19
Jul

Tartine Baking Project: #65 Blueberry Lemon Chiffon Tart

Currently my two go-to topics of conversation are: 1.) How hot it is, and 2.) Blueberries.  I really don’t want to be a Weather Complainer, but this heat makes me a sour lady with little to no patience for anything.  When drenched in sweat I am prone to being overly dramatic, unproductive, and a whiner.  Anyone who I cross paths with asks, “How are you?” as is standard practice for normal human beings.  My response, “I’m hot.”  Duh.  Everyone is.  I think I would be a better person if we had central air.  Or, if we just moved far north to where ever it is that people can wear pants and sweaters for 95% of the year.  Oh yeah, that was San Francisco.  Then I snap out of the sorry for myself heat stroke talk, and  remind myself I am close to the most amazing lake on the planet, and I love most things about the summer.  Like blueberries.

Through a stroke of lucky forward thinking, I had some tart dough in the freezer waiting for me and my favorite rolling pin.  It was a quick decision to use the muffin tray to make some tiny little tartlets.  Everyone just loves tiny things that are just for them.  I know I said ‘everyone’ — I really don’t think I’m making any assumptions or generalizations here.  Every single person in the world appreciates an individual serving size of dessert.

The chiffon cream is created by folding in whipped cream into the lemon cream.  (I have no idea how to not use the word cream three times in that sentence.  I’m sure if I thought about it, I could figure it out.  I just can’t do it.  I BLAME THE HEAT)  The lemon cream is so very lemony, so the addition of the cream makes the punch of lemon tolerable for anyone (Dan) who doesn’t enjoy extreme lemon flavor.

Once I started to place the blueberries in the cups, I realized I’d wanted to glaze the fruit.  The recipe calls for apple jam or apricot preserves, but I decided to use the blueberry jam I’d made last week in order to really boost the blueberry flavor.  After heating up the jam, I tossed about half of the berries into the jam, then placed them on top of each tartlet.  Maybe that’s not a suggestion because it does create a purple stain the cream a bit.  At least it’s a pretty shade of purple.  After some time chilling in the fridge, I couldn’t help but have a pre-dinner snack with a refreshing glass of lemonade.  It tastes just like summer should.

10
Jul

Tartine Baking Project: #64 Trifle of Summer Fruit

Summer fruit is the best.  There are a great many things that come close: napping in front of the fireplace in the winter, diving into a lake, the first time you comfortably wear jeans and sweaters in the fall, getting retweeted by a celebrity.  But really, summer fruit is the bestl.  I’ve said this a great many times for so many of the recipes, but I’ve been so excited to make this dessert since I got my hands on this cookbook.  Layers of pastry cream, fruit and cake?!  This trifle is a dream!

And speaking of trifle, all I could think about throughout every step was the term “triflin.”  When I first started teaching, this was a word I heard so much describing lazy group members, frenemies, ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, characters in stories they weren’t fond of, etc.  It took me awhile to know what students were talking about, there was so much slang that was a foreign language to me.  In one of my sneakiest teacher moments, I had all my students create “Slang Dictionaries” in order for them to explore their personal language.  Really, I wanted to know what in the world they were talking about.  I still have a few of the dictionaries they made because the results were HILARIOUS!  This sweet treat may be a trifle, but it certainly isn’t triflin’.

So many dishes were made dirty through the processes of making cake, pastry cream, whipped cream, fruit purée, chopping fruit…I did use my new whisk I thrifted over the weekend, and it was wonderful.  You may think a whisk is a whisk is a whisk.  BUT!  There’s a difference in how sturdy they feel in your hand.  I love my new, sturdy whisk and was happy to break it in!

The génoise is basically a sponge cake because you don’t use any chemicals to make the cake rise It ended up working out well after some serious concern.  You basically use air to fluff up the batter before it goes into the oven, but as I was folding things in, it began to deflate extremely fast.  I blame the heat!  CURSE YOU, HEAT WAVE!  So, I think that’s why my cake turned out pretty thin.  I’ll have to make it again, of course, to see if blaming the heat is a viable out for this one.

