Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July Daring Bakers Challenge - Frasier

 Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

I had a great time with the challenge this month. The challenge came at a perfect time of year here in New England for the strawberries are still really tasty. I made the Frasier over a series of days. For one thing, many of the  different elements ( and there were a lot of them ) needed a lot of cooling time. When it came time to put everything together though, it went very quickly.
I made a traditional variation with the strawberries. Then I looked at the beautiful lavender in my yard and decided a peach.lavender version would be my alternate. The taste of the peach and lavender version was extraordinary. The lavender perfumed the dessert without overwhelming it. The strawberry version was like a really light strawberry shortcake. It was so light that I had two slices! It is not light in calories however so I will be giving the rest of it away because I have no willpower.

Fresh local strawberries dipped in chocolate


Basic Chiffon Cake:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons (270 ml) (5½ oz/155 gm) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) baking powder
3/4 cups (180 ml) (6 oz /170 gm) sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) salt, preferably kosher
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (3.17 fl oz/95 ml) fresh orange juice
3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (3 gm) orange zest, grated
5 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1 gm) cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).
  1. Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.
  3. In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.
  4. Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.
  5. Put the egg whites into a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed using a whisk attachment on a medium speed, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.
  6. Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about ⅓ of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Removed the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.
  9. To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring form sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to four days.




Pastry Cream Filling:

1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) whole milk
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (1/2 ml) (¼ gm) salt, preferably kosher
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (10 gm)cornstarch
1/4 cup (60 ml) (2 oz/55 gm) sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1 oz/30 gm) unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (4 gm) gelatin
1/2 tablespoon (7½ ml) water
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) heavy cream
  1. Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine
  3. Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
  4. When the milk is ready, gently and slowly while the stand mixer is whisking, pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture.
  5. Pour the mixture back into the warm pot and continue to cook over a medium heat until the custard is thick, just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon.
  6. Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
  7. Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.
  8. Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  9. In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
  10. Put two inches (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
  11. Measure 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 ml) of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit across the sauce pan with the simmering water, without touching the water.
  12. Heat the cream until it is 120 F (48.8 C). Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath, and whisk the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate in two batches.
  13. In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.

Yummy pastry cream

Simple Syrup:

1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) (2⅔ oz/75 gm) of sugar, flavored or white
1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) of water
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier
  1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup.
  3. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.
  4. Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to one month.

Fraisier Assembly:

1 baked 8 inch (20 cm) chiffon cake
1 recipe pastry cream filling
⅓ cup (80 ml) simple syrup or flavored syrup
2 lbs (900 g) strawberries
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
½ cup (120 ml) (5 oz/140 gm) almond paste
  1. Line the sides of a 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.
  2. Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.
  3. Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough.
  4. Hull and slice in half enough strawberries to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. Place the cut side of the strawberry against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring.
  5. Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake.
  6. Hull and quarter your remaining strawberries and place them in the middle of the cake. Cover the strawberries and entirely with the all but 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of the pastry cream.
  7. Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.
  8. Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners' sugar and roll out the almond paste to a 8-inch (25 cm) round 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) thick. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of pastry cream on the top of the cake and cover with the round of almond paste.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  10. To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.
  11. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


With all the wonderful fruit about now, I hesitate to post about biscotti which can be had no matter the season. This biscotti is too nice to hold back and is a perfect accompaniment to the bounty of summer desserts on hand now. I had this biscotti the other night with some candied ginger sorbet and it was heavenly. I also had some biscotti the other morning for breakfast with my oatmeal and it was just as heavenly.

I got this recipe from a neighbor. Gloria gave me a taste one day when I stopped in and I was smitten. She was true to her word in giving me the recipe and they are as easy to make as she promised.
She gives the option of making them with amaretto or almond extract. Having made both versions, I fall squarely in the Amaretto section but the extract works fine in a pinch.

This recipe makes a lot of biscotti but they will not hang around long. The biscotti are almost cookie like in texture. The white chocolate and the macadamia nuts marry nicely and the lightness of the biscotti invites overindulgence.

I used roasted salted macadamia nuts because that is what I could find. They worked well in the recipe adding depth to the biscotti.

Purple Coneflower from the garden

Here is the recipe.

Gloria's Biscotti
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons amaretto, or 1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
2/3 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

1.Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well.
3. Add the extracts ( liqueur if using)
4. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and beat until a dough is formed.
5. Add the nuts and chips.
6. Divide the dough in half. form each into flat 2"x12" logs.
7. Arrange the logs at least 3-inches apart on baking sheet.
8. Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes or lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool for about 10 minutes.
9. Slice crosswise and diagonally into 3/4 inch slices.
10. Arrange the slices on baking sheet and bake about 5 minutes each side. cool.

Yield: about 4 dozen. Will keep about 2 weeks




Monday, July 11, 2011

Salad Days

As the days heat up here in New England, I look for easy no-cook recipes.  I have been reading Taste of the South magazine lately and the recipes I have done have all been keepers. I changed this salad I saw in the June issue just a little using a little less slaw and a little more carrot. It makes a sweeter salad and very crunchy. It went together very quickly, 15 minutes tops. I loved the taste of the toasted pecans with the dates.The lime made it a refreshing salad balancing the sweetness of the carrots and dates. We ate it with a barbecue pork dish for the fourth of July holiday but I think it would be wonderful with a meaty grilled fish like halibut.
This salad kept for days on end. I even threw some canned tuna on top of a portion for a delicious lunch. If you are not able to buy angel hair coleslaw mix, then slice your cabbage as thinly as possible.

Carrot Pecan Slaw

10 ounces angel hair coleslaw
10 ounces shredded carrots
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
                         about 10 servings

Buy chopped dates!

1.In a large bowl, combine the slaw mix, carrots, dates, pecans and basil.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lime zest, lime juice, and salt.
3. Pour over the cabbage, tossing gently to combine.
4. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving . Garnish with fresh basil.

The Fourth of July Parade!