What are you baking these days? Part V [old]
(Note: There's a newer "What are you baking these days?" thread started. If you have a question or comment about something below, please go ahead and post it. But if you want to add a new thing you're baking to the list, please find the newest thread from this list: http://www.chow.com/search?query=&... -- The Chowhound Team )
Hello again all you intrepid bakers, the last thread has hit the magic mark and here we go with another. I'd like to open this up to another aspect as well if I could, a discussion of baking cookbooks. If you're anything like me you own at least forty-'leven dozen of them and of those have a few big favorites. What are they? What recipes do you make over and over again?
Two of mine are: "The Fannie Farmer Baking Book" by Marion Cunningham, an encyclopedia of baking with clear instructions and recipes that work for just about any conceivable American baked good (the cookie chapter is a special favorite), and "Paris Sweets" by Dorie Greenspan, which has recipes for French baked goods from simple to challenging - from Korova aka World Peace Cookies and simple cakes to the multistep (and delicious) Gateau l'Opéra.
Sooo...over to you, my dear baking lads and lasses!
Dare I say it? The Cake Bible. The two recipes I make over and over again are the Golden Grand Marnier Cake and Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte. But I also use it for stuff like buttercream and as a reference when other recipes give quantities in meaningless units such as tablespoons of butter, cups of nuts, cups of flour, etc. I weigh everything.
The other book is Cocolat. Two recipes again: Queen of Sheba Cake and the Apricot and Armagnac Loaf.
I also use a bunch of issues of the magazine "Chocolatier", now defunct I think. I have made some great stuff from them.
I *love* Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home to Yours" and "Baking With Julia." There are SO many good recipes from the these two books: world peace cookies, pb criss-crosses (seriously good), ice cream sandwiches, challah, sconesI also use the original Barefoot Contessa cookbook -- just made the raspberry tart (simple, beautiful and tasty) and the chocolate buttercream is delicious. And then there's King Arthur, whose Web site I use more than the two cookbooks I have from KAF--but only because I can search the site at work, lol. I use both the site and the cookbooks a lot, and I'm totally excited to go see them in VT next week. Other cookbooks that I use for components in a lot of recipes: Marcel Desaulnier's "Death by Chocolate" (and his other Death by books), "Big Fat Cookies," "Great Cookies," "Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking" ... and probably others I can't think of right now.
My baking has been less lately with travel and busy work. But I did post on the strawberry lemonade cupcakes (http://www.breakingbreadblog.com/2010...) - still looking for the perfect strawberry cupcake though.
Also been playing with ice cream - made a chocolate covered potato chip and coconut ginger swirl ice cream which I really liked. http://www.breakingbreadblog.com/2010...
With leftover mascarpone mousse and creme anglaise from my smoked cherry and chocolate anise scented pavlova (http://www.breakingbreadblog.com/2010...) I made a chocolate mascarpone ice cream that was creamy and rich.
Also played with gluten-free soft pretzels http://www.breakingbreadblog.com/2010...
Anyway, as far as books, I think Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert is one that I go to continuously. I also have been enjoying the new Fundamentals of the Pastry Arts (French Culinary Institute) - although I don't like their chocolate mousse recipe. I am convinced there is a misprint in the amount of cream one is to add to it.
We're also open to a wider dessert discussion, ice creams, stovetop desserts, puddings and mousses, whatever. The sweets kitchen in general...
Much as I did not want to turn on the oven yesterday (extreme heat, but great to have air conditioning), I made some pistachio, almond, and chocolate biscotti to take to a friend's place tomorrow. This recipe has almond paste in it, and makes very nice biscotti.
The instructions tell you to use an insulated baking sheet. I do have one, but it is on the small side, so I use a standard 1/2 sheet pan. Anyone know why the insulated sheet? I imagine it's so that the bottom does not get too dark, but why not just turn down the heat? Or is it because of the chocolate component?
So sorry! Here's the recipe, from Chocolatier, October 1993, modified a bit.
Almond Pistachio Biscotti
3 oz semisweet chocolate
7.5 oz all-purpose flour
4 oz sugar
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
5 oz almond paste
1.5 oz cold unsalted butter, in small cubes
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp "good vanilla" (for Ina enthusiasts)
5 oz slivered almonds
5 oz shelled pistachios
Roast the almonds for 10 to 15 minutes in a 325 degree oven till they begin to colour. Transfer to another pan to stop the cooking; cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Finely chop the chocolate, using a knife, not a food processor.
Throw the flour, sugar, baking powder,and salt into a food processor. Using the metal blade pulse it till blended. Add the almond paste and butter, and pulse till you get coarse crumbs.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, add the chocolate and nuts, and stir to combine.
Beat the eggs with a fork till blended. Set aside 2 tsp to use as a wash. Add the vanilla to the egg and stir.
Make a well in the centre of the flour/nut mixture and pour in the egg. Stir with a rubber spatula till the mixture clumps together. Form into a ball.
Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured surface and shape into a disk; cut into 4 wedges.
Gently roll each quarter into a 12-inch log. Transfer the logs to a parchment-covered sheet pan, separating them by at least 2 inches (they spread). Flatten to 1-1/4 inches. Note: I find that this makes biscotti that are too small, so I make three logs instead. Lightly brush with the egg wash.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 to 35 minutes, till they begin to brown and bounce back when lightly pressed with a fingie (you need chef's fingers for this). Cool the sheet on a rack for 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325.
With a finely-serrated knife cut the logs into 1/2 inch diagonal slices. Place standing up on a cookie sheet, 1/2 inch apart. Bake 15 to 25 minutes till they are dry and the sides begin to colour slightly. Remove and cool.
A lady I used to work with insisted that the only way to eat biscotti was dipped in whisky. And she was Italian !
...........and why does she say that? is there such a thing as bad vanilla?
maybe only imitation stuff, but still if that's all I had, and I NEVER would only have that, then I'd use it realizing the recipe would be better with "good" vanilla.
my MIL used to ask me, "hey, do you want some coffee? < it's fresh..." as opposed to what, "it's awful, it's stale, it's bad, say no?" I always thought that was funny
Insulated sheets will be different than just turning the oven down. You have competing factors when baking cookies, browning the bottom, the spread due to melting fats (not such a big deal in biscotti), the crusting of the outer cookie which reduces spread and also height, activation of chemical leavening and the overall browning of the outer crust compared to cooking the middle section. I suspect in biscotti you want the outer crust to form more quickly than the inside, so it doesn't dry out too much before slicing for the second baking? Just a thought.
Your last point is a good one - you do have to be very careful when slicing so they do not break up. I suspect that my knife does not have fine enough serrations. In any case, the biscotti did feel moist after slicing, and dried nicely during the second baking. They almost got baked a third time while being transported in this heat!