The dish I used for the trifle is amazing.  More often than not I use it as a cake stand.  Yes.  The bowl is the lid, and you flip over the base and that’s where the cake sits.  I’ve used it like this only as a punch bowl.  Such a clever design!  Piling up the components into this smart bowl was the quick and easy part.  I quickly realized how much dessert I had on my hands and planned a last-minute dessert party.  This is the first time I’ve shared my final product on my blog before it’s actually been eaten.  I don’t feel like I’m cheating or anything because I did create a little amuse-bouche for myself as I was layering up the goods, and it was delicious.  An amuse-bouche is a single bite-sized serving, something like an hors d’oeuvre.  Since I gleaned this information by watching Top Chef, I’m not sure is desserts qualify as such, but it works for me.  I look forward to a million consecutive amuse-bouches when I dive into this trfile of summer fruit later today!

27
Jun

Tartine Baking Project: #63 Clafoutis

I’ve been looking forward to this clafoutis since I first opened this cookbook.  I did make Far Breton, which is the variation of this recipe where you omit the cherries and use prunes.  That was delicious.  Cherries make me so very happy, and I’ve never really done much with them other than just eat them in mass quantities, directly from the bag.  At the grocery store I went to grab some Bing cherries, but the particular selection looked pretty miserable, so I opted for the less familiar to me Rainier cherries.

I don’t have a cherry pitter, and I didn’t even know what they looked like until I did a little research on the Internet.  That’s some pretty fancy stuff right there.  I just cut them in half and took out the pit.  They may have been my downfall.  Just like any other regular person in the world, when there’s a photo that accompanies a recipe you compare your outcome to that which is displayed in the photo.  I think because I used a different type of cherry and they’re cut in half, that certainly affected my results.

Right as I was gathering all the goods together to make this little dessert, there was a mild freak out.  I just got home from a trip to the grocery store (which is always amazingly fun with a two-year-old in tow), and I went to grab my vanilla bean…thus began The Missing Vanilla Bean of 2012.  There’s something that is so frustrating about knowing you just bought something, then scouring the whole kitchen, the car, my purse, the ground, the toy box, the garbage for one vanilla bean.  I may have let out a yell about this frustration.  There’s a rational part of my brain that kept telling me, “Whoa. It’s just a vanilla bean.  You’re really freaking out about a vanilla bean.”  Then I started to feel terrible for truly freaking out about a missing vanilla bean because I thought about my dear friend who recently was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She’s just 28-year-old.  I don’t have all the words yet to convey all the feelings I have about this circumstance, but just thinking about her brought Missing Vanilla Bean of 2012 to just a regular missing vanilla bean.  Do you know what I mean?  It didn’t completely take away my frustration, but just put things in check a bit.

My loving husband went and got me a vanilla bean.  That’s love.  But!  I still have no idea where that vanilla bean went.

Even though it doesn’t look like the clafoutis that I’ve been dreaming about, it did taste pretty alright.  I liked it a lot, actually.  I knew that I would like it so much that I had the forethought to invite friends over to eat it with me so that it would be impossible to eat the entire thing by myself.  Oh, and I had them over because I love them dearly and wanted to spend time with them as well.

21
Jun

Tartine Baking Project: #62 Toasted Almond and Lavender Parfait

It’s been so hot for the past couple of days.  That’s not me complaining, that’s just me stating a fact.  Here’s me complaining: I hate it when my feet are hot, and I hate sweating.  Okay, that’s all.  Now, there are so many surefire ways to enjoy the heat.  A few favorites: lemonade, the beach, sprinklers, hiding out in an air conditioned room, and ice cream!  The easy way to make your own ice cream without an ice cream maker: PARFAIT!

I’ve made the roast banana and maple pecan parfait, and the white chocolate parfait with lime granita.  These sweltering hot days called for a cool treat, and minimal effort.  I couldn’t muster the energy to turn on my oven.  I physically couldn’t turn the knob, so the third and final parfait recipe was in order.  The thought of lavender in parfait made me a bit nervous.  I trust the recipe, and that the vast majority of the world would like such a thing in a frozen dessert.  I just have this thing where lavender smells like potpourri, which isn’t a bad thing, but I’m pretty sure it would taste like that too.

I don’t know how it slipped past me, but the “toasted” part of the title of the recipe involved turning on the oven!  D’oh!  At least it only had to be on for a few minutes.  I pressed onward, and decided that since I had particularly aromatic lavender flowers that I would use slightly less than the recipe called for.  That direction was right there in the recipe, so it wasn’t a cop out or anything.

Turns out that taking pictures during the making of parfait is a difficult task.  Things come together quickly.  I was caught in a sweaty haze, trying to get a good photo of the heavy cream being whipped, and then I looked up and it was whipped to long.  I rolled with it, and used it regardless.  It just made mixing it into the sugary egg yolk concoction a bit difficult, glad it didn’t ruin anything.


