Friday, June 29, 2012

ABC: Classic Fruit Tartlets

Whenever I go to upscale pastry shops I always see these charming fruit tarts or tartlets decoratively placed on the shelves of their refrigerated display cases which never fails to capture my attention because of their vibrant colors and attractive shine.  I can't help but pause and stare at them in admiration and appreciate the way the fruits are carefully positioned on top of the cream and how all their lovely colors complement each other.  Needless to say that I got very excited when I found out that this July's bake for ABC would mean making my own classic fruit tart!  I knew immediately that I wanted it to be colorful--using all the berries that are sweet and delicious this time of the year as well as other tart and colorful fruits that I can find such as kiwis.  Fortunately, our supermarket is currently filled with all of these fruits--all very sweet, juicy and fresh.  I especially love how sweet the strawberries and kiwis are right now!  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Seeded Semolina Bread + Sweet Variation

These semolina boules have been on my long list of breads to bake out of the book Tartine Bread and I'm quite pleased with the way they turned out.  I got to practice my shaping techniques and the seeded one has a nicely round shape that I can't help but stare at it in admiration LOL.  The book offers two variations to the formula -- one savory with toasted sesame, fennel and poppy seeds (I used chia) and the other one, a sweet version that makes use of golden raisins and orange rind.  Both are very good but I can't help but wish that I had put a little less fennel on the savory one than what's written in the formula.  OK I wish I omitted the fennel completely.  I guess it's not one of those flavors I'm used to eating especially in bread but I definitely think that it overpowered the delicious flavor of the sesame seeds.  The fennel however, complemented the flavors of the orange and raisins in the sweet variation so it was a perfect match.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TwD: French Strawberry Trifle

Strawberries and Cream is one of my favorite cake flavors so I was really excited to make this genoise version called French Strawberry Cake with the Tuesdays with Dorie group.  The recipe is from the book Baking With Julia and was contributed by one of my favorite cook book authors, Flo Braker.  I've tried some of her recipes from a few of her cook books before -- all really delicious -- so I had a feeling that this one would be really good as well.  I was particularly interested with the fact that this cake makes use of a genoise base which I knew would soak up all the yummy juices from the macerated strawberries without making the cake soggy -- only delightfully moist and intensely flavored with strawberries.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Team USA's Five Grain Bread

  I love five-grain breads and have been making a lot of them lately two versions of which I've blogged about before (here and here).  This particular one, a version made by Team USA during the 1999 Coup du Monde de la Boulangerieimmediately caught my attention because the generous coating of grains that surrounds the exterior of the loaf made it look so appetizing that my mouth immediately started to water.  I knew just by seeing the pictures of the loaves that they would have incredible flavor especially the coated crust which I expected would turn delightfully crisp and nutty during the bake.  

I certainly wasn't wrong with all of my assumptions about this bread.  It tasted just as good as it looks and the textures of the grains from both the crust and crumb is such a delight on the palate as well.  The crust was perfectly crunchy and the crumb was so moist and tender.  I can even state that this, by far, is the tastiest Five-Grain bread I've ever made.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

ABC: Overnight Brioche Braid

I just adore brioche so I was thrilled when Hanaa selected Abby Dodge's Overnight Brioche Braid for this month's ABC bake.  The recipe is from Abby's book "The Weekend Baker" and I like how she gives suggestions on how to conveniently make this bread by including extra steps -- which is extremely beneficial to people on a time crunch -- like an overnight stay in the fridge during bulk fermentation or during the final proofing of the dough.  Although these steps are optional, I decided to go for the overnight retardation so I could have freshly baked brioche in the morning.  I also read in other bread books that doing this helps develop more flavor and that dividing and shaping the dough while its cold is also more ideal.

I made a brioche cake from Tish Boyle's "The Cake Book" for my bread baketogether (BBT) with Hanaa recently so I was eager to see the differences between the two brioches.  I was very pleased with the outcome of Tish's brioche and I wanted to get the same results with Abby's.  My comparisons may be be compromised though as I used a different flour for Abby's and I recall putting lecithin granules to Tish's brioche which I omitted in Abby's version.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Viking aka Mom's Birthday Cake!

 I love the name of this cake: Viking.  It sounds so bold and strong just like its flavors and for a cake, it sounds completely mysterious too.  I don't think your guests would be able to tell if they call and ask what cake you're serving that night and you mischievously say "Viking."  

"Huh? What's it made of?" 

Well this was the exact reaction I got from my Mom when I called to tell her that her birthday cake (to help mark her 58th birthday) was ready and waiting for her in the fridge.  If I had said that I made "Chocolate Almond Praline Torte" which would be quite an appropriate name for this cake, then that would've been an obvious clue if not a dead giveaway as to the nature of the cake.   

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

TwD: Oasis Naan Two Ways

The first of this month's Tuesdays With Dorie bake is Oasis Naan from the book "Baking With Julia" by Dorie Greenspan.  Oasis Naan is a variation of the Persian Naan recipe found in the book and the two are not much different except for the added toppings of scallion and spices.  

I decided to do things differently and do my own twist to the naan.  I divided the recipe into 2 batches topping the first batch with za'atar and olive oil and the second one with sumac and feta cheese.  I already used these combinations when I made pita breads last Easter and since we all loved it so much, I decided to do the same for the Oasis Naan.