Daring Bakers October Challenge: Mille Feuille

ImageOur October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!

This was a tricky challenge for me, relying heavily on presentation and patience, neither of which are my strong points.  The first attempt was very tasty, but as I didn’t let it chill for long enough before cutting, it collapsed and needed to be eaten with a spoon! The second attempt stayed together much better and was delicious.

I made a traditional Mille Feuille with Creme Patiessere filling.

The puff pastry was really fun to make, although perhaps could have stayed in the oven a little longer for a crisper finish.  My feathering on top also needs a little work, and next time I would assemble right before serving so the pastry stayed a bit crisper.  However, it was delicious!  Great challenge!

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Daring Bakers Challenge April 2012: Nazooks

The Daring Bakers’ April 2012 challenge, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeasted dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee-style cake.

I made the Nazook, half with the traditional vanilla filling and half with an almond meal chocolate filling.  They were both great, although I slightly preferred the chocolate (always do!).  The pastry is easy, buttery and delicious and could easily be used for a whole range of fillings, both sweet and savoury.

Nazook

approx 40 pieces

Ingredients
Pastry dough

  • 3 cups  all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
  • 2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup softened butter (room temperature)

Vanilla Filling (makes enough to fill half the dough)

  • 3/4 cup  all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup  sugar
  • 1/3 cup softened butter (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Almond Filling (makes enough to fill the rest of the dough)

  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter softened
  • 2 teaspoon cocoa
  • pinch on salt

Wash

  • 1-2 egg yolks (for the wash; alternatively, some yogurt, egg whites, or a whole egg)

Directions:

Make the Pastry Dough
1. Place the sifted flour into a large bowl.
2. Mix in dry yeast.
3. Add the sour cream, and the softened butter.
4. Use your hands, or a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, to work it into a dough.
5. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl or your hands. If it remains very sticky, add some flour, a little at a time.
6. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight if you like.

Make the filling
7. In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and the softened butter in a medium bowl.
8. Add the vanilla extract.
9. Mix the filling until it looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long. Set aside.

10.  In a separate bowl combine chocolate almond filling ingredients and set this aside too

Make the nazook
11. Preheat the oven to moderate 180 degrees C.
12. Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters.
13. Form one of the quarters into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour.
14. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not transparent.

15. Spread 1/4 of the filling mixture across the rolled-out dough in an even layer. Try to spread the filling as close as possible to the edges on the short sides, but keep some of pastry dough uncovered (1 inch/2.5 cm) along the long edges.
16. From one of the long sides, start slowly rolling the dough across. Be careful to make sure the filling stays evenly distributed. Roll all the way across until you have a long, thin loaf.

17. Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).
18. Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush.

19.  Cut into 1 inch slices and place on paper lined tray

20. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown, cool and enjoy!

Nutmeg cake to follow shortly!

Another Momofuku Milk Bar Hit; Compost Cookies

Are you a sweet tooth, craving cake, chocolate and cookies?  Or maybe more of a savory snacker who goes in for chips, pretzels and the like.  Which ever your snacking preference, these compost cookies from Christine Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook will hit the spot.  Basically you can throw in anything you like or have in the cupboard, although the recipe makes some pretty awesome suggestions that you’ll probably want to try first!

Compost Cookies (Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook). 

  • 225 grams butter, at room temperature
  • 200 grams  granulated sugar
  • 150 grams  light brown sugar
  • 50 grams glucose (I left this out as I didn’t have it and they were still great!)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 grams  vanilla extract
  • 225 grams  flour
  • 2 grams  baking powder
  • 1 1/2 grams baking soda
  • 4 grams  salt
  • 150 grams  mini chocolate chips (I used chopped chocolate)
  • 100 grams mini butterscotch chips (I used chopped mars bar)
  • 1/4 recipe Graham Crust -see recipe below
  • 40 grams old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 5 grams ground coffee (I forgot this- didn’t matter)
  • 50 grams  potato chips
  • 50 grams  mini pretzels
  • handful sultanas
  • handful chopped hazelnuts

Directions

1.  Combine the butter, sugars and glucose in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes.

2.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.

