Monthly Archives: August 2010

Rhubarb Galette

I wanted to do something different for dessert, and I wanted to use fresh fruit, so I looked in the Chez Panisse Fruit book. The rhubarb galette looked just different enough. One thing that’s different is the crust: You roll out the dough and then put the fillings on it and fold the edges up over the fillings. Another thing that’s different is how the rhubarb is cut: into sticks 3″ x ¼” rather than slices.

I didn’t use the Galette Crust from the cookbook; I used Julia’s pâte sucrée. I rolled that out and stuck it in the fridge to chill while I cut up the fruit and preheated the oven. Pâte sucrée is short crust with some sugar added. The sugar makes the dough harder to handle. Pie dough without sugar is easy to handle because it’s pretty elastic. Adding sugar makes the dough more fragile, so if you pick it up to turn it, it tears easily. This is something I need to use more so I can get some practice with it.

I’ve never cut rhubarb in sticks before, and it was a lot of work, but I like the result. I’m probably holding my knife wrong because I’m going to develop a callus on my forefinger. Or maybe it’s the knife. Anyway, I put a Silpat on a half sheet pan, laid the circle of dough on the Silpat, sprinkled on the almond powder, and arranged the rhubarb over that.

Dough, pulverized almonds, and rhubarb

Dough, pulverized almonds, and rhubarb

I used Instant ClearJel instead of flour because I’ve found that with rhubarb (and peaches), any other thickener (cornstarch, flour) stays powdery and tastes starchy, but the ClearJel thickens the liquid and stays clear. I’ve found a little goes a long way; I used 1 T for this with the ¾ cup of sugar.

Alice wants you to “arrange the top layer of rhubarb in a whimsical pattern.” I have no idea what that means, and the only illustrations in the book are line drawings of fruit. I don’t know if my arrangement is whimsical, but it’s pretty random, and that’ll have to do.

Once the rhubarb is arranged, whimsically or not, you fold the dough up to hold in the fruit. That was okay. I’ve never done this before, but I’ve seen good photos, so I felt I had some idea of what I was supposed to do. Alice wants you to brush the dough with butter and sprinkle on some sugar. it occurred to me that this might be a good opportunity to try out the Swedish pearl sugar I got at the KAF shop when I was there for the Ciril Hitz class.

Rhubarb galette folded, decorated, and ready for the oven

Rhubarb galette folded, decorated, and ready for the oven

That pearl sugar looks a lot like the salt on a soft pretzel, and I have an idea that it would be amusing (and possibly whimsical) to make chocolate cookies in a pretzel shape and use this sugar on them.

The galette bakes for 45 minutes, during which the rhubarb softens and the whole thing flattens a bit.

Baked rhubarb galette

Baked rhubarb galette

Here it is in another view:

Another view of the baked galette

Another view of the baked galette

Now that I see the thing baked, I think I understand that I’m supposed to arrange the top layer of rhubarb in a visually pleasing way, and if I think about it, I’ll be able to come up with something for the next time. This is very tasty, and I can see making it again.

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KAF New England Baking Enthusiasts Meetup

I’m still working too much, although the work should be letting up a little bit soon. Last night I took a break from reading about anxiety disorders to attend a meetup at Flatbread Somerville at Sacco’s Bowl Haven in Davis Square. Yep, you can bowl there. They have a wood-fired oven for pizza, and their ingredients are local and organic as much as they can manage, which is about 90%, the waitress told us. Good beer, too. If you bowl, they’ll deliver the food to your lane.

So the meetup was with the King Arthur Flour New England Baking Enthusiasts. There was another one this morning atFlour Bakery in Cambridge across the street from MIT. A bunch of people signed up for the one at Flour, but apparently I was the only one who had time to do the one at Flatbread. I’ve met Susan Miller, who runs the baking education at KAF. Suzanne Cote was also there; she does media relations for KAF. It was really fun to chat with Susan and Suzanne and eat delicious artisanal pizza from the wood-fired oven.

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Cucumber Ricotta Tart with Lemon Glaze

Over at Patent and the Pantry, Gwendolyn hasn’t been cooking and blogging; she’s been traveling and eating. The other day she blogged about that. One of her adventures was afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel in New York. When I saw this photo, I misinterpreted it as a slice of cucumber tart. Clearly I have tart on the brain; it’s a cucumber sandwich.

