June 2015 – Just Back

Well it’s certainly been a long time since I made a regular post on the blog….It’s been an insteresting  year and a half dealing with a health issue. While I have been active and continued to be able to travel, finding the energy to create a coherant blog post has been challenging.

Having said that, Thank you for continuing to check out the blog and I love reading your comments

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Just Back….

Supermarket Finds
Just back from almost a month of travel.

I was fortunate to visit Munich & Area in Germany. Barcelona, Ibiza, Cartagena, Malaga, & Cadiz in Spain. Bridgetown in Barbados and Toronto on the way home to Vancouver.

One of my guilty pleasures is to shop in bookstores and supermarkets when I am out of the country.

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Sour Cherry Danish Braid

If you have been following over the last week you must have known this was coming. Sour Cherry Danish Braid.I have made this in the past with canned cherry pie filling and it was pretty good. It must be better with home made sour cherry filling.I used a recipe in Baking with Julia to bring together my previous posts on:
Sour Cherry Danish Braid

For this recipe I used:

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Danish Pastry Dough

I have been following Joe Pastry for about a year now. He has some great tips and history on baking.

With reading a blog like Joe Pastry it was inevitable that I would need to make pastry. So Danish pastry it was. It had to be at least 10 years since the last time I made it so it was time.

I decided I would use the same recipe that I had used before from Baking with Julia.

Danish Pastry Dough

For this recipe I used:

1/4 Cup Warm Water – 110˚ – 115˚ F
2 1/2 Teaspoons of Dry Yeast
1/2 Cup of Milk – room temperature
1 Large Egg – room temperature
1/4 Cup of Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Salt
2 1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1 Cup of Unsalted Butter (2 Sticks) – Cold, cut into pieces

Danish Pastry Dough – The Ingredients

In a large measuring cup I added the yeast to the warm water and let the mixture soften for a minute.

Danish Pastry Dough – Softening the Yeast

I then added the milk, egg, sugar, and salt and whisked everything together. Then I set the mixture aside.

Danish Pastry Dough – Yeast Mixture with the Milk and Egg

In a mixing bowl I added the flour and chilled butter.

Danish Pastry Dough -Adding the Chilled Butter to the Flour

I worked in the butter with a pastry blender until the pieces of butter were about 1 cm in size (1/2 inch).

Danish Pastry Dough – After the Pastry Blender

I added the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and worked it together into a nice dough with a rubber spatula.

Danish Pastry Dough – Adding the Yeast Mixture
Danish Pastry Dough – After a good Stir

Once mixed, I covered the bowl and put it in the fridge overnight (at least 4 hours).

Danish Pastry Dough – Ready for the Fridge

The next morning I removed the risen dough from the fridge.

Danish Pastry Dough – After Overnight in the Fridge

I put the dough onto a floured counted and brought it together into a square.

Danish Pastry Dough – Forming a Square

I next rolled the dough out into a 16″ square.

Danish Pastry Dough – First Roll
Danish Pastry Dough – First Fold

Now it was time for a fold into 1/3’s.

Danish Pastry Dough – Finished First Fold

Then I rolled out the dough again into a 10″ x 24″ rectangle.

Danish Pastry Dough – Second Roll

And then I folded the rectangle into 1/3’s.

Danish Pastry Dough – Second Fold

Then I rolled out a second 16″ square and folded it into 1/3’s again.

Danish Pastry Dough – Third Roll

Then for the last time I rolled out the dough into a 16″ x 10″ rectangle.

Danish Pastry Dough -Third Fold

I folded the dough into 1/3’s again. I cut the final fold into 1/2.

Danish Pastry Dough – Splitting to Use now And Later

I was going to use 1/2 of the recipe right away and I froze the second 1/2 for later.

Danish Pastry Dough – Ready for the Freezer

I refrigerated the dough for use later in the day.

Baker’s Notes:

  • although there were a few folds that was really the only “technical” part of making the dough
  • if at some point the dough gets too warm, wrap it and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes
  • be sure to measure the temperature of the warm water 110˚ – 115˚ F. Too cold and it wont proof correctly and too warm the yeast will be killed off
  • the dough will freeze easily for up to 1 month

Almond Filling

To go with the Sour Cherry Filling I made the other day I searched for a recipe for an almond filling.

I found one in Baking With Julia. I was inspired by this recipe. A pretty awesome book.

