Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hazelnuts


Or as we call them here in Oregon... Filberts!




I have known for years that I live right down the road from a remnant hazelnut orchard. It is sort of strange considering I live "down town". In all this time I never thought about collecting these nuts for myself. Instead I would purchase them for about oh.. some insane amount.. per pound at a national grocery chain. Weird huh. Well not this year! This week the hazel nuts are ripe and ready for harvest. According to the WSU extension page on hazelnuts, they are really easy to harvest. When the nuts are ripe they fall out of the tree and release from the pods. You scoop them up. Check them for bugs.

See the little worm trail right into the top? yuch! 


Place them on screens so they can get air circulating around them and let them dry out.


You know they are properly dried when the nutmeat is firm as you bite it instead of being spongey.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

French Apple Tart



I am a member of a book of the month club. My intention was to join for the free books, pay for my 3 required books, and get the heck out! The problem friends, is that it isn't just ANY book club it is a COOK BOOK book club. What was I thinking!?


Well, I thought I was just about done falling for their tricks with big discounts and member only offers when a featured selection ended up at my house. The book is "Baking" by James Peterson. I LOVE this book! I know it was an oversight that it got sent to me but now that I have it and have drooled all over the 100's of photos... well I think it was ment to be mine.


In celebration of the beginnings of apple season AND my newest baking cookbook I have prepared my first ever french apple tart. You know I think Im gonna like this James guy if all his recipes are this good!


I used local apples- a mix of gravensteins and liberty apples. Now that I have made this tart... and I will make it again... and again.

I cant help but notice how many overburdened apple trees are around my neighborhood. hmmm.

As a bonus for this recipe you make 1/2 of your apples into an applesauce to use as your base layer in the tart. This applesauce is really good! I never knew it could taste so fresh and appley .  I can not believe how easy it is. Why haven't I done this before? Geez, I really need to learn how to do some canning.  I will definitely need to make some more home made applesauce.


Not too bad on the pattern, but, better make another just to practice. Yum, Practice!

Classic French Apple Tart By James Peterson
4 pounds apples- tart apples for baking
1/2 lemon
1/2 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon to sprinkle over top of tart
1 vanilla bean- optional- I skipped this my beans are too preciouse!
1/2 cup water
1 recipe sweetened or unsweetened basic tart dough
3 tablespoons butter melted
2 tablespoons hot apricot glaze

Peel, halve and core your apple and rub the halves with the lemon. Squeeze the juice out of the lemon into a wide pan or pot. cut half of the apple halves into 1/3 inch cubes and put them in the pan with the lemon juice. Add the 1/2 cup sugar, the vanilla bean, and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring with a rubber spatula, for about 15 minutes, or until the apples soften and all the liquid they release evaporates. Let cool. Slice the remaining apples as thin as you can.
Preheat oven to 375F. Use a 9-10 inch tart pan. Roll the dough into a round 2 inches larger than the pan and use it to line the pan. Spread the cooked apple mixture in the pan and press the sliced apple halves together in your hands to get them to fan out slightly. Arrange them around the sides of the tart, with the fanned end up against the sides of the tart, fitting extra slices in here and there to make them even. Place some broken-up apple slices- use the small end pieces- in the middle of the tart to mound up the apples that are arranged in the middle. Make another ring of apple slices inside the first but facing in the opposite direction. Use a few apple sliced for the tiny round in the middle. Brush generously with the melted butter and sprinkle the 1 tablespoon sugar over all. bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Brush with the glaze with the tart is still hot.
NOTE- My apples stated to burn in the middle mound so I put a little foil tent over them and continues baking. Just be sure you check after 15 minutes or so and then again to make sure yours don't burn!
I did not include a dough recipe because I had problems- not sure if it was me or what.





and just look at this crust.. I am always so afraid of making my own but, this is pretty good stuff!
Maybe the book of the month club isn't such a bad thing! 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cake Slice Bakers: Tiple chocolate fudge cake

This bitter sweet triple chocolate fudge cake is the perfect finale to Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes for the cake slice bakers. Next month we begin baking from our new selection southern cakes.
 

This cake is good. Deep dark chocolate cake layers with a hint of cinnamon filled with white chocolate mousse and topped with a chocolate sour cream frosting.

