Tuesday, December 30, 2008

[Daring Bakers] French chocolate yule log

Hello my dear fellows,

This month DB challenge was a tricky one and asked for a lot of patience, but was worth it :-) I did change a little bit the recipe, I tried to use less heavy cream than asked by the original recipe. My yule log was not light either.
I'm away from my iphoto database and cannot post with a picture. As soon as I'm back I will add a picture to this challenge.
Happy Holidays everybody!


This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand

FRENCH YULE LOG OR ENTREMETS RECIPE by Flore of Florilège Gourmand


Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)

Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking

Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper

Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.

Ingredients:
2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

1. Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2. Sift the flour into the mix.
3. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4. Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6. Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
8. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse

Preparation time: 20mn

Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula

Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.
In the Vanilla Mousse variation, pastry cream is made to the same effect.
In the Mango Mousse variation, Italian meringue is made to the same effect. Italian meringue is a simple syrup added to egg whites as they are beaten until stiff. It has the same consistency as Swiss meringue (thick and glossy) which we have used before in challenge recipes as a base for buttercream.
The Whipped Cream option contains no gelatin, so beware of how fast it may melt.
Gelatin is the gelifying agent in all of the following recipes, but if you would like to use agar-agar, here are the equivalencies: 8g powdered gelatin = 1 (0.25 oz) envelope powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp Agar-Agar.
1 Tbsp. of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 tsp. of agar-agar powder.

Ingredients:
2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3. In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.
5. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6. Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert

Preparation time: 10mn

Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.

Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

Ingredients:
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
5 oz (135g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
2. While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
4. Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.


Element #4 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert

Preparation time: 10 mn (+ optional 15mn if you make lace crepes)

Equipment: Small saucepan, baking sheet (if you make lace crepes).
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin (or I use an empty bottle of olive oil).

Note: Feuillete means layered (as in with leaves) so a Praline Feuillete is a Praline version of a delicate crisp. There are non-praline variations below. The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. To our knowledge they are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own using the recipe below or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them. Special note: If you use one of the substitutes for the gavottes, you should halve the quantity stated, as in use 1oz of any of these cereals instead of 2.1oz.
If you want to make your own praline, please refer back to the Daring Baker Challenge Recipe from July 2008.

To make 2.1oz / 60g of gavottes (lace crepes - recipe by Ferich Mounia):
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
2/3 Tbsp (8g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup – 2tsp (35g) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp / 0.5 oz (15g) beaten egg
1 tsp (3.5g) granulated sugar
½ tsp vegetable oil
1. Heat the milk and butter together until butter is completely melted. Remove from the heat.
2. Sift flour into milk-butter mixture while beating, add egg and granulated sugar. Make sure there are no lumps.
3. Grease a baking sheet and spread batter thinly over it.
4. Bake at 430°F (220°C) for a few minutes until the crepe is golden and crispy. Let cool.

Ingredients for the Praline Feuillete:
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
2. Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.



Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert

Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking

Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper

Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc...

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean

1. Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.

Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing

Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)

Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan

Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.

Ingredients:
4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3. Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.
How To Assemble your French Yule Log

Depending on whether your mold is going to hold the assembly upside down until you unmold it or right side up, this order will be different.
THIS IS FOR UNMOLDING FROM UPSIDE DOWN TO RIGHT SIDE UP.
You will want to tap your mold gently on the countertop after each time you pipe mousse in to get rid of any air bubbles.


1) Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with rhodoid (clear hard plastic, I usually use transparencies cut to the desired shape, it’s easier to find than cellulose acetate which is what rhodoid translates to in English) OR plastic film. Rhodoid will give you a smoother shape but you may have a hard time using it depending on the kind of mold you’re using.

You have two choices for Step 2, you can either have Dacquoise on the top and bottom of your log as in version A or you can have Dacquoise simply on the bottom of your log as in version B:

2A) Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there. If you are using an actual Yule mold which is in the shape of a half-pipe, you want the Dacquoise to cover the entire half-pipe portion of the mold.
3A) Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4A) Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
5A) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6A) Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
7A) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8A) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9A) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight eidge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
10A) Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.

