Sunday, October 19, 2014

Almond Macarons (Ladurée Sucré Bake Through)

You may recall how, post Great British Bake Off, I felt the need for a new baking regime. I chatted to Pigling and we came up with our new bake through.


This is not it. Sorry. I usually bake twice a week, so I thought I'd bake along with her one day a week, and do an independent challenge to hone my patisserie skills separately.


If you've not come across Sucré, or indeed Ladurée, allow me explain. Ladurée is a Parisian bakery, tea salon and patisserie, that has now spread worldwide. Sucré is a book of recipes from Ladurée. It is beautiful, and completely impractical for the kitchen, being pistachio green velvet, with gilded page edges, wrapped in lavender tissue and in a pistacio green box.


The recipes presume a certain degree of baking knowledge, are a little fiddly, slightly more effort than your average cupcake, but usually produce rather spectacular results. (Unfortunately, I failed to take any pictures of the results)


I started at the beginning, with one of their famous macaron recipes (incidentally, there is an entire chapter of macaron recipes) - almond macarons. I forgot the chopped almonds to sprinkle on top, and did not make enough turns of my spatula to loosen the macaron batter (apparently this process of loosening is called macaronage, who knew?!) but the results were eagerly devoured by friends and colleagues. The recipe does produce a fair quantity of macarons, so you may wish to make just half or even just a third of the recipe if you don't have such obliging colleagues.

Ingredients:
Macaron shells
275g ground almonds (almond flour)
250g icing sugar
6+1/2 egg whites
210g granulated sugar
100g chopped almonds
Almond cream filling (adapted as neither almond paste with 65% almonds nor unsweetened almond pulp are available where I live)
150g butter
200g ground almonds
110g icing sugar
200ml double cream

The recipe is the Macarons Amande from Sucré.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Apple and Cranberry Autumn Slice



Autumn is truly here.


 Although I appreciate the beauty of the season, with the changing leaves, the legitimacy of spices such as cinnamon and ginger, and warming soups, it always makes me sad to say goodbye to the warmer weather.



The autumn rains, the low mists and the shorter days also have a habit of dampening my spirits (given the leakiness of the house I live in and my car, sometimes the dampening is literal.)



To cheer myself up, and because there was an appeal for traybakes for a fundraising event at work, I adapted a Smitten Kitchen recipe to give it a more autumnal feel.



This is warm and spicy, with a wonderful crunch on top and lovely sweet squishiness within. I removed the lemon, because with the tart apples, it was redundant, but if you're using a sweeter eating variety, you may prefer to pop it back in.


The biscuit mix is very crumbly - it will look like ground almonds in the bowl, but if you squidge it, it will come together, and it bakes up into a solid biscuit on the base and a crisp crumb on the top.


I don't have a 9"x13" tin, so ended up with a 7"x10" tin and a 500g loaf tin for the extras!



Recipe
Adapted (anglicised and metric-ified) from Smitten Kitchen

200g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
375g plain flour
225g cold unsalted butter
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
500g diced apple (skin left on, but cores, stalks and fuzzy bits removed) - I used a mixture of two heritage varieties that we grow - Winstons (when newly picked these are tart, but sweeten with storage) and Lord Lambourne) but feel free to use any apple of your choice
150g dried cranberries
1+1/2 tsp cinnamon
100g granulated sugar
4 teaspoons cornflour

1. Preheat the oven to 190 C (170C fan). Grease a 9×13 inch tin.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 200g sugar, flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt. Use a fork or pastry blender to blend in the butter and egg. The dough will be very crumbly, and resemble ground almonds. Press half of the dough mixture into the prepared tin.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornflour and cinnamon. Gently mix in the apple dice and cranberries. Sprinkle the apple mixture evenly over the base. Sprinkle remaining dough over the layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until top is golden brown (mine took about 40 minutes). Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

#CookBlogShare

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.10)



Apologies for the sheer volume of photos in this post, I finally dug out a proper flash (one that arcs) and the light is so good with it that I got a little carried away.


My second apology is that there are no scones. I'll probably be carted away as "not British" or something, but I just don't like them. I find them claggy and unpleasant. Since these two recipes provided enough cake and patisserie to feed a small army, I didn't feel it was necessary to make scones as well!


The Victoria sponges were a doddle, and, for once, I found the horizontal slicing easy (it helped that the cakes had a decent depth.) As strawberries are out of season, I used a mixture of homemade apple butter and homemade wild plum and apple jelly to give a jam with a good texture and colour.


