Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Apple Hazelnut Frangipane Tart

Well, I started off making a Pear Frangipane Tart, but I over poached the pears, and they were too soft to use.

I also decided to try a Pate Sablee, rather than a Sucree tart dough. Also added in some vodka (which bakes out) to the dough to improve texture, as recommended by Cook's Illustrated. I think that due to the confectioner's sugar, the Sablee is much softer and harder to work with than Sucree. I could only roll it out slightly before shifting into the tart pan, and molding in the pan. We'll see how it tastes!

Also, I tried a new method of de-skinning the hazelnuts. The old way was to toast the hazelnuts, and then rub them with a wet towel. That was tedious, and messy. The new way works much better! Supposedly, the baking soda and blanching process decomposes the cellulose skin of the hazelnuts, making them easy to remove.

I added extra marzipan into my frangipane because I love the taste of almonds.

Apple Hazelnut Frangipane Tart

Pate Sablee Crust
- 1.5 cups flour
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 9 Tbsp butter
- 1 egg yolk
- Vodka

  1. Mix ingredients together, mold into tart pan.

  2. Blind bake at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes.

Ground Hazelnut Preparation
- Hazelnuts
- 2 Tbsp baking soda
- 2 quarts water

  1. Combine baking soda + water, heat until boiling, reduce to simmer.

  2. Simmer hazelnuts in baking soda + water for 5 minutes.

  3. Remove, drain in colander, and wash with cold water.

  4. Skins will immediately come off.

  5. Roast hazelnuts for ~ 10-15 minutes in oven.

  6. Grind in food processor.
- Hazelnut flour from above
- 8 oz. Marzipan
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 6 Tbsp room temp. butter
- 3 tsp flour
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 3 eggs
- 3 tsp almond extract

  1. Combine frangipane ingredients together.

  2. Add into baked tart shell.

  3. Cover top with sliced apples (or sliced pears, poached in citrus sugar sauce).

  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour.

  5. Let cool, and glaze with an apricot jam-Calvados glaze.

  6. Enjoy!

The main problem was that the glaze was too thick, and left splotches across my tart. Otherwise, I was very pleased with the product.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Pumpkin Spice Bread

Aha, I've finally tweaked my recipe to get a moist final product, that's light and delicious!

Pumpkin Spice Bread

Dry ingredients
- 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 stick softened butter
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup yogurt or sour cream
- 1 lb Libby's Easy Pumpkin Pie mix

  1. Cream sugar and butter together.
  2. Add eggs, yogurt, pumpkin mix.
  3. Mix dry ingredients together.
  4. Add dry ingredients incrementally. Add raisins (optional) last.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for ~ 75 minutes, or until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Makes about 2 loaves.
I've found that using the Libby's Pumpkin Pie mix (pumpkins + sugar + spice) worked out very nicely in this ratio with the other quantities, rather than buying the normal Libby's pumpkin pulp, and adding in my sugar and spice separately.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Trying my hand at old recipes.

Just some variations on items I've done in the past. The lighting is also somewhat poor in the pictures.

Seared Scallops with Creme Cauliflower Soup

The sear on the scallops didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. Was distracted by talking.

White Chocolate Cheesecake with Pomegranate Coulis, Fresh Berries

I was experimenting with the plating on this one. I was trying to make my coulis a little thicker, but it ended up being a bit lumpy instead. Maybe I should just try for a pomegrante cream sauce instead in the future.

The mini-cheesecakes I made from my standard recipe.

1 x 8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
2 medium eggs (or 1 jumbo egg)
pinch of cornstarch/flour
melted white chocolate

Bake at 350 degrees C ~ 20 minutes. Dusted with cocoa powder for a color contrast, and arranged individual pomegranate seeds? on each cheesecake.

I did try something new though, see below.

Croissants with Baked Camembert, Toasted Figs

For the croissants, I cheated and started with puff pastry dough. To form the croissants, you first cut the puff pastry into a rectangle, then cut out isosceles triangles- the taller the triangle, the larger your croissant. Roll up the triangle, and brush with egg wash.

For the camembert, you can bake it in the box that it is packaged in, so long as the box is held together by staples, and not glue.

For the fresh figs, cut in half, and dust with a bit of all-spice and sugar. Bake the cheese and figs for about 10-15 minutes at 350, and bake the croissants at 375-400 for 15-20 minutes.

Serve hot.

The croissants before going into the oven:


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Challah Bread

Just trying my hand out at challah bread. I admit that I did have some trouble braiding the dough, but hey, I'm a guy. I've never braided hair before!

Challah Bread

- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp water
- 3 1/4 cups King Arthur flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- egg wash
- poppy and sesame seeds

  1. Sprinkle yeast into bowl of lukewarm water. Let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Mix with flour to form a soft paste. Cover with dish towel ~ 20 minutes.
  3. Add honey, eggs, and melted butter. Knead until smooth and shiny.
  4. Let sit ~ 2 hours; punch down, and let rest 10 minutes.
  5. Divide into 3 equally long pieces, and braid.
  6. Place on a buttered baking sheet, ~ 45 min-1hr, or until doubled in size.
  7. Brush with egg wash, and add poppy/sesame seeds.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F for ~ 45 minutes.
My challah isn't quite as 'yellow' as the kind that they sell in the stores, but it tastes more wholesome IMO.