Monday, November 30, 2009

Apricot, Almond, and Chocolate Spiraled Coffee Cake

From The Art and Soul of Baking

Serves 10 to 12

This gorgeous length of woven, glistening rolls deserves to be the centerpiece at a special brunch or morning gathering. The filling is an almond paste mixture topped with chocolate chips and tart dried apricots soaked in almond liqueur. It’s a large coffee cake, and you can serve up to 16 guests by cutting slices rather than letting guests break off rolls. Don’t worry about leftovers—there won’t be any unless you hide some. If you’ve baked this ahead and plan to freeze it, add the drizzle of sugar glaze only after the coffee cake has been thawed and reheated, or the glaze will soak into the pastry.

1 recipe Rich Breakfast Dough (page 93)

8 ounces dried California apricots
3 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) water
3 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces)
amaretto (almond liqueur)
7 ounces almond paste, at room temperature
½ cup (3 ½ ounces) granulated sugar
¾ stick (3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened (65° to 68°F)
½ cup (3½ ounces) mini semisweet chocolate chips

Apricot Glaze
3 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) apricot jam
1 tablespoon (½ ounce) water

Sugar Glaze
½ cup (1¾ ounces) unsifted
confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon warm water

Food Processor Fitted with a Metal Blade, Small Saucepan, Silicone or Rubber Spatula, Medium Bowl, Rolling Pin, Pastry Brush, Chef’s Knife, Baking Sheet, Silicone Mat, Large Metal Spatula, Cooling Rack, Two Spatulas or a Cake Lifter, Serrated Knife (Optional)

1 Plump the apricots for the filling: Place the apricots in the bowl of the food processor and process until they are chopped into tiny pieces (or use an oiled chef’s knife to chop them very finely). In the small saucepan, heat the water and amaretto over medium heat just until it begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and add the chopped apricots. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, stirring several times with a spatula, until the liquid has been completely absorbed. Transfer to the medium bowl to cool while you prepare the rest of the filling.
2 Make the filling: Cut or break the almond paste into 12 to 15 pieces. Place the almond paste and granulated sugar in the bowl of the food processor and process for 10 to 15 seconds, until the almond paste is cut into tiny pieces. Add the softened butter and process for 25 to 30 seconds, until the mixture is blended and smooth and forms a large ball. The filling will be very thick.
3 Shape the dough: Turn the dough out of the rising tub or bowl onto a work surface dusted with flour. Press down firmly to expel some of the air bubbles, but don’t knead the dough again. Dust the dough with flour and roll into an 11 by 15-inch rectangle. Position the dough so that one of its long sides is parallel to the edge of your work surface. Brush any remaining flour from the surface and underside of the dough. Spread the almond filling in a thin layer over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border along the long side of the dough opposite you. Sprinkle the plumped apricot pieces over the filling as evenly as possible. Do the same with the mini chocolate chips.
4 Roll up the dough: Beginning with the long edge closest to you, roll the dough into a cylinder, gently tucking and tightening as you go. Wet your fingers and rub a thin film of water along the empty border. Finish rolling the dough onto the border. Roll the dough backwards so that the seam is facing upward and pinch all along it to seal the dough. Turn the seam to face away from you and, using the tip of the chef’s knife, cut the dough into slices at 1½-inch intervals, cutting only ¾ of the way across the roll so the seam is still intact—all the slices should be attached along a “spine.” Gently lift the log of dough and center it on the prepared baking sheet, seam or “spine” down. Gently twist each slice away from the spine and lay it nearly flat on the sheet (the slices will overlap slightly and won’t lie completely flat). Alternate the direction of the twists, one slice to the right, one slice to the left, until you reach the end. At first it will seem as though the roll is too long for the pan, but keep overlapping and you’ll find you have room at the top and bottom of the coffee cake.
5 Proof the dough (second rise) : Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free towel and allow to rise until it is almost doubled in size and looks like it has taken a deep breath, 40 to 60 minutes.
6 Bake the coffee cake: Preheat the oven to 375°F and position an oven rack in the center. Bake the coffee cake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown on the top and bottom (check the bottom by lifting the coffee cake slightly with a large metal spatula). Transfer to a cooling rack.
7 While the pastry is baking, make the apricot glaze: Heat the apricot jam and water in the cleaned small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring with a silicone or rubber spatula to blend, until hot and fluid. When the cake is out of the oven and on the rack, rewarm the glaze and brush it over the cake. Cool for 15 minutes, then apply another layer of the glaze. Allow the coffeecake to cool an additional 20 minutes before adding the sugar glaze.
8 Make the sugar glaze: In the cleaned medium bowl, stir the confectioners’ sugar and warm water vigorously with a silicone or rubber spatula until there are no lumps remaining, adding a few more drops of water if needed. Use a fork to drizzle the glaze over the pastry, or transfer the glaze to a resealable plastic bag and squeeze it into one corner. Snip off the corner with a pair of scissors and pipe lines decoratively across the coffee cake. Use two spatulas or a cake lifter to transfer the coffee cake to a serving platter. Serve warm or room temperature. Let guests tear off rolls, or slice with a serrated knife.

