I have been baking. Quite a lot, actually!

frozen-lime-meringue-pie

I made the Frozen Lime Meringue Pie into cupcakes and I made the Heavenly Chocolate Mousse Cake. Both recipes turned out great! But obviously I didn’t post about it.

chocolate-mousse-cake

I was planning on making other recipes, but that didn’t happen either.

king-arthur-flour-building

What have I been doing instead?

Work has been crazy busy. But in a good way. I have been doing the communications and marketing work I have wanted to do for years!

workbench-setup

My MS symptoms have been up and down. I have been mostly feeling pretty good, but sometimes not so much. Then I have to conserve energy, and Alpha Bakers is something that doesn’t get the attention I would like to give to it.

pasta-frolla-dry-ingredients

More exciting though is I have been teaching baking classes through Adult Continuing Education at my old high school. Teaching has been great, and I will be talking about it.

And, for my 50th birthday, which was back in July, I decided that instead of a big party, I wanted to take a baking class at King Arthur Flour in Vermont. Last Sunday, my mom and sister and I drove two plus hours to Norwich Vermont for their More than a Mouthful: Pastry Miniatures class.

cutting-in-the-butterAlthough the class was not quite what I was imagining (I was thinking petit fours and financiers), the items we made were really good, a little challenging, and I got to geek out with the instructor when she was talking about the different protein / gluten levels in flour.

filling-tartlet-tins

The first recipe we made was for pasta frolla, which is a press-in tart crust, scented with orange oil.

baking-injuryMaking the dough was simple, but then we had to press the dough into these tiny tartlet pans! The largest dimension on any of them was 1 1/2 inches.

And some of them had sharp and point edges! My poor sister ended up cutting her finger on one of them and bled all over her side towel and apron. Granted, she admitted that she could cut herself on a dull butter knife, but still.

When I first saw the pans I thought “OMG how cute!” By the end of the day, I was like “OMG no way I am making this tart in tiny tins again!”

So after the whole tartlet tin filling and bleeding thing, our next project was a chocolate almond cream filling.

This was not a cooked pastry cream. We made it in the food processor.

filled-tartlet-shells

It had butter, sugar, eggs, yes, but also included almond flour and chocolate. And it was baked in the unbaked tartlets.

The filling was really good. I kept eating it raw!

finished-tartlets

4-small-tartsWe finished the tartlets with melted chocolate and toasted almond slivers.

I will make this recipe again. But in a full-sized tart pan, or in the comes in a pack of 4 smaller tart tins. Like these!

Here are the recipes from the Baking Education Center at King Arthur Flour. I tweaked them a little bit based on my notes from the day.

Crust – Pasta Frolla

This dough is a middle ground between pie crust dough and Pâte Sucrée

Ingredients:

¾ cup (3 oz) all-purpose flour

¾ cup (3 oz) pastry flour

¼ cup (1¾ oz) sugar

¼ tsp salt

½ cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

1 egg

½ tsp vanilla

optional: 1/8 tsp orange oil, or zest from ½ lemon, orange or lime

Directions:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse meal.
  3. Stir in the egg, and extracts and oil or zest and combine well, until a dough forms.
  4. Wrap the dough and chill for 30 minutes, or immediately press into tart pan, then refrigerate for 30 minutes before filling or baking.

Leftover pasta frolla can be rolled into a log and cut into cookies. Bake ~10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Filling – Chocolate Almond Cream

Ingredients:

½ cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup (3½ oz) sugar

2 eggs at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup (4 oz) almond flour

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, combine the butter and sugar.
  2. Add the eggs and vanilla and pulse until just combined.
  3. Add nut flour and chocolate and pulse until combined.
  4. Spread into prepped tart shell or refrigerate.

Assemble:

For mini tartlets, fill with ~ 1tsp of chocolate almond cream, bake ~10 minutes at 375 degrees.

(Not) Gooseberry (but Strawberry Rhubarb Cherry) Crisp

I have to admit to some jealousy of people who live in “berryland”. Places like the Pacific Northwest, where I hear about the abundance of different berries. Marionberries, boysenberries, black raspberries, gold raspberries, maybe even gooseberries.

draining-fruit

I couldn’t find gooseberries around here. I even went to the farmer’s market. Nope. Blueberries? Oh yeah! Even local peaches, even though we had a spring frost and it killed the peach flowers at local orchards. But no gooseberries.

cooking-juices

Not a problem. I had some frozen local strawberries, some rhubarb, and some frozen cherries. That would give some nice juice, great color, and tart flavor to this not-gooseberry crisp.

fruit-added-to-juices

Instead of cooking the fruit, I thawed it in a strainer and got a lot of juice just from that.

fruit-in-dish

I cooked the juice with the sugar, lemon and salt separately from the drained fruit.

 

crisp-started

I probably could have cooked the juice down longer, but I was baking on Tuesday morning before work and didn’t really have that much time.

