Thursday, October 6, 2016

Matcha Short Bread

Short Bread Matcha Cookie

1 cup butter, room temperature
0.5 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons matcha tea powder
.25 cup cornstarch
1.5 cup white flour
.25 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven 350 degrees. In a stand mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer cream the butter, and powdered sugar. Add the tea powder. Once combined add the cornstarch, flour and salt. Start with a light touch and low speed because the ingredients are easily going to fly. It will seem as if the ingredients are dry and powdery for longer than it should, but stick with it. As the butter warms up the crumb gets moister. Stop mixing when you can form a pinch of the dough into a ball easily.

Refrigerate 30 minutes. Roll and cut into squares. They spread a little. Bake at 330 (weird I know) until the cookie just looks dry. Avoid getting color on the bottom of the cookie. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

German Plum Cake aka Zweschgendatschi

This is the foundation of the flat German cake I grew up making. My stepmother Gisela taught me this. She's been gone over 20 years but I think about her every time I make a kuchen in this style. 
You can use plums, apples, peaches, blueberries...they all work. You can put a crumb top on it too. But fundamentally the recipe is:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
.25 tsp salt
1 stick, 4 ounces butter-melted
2 eggs  
1 cup sugar 
3 pounds of fruit. A little less for berries because they don't have cores or stones.
3 tablespoons sugar or crumble topping. (Look that up later)

350 oven 
In a stand mixer combine flour, baking powder and salt. Mix. Dump in everything else but the fruit. Mix til well combined maybe 2 minutes. It will be soft. Press into a well oiled 14x17 inch pan (or go with a smaller pan for a thicker crust. Arrange the fruit neatly and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 40-60 minutes, depending on how juicy your fruit is. Look for the dough between the fruit to be dry(ish) or for it not to stick to your finger when you touch it. Cool. This cake is typically better 12 to 24 hours after it has been made. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016


Apricot filled swirls and plain sugary crowns.

I want to admit here and now I make many baking mistakes. This one I crossed referenced two recipes and forgot the salt. It makes a difference not only in taste but structure. I also over proofed the pastry because I was in a rush. Shame on me. This is The Daring Kitchen's April challenge. 

Maybe another day I'll try these again. 

The basic recipe that will work is: 
300g/10 1/2 oz / 2 2/5 cups strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting
5g / 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast OR 6.75g / 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
5g / 1 tsp salt
200ml / 6 3/4 fl oz / 4/5 cup warm water
25g / 1oz / 1 3/4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
250g / 9oz / 1 1/5 sticks / 1 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, in a block
100g / 3 1/2 oz / scant 1/2 cup caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
Egg wash

Make a bread dough with the flour, yeast, salt, water and melted 1.75 tablespoon of butter. 

On the second rise laminate the buttering into the dough. (Yes, I'm assuming you know what that means, but generally because I'm talking to myself.) 

Turn the dough a total of three times. Resting an hour after each turn. 

On the final round sprinkle a ton of sugar on the dough, give it a turn and cut it. Don't let it rest with the sugar in the dough or it will seep and ruin and the lamination. 

Cut into squares, collect the corners and put the pastry into sprayed muffin tin. 

If you are making a swirl, spread a cup of apricot preserves over the dough, roll into spins, put those in a muffin tin. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle more sugar on top. Rise 30-90 minutes, until the pastry is ready for the oven. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the pan while hot or they will stick. 

Gateau Basque

In an attempt to expand my horizons I've been looking at classic cake recipes trying to figure which are within my abilities. I came across the Gateau Basque and thought it seemed just the ticket. 

It's rather a cookie dough (ish) with almond flour cake filled with cooked pastry cream and cherries. Or just cherries or just pastry cream. I'm a sucker for pastry cream. I don't have a favorite recipe for one, so I do as I generally find them written but this one I had to improvise upon because I was short on corn starch. You have the recipe I actually made below. Lesson learned:check your pantry before starting a recipe! 

Here's the big momma cake, the diamond pattern in the crust is a thing.
The filling to crust ratio is perfect, if you like pastry cream, which I do! 

I want to say this recipe is not my typical in that you make more dough than what you need for the recipe. It's sloppy to do things that way but alas I didn't have it in me to go looking for too many variations on a theme. Nor did I want to break the recipe down into thirds, because I'm lazy. You use 2/3 of the dough and make cookies with the other third. 

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon oil
1/2 teaspoon almond oil
1 cup almond flour

2 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1/4 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons cherry liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup brandied cherries, drained, optional
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of milk, for brushing

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in the large bowl. In a different bowl cream sugar and butter. Once creamed add eggs and oils. Mix 3 or 4 minutes. To the eggs add the flour mixture and almond flour. Blend thoroughly. Divide into 3 1 pound packets. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. 

In a sauce pan bring the milk to a simmer. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar together. Add the flour and cornstarch. Blend well. Add half of the hot milk to the egg mixture, quickly mix it together. Add the remaining milk. Pour back into the sauce pan and heat slowly, stirring continuously switching between a whisk and a spatula, to scrape the bottom. Cook 8-10 minutes until it is thick and no longer tastes like raw flour. Add the liqueur and vanilla. Pour into a large bowl, butter a parchment paper and press that onto the filling so a skin doesn't form. Cool on the counter 30 minutes. 