The coffee cake can be stored, uncovered at room temperature, for 1 day. For longer storage, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for another day, or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 375°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until warmed through.

Getting Ahead
Prepare the coffee cake through Step 4, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The coffee cake will continue to rise slowly through the night. The next day, let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.

The baked and cooled coffee cake can be frozen, wrapped tightly in 2 layers of plastic wrap, for up to 2 weeks—do not add the sugar glaze until the day you serve the coffee cake. To thaw, set on the counter until it reaches room temperature, about 2 hours. Reheat as directed above.

Rich Breakfast Dough

Makes about 1 ½ pounds A leaner version of brioche dough, this can be used for all those wonderful, yeasted breakfast breads you love, like sticky buns and coffee cake. Classic brioche, while delicious, is unnecessarily rich when paired with flavor-packed fillings and toppings. Despite the reduced amount of eggs and butter, this dough is still soft and easy to work with, and it bakes into a tender, flavorful partner for all manner of fillings, both sweet and savory.

½ cup (4 ounces) warm whole milk (110° to 115°F)
¼ cup (1 ¾ ounces) sugar
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast, or
1 ¹⁄8 teaspoons instant yeast
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 ½ cups (12 ½ ounces) bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, very soft (not melted)

Stand Mixer Fitted with a Dough Hook Attachment, Whisk, Silicone or Rubber Spatula, 10- to 12-inch Straight-Sided Translucent Plastic Tub or Mixing Bowl, Bowl Scraper

1 Mix and knead the dough: Combine the warm milk and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Whisk by hand to blend well. Let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes, until the yeast is activated and foamy or bubbling. Add the egg and yolk and whisk by hand until well blended. Stir in the flour and salt with a silicone or rubber spatula. Attach the dough hook and knead on low speed for 2 minutes. The dough may look ragged at this point, but don’t worry—the addition of butter will smooth it out. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the soft butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to blend in before adding the next. Once all the butter has been added, decrease the speed to medium-low and continue to knead for 5 to 6 minutes longer, until the dough looks soft and silky.
2 Rise the dough (First Rise) : Lightly butter or oil the tub or bowl, scrape the dough into the tub, and brush the surface of the dough with a little butter or oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let the dough rise until doubled, 1 to 1 ½ hours. If you are using a tub, be sure to mark the starting level of the dough with a pencil or piece of tape so it’s easy to tell when the dough has doubled. At this point, the dough is ready to be punched down and used in your recipe of choice.

The dough can be punched down and refrigerated overnight. Wrap in plastic, leaving a bit of wiggle room for when the dough continues to expand in the refrigerator, or place in a bowl large enough to allow it to expand; cover with plastic wrap. (If you don’t leave room for expansion, the dough will burst through the plastic wrap.)

Getting Ahead
You can freeze the dough for up to 1 month. Punch the dough down, wrap in plastic and place in a resealable plastic freezer bag. To thaw, refrigerate overnight, or place on the counter for 2 hours, or until room temperature. Continue with your recipe of choice.

What the Pros Know
Be sure the butter is very soft before beginning, or you’ll have cold lumps of butter in the dough. If this happens, cover the dough and let it sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, until the butter has softened, then continue kneading.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Great Pumpkin Pie & Flaky Pie Dough

From The Art & Soul of Baking

Great Pumpkin Pie

Makes 1 (10-inch) regular pie or 1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie, serving 10 to 12 Thanksgiving just may be everyone’s favorite holiday. After all, what’s better than a day completely devoted to a delicious feast shared by family and friends, all giving thanks for their blessings? This recipe takes an American classic to celebration status with a careful blend of spices and heavy cream, outshining the stale spice mix and evaporated milk of less enchanting recipes. Ever notice how spices clump up and don’t blend well when added to a custard? The trick is to blend them first with the eggs, whose fat helps the clumps disperse evenly, before adding any liquid to the custard mixture.

