October 2011 COTM: Splendid Table: Breads & Desserts
Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapters about Breads and Desserts
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Homemade Ricotta Cheese p.454
I made this the other night so that I could use the cheese in Nonna's Home-Style Lasagne from The Italian Country Table.
I have made paneer more than a few times, so am familiar with the process of making a soft cheese. This recipe differed in that the whole milk was combined with heavy cream and heated over a much longer period of time. The curd is supposedly much softer when it is done slowly over a low flame.
The dairy is mixed with lemon juice and heated on low for 40 minutes, until reaching 170 with a thermometer. Here's where improvisation kicks in. I had forgotten that I lost my thermometer in an unfortunate event, and didn't recall that minor detail until all ingredients were already heating on the stove. So visual cues and the ole' standby, the finger dip, (as in, if you burn your finger upon dipping, it's too hot!) were followed instead. As the milk heats up,the curd slowwwwwly separates from the whey. Stirring is kept at a minimum, to aid in the keeping the curds at their pillowy best. As the mix nears the desired temp, the milk particles start clumping together, growing larger. Ms. R-K does a great job of detailing the process.
When the mix reaches 170, the heat is raised to medium. When the milk reaches 205-208 degrees, the whey should be almost clear, and the top layer in the pot should be full of little mounds 'about to erupt'. The heat is then turned off and the mix left to sit for 10 mins, then drained for 15 in a double thickness of cheesecloth.
For someone without a thermometer, I'd say this went pretty well. Perhaps my curds would have been softer had I been able to follow the temperature exactly and refrained from stirring so much, but I believe that I ended up with a very acceptable ricotta.
Next up-figure out a use for all of that leftover whey!
Torta Barozzi, p. 395
I'm not going to actually review this recipe, because I didn't get a piece. The people at the potluck I brought it to seemed to love it, though. The batter did taste good!
I do want to tell you all that I overcooked it, so be careful when you make it. I certainly will when I make it again! You start the oven at 375 for half an hour then lower the temp to 325 for "15 to 20 minutes". Although I don't have a thermometer in my oven, in the past if there's been a timing discrepancy it is that my oven has taken longer to bake an item. I checked the cake after 12 minutes and it was already overcooked. My toothpick came out bone dry. So be careful!
Spianata (Romagna Mountain Bread), pg. 367
This was a bit of a flop for me. I followed the recipe fairly closely, making the sponge the night before and allowing the bread adequate time for both rises. However, my finished product didn't rise much (perhaps a smaller pan would have helped?) and feels rather dense and tough. The olive oil flavor is quite strong and somewhat off-putting, but that may be my fault for using an oil that I don't love. The texture is crisp and kind of crackery on the edges and slightly softer (but still somewhat tough) in the center. Thoughts? My sponge was bubbling away so I know my yeast was ok, and it set the bread in a warmish area to rise. I wasn't sure if I had kneaded it long enough (I went for 10 mins by hand as per the recipe). I found that I had to add quite a bit of flour to get it workable though - perhaps that's it. BTW, I measured my flour by weight and I think that's part of the problem - she says 4oz=a cup of flour, where every other recipe I have that gives a weight for flour uses 5oz=1 cup. I had to add quite a bit of additional flour to the pasta as well.
Frozen Hazelnut Zabaione with Chocolate Marsala Sauce, p. 436
Probably won't get around to making this recipe again until Thanksgiving, but I want everyone to try it. It is pretty spectacular. One of my favorite dessert recipes. Not that daunting when you do all the do ahead steps in advance. The Chocolate Sauce would also be great over ice cream or toasted marble cake.