OR

2B) Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.
3B) Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
4B) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
5B) Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
6B) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
7B) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
8B) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
9B) Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.

If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with TWO pieces of Dacquoise the order is:
1) Dacquoise
2) Mousse
3) Creme Brulee Insert
4) Mousse
5) Praline/Crisp Insert
6) Mousse
7) Ganache Insert
8) Dacquoise

If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with ONE piece of Dacquoise on the BOTTOM ONLY the order is:
1) Mousse
2) Creme Brulee Insert
3) Mousse
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
5) Mousse
6) Ganache Insert
7) Dacquoise

If you are doing the assembly RIGHT SIDE UP in a springform pan the order is:
1) Dacquoise
2) Ganache Insert
3) Mousse
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
5) Mousse
6) Creme Brulee Insert
7) Mousse
8 OPTIONAL) Dacquoise

THE NEXT DAY...
Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the cake with the icing.
Let set. Return to the freezer.
You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Brad Pitt' s Christmas wish!


(Today Show, NBC picture)

Last year, on december 4th, I was talking here about Brad Pitt Christmas wish and about a great non-profit project to help rebuilt New-Orleans: Make it Right project. Unfortunately, New Orleans is not rebuilt yet ... and this wounded city is still waiting for help to recover from Katrina.

Holidays are the time to share great food, give and receive gifts but also a time to think about others in needs. If you're one of my frequent readers you may have notice that I also featured non-profit and causes here (Breast cancer awareness, Menu for Hope, FeelGood Foundation, and help beat sarcoma -> still ongoing operation, I need your help ).

Anyway why let's go back to Brad Pitt's project in New Orleans:
the guy, quite a normal guy (LOL) is part of a great and generous charitable project: the Make It Right project (see the web site here). And on his Christmas list there is: a home for everybody in New Orleans!

You can watch Brad chatting with Ann Curry last year on the Today Show (video here). You can also find some info on people.com here.

The MIR project is to build green affordable houses in New-Orleans. They even thought about new possible flooding and houses will be built on piles.
On the MIR project web site you can visit a virtual house that will be built in NoLa.
It's Christmas time so why not to donate a little, there is no minimum and what I really like it that you can while visiting the virtual house donate for a compact fluorescent bulb ($5), or a rooftop solar system or even adopt a house i.e. buy the full house.
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In the search for Christmas menu ideas?

Note: French version is on my other blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma
Holidays generosity: Menu for Hope V

For those of us who are in cruel need for ideas for Christmas menu, here I come to the rescue with some of my recipes ( all explained step by step). I learned most of the one I'm presenting today at the famous Lenotre cooking school in Cannes. Pierre Herme himself, among others, learnt pastry at Lenotre school.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Appetizer:
foie gras on mango French toast

Main dish:
Mushroom stuffed sole on a leek bed

Side dish:
goat cheese and mache risotto

Dessert:
French chocolate yule log

To nibble:
XMas sugar cookies
macarons

Friday, December 19, 2008

XMas sugar cookies

Note: French version is on my other food blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma
Holidays generosity: Menu for Hope V



Christmas is around the corner, for those of you who have been living in a cave it's this coming Wednesday!
I accomplished a big step today: finished wrapping my gifts. So I deserve a sweet treat, don't I ? :-)
In the USA, ladies tend to organize Christmas cookies exchange parties. Americans love their cookies and at XMas time host has to have different varieties of cookies to offer. But in this busy period even a well organize, polished perfect-host (a Martha Stewart look-a-like if you prefer) won't have enough time to bake 5 to 6 varieties of cookies. So US housewives created the cookie swap concept. Really simple and ingenuous: you invite your girlfriends over for tea and they all bring a big batch of 1 variety of cookies. Batches are divided between all the attending ladies. Smart! Who said US housewives are desperate? :-)



Here in my new home (Luxembourg area) almost all my girlfriends have left for the Holidays to their countries, so I couldn't organize a cookie swap.
We did bake some Christmas sugar cookies at home. I must say their decoration was a lot of fun!

