Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Busy Week in the Kitchen

This has been a busy week in our kitchen.  There has only been one day that I wasn’t in the kitchen baking or cooking.  It’s been a busy week, but a good week.  It went something like this:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Daring Bakers Go Armenian

For April, Daring Baker Jason (of Daily Candor) challenged us to make at least one of two recipes he provided which represent his Armenian heritage:  nazouk (or nazook) and nutmeg cake.  Both were completely new to me and right away I had a strong suspicion I would make both of them. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chocolate-Filled Chocolate Brioche

This could also be called “the bread that almost wasn’t”.  I measured out all of the ingredients to make it on Tuesday evening.  Then I read about this chocolate and cherry filled brioche that Katie at Making Michael Pollan Proud made.  I began wavering.  I started rationalizing with myself.  The internal chatter went something like this:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Goat Butter Brioche and Sticky Buns

I have a fascination with making things from goat’s milk.  There was a time if those words had been uttered in the same sentence I likely would have shuddered and made impolite facial expressions.  Goat cheese was definitely an acquired taste for me, but now I absolutely adore it and even make it on occasion.  Last year when I read an article about goat milk caramels being the darling of a Chicago food show, I immediately knew I had to figure out how to make them.  I did and they’re amazing.  I’ve used goat butter to make toffee.  That wasn’t my favorite, but I’m pretty sure I can improve it. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Brioche Craqueline

Last week I began preparations for making the craqueline recipe from the Flour cookbook by Joanne Chang.  They were finally finished on Saturday.  I made the brioche dough Friday afternoon.  Because of the quantity of dough, I thought it best to work in my baking kitchen to utilize the 6-quart mixer instead of overtaxing the little 4.5-quart in our home kitchen.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera over so I don’t have any photos of the brioche coming together. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Graham Crackers and Candied Oranges

My fourth (and I’ve decided, last!) graham cracker test has left me somewhat disappointed.  I was really hopeful that the recipe from the Flour cookbook by Joanne Chang would be the ultimate graham cracker recipe.  I readily admit that I’m a little burnt out on graham crackers, but I didn’t care for these much at all.  They’re actually called “graham wafers” in the cookbook, so perhaps I’m just not a fan of graham wafers. 

This recipe was markedly different from the other three I tried in that it included egg, cream, cornmeal and baking powder (versus baking soda).  The cornmeal seems to be what lost me.  I love cornmeal for cornbread and polenta, but apparently not for graham crackers.  It added an additional crunch and texture that I just didn’t care for.  It seemed to be the deal breaker.  That’s too bad since I have about three dozen of them.

So moving on in my recipe testing, and still from the Flour cookbook, I did some prep work for craqueline, a brioche-based pastry.  The craqueline recipe in Flour is one the author adapted from her work at Payard.  It’s composed of brioche dough wrapped around diced candied oranges and coated with a crunchy sugar and almond topping.  I looked for some other recipes online for comparison and it appears this is Francois Payard’s French interpretation of a traditionally Belgian pastry.  The original Belgian craquelin wraps the brioche dough around sugar cubes and citrus zest.  Being a big fan of candied citrus, I’m going with the French version.

To get started, I needed to candy the oranges.  Ms. Chang’s recipe calls for navel oranges, but I happened to have some beautiful blood oranges I had picked up with the intent of making a little more marmalade that I don’t need.  I would imagine the navel oranges are recommended as they are seedless.  I had to pick a few seeds out of the blood oranges, but not many.  The process couldn’t have been easier, but is somewhat time consuming:  make sugar syrup, boil orange slices in it for about two hours, let cool.  And the results were gorgeous! 

The recipe indicates the oranges can be made up to two weeks ahead and stored in their own syrup in the refrigerator.  In proceeding to read through the recipe, it states to scrape the syrup off of the orange slices before chopping – and to discard the syrup.  Never!  The remaining blood orange syrup is beautiful and I think will be wonderful to have for some warm weather beverages.  And since we’re having enough warm weather here to have turned our air conditioning on today, finishing the craqueline will likely wait for cooler temperatures on Thursday.  That will also give me a chance to finish some gardening projects and take care of some homemaker things that tend to take a back seat to wannabe baker things!