Friday, November 29, 2013

Rustic Apple Almond Galette

I hope everyone's had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I know I have a lot to be thankful for and I try to remind myself of that everyday not just today.  But this day we get to spend with friends and family and let them know we're thankful for them as well and in person.

Did you have a traditional feast?  We tend to more or less stick to the canon in our family (well except for the lasagna).  And as far as the dessert goes  there will be pumpkin pie for sure,  but I'm thankful that it won't be sitting on the dessert table all alone. Let's face it, pumpkin's not the only flavor to celebrate in our Thanksgiving desserts, there's also apples, cranberries and almonds.

After a huge Thanksgiving dinner it's nice to take it down a notch and serve a not too sweet, not too fussy, but tartly satisfying rustic Apple Almond Galette.  It's super easy to put together, even the morning of (I know, because I did it).  And unlike some other galettes which are only crust and fruit, this one boasts a creamy almond layer that adds a richness to this easy Holiday dessert.

rustic apple almond galette 

1 & 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons raw cane sugar
6 tablespoons cold butter cut into tiny pieces
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3-4 tablespoons ice water (or enough to from dough)

In a food processor add flour and sugar; pulse to mix.  Add butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles course meal.  Add water a little at a time and pulse until dough forms.  Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

almond filling:
6 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1 whole egg plus 2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup almond flour

In a medium bowl blend together butter and sugar.  Beat in egg, yolks and vanilla extract.  Beat in flour until incorporated.  Chill until needed.

3 large baking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (not dried cranberries)
1/2 cup raw cane sugar (plus more for finishing)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg for egg wash
2 tablespoons chopped almonds
confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Pulse cranberries and sugar together in food processor.  Toss mixture with sliced apples and cinnamon.  Roll dough on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper to about 12-13 inches in diameter.  

Transfer dough on parchment paper to a large sheet tray.  Spread almond cream in center of dough leaving a good 3 inches around the edges.  Pile apples on top of almond cream.  Gather the edges of dough and fold in over apples.  Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and chopped almonds.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden and juices are bubbling.  Cool  and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.  Serves 8 to 10.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sourdough Cherry Cheese Kolaches

I was so happy when I saw we would be doing kolaches for Sourdough Surprises this month.  I had suggested it to Jenni and Shelley after reading about the Czech pastry that's found a new home in Texas. Kolaches sounded like the perfect candidate for a sourdough make over. 

While they can be found in every imaginable flavor in sweet and savory variates,  I knew right from the bat I wanted to try a sweet version.  Sweet filling that is, because from all the recipes I looked over it seemed that the kolache dough is not very sweet.  Not as sweet as a Danish at least, which is the closest thing you can compare it to.

I doubled down and I went with a cherry cheese filling- sweetened ricotta cheese topped with dark cherries. I made some with just cheese, some just cherry and some with cherry and cheese. They were all incredibly delectable!   I was very patient this go-round and made a sponge so my starter could ferment.  I don't have to tell you this was a first for me, and yes, it was very exciting!!  (Yep, that's right, I don't get out much!)

Kolache recipes can be a bit confusing because there are so many pieces to the puzzle, but taken one at a time they aren't complicated at all.  I found that if I had all my fillings and toppings ready before starting the dough, everything flowed nicely.  Of course, it's all worth it when you smell them cooking and even better after that first bite.

While they are best eaten fresh, and believe me when I say we tried to eat them all right out of the oven, I found that even a couple of days out if wrapped, refrigerated and warmed up in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, they were still pretty dang awesome!

sourdough cherry cheese kolaches
(adapted from this, and this)

sourdough sponge:
1 cup fed starter
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl; cover and let sit from 2 to six hours.

1 package yeast (1/4 ounce)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
4 tablespoons soft butter
4 tablespoons raw cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk (save the white for egg wash)
1/2 cup milk
sourdough sponge (see above)
2 & 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing after baking

Whisk yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl and proof for 5 minutes.  In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or a paddle), on low combine yeast mixture, butter, sugar, salt, yolk and milk.  Add sourdough sponge and flour and beat on medium speed until dough pulls away from the side.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and form a ball.  Place dough in a buttered bowl, cover and let sit in a warm spot for 1 to 1 & 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.  (Or let it rise in the fridge overnight.)

Punch down dough and divide into 12 equal portions.  Roll each into a ball and place on a parchment lined cookie tray leaving at least 2 inches between each, flatten slightly.  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Make a large indent in each kolache and spread the dough out a bit to create a cavity for the fillings (recipes below).  Brush the outsides with egg wash.  Fill each kolache, and sprinkle with posypka (recipe below).  

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.  Brush warm kolache with butter and serve warm.

cheese filling:
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup raw cane sugar
1 egg
pinch nutmeg

Whisk everything together and chill until ready to use.

cherry filling:
2 cups pitted dark cherries (fresh, canned or frozen)
1 teaspoon potato starch
1/4 cup raw cane sugar

In a small heavy bottomed pot whisk together sugar and potato starch.  Stir in cherries and simmer on low until mixture thickens.  Chill until ready to use. Makes enough for 12 kolache.

posypka (crumble topping):
4 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons raw cane sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Stir all ingredients together until crumbly and chill until ready to use.  Makes enough for 12 kolache.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pumpkin Mousse pie

Besides the turkey, the stuffing, the yams and the green beans nothing says Thanksgiving like pumpkin pie and nothing says pumpkin pie like pumpkin mousse pie.  I've been making pumpkin mousse since I started baking in the late 70's.  And I've been making pumpkin pie for a long time before that, but at one point some genius got the awesome idea to put them together.  And while they are both more than respectable desserts on their own, together they form a symphony in your mouth; the rest is Thanksgiving history.

