Sunday, December 28, 2008


This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

Tartlette was on hand to help with this very challenging adventure.

The challenge rule was that we make all 6 of the log elements:
1. Dacquoise Biscuit
2. Mousse
3. Ganache Insert
4. Praline (Crisp) Insert
5. Creme Brulee Insert
6. Icing

You can check out the hosts' sites for the original recipes. I made a few changes, using some of my own recipes that I am more familiar with. I loved the hosts' chocolate mouse and icing recipes. I will be using them in the future.

I used a plastic mold that my salesperson from Chef's Warehouse gave me from Valrhona. It is specifically designed to make these types of entremets. I was looking forward to using it so this challenge could not have come at a better time.

Here is a close up of all the different elements.

Element #1
Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 min for baking
2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper.
Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.

2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

1. Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a food processor, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds)
2. Sift the flour into the mix.
3. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4. Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6. Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden. 8. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Element #2
Preparation time: 20 min
Stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.

2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3. In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.
5. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6. Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Element #3
Preparation time: 10mn
Pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.
Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
5 oz (135g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3 tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color.
2. While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
4. Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

Element #4
Preparation time: 10 min.
Glass bowl, microwave, sheetpan

5 Ounces White Chocolate
26 Ounces Praline Paste
17 1/2 Ounces Paillete Feuilletine or Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies

1. Melt white chocolate and praline paste in a glass bowl in the microwave until liquid.
2. Add the Paillete Feuilletine and mix with a spatula to incorporate.
3. Spread out on a full size sheetpan.
4. Refrigerate or freeze until needed.
5. Cut into the shape you need to fit your mold

Element #5
Preparation time: 15 min + 45 min baking
Saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, parchment paper, plastic wrap

1 Quart Heavy Cream
1 Vanilla Bean
8 Ounces Sugar
12 Egg Yolks
Pinch of Salt

1. Scrape the seeds from the Vanilla Bean.
2. Sprinkle 2 tablespoon of the sugar in the bottom of a heavy saucepan.
3. Pour the cream on top of the sugar and add the vanilla bean and seeds.
4. Bring the mixture to a boil then turn off the heat, cover and let steep 30 minutes. This will give off more vanilla flavor from the bean.
5. Whisk together the yolks, remaining sugar, and salt.
6. Bring the cream mixture back to the boil and temper it with the yolk mixture. Tempering means to slowly add the boiling mixture to the yolk mixture. If you do not do it slowly you can scramble your yolks.
7. When all the cream mixture is mixed with the yolk mixture strain it into a bowl.
8. You can bake it now but I like to refrigerate it overnight to bring out even more vanilla flavor.
9. When you are ready to bake the creme brule preheat your oven to 325 degrees and pour the mixture into the mold you have chosen. Set this mold onto a sheet pan.
10. Put it into the preheated oven and pour hot water onto the sheet pan. This is called a water bath and will allow your creme brule to bake slowly and avoid curdling.
11. Bake for about 30 - 40 minutes or until set. The mixture should wiggle just a little in the middle.
12. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
13. Cover and freeze overnight.
14. Cut into the shape you will need to fit your mold.

Element #6
Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)
Small bowl, small saucepan
Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.

2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Soften the gelatin in ice water for 15 minutes.
2. Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3. Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

How To Assemble your French Yule Log
Depending on whether your mold is going to hold the assembly upside down until you unmold it or right side up, this order will be different.
THIS IS FOR UNMOLDING FROM UPSIDE DOWN TO RIGHT SIDE UP. You will want to tap your mold gently on the countertop after each time you pipe mousse in to get rid of any air bubbles.
1) Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with rhodoid (clear hard plastic, I usually use transparencies cut to the desired shape, it’s easier to find than cellulose acetate which is what rhodoid translates to in English) OR plastic film. Rhodoid will give you a smoother shape but you may have a hard time using it depending on the kind of mold you’re using.
2. You can either have Dacquoise on the top and bottom of your log or you can have Dacquoise simply on the bottom of your log.
2a. Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there. If you are using an actual Yule mold which is in the shape of a half-pipe, you want the Dacquoise to cover the entire half-pipe portion of the mold.
3. Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4. Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
5. Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6. Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
7. Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8. Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9. Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight eidge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
10. Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.Freeze until the next day.

If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with ONE piece of Dacquoise on the BOTTOM ONLY the order is:
1) Mousse
2) Creme Brulee Insert
3) Mousse
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
5) Mousse
6) Ganache Insert
7) Dacquoise

THE NEXT DAY...Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan. Cover the cake with the icing. Let set. Return to the freezer. Decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc... Transfer to the refrigerator for about an hour before cutting.

Monday, December 08, 2008


The lady golfers had their annual Holiday Guest Golf Tournament and their theme was Reindeer. I made a chocolate cookie reindeer and a chocolate sleigh. On top of the sleigh sat an orange cake with a cranberry bavarian wrapped up with buttercream to look like a gift box. A little creme anglaise and a dusting of powdered sugar and of course the reindeer's red nose. Made 96 of them and the ladies loved them.
I am now officially in the Holiday Spirit.
3 Ounces Unsalted Butter (soft)
10 3/4 Ounces Sugar
Zest of 3 Oranges (use microplane)
11 1/4 Ounces Cake Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
6 Ounces Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/2 Tablespoons Orange Juice (from the oranges you got the zest from)
3 Large Eggs
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In the bowl of a 5 quart mixer beat the butter.
3. With your fingers rub the orange zest into the sugar.
4. Slowly add the sugar into the butter and mix for about 2 minutes.
5. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
6. In a measuring cut stir together the milk, vanilla and orange juice.
7. On low speed of the mixer add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet, ending with the dry.
8. Add the eggs one at a time and mix to incorporate. Do not overmix.
9. Pour the batter into a paper lined 1/2 sheetpan and bake for 18 - 20 minutes.