Almond Filling

For this recipe I used:

1 Cup of sliced Almonds
1/2 Cup of Icing Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter – room temperature
1/2 Teaspoon of Almond Extract
1 Large Egg – beaten

Almond Filling – The Ingredients

In my food processor I added the almonds, butter, and icing sugar.

Almond Filling – Almonds, Icing Sugar, and Butter

I processed the almonds as much as I could without turning it into almond butter.

Almond Filling – Processed as Finely as you can

I added the egg and almond extract

Almond Filling – Adding the Extract and Egg

And processed again until well blended.

Almond Filling – It’s Ready!

With the egg… you need to use this right away.

Baker’s Notes:

  • this is a small batch recipe if you have a small insert bowl for your food processor, or a mini food processor, use it
  • this pretty close to marzipan, but in my opinion tastes better
  • use immediately

Sour Cherry Filling

The one pie, tart, cake, or turnover filling I love best is Sour Cherry. Its one of those flavours we rarely has as a kid.

I had some sour cherries in the deep freeze that I needed to use so I decided to try my hand at a sour cherry filling.

After reading some old recipes I came up with what I though would be a great filling.

Sour Cherry Filling

For this recipe I used:

2 Pounds of carefully pitted Sour Cherries
2 Pounds of Sugar
6 Tablespoons of Cornstarch
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon

I added everything to a big heavy bottomed pot and mixed well.

Sour Cherry Filling – Ready to Boil

On medium high heat I let the mixture boil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching.

Sour Cherry Filling – Boiling Away

Once it was boiled I poured the mixture into a medium bowl and let it cool to room temperature. Then it was off to the fridge to let it fully cool to use later.

Sour Cherry Filling – Chilling

Baker’s Notes:

  • enjoy!

Buttermilk (Powder) Biscuits

On buttermilk….

Buttermilk is one of those things I just don’t have in my kitchen. We don’t drink it, we rarely make pancakes or anything else that uses buttermilk. Here in Vancouver, buttermilk is sold locally in 1 liter container. Usually a recipe will call for less than a cup leaving a lot of potential waste if there is nothing else on the list to bake.

I have a recipe for an awesome Chocolate Cake that uses buttermilk and every now and again I come across a recipe that needs it as well. If I have to buy a whole liter of buttermilk I always think twice.

The solution, at least for me, is buttermilk powder. What a relief. I can store it in the fridge and use it as needed.

Recently I decided I wanted to make some buttermilk biscuits. I rarely, if ever since I was a kid, make biscuits so this lead me to the inevitable internet search for a recipe using buttermilk powder. I came across a posting from Jean at  Delightfulrepast. They looked pretty good!

Buttermilk Powder Biscuits

For this recipe I used:

10 Ounces of all Purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons of Buttermilk Powder
1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon of Salt
5 Tablespoons of Cold Unsalted butter
1 Cup of Milk, plus a little more for brushing

Buttermilk Powder Biscuits -The Ingredients

Mostly following Jean’s instruction I cut the butter into 1/2 in pieces and put it it in the freezer to chill. Then I heated the oven to 500˚. I decided to use a lined regular baking sheet.

In a mixing bowl I combined the dry ingredients and mixed them well.

Buttermilk Powder Biscuits – Mixing the Dry Ingredients

I added the cold butter to the flour mixture and used a pastry blender to blend it together until only small bits of butter could be seen. A coarse meal texture.

 Buttermilk Powder Biscuits – Cutting in the Butter

I added the milk and mixed it until just combined.  I turned the mixture out onto my floured counter and patted the dough out into a rectangle.

Buttermilk Powder Biscuits – Forming a Rectangle

I then cut the biscuits into 12 pieces and placed the on the lined baking sheet and brushed the tops with milk.

Buttermilk Powder Biscuits – Brushed with Milk and Ready for the Oven

Then it was off to the oven for 10 minutes.

Buttermilk Powder Biscuits – Warn and Ready to eat

They looked great, but did not rise. I was hesitant of man-handling the dough to work each piece into a flat round biscuit.. turns out I should have done it!

I would not hesitate making these again! Thanks Jean!

