Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fougasse Fresh from the Oven

Like every end of the summer season I've turned myself onto a preserve mode. I feel like a squirrel who crams its tiny hollow with dry nuts till no free space is left. In my case the dry nuts are replaced by plums, tomatoes and red bell peppers. For the last two weeks the oven works almost every night. I'm using it as a dehydrator – fan function at 60 – 70ºC. Bell peppers, if on slices are completely dry in one night (in 2 – if left whole). Halved roma tomatoes and damson plums are ready in 2 nights.
When Claire from Purely food set this month's challenge for Fresh from the Oven to be fougasse I was more than anticipating to use the dehydrated bounty I've piled up in the larder.
I was the one who kneaded the dough but it was Ivan who made this beautiful leaf-like bread. We ate it with goat cheese and tomatoes. One segment of the leaf left and Ivan cut it into thin slices and made bruschetti out of it – they were gorgeous with Fourme d'Ambert cheese.
It was a wonderful and tasty challenge.
Don't forget to visit Fresh from the Oven page to see other members' creations.

Fougasse Recipe:
  • 240 gr all purpose flour;
  • 125 gr lukewarm water;
  • 20 gr olive oil;
  • 4 gr salt;
  • 1 tsp sugar;
  • 5 gr fresh yeast;
  • 1 ½ tsp fresh rosemary(finely chopped);
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped dry tomatoes;
  • 1 Tbsp crushed dry sweet red peppers;
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped olives.
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, rosemary, dry tomatoes, dry peppers, olives. Mix well and make a well in the center.
In a small bowl, mix together water, sugar and yeast, then pour this mixture over the flour mixture. Add olive oil. Use your hand mixer equipped with the dough hooks to form dough. Transfer to a lightly floured counter top and knead by hand for around 10 minutes to develop the gluten. Transfer the dough back to the bowl, cover and leave it to rise until double in bulk.
Knock the dough back to a lightly floured counter top, give it a quick knead just to make it uniform and roll it out using a rolling pin or just stretch it with your hands.
Use bench scrapper or pizza cutter to make cuts resembling leaf veins on the flat bread. Stretch the holes with your hands and carefully transfer the fougasse onto lined with paper baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave it to rise for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 220ºC. Brush the fougasse with olive oil and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden. Take out of the oven and brush with olive oil again.
Best if eaten right away.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Apple Cake and Banana-Jaggery Ice Cream

I was working on another post that's been in my drafts for a long time when my sister called to say she is coming the next day and will be staying for two days before she flies back to Paris. So I wanted to bake something for her. Recently I saw this recipe for fresh apple cake with boiled cider at Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal and this boiled cider thing caught my attention.

The problem was I had no boiled cider, nor even an ordinary cider. It's not very popular here and it's hard to find any.

But earlier that day I bought some fine Italia grapes or at least I thought they were fine. They were indeed very sweet and flavourful but their skin was so hard and thick that it was a torture to eat them. So I made some grape juice, reduced it along with some Viognier and this resulted into super good syrup. I was thinking about making some apple ice cream using the reduced grape juice - wine syrup, but apparently I'd forgotten to put the bowl of the ice cream maker in the freezer.

Two days ago I've made this banana ice cream (the recipe differs from our previous banana-jaggery ice cream) , just because I had bananas and no idea what else to do with them. And since it was already 2am when I finished with the baking I was tired to think what else to pair the cake with, so I decided to go with the banana ice cream. Nice, because it matches perfectly.

I must say, this is not the first recipe I'm trying from Jane's journal. Remember the cream-cheese cake for my sister's birthday – I've made it maybe ten times since then and it's one of my favourite tea cakes. This cake is as equally good.

I'm still in a mood to bake something with the reduced wine-grape juice, so any suggestions are welcome.

Fresh Apple Cake Recipe:
Adapted from Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal 

Makes: One 23 cm (9") cake, baked in a springform pan.
Since my pan is 26cm in diameter I had to put a smaller pastry ring in the middle of the pan in order to fake a 23cm pan. This reflected on the baking time and the cake was ready much quicker than the suggested 55-60minutes.

  • 2 large tart apples (I used Granny Smiths) - peeled, cored, halved, and sliced into 1-2mm thin pieces;
  • 3 Tbsp (30 gr) reduced grape juice – wine syrup (recipe – down bellow);
  • 270 gr all-purpose flour;
  • 10 gr baking powder;
  • 3 gr salt;
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon;
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg;
  • 1 pinch ground cloves;

  • 170 gr unsalted butter (at room temperature);
  • 50 gr granulated sugar;
  • 3 large eggs;
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract;
  • 2 Tbsp (20gr) milk.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and place the rack in the middle. Line the bottom of the baking pan with parchment paper circle.
In a medium bowl, mix together apples slices and reduced grape juice-wine syrup. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, spices.
In a large bowl, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until fluffy and light. One at a time, beat in the eggs, still on medium speed. Add in the vanilla and milk.
Set a colander over an empty bowl and dump the apples along with their liquid into it. Let them drain a minute or so. Then add the drained liquid to the above mixture. Beat in half of the flour mixture. Since the batter is quite thick you may wish to use a rubber spatula to fold the the rest of the flour mixture, but I kept going with the mixer, I was just taking care not to scatter the kitchen with flour.
Spread evenly half of the batter into the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Use a small offset spatula, or the back of a spoon, to spread it out.
Scatter all of the apples over the top of the batter, there is no need for them to be neatly arranged; try to leave just a narrow margin of uncovered batter close to the sides of the pan.
Plop the remaining batter over that and spread it out smoothly.
Bake until golden brown – the recipe suggests 55-60 minutes, but my cake was ready in 40-45minutes.
Cool the cake in its pan for at least 15 minutes before attempting to remove the sides of the pan.