2 Cups Milk
10 Ounces Sugar
10 Egg Yolks
8 Gelatin Sheets
2 Cups Cranberry Puree or Juice
24 Ounces Heavy Cream
1. Soften Gelatin in ice water. Set aside.
2. Sprinkle a little of the sugar into the bottom of a saucepan and pour the milk over it. Bring to a boil.
3. Mix the remaining sugar into the yolks and temper the yolks and milk.
4. Cook the mixture to 180 degrees. Remove from heat and strain.
5. Add the gelatin and stir to melt it.
6. Add the puree or juice and stir over an ice bath until cool to the touch but not set.
7. Whip the cream to soft peak and incorporate it into the cranberry mixture.

To assemble the cake.
1. Cut the cake in half and fit it into a mold. Cut to fit.
2. Pour the bavarian cream over the cake.
3. Top with the remaining cake.
4. Freeze.
5. Cut into desired shapes and decorate.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


November's Daring Bakers challenge was Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting. The recipe is courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon, as published on Bay Area Bites. Our host this month was Dolores and her helpers were Alex, Jenny and Natalie. Thanks to all for your hard work hosting!!

It was a fun cake to make, with the many steps involved, but my honest take on it - It was way too sweet. I am known for my not so sweet desserts so upon tasting this one it was way over the top for me.

I just finished my challenge the night before posting as this has been a very busy month for me at work. I will be serving the cake to my fellow employees on posting day.

I followed the recipe exactly as written below. My only variation was to put a caramel sauce pattern on top of the cake. I also made two 9" round cakes and layered them together so I would have one tall cake.

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy. Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform. Sift flour and baking powder. Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan. Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber. When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month. To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


This tuxedo cake was for one of the member's at the country club where I work, 80th birthday. Men's cakes are always hard to decorate, usually they don't care about the decoration they just want to get into eating the cake. Probably no exception here, but I had fun decorating it to look like a tuxedo just the same.

I have also found that most men like chocolate the best and that is the main flavor of this cake. Chocolate cake, a layer of crunch, chocolate buttercream and espresso chocolate mousse.

I used fondant for all the decoration. I had pure black fondant but I added some white to it to make it a dark grey. The problem with black fondant is it can turn your teeth and tongue black. Great for Halloween but not at an elegant dinner party.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


We had a Cigar dinner at work tonight. The guests ate outside as it was a lovely evening, (still warm here in the desert). They were able to smoke their cigars outside and for those who didn't smoke, I didn't want them to feel left out so I made everyone a cigar for dessert. And of course they needed a pack of matches to light those cigars. The "matches" are made out of pastillage (sugar paste) and the "match cover" is made out of tuile cookie batter that I tinted with red and yellow food color. Here is my recipe for the

1 LB. 8 OZ. Semisweet or bittersweet Chocolate
4 Oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
3 Cups Heavy Cream
6 Egg Yolks
3 Whole Eggs
1 Oz. Sugar
1/3 Cup Honey
Melt the two chocolates together, set aside but keep warm.
Whip the heavy cream to soft peak, set aside.
Whip the egg yolks and whole eggs and sugar for about 3 minutes at high speed until light and fluffy.
Bring the honey to a boil and gradually pour it into the egg mixture while whipping. Continue whipping until cold,
Fold in the chocolate then quickly stir in the whipped cream.

Spread the mousse out on a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle Valrhona Crispy Pearls on top of it then roll it into a cylinder then freeze it. After freezing, cut it to size and dip one end in vermicelles. Then roll the whole cigar in Valrohna Cocoa Powder.

Make the cigar band out of tuille cookie batter.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


I made this dessert for a ladies luncheon at the country club. The "pot" is a chocolate cake with pistachio mousse and caramelized pistachios folded into it. The flower is a sugar cookie decorated with royal icing and a fondant center, stem and leaves. The grass is buttercream.
My inspiration for the mousse came from Aran. I followed her pistachio mousse recipe and also folded in some caramelized pistachios. It is delicious and if you can find pure pistachio paste use it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I received my copy of CONFETTI CAKES FOR KIDS today thanks to Tartelette. It has so many great ideas in it and wonderful pictures, recipes and tutorials. It is a must have book.

I feel so lucky to have won it and plan to use it alot this season for inspiration. Thanks again Helen for the opportunity. I really love it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


October's Daring Bakers Challenge - PIZZA. It was hosted by Rosa and what a fun challenge it was. The basic pizza dough recipe was taken from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart. Part of our assignment was to have a picture taken of us tossing the pizza. My pizza creation consisted of a bechemel sauce, caramelized onions, candied pecans, goat cheese, & poached pears. I also sprinkled it with a little finishing salt (fleur de sel) and red chilli peppers. It was so good you just have to try this recipe!!!