The tartes au citron were less simple - the pastry shrunk terribly (I knew I should have chilled the pastry in the freezer, but live and learn) so there was not quite enough room for the filling, which in turn lead to custard spillage.


And we all know that custard spillage leads to soggy bottoms.


However, in the tarts without spillage, I had wonderful crisp bases, so maybe I would have avoided Mary's stares?


I almost certainly would have run out of time, however, but I'm not sure if that's because my cakes and tarts were larger than those on the show (I'm afraid my dedication to the technical bake cause did not extend to buying a whole new range of bakeware, so I had to make do and mend.)


I also use black eye beans as pastry weights. These have been my weights since I was a student, and seeing as the bag cost me all of 59p and contains so many more beans than commercially available beans, I'm pretty happy. I did note they used rice on Bake Off!


The flavour of this tart was delicious - I had a little leftover filling, so made myself a lemon posset (silly name for a desset, in my opinion, given what else a posset is.)


Point to note - allow the chocolate to cool and thicken slightly before piping, otherwise you too will pipe, "colon" on top of your tarts.)


I'm a little sad that the technical bakes are now over, it has been a wonderful project to follow through, and I have learnt so many new baking skills. Next I'm thinking of baking through Laduree's book, "Sucre" as a homemade patisserie course. Anyone want to join me?


Personally, I think that they missed a trick with this challenge - they should have taken away their kitchen aids and food processors in order to truly make them go "back to basics," just putting time pressure on them, I don't think, makes for good baking - most of us bake to relax, not to get more hyped up, but, as I'm sure I've said before, I am not made for Bake Off!


Recipes (From BBC Food)
For the pastry
175g/6oz plain flour
100g/3½oz cold butter, cut into small cubes
25g/1oz icing sugar
1 free-range egg yolk

For the filling
4 large free-range eggs
100ml/3½fl oz double cream
150g/5½oz caster sugar
3 lemons, juice and zest
icing sugar, for dusting

For the decoration
100g/3½oz plain chocolate (36% cocoa solids), chopped

Preparation method
1. For the pastry, place the flour, butter and icing sugar into a food processor (I used a good old fashioned pastry blender). Pulse briefly until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then add the egg yolk and one tablespoon of cold water. Pulse again until the mixture sticks together in clumps then tip onto a work surface and gather it into a ball with your hands. Knead the pastry just two or three times to make it into a smooth ball. Wrap it in cling film and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
2. Grease 12 x 7.5cm/3in fluted tart tins.
3. Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 5mm/¼in. Cut out circles with a 10cm/4in round cutter and use to line the tins, re-rolling the pastry as necessary. Place the tart cases in the fridge to chill (when I make these again, I will freeze the shells to reduce shrinkage).
4. Preheat the oven to 200C(180C fan)/400F/Gas 6.
5. Cover the base of the tartlets with heat-safe cling film, baking parchment or foil and fill with a few baking beans. Bake blind for seven minutes then remove the cling film and beans (I might also prick the pastry and bake blind for a couple more minutes to prevent puffing up in the next step).
6. Return the pastry cases to the oven for another 4-5 minutes or until they are light golden-brown and completely dry. Set aside to cool while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 170C(150 fan)/325F/Gas 3.
7. For the filling, break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk together with a wire whisk. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and whisk again until they are all well-combined. Pour the filling mixture into a jug, then into the cooled baked pastry cases. To prevent it spilling as they go into the oven, pour in most of the filling so it almost fills the tarts, carefully sit the baking sheet and tarts on the oven shelf, then top up with the rest of the filling to completely fill the tarts.
8. Bake for about seven minutes, or until just set but with a slight wobble in the centre (DO NOT overcook - far better to remove when more wobbly as the custard continues to cook, and if left for longer will crack, curdle or split).
9. Leave to cool slightly then carefully ease the tartlets from their tins an place on a wire rack to cool completely.
10. For the decoration, melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. (Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the surface of the water.) (Allow chocolate to cool slightly and thicken a little) Spoon the melted chocolate into a small disposable piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe the word ‘citron’ or a decoration of your choice on top of the tarts.