 Preheat oven 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch spring form pan with cooking spray. 

Roll the first disc about 12 inches. Place it in the pan, into the corners of the pan. Trim the dough so it about 1.5 inches up the side of the pan. (A tart pan might be easier for this cake, but we're not in for easy, are we?) Pour the filling into the pan, spread it flat. Sprinkle the cherries over the filling if you're using them. Using a knife tip push the edge of the bottom dough toward the center of the pan, so when you put the top on you can shove it down the sides of the pan, to seal in the filling. 

Roll the top slightly bigger than 9 inches, transfer it to the top of the cake, over the filling. Be gentle this is a very tender dough. Score in a diamond pattern, brush with egg wash and bake 50-60 minutes, until golden brown. 

Make cookies with the remaining dough, or maybe a little tart shell or something like that. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Golden Almond Lemon Cake

Golden Almond Lemon Cake

How has April come and nearly gone without a post? So much for my once weekly commitment. 

April isn't over yet and I'm shooting for four posts before it's all said and done, so there! It's about striving towards a goal, is it not? 

I went surfing the web to find a recipe that fits the personality of Shelly for whom I made this cake. As always, if you work with me I make you a cake on your birthday. Easy are the people who put in specific requests. Cheesecake? Sure! Carrot Cake? No problem. But the vague, "surprise me" is fun and crazy making. 

I'm not beyond experimenting on a person's birthday cake. Other less adventurous people might feel the need to try a cake out before serving it to others. I have no such compunction. We all can be surprised together. I mean it's cake, how bad can it really be? 

So why this cake in particular? Mz. Shelly is both sunny like a lemon and a little nutty, like the almonds. She's also way more complex than you might imagine just at first glance. This cake looks regular but it has lemons and lemon oil, toasted almonds, sour cream, tons of butter and turbinado sugar. Sweet jesus, that is the whole she-bang. 

The photo above is yet another Bundt cake, in the same pretty swirly pan, but this one is fancier than what meets the eye. I found it on Pastry Joe, (where has he been all my life?) it's his take on Rose Levy Beranbaum's cake (she I have known about for 20 years.) Her Cake Bible is on my bookshelf and I go back to it all the time. Hey Julie/Julia fans, someone should recreate that book and blog about it. Maybe that's so like 2005?

I'd detail out the recipe, but there's a link and Joe covered it pretty well. Oh and I haven't tasted yet. There might be a post script about this whole thing. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Carrots with Candied Ginger

I love carrots. I love ginger. I love white pepper.

Oh sweet jesus these were mighty good. I made them for Easter and before I forget what I did I'm putting it down here.

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut evenly
kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, diced very small
pinch of white pepper

In a skillet with a lid add the carrots and water enough to steam and a pinch of salt. Cook until slightly tender. Once tender add the butter, ginger and white pepper. Add a little more salt if needed. Simmer and toss to coat with the butter about 5 minutes.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Fresh Strawberry Elderflower Cake

Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
It is spring!
That means strawberries. I had a reason to bake a cake and I had strawberries in the fridge. I used to love pink cake when I was growing up, but come to find out it's hard to make without using Jell-O (not that I mind Jell-O) but I wanted to shoot for a more natural flavor. This is what I came up with:

1.5 pounds strawberries
1 cup sugar

2.5 cups flour
1.25 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
.5 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1.5 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
0.50 teaspoon almond extract
3 eggs
red food color, if you wish

0.25 cup sugar
0.25 cup water
2 tablespoons elderflower liqueur

1 cup whipping cream
2 8oz packages cream cheese
0.75 cup sugar
1 tablespoon elderflower liqueur

Cook the strawberries and cup of sugar down until they are thick. Cool. They should measure around 2 cups.
Preheat oven 350 degree.
Prepare 2 9-inch pans with spray and parchment.

Put the strawberries, and all the ingredients for the cake, except the eggs into a food processor. Process. Scrape the sides. Add the eggs one at a time.

Scrape the sides, whirl it one more time and pour into prepared pans. I measure the pans on a scale to make sure they have the same weight batter in them. The old school, what I learned in the bakery is stick your finger straight up and down in the pan, see where the batter comes up to on your finger in relation to your digit and make sure the pans are even that way. The scale is easier, but less tactile.

Bake 35 minutes. Cool completely.

To make the syrup on the stove top, in a small pan combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil, make sure the sugar is dissolved. Cool. Add the liqueur.

For the frosting whip the cream to stiff peaks, set aside. Cream the cream cheese, making sure to scrape the sides and that it is smooth before adding sugar. Add the sugar and beat for a good 5 minutes to make sure the sugar dissolves. Add the liqueur to the cream cheese. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.

To assemble: When the cake is cool remove it from the pans. Using a pastry brush, brush the syrup on the top of the cake layers. Flip them over and brush the syrup on the bottom layers. Top the layers and sides with frosting and enjoy.