices from the apples are bubbling up through the slits. Transfer the baking pan to a cooling rack and cool to just warm or to room temperature. You'll be tempted to taste it sooner, but I think the dough needs a little time to rest.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Another Birthday Dinner

We are having a dinner party for my husband's friend Joe. In his honor, I am cooking. The menu is garlic and peppercorn pork loin, sunchoke gratin with thyme and parmesan cheese, and green beans. For dessert we are having an apple/backberry pie with nutmeg.

I am excited to try the sunchokes. Recently a new grocery store opened in my town with an expanded produce department and I purchased the sunchokes there. I was not sure what to do with them but after a bit of investigation I found this recipe from Jamie Oliver:

½ Crème Fraiche (Or Double Cream)
1 Lemon (Juiced)
2 Garlic Cloves (Peeled And Finely Chopped)
1 handful Fresh Thyme (Picked And Chopped)
Grated Parmesan (1 - 2 Handfuls)
3 handfuls Jerusalem Artichokes (Peeled And Sliced)
2 handfuls Stale Breadcrumbs
Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil

Preheat your oven to 230C/450F.Gas 8.
In a bowl mix together your creme fraiche, lemon juice, garlic, half the thyme and most of the Parmesan, and season well to taste.
Thin out with around 6 to 8 tablespoons of water and throw in the sliced Jerusalem artichokes.
Mix well and place everything in an ovenproof baking dish. Cover with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes.
Mix the bread crumbs, the remaining thyme and some salt and pepper with a touch of olive oil.
Remove the artichokes from the oven, discard the foil and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top.
Then sprinkle the flavored bread crumbs over the Parmesan. Use up all the bread crumbs.
Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until the bread crumbs are golden. (If you're in a pokey pokey kind of mood, you can poke the artichokes about a bit - so some of the bread crumbs fall underneath them).
This makes it look more rustic instead of like a crumble

Tuesdays with Dorie

This week's recipe was Snickery Squares suggested by Erin of Diner and Dessert. I must say it is really tasty. My son has a peanut allergy, so I substituted pistachios for the peanuts. I still candied them, and they were lovely. I have kept my batch in the fridge for snack attacks throughout the week and my whole family likes them. I will definitely make them again.

Snickery Squares

For the Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar
2 TBSP powdered sugar8 tsp salt1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

For the Filling:
½ cup sugar
3 TBSP water1 ½ cups salted peanuts or pistachios
About 1 ½ cups store-bought dulce de leche

For the Topping:
7 ounces bittersweet, coarsely chopped

½ stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature

Getting Ready:
Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter a 8 inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet.

To Make the Crust:
Toss the flour, sugar, powdered sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Toss in the pieces of cold butter and pulse about 12 times, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Pour the yolk over the ingredients and pulse until the dough forms clumps and curds-stop before the dough comes together in a ball.Turn the dough into the buttered pan and gently press it evenly across the bottom of the pan. Prick the dough with a fork and slide the sheet into the oven.Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, or until it takes on just a little color around the edges. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.

To Make the Filling:
Have a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet at the ready, as well as a long-handled wooden spoon and a medium heavy bottomed saucepan.Put the sugar and water in the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Keeping the heat fairly high, continue to cook the sugar, without stirring, until it just starts to color. Toss the peanuts and immediately start stirring. Keep stirring, to coat the peanuts with sugar. Within a few minutes, they will be covered with sugar and turn white—keep stirring until the sugar turns back into caramel. When the peanuts are coated with a nice deep amber caramel, remove the pan from the heat and turn the nuts out onto the baking sheet., using the wooden spoon to spread them out as best you can. Cool the nuts to room temperature.When they are cool enough to handle, separate the nuts or break them into small pieces. Divide the nuts in half. Keep half of the nuts whole or in biggish pieces for the filling, and finely chop the other half for the topping.Spread the dulce de leche over the shortbread base and sprinkle over the whole candied nuts.

To Make the Topping:
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove chocolate from the heat and gently stir in the butter, stirring until it is fully blended into the chocolate.Pour the chocolate over the dulce de leche, smoothing it with a long metal icing spatula, then sprinkle over the rest of the peanuts. Slide the pan into the fridge to set the topping, about 20 minutes; if you’d like to serve the squares cold, keep them refrigerated for at least 3 hours before cutting.
Cut into 16 bars.