Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

sticky buns closeup

The smell of yeast always brings me back to when I was little. My father made the most delicious French bread, and he used a super cool yeast thermometer that I always considered to be somewhat magical. Other than helping him out occasionally ("helping" as in "probably hindering in some way"), I'd never baked with yeast before. So, yet again, TWD is helping me break new ground! Madam Chow chose Pecan Honey Sticky Buns this week, and man, were they delicious.

sticky buns closeup

The brioche dough was a pretty interesting experience. The dough hook on my KitchenAid finally got broken in, and did it ever! The machine was dancing all around while the dough was coming together. I was a little nervous, but it finally did come together into a ball.

sticky buns closeup

During the rising period, I got a bit worried when little pools of butter began to form around the edges. For some reason, my apartment tends to be inordinately hot. I had to open a few windows and then the dough started looking OK again.

sticky buns closeup

After the overnight chill, I froze the other half of the brioche recipe for a rainy day and got down to business rolling out the cinnamon buns. Roll them out... then spread MORE butter on top (unbelievable amount of butter in this recipe), and then the cinnamon sugar. My glaze (sans pecans, since A. and I both think they ruin a good sticky bun) was already melted and waiting in the pan.

sticky buns closeup

sticky buns closeup

sticky buns closeup

After I cut the buns, I arranged them on top of the glaze for the second rise. I put them in the oven, although my whole apartment is so warm I guess I didn't really need to. Anyway, here's the video... (hopefully this one is a bit better than the madelines!)

After they rose and then baked, I flopped them out onto the serving plate and... voila! Yummy, gooey sticky buns. Sooo delicious.

finished sticky buns

Apologies to the coworkers who have to have the day-after sticky buns... although I wouldn't say no ;)

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
Makes 16 buns

For the Glaze:
1 cup (195 g) light brown sugar Note: I used dark brown, so the weight might be more
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup (80 g) honey
1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces) Note: I omitted this

For the Filling:
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
3 tablespoons (40 g) light brown sugar Note: dark brown again
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the Buns:
1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight).

Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this). Note: I used a nonstick 9x13 baking pan.

To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out as best you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinkle over the pecans.

To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.
To shape the buns: On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Starting with 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 for up to 2 months. Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glaze recipe accordingly).

With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they're very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16 Note: I still got 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.

Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns have doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.
Getting ready to bake: When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F Note: I heated to 350 F since my pan had a dark finish.

Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven.

The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful - the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.

Golden Brioche Dough (this recipe makes enough for two brioche loaves. If you divide the dough in half, you would use half for the sticky buns, and you can freeze the other half for a later date, or make a brioche loaf out of it!):
2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 1/3 cups (490 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

What You'll Need for the Glaze (you would brush this on brioche loaves, but not on the sticky buns):
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. (After this, you can proceed with the recipe to make the brioche loaves, or make the sticky buns instead, or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)

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.
--end of recipe--

As always, check out all of the other entries over at TWD!


Friday, May 23, 2008

Quiche Lorraine, sans Crust

crustless quiche in casserole dish

[skip to recipe]

Having received some lovely corningware as a wedding present, I was itching to make a casserole-type-thing to make use of it. I was trolling around the internet trying to find a good recipe, when it hit me: quiche! I love me some quiche. I also love me some quiche crust, and so does A.; but since time was running short, I found a crustless recipe on epicurious.

panko breadcrumbs

The crustless recipe said to butter the dish and spread around some breadcrumbs. I used Panko breadcrumbs, since Alton Brown is always touting their virtues and I've never tried them. As it turns out, they were pretty much useless in this recipe. Might as well have just buttered the dish and been done with it, because the crumbs just got wet from the quiche and blended in.

chopped onions
Onions chopped with another wedding present, the mandoline! Still getting the hang of using it, though.

cooking the bacon and onion

draining the bacon and onion

I departed from the original recipe to use bacon instead of ham. Here's where I made my tactical mistake: I neglected to cook the bacon before starting to cook the onion... and I also used much too small of a pan to cook them both, so it took forever and the bacon never got done enough for my taste. I think next time, I'll use my nifty microwave bacon tray to get it nice and crispy, and cook the onion separately.

grated cheese

A. grated the cheese and I poured on the egg/milk/cream mixture. I actually reconstituted powdered milk for the milk, mainly because we never drink milk and I always have to throw it out when I buy it, which is incredibly annoying. So I added a little extra cream to balance out the fat-free powdered stuff.

quiche before baking

I used the biggest corningware in the set, but I probably should have cut down the recipe even more, since it came out a little too thick and soft. But besides that, it was delicious! I highly recommend using Gruyere, even if it is ridiculously expensive.

finished slice of quiche

We definitely missed having the crust, but I figure it's bad enough for us already with all of the cheese and cream... I still need to fit into the wedding dress!