I had problems with the mousse. It was not sturdy enough to support the weight of the cake layers and oozed out of the sides causing a lot of slipping around. To assemble this 3 layer cake I recommend freezing after each addition of the mousse or maybe some sort of stabilizer for a stiffer filling. I was ready to  throw the whole thing away as an oozey mess of mousse seeped all over my table. But, I persevered. I propped the whole mess up, tried my best to center the layers and put it in my freezer before frosting. I don't think I will make this cake again. I have a go to chocolate cake recipe that I LOVE. In fact I love it so much I have blogged about it here and here!

I have really enjoyed baking from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes. The recipes have great flavor combination... there are so many more we never got to! My only caution should you bake from this book would be the frosting recipes. They seem to be closer to whipped creams or thin icings so if you want to pipe or decorate you will need to use a different recipe for frosting.



Our next book to bake from is Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations by Nancie McDermott. I have already book marked several recipes including Caramel Cake, Sweet Potato Pound Cake, Oatmeal Cake just to highlight a few. It should be a fun year for the Cake Slice Bakers with this new cookbook. Join us if you would like to bake along each month.


Recipe: Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake
(from the Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes cookbook)
Makes a 9" triple layer case - serves 16 to 20

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cups hot, strongly brewed coffee
2 eggs
1 cup mayonnaise (use real mayonnaise and not a low fat or fat-free version or anything labeled "salad dressing")
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar

White Chocolate Mousse (recipe below)
Sour Cream Chocolate Icing (recipe below)

Method:

1. Heat oven to 350F. Butter bottom and sides of 3 (9-inch) cake pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment or wax paper and butter the paper.

2. For batter, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside the dry ingredients.

3. Put chopped chocolate in heat-proof bowl. Bring milk to a simmer. Pour the hot coffee and milk over the chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Let the mocha liquid cool slightly.

4. In a mixer bowl, beat together the eggs, mayonnaise, and vanilla until well blended. Gradually beat in sugar. Add dry ingredients and coffee liquid alternately in 2 or 3 additions, beating until smooth. Divide batter among pans.

5. Bake 25-28 minutes, or until pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks 10-15 minutes. Unmold cakes. Peel off paper lining and cool completely, at least 1 hour. (The layers can be baked a day ahead, wrap well, and refrigerated)

To Assemble the Cake:

1. Place one cake layer flat-side up on cake stand. Cover top with half the white chocolate mousse, leaving 1/4 -inch margin around edge. Repeat with second layer.

2. Set third layer on top and pour half the sour cream chocolate over the filled cake. Spread all over the sides and top. Don’t worry if cake shows through. The first frosting is to seal in the crumbs which is whey professinal call it a "crumb coat". Refrigerate cake uncovered for at least 30 minutes to allow the icing to set. Cover the rest of the icing and set aside at room temperature.

3. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining icing, which should have the consistency of mayonnaise. If the icing becomes too soft, chill briefly. If icing becomes too stiff, microwave on high 2 or 3 seconds to soften, and then stir to mix well. Use an offset palatte knife or the back of a spoon to swirl the frosting decoratively around the cake.

White Chocolate Mousse:

4 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg white
1 tablespoon sugar

For mousse, melt white chocolate with 1/4 cup cream in a double boiler or in a small metal bowl set over a pan of very hot water. Whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

When it has cooled, beat the remaining 3/4 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form. In another clean bowl, whip egg white with sugar until fairly stiff peaks form.

Fold the beaten egg white into white chocolate cream. Then fold in the whipped cream just until blended (do not overwhip or your icing will split).


Sour Cream Chocolate Icing:

12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup half-and-half, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

Melt chocolate with butter and corn syrup in a double boiler over barely simmering water or in a heavy pan over very low heat. Remove from heat and whisk until smooth.

Whisk in half-and-half and sour cream. Use while soft.

