Friday, March 27, 2015

Tart Tatin

It has been really hard to do Daring Baker Challenges since Caleb was born.  But this month, I had the perfect opportunity.  We had a dinner party and I wanted to offer a couple of desserts.  I made strawberry pie because we had someone over who is allergic to peanuts, milk, and eggs - my strawberry pie is free of all that!  Then, I decided to make this month's challenge in a gluten free style. 
For the March Daring bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She  challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.  I went with the apple version because David really likes apple pie.  He said he like it but we both though that the apples were too mushy.  I cooked them in the pan until they started to get soft and, I think, I should have probably cooked them about five minutes less.  Also, my apples were really large, so I had some difficulty in using quarters as the recipe instructs, but I made it work.

The dough was actually really fun to work with.  Gluten free doughs are often crumbly and just don't do well.  However, this one actually did improve in "feel" with each turn of the dough. 
I felt that the caramel ended up tasting burned but I had to keep cooking it as it was separated for a while.  Another mishap - I burned my finger.  Smart one here decided to taste the caramel...directly off the whisk.  I allowed it to drip on my finger so I could taste and...hsssss...finger was burnt!  It hurt and STILL has bumps from it.  All in all, it was a fun challenge.  I think David probably prefers my regular apple pie but it was fun to try something different.

Recipe 1: Rough Puff Pastry

Servings: one single pastry crust

1 cup (250 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour (or gluten free AP flour mix)
2/3 cup (160 ml) (5 oz) (140 gm) unsalted butter, cold
¼ tsp fine salt
¼ cup (60 ml) ice cold water

In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. With a pastry blender (or two table knives) cut in the butter until the mixture in crumbly but even, with pea-sized pieces of butter. Make a well in the middle and pour in the ice cold water. Toss the flour/butter and water together with a fork until the dough starts to clump together.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface – don’t worry if there are still pockets of dry flour. Gently knead and squeeze the mixture a few times just enough to bring it together into a square (a bench scraper is helpful for this). Be careful not to overwork the dough: there should be visible bits of butter and it should still look very rough.

Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10” (25 cm) long. Fold the bottom third of the dough up into the middle, and fold the top third down, like you are folding a letter. This is one fold. Turn the dough a one quarter turn so that one of the open edges is facing you, and roll out again into a 10” (25 cm) rectangle. Fold again - this is the second fold. Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times, for 5 folds total. Your dough will get smoother and neater looking with each fold (the pictures show the first and fifth folds).

If your kitchen is very warm and the dough gets too soft/sticky to do all the folds at once, chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes between folds. After the fifth fold, use your rolling pin to tap the dough into a neat square. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for a least 1 hour, or overnight.

Recipe 2: Tarte Tatin

Servings: 8-10

6 large or 7-8 medium-sized apples (see “Notes” above for the best type of apple for this dish)
Juice of half a lemon
6 tablespoons (90 ml) (3 oz) (85 gm) unsalted butter (or use salted and skip the salt)
1-1/3 cups (320 ml) (9½ oz) (265 gm) granulated sugar, divided
pinch salt
Rough Puff Pastry, above

Peel the apples and cut them into quarters. Remove the cores in such a way that each apple quarter has a flat inner side: when placed rounded-side-up, it should sit on a flat base. Place the apples in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup (80 ml) (2-1/2 oz) (65 gm) sugar. This will help draw out some of the moisture from the apples and prevent an overly runny caramel. Set aside for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to moderately hot 375˚F/190°C/gas mark 5. Melt the butter in a very heavy, 9” or 10” (23 cm or 24 cm) oven-proof saucepan over medium heat, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup (240 ml) (7 oz) (200 gm) sugar. Stir with a whisk until the sugar melts and becomes a pale, smooth caramel. The sugar will seem dry and chunky at first, then will start to melt and smooth out. If the butter appears to separate out from the caramel, just keep whisking until it is a cohesive sauce. Remove from the heat.