However, having tart on the brain, I’ve been thinking about what that would be if it were a tart. Misremembering what the photo showed, I thought of round slices of cucumber in a round tart. Looking at the photo again, I can see a better approximation would be lengthwise slices of cucumber in a square tart. However, I have no intention of slicing cucumbers thinly lengthwise; for one thing, I just don’t have the knife skills. As the tart took shape in my mind, it became a pâte brisée with a ricotta custard topped with thin round slices of cucumber and decorated with very thin slices of radish, the whole thing brushed with a lemon glaze.

Most of it was pretty easy to figure out, but the lemon glaze had me stumped for a bit. Lemon glaze is sugar and lemon juice for cake, right? But what I wanted was a kind of lemon gelatin glaze. Well, there’s nothing new under the sun: Lemon gelatin glaze makes a good coating for fish that you’re going to freeze. That glaze looked like just what I had in mind.

The first one is always an experiment, and this is the first time I’ve done this, and I’m making it up, so it’s definitely an experiment. This is how I did it today. I’m going to try it again, but with some changes.

Cucumber Ricotta Tart with Lemon Glaze
(makes a 10- to 11-inch tart)

Tart Shell (pâte brisée)
7 oz all-purpose flour
½ tsp table salt or 1 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1/8 tsp sugar
4 oz butter (1 stick)
1½ oz shortening (3 T)
2½ to 3 T ice water

Whisk the dry ingredients together, cut in the fat, and stir in the ice water until the pastry forms lumps. Alternatively, using the food processor, combine the dry ingredients, add the fat and pulse until the fat is in pea-sized lumps, then add the water in a slow stream until the pastry forms lumps. Press the dough into a disk.

Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. Roll out the dough, fit it into a 10- or 11-inch tart pan, line the pastry with foil and pie weights, and chill it in the freezer while the oven preheats.

Preheat the oven to 375℉ and bake the shell for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and bake the shell for another 5 to 7 minutes.

Prebaked tart shell

Prebaked tart shell

Cool the shell, then remove it from the tart pan and place it on a baking sheet. Brush the inside of the tart shell with a little beaten egg.

Tart Filling
1½ teaspoons dried dill or 1½ T fresh dill
ricotta custard (recipe follows)
lemon glaze (recipe follows)
8 oz cucumber, sliced thin (~1/8 inch) (the whole cucumber should be 10 oz or more)
Radishes sliced very thin (~1/16 inch) (I used 4 to get enough nice slices, but 1 or 2 should be enough if your knife skills are better than mine)

Sprinkle the dill over the baked tart crust.

Tart shell sprinkled with dried dill

Tart shell sprinkled with dried dill

Make the custard.

Ricotta Custard
8 ounces ricotta
1 large egg, beaten
4½ oz (½ cup) sour cream
4½ oz (½ cup) whole milk yogurt
salt and white pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients to a homogeneous mixture.

Ricotta custard

Ricotta custard

Pour the ricotta custard into the crust.

Tart shell filled with ricotta custard

Tart shell filled with ricotta custard

Bake at 400℉ for 20 minutes, until the custard is set but still white. (Those spots are dill that floated up from the bottom.)

Baked custard, puffed and set

Baked custard, puffed and set

While the tart is baking, make the glaze.

Lemon Glaze
¼ cup lemon juice
1¾ cups water
1 package powdered unflavored gelatin

Dissolve the unflavored gelatin in ½ cup of the lemon juice–water mixture.

Gelatin dissolving in lemon juice

Gelatin dissolving in lemon juice

Heat the rest of the liquid to boiling. Stir the gelatin mixture into the boiling liquid. Set aside to cool.

While the tart cools, slice the cucumber and radishes. I used the food processor to slice the cucumber, but now I think just doing it by hand would be easy enough.

Cucumber slices in the work powl; radishes awaiting the knife

Cucumber slices in the work powl; radishes awaiting the knife

Slice the radishes thinly; they should be translucent:

Radish slices, some more successful than others

Radish slices, some more successful than others

Arrange the cucumber slices in concentric overlapping circles, working from the outside in.