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.
Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches)
4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached High-Gluten (%14) Bread Flour or All Purpose Flour, chilled
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Instant yeast
(2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or Vegetable Oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C
1 Tablespoon Sugar
Bechamel Sauce
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Flour
1 Cup Milk
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Sweet Onion (1 cup thinly sliced)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Butter
1/4 Cup Pecan Halves
1 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Butter
2 Poached Pears or Canned Pears
Goat Cheese
Bechamel Sauce
Fleur de Sel
Red Chilli Peppers

Method For the Pizza Dough:
1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to three days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil (a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C). NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.*

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

*To Make the Sauce & Toppings
For the Bechamel Sauce
1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. As soon as the butter is melted whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in milk, and cook until sauce thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat. This will make about 1 cup of sauce and you will not need it all. Just use the amount you want and refrigerate the remaining for another use.

For the Toppings

In a 6" saute pan melt one tablespoon of the butter over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until translucent brown, stirring occasionally. Add 1 1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar and continue to cook and stir occasionally until the onions are a deep brown. Remove from heat and transfer the onions to a plate and set aside.

In the same saute pan melt the other one tablespoon of butter and add the pecans. Stir about 3 minutes then add the other 1 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar. Cook another 3 minutes then transfer to a plate and seperate the pecans so they are not touching each other. You will see that the pecans have a hard candy outer shell when they are cool

To assemble the toppings on the pizza:
Roll out the pizza dough as stated above and spread with a small amount of bechamel sauce. Sprinkle the caramelized onions over the sauce, then some of the goat cheese, all the sliced pears, pecans then more goat cheese.

Bake as directed above. Mine took about 10 minutes at 500 degrees on a pizza stone.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


My grandfather is turning 98 in a few days and there is nothing he likes more than to receive a package with my baked goods. So I am making this Caramel Corn for him along with the Banana Chocolate Bread and sending it off to him for his birthday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRAMPS and I can't wait to celebrate your 100th with you in 2 more years.

1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
3 1/2 Ounces Poppin Corn (good quality)
1/2 Tablespoon Fleur de Sel
4 Ounces Unsalted Peanuts (optional)
7 Ounces Golden Brown Sugar
4 1/4 Ounces Butter
5 3/4 Ounces Light Corn Syrup
1/8 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1. Put the corn oil and one kernel of corn in a large saucepot with a tight fitting lid.
2. Put over high heat and as soon as the one kernel pops add the remaining popping corn.
3. Shake the pot over high heat until all the kernels pop.
4. Sprindle salt and peanuts (if using) over the popped corn as you put it into a large bowl.
5. In a medium saucepot, combine the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and baking soda.
6. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved and comes to a boil.
7. Clip on a candy thermometer raise the heat to high and cook the mixture to 235 degrees F.
8. When temperature is reached remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
9. Pour the mixture over the pop corn and stir well to coat.
10. Turn out onto a silicon mat and put on a sheetpan.
11. Bake in a 250 degree F. convection oven for one hour stirring every 20 minutes.
12. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


I made this bread today as a test for a new breakfast item for work. There are always bananas left over in the restaurant. I have the cooks put them in the freezer for me unpeeled, so I can use them up and save on food cost. I found this recipe in Dorie Greenspans Baking From My Home to Yours. I made a few little changes in the method of putting all the ingredients together but other than that it is her recipe. It is moist and delicious. It will definately be a new offering on my breakfast buffets.

2 Ripe Bananas (mashed)
10 1/2 Ounces Unbleached All Purpose Flour
4 Ounces Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (Valrhona)
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Ounces Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
2 2/3 Ounces Sugar
3 1/2 Ounces Golden Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs
3/4 Cup Buttermilk
3 Ounces Mini Chocolate Chips
1. Heat front oven to 350 degrees. Put a thermometer in the oven to check for accuracy.
2. Put bananas in the bowl of a 5 qt. mixer and beat on slow speed to mash the bananas up. Set aside
3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
4. In the bowl of a 5 quart mixer with the paddle attachment beat the butter until softened.
5. Add the sugars and beat about 2 minutes.
6. Add the eggs one at a time and beat to incorporate. Scrape the bowl.
7. Mix the buttermilk and bananas together.
8. Add the flour mixture alternately with the banana mixture ending with the flour.
9. Stir in the chocolate chips.
10. Pour the mixture into a parchment lined and sprayed 5" x 9" Loaf Pan
11. Place the loaf pan on top of two sheetpans (for insulation) and bake for 30 minutes.
12. Open the oven and tent the top of the bread with heavy duty aluminum foil (to avoid over browning).
13. Bake for another 45 - 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
14. Let cool for 30 minutes then turn out to finish cooling.

Friday, October 03, 2008


I bought too many pears!!! and had to figure out some thing to do with all of them. I poached some so I have dessert at a moments notice. I also made this Pear Gingerbread Coffee Cake. It has all the flavors of fall and will be on my November offerings at the country club where I work. Here is the recipe:

For the Topping
1 1/2 Ounces Unsalted Butter
3 1/2 Ounces Golden Brown Sugar
1/2 Tablespoon Cinnamon
3 Large Pears (peeled, cored & thickly sliced lengthwise)