 

crisp-add-butter

I tossed the fruit with a tablespoon of the cornstarch, tossed it in the pan with the juice, then put it in a casserole dish.

finished-crisp

I made the crisp part while the juice was cooking. Topped the fruit with the crust and put it in the oven.

finished-crisp-closeup

It cooked up really nicely, and the juices were bubbling away. I pulled it out of the oven and off went to work. I would have brought it to work, but we already had muffins from Monday and I was making brownies on Wednesday for my co-worker’s birthday.

2-servings

We had some on Tuesday night. It was pretty good but it was runny. I dished up some more tonight, adding whipped cream. It was a lot less runny.

serving-closeup

The verdict? Pretty good! Cool and tasty, sweet but with a tart edge. I personally would have liked more crisp on top. I would double the crisp if I made this again. And I will, even if I never see a gooseberry.

Blueberry Buckle
It’s Sunday, Mother’s Day. I’m up and in the kitchen at 6:30 a.m. Working on blueberry buckle for Mother’s Day breakfast.

fruit-lemon-sugar
Why? Because I created a Mother’s Day breakfast tradition a few years ago, when I had no money. Me and my siblings converge on her house and make her Mother’s Day breakfast. And it has to be super-early, because she has to be to church on time. And church is a half-hour drive.

added-peaches
I used to make breakfast in bed for my mother when I was a kid. I don’t recall much of my efforts, but I probably made a huge mess for her to clean up. Even back then, I would rather cook than clean up.

cake-mise
These days she somewhat more flexible about getting to church on time. She played church “hooky” and went with my dad and other siblings and their spouses to see Captain America: Civil War. I went home and back to bed, since I was up too early, and my MS symptoms were acting up.

dry-moistened
Back to the blueberry buckle. It ended up being a strawberry-blueberry-peach buckle. I did not have enough blueberries. But since I also made my mother strawberry-rhubarb-honey preserves (in an effort to use up last years’ fruit before this years’ fruit starts coming in) the day before as her present, and I had leftover strawberries. It morphed into a berry buckle. Mom really likes peaches, too. And I had some left, after I made one of the girls at the corner store a peach galette for her mother for Mother’s Day!

building-cake-structure
I mixed up the fruit and made the batter at my house. Packet it up and brought it over with eggs and some other groceries to make shashuka (eggs poached in pepper/tomato sauce) for her breakfast, too.

ready-for-packing
Just my opinion, I don’t know that I would consider this recipe Q&E for the general public. For us Alpha Bakers, yeah it is pretty quick. Because we are baking super heroes. Or mutants. Or something. But for normal mortals, not so much. Because the cake part involved egg separation and a stand mixer.

fruit-in-dish
I get to Mom and Dad’s and put together breakfast. I finish up the buckle and put it in the oven. My sister and brother and their spouses came over with scones, bacon, sausage and real orange juice.

batter-topped
We have a great breakfast and Mom tries to scoop out the buckle. And …. it is way undercooked. Crap. I put it back in the oven.

not-done
It finally finished cooking, but at that point it was too hot to eat. Instead of waiting longer, everyone left for movies or bed. I figured they would have it when they got home.

finally-finished
Needless to say, I didn’t get to have any of it. I did call Mom and ask her how it was. She said it was really good, and that both Dad and my brother, not big dessert eaters, had second helpings.

Can’t get a better endorsement than that!

Rugelach

SUMMARY – crunchy, sweet, buttery, nutty, sticky. Spirals of goodness that call out for a doubled recipe.

adding-butter

One of the great things about growing up in and still living in update NY is a unique level of ethnic diversity. By diversity, I mean, I was surrounded by (mostly European) immigrants. In my family and neighborhood, and within my circle of friends, there were Poles, Italians, Quebecois, Ukrainians, Greeks, Scots, French, Irish, English, East Asians, Chinese. Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists. First, second, third generation immigrants.

adding-vanilla

A lot of this diversity came out in food. I know exactly what rugelach are, even though my family never made them.

finished-dough

In comparison, my roommate Bill is from Missouri, with a short layover in San Diego (from his dad’s Navy deployment). By his own admission, he knows Mexican food and Kansas City BBQ. He does not know what a rugelach is.

different-fillings

He knows what they are now, though! ?

rolled-dough

These reminded me a little of the Cookie Strudel we made a few months back. Make a simple dough and top with fruit, nuts and a sticky filling. Roll it up.

dough-portioned

I made the dough in the food processor. A quick observation – don’t use frozen butter. Let it soften up a bit first.

portioned-cookie-dough

I made two different batches of these. One was apricot, raisin (currants are technically Zante raisins) and walnut sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. The other was mini chocolate chips, almonds and strawberry jam sprinkled with turbinado sugar.

topped-cookie

I portioned the apricot batch out as a 12-cut. But I had some cuts that were bigger than others. Don’t you hate it when your pizza has skinny and fat pieces?

into-the-fridge

To make it easier, I portioned the strawberry batch out as a 16-cut. They were smaller, but the sizes were more consistent.

into-the-oven

I rolled them up, put them in the fridge, brushed them with milk, and coated them with either the cinnamon sugar or turbinado sugar. Put them on the foil and into the oven.

baked-rugelach

And … I had the same problem that Marie had. Sticky jelly on foil = super glue. This was similar to the problem with the birch twigs on a Silplat.

foil-aftermath

I did manage to get most of the cookies off the foil. I had a lot of bakers treats from them, that’s for sure.

cooling-rack

Even with that problem I would make these again. I brought some into work and they went over big!

rugelach-closeupjpg

I would try the Silplat. No egg white!