3.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step, or you will risk overmixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

4.  Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust, oats, sultanas and nuts and coffee, and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

5.  Add the potato chips and pretzels, and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips.

6.  Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop (or a 1⁄3-cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature—they will not bake properly.  (I put mine in the freezer for about an hour and they held shape well)

7.  Heat the oven to 180.

8.  Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment-  Bake for 18 minutes.

9.  The cookies will puff, crackle and spread. After 15 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case.

10.  Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage. At room temp, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

Spot the chip!

Graham Crust Recipe

Ingredients

  • 190 grams graham cracker crumbs (I used digestives)
  • 20 grams  milk powder
  • 25 grams  sugar
  • 3 grams salt
  • 55 grams butter, melted, or as needed
  • 55 grams heavy cream

Directions

1.  Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.

2.  Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 grams (1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons) butter and mix it in.

3.  Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

This would make an awesome cheesecake crust too!

An ode to the Staffordshire Oatcake.

Well have just read in The Guardian (See article here), about the closure of a hole in the wall bakery in Hanley and it seems it was the last of the traditional served on the street oatcake shops (whatever that is.) Now I didn’t know the bakery personally but I do know Staffordshire oatcakes and I adore them.  I have fond memories of Saturday mornings eating Dale’s oatcakes with lots of melted Cheshire cheese. So it gives me a good excuse to share the recipe I have for these bad boys.

Traditional Staffordshire Oatcakes (Adapted from Allotment Growing Recipes)

225g quick cook oats

225g wholemeal or plain flour

1 tsp salt

450ml warm milk

450ml warm water

1 tsp sugar

15g or 1 sachet of dry yeast

  1. Mix flour, salt and oats together in large bowl
  2. Mix yeast, water, milk and sugar in another container. Give it a good stir and combine with the flour mixture.
  3. Cover and leave for 1 hour.
  4. In an oiled non-stick 28cm frying pan, on medium heat, add a ladle full of mixture and shake it around pan like making pancake.
  5. Cook on first side until you see the top covered in bubbles and almost completely dry. 2-3 mins.
  6. Flip cook on other side 1-2mins. Should be light golden colour on both sides.
  7. Stack on a plate and continue making them until you have used up all the batter.
  8. Allow to cool then Clingfilm and put in fridge till you need. Or scoff straight away, add you favourite grated cheese in the centre and melt under the grill or in microwave then roll up a bit like a fajita or spring roll but without the tucked in bits so more like a cigar!

 

Hope you enjoy these Staffordshire delicacies.  They are really good for breakfast (or lunch or dinner!).

Here are some fillings I suggest:

Traditionalish -Bacon, cheese, black pudding, sausages, mushrooms

Sweet– honey, nutella, jam

Pretensions – sun dried tomatoes, chorizo, spinach and mozzarella

Basically it’s a bit like a pizza experiment and try different combinations, have fun and hope you enjoy. Long live the oatcake! Viva la revolution!

Daring Bakers’ February Challenge- Quick Breads

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

I couldn’t decide on just one quick bread for this challenge, so I made a few!  The first was a banana peanut caramel loaf, which was nice, but very heavy, probably due to too many peanuts, which tended to dominate the flavor.  It was really more like peanut loaf.

Banana peanut caramel quick bread

a caramalized onion and chorizo bread

and a mandarin yoghurt cake

Recipes to follow….

Cake Truffles: Momofuku Genius

Peanut Caramel Banana Bread Truffles

I have spent the weekend delving into the sweet tooth heaven that is the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook by Christine Tosi.  Starting with the cereal milk ice cream, (recipe to follow- definitely the best ice cream I’ve made at home so far, and one of my favourite ice creams ever!), I then started perusing the internet looking at pictures of other fantastic creations from this New York bakery.