For the Cake
8 Ounces Unsalted Butter (room temp)
5 1/4 Ounces Golden Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Grated Ginger (peeled)
3 Large Eggs (room temp)
2/3 Cup Molasses
1 Pound All Purpose Unbleached Flour
1/2 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 Tablespoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
12 Liquid Ounces Buttermilk (room temp)
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Make sure it is accurate with an oven thermometer.
  2. Line a 9" x 3" baking pan with parchment paper, can also use a springform pan. Spray with release agent.
  3. Melt together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and pour into the prepared pan. Spread to completely coat the bottom of the pan.
  4. Place the thickly sliced pears in a circular pattern over the butter mixture. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a 5 quart mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter.
  6. Add the brown sugar and continue to cream for about 5 - 7 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. With a spatula scrape the sides.
  7. Add the ginger and mix to incorporate.
  8. Add the eggs one at a time, mix well, and scrape after each addition.
  9. Pour in the molasses and mix to incorporate. Mixture will look separated but this is OK. Scrape the bowl.
  10. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  11. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, ending with the flour. Mix only enough to bring the mixtures together and mix only on low speed.
  12. Pour the batter on top of the pears in the baking pan, smooth the surface.
  13. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  14. Let the cake rest for 20 minutes in the pan then invert it onto a cake plate. Serve slightly warm.
  15. You can microwave each piece of cake before serving it for 15 seconds just to warm it without any loss of quality.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


The Daring Bakers challenge this month was to make Lavash Crackers and create a dip/spread/salsa/relish to accompany it. Our host was Natalie and co-host Shel. Please check out their websites as well as the other Daring Bakers Sites to find a variety of ideas. Part of the challenge was to make them gluten free if we chose to. Mine are not gluten free. Soon I will experiment with gluten free but for now I made them with flour as I needed a new item for a bread basket at work this season.

I made Black & White Sesame Seed Lavash with Chili Dip. I also sprinkled Fleur de Sel and Cayenne Pepper on my Lavash.

The recipe for the basic lavash was from The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

The recipe for the Chili Dip was from a friend of mine Phillis Carey. She is a cooking teacher extraordinarie!!

The key to a crisp lavash, to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

1 1/2 Cups (6.75 oz) Unbleached Bread Flour
1/2 Teasppon (.13 oz) Salt
1/2 Teaspoon (.055 oz) Instant Yeast
1 Tablespoon (.75 oz) Sugar
1 Tablespoon (.5 oz) Vegetable Oil
3 to 4 Ounces Water (at room temperature)
White Sesame Seeds
Black Sesame Seeds
Fleur de Sel
Cayenne Pepper
1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, yeast, sugar, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball.

2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 20 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. If you have a pasta machine take small pieces of the dough and pass it through the machine, starting at 1 and stopping at 6. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of both black and white sesame seeds, fleur de sel and cayenne. Be careful with the cayenne and fleur de sel - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut 1 1/4" wide strips in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

6. Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

7. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.
3/4 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Chili Paste with Garlic
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Ginger
1 Tablespoon Sugar

In a small bowl combine all the ingredients, and whisk to blend well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight. Serve with crackers and/or vegetables.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Another recipe I got from the World Pastry Forum is this one from John Kraus from the French Pastry School.
I used some beautiful in season raspberries and some rose water that was given to me by Nielsen-Massey.
I have served it on scones and as an additional flavor element to plated desserts. Here is the recipe:
1100g Fresh Raspberries or IQF Raspberries
1000g Sugar
2g Sea Salt
20g Apple Pectin (Patisfrance)
1 Bourbon Vanilla Bean (seeds scraped out)
10g Rose Water
Combine raspberries, 900g sugar, sea salt and vanilla bean seeds and pod in a heavy duty saucepan and let set out covered over night.
The next day bring the mixture to a boil.
Mix 100g sugar and pectin together. Add to boiling mixture and stir to incorporate.
Add rose water and stir. Continue to boil for 3 more minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Put the cooled mixture in a storage container and keep it refrigerated.
Since it is not canned you should use it within a couple of weeks.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


I just returned from the World Pastry Forum in Nashville, Tennessee. It was 5 days of classes and 2 days of the International Pastry Competition. USA won Gold, Japan won Silver, and Switzerland won Bronze.
My first class was taught by Ciril Hitz and the first item I chose to recreate at home was Chocolate Danish Dough. I made the cinnamon rolls out of this dough. It is a three day process to develop the dough and the flavor but well worth the effort. The finished product is crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. The chocolate is complimented by cardamom in the dough and cinnamon sugar in the middle and outside of the rolls.
Croissants can also be made out of this dough and of course danish pastry.
Here is the original recipe with the ingredients I used next to each item. I halved this recipe so that it would fit in a 6 quart mixer. One word of caution: watch your mixer carefully so it doesn't get too hot. This is a very stiff dough and I would suggest removing it from the mixer after the first slow clean up stage and finish kneading it by hand.* This recipe was originally designed to be mixed in a professional 20 quart mixer.

Chocolate Danish Dough
Bread Flour 1600g (3 lb. 8.43 oz.) I used Unbleached Bread Flour King Arthur
Cocoa Powder 100g (3.5 oz.) I used Valrhona
Milk, whole 850g (1 lb. 13.9 oz.)
Eggs, whole 200g (7 oz.)
Granulated Sugar 200g (7 oz.)
Salt 32g (1.12 oz) I used Kosher
Yeast, instant 20g (1.76 oz) I used active dry yeast
Cardamom, ground 1 to 2g (.03 oz)
Unsalted Butter, 83% butterfat 44g (1.55 oz.) I used Plugra

Day 1:
1. Place all of the above ingredients in a 20 quart bowl. Mix on first speed until clean up stage (when the sides of the mixing bowl are clean, about 4 minutes).
2. *Start mixing dough on speed 2 for additional 30 seconds.
3. Cover so no crust forms on the dough and allow 2 hours for fermentation at room temperature.
4. Place dough in a rectangular shape on a parchment lined sheet pan, cover in plastic, and place in refrigerator overnight.
5. Prepare butter block.