Sugar cookies dough:
Ingredients:
-1 stick of butter at room temperature
-1/2 cup of powdered sugar
-2 egg yolks
-1cup 3/4 of all purpose flour
-2 tbsp of water
(can be flavored with vanilla extract)

Directions:
Note: dough has to be prepared at least 2h in advance, the day before is even better.
1- Carefully whisk together with a wooden spoon the smooth butter cut into slices, the sugar. Incorporate the yolks. (I don't have a stand-mixer, but you can as well work with one of those beauties at low speed).
2- When all the elements are mixed together, slowly add the flour. Work with your hand to form a uniform, smooth dough.
3- Add the water, and form with your hand a ball.
4- Refrigerate, cover with plastic wrap, at least 2 hours
5- Preheat your oven at 350F. Line baking sheets with non sticky baking mats or parchment paper. Set aside.
6- Transfer the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch (4 mm) thickness.
7- Cut it with your favorite cookie cutters (or a glass if you don't own any cookie cutters). Leftover dough can roll over and over, to cut more cookies.
8- Transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 min until slightly golden.
9- Place them on a cooling rack.

Icing:
Ingredients:
-food coloring
-powdered sugar
-lemon juice or water
-sugar decorations
Directions:
1- Combine 2 tbsp of powdered sugar with 2 to 3 lemon juice drops (can be replace by water if you don't have lemon juice or if you don't want the lemony taste). Add 2 to 3 food coloring drops.
Note: open and close the food coloring tubes away from you, splashes can happen ...
2- Spread the icing, with a teaspoon, on cooled cookies.
3- Add any decorations you want (before the icing dries).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Menu for hope V, the prize I'm giving away

Note: French version is on my other blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



I'm proud to help Menu for Hope this year, like last year. Menu for Hope is an annual fundraiser hosted by Pim. Last year, Menu for Hope raised nearly $100K to help the UN World Food Program feed the hungry. Yes you read it correctly $100K :-) I know this year we the tough and struggling economy it will be tough to raise money for good causes, but with all YOUR help we can do it!
How it works:Each December, food bloggers from all over the world join the campaign by offering a food-related prizes for the Menu for Hope raffle. For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual raffle ticket to bid on a prize of their choice. At the end of the two-week campaign, the raffle tickets are drawn and the results announced on Chez Pim.

The campaign is divide between region. For us, here in Europe, the hostess is Sara from Ms Adventures in Italy . Check out other European prizes here.

This year my prize is: code:EU20
Muffin Lover's Set: 12 Silicone Baking Cups and a Muffin Cookbook
Offered by Babeth of La vie in English. Ultimate muffins set, with silicon cups so you will never run out of the old paper version and plus it's eco-friendly. Added the book : Les muffins de Bob by Mark Grossman (an American living in Paris, book in French), filled with ideas to make beautiful muffins.


How to bid:
Donation Instructions:
1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope at
http://chezpim.com
2. Go to the donation site at http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhope5
and make a donation.
3. Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize
of your choice. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal
Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation.
You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize
code.
For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets
for EU02. Please write 2xEU01, 3xEU02
4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box
and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.
5. Please allow us to see your email address so that we could contact
you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with
anyone.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nicolas Feuillatte on vente-privée, starting today



Starting today you can buy online Nicolas Feuillatte, on sale meaning outlet prices from you coach :-)
Where on vente-privée.
To take advantage of those bargains you need to be a member, and it's only on invitation.
Well you will tell me, great but how I can get a VIP invitation?
Simple! Just click here I'm inviting you :-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Soup at Tiffany

Note: French version is on my other food blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

Tiffany_soup

When I prepare soups at home it's always in big batches. Not that I have that many mouths to feed, but it's great to have home-made soup in your freezer waiting to warm you up on those cold and lazy evenings. To be more convenient I freeze my soup in small 1 to 2 portion bags.
This season I'm a big fan of Brussels sprouts as well as leeks.
Last week at my favorite grocery store I was seduced by a plumply cauliflower, so I brought it home :-) But it has no effect, what so ever, on my other housemate ... so it ended up mixed in a soup.

I was so thrilled when I saw my soup finished: it turned into a pale tint of spring green puree. Exactly the same green as Tiffany&Co boxes! We all remember the great movie with Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard (young, this guy can act): Breakfast at Tiffany, guess why I named my soup: soup at Tiffany ? :-)


Ingredients:
-2 leeks
-1 cauliflower
-olive oil (e.v.o.o preferred)
-kosher salt
-curcuma

Directions:
1- Remove the leafs and trim the end (the dry part, the rest will be used for the soup). Cut into pieces, wash under running water.
2- In a large pot put some water to boil ( at least 1 liter: cauliflower pieces have to be covered by it). When it's boiling add a generous pinch of kosher salt and a tea spoon of curcuma. Reduce the heat and add the cauliflower. Let it cook for about 20 minutes. (How to know it's cooked? if you can drive in the tip of a knife like into melted butter: it's done). Drain and set aside
3- While it's cooking prepare the leeks. Trim the bottom end (hairy one) and the spoiled part of the leafs. The green is the key ingredient to have this rich color. Wash them carefully. Mine were organic so a bit dirty.
4- Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, then in small slices.
5- In a hot pan add a splash of olive oil and the leeks. Cook it for about 10 minutes until it's slightly golden. Set aside.
6- Mix altogether in a blender the cooked cauliflower and leeks. Set aside in a large bowl the pureed veggies and add 1 to 2 tbs of olive oil. Serve or freeze!

Other soups recipes:
-evoo toasted pumpkin soup
-Jerusalem artichoke soup
-cream slip peas and bacon
- cream hokkaido squash soup

Sunday, November 30, 2008

[Daring Bakers] Caramel cupcakes

Note: You prefer Oulala? Read this post on my French blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

cupcake_caramel

It's time to reveal November Daring Bakers challenge. This month challenge was: caramel cake, that became cupcakes with me :-)
This month was hosted by: Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater (http://eggbeater.typepad.com/).
It was the first time I made cupcakes, and not the first time I indulged them of course.
The only variation added to DB challenge: physalis fruit on top.
The recipe is well explain and really easy.



CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Notes from Natalie for those of you baking gluten-free:

So the GF changes to the cake would be:

2 cups of gluten free flour blend (w/xanthan gum) or 2 cups of gf flour blend + 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 - 1 tsp baking powder (this would be the recipe amount to the amount it might need to be raised to & I'm going to check)

I'll let you when I get the cake finished, how it turns out and if the baking powder amount needs to be raised.


Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

CARAMEL SYRUP

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brussels sprouts and apples happy together

Note: French version is on my other food blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



God in France we are living a Florida drama 2000 American election! French left wing party were voting to designate their chief and results were 104 votes tied, so they're counting again. I do hope they're not using punched cards to vote ... Chad where are you ? :-)

After a nice week-end spent in Portugal: my friends T and G got married in a lovely hacienda near Lamego, here I am home, in Luxembourg-French country side. We were welcome with a snow storm. Such a chock after a lovely week-end under Indian summer sun.

My mission for today is to have my tires on my car changed. My tiny car needs its winter tires.

As I shouldn't go out with an empty stomach, let me share with you a quick and very unusual recipe inspired by Heidi (101 cookbooks). Thanks to her I made peace with Brussels sprouts last year. Well you may have the same unappealing souvenir of them, yep you had the same boiled ones at your school cafeteria, yeurkkk!

Last year I prepared them as:
- savory muffins
- with Roma cabbages over rice
- red quinoa cassolettes

This year my Brussels sprouts dish is more adventurous, but still tasty!

Ingredients: (party of 2)
- 1 apple (even a wrinkled one)
- half an onion thinly chopped
- 5 hazelnuts shelved
- 8 Brussels sprouts
- grape seeds oil
- salt and pepper

Directions:
1- Trim the end and remove the first leaves of the Brussels sprouts. Rinse under clear water. Set aside.
2- Peel and cut the apple into small cubes. Set aside.
3- In a large pot put some water to boil. Add the sprouts and let them cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
4- Warm some oil in a wok or pan. Cook the onion until light golden. Add the apple and Brussels sprouts. Cook for 4 - 5 minutes stirring a couple of time.
5- When cooked add the hazelnuts, salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Help beat sarcoma!

Care for French? Read this post on my French blog: La cuisine de Babeth

For those of you who are in my facebook network you may have received an email from me about help beat sarcoma (and no it's not a spam). And if you're a reader of La cuisine de Babeth or here: La vie in English, you may also have notice that for the last months I always start my postings with:
Rare cancer awareness: don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma


My friend Nathalie who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer: sarcoma. I'm not a doctor, I'm just a normal woman who got speechless after learning Nathalie's disease, and who wants to help.
I invite all of you to:
- read her blog: beat sarcoma
- check the web page of the non-profit organization she created: BeatSarcoma.org
- and last but not least you can make a donation to the research team leaded by Amreen Husain
at Stanford.
To donate now click here.

After giving some money to the Stanford research team (who works on sarcoma) I felt I didn't do enough to help. After some brainstorming I had the idea to raise awareness about this cause on internet, but a joyous way. And what more joyous than sharing a good meal!
So my idea is pretty simple: while sharing your favorite Sunday brunch (es) on
http://help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon.blogspot.com/
and on your blog/site (if you have one), you will help raising awareness about this rare form of cancer!

I'm a food lover and my idea is to spread the awareness through the web with a story-chain.

help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon is YOUR blog, and I would like all of you the share your story about your favorite Sunday lunch. Do you like to go out for brunch, can you only have your Mum roast? You name it :-)


Rules:
Anybody can participate in English, or in French
Option 1- You have a blog: post your story, recipes, pictures on your blog and add the following html code:



Widget will be:


-Send an email to cuisinedebabeth{at}gmail{dot}com with the link to your post, and give http://help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon.blogspot.com the rights to publish your story/recipes/pictures or any materials you want to share.
Please for liability issues include in your email:
"I, {your name} certify that I have the rights to use and publish this text and pictures and I give the rights to Help Beat Sarcoma to use it."

Option 2- You don't have a blog and want to participate, no problem! Just send an email to cuisinedebabeth{at}gmail{dot}com with your text and any materials you want to include in your favorite Sunday luch story, and give http://help-beat-sarcoma-a-thon.blogspot.com the rights to publish here your story/recipes/pictures.
Please for liability include in your email:
I, {your name} certify that I have the rights to use and publish this text and pictures and I give the rights to Help Beat Sarcoma to use it.

Thanks!

Special thanks to Anne who helpt me a lot with html, and spreading the news:-)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Flammekueche (or Flammenkueche) recipe

Note: French version is on my other food blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



I cannot really translate all the French post I intended to (here to read it). In it I was giving results for a quiz about "you and the apron", quiz I only put on my French food blog: La cuisine de Babeth. Sorry guys ... Anyway I will try to make it up to you by revealing the results.
Quiz: you and the apron:
1- Always! 13%
2- Only when I cook 10%
3- Only when it will get messy 41%
4- I have a lot, brand new 13%
5- Never 20%

Number 3 is our winner! And I did vote to number 3 as well ( who said that you cannot participate to your own games? There no small prints here :-) ). But I don't always anticipate the "messy" part, which results to a LOT of laundry ...

Today I want to share with you a typical recipe from the French region where we moved in July. Ciao French Riviera, Hello Lorraine!
Let me introduce you: Alsatian flambéed tart also known as Flammenkueche (or Flammekueche). It's a warm appetizer, a thin-like-paper pizza dough filled with crème fraîche, onions and lardons. In France you can buy frozen ones, but it's a no rocket science to make one at home (and it's really quick and simple too).

Note: if you cannot find crème fraîche use sour cream instead. I'm pretty sure you can buy crème fraîche at Whole Food Market.

The recipe is in 2 parts: first the dough, then the filling.

No-yeast bred dough:
Ingredients:
- 1 cup 1/4 (180g) flour
- 1/2 tbs of salt
- 2 tbs of sunflower oil (or 4 olive oil)
- 1/4 cup (10cl) of lukewarm water

Directions:
1- Sift the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the flour, and pour into it the salt and oil. Combine with your with your hands. Knead the dough few minutes.
2- Add slowly the lukewarm water while kneading the dough. Knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Form a ball with it.
Note: If the dough is too sticky add some flour, if is not elastic add water.

Flammekueche:(appetizer party of 4, diner party of 2)
Ingredients:
- 1 plumpy onion
- 4 tbs of crème fraîche épaisse or sour cream.
- 1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
- 1 ball of no-yeast bred dough (recipe see above)
- 120g smoked lardons (strips of fat bacon)
- 1 tbs of sunflower oil
- salt and black pepper

Direction:
1- Peel the onion, thinly cut it.
2- Ina bowl combine the crème, nutmeg, salt and freshly grounded pepper.
3- Flour your work surface. Roll dough, making a long very thin rectangle as big as your cooking baking sheet.
4- Brush your baking sheet with some oil, and place the dough. (or you can line your baking sheet with parchment paper instead). Press the dough all around to form and edge. Gently prick the dough with a fork.
5- Spray on it the cream mixture. Sprinkle on top the onions and lardons. Add few oil drops.
6- Cook in a preheated oven at 480F for 15 min.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Let's meet in Périgueux this Friday!

Note: French version is on my other food blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



For those of you who knows me well, you know that on week-ends I'm browsing yard sales, garage sales and other consignment stores. In Antibes I even was a regular at auctions on Saturdays. (Hotel des ventes, 8 bd Pasteur, 06600 Antibes -Map it-), or when I had the courage to leave my parking spot I would go to Cannes, where auctions are more impressing.

Last week-end I was surfing internet in quest for auctions in my new region: Lorraine, and I found an eye catching one : bibliothèque gastronomique ... in Perigueux. For those of you who are familiar with France geography it's quite the opposite way. Anyway Perigueux's auctions house will conduct auction of rare cookbooks this coming Friday.
To view the catalogue -here-
A video of it -here-
Infos and directions:
Friday 14th of November, at 2:30pm
Perigord encheres-estimations
9, rue Bodin
24000 Périgueux, France
(Map it)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Grilled curcuma Jumbo shrimps

Note: French version is on my other food blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



This morning I want to share with you a recipe I posted on my French food blog, La cuisine de Babeth, a week ago. This recipe was posted just before catching a train to Paris where I went to FIAC and a cooking show. I'm not famous enough to have the TGV driver waiting for me when I'm running late, that my lame excuse for the delay to post in English :-)

Thanks God I didn't pay the entrance's ticket to the cooking show (salon cuisinez), because how disappointing it was! It took place at Le Carrousel du Louvre, but they only occupied a third of the space and let no room to navigate easily. There were few cooking classes (all over-booked), not a lot (and I'm being kind!) to sample and booths with stuff to buy (few) ... not to mention the ticket price: 10 euros! You may think that I'm being negative, but I was disappointed! The only great part, frankly, was the people I met. How nice is it to meet in real-life some bloggers I love to read :-)

FIAC was a nice surprise, a lot of eye candies! FIAC is a Contemporary art fair held in the heart of Paris. In Paris during FIAC, French and international actors of the art world suggest you a selection of exhibitions and openings, national museum, Parisian institutions, foundations, art parallel fairs to FIAC.


Visiting FIAC is like visiting a museum where everything is on sale, and where you can take pictures :-) Some of my favorites are: Calder's mobiles and design furniture from the 50s.

Anyway I didn't win the lottery to be able to shop at FIAC so let's go back to our raviolis :-)
This recipe in English is for you my friend Elra (from Elra's baking), even if she already read it in French on La cuisine de Babeth :-) The recipe is from a French cookbook: Ce soir c'est cuisine indienne (Tonight, it's Indian cuisine), I received to test. I must tell you that this one is a keeper! It's super quick, it won't require more time that to cook some rice, and tasty and full of colors!

Grilled curcuma shrimps:
Ingredients: (for 2)
-2 medium size onions
-2 green bell peppers
-2 Tbs of sunflowers oil
-1 small garlic clove
-0.5 lb (250g) fully cooked, peeled and deveined Jumbo shrimps
-1 ts of curcuma
-fresh coriander
-1/2 lemon juiced
-salt and pepper

Directions:
1- Peel and thinly sliced the onions, cut the green pepper in small slices.
2- In a wok or skillet add a splash of sunflower oil, when the pan is nice and hot reduce the heat to medium, add and cook the onions, green pepper and the garlic crushed with.
3- Saute until the onions are golden, add the shrimps and curcuma. Cook for 10 mins.
4- Remove from heat, add the lemon juice and the thinly sliced coriander.

Previously on La vie in English: Making-off my 3rd cooking video
Other Fish and seafood recipes on La vie in English, click here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My 3rd cooking video, the making-off

Note: French version is on my other food blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



Monday 13th of October I was invited to shoot again, a cooking video in association with Philips small appliances. If I was selected it's because of you my dear readers: THANK YOU! MERCI!



The first video (beet mousse recipe) I shoot for Philips was a solo one, just me and the camera ( and a make-up artist, and few crew members :-) ) but this time I teamed up with Cyril Lignac (a French celebrity TV chef ).

An other big difference: the recipe was not mine but one of Cyril's, and I learned about the recipe itself right in front of the cameras!

The day was a blast and the cherry on top (la cerise sur le gâteau as we say in French): I spent my day with fellow French food bloggers.


For lunch we were invited to the nearby new French bistro owned by Cyril Lignac. The décor is Belle Epoque and the food, apart from being delicious, is typical French bistro style.



le Chardenoux
1 r Jules Vallés 75011 PARIS
tel: 01 43 71 80 89
Map it

Even if I woke up at 5 a.m to catch my TGV, I was late for the group picture. Not to mention that this early departure implies a LOT of work for the make-up artist to made me look alive and not a Zombie :-)


I'm still waiting for the video and unfortunately I don't have any picture of the dish we prepared. But it was delicious and one of those quick recipe to prepare, as I love them.

Calamari a la plancha and curcuma carrots purée:
For the calamari:
-juice of a lemon
-1 garlic clove
-3 fresh basil leaves
-olive oil
-salt, ground pepper
- ground Espelette pepper

1- In a large bowl mix the lemon juice with 1 tbs of olive oil. Add some salt, fresh ground pepper and the garlic crushed. Add the calamari and sprinkle 2 tbs of ground Esplette pepper. It will nicely colored the calamari.
2- On a hot plancha grill the calamari.
3-Serve with a carrots purée seasoned with curcuma.

