Monday, January 28, 2013

French Apple Tart

This is a gorgeous tart.  And if something can taste gorgeous as well, this tart does.  The recipe reads something similar to an open faced apple pie, starting with pastry dough as a base and blind baking it in the pan.  But then it starts to deviate, with roasting the apples and creating the filling separately.  As I learned with Blueberry- Nectarine Pie, this step is often utilized by pie makers as well, in order to properly adjust the filling for flavor and set prior to baking the pie.  Then the crust and filling are topped with thinly sliced apples brushed with butter and sprinkled with sugar.

It all sounds so simple when I write it out like that, but in reality this creation took me three days to make.  Day 1, I made the dough.  Day 2, I made the filling.  Day 3, I did the blind baking and assembling of the tart.  This three day spread actually made this tart enjoyable and exciting to make.  Had I made it in one day, I think I would have been overwhelmed by all the steps, albeit simple steps.

A few deviations of note: I used whatever apples I had in the fridge (Gala? and Fuji?) and they were old and battered.  The recipe calls for Granny Smiths which I used for the top only.  This worked out fine, probably a bit sweeter.  I also used whole wheat bread crumbs for the "fresh, fluffy breadcrumbs".  No harm there either.   And alas, I am a week late for the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group.  I'll get on target soon, maybe next week with foccacia...

Making the filling:

my random apples
apples with sugar and cinnamon
roasting the apples
WW breadcrumbs
mashing the baked apples
the filling

Prepping the crust:

making the "ledge"
the french touch
bean pie weights
blind baked

Putting it all together:


1st layer
2nd layer and rosette

And Rhiannon...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Finnish Pulla

This recipe was scheduled to be done in mid-December with the Tuesdays with Dorie, Baking with Julia cook group but leave it to the holidays to allay best intentions.  I actually DID make this over the holidays, just not in time to post with the whole group.  So here, I post, in a make-up week.  

This makes a beautifully, stunning bread.  Well worthy of any holiday breakfast table.  And with some easy timing adjustments (final rising in the fridge over night), it can actually be ready in the morning.  And it was a simple recipe, especially considering how grand it looks in the end.  I just love recipes like that: ones that belie the effort taken to make it.  

I found myself baking this recipe at my in-laws in California not unlike the blueberry nectarine pie from this past summer.  We hunted down some yeast with an upcoming expiration date, but rather than run out to the store again at holiday time, we gave it a go.  Well, the yeast worked, but it was a bit sluggish.   The proofing should have been my first sign, but in my defense, it did proof, just not much.  And the first rise was well below double in bulk, and I gave it almost double time to rise.  (I know, I know, how many signs do I need?)  The second rise in the fridge overnight barely showed signs of growth.  But, believe it or not, 15 minutes into it's baking time it grew tremendously, giving it, it's final appearance above.  

What the picture does not show, is the doughy texture found inside, resulting from those initial sluggish rises.  It also cannot depict the smell and taste of the fresh cardamon.  I think it was that flavor alone that  made people forget the doughiness and just keep eating.  It was gone by lunch.  

And I owe thanks to my husband for hand crushing that cardamon with mortar and pestle.  It made all the difference.

Making the dough...

Shaping the dough...

Rhiannon at the slopes

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pizza with Onion Confit

I do love a good, homemade pizza.  But let's be honest, I haven't made one in awhile.  Maybe it was the advent of two kids into my life or maybe it is the abundance of excellent pizzerias in Portland (that do take-out), but whatever the reason it's been missing in my dinner repertoire.  After completing this recipe I might be convinced that it is time to bring it back, because it really takes little effort.  Some planning and forethought, sure, but not even too much of that.  Plus it was an easy dinner for Quinn (Rhiannon's big brother) to help out on; he really got into making his own little pizza crammed with pepperoni and cheese.  

This recipe does call for 2 rises: one with the sponge and one with the dough.  For pizza dough, I typically have skipped the sponge rise without significant consequence.  If I have time, I will let the sponge rise but if not, I won't let it stop me.  

the sponge

the risen sponge

the dough

the risen dough
(As you can tell from my pictures, the day progressed from morning, natural light to artificial light.  Not as pretty but no choice in the matter.)
Now, I must say I was skeptical about the onion confit.  I am not a big onion person, much less so when it comes to pizza.  But I was pleasantly surprised here.  The butter and wine and vinegar and sugar nicely mellowed the onions into slightly tender, sweet, sour onions with little of their typical character.  These took over an hour to cook, and I did cook these up these a few days ahead of time and stored them in the fridge.  I am not sure I would go to the trouble of cooking these again, but they were an excellent addition this time.  And I only used them on one of the pizzas and have frozen the rest for use as a base in savory galettes (yea!).

Pizza with onion confit, olives, & goat cheese- ready to bake


So the other pizza crust was covered with red sauce, mozzarella and pepperoni.

And Quinn made his own pizza.

Find this recipe on Paul's page, this week's host of Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia.

Finally, Rhiannon was introduced to snow recently; she was perplexed.