Butter Block
Unsalted Butter, 83% butterfat 770g (1 lb. 11.15 oz.) I used Plugra
Vanilla Bean 1 each

Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds.
Using a paddle attachment, combine vanilla bean seeds and butter in a mixer.
Create a butter block for lamination using parchment paper packet and place in refrigerator overnight.

Day 2:
1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place dough in freezer for 30 minutes.
2. Remove butter block from refrigerator and, using a rolling pin, work the butter to a pliable, playdough-like consistency. The butter block and the dough need to be the same consistency.
3. Remove dough from the freezer and roll out to 1/4" thickness.
4. Roll in the butter block and give two tri-folds right away.
5. Cover and place dough into freezer to rest for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove from freezer and give an additional tri-fold.
6. Cover and place dough in the freezer for another 30 minutes.
7. Remove dough from freezer and place into the refrigerator overnight.

Day 3:
1. Remove dough from the refrigerator and place into the freezer for 30 - 40 minutes.
2. Remove the dough from the freezer and roll out to 1/8".
3. Spray with a little water and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture.
4. Roll into a log and cut into desired size pieces and place into sprayed muffin tins.
5. Cover and let rise 2 1/2 hours.
6. Bake in a 350 - 360 degree F. convection oven for about 15 - 18 minutes.
7. Roll in cinnamon and sugar. Let cool and enjoy.

To reheat these rolls the next day just put them in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes. They crisp up perfectly.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


The August Daring Baker's challenge was Chocolate Eclairs. It was hosted by MeetaK and Tony Tahhan and the recipe was taken from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme.

All we had to do was follow Pierre's recipe for Pate a Choux and use one chocolate element in or on the eclairs. The suggested filling was Pierre's Chocolate Pastry Cream and let me tell you it is delicious!!

Because I make Eclairs all the time for buffets, I wanted to make them for this challenge but I also wanted to challenge myself to come up with another "play on the traditional eclair". So I decided upon a "Deconstructed Eclair" and served it as a plated dessert.

Here is the procedure for making the Eclairs:

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

½ cup (125g) whole milk
½ cup (125g) water
1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature

In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil.

Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to.

You need to continue to stir for another 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.

Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your
hand mixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be piped out onto a parchment lined sheet pan.

You can pipe any size eclairs but try to make them all uniform in size so they bake evenly. I like to make them about 3" - 4" in length and 3/4" - 1" in diameter.

To make the pate a choux grids for the plated dessert, draw the grid lines on a piece of parchment paper. Turn it over and place it on a sheet pan. With a small piping tip #3 or #4 pipe the choux paste onto the parchment following the lines into the size you want. For the circles, pipe the grid lines then pipe a circle of choux paste around the outside of them.

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
2) You can pipe the dough and then freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

When ready to bake put them in a preheated 400 degree oven and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 and cook another 5 minutes or until they are nicely browned and puffed and almost hollow on the inside. Remove them from the oven and let them cool before filling.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé

2 Cups Whole Milk
4 Large Egg Yolks
6 Tablespoons Sugar
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch (sifted)
7 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate (Melted) (preferably Valrhona Guanaja)
1¼ Ounces Unsalted Butter (room temperature)

In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a bowl.

Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a small amount of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stopping) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat). Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments making sure to completely melt each addition. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.
3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

When ready to fill the eclairs, put the cream in a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Make a hole in the side of the eclair and pipe in the cream. Refrigerate the eclairs before putting the ganache on the top.

Ganache Glaze
6 Ounces Semisweet or Bittersweet Chocolate (good quality)
6 Ounces Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Light Corn Syrup

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put into a bowl. Bring to a boil the cream and corn syrup. Pour over the chocolate. Let sit for one minute then stir with a whisk to mix and melt all the chocolate. Stir gently so as not to create any air bubbles. Set aside to cool to 90 degrees F before dipping the tops of the eclairs in it.

Stripe the Eclairs with melted white chocolate.

If you make the deconstructed eclairs plate them by putting the first grid down on the plate. Pipe a nice size rosette of the pastry cream on top of it. Place another grid on the cream and pipe another rosette. Place another grid on that cream and pipe a small rosette on top of it. Put a mint leaf and decoration on top. Decorate the plate with thinned down chocolate ganache or chocolate sauce.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I recently had a request from a friend to post my creme brule recipe. So here it is for you Linda and don't forget the water bath.

Makes 6 dishes of creme brule in 4 - 6 ounce ramekins

2 Cups Heavy Cream
1/2 Small Vanilla Bean
4 Ounces Sugar
6 Egg Yolks
Pinch of Salt

Scrape the seeds from the Vanilla Bean.
Sprinkle a tablespoon of the sugar in the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Pour the cream on top of the sugar and add the vanilla bean and seeds. Bring the mixture to a boil then turn off the heat, cover and let steep 30 minutes. This will give off more vanilla flavor from the bean.

When the mixture is almost ready whisk together the yolks, remaining sugar, and salt. Bring the cream mixture back to the boil and temper it with the yolk mixture. Tempering means to slowly add the boiling mixture to the yolk mixture. If you do not do it slowly you can scramble your yolks. When all the cream mixture is mixed with the yolk mixture strain it into a bowl.
You can bake it now but I like to refrigerate it overnight to bring out even more vanilla flavor.