1 recipe Flaky Pie or Tart Dough (page 177 - recipe below), prepared through Step 8
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg (about 20 grates on a whole nutmeg)
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¹⁄8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (12 ounces) heavy whipping cream
½ cup (4 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup (1 ¾ ounces) granulated sugar
2 cups (16 ounces) canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
Softly Whipped Cream (page 416 - recipe below), for serving

10-inch Regular or 9-inch Deep Dish Pie Pan, Pie Weights, Cooling Rack, Whisk, Large Bowl, Fine-Mesh Strainer, Medium Saucepan, Silicone or Rubber Spatula, Thin and Sharp Knife

1 Bake the shell: Preheat the oven to 375°F and position an oven rack in the bottom third. Line the chilled pie shell with heavy-duty foil, pressing the foil firmly and smoothly into the crevices of the pan. Fill the pan with pie weights (page 175). Make sure the weights reach up the sides to the rim of the pan (the center does not need to be filled quite as full). Bake the shell for 20 to 22 minutes, until the foil comes away from the dough easily (if it doesn’t, then bake another 5 to 6 minutes and check again). Remove the pan from the oven, close the oven door, and lift out the foil and weights from the shell; set them aside to cool. Return the pan to the oven to continue baking the shell for about 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven, close the oven door, and check to see if any cracks have formed. If you see a crack, very gently smear a tiny bit of reserved dough over the crack to patch it (page 171)—you need only enough to seal the opening. Return the pan to the oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the crust is a nice golden brown all over. Transfer to a rack and cool slightly. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
2 While the pie crust is baking, make the filling: Whisk the eggs in the large bowl to break them up. Add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and salt and whisk well to blend evenly. Whisk in the cream, brown sugar, and granulated sugar and blend well. Strain the mixture through the strainer into the medium saucepan, pressing on the strainer with the spatula to push through any lumps of brown sugar. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk until the custard mixture is thoroughly blended. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with the spatula and scraping all over the bottom of the pan to prevent the eggs from scrambling, for 7 to 9 minutes, until the mixture feels lightly thickened and registers 150°F on an instant-read thermometer. Do not let the mixture scramble or you’ll have to begin again. Remove from the heat.
3 If the pie crust has cooled, reheat it in the oven for 5 minutes. Scrape the hot custard into the hot pie shell and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the custard is set. Test by tapping the side of the pie pan—the center of the pie should look firm and move as one piece (professionals call this the Jell-O jiggle). Transfer the pie to a rack and cool completely, about 2 hours.
4 To serve, slice the pie with a thin and sharp knife and use a pie server to transfer each slice to a plate. Serve with whipped cream. Storing Store at room temperature for up to 8 hours. For longer storage, cover with plastic and refrigerate. Remove the pie from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Pumpkin pie is best the first or second day, as the crust begins to soften over time. It will keep, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

What the Pros Know
There’s a trick to making pumpkin pie that keeps the prebaked crust crisp against the liquid custard filling, and it defies logic. You’ve probably always heard that a prebaked pie crust should be cooled before being filled with custard and sent back to the oven. Not here. The crust should be hot from the oven (or reheated until hot) and then filled with hot custard. It’s crazy, but it works beautifully. The bonus is that hot crust plus hot custard equals a shorter baking time. While pumpkin pies usually take an hour or more to bake, this one is finished in about 30 minutes. Now that’s a reason to be thankful.

Getting Ahead
The pie crust can be rolled, fitted into the pie pan, and trimmed up to 2 days before baking the pie and refrigerated, or it may be frozen for up to 1 month. The crust can be baked up to 3 days in advance and stored, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature. The ingredients for the custard can be combined 1 day in advance and kept, airtight, in the refrigerator. Do not warm the custard on the stovetop until just before you bake it.