I wasn’t necessarily betting against the lavender tasting alright, but I wasn’t going to be surprised if I didn’t like it.  The verdict?  It was delicious, mild and didn’t overpower any other flavors.  Toasted almonds are pretty close to perfection.

I do love a cold ice-cream, or almost-ice-cream, treat.  Once when I was seven-years-old my family went to the local Renaissance Fair.  My parents bought me a princess hat, and I was immediately frolicking around in my own little world.  Literally.  I was paying no attention to where my family was, and when they stopped to buy my sister a stuffed parrot, I kept skipping down the dirt path.  I looked around, I was surrounded by dudes carrying fake swords and ladies wearing armor.  My family was not in sight.  A woman recognized the look of a Lost Child on my face (guess this happens pretty routinely there), and walked me back to the ice cream stand where she worked.  Apparently, that’s where they corral the Lost Kids.  She handed me an ice cream cone, and it instantly didn’t matter if I ever found my family again.  Ice cream (and now, parfait) still has that affect on me.

As I was nibbling away, I had the realization that this was my last parfait from the cookbook!  Sad!  There will be so many more hot days, so all hope is not lost!  I have grand plans of strawberry parfait!  Peach parfait!  Other-combinations-of-things-I-haven’t-thought-of-yet parfait!  I will include a little warning that says, “You may not care if you see your family again once you enjoy a bite of this.”

13
Jun

Tartine Baking Project: #61 Fresh Fruit Tart with Bavarian Filling

Apricots were winking at me at the grocery store. I swear.  I obliged to their advances, and in the cart they went.  I had a tart to make, and these little gems looked like they’d compliment some Bavarian cream oh so well.  Turns out, I was right.  I’ve made a great many pies and tarts, and this one right here is at the top of my list.

I love making tart dough, especially sweet tart dough.  Not only is it completely tasty, but it sounds like I’m saying “sweetheart dough” every time, which is a lovely nickname for this pastry delight.  You think it’s weird I have nicknames for dough?  When I’m old and crazy, there will be more of that, I promise.  Who am I kidding, I’ll probably have more nicknames for stuff sooner than that.  Have you seen the “Parks and Recreation” episode where Tom Haverford names everything?  There’s an amazing website highlighting that magic. (My favorite is “Reese’s Pieces are “Alien Bait”)  So yeah, I’ll call tarts will be “Tart-to-Tarts” and apricots will be “Tiny Not Peaches”.

My little sweetheart and I had a little tiff when a couple spots on the wall collapsed in the oven.  That’s never happened before!  We talked it out though, worked through it, and things were alright again.

Every component of this little tart-to-tart was totally a labor of love.  I think I smile from ear to ear every time I make pastry cream.  Slicing apricots, making sweetheart dough, filling the tart, laying out the fruit, brushing the fruit with apricot jam glaze – it’s all amazing.  What else is amazing?  Eating tiny slices late at night, early in the morning, and planning on the next slice for a late afternoon treat.

7
Jun

Tartine Baking Project: #60 Brioche Bread Pudding

I have been so very excited to make this bread pudding!  The first time I had it at Tartine I let out an audible gasp, which made the table next to us laugh.  One woman put her hand on my shoulder, closed her eyes and nodded, then consoled me with an, “I know, I know.”  It’s just that amazing that people understand and are willing to touch strangers because of the bond that this bread pudding creates between Tartine regulars.  So making it in my kitchen was a tall order – big shoes to fill!

I made the brioche again, which is one of my favorite things to make – I even made a video the last time, in case you missed it.  The smell fills up the house, and I love everyone coming into the kitchen and making one comment or another about what’s baking.  Brioche is so incredibly versatile, so we’ll be enjoying every variation we can think up in the next week or so, seeing how we have a couple more loaves to go through.

Assembling the pudding meant first toasting slices of brioche in the oven, then making the custard, and finally pouring it over the sliced bread and letting it soak it up.  Then, you add more custard.  I wasn’t really sure how to organize the slices of bread in the baking dish.  I thought they should be standing upright, but I don’t have a glass bread pan.  Eh.  This pie dish worked well enough, I’d say.  Well enough for people to go back for seconds, and me to be enjoying some turned into French toast this morning.  As I ran five miles yesterday, I thought (between entertaining the idea of hitchhiking home when no shade was to be found on part of my route) all about the excitement of digging into my bowl of bread pudding.  I anticipated picking the fruit at the farmers’ market, grabbing whatever looked the most amazing.  Turns out, the strawberries were calling for me.  I bought so many strawberries and wanted to eat them all in the car.