Baker’s Notes:

  • don’t be scared of biscuit dough. It is more resilient than you think
  • remember to brush the tops with milk just before putting them in the oven, they will brown perfectly

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwiches

Now that I had experimented a couple of times and had a good batch of Swiss Buttercream I needed to do something with it!I decided I would make it into a peanut butter filling for chocolate chip cookies. For the cookie recipe I used Martha Stewart’s – Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies

For this recipe I used:

Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
8 Oz Unsalted Butter – softened (hint here)
1/2 Cup of Sugar
1 Cup of Light Brown Sugar – packed
1 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla
2 Large Eggs – room temperature
12 Oz Chocolate Chips

Peanut Butter Filling
1 Swiss Buttercream Recipe
1/2 Cup of Smooth Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies -The Ingredients

I started by sifting the flour, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl and setting it aside.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies – Sifted Flour mixture

In a large glass bowl I used my hand mixer to beat the softened butter until light and fluffy. This took about 5 minutes on high.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies – Creaming the Butter

Once the butter was mixed, I added both sugars and beat again for another 5 minutes until the mixture was nice and creamy. I stopped a couple of times to scrape down the bowl to ensure everything mixed well.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies – Adding the Sugars

I then added the eggs and vanilla and beat everything together.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies – Adding the Eggs & Vanilla

I added the flour and slowly mixed it in.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies – Adding the Flour

Then it was time to add the chocolate chips. Since the mixture was quite stiff I mixed the chocolate chips in by hand.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies – Hand Mixing in the Chocolate Chips

I used a #20-1/4 cup Ice Cream Scoop to divide out the dough. 6 on each lined cookie sheet. I baked them in a 350˚ oven for about 15 minutes until lightly browned.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies – Ready for the Oven

As the cookies were cooling, I took the butter cream and peanut butter and beat them together well. I added a generous amount of filling to one cookie and topped it with another. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies – Ready to Eat!

Baker’s Notes:

  • I chose a cookie recipe that was a finished soft cookie
  • This cookie will cure most sweet tooths!

Macarons – Part 5 – Eureka!

Yet another trial in my quest for a perfect macaron. If you have been following, this is trial number 5.

Building on my progress in part 4 I decided to try the Italian meringue again. This time I would use a mixing bowl and my hand blender rather than my mixer. The bowl on my mixer was too big for one batch of macarons and left at least 1/4 of the syrup on the side of the bowl.

I am using the book “i ♥ macarons” by Hisako Ogita.

Macarons Part 5

For this recipe I used:
30 ml of Water
65 Grams of Sugar
85 Grams of Almond Meal
150 Grams of Icing Sugar
3 Large Egg Whites – at room temperature
5 ml of Vanilla

Macarons Part 5 – The Ingredients

Following the recipe I use my food processor to grind the almond meal and icing sugar together and then double sifted the mixture.

Macarons Part 5 – Double Sifted Almond Mixture

In a medium bowl, using my hand mixer, I started whipping the egg whites until slightly frothy.

Macarons Part 5 – Slightly Whipped Egg Whites

Over on the stove, in a small pot, I combined the water and sugar and heated the mixture.

Macarons Part 5 – Water & Sugar

I boiled the syrup until it reached 235˚ F.

Macarons Part 5 – Bringing the Syrup to Temp

Once the sugar was at temperature I slowly drizzled the syrup into the egg whites while beating them on high.

Macarons Part 5 – Finishing the Egg Whites

After about 10 minutes of beating the meringue was cool enough to add the vanilla.

Macarons Part 5 – Adding the Vanilla

When the vanilla was mixed in I switched to a large spatula and folded in 1/2 of the almond mixture.

Macarons Part 5 – The first 1/2 of the Almond Mixture

Then I added the second half of the almonds and gently folded them in.

Macarons Part 5 – The second 1/2 of the Almond Mixture

Then it was time for macaronage – the final 10 folds.

Macarons Part 5 – Macaronage

And it was off to the pastry bag.

Macarons Part 5 – Filled Pastry Bag
Macarons Part 5 – Ready to Pipe

I piped a round of macaron batter in each of the marked circles, then gave the pan a hard rap on the counter to disperse any air bubbles.

While the oven heated to 400˚F,  I let the macarons rest on the counter to form a slight skin. Then it was off to the oven for 11 minutes.

This time everything came together.  No excessive spreading and perfect feet!

Macarons Part 5 – Perfect Pied

I filled this batch with Meyer Lemon Curd. For a more traditional macaron use a filling like Swiss Buttercream.

Macarons Part 5 – Eureka!!

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