Other Babeth's videos: Beet mousse, grilled marinated shrimps
Previously on La vie in English: Happy Halloween, Bake your own pizza

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Note: French version is on my other food blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

Once upon a time a pumpkin landed into my basket, and it turns not into a coach but into a jack-o-lantern! I have to thanks Mathieu for the hard work. I must say that at first, I was skeptical. For me making a jack-o-lantern is messy, very. We tried with my roommates while living in sunny California. An American friend did a small pumpkin craving workshop for us. But the only things I seem to remember are: it's long, messy and very sticky. So I feared that my kitchen would turn into a gigantic mess, but that was without taking into account Mathieu 15+ years experience of pumpkin craving!


Anyway here the spooky result. And we're ready (we HAVE candies) if trick-or-treaters are coming tonight!

Happy Halloween!


If you want some pumpkins pattern ideas, have a look at Martha Stewart page (link here).

Previously on La vie in English: Bake your own pizza

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

[Daring Bakers] Bake Your Pizzas Like A Real Pizzaiolo

Note: French version is on my other food blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

Hi! Today is a special day for me and my fellow Daring Bakers. The day we publish our challenge! This month challenge was a lot of fun for me and for my tasting-recipe-husband, because October challenge was: baking a pizza!
I've been baking home made pizza for while now and I really love it, the feeling of the dough all over the hands, and all the creativity involved with the sauce and topping.

The recipe from Rosa, October host is bellow. I used a normal tomatoes sauce with sun dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, capers, white mushrooms and sardines as topping.

~ BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~
Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

Ingredients:
4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled - FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast - FOR GF use 2 tsp
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar - FOR GF use agave syrup
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

DAY ONE

Method:
1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.


Or

2. FOR GF: Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespoons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

DAY TWO

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

Or

8. FOR GF: On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

Or

10. FOR GF: Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough).

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.


11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

Or

11. FOR GF: Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

Or

12. FOR GF: Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

Or

13. FOR GF: Follow the notes for this step.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.


14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.


Other DB challenges:
cheese cake pops
Julia Child's French bread
Lemon meringue pie
Chocolate yule log
Tender potato bread
Crackers and peach salsa

Saturday, September 27, 2008

[Daring bakers] Lavash Crackers & Toppings

Note: French version is on my other food blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma



My last daring bakers' challenge was back in April. I know, I know it's been a long time since I haven't bake with my dear DB friends. To make a story short my life was sort of hectic since April: I lost my job and I had to move from the French riviera to Luxembourg area ... not the perfect mindset to bake lavish and cute cakes.
Anyway I'm thrilled to be back in the game :-)
This month Daring Bakers' challenge is ground breaking: it's the first vegan and/or gluten-free challenge!

The Challenge as it was delivered to us: Make Lavash Crackers and create a dip/spread/salsa/relish to accompany it. Our hostesses this month are Natalie from Gluten a Go Go, and co-hostess Shelly from Musings from the Fishbowl.

I chose quinoa flour and a peach salsa. For the topping, I sprinkled some poppy seeds, sesame seeds, carvi and kosher salt.



Makes 2 sheet pans of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

or

2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

or

4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet. I pre-cut them with a pizza slicer.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.


Honeydew - Peach Salsa from The Splended Table (http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/re … eydew.html)

* juice of 1 lime
* 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1/4 to 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
* 1 Red Fresno and 1 Hot Yellow minced chile (seeds removed)
* 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar,
* 1/2 ripe sweet honeydew melon, cubed into bite-sized pieces
* 4 small, ripe peaches, peeled and cubed into bite-sized pieces
* salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1/3 cup minced fresh coriander, or coriander and mint combined

In a medium bowl blend the lime juice, garlic, onion and chilies. Let stand 20 minutes, then blend in sugar and fruits with salt (a generous pinch) and pepper (to make piquant) to taste. Refrigerate up to 3 hours. Fold in fresh herbs just before serving.

Other DB challenges:
cheese cake pops
Julia Child's French bread
Lemon meringue pie
Chocolate yule log
Tender potato bread

Others crackers I love to make: Heidi's crackers: Japanese crackers, crackers with a smell of Provence, cinnamon-caramel vanilla-caramel crakers
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