The final step involves sauteeing fruit in a bit of butter, then adding caramel.  I made caramel just for the occasion.  The bread pudding had to be pretty close to how I remembered having it the first time at the bakery, so including caramel as the fruit is softening in the pan was essential.  I’m always looking for an excuse to make caramel!  And now I’ll be looking for excuses to be making bread pudding whenever I can.  “Bake more to share more” has pretty much been my motto, but these days I’m adopting the phrase “Bake more to run more.”

24
May

Tartine Baking Project: #59 Pastel de Tres Leches

This cake has been something that I’ve been so nervous to tackle.  It’s one of the most popular cakes at Tartine, and has always seemed something beyond me.  But, it’s in the cookbook, and so it’s a must.  It translates to “three milks cake” and rightly so, it includes coconut milk, whole milk, and heavy cream.  It’s so rich, and quite subtle at the same time – does that even make sense?  Out of all the cakes I’ve made (ever, in my lifetime), this one is my favorite.  FAVORITE, I tell you!

Another favorite of mine?  I’ve always loved drawing letters.  I used to make up “letter sets” growing up, that’s what I called them.  I was doodling on Jack’s chalkboard and it made sense to include my doodles in today’s post!

I often gravitate toward a lot of neutrals in my wardrobe, but my bright green polka dot shirt and the brilliant yellow yolks were quite a perfect combination!  Oh, and I am totally in love with coconut milk.  I want to include it in everything, or at least find more things to appropriately include it in.

Just a side note here, I could (and probably should) have this photo of pastry cream framed.  Not that it’s an AMAZING photo or anything, I just love pastry cream so much, I’d like to honor it with a spot on a wall somewhere.  Probably in the kitchen, that would make the most sense.

Since we were about to partake in a most delicious cake, I decided to make a little themed dinner.  Fish tacos and Coronas seemed rather fitting (and light since we were about to partake is come serious dessert.)

As for the final assembly, this guy is definitely not breaking any records for the prettiest cake.  My friend Kendrah had a birthday, and this was a perfect way to celebrate!  When we got here, I stepped away from my cream as it was whipping, and it definitely whipped a bit longer than I would have liked.  Oh well.  AND!  I shot the wrong side of the cake.  This was the ugly, wonky side.  The layers on the other side were much more neat and photogenic.  But everyone was here and I was just so very excited!  Oh well.  It was delicious!  Did I mention it’s my favorite?

17
May

Tartine Baking Project: #58 Far Breton

I was that sixth grader listening to Tchaikovsky in my room wearing a cardigan and nibbling on prunes as I was working on a series of my essays and poems, aptly titled “My Published Work.”  I was that 11-year-old, and I am also that 29-year-old.  (Except I don’t really write poetry any more.)  So anything with prunes is A-OK in my book.  I could probably muster up the words to write a poem about how much I love prunes.

Not every recipe has an accompanying photo in the Tartine cookbook, and I’ve been staring at the beautiful photo of a clafoutis being dusted with powdered sugar.  I really didn’t even know what a clafoutis was, but I was counting down to cherry season because whatever it was looked delicious!  I read through the recipe yesterday, knowing full well I wasn’t going to make it because we’ve got no cherries right now.  Then, alas!  I came across the seasonal variation for the recipe, where you can use prunes to make something called far breton.  You soak the prunes in brandy and water.  Yes.  I was sold.

My favorite thing in the world is crème brûlée, so I’m a sucker for a good egg and milk custard.  Another plus was that it’s pretty quick and simple to assemble.  (I’m running out of those kinds of recipes!)  The final step of the recipe involved sprinkling the almost-finished dessert with sugar, then shoving it back into an even hotter oven to caramelize the sugar.  It wasn’t working.  The edges, along with a few spots were nearly blackened, while the majority of the far breton was still covered with uncaramelized sugar.  I was afraid I was going to overcook the custard, so I pulled it and decided to pull out the torch.  Yes, the torch!  (I love the torch!)  It turned the top into a pretty solid layer, much like a brûlée.   I think what makes the two desserts different is that far breton includes just a bit of flour that makes it sliceable.  Well that and the brandy-soaked prunes, of course.

