Thursday, May 27, 2010

Piece Montee'

My parents have been in town a lot this month for wedding showers and Mother's Day was no exception.  I had the chance then to make the Daring Bakers Challenge for mama (and Daddy and Philip)...and I think they liked it!  The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

I think the hardest part of this challenge was getting the puffs to puff!  Some of mine were great and others had no center to them.  I still managed to get filling inside.  I used the coffee filling and just used an individual packed of instant coffee to make it.  Turned out well...not too strong and not weak either.

I wouldn't tell Philip the flavor for fear that he wouldn't eat it but thought he'd like it as he loves tiramisu.  He did like it and even took some back for Kenna to try.  I thought the puff themselves were a bit eggy...but I think I felt the same way when we made e-clairs.  Maybe I'm just not a pat-a-choux person!  Thanks for the challenge Cat!  can't wait to see what June's challenge is. 
For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) milk (I used skim)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla  (For Coffee Pastry Cream (Half Batch recipe) Dissolve 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder in 1 ½ teaspoons boiling water. Whisk into pastry cream with butter and vanilla.)

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.
Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.
Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.
Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.
Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.
Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. Keep stirring until it looks like mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.
Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top. 

Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Use one of these to top your choux and assemble your piece montée.
Chocolate Glaze: (I used white chocolate)
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)
Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Scones for Daddy

When Daddy mentioned that he thought I should make scones, I asked him what kind he thought I should make.  Due to some cookies that I made earlier (sorry, can't share the recipe yet!), he suggested orange scones.  So, I went in search of a good recipe.  I found a couple and this one looked good to me.  I didn't have any nuts, which it didn't call for, but I thought they would make a good addition. 

Oh, well!  The dough, once again, was too sticky to form into a disc and cut, so I just freeformed it.  I kind of like the free form version because it gives lovely little pieces that stick up...perfect for my favorite act of nibbling!  I served these with honey and they turned out great! 

Orange Scones
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold butter
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp orange extract
Additional sugar
In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, orange peel and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a bowl, whisk milk and egg. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
Lightly spoon dough onto baking stone or greased baking sheet.  Top with extra granulated sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Scones with Sarah

I was recently informed by my dad that I haven't made scone in a while.  He's fact, I haven't made scone since I made October!  Yikes! 

I made them with my friend, Sarah.  It's so funny because we'll both decide we need to hang out and when I ask what she wants to do we usually end up cooking something.  I guess we would rather do something where we could talk as opposed to watching a movie and having to pay attention to that instead of each other (and Luke!!!).  Anyway, after giving her the peach scones from so long ago, she said she wanted to make some. 

So, I found this recipe from Emily and we went to baking.  This is actually the FIRST scone recipe I've made that has allowed me to form a disc and cut the scones into triangles. 

It turned out DELICIOUS!!!  I highly recommend this recipe...and have another scone recipe coming, specially made for my dad this weekend! 

Cranberry, White Chocolate & Toasted Walnut Scones (Recipe adapted from Emily at Sugar Plum)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spooned into cup & leveled with knife)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries, soaked in hot water
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
2 large eggs, divided use
1/4 cup yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; whisk in 6 tablespoons sugar until combined. Knead in butter, using fingertips, until well incorporated and mixture starts to clump together, forming pea-sized lumps. Gently stir in cranberries, pecans and white chocolate chips until combined.
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, yogurt and vanilla until combined; sprinkle into flour mixture and toss together using a fork.

Turn shaggy dough out onto a floured surface, and gently pat and knead until it comes together, handling as little as possible. Form two (6-inch) rounds. Insides of the rounds should be thicker. Slice each round into 6 equal triangles and place on cookie sheets.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Today my parents came to my apartment for Mother's Day lunch after church.  They were in town for a wedding shower for my brother and my mom and I were able to sing together in church.  She has been such a blessing in my life:  a great example to me of a Godly wife and mother.  So many things about what I should be doing for others and for my family, I've learned from her.  I am so thankful for my Mama!  Anyway, we were talking about cooking and I told my parents that sometimes I find it hard to get motivated to cook for myself...okay, a lot of times!  Maybe that will change when I have more to cook for than just me!  However, I did find some individual cooking plates in my cabinet the other day and decided that I should use them. 

So, I pulled out one of my favorite things to make, frittata, and morphed it into an individual recipe!  To make this even easier, I chopped the zucchini into small pieces so that they would cook while the frittatas were cooking instead of having to cook them ahead of time. 

These ended up being great, healthy and springy dishes to have around.  They were so easy to just heat up and enjoy.  This is also an easy way to feed everyone the same meal but with different "insides."  If someone doesn't like zucchini, they could easily make theirs with the veggies (or meat) that they wanted.  So, pick your favorite fritatta recipe and split it between some individual dishes and cook away!   

Individual Frittatas 
1-2 zucchini, chopped  (more is better if you ask me!)
2 eggs 
1/2 cup egg whites 
1 cup milk 
sharp cheddar cheese  (this provides more flavor for a smaller amount)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place chopped zucchini in the 4 individual dishes.  In a bowl mix together the eggs, egg whites, milk, and seasonings.  Pour over the zucchini.  Sprinkle cheese on top of egg mixture in each dish.  Bake until done (about 20-30 minutes). Enjoy!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

New Toppings

And so begins a new month.  New month brings a new rotation, for me that is the NICU.  In celebration of this (HA!) I give you a new way to make blueberry pie.  I've always made the pie with a double crust.  However, when I went to my friend's house for Easter her husband said he liked crumb I decided to give that a try.  When I pulled it out of the oven it looked perfect! 

I was so excited and couldn't wait to cut into it to see how the inside did.  Well, I had to use frozen berries because the fresh berries were SOOO expensive.  Unfortunately, it created a bit of a soupy pie.  I'm sure it was from the frozen berries. 

The funny thing is that everyone at lunch thought is was the most set blueberry pie they'd seen!  My friend's husband thought it was the best part of lunch!  And the topping...delicious!  I got the recipe from here.  I used the filling recipe from my Papa's pie and the crust from my Granny.

1 cup sifted flour (usually use AP but accidentally used self rising and it worked well.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 T water
1/3 cup shortening

Sift flour and salt into bowl. Remove 1/4 cup flour and blend to a paste. Cut shortening into remaining flour until pieces are size of small peas. Add paste to flour mixture. Mix with fork until dough comes together and can be shaped into a ball (this is best done by putting a piece of saran wrap over the bowl, dumping it, and pressing the dough together.) Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Roll out crust to 1/8 inch thick to cover 9-inch pie pan

1 quart (4 cups) or a little more blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
3 T flour
2 T corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix dry ingredients. Fold in berries to coat. Place in deep dish pie crust.

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter

In a medium bowl, stir together the brown sugar, oats, flour and cinnamon. Mix in butter using a fork until crumbly. Spread the crumb topping evenly over the pie filling.  Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes.