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|Posted on December 26, 2010 at 11:05 AM||comments (2)|
This is the first holiday in years that I got myself into baking. Usually I do one dessert during the holidays, which is Tart Tatin and I rarely get around to baking others. But I have a sudden desire to bake.
I used to bake butter cookies regularly for my Dad in Japan. I would air mail it to him from LA but in recent years, he has cut back on eating rich cookies and noone in my household eats sweets except me. That slowed me down. Still, if you bake cookies, I find you can always find someone to share them with.
I got motivated to bake cookies this season because I am looking for ways to use buckwheat flour. With so much fresh buckwheat flour around the house for making soba noodles (I have one refreigerator full), I though I could make other things with it.
Plus during the holiday season, Anson Mills sent me some fresh Tartary buckwheat to try. I was thrilled. Unlike the standard buckwheat flour, Tartary buckwheat flour has a slight bitterness in flavor. In Asia, this particular brand of buckwheat is prized for its high "rutin" content.
Back to baking cookies. I found a buckwheat sable recipe in Ansen Mills website which really appealed to me.
The original recipe calls for buckwheat flour, butter, sugar, salt and orange water. I didn't have orange water so I used milk instead. Milled buckwheat is almost tremulous in its delicacy, as Ansen Mills explains. A few ounces of all-purpose flour is added to provide structure and shape to the gluten free dough.
These cookies came out strikingly nutty and fragrant, with bran flecks against a mustardy yellow hue. I used small cookie cutters. I think the dough holds together better when they are cut small. I took the cookies to my buckwheat farmers and friends in East Washington and served them at Lark at the buckwheat dinner event. Everyone loved it.
Recipe (Inspired by Ansen Mills Buckwheat Sables)
1 cup Anson Mills Rustic Aromatic Buckwheat Flour or Tartany Buckwheat Flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup hand milled buckwheat flour or regular buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
9 tablespoons (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) Demerara granulated sugar for the recipe, plus additional for rolling the raw cookies
2 teaspoons milk
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Sift the flours, salt, and baking powder into a bowl to combine.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in the bowl of until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light. Add the milk. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the batter.
3. To shape the cookies: Roll bits of dough—about 2 teaspoons, or, if you have a kitchen scale, 0.3 ounces— lightly between your palms to form baseball size balls. Roll each ball flat and use a cookie cutter to make shapes. Sprinkle Demerara sugar on top. Bake the cookies, until golden brown on the edges and bottoms, about 10-12 minutes.
Makes about sixty 2 1/2-inch cookies
|Posted on November 30, 2010 at 5:50 PM||comments (0)|
Tart tatin made with Golden Delicious apples
During Thanksgiving weekend, I made three tart tatins with three types of apples. I wanted to see which apple worked best for this dessert. Perhaps Thanksgiving is not a good time to test recipes on family and friends but past experience says, better to have more guinea pigs than one.
I used Pipin for the first tart tatin, which I blogged about. (Here is the recipe) Granny Smith for another, which didn't come out so well, thus no picture, and this one, which I made with Golden Delicious. They say the third time is a charm. It seems to apply to tart tatins, too.
The Tart tatin I made with Golden Delicious came out just right: the brown caramelized apple wedges were tightly packed together, some of the apples were on the verge of falling apart, which is okay; for the most part, though, they were holding their shape. When I inverted the tartin, it came out perfect, which is the rewarding moment. The pastry crust was crumbling on the side, which is where you start nibling. I admit, the crust is my favorite part.
Each apple is different in flavor and texture, especially when they are cooked. Even the same apples don't always behave the same. My Granny Smith failed me this year. My dog Ana, who loves apples even turned me down. The apples were too tart and I didn't use enough sugar to make up for their lack of sweetness. It was a disappointement but I decided to make another one, since I had my stand by apples - Golden Delicious.
I am not a big fan of eating Golden Delicious apples raw but chefs like Thomas Keller recommend using it for making Tart Tatins. These apples are slightly sweeter than Pipin or Granny Smith. They can be a bit mushy so I picked Golden Delicious that were on the greener side, some even resembled a Granny Smith. Green Delicious made a good tart tatin. I will stick with these apples this season.
One thing I can say about tart tatin is be careful when you turn it over. Some of the apples may stick on the pan. If it does, don't panic. Peel off the apple carefully with a knife and put it back where it belonged. Noone will notice. A nice way to serve Tart tatin is with half whipped cream and half creme fraise mixed together. Here is my friend Russ salivating over the tart tatin. He ate two pieces.
|Posted on November 25, 2010 at 4:40 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on November 28, 2009 at 11:31 PM||comments (0)|
A calm moment
One thing I can say about baking pies is that I have taken it for granted all my life. My mother was an excellent baker. Her pie crusts were consistently flakey and her apples perfectly sweet. She didn't follow a recipe but measured with her eyes. When she made plans to bake pies, she did most of the work in the middle of the night. A half a dozen pies would be cooling on the pie racks at dawn, filling the house with their sweet aroma. Then there is my sister Fuyuko Kondo who is a French trained pastry chef. Quite an accomplished one if you don't mind my bragging. She was one of the first female chefs to be invited on the Iron Chef show in Japan to challenge the French Master Chef Sakai (no relation to me). Even though I spend an awful lot of time in Tokyo, I have never taken a pie baking lesson from her. I just eat her pies, tarts, cakes, cookies... everything she bakes. Her pastries are all so good. I always put on a couple pounds when I go back to Tokyo. I do have some specialities of my own though- tart tatin, butter cookies and creme caramel. I usually bake a tart tartin for Thanksgiving but this year we were invited to our friends for the festive dinner so I didn't think tart tatin would work as a Thanksgiving dessert.
I found a Rum Raisan Apple Pie recipe on line from Gourmet, so I made it as part of a refreshment course in baking apple pies. The recipe uses three varieties of baking apples of your choice and rum soaked raisans. I was multi-tasking on the day I was making the pie crust, which is a no-no. I forgot to put salt in the dough. Fuyuko tried to help me fix it but it was too late. I had to start all over again. Of the two pies I finally baked, the one I sprinkled granulated sugar on the crust surface, as the recipe instructed, turned out like the surface of the moon. That pie didn't make it to Russ and Kathy's house. The other pie was based with egg yolk and milk. It was baking beautifully but after I stuck it in the oven, I realized that I had forgotten to top the apples with butter. So half way into the baking, I put the butter through the ventilation slits, which made the slits grow larger. The pie in the picture below is the very pie but seen from a good angle. From the other angle, it looks like a howling face. But I didn't let it bother me. I took the little flower cookies from the reject pie and covered the big slits. People said my pie was yummy, and even enjoyed it for breakfast the next day. I have friends with high tolerance levels. The reject by the way, is being consumed by me. I am halfway through it. As for the apple pie recipe, I would cut back a little on the sugar and flour in the apples, and perhaps pre- cook the apples before putting them into the pie crust, as my mother did. The pie crust, I need a lot more practice. I will try again at Christmas time.
Recipe: Gourmet - Rum Raisan Apple Pie (here is the link for the recipe).
Fresh out of the oven.
|Posted on July 26, 2009 at 11:27 AM||comments (0)|
Just out of the of the oven
Something smells good. My sister Fuyuko is always testing recipes. I am the happy guinea pig. In general, I find French pastries too sweet for my palate but this Basque Gaeteau is not. You can have it for breakfast with coffee. Basque Gateau is made with an almond meal cookie base so it has a nice crumbly texture. It is filled with a custard creme but today Fuyuko filled it with Apricot jam and I thought it worked very well. Slowly but surely the cake disappears.
For the pastry
2.5 egg yolks (50 grams)
65 g powdered sugar
65 g granulated sugar
125 g softened butter
125 g unbleached all purpose flour
65 g almond meal
5 cm vanilla bean, split and scrape seeds
1 teaspoon rum
Apricot Jam - enough to fill the cavity, about 2/3 cup (see Apricot Jam with Vanilla)
Making the pastry
Combine all the ingredients for the pastry without overworking it.
Cover and let rest in a cool place for 4 hours.
Butter a 16 cm round cake pan.
Roll out half the pastry to a thickness of approximately 3 mm.
Line the bottom and sides of the cake pan with the pastry.
Spread the apricot jam evenly in the pastry case.
Cover with the remaining pastry. Brush with egg yolk.
Bake in a 180° C oven for about 20 minutes. Then lower heat to 150 ° C for 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
|Posted on June 5, 2009 at 4:17 AM||comments (0)|
Once in a while, it's nice to make scones or waffles at home. My sister who is a pastry chef in Tokyo often makes waffles or scones for her son, Hayato, in the morning. You think she would have enough things to do on a school day. But she likes to put a smile onher son's face, so she does, plus she irons his clothes (I never did that for my son when he was little), makes him a bento box for lunch and gets ready to open her shop.
This morning, I was in the mood for making scones for my friend Marisa who spent the night at our house. Putting the scone recipe together was not that much work. I even started the washing machine. With the scones baking in the oven, my kitchen began to smell like a bakery. While waiting for the scones to bake, Marisa showed me how to work my new digital camera. My new camera came with three booklets worth of stuff to learn. I am willing to tackle almost any complex recipe but when it comes to reading any kind of hardware instruction manual, I fail. In contrast, Marissa is very patient. She put her reading glasses on, read the instructions and showed me how to make the camera work better. I learned some new tricks. Her advise was " Don't use the Auto setting. Digital cameras have a mind of their own." So true. Ineed to play with the camera. Learn the manual way. It will take time but I will have better control of the camera. By the way, the scones turned out great. Marissa took some home. There is still more for later.
SCONES WITH ORANGE ZEST