Breadcrumbs

Vegan / Vegetarian

roasted-yams-and-chickpeas-with-yogurt

Chickpea “Tuna” Salad is Not Tuna, But No One is Mad via Food52
Blueberry Pie Overnight Oats from The Kitchn
roasted yams and chickpeas with yogurt from Smitten Kitchen
10-Hour Slow-Cooker Chana Masala from The Kitchn

Baking

halva-brownies

The Easiest Buttercream You’ll Ever Make (+ Meringue 101) from Food52
Yung, Wild and Free: Crucial baking advice from a Michelin-starred pastry chef from Tasting Table
You Deserve an Entire Cake All for Yourself from Bon Appétit
Classic Smith Island Cake from Saveur
Claire Ptak’s recipes for halva brownies and cookies from The Guardian

Techniques / Equipment / Etc.

cast-iron-myth-1

6 Things You Should Do to Take Care of Your Knives from Food52
The Truth About Cast Iron Pans: 7 Myths That Need To Go Away from Serious Eats
The Temperature Rule to Follow When Converting a Dutch Oven Recipe to a Slow Cooker from The Kitchn
Chained to the Stove: What It’s Really Like to Write a Cookbook from Serious Eats

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Tart

SUMMARY – Soft, crumbly crust topped with a smooth and creamy filling and chocolate glaze. The hazelnut praline was distinct and well-balanced. The bonus of a press-in-the-pan crust means this is a dessert to make again!

boiling-pot

Oh em gee. This tart was awesome!

boiled-hazelnuts

I’m not just saying that just because I didn’t have to roll out a crust. Which, by itself, was awesome.

skinned-hazelnuts

Even though I had to make hazelnut praline, which wasn’t so bad except for the getting the skin off the hazelnuts.

completed-paste

I couldn’t boil the hazelnuts long enough to make the skin easier to remove, because the baking soda made a lot of foam in the pot and I had to keep taking the pot off the burner.

crust-construction

But once I got the skins (mostly) off, and toasted, and covered with caramel, they ground down into this paste that would have been good enough to eat with a spoon. Oh, wait … I did eat that last bit of it with a spoon. Shhhh!

dough-in-pan

So the hazelnut praline was, in itself, awesome, in spite of adding an extra component to the tart construction.

mousse-filling

The tart crust was really good too. Soft, flavorful, food processor friendly. I baked it and it did puff up like Rose warned. But then it sunk back down and it was perfect. It would make really good cookies too, with a whole egg.

whole-tart-landscape

The mousse layer was also, dare I say it, awesome. And easy. I veered slightly off Rose’s instruction with the last whipped cream addition. I underbeat the whipped cream. I scraped it into the other mixing bowl with the cream cheese, praline paste and brown sugar, and beat it more. That worked out just fine.

whole-tart-top

Ganache? Easy! Tart assembly? Easy.

cutup-tart-top-closeup

I skipped the candied hazelnuts, because I put all the hazelnuts into the praline. I used nonpareils instead, which are still sugar.

cutup-tart-side-closeup

Everyone who had some loved this tart. And I didn’t feel too bad about giving away slices because they didn’t look like leftovers. Awesome!

Breadcrumbs

I am an information pack rat.

I used to cut articles from magazines and copy pages out of library books and put them in binders.

Now I use Pinterest and Evernote to save articles and recipes. There’s a lot less paper clutter around and the trees are happier!

Instead of hoarding this info, I am sharing my “Breadcrumbs” with you.

I hope you find these articles interesting, informative, and maybe inspiring! And feel free to save them or pin them yourself.

Cake, Cookie and Bread Recipes

Banana-Bread-HonestlyYUM

Black Sesame Banana Bread from Honestly YUM

Homemade Everything Bagels with Step-by-Step Photos from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ultimate Chocolate Cake from ChefSteps

Persian Love Cake from Aimee at Twigg Studios

How to Invent a Cookie Recipe from Lifehacker

Dinner, Soup, Stew and Other Recipes

columbian-stew

Colombian-Style Chicken, Short Rib and Potato Stew from the NY Times

Tuna Nicoise Sandwich from Martha Stewart

Stuffed Turkey Breasts with Butternut Squash and Figs from SkinnyTaste

Broken Wonton Soup from Mark Bittman

Red Pepper and Baked Egg Galettes from Jerusalem (the book) from The View from Great Island

Other Food-Related Links

typographic-map-flavors

A World Map of Flavors – 36 Regions, 36 Herb and Spice Combinations from Tim Ferriss

15 Pro Tips and Techniques For Quicker, Easier, Better Cooking from The Kitchn

Breaking Bad: How to Kick the Late Night Snacking Habit from Summer Tomato

Mark Bittman: 19 Ways to Cook Everything Faster from Readers Digest

Decoding Tough and Tender Cuts from ChefSteps