Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Poppy Seed Torte

About a month ago, I missed the recipe for Poppy Seed Torte.  I have to admit I was blocked by the requirement to buy 2 cups of poppy seeds.  Seriously, 2 cups.  But then one day, about two weeks ago,while busily hustling around a part of town I usually do not visit,  I spied a spice store.  I immediately thought about those poppy seeds.  I compromised with myself and bought one cup, planning to half the recipe.  (And by the way, this spice store sold white and blue poppy seeds which apparently the only difference is a bleaching or whitening of the seeds.  They naturally are all blue.)

And I must say the only reason I kept thinking about poppy seeds was due to the rave reviews I had read on the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll; everyone seemed to like this one.  I was intrigued despite my usual indifference for most cakes.

The recipe originally calls for apricots to be poached.  Since apricots have since fallen out of season, I chose pears as a substitute.  No problem there except maybe a little less appealing to the eye.  The poppy seeds were ground up and mixed with cake crumbs and then this combination was mixed with alternating cake batter and meringue.  No problems there either (just a lot of dishes).

I can't say that I liked this one, despite my heightened anticipation of it.   It wasn't too sweet, which I liked, but the flavor seemed off or lacking.  Maybe it was the pear substitution or maybe my poppy seeds had turned without me realizing it.  The texture was terrific, so maybe it needs a second trial but then again, I would have to find more poppy seeds.

This blog participates in Tuesday with Dorie.  This week was a rewind week; check it out.

And Rhiannon...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Classic French Bread

Now here in Portland we have about a dozen "real deal" french bakeries where I can pick up a fresh afternoon baked baguette.   To make one at home seems a little pointless.  But then I watched the video and I was intrigued; could I really make an airy, crusty baguette in my humble kitchen?  I had to try, much like I had to try croissants last year despite their similar rampant availability here.  

It turns out, I was much better at replicating the croissants than the baguette.  The baguette had a nice crusty crust but the inside turned out like normal bread, which was tasty but not airy and light at all.  I think it had to do with my first rise which lasted too long and the dough formed a skin which then made rolling it for the final rise a challenge due to the inelasticity of that skin.  But it may have been a result of the old frozen, fresh yeast I used; it probably would have had more oomph with really fresh yeast.

We had no trouble eating the loaves all in one meal (I halved the recipe), but I am sure they would not have met any French bakery standard except for the fact we did wait 20 minutes to eat them after they came out of the oven.  And despite all our good bakeries in Portland and the fact that I can kind of make them at home (with more practice),  I still can't wait to get to France someday and eat a real baguette. 

Be sure to visit others' posts on this recipe in the Baking with Julia baking group at Tuesdays with Dorie. 

And Rhiannon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes

This recipe was a trial in following directions.   It started with prepping the pans/ ramekins.  I rubbed them with butter, not melted butter.  I used muffin tins and 1/2 cup ramekins, instead of full cup ramekins (I don't have any).  I must have put 3-4 TB of batter in each container because 2 TB seemed like a ridiculously small amount of batter especially with a half of a plum on top. And I squished that half plum down a bit in the batter because I felt like it, even though the recipe warned to keep the plum afloat so as not to sink.  

I think I should just follow instructions.  

The cakes were difficult to remove (the pans could have used melted butter).   I was not sure how long to bake them due to the size difference.  And those plums sunk bringing the extra batter down with it.

But then again, they were quite tasty despite my lack of obedience. 

So next time, I would follow the directions more closely except for the sugar sprinkled on top. I would use regular sugar on top and less of it.  The recipe calls for brown sugar, and I felt the molasses flavor came through too much and masked some of the plum flavor, which was delicious.  There is always room for some intelligent disobedience.  Rhiannon knows this.