Cucumber slices arranged on the tart

Cucumber slices arranged on the tart

Brush the cucumber with the lemon glaze. Arrange the radish slices decoratively over the cucumbers and brush the lemon glaze over the radishes.

The complete tart

The complete tart

Two servings of tart

Two servings of tart

We could taste the dill, but I think a dill pesto would be nicer, and that would discourage the dill from floating up through the custard. The cucumbers are pretty wet, and next time I’ll salt them and let them drain to dry them out a bit. The lemon glaze was very thin, and I want it to be thicker, so next time I’ll use only 1 cup of water in the glaze and see if that does it. I also think the tart and the glaze should be good and cold before I brush the glaze on, and it might need two coats of glaze to get a real shine.

Reference

National Center for Home Food Preservation: Freezing fish: Lemon gelatin glaze. Available at http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/freeze/fish.html (accessed August 22, 2010).

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Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

I’m taking another shot at sourdough bread from Advanced Baking and Pastry. This is the book with the San Francisco sourdough recipe that I wasn’t happy with. One of the problems with the San Francisco sourdough bread was the shaping, and this time I ended up dumping the dough in a loaf pan; but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The dough was quite wet and sloppy, like ciabatta dough. Actually, that San Francisco sourdough was pretty wet, too, and the starter was a lot stiffer than the 100% hydration starter that I used for this. I’m weighing all my ingredients, including the water and salt, so it’s not a mismeasurement problem. Is it supposed to be this wet? This might be a question for The Fresh Loaf. Anyway, I know I have to be patient with whole wheat dough because it takes time for the whole wheat flour to absorb the moisture. Still, after the 2-hour initial bulk ferment, the dough was pretty wet and sticky. I dusted the bench with bread flour and dumped out the dough. Even dusting the dough with flour wasn’t enough and I finally oiled my hands.

The directions say to form a light ball with the dough and let that rest for 20 to 30 minutes, so I did that:

Whole wheat dough having a rest

Whole wheat dough having a rest

When the time was up, the dough was so soft and sticky I just oiled a loaf pan and dumped the dough in there to rise. It took about an hour to crest the pan by an inch. The directions say to bake at 450℉ for 35 minutes, which I did. I didn’t use steam. The oven spring was pretty good:

Whole wheat sourdough as a sandwich loaf

Whole wheat sourdough as a sandwich loaf

The crust is pretty chewy, as you’d expect from baking at that temperature. This might have been one of my problems with the San Francisco sourdough; I just couldn’t bring myself to crank the oven up to 450℉. The crumb is nice, and you can see how serious the crust is:

The crumb view

The crumb view

The bread is moist and tasty. I think I must be missing something about the nature of the process.

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Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze

I saw this Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze on David Lebovitz’s blog the other day and knew I had to make it. The irony, of course, is this is a good way to make a dent in your bumper crop of zucchini, but we don’t have a vegetable garden, so I bought the zucchini at the farmers market.

The recipe calls for chopped nuts, and apparently you can use pretty much any variety that appeals to you. I had walnuts, so I used those. The nuts are very noticeable, so if you don’t like nuts, you’ll want to come up with a substitute, and if you like something particular, you should use what you like. I definitely taste the walnuts in this cake.

Well, first you toast the nuts. I used the weights, rather than the volumes, for everything, so I weighed the nuts and toasted them on a cookie sheet at 400℉ for about 9 minutes. After they cooled, I ran them through the grinder, and as it turns out, when the nuts are chopped, I had a cup, just as he specifies:

Chopped walnuts in the cool nut chopper

Chopped walnuts in the nut chopper

I got that nut chopper at King Arthur when I was there for the Ciril Hitz class. I don’t use it every day, but I love it, and it was only $10.
The recipe calls for 1 cup of olive oil, and that’s 200 g (oil is lighter than water, of course; 1 cup of water is 240 g). Olive oil is green, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that the preliminary batter of eggs, sugar, and olive oil was kind of green:

Green batter

Green batter

Then you beat in the vanilla and add the dry ingredients, then stir in the zucchini and nuts:

Finished batter

Finished batter

The recipe calls for 300 g of zucchini, which is about 10 oz. I picked out two zucchini at the farmers market and when she weighed them they came to 15 oz, which was obviously enough. I whacked off the ends and ran them through the grater blade on the food processor, and the shredded zucchini came to 313 g, so I used it all; that last 13 g is about a tablespoon.
For a change, I’m using the right pan for the project:

Batter in the pan in the oven

Batter in the pan in the oven

After 45 minutes, a cake tester came out clean:

Done!