For the jam
500g/1lb 2oz strawberries, hulled and halved
500g/1lb 2oz jam sugar

For the sponge
175g/6oz unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
175g/6oz caster sugar
3 large free-range eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g/6oz self-raising flour
300ml/10½fl oz double cream
icing sugar, for dusting

Preparation method
1. For the jam, place the strawberries in a large saucepan and crush with a potato masher.
2. Add the jam sugar and heat gently, stirring continuously, until the sugar dissolves.
3. Keep stirring, increasing the heat, bringing it to a full rolling boil, one that bubbles vigorously, rises in the pan and cannot be stirred down.
4. Start timing and boil for four minutes only. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. (Since strawberries are not in season, I used homemade apple butter and wild plum and apple jelly mixed together to get a good colour and texture)
5. For the sponge, preheat the oven to 190C(170C fan)/375F/Gas 5. Lightly grease the tins with butter.
6. To make the cakes, cream the butter and caster sugar together until the mixture is pale and light. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
7. Sift the flour into the bowl and fold in until the mixture is glossy and smooth.
8. Divide the mixture between the mini sandwich tin cups and level with a teaspoon.
9. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 15 minutes until golden-brown and springy to the touch.
10. Leave the cakes to cool in the tin for two minutes and then ease onto a wire cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
11. Whip the cream to soft peaks and spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle.
12. Cut each cake in half horizontally with a bread knife.
13. Pipe one dot of the cream in the middle of each cake base and the rest in dots around the edges. Drizzle the jam over the cream, place the sponge tops on and lightly sift icing sugar over the cakes.

For the final time, I am entering this into Supergolden Bakes #GBBO Bake Along and Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off. I think I will miss this link up most of all - it's been such fun to be competitive in a tame way, and to see what others have baked.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.9)


I have to admit being a little disappointed with this cake. I was expecting something akin to Kueh Lapis Legit (Spekkoek,) which is a moist, dense, delicious, spiced cake traditionally served at Chinese New Year.


Schichtorte is no Kueh Lapis. It is much more dry, and not as sweet. It tries to make up for this by being coated in apricot jam and chocolate, but sadly fails.


In fact, it was so unlike Kueh Lapis that I initially thought, despite following the recipe exactly, that I'd done something wrong. Thankfully, the episode of Extra Slice, where the panel tastes a Schichtorte quickly confirmed that I had made it right, it just was not a Kueh Lapis. Pity.



However, it is probably not as bad as I appear to have made out. The Fair Physiologist went back for a second slice, without any prompting, and despite there being other snacks available.



Of note, the amount of vanilla glaze specified is FAR too much, it is only for drizzling. Half or even a quarter of the published recipe would be better. This profligacy and the dryness of the cake slightly surprised me, especially considering this is Paul Hollywood's recipe - I thought it would have been much better, but there we go. Maybe they'll make Kueh Lapis next year instead!



Without the time pressure of the tent, this is quite an easy bake, but does tie you to the oven for a couple of hours. Next time I'd make a Kueh Lapis to make it worthwhile.



Recipe (from BBC Food)
For the cake
10 large free-range eggs, separated
100g/3½oz unsalted butter
150g/5½oz caster sugar
1 large lemon, zest only
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (I used extract, it was fine. I am still hopeful about a donation of vanilla bean paste/vanilla beans from a nice vanilla company)
150g/5½oz plain flour, sifted
65g/2¼oz cornflour, sifted
oil, for greasing
6 tbsp apricot jam

1. Whisk the egg yolks in the bowl of a freestanding mixer on a high speed for five minutes, until pale, thick and creamy (this takes the whole five minutes. I actually put a timer on, so that I didn't try to give up too soon).
2. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the lemon zest and vanilla paste and mix well. Add the whisked egg yolks and beat well. Add the flour and cornflour and mix.
3. In a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed.
Stir one-third of the egg whites into the batter to loosen the consistency. Then gently fold the remaining egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
4. Preheat the grill to high. Grease a 20cm/8in round springform tin (I only had a 7+1/2 inch loose bottom, and it worked fine - loose bottom is essential, springform is not) with oil and line the base with parchment paper.
5. Spoon some (around two tablespoonsful) of the batter into the base of the cake tin and spread evenly across the bottom. Give the tin a gentle side-to-side shake to even out the top of the batter. Place on a shelf 10cm/4in below the grill and cook for two minutes, or until light golden-brown.
6. Remove from the grill, add another spoonful of batter, spread out with a pastry brush, and place under the grill for three minutes, or until dark golden-brown. Continue layering and grilling until you have 20 layers alternating in colour from light golden-brown to dark golden-brown. (Or continue until you have used all the
batter.)
7. Remove from the grill and leave to cool in the tin for five minutes. Carefully release from the tin and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
8. Melt the apricot jam in a small pan over a low heat. Pass through a fine sieve, then brush the top and sides of the cake with jam. This will help the glaze stick to the cake.