When you are ready to bake the creme brule preheat your oven to 325 degrees and pour the mixture into ramekins and set them on a half sheet pan. Put them into the preheated oven and pour hot water onto the sheet pan so that the water comes up to the middle of the ramekins. This is called a water bath and will allow your creme brule to bake slowly and avoid curdling. Bake them for about 30 - 40 minutes or until they are set. They should wiggle just a little in the middle. Remove from the oven and let them cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, sprinkle granulated sugar directly on the custard and burn with a blow torch. Let it cool before serving.

I serve them with assorted cookies. You can also add 1/4 Cup of Liquor to the mix before you bake it. I like to use Baily's Irish Cream. YUM!

Friday, August 08, 2008


I got this basic recipe from Ina Garten. I made a few adjustments so it isn't her original recipe but I wanted to give her credit as I started with her recipe. If you want a very flavorful lemon tea cake this is it. I have a real weakness for lemon and this one satisfies all my cravings. In fact I am eating a piece of it right now and it is pure lemon heaven. OK, I licked my fingers, had a sip of coffee and now I am ready to share the recipe with you.

8 Ounces Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1/3 Cup Lemon Zest (use a microplane for fine zest)
4 Large Eggs (room temperature)
3 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Four
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed and strained)
3/4 Cup Buttermilk (room temperature)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

For the Syrup
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed and strained)

For the Frosting
2 Cups Powdered Sugar (sifted)
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed and strained)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line with parchment paper two 8 1/2" X 4 1/2" loaf pans.

Put the 2 cups sugar and the lemon zest in a bowl and rub it between your fingers to release all the lemon oil into the sugar.
Cream the butter and the 2 cups lemon-sugar in the bowl of a 5 quart stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, scraping a couple of times. Add the eggs one at a time and beat to incorporate.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine the 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter between the pans. There was about 1 pound 9 ounces batter per pan.

Bake for 45 minutes to one hour or until a toothpick comes out clean when checking. Do not overbake.

While the tea cake is baking combine the 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until the syrup thickens slightly. Set aside to cool.

When the tea cakes are done remove them from the oven and let them cool for about 15 minutes before inverting them. Poke holes in the bottom of the tea cakes with a thin skewer, then ladel the syrup over the holes to soak in a little. Turn the tea cakes over and ladel the remaining syrup over the tops of the tea cakes. Let cool completely before frosting them.

While the tea cakes are cooling make the frosting. Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice to make a smooth but slightly loose frosting. Pour over the cooled cakes and let sit at room temperature for the frosting to crust over.

These can be served right away or wrapped well and refrigerated. I like to eat the cake slightly chilled but it is also good at room temperature.

Great with coffee in the morning or tea in the afternoon. My husband likes it with vanilla ice cream. YUM!!

Saturday, August 02, 2008


OK, it is time for a super easy recipe. I made these yesterday
so I could put them in my husband's lunch. I had not made them in a long time and upon tasting one I was reminded of how good the old fashioned cookies are. I also have to admit, I like eating the dough before it is cooked. Come on, don't laugh, I bet you like cookie dough too!!

OATMEAL COOKIES (makes about 20 - 2 ounce cookies)

2 Cups Old Fashioned Oats (toasted)
1 1/2 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Ground Allspice
1/8 Tsp. Ground Cloves
3 Ounces Unsalted Butter (room temp)
3 Ounces Crisco
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 Cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs (room temperature)
1 Tsp. Vanilla extract
1 Cup Raisins, or Chocolate Chips, or White Chocolate Chips, or Dried Cranberries, or Dried Apricots, etc. or a combination of two or three
1/2 Cup Walnuts (toasted and chopped)

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Put the oats on a sheetpan and toast them, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together the flour, soda, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Beat butter, crisco and both sugars until light and fluffy.
Add eggs and vanilla, beating to combine.
Add dry ingredients and beat until just blended.
Add the cooled oats, nuts, and raisins. Mix to combine.

Chill the dough for about an hour or overnight.
Shape into 2 ounce balls and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes rotating once during baking.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


July's Daring Bakers Challenge was hosted by Chris. The recipies came from Carole Walter's book Great Cakes. The cake was delicous, my husband devoured it!!

As a professional pastry chef I buy already skinned hazelnuts, hazelnut flour, and praline paste ready to use, but as a DARING BAKER I wanted to make this cake like everyone else "the hard way"!! So here is my procedure:

First of all a filbert is a hazelnut and you need to skin those babies!! This is not an easy task, it is time consuming, but someone has to do it to make this cake.

Take a pound of hazelnuts and roast them in the oven at 275 degrees for about 30 minutes. Take them out of the oven and put them in a clean towel. Roll them back and forth to rub as much of the skins off as you can. Mine did not come off well so I took 1 1/2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda and brought it to a boil. I threw the roasted hazelnuts into it and boiled them for one minute. Drain and rinse them, then back into the towel and rub rub rub until all the skins come off. Some of the skin will still have to be rubbed of by hand. Put them back into the oven at 275 degrees for another 10 minutes to dry out. Let them cool completely before using. WooHoo your ready to make your cake.

The bowl of hazelnuts on the left are the ones I rubbed the skins off of right out of the oven. Out of a pound of them that was my yield. The bowl on the right are the hazelnuts I boiled in the baking soda water and then roasted. This procedure was much faster and less time consuming.