Flaky Pie or Tart Dough

Makes 1 (9- or 10-inch) pie shell Many bakers are so intimidated by the idea of making flaky pie crust that they either settle for the prepared dough from the grocery store or don’t make pie at all. But, like all baking, pie crust is quite straightforward once you know how the ingredients work together. If you’re new to pie dough, be sure to read the primer (page 168); then take a deep breath and follow the steps below for a beautifully crisp, golden brown, flaky pie crust. This recipe doesn’t call for shortening, as the flavor, aroma, and color of an all-butter crust can’t be beat. The drawback to butter is that it can soften quickly at room temperature, which is why it’s best to use the food processor to ensure great results every time. Weigh your dry ingredients if you can, but if you don’t have a scale, you can measure by the dip-and-sweep method (page 4).

1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
1 ¼ cups (6 ¼ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons sugar (omit for a savory crust)
¼ teaspoon salt

Small Measuring Cup, Food Processor Fitted with a Metal Blade, Large Bowl, Rolling Pin, Pastry Brush, 9- or 10-inch Pie or Tart Pan, Kitchen Scissors

1 Place the butter pieces in a bowl or on a plate and freeze for at least 20 minutes. Refrigerate the water in a small measuring cup until needed.
2 Mix the dough: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of the food processor. Process for 10 seconds to blend the ingredients. Add the frozen butter pieces and pulse 6 to 10 times (in 1-second bursts), until the butter and flour mixture looks like crushed crackers and peas.
3 Immediately transfer the butter-flour mixture to the large bowl. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the cold water over the mixture and “fluff” it in, then add another, and another, until 3 tablespoons have been added. Continue to fluff and stir 10 or 12 times. It will not be a cohesive dough at this point but a bowl of shaggy crumbs and clumps of dough. Before bringing the dough together, you need to test it for the correct moisture content. Take a handful of the mixture and squeeze firmly. Open your hand. If the clump falls apart and looks dry, remove any large, moist clumps from the bowl then add more water, one teaspoon at a time, sprinkling it over the top of the mixture and immediately stirring or mixing it in. Test again before adding any more water. Repeat, if needed. The dough is done when it holds together (even if a few small pieces fall off). If the butter feels soft and squishy, refrigerate before continuing. If the butter is still cold and firm, continue to the next step. (Note: Adding the liquid may also be done on low speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment—add three-fourths of the liquid, test for moistness, then add the remaining liquid if needed.)
4 Knead and chill the dough: Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead gently 3 to 6 times. If it won’t come together and looks very dry, return it to the bowl and add another teaspoon or two of water (one at a time), mixing in as above, and try again. Flatten the dough into a 6- or 7-inch disk, wrap in plastic or parchment paper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This allows time for the dough to hydrate fully and for the butter to firm up again.
5 Roll the dough: If the dough has been refrigerated for more than 30 minutes, it may be very firm and hard and will crack if you try to roll it. Let it sit on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes until it is malleable but still cold. Dust your work surface generously with flour and set the disk on the flour. Dust the top with flour. Roll, turning the dough and following the directions on page 171, until you’ve got a 14- to 15-inch circle about ¹⁄8 inch thick. If at any point the dough becomes warm and sticky, gently fold it into quarters, unfold it onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until the butter is firm again.
6 If a crack or hole forms while rolling, brush any flour away and patch the area according to the instructions on page 171.
7 Transfer the dough: Fold the dough circle into quarters, brushing off any excess flour as you fold. Put the point of the folded dough in the center of the pie pan, tart pan, or baking sheet and unfold the dough, lifting it slightly as necessary to ease it into the crevices of the pan. Do not stretch or pull the dough, which can cause thin spots, holes, and/or shrinkage during baking.
8 Trim the dough: Use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the dough so it overhangs the edge of the pan by 1 inch. Fold the overhanging dough under itself around the pan edge, then crimp or form a decorative border (page 174). Chill for 30 minutes before baking.

The dough can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days, or double-wrapped in plastic, slipped into a freezer bag, and frozen for up to 1 month.

Softly Whipped Cream

Makes 2 cups The quintessential partner to nearly any dessert, whipped cream—which should be thick yet soft and smooth—can be flavored in a multitude of ways, though vanilla is the classic. Chill your bowl and whisk in the freezer for 10 minutes before you begin. Look for pasteurized cream (instead of ultrapasteurized) or, if you can find it, use manufacturing cream, which contains a higher percentage of milk fat and whips up to be thicker, more luscious, and more stable than any other type. For more on types of cream, see page 33.