For the chocolate glaze
50g/1¾oz unsalted butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp rum
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (I used extract again)
75g/2½oz plain chocolate (36% cocoa solids), finely chopped (36% is very small in my opinion. I used the 70% stuff and it was lovely)

1. For the chocolate glaze, melt the butter in a small pan with the golden syrup, rum and vanilla paste and bring to the boil.
2. Remove from the heat, allow to cool for five minutes. Stir in the chocolate until melted. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to a coating consistency (this is near to room temperature, and takes about 10 minutes, the glaze should coat the back of a spoon).
3. Place a large piece of greaseproof paper under the wire rack holding the cake (personally I had the greaseproof in situ before the jam went on, because that drips too). Pour the glaze evenly over the cake to cover completely. Any excess glaze will be caught on the greaseproof paper and can be reused to fill in any unglazed areas of the cake. (Give the glaze a few moments to slightly set before applying the vanilla glaze, or the weight of the vanilla glaze might pull the chocolate glaze off)

For the vanilla glaze
250g/9oz icing sugar
1 tbsp rum
½ tsp vanilla bean paste (extract. Again)
1-2 tbsp milk
(Better quantities: 125g icing sugar, 1/2 tbsp rum, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2-1 tbsp milk)
Preparation method
For the vanilla glaze, sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the rum, vanilla paste and milk, stirring until completely smooth. Drizzle over the chocolate glaze.

As usual I am entering this into Supergolden Bakes #GBBO Bake Along and Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off





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Maybe I should have dipped my slice in the rum, rather than putting it in the glaze?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.8)



Povitica! Sadly this post is a little short on photos as my camera is currently in a different house to me. Hopefully I'll be able to update with pictures soon pictures now added, but I do have this one, from my phone showing the inside of the loaf:


This was definitely a challenging technical challenge, and there is no way I would have been able to do it in the two and a half hours allowed. It took me nearly four! I also struggled with making sure the bake was fully cooked (although, that may have been because I had to leave the house before the full hour was up for baking, and the poor loaf had to be baked in two different ovens in three rounds!!)


This is a tasty bread, but after an online calorie count, I understand why it is only served at special occasions. (Trust me, you don't want to know the numbers)



The dough stretching was really difficult, and I've no idea how the bakers got the dough so thin and even, with so few holes! I was very impressed with their techniques for spreading the filling (I really liked Martha's with the clingfilm!) - mine was a bit of a blob and smudge with my fingers, so there were some rather thick bits.



Recipe (From BBC food)
Ingredients
For the dough
300g/10½oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
40g/1½oz caster sugar
7g salt
10g/1/3oz fast-action yeast
30g/1oz unsalted butter, melted
1 large free-range egg, beaten
½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
150ml/5½fl oz whole milk, warmed
For the filling
60g/2¼oz unsalted butter
4 tbsp whole milk
280g/10oz walnut pieces
½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
100g/3½oz caster sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 free-range egg yolk, beaten
To assemble
15g/½oz butter, melted
1 free-range egg white, beaten
100g/3½oz icing sugar
Preparation method
1. For the dough, tip the flour and sugar into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook (*sigh* no freestanding mixer, still using the hand-held mixer with the whirly prongs). Add the salt into one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the melted butter, egg, vanilla seeds and warm milk and begin mixing on a slow speed. When the dough starts to come together, mix for a further 5-8 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is soft, smooth and stretchy.
2. Tip the dough into a lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise until at least doubled in size – about one hour. Butter a 1kg/2lb loaf tin (for those whose tins are no longer labelled, that's a 19x12x9cm tin).
3. For the filling, place the butter and milk in a small pan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat.
4. Place the walnuts, vanilla seeds, sugar and cocoa powder into the bowl of a food processor and blend to a sandy powder. Add the egg yolk, milk and butter mixture and pulse to combine. Set aside.
5. To assemble, spread a clean bed sheet over a kitchen table and dust (generously) with flour. Turn the risen dough out onto the sheet and roll out the dough into a large 50x30cm/20x12in rectangle (at this stage, move the rectangle and ensure the area underneath is well floured - it's much easier now than when it is thinner). Brush the surface with 15g/½oz melted butter.
6. Dust your hands with flour and ease them underneath the dough. Using the backs of your hands, stretch the dough out from the centre until very thin and translucent (you should be able to see the sheet through the dough). The rectangle should measure approximately 1metrex60cm/40x24in.
7. Taking care not to tear the dough (hahahahahahahaha, by this point mine had several holes in it), spread the filling over the dough until evenly covered. If the filling has been standing for a long time and is too thick (by too thick he means anything more than a liquid), add a little warm milk to loosen it.
8. Starting at the long edge of the dough, lift the sheet and gently roll the dough up tightly, like a Swiss roll.
9. Carefully lift the dough and place one end in the bottom corner of the greased loaf tin. Ease the roll into the base of the tin to form a long ‘U’ shape, then double back laying the roll over the first ‘U’ shape to form a second ‘U’ shape on top.
10. Place the loaf tin inside a clean plastic bag and leave to rise for one hour.
11. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/ 350F/Gas 4.
12. Brush the dough with beaten egg white and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 150C/130C(fan)/300F/Gas 3 and bake for a further 45 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil if the top begins to darken too much.
13. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
14. Mix the icing sugar with a few drops of cold water to make a runny icing and drizzle it over the povitica. Slice and enjoy.