I’m convinced there is nothing a little dusting of powdered sugar cannot save.  Staring at the custard as it was cooling, I was convinced I’d messed it up.  I wasn’t entirely sure what it was supposed to look like, I just knew it just wasn’t pretty.  Far Breton?  More like Far From Breton!  (That seemed more funny late last night, but I’m keeping it in there!)  Then, along came that powdered sugar making things pretty.  It’s funny, I’m actually really conscious of sugar these days.  I’m not cutting it out entirely or anything, but I’m hyper aware of the stuff – especially for my little dude.  I’ve stopped putting it in my coffee, which has been a huge, gradual step for me.   It’s definitely all about moderation.

Turns out, far breton is delicious, and the little unknown has moved up in the ranks on my personal list of favorite desserts.  It’s like some rookie just stepped up to the plate and slam dunked, or hit a grand slam, or got a hole-in-one.  Sports analogies not working for you?  It just was nominated for an Oscar.  Meryl Streep (crème brûlée) took home the statue.  Again.  Of course.  But it was an honor that far breton was even nominated.

10
May

Tartine Baking Project: #57 Fruit Galettes

I have been so excited to make these galettes.  Every time I open this cookbook, I open to this page.  I’d like to think it’s fate, but there’s probably just a serious crumb jammed up in the binding acting like a bookmark.  There were some really tasty peaches and strawberries at the Food Co-op yesterday, and I couldn’t resist!  It’s just been so long since I’ve had a peach!

Making the dough for galettes involves the same ingredients as making the flaky tart dough, it just a little different in terms of preparation.  It seems like the first time I make dough of any sort, it’s always a bit on the dry side.  The dryness meant the dough was a little stubborn as I was trying to make beautiful and perfect folds, so I had to forsake my perfect Martha-Stewart-Ina-Garten-esque folds.  It’s alright though, it worked out just fine.  And by “just fine” I mean pretty gosh darn amazing.  Amazing enough to eat a couple of these gems without hesitation and very little guilt.  When I was enjoying every bite, eyes closed and probably letting out a few happy shrieks of success, I definitely wasn’t thinking about the lack of perfect folds of dough around the edges.

Jack had a bit of a rough and tumble kind of toddler day, so when these were on the cooling rack I let him grab one and had him choose where we ate it.  He chose to devour this little treat picnic-style “with blanket!” in the front lawn “in the shade!”  He got so excited passing the galette between the three of us to take little bites.  That’s  the best way to enjoy any sort of dessert, really.

I cannot wait to make these all summer long as we go blueberry picking and take trips in late July to the best “peach guy.”  Expect to see any photo of me this summer with one of these little gems in hand.

26
Apr

Tartine Baking Project: #56 Morning Buns

When I started this little project, the second most common thing people would say (that is, after “Oh, like Julie and Julia!”) was, “Oh, I bet you can’t wait for the morning buns!” or “Call me when you get to the morning buns!” or “THE MORNING BUNS!”  You get the point, right?  The people were excited about the morning buns.  People acted like I kicked a cat when I told them The Buns weren’t in the cookbook.  Elisabeth Prueitt shared the recipe with 7 X 7,  and we all can enjoy these in all of our homes!  It’s not like I’m totally off the rails here anyway – these little sugary swirls of perfection start with the laminated croissant dough, which is probably my favorite thing in this cookbook, and the recipe I started this whole blog off with.


I shared about my preferment earlier this week, which kicks off the croissant dough making party.  Party of one, I should note.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Laminating dough, that is folding butter in, is like meditation for me.  All the rolling and folding…oh boy!  I get in a zone!  Those canned rolls and buns got nothin’ on the traditional method.  Yes, you’ll have more instant results, but there’s something to say about going through this whole process and knowing how amazing your end product is destined to be.  I could ramble on and on about this.

Things were pretty straightforward, as  far as putting these together.  I was taken aback when I took them out of the oven almost twenty minutes ahead of schedule.  They were done PERFECTLY.  It took all the powers I possess to not eat all of them!  The rain will do that to a lady.  And also, a table full of these magical morning buns I miss so much staring me in the face and screaming, “EAT US!” will do that to a lady.

You may see just one of these morning buns on my plate, but I feel obligated to confess I did have a few throughout the day.  They’re on the smaller side, so I didn’t feel too guilty about indulging a bit.  I handed one to Jack – he turned up his nose and said “They too fuzzy.”  WHAT?  And that’s not all.  He then handed it back to me and said, “Fruit, please.  Any fruit.”  Are you kidding me?  Who’s child are you?!  He did return to inspect them again.  (My happy squeals may have piqued his interest…)  His second attempt ended with a sugary face that proclaimed, “Me love bagels!”  Me too, bud.  Me too.