Edit: Here is the cake after I brought it to work and it sat out for a bit! I presliced it so the mousse would not ooze out. Oh well, on to the next baking adventure!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kugelhopf

Kugelhopf, kugelhopf, kugelhopf! 
My new favorite word to say... kugelhopf!
The kugelhopf and I were destined to meet. Months ago I found a mini bundt pan at goodwill. It turns out it is really a mini kugelhopf pan!!! GAH! I only realized this after I made it, decided I love kugelhopf, and needed an authentic kugelhopf pan. ( I swear I can not stop saying typing that word!)
For those of you uninitiated in to the cult of kugelhopf here is the quick and dirty..
Kugelhopf is a yeast risen cake- think about the lightest richest coffee cake you have ever had- originally from the Alsace region of France. It is baked in a turban type bundt pan and contains raisins.
I chose this recipe because I had rum soaked raisins who needed a new home. 
It took me about 4 hours from start to finish but, boy is it worth it. Admittedly most of the time is due to rise time so you have time to scrub cabinets and do laundry while you are waiting. The actual hands on time is only about 20 minutes! 
I found a good recipe comparison on Sweet Boy Bakes and highly recommend you read his comments on the two recipes. I chose the second recipe from Patisserie Lerch with Sweet Boy's recommended tweaks. The best advice is to soak the hot cake with melted butter and sprinkle with granulated sugar. This creates a sweet little crunch on the crust that is sublime.  The results are one superb kugelhopf! 
 
The recipe makes a huge amount of dough so scale down if you don't own two 9 inch kugelhopf pans. I did not scale down and ended up refrigerating the leftover dough. It baked up just fine a couple of days later. I made mini bundt kugelhopfs.. sooo cute! I ate 2 of these right out of the oven with a melted butter drizzle and sugar. AAhhh so good!
I will definitely be making this again! It is just perfect with coffee or for breakfast! 
Cake for breakfast!!!
Kugelhopf, kugelhopf, kugelhopf, YAY! 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My new favorite thing

 
I have to admit I have not been very inspired to bake lately. Recipes seem to fall short of my expectations or fail completely. Then one day I was zipping around on your blogs when I got a seriouse crush on an apron over at  Moogie and Pap a really great food blog. I mean who can resist skull and crossbones wearing little pink bows!? And the pink ruffles! OH MY!  I kept hoping moogie would open an etsy store so I could get the object of my desire.. instead she gave them away! ack!! And I was one of the lucky recipients of  a moogie apron! 
I think this apron has some baking mojo! In the last couple of days I have been baking up a storm and getting really good results. I will be posting soon with some great recipes!
So a big thank you to moogie! I LOVE my new apron! 

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chipotle Cinnamon cocolate chip cookies


With temperatures soaring into the 100's a recipe really has to be oven worthy to get made these days. These cookies are completely worth it!  This is a flavor combination I have been trying at work and it just has not really worked out. I brought the leftover ingredients home and decided to see if it could work in a baked good and my golly gosh darn these are good!
The key ingredients are the spicy dark chocolate and the mesquite flour. The warm spicy undertones of mesquite flour compliment the heat of the chipotles and the spicy warmth of the cinnamon. This cookie is not super hot. The heat comes on at the end of your bite as the chocolate melts away. For those who like really spicy foods this will barely register. For those who don't like spicy foods at all this cookie is just pleasantly warming.  
Trader Joes makes a spicy dark chocolate wedge that would work for this recipe. You could also use spicy nuts covered in chocolate. I got my spicy chocolates from a company called Parker Products. It looks like they are starting a retail line soon!
Make this recipe! Your friends will think you need your own super chef tv show!
okay enough tooting my own horn ( TOOT TOOT) I bring you
Chipotle and Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Alton Brown's Big Chewy)
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups bread flour                                                                                                                                     1/4 cup Mesquite flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups  chipotle cinnamon dark chocolate chopped
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat (or in  a microwave). Sift together the flours, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 10- 12 minutes or until golden brown, (The mesquite causes the cookies to look quite dark so it is hard to see the golden brown color. Look at the edges if they are looking golden or a little crispy they are done.) checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Peach and Basil Cake

I thought I was having a stroke of brilliance when I started concocting this recipe. I love the flavor of peaches and basil on top of pound cake so why not put that flavor IN the cake! HA! 
 The cake is good and moist but, none  of the peach basil flavor really came through except on the bottom of the cake where all of the peach bits were hanging about. Even as a regular peach cake I really need to get more peach flavor in...
So it's back to the test kitchen on this one! If any of you have a really great peach or nectarine cake recipe I'd love to try it!