As usual, I am entering this in Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off 2014 (and hoping that I'll be allowed to put the photos in after I've linked up) and Supergolden Bakes #GBBO Bake Along.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.7)


 Pastry week! Surprisingly, this technical bake was actually quite easy. Obviously I had the full recipe, and wasn't left guessing, unlike the bakers in the tent.



However, there was no horizontal slicing of sponge, and relatively little ooze, just plenty of patience and refridgerating and rolling out.




Very peaceful, and I could put a load of laundry on at the same time.


The only trouble I had with it was when I didn't flour my surface well enough and one or two layers of laminations decided to remain attached to the surface. But, even this wasn't too tragic.




I struggle to roll things into even shaped rectangles, so some of the kouign amman were bigger than others, but they were very tasty and have quickly disappeared into my friends and family!



Recipe (From BBC Food)

Ingredients
300g/10½oz strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting
5g fast-action yeast
1 tsp salt
200ml/7fl oz warm water
25g/1oz unsalted butter, melted
250g/9oz cold unsalted butter, in a block
100g/3½oz caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

Preparation method
1. Put the flour into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook (Yeah... I don't have one of those... back to the spirally dough hooks in a hand held mixer). Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Add the water and melted butter and mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes.
2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Put into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour.
3. Sandwich the butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper and bash with a rolling pin, then roll out to a 18cm/7in square (This is strangely therapeutic, but don't lose track of how big it is getting!). Place in the fridge to keep chilled.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 20cm/8in square. Place the butter in the centre of the dough diagonally, so that each side of butter faces a corner of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose like an envelope.
5. (Re-flour the surface) Roll the dough into a 45x15cm/18x6in rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough up over the middle, then fold the top third of the dough over. You will now have a sandwich of three layers of butter and three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This completes one turn.


6. Repeat this process twice more (re-flouring the surface between each roll), so you have completed a total of three turns, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between turns.
7. Roll the dough into a rectangle as before. Sprinkle the dough with the caster sugar (I sprinkled around 80-90g here) and fold into thirds again. Working quickly (or the dough will start to ooze syrup and stick to everything), roll the dough into a large 40x30cm/16x12in rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with caster sugar (I sprinkled 10-20g here) and cut the dough into 12 squares.
8. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin well with oil. Gather the dough squares up by their four corners and place in the muffin tins, pulling the four corners towards the centre of the muffin tin, so that it gathers up like a four-leaf clover. Sprinkle with caster sugar (I used additional sugar here, about half a teaspoon per kouign amman) and leave to rise, covered with a clean tea towel, for 30 minutes until slightly puffed up.
9. Preheat oven to 220C/200C(fan)/425F/Gas 7. Bake the pastries for 30-40 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil halfway through if beginning to brown too much. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful not to burn yourself on the caramelised sugar, but don’t leave them to cool for too long, or the caramelised sugar will harden and they will be stuck in the tin.
10. Serve warm or cold.

As usual, I am entering this into Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off 2014 and Supergolden Bakes #GBBO Bake Along.






Mmmm, kouign amman. Like a sugary croissant with even more calories!