For the Filbert Genoise
1 1/2 Cups Hazelnuts (toasted & skinned) (If using hazelnut flour you will need 2 1/3 Cups minus 1 Tablespoon of it)
2/3 Cup Cake Flour (unsifted)
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
7 Large Egg Yolks
1 Cup Sugar (divided 1/4 & 3/4 Cups
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Zest (grated)
5 Large Egg Whites
1/4 Cup Warm Clarified Butter (100-110 degrees)

Grease, flour and line with parchment paper a 9" round cake pan. Set aside.

In a food processor, process the nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch until you have a fine powder. Pass this mixture through a tripple mesh strainer and toss any large pieces of nuts. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of a 5 quart stand mixer and using the whip attachment whip for 3 - 4 minutes. Rub the lemon zest into the 3/4 cup of sugar and slowly add this sugar, one tablespoon at a time, taking 3 minutes for this step. Add the vanilla and continue to whip until the mixture makes a ribbon.

Put the egg whites in another bowl and with the whisk attachment beat on medium speed to soft peaks. Increase to medium high and slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar taking 15 - 20 seconds. Continue to beat for another 30 seconds. Add the yolk mixture and whisk for 1 minute.

Start folding by hand with a spatula the sifted nut mixture into the yolk mixture, 1/4 cup at a time. Be careful with your folding so as not to deflate the mixture. Once you have all the nut flour folded in take out 1/2 cup of it and mix it with the clarified butter. Fold the butter mixture into the batter and immediately turn it out in the prepared 9" cake pan.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until the cake is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan.

Let it cool for 5 minutes then invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

Sugar Syrup
1 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Chambord Liquor

In a small saucepan bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liquor. Let cool to room temperature before brushing onto the cake layers.

Praline Paste
1 Cup Hazelnuts (skinned and toasted)
2/3 Cup Sugar

Put the sugar in a heavy 10" skillet. Heat on low flame until the sugar melts and turns caramel in color. Do not stir the mixture. Wash down sugar crystals if they form. Swirl the pan to achieve even caramelization. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts. Return to the heat and stir until the mixture bubbles and the nuts are evenly coated with the caramel. Turn out onto a silpat or lightly greased parchment paper. Let the mixture cool completely then break up into pieces. Put the pieces in a food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes a paste. Store in an airtight container and store in a cool dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Swiss Buttercream
4 Large Egg Whites
3/4 Cup Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 1/2 Cups (12 Ounces) Unsalted Butter
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Place the egg whites, sugar, and salt in the 5 qt bowl of a stand mixer. Put the bowl over a bain marie and then heat the mixture to 141 degrees. Put the bowl on the mixer and with the whisk attachment beat it at high speed until it is thick and cool. It will look like whipped marshmallows.

Place the butter and vanilla in another bowl and with the paddle attachment cream the butter.

With the mixer on low speed slowly add the butter mixture to the egg white mixture. When all the butter has been incorporated turn the speed to high and beat for one minute.

Praline Buttercream
1 Recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 Cup Praline Paste

Blend 1/2 Cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on medium speed to combine.

Red Currant & Raspberry Jelly

Abour 4 Tablespoons
Or any other jam or jelly of your choice.

Ganache Glaze

6 Ounces Semisweet or Bittersweet Chocolate (good quality)
6 Ounces Heavy Cream
1 Tablespon Light Corn Syrup

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put into a bowl. Bring to a boil the cream and corn syrup. Pour over chocolate. Let sit for one minute then stir with a whisk to mix and melt all the chocolate. Stir gently so as not to create any air bubbles. Set aside to cool to 90 degrees F before glazing the cake.

Assembling the Cake
Divide the cake into 3 layers. Put the bottom layer on a cake circle and brush it with the Chambord Sugar Syrup. Spread on a thin layer of the red currant & raspberry jelly. Spread on a 3/8" thick layer of praline buttercream. Continue with the next layer in the same manner and the final layer of cake just brush with the syrup. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to harden the buttercream.

Take the cake out of the refrigerator and trim the sides of the cake to make the sides as straight as possible. Frost with a thin layer of praline buttercream. Return the cake to the refrigerator and chill the cake at least 30 minutes.

Put the cake on a glazing rack and pour the 90 degree F ganache over it making sure the sides are completely covered. Let sit at room temperature for a couple of hours before decorating.

I decorated mine with a #104 rose tip.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


This man has been my friend and mentor for 9 years. We worked together 12 hours a day 6 days a week and shared so much over this time. I was looking forward to working with him for the rest of my career. We talked many times about how we would be friends forever even after we retired. But he passed away yesterday and I am saddened from the bottom of my heart. He was a great executive chef and a very special man. My heart goes out to his wife, all of his brothers and the rest of their family. I will miss him so much. I love you Bob!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


No, I didn't get to meet Francois Payard but I did get to go to his new pastry shop at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

I bought some Red Currant & Raspberry Jelly and some Macarons and we ate breakfast at his restaurant which is next door to the pastry shop.

In the center of the dining room, which only has about 20 tables, is the cook above and his ovens and grill etc. where he makes your breakfast. Beautiful breads and pastries are displayed here as well as in the shop. Gellato too!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


My husband buys Cobblestones from Panera Bakery quite frequently. When he brings them home I tell him they are very similar to monkey bread. What is monkey bread he asks? So today I made it while he was at work.

This recipe is adapted from the King Arthur Flour Cookbook.