Be prepared for a lot of oohs and aahs and can-I-have-a-second-pieces.  Even people who say they don't like pumpkin pie looove this pie.  It's not a humble pie, it's more a fancy dessert on the level of creme brulee or chocolate mousse cake.  The good news is it's not at all difficult to make.  I'd say the only tricky part is the gelatin, if you're not familiar with working with it.  I used powdered gelatin but there's also gelatin sheets which are easier to work with, if you can find them. 
It's a good idea to start with the mousse recipe as it takes a good hour to set up.  And make sure the pie is totally cool before you pipe on the mousse otherwise that would not be totally cool.  This recipe calls for pumpkin spice which is just a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. 

pumpkin mousse pie

1 & 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon gelatin
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1 & 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream

1 & 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons raw cane sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

pie filling:
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1/3 cup raw cane sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
2 tablespoons molasses
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

For the mousse:  In a large bowl whisk pumpkin, sugar, vanilla extract and pumpkin spice.  In a small pan or heat proof shallow dish sprinkle gelatin over water.  Heat mixture over a low flame until completely dissolved (it's best to just leave it alone and let it melt).  Add gelatin mixture to pumpkin mixture and whisk well, making sure the gelatin is completely incorporated.

In a stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip heavy cream until stiff.  Fold gently but completely into pumpkin mixture.  Cover and chill for at least one hour.
For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse to mix.  Add melted butter and pulse until mixture loosely holds together.

Transfer to a 10 inch pie dish.  Evenly pat into bottom and sides of pie dish.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool on a wire rack while you make the pie filling. 

For the filling: In a large bowl whisk together pumpkin, eggs, sugar, pumpkin spice and molasses.  Add heavy cream and whisk to combine.  Pour into prepared pie crust.  Put the pie on a cookie sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes or until pie is set.  Transfer baked pie to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before refrigerating until completely chilled.  Pipe mousse on top of cooled pie.  Serves 8 to 10.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sourdough Rosemary Focaccia

One of the best things about colder weather coming in is you get to turn on the oven and make bread.  And one of my favorite and easiest breads is focaccia.  There are tons of different was to personalize it but I always seem to gravitate to this rosemary version.  I have a rosemary plant right outside my kitchen door, plus the smell of rosemary, especially when coupled with yeast is something that brings an extra warmth to the whole process.

This is the first time I've tried this recipe with a sourdough twist and I'm happy to report it's wonderful.  This is a new starter I'm working with, (my previous one of almost a year met a gruesome end right before Halloween, the less said about that the better), so while it's not all that tangy it did add a softness to the end product.

I'm still milking the special salts we picked up on Amelia Island over the summer and they came in real handy here, salt being a major component to focaccia, at least in my opinion.  Right out of the oven and dipped in some red pepper olive oil this bread can't be beat, and of course it's outrageous for turkey and pesto-mayo with roasted red pepper sandwiches, and paninis of every description!  

sourdough focaccia

2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 cup more water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sourdough starter (discard is fine)
2 & 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or bread flour)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
more olive oil for the top
course salt or kosher salt for the top

Proof the yeast in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of warm water.  In a stand mixer combine 1/2 cup water, olive oil and starter.  Whisk salt into flour and add to mixer.  Mix on low until everything is combined; mix on medium until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. 

Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth.  Transfer dough to a large bowl that has been brushed   with olive oil, cover and keep in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 & 1/2 hours. 

Once dough has risen punch it down and turn it out onto floured surface.  Roll it into a 9 by 13 inch rectangle.  Brush a similar sized baking pan with olive oil and transfer the rolled dough to the pan.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

After the second rise make indents in the dough with your fingers, cover and let it rise 30 more minutes.  

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Brush dough with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, oregano, garlic, paprika and salt.  

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until focaccia is golden around the edges.  If you feel like going the extra mile you can spray focaccia with water part way through baking, this will give it some extra crunch.  Once out of the oven transfer to a cooling rack to avoid a soggy bottom.  Makes 12 portions.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sourdough Chocolate Cake

It's a good news, bad news kinda post.  The bad news is I currently have two washers in my basement but I can't do laundry.  I need to get a plumber to refit a pipe before the new washer can be hooked up and the old one hauled away.  The good news is I don't have to do laundry, so I baked a chocolate cake.  Way to put a spin on it!

If you've been keeping up with Sourdough Surprises, and I can't see why you wouldn't, you might remember a few months back the surprise was sourdough cake.  Jenni from Gingered Whisk and Rebecca from Cakewalk both did a splendid job with sourdough chocolate cake, inspired from this recipe from King Arthur Flour.  I wanted a piece of both those cakes so bad and ever since then I've been wanting to try it out. Both of their photos just looked so darn scrumptious. And I especially loved the idea of Jenni's cream cheese frosting.

Apparently photos don't lie!  Because this cake is so amazingly scrumptious and moist with a character all it's own!   Even though I didn't use fed starter or let my flour ferment as the directions say (because I am lazy and impatient), the flavor was still incredibly rich and the texture so tender.  If for no other reason than to make this cake you should seriously consider starting a sourdough starter.  Start now and you can have your cake in about a week.  Believe me, it'll be well worth the wait! 

sourdough chocolate cake (adapted from here)

1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup milk
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup raw cane sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cups cocoa

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9 by 13 inch baking pan.  In a large bowl whisk together starter, milk, oil, eggs and vanilla extract.  Combine flour, sugars, salt, baking soda and cocoa in a stand mixer and mix on low just to combine.

Add wet mixture into dry and beat on low until incorporated.  Scrap the bowl and mix on medium for a minute or two.  Pour the batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack while you make the frosting.

cream cheese frosting

6 ounces butter
6 ounces cream cheese
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese until combined.  Add sugar and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.  Spread evenly over top of cooled cake.