1 cup (8 ounces) heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Stand Mixer Fitted with a Whisk Attachment or a Hand Mixer and a Medium Bowl

Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of the mixer (or in a medium bowl, if using a hand mixer) and whip on medium speed until soft peaks form. Cream whipped on medium speed is more stable than one whipped on high speed. When used as an accompaniment, the cream should look smooth and satiny, and barely hold its shape. To use as a filling or frosting, whip for another 10 to 15 seconds, until firmer. Use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

Whipped cream is at its best when used within 2 hours of preparation. However, it can be whipped up to 8 hours ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If the cream seems too soft when you’re ready to use it, beat it lightly with a hand whisk to firm it up.

Watch a Demo of How to Make Pumpkin Pie and Flaky Pie Dough

Monday, November 16, 2009

Buckwheat Crepes with Sautéed Aples and Gruyère Cheese

From Things Cooks Love: Implements. Ingredients. Recipes.

Prep (batter) 10 min | Resting time (batter) 1 hr |
Prep (filling) 30 min | Cook time 2 min per crepe |

Serves 4–6

Throughout France, you will find small restaurants, often tucked away on side streets, specializing in crepes. In Brittany, the crepes are made with buckwheat flour and the typical filling is a smear of salted butter, cheese, ham or bacon, thinly sliced fruit, and/or eggs. In most of France, crepes are rolled up or folded into half or quarter circles, but in Brittany, where they are sometimes called galettes, they are folded differently. The filling is spread in the center of the pancake, the four rounded sides are folded in over the filling, forming a square, and then the crepe is inverted onto a serving plate.

Standard Whisk, Large Skillet, 9- to 11-inch Crepe Pan, Small Ladle, Small, Narrow Rubber Spatula, Wide Spatula (Optional)

Crepe Batter
1 cup buckwheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 large eggs
1½ cups water
2 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter, melted

4 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter
3 yellow onions, cut into ¹⁄8-inch wedges
6 slightly green Golden Delicious apples,
quartered, cored, and cut into ¹⁄8-inch wedges
2 ounces smoked ham, thinly slivered (optional)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¹⁄8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of coarse salt
1 tablespoon salted or unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons, softened
3 cups (12 ounces) coarsely grated Gruyère or Comté cheese

1. Make the crepe batter: In a large bowl, stir together the buckwheat flour, all-purpose flour, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended; stir in the water and butter. Gradually whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the batter is smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. The batter should be the consistency of heavy cream. If it is too thick, whisk in additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
2. While the batter is resting, prepare the filling: In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions, increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the apples and cook, stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the apples begin to brown and have softened. Add the ham and sprinkle with the lemon juice, nutmeg, and salt. Cover and set aside until ready to fill the crepes.
3. Heat a 9- to 11-inch crepe pan over medium-low heat until hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle on contact. Brush the surface of the crepe pan with a thin film of the melted butter. Blot any excess with the tip of a paper towel. Stir the crepe batter well with the whisk. Ladle about ¹⁄3 cup of the batter into the heated pan, and simultaneously tilt and roll the pan from side to side to coat the surface with a thin layer of batter. Cook for 1 minute, or until the edges begin to set. Run the tip of a small, narrow rubber spatula under the edges of the crepe to loosen it from the pan. Use your fingertips to lift the crepe and quickly flip it over. Cook the other side for 30 seconds, or until the batter is set into a thin pancake. Do not brown the crepe or cook it until crisp. Transfer the crepe to a large, round plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, brushing the pan with more butter if necessary. Stack the crepes as they are made. You should have 12 crepes. If making ahead, wrap the crepes in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent drying out. The crepes can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
4. If the crepes have been made ahead, fill them one at a time by first warming each crepe in the pan over low heat. While they are still in the pan, sprinkle about ¼ cup of the cheese in the center of the crepe. Top the cheese with a large spoonful of the warm apple filling, spreading it into a single layer. Fold in two opposite sides of the circle to cover the filling. Then fold in the remaining two rounded sides, overlapping slightly, to form a square envelope. With a wide spatula, lift the crepe from the pan and invert it, so it is seam side down, onto a serving plate. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm if not serving at once. Fill the remaining crepes in the
same way. Reserve the remaining filling.
5. Just before serving, brush the smooth top of each crepe with a thin film of the softened butter. Reheat the remaining apple filling and spoon a portion on top of each crepe. Serve at once.