2 Large Eggs
Warm Water (to make 2 cups)
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
2 Tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
1/2 Cup Non-fat Dry Milk
2 Ounces Unsalted Butter (softened)
5 1/2 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour (may need a little more depending on humidity)
1 Tablespoon Salt

1 Cup Golden Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
4 Ounces Butter
1/2 Cup Raisins
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
Pinch of Salt

To Make the Dough
Break the eggs into a two cup measure and add enough hot water to make two cups. Pour into the mixing bowl of a 5 quart stand mixer and whisk. Add 1 Tablespoon of the brown sugar and whisk to dissolve. Add the yeast and whisk to dissolve. Whisk in the dry milk, the remaining brown sugar, and the butter.

Put the bowl onto the mixer and attach the paddle attachment. Add one cup of the flour and mix to combine. Add another cup of flour and the salt and mix to combine. Switch to the dough hook and continue adding flour 1 cup at a time until you have 5 cups added. Knead with the dough hook about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle some of the remaining flour onto the work counter and turn the dough out onto it. Knead by hand, only adding flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface. Continue to knead until the dough is smooth and silky. Put into a buttered bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Meanwhile, grease or spray a tube pan or bundt pan. Set aside.

To Make the Glaze
Put the Butter, Cinnamon, Salt, Raisins, Brown Sugar, and Maple Syrup into a saucepan. Over low heat cook and stir constantly to melt the butter and combine the ingredients. (You do not want to melt the sugar.) Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

When the dough has doubled punch it down. Cut off 1 inch pieces and roll into round balls. Dip into the glaze mixture and put into the prepared pan. If there is any leftover glaze pour it over the monkey bread. Cover the pan with plastic and let rise about an hour.

Bake the bread at 350 degrees for 15 minutes then turn down the heat to 325 and cook for another 15 minutes. Turn out onto a platter.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


I had some over ripe bananas that were smelling so sweet I decided to make banana bread. This is a staple at work as we always have extra ripe bananas on hand and to help with the food cost I make as many items as I can out of them. I am at home now for the summer so this banana bread is just for my husband and myself. Yum, I can't wait until it cools off.

4 ounces Butter
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/4 Cups Mashed Ripe Bananas
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Walnuts
Cream together sugar and butter in a 5 quart mixer. Add eggs and vanilla. Sift all dry ingredients together. Mix buttermilk and banana together, add alternately with dry ingredients. Stir in walnuts.
Put into paper lined loaf pan and bake at 350 deg. About 1 hour.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Our June Daring Bakers challenge is to make a Danish Braid and is hosted by Kelly and Ben. Danish is a laminated dough with the addition of yeast. We used the recipe from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. I decided to use peaches again (just can't resist them this time of year) and blackberries. I also spread a little confectioners cream on the danish before I put the peaches and blackberries in. I followed the instructions as they were written but as I was rolling out my dough I realized there was too much flour in this recipe and it was over worked as there was a lot of gluten development from the long kneading process which is not desirable in a danish. I proceded with the recipe and it turned out OK but was not as light and flakey as it should be. The peach and blackberry filling was amazing.

I decided to make it again using the same recipe but using less flour and just a short kneading time to smooth out the dough. I whisked by hand the milk, yeast, sugar, zest, cardamom, eggs, orange juice and vanilla's. I made a caramelized apple filling (recipe below) just to try another filling. The adjustments in the flour and mixing process made a huge difference and the danish was light and perfect.

Here is my recipe with the changes I made. You can read the original recipe on either of the hosts blog.

(Makes enough for 2 braids) (2 1/2 pounds of dough)

IngredientsFor the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (may need more flour if you are in a humid area)
1 teaspoon salt
Ingredients for the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a 5 quart mixer and whisk by hand to incorporate. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and whisk by hand to blend all the ingredients. Put on the dough hook and add 1 cup of the flour. Mix to incorporate all the flour, put another cup of flour and mix again. Add the salt and as much of the remaining flour to make a smooth dough but still slightly tacky. Knead the dough for about 2 minutes, or until smooth. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 - 45 minutes.
4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

1/2 recipe Danish Dough
2 cups Filling,
For the egg wash
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3. Spoon the fillings (see below) you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom "flaps", fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom "flap" up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash:
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (375 degrees for convection oven) Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (325 degrees for convection oven), and bake about 5-15 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

For the fillings:
3 pints of Fresh Blackberries
1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

Toss the blackberries and sugar together in a microwave safe bowl. Cook on full power in the microwave for 10 minutes, stir and cook 8 minutes more. Add the lemon juice, stir then set aside to cool and thicken. Refrigerate.

4 Cups sliced Fresh Peaches
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

Repeat the above procedure with the peaches.

Confectioners Cream
1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1 Large Egg Yolk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

In a microwave safe bowl whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Add the cream while whisking to incorporate. Cook in the microwave for 1 minute, stir and cook for 2 minute more or until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Whisk together the egg yolk and vanilla then temper with the cream mixture. Return to the microwave and cook for 30 seconds more. Whisk, then transfer to a storage container and put plastic directly on the surface of the cream.

Apple Filling

4 Granny Smith Apples
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Golden Brown Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
Juice of one small lemon (strained)
2 Ounces Butter

Peel, core and cut the apples in 1/4" slices. Mix the remaining ingredients, except the butter, and pour over the apples. Toss to evenly coat.

Put the butter in a saute pan and melt completely. Add the apple mixture and saute to caramelize the apples. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Use as a filling for the braid or as a filling for danish pastries.

Rasins or dried cranberries can also be added to this apple mixture after cooking.