Reduced Grape Juice-Wine Syrup Recipe:

  • 600 gr white grape juice (I used Italia variety);
  • 100 gr floral and aromatic white wine (I used Viognier).

Place grape juice and wine in a saucepan and let simmer on medium-low heat until the mixture reduces to around 200gr. The reduced syrup has a nice caramel colour and is viscous like apricot nectar.

Banana - Jaggery Ice Cream Recipe:

  • 2 egg yolks;
  • 60 gr granulated sugar;

  • 40 gr jaggery;
  • 400 ml whole milk;
  • 150 ml whipping cream;
  • 4-5 very ripe bananas;
  • 1/3 tsp ground cinnamon;
  • 25 ml rum.

Beat egg yolks and sugar until pale.
In a saucepan bring milk, whipping cream and jaggery up to a simmer. Pour a small amount of the hot milk mixture over the yolks-sugar mixture to temper, then pour over the remaining milk. Stir well and pour back in the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat till the mixture reaches 85º C.
Let the custard cool completely.
Cut bananas into large chunks and place them into the bowl of the blender. Pour over the rum and enough custard just to cover the bananas, add in the cinnamon and puree. Mix with the rest of the custard and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Then proceed according to your ice cream maker instructions.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Chocolate Cake & Pear Ice Cream

Ice cream maker had been on my wish list for a very long time. My heart's been set on pacojet but it's price was whispering into my ear “Have you gone nuts?! This costs more than our car!”
We were not even looking for such a gadget when we saw a small Kenwood model on our way home from a morning coffee with some friends. As soon as we get home we washed the machine and put the bowl in the freezer. The instructions are saying to freeze the bowl for 24 hours before using, but who's having patience to do that especially when it's a brand new toy. So 4 hours later we were trying to churn out some frozen yoghurt. Of course nothing came out of this. Obviously more time was needed for the bowl to freeze, so we had to wait until the next day.

This time there was time enough to make a custard based ice cream but we didn't want the custard to taste as eggy as a custard normally tastes. This is why we used less eggs and the result was good – the egg yolks were enough to give a smooth consistency while the egg taste wasn't overwhelming. We had some pears on hand and it became a pear ice cream.

Pears do pair well with chocolate so we baked this very quick cake. As a note about the cake I could say I prefer it eaten on the next day as thus the flavours are having time to blend completely.

Chocolate Cake Recipe:
Adapted from the recipe for Gâteau au Chocolat de Nancy from Pierre Hermé's Larousse du Chocolat

  • 100 gr chocolate 70% cocoa (although we used Cacao Barry's Tanzanie chocolate which contains 75% cocoa);
  • 100 gr butter;
  • 3 egg yolks;
  • 3 egg whites;
  • 50 gr granulated sugar;
  • 35 gr almond meal;
  • 40 gr cake flour.

Preheat the oven to 170ºC.
Butter or line with paper a 20x10cm loaf pan.
Sift together flour and almond meal, set aside.
Melt butter along with chocolate in the microwave taking care not to burn them. Beat in the egg yolks. If the temperature of the butter-chocolate mixture is too high wait until it drops in order not to make poached yolks. Then add in the almond-flour mixture.
In a separate bowl beat egg whites and sugar to stiff glossy peaks. Add a third of the beaten egg whites to the above mixture to soften it a little, then fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for approximately 35 - 40 minutes.

Pear Ice Cream Recipe:
  • 2 egg yolks;
  • 80 gr granulated sugar;
  • 400 ml whole milk;
  • 200 ml whipping cream;
  • 2 pears;
  • 30 ml water;
  • 1 tsp powdered gum arabic (if it's in crystals, soak them in the water first; if you don't have it, skip it) – it's used to prevent crystals from forming and it could be added either with the milk or with the water;
  • cinnamon stick;
  • 1 clove bud;
  • 3 cardamom pods;
  • 15 ml rum.

Beat the egg yolks and half of the sugar until pale.
In a saucepan bring the milk and the rest of the sugar up to a simmer. Pour a small amount of the hot milk over the yolks-sugar mixture to temper, then pour over the remaining milk. Stir well and pour back in the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat till the mixture reaches 85º C.
Let the custard cool completely.
Peel and core the pears, then cut them into small pieces. In a saucepan, over medium-low heat, combine pears, water, gum arabic and spices. Cook until the pears are soft. Let cool. Remove spices and puree the pears.
Combine custard, pear puree and rum, refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Whip the cream. Gently fold the whipped cream into the pear custard. Proceed according to your ice cream maker instructions.


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