One picture that kept popping up was the Cake Truffle, in particular Birthday Cake Truffles, sold by the bakery.  These looked absolutely amazing, and combined two of my favourite things, truffles and cake.  I couldn’t locate a recipe for these bite sized cake balls, but after reading a number of blogs from people who had tried them, or made something similar it seemed it was simply a case of crumbling a cake, mixing it with icing and rolling into balls.  Perhaps with a quick roll in something to coat to improve the appearance. Obviously the quality and flavour of your original cake and icing will effect the ball. I’m not sure this is quite how Momofuku does them, as the menu seems to feature binding ingredients such as liquid cheesecake (further experimentation to come!), but it was a good starting point.

I had a couple of cakes in the freezer after a Saturday baking frenzy that resulted in three cakes and only two people to feed, so I thought I would experiment with those.

One cake was a banana peanut loaf and the other a mandarin and yogurt cake.  I quickly whipped up some salted caramel butter cream for the banana and chocolate butter cream for the mandarin, crumbled them up and mixed them in.  I then rolled the mixture into balls, rolled the banana cake in shredded coconut and the mandarin one in icing sugar and chilled in the fridge for a couple of hours.

not so attractive Mandarin Chocolate Cake Truffles- next time I'll coat them in chocolate

The resulting balls were amazing, dense and moist like the part of the cake that comes in contact with the icing and is really soft (my favourite part!).  They were definitely a huge improvement on the cakes themselves which were a little dry.  A great use of any slightly old/dry cake really, but probably tastes even better with a fresh moist one.

You could really do this with any cake you enjoy, or even a packet mix.  The icing possibilities are endless and these little bites make great, transportable treats.  I think next time I will chocolate coat them, and there will definitely be more than one next time!

Tuna Mornay with Chip Topping

One of the dishes I remember my mum making when I was growing up was Tuna Mornay with chips (crisps) on top.  I remember the topping was lovely and crunchy and as the weather has become slightly more wintery recently, I was in the mood for a nice winter comfort food.  I have never made Tuna Mornay before, but after a quick internet search I had a rough idea of what should be in the recipe and decided to give it a crack with what I had in the cupboard.

slightly overbrowned!

The result was a tasty, cheesy winter warmer, rather like a jazzed up macaroni and cheese!  It also  contained enough veggies to make it seem moderately healthy. The chips added a lovely crispy crust and contrasted well with the creamy tuna.

I think this recipe would work well with a variety of vegetables and it’s particularly  good if you only have frozen veggies in.  I used carrots, frozen peas, and tinned corn, but I think spinach, mushrooms, pumpkin or zucchini might also work nicely.  The recipe freezes well and also reheats well the next day in the oven (better!) or microwave , although to avoid soggy chips I would add some fresh chips when reheating to maintain the crispness.

Tuna Mornay with Chip Topping

500g of tinned tuna in oil/water well drained

1 small tin corn kernels

2 carrots diced into small squares

3/4 cup frozen peas

4 eggs

2 Tbsp plain flour

3 Tbsp butter

500ml milk

3/4 cup cheddar cheese (grated)

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)

1 bag plain potato chips (crisps)

1 1/2 cups cooked pasta such as macaroni or penne

salt and pepper to season

1.  Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente

2.  Boil eggs for about 10 minutes or until hard boiled.

3.  Cook diced carrots in a little water in a saucepan until soft, drain and set aside.

4.  Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan and add flour stirring well to combine.

5.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuosly

6.  Add milk little by little, whisking well all the time.

7.  Cook over medium heat until sauce thickens slightly, about 7 minutes, whisking continuously to prevent lumps.

8.  Remove from heat and add grated cheddar cheese.

9.  Place drained tuna, cooked pasta, carrots, corn, peas, chopped eggs and cheese sauce into an oven proof dish and mix well to combine.

10.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and top with crushed chips.

11.  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and bake at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes until top is slightly browned (if browning too fast cover with tin foil).

The perfect winter comfort food!