Adapted from Crustless Quiche Recipe
(made to fit 10-inch quiche dish or pie plate)

butter, to butter dish
bread crumbs, enough to cover dish
1 cup chopped onions
1 T unsalted butter
12 oz bacon (or 8 oz cubed ham)
8 oz Gruyere cheese (you can substitute with another kind of Swiss)
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk (as stated above, I used non-fat milk, so added a little less of this and a little extra cream)

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.

Butter quiche dish, then dust dish with bread crumbs.

Cook bacon until crispy and crumble. Cook onions in butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, about 5 minutes. Mix in the crumbled bacon. Spread in dish, then evenly sprinkle cheese on top.

Whisk together eggs, cream, milk, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and pour over cheese. Bake until top is golden and custard is set in center, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting into wedges.
--end of recipe--


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Traditional Madeleines

traditional madeleines with tea in background

[recipe here]

I first discovered Madeleines during an impulse buy at Starbucks. The spongy cakes were very cute, and they went perfectly with my caramel macchiato. I know, not exactly an authentic Proustian experience, but I'd never actually seen them anywhere else. That's why I was intrigued when Tara from Smells Like Home chose Traditional Madeleines for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. Thanks to the lovely Laurie, we could have picked an alternate recipe, but I had my heart set on the Madeleines.

inside of madeleine

I knew A. would roll his eyes in exasperation about another new pan, so I tried to keep it a secret. Unfortunately, he found out, and there was much eye-rolling involved... luckily, he thought they were pretty good (but still not worth the pantry space... oh well!)

madeleine pans

I thought the recipe was fairly quick and easy. I took the suggestion from here and browned and strained my butter first, which I thought gave the cookies a lovely flavor. I was actually shocked that they baked up well, considering how weird my batter was. After I added in the butter, it never fully came together, so there was sort of a runny layer of batter underneath. When I baked them, though, they all came out nice and puffy.

baked madeleines in the pan

I made the recipe twice, the first time intending to give them to my aunt, since she loves the Starbucks variety. I made the batter ahead of time and baked them a day later. I was rushing to get out the door, so I didn't have time to photograph the finished product, but they were very puffy and well done. The only pan they had at BB&B was dark colored, and I forgot to reduce the oven temperature, so they came out much browner on the fluted side. In any case, my aunt said that she loved them!

Since I obviously had to get a photo of the end result, I made another batch last night. This time, the batter only got a few hours of rest instead of overnight, but they came out pretty much the same (a bit better, since I adjusted the temperature and cooking time). A lot of other TWD-ers said that they had problems getting the "hump" on the back... mine certainly puffed, but there wasn't really the characteristic hump... quite possibly, I overfilled the molds.

94 g all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
99 g sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Working in a mixer bowl, or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl. Working with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines. (For convenience, you can spoon the batter into the madeleine molds, cover and refrigerate, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge; see below for instructions on prepping the pans.)

making the madeleine batter
Making the batter: sugar and lemon zest, beating the egg whites, folding in the flour, finished batter

GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F Note: I baked at 375 degrees F. Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds, or up to 36 mini madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Or, if you have a nonstick pan (or pans), give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If you have a silicone pan, no prep is needed. Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.

batter after chilling
Batter after its 3-hour nap

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don't worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven's heat will take care of that.

prepped pans

Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes Note: mine were done after 10 minutes, and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.

Kind of a weird video because I didn't keep the camera in the same place, but I hope you like it!

If you are making minis and have more batter, bake the next batch(es), making certain that you cool, then properly prepare the pan(s) before baking.