Done!

That Pam for Baking spray is brilliant; nothing sticks:

The naked cake

The naked cake

I gave it another half hour to cool while I worked on a chapter about melanoma, then I brushed on the glaze:

Glazed cake

Glazed cake

My glaze isn’t thick and opaque, and I don’t know why. He says to glaze the cake while the cake is warm, and I did that. Maybe the glaze needs to be cold? Anyway, it tastes good; it reminds me of carrot cake. I think carrots instead of zucchini would work fine.

A slice

A slice

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No-Knead Country Bread

The latest King Arthur Flour catalog came in the mail this week, and it includes this recipe for No-Knead Country Bread. We’re out of bread, and this looked good, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I haven’t jumped on the no-knead bandwagon yet. For one thing, I’m happy to knead bread dough. For another, I have machines that can do the work for me and I’m willing to use them if the dough is hard to handle or I’m short on time. I did get Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day from the library awhile ago, but I wasn’t inspired to make any of the recipes. It almost seemed like more trouble than making the kind you have to knead. It reminded me of maintaining a sourdough starter: You always have to remember it’s there, and you always have to be doing something to take care of it. Yeah, once it’s set up it’s only a few minutes a day, but it’s a pretty constant thing. I can mix, knead, and bake a loaf of bread with a total elapsed time of about 3 hours and hands-on time of about 20 minutes, and then I don’t have to think about it again until we’re out of bread.

However, two things about this KAF recipe caught my attention. One was the ingredients: It’s not just boring white bread, it’s about 35% whole wheat, and there’s flax meal in it. The other was the baking method: You put the loaf in a cold oven, set the oven for 450℉, and let the bread bake that way.

You can get the dough together at night and then bake it in the morning, but it was more convenient for me to start it in the morning and bake it in the evening. You mix the ingredients by hand or in a stand mixer. This isn’t kneading, but the instructions do say to mix for several minutes, so there is some labor involved. I dumped everything into my stand mixer, which is a 4.5-quart KitchenAid. If you’re not familiar with stand mixers, this is the little one; the standard size is 5 quarts, and in my dreams, one day I’ll have a 7-quart Viking. But I digress. Here’s the dough:

Dough mixed and ready to rise

Dough mixed and ready to rise

You let it sit on the counter for 8 hours; I just left it in the bowl of the stand mixer. After about 4 hours it had risen quite a bit, but over the next 4 hours it didn’t rise any more, and it might’ve collapsed a little.

Rising dough

Rising dough

I suppose it was developing flavor. Anyway, I fought the impulse to fold it, and I just followed the directions. Once the time is up, you turn it out onto a floured surface

Dough on the floured counter

Dough on the floured counter

and then form it into a ball:

The ball of dough

The ball of dough

That’s some sticky dough. I floured it so I could handle it, but it was still a mess. Then you pop that into a baking vessel with a lid. I used a dutch oven, which is sort of the right size measuring across the bottom, but the volume is much larger than they’re looking for.

The ball of dough in the dutch oven

The ball of dough in the dutch oven

I’ll try this again in an enameled cast-iron saucepan and see what happens. You put the lid on the vessel, whatever you’re using, and the dough rises for another hour, then it goes in the cold oven. You set the oven for 450℉, and after about 45 minutes you take the lid off and give it another 10 minutes or so. The bread was done by then and it looked okay, but it didn’t rise very high. That might be because I needed a vessel with a smaller diameter.

No-knead bread

No-knead bread

The crumb looks okay, though:

The crumb view

The crumb view

It tastes pretty good. I have to say, though, that this was at least as much work as regular bread, so I still don’t get the point of not kneading the dough.

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Happy Birthday, Dr. Science!

Dr. Science is from Oregon, and in his family they get pie for their birthdays. No surprise, then, that Dr. Science traditionally gets blackberry pie for his birthday:

Blackberry birthday pie

Blackberry birthday pie

Happy birthday, Dr. Science!

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