Discard the liquid that has come out of the apples, then add the apple quarters to the caramel, round side down. They won’t all fit in a single layer at first, but as they cook they will shrink a bit. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, pressing down gently on the apples with a spoon to cover them in the caramel liquid. Move the apples around the pan gently so that they all cook evenly, trying to keep them round side down. When the apples have shrunk enough to mostly fit in a single layer and are starting to soften but still keep their shape, remove the pan from the heat.

With a wooden spoon, arrange the apples, round side down, in a single layer of concentric circles covering the bottom of the pan. Set aside until the filling stops steaming before covering with pastry.

Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, and trim it into a circle about 1” (25 mm) in diameter larger than your saucepan. Lay it over the filling, tucking in the edges between the apples and the sides of the pan, and cut a few steam vents in the pastry. Place the saucepan on a rimmed baking sheet (just in case the filling decides to bubble over the sides) and place in the preheated moderately hot 375˚F/190°C/gas mark 5 oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, increasing the oven temperature to moderately hot 400˚F/200°C/gas mark 6 during the last 5 – 10 minutes of baking if the pastry isn’t browning properly.

Remove from the oven and let sit just until the caramel stops bubbling. Immediately place a serving platter (slightly larger in diameter than the saucepan) over the pastry. Wearing oven mitts, grab hold of the saucepan and platter and quickly invert everything to unmold the Tatin onto the platter. If any of the apples stick to the pan or come out of place, rearrange them with a spatula. The tarte Tatin can be served warm from the oven or at room temperature. Suggested accompaniments include vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or crème fraîche.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

5 Months

WARNING - Picture heavy post!

Caleb turned 5 months old last Friday.  He is such a fun and happy baby.
We have been incredibly blessed.  This month he has discovered his feet. 
He really loves them and will put them in his mouth any chance he gets.  He has finally figured out some of the toys on his jumper.  He will also stay in the jumper for a while, which enables me to get some things done!
He tends to use his left hand when he spins the toys.  Though I know that babies aren't handed at this point, it's fun to think he might be left handed!

We have been able to leave him a little more in the nursery at church.  He knows the workers there and they are figuring him out, too!

We went to the Children's Museum
just before he turned 5 months and he really showed out by climbing the wall.
He is still exclusively breastmilk fed.  He takes bottles at daycare but has spaced out his feeds to 3-3.5 hours and is must more consistent in his schedule.  We haven't started feeding him solids yet; though, I do wonder how he would do.  We'll probably wait until he is 6 months old.  I feel like he's grown a good bit over the past month.  At his last doctor's appointment, he was 25.5 inches long (65%) with his head a good 85%.

 He's still skinny but he doesn't look it.  He weighed 13.5 pounds at 4 months and is between 15-15.5 now, which is around 15-20%ile.

Due to this growth, he is about to outgrow his bassinet. 
This makes me really sad.  It also makes me sad that he seems to be teething.  I'm going to seriously miss this toothless grin! 

He still doesn't like tummy time that much but he is getting much better at it. 
Again, he hasn't rolled over yet but is so close.  He just needs to get over that arm and he'll be a rolling machine.  He enjoys his bumbo and really wants to sit up but just doesn't quite have the stability or strength to do it on his own yet.

He talks ALL. THE. TIME.  I think we may end up having two talkers on our hands.  And I think that he and Kate are going to be GREAT friends!
We've also discovered that he really likes to be read to.  He just looks and listens and smiles.  The other day, I read him The Little Blue Truck and he just laughed and laughed when I got to the page with all the animal sounds.   I can't wait to read more and more to him.
He still typically wakes up once a night, though over the past couple of weeks it seems that he's been waking up more than that.  We may try to transition him to his crib over spring break (I said we were going to but now I'm not sure if I'm ready yet) but we shall see. 
He has started to get on much more of a schedule the past week or so.  Around 7-730, his little eyes start to get heavy and he gets fussy.  If I hold him in a cradled position he almost immediately falls asleep.  He still sleeps swaddled and does great with that.
This month is going to go by so quickly.  I'm trying to soak it all in but time just seems to go faster and faster.