Just before serving, dust the madeleines with confectioners' sugar.

makes 12 large or 36 mini cookies

serving: Serve the cookies when they are only slightly warm or when they reach room temperature, with tea or espresso.

storing: Although the batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, the madeleines should be eaten soon after they are made. You can keep them overnight in a sealed container, but they really are better on day 1. If you must store them, wrap them airtight and freeze them; they'll keep for up to 2 months.
--end of recipe--

madeline with bite out of it

As always, check out the TWD blogroll for everyone else's entries!


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Florida Pie... tini

OK, so I have been pretty busy in the past week and decided it was time to take a baking break. However, I still wanted to participate in TWD in some way. This week's recipe was Florida Pie, chosen by Dianne of Dianne's Dishes. So, I did a quick google search and came up with this chowhound post, which gave me the base recipe for what I am dubbing... Florida Pie-tinis!

florida pie-tini

I didn't have any Licor 43, nor was I about to spend money on yet another bottle that would collect dust on our bar. Plus, I wanted to incorporate a Dorie fave, coconut, into the mix. So here is my final recipe...

Equal parts of:
-Vanilla flavored vodka
-Malibu or other coconut flavored rum
-Heavy cream
-Lime juice (Key or regular)

Put all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake to combine. Rim martini glass with crushed graham crackers and pour the drink into the glass. Garnish with lime zest.
--end of recipe--

I swear, this is probably just as fattening as the pie! Very good, but I definitely wasn't able to finish the whole thing... too full!

You can find the actual pie recipe, along with photos and experiences, on Dianne's blog and many other TWD blogs. Enjoy!


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Peanut Butter Torte

There are a few foods that A. really hates. Hates, meaning that just smell of them makes him nauseous, and I'm pretty sure there is dry heaving involved. Peanut butter is one of these foods, so I had mixed feelings when I found out that this week's recipe was Peanut Butter Torte, chosen by Elizabeth. One one hand, A. would probably be furious about the evil peanut butter smell. On the other hand, I happen to love peanut butter. Guess who won??

Peanut Butter Torte

ME! Muahaha. Actually, I seriously considered somehow changing the peanut butter to raspberry, but I figured I'd save the experimenting for another week.

[skip to recipe]

slice of torte

I thought this recipe was pretty simple and easy-to-do. The hardest part was probably smooshing the cookie crust to make it cover enough space in the springform pan (I don't have a food processor, so the crumbs weren't very fine). Oh, and the overnight wait was a killer, too!

some of the ingredients

I wasn't sure what would happen if I used "natural" peanut butter, but I didn't want to use the kind with partially hydrogenated fat... so I took the middle road and used the Whole Foods brand, which contains palm oil instead. I also bought some plain palm oil for future recipes, since it can be used as a substitute for shortening. I don't know that it's actually better, but at least it's natural :)

making the mousse filling

I also omitted the salted peanuts and substituted more chocolate chunks. Because chocolate is way better than peanuts.

filling the torte

The torte itself was delicious, and I really liked the little kick from the cinnamon/nutmeg/espresso mix. Definitely a (messy-to-eat) winner! I probably won't make it again anytime soon, though, to avoid getting any more dirty looks from A.

torte close up

Peanut Butter Torte

1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping) Note: I omitted these and substituted in ¼ cup extra chocolate chunks, and left off the topping
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)
24 Oreo (or other brand) cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
2 ½ c. heavy cream
1 + ¼ c (114 g + 28 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ c (385 g) salted peanut butter –- crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy Note: I used the Whole Foods brand)
2 tablespoons whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Getting ready: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.

Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

To Finish The Torte: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.

Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and , working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.

Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.

When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
--end of recipe--

finished torte

Check out the rest of the entries at the TWD blog! You can also see all of my past Tuesdays With Dorie entries here.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Silver Coast winery

One of my favorite alcoholic beverages is Chardonnay... preferably an oaky Napa Chardonnay. (Luckily, A. and I have the same taste in wines.) When visiting North Carolina, my parents brought us to the Silver Coast winery, where we found the lovely Premium Oak Chardonnay. I think it compares favorably to its lofty Napa cousins.

wines from silver coast

So we bought a bottle to share for dinner. Unfortunately, our bottle was corky and bad :( So Silver Coast, that's one point for you, one point against. I'll have to give you another shot next time I'm in NC... :)

P.S. Happy Birthday Mom! :)


Thursday, May 1, 2008



Brownies and Bars

Cakes and Cupcakes




Pies and Tarts

Other Sweets