Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Almond Berry Tarts



I’ve recently discovered how to make my own almond cream.  And how I can replace the almonds with pistachios or hazelnuts or pecans…  Basically, a whole new world full of joy has just been revealed to me.  And with summer fruit season in full swing, it’s fairly inevitable that I should pair the two. 


It’s funny because pastry chefs have been using almond creams and pistachio creams to do just that for a while and I’ve probably been eating them often enough but never realized precisely the bliss my taste buds were experiencing.  But now I know.  And I’ve been putting this knowledge to good use lately.  


I read about almond cream from Dorie Greenspan in Baking Chez Moi and while she was discussing it, she offered up the tidbit of replacing the almonds with other nuts like pistachios.  So I actually made pistachio cream first.  And I fell in love with it.  Then I tried a pecan cream and was equally smitten.  In fact, I made two galletes with  some fresh summer fruit—one with pistachio cream and one with pecan cream.  If not for some technical difficulties (new camera coupled with some personal technical density) they both would have probably made it onto my blog.  Nevertheless, I come here bearing a new product with almond cream—one of the tree nuts I had yet to try my hand at.  And it did not disappoint either.  I paired the almond cream with some raspberries and blackberries and threw them both into some partially-baked pâte sablée.  The entire combination wasn’t too sweet or rich—it was pretty right on.  


Admittedly, I think I prefer the pistachio and pecan creams over the almond cream.  But it’s not as though I’d ever pass on an almond one—it’s pretty delicious nonetheless.  The great thing about these recipes is that they are super easy to make—professional pastry chefs use them all of the time and that’s probably because they’re equally delicious and easy to make.  That said, I certainly don’t think this is something that the every day baker couldn’t or shouldn’t tackle.  It’s an amazing addition to spruce of a fruit tart at any time of the year.


Recipe

Pâte sablée from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan (enough dough for 1 double crust pie for a standard 9 inch pie pan or six 4 inch individual tart pans with some dough still leftover)

408g (3 cups) all purpose flour
120g (1 cup) confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
256g (18 T) chilled unsalted butter and cut into small quarter-inch cubes
2 large egg yolks

First, butter your tarts pans and set aside.  Then, prepare the dough.  You can do this in a food processor or by hand.  I did mine in my food processor so here's how that went...  Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of the food processor and pulse to combine.  Place the butter in the food processor and pulse until the mixture has clumps the size of peas--you may need to manually stir the mixture up a bit to make sure the butter has been distributed evenly.  Add the egg yolks and pulse until they have fully moistened the dough.  Remove the dough from the bowl of the food processor and place it on a work surface.  Lightly knead it just to make sure there aren't any dry bits leftover. After that, you can either roll the dough out and place it into the tart pans or press it into the pans.  I pressed my into the pans--which I found to be easier.  Once the pans are lined with dough, prick the bottoms of each tart pan all over with a fork.  Place the tart pans on a large baking sheet, cover it with plastic wrap and then place the pan into the refrigerator to chill until you're ready to par-bake them.

Almond Cream from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan

85g (6 T) unsalted butter at room temp.
132g (2/3 cup) granulated sugar
75g (3/4 cup) almond flour
2 tsp all purpose flour
1 tsp corn starch
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Attach the bowl to the mixer and using the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until it's creamy--1-2 minutes.  Then, add the sugar to the bowl and beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy--3-5 minutes.  Add the flours and corn starch and beat until fully combined.  Next, add the egg and beat until it has been fully combined--making sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl so that all of the ingredients have been thoroughly combined.  Lastly, add the vanilla and beat until it has been combined.  Store the almond cream in an air tight container in the refrigerator until read to use.

Assembly

1 - 1 1/2 cups of fresh raspberries and blackberries

First, par-bake the dough-lined tart pans.  Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Line each dough-lined tart pan with parchment paper and fill each one with pie weights.  Bake them for about 12-15 minutes and then remove them from the oven to cool completely--and remove the pie weights and parchment paper.  Once the par-baked dough is completely cool, preheat the oven to 350 F.  Then, divide up the almond cream evenly between each pan and spread it evenly over the bottom of each one. Divide up the berries between the tart pans and spread them atop the almond cream.  Bake the tarts for 30-45 minutes or until the almond cream has puffed up and slightly browned.  Remove the tarts from the oven and let cool.  






Friday, August 21, 2015

Basque Cake


Ever since I discovered the basque cake at a cafe--Floriole to be specific--in my hometown, I've been kind of obsessed with finding a recipe that rivals it--or at least comes close to it.  I suppose I could just politely ask for the recipe from said establishment, but I have my doubts that they'd give it to me.


Nevertheless, I think this particular concoction that I came across comes pretty damn close--maybe a few tweaks and it would be even closer. But even on it's own--without comparing--it's a heartstopping cake.  And it literally might stop your heart.  I have never made a single cake that has a POUND OF BUTTER and a POUND OF SUGAR in it--plus a full tablespoon of kosher salt.


This has to be the richest cake known to humankind.  It's not a cake for those who are trying to "cut back."  It's not a cake for those who are looking to eat better.  This cake is very very bad for you. But....at the same time it's soooo darn good for you too.  If this were the last cake I was to eat before I died, I would probably die happy.


That said--admittedly I experienced certain bouts of angst during the process of making this cake. Specifically when I had to weigh out the pound of butter and sugar.  I kept asking myself, 'Should I really do this?  Is this right?  Should I find another recipe?  Am I gonna die after eating this thing?'  All of those answers became quite clear after the first bite--yes, yes, no way, who cares--this is so f'ing good.   This is the kind of the dessert that's really just good for your soul.



Recipe adapted from Amanda Rockman's Basque Cake recipe via Lottie + Doof

16 oz unsalted butter at room temp.
16 oz granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 large eggs at room temp.
10.5 oz cake flour
2.5 oz almond flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 T kosher salt
6-8 oz of cherry preserves

First, butter and flour an 8, 9 or 10 inch spring form pan (the original recipe I found called for an 8 inch pan but I only had a 10 inch one so I used it and it worked fine).  Next, preheat the oven to 325 F.  Then in a medium bowl, combine the flours, salt and baking powder and whisk to combine--set it aside. Now, place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, and then using the mixer and the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for about 3-5 minutes until it's light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla bean paste and mix just until it's fully incorporated.  Then stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Next begin adding each egg one at a time beating well so that each egg is fully incorporated into the mixture before the next egg is added--scrape down the bowl as necessary.  Finally, the add flour mixture and mix on low speed just until it has been completely incorporated into the mixture.

Now for assembly--you can choose to do this a couple of ways.  The first way is by spooning half of the batter into the baking pan and spreading it out and creating a bit of a well in the middle where the cherry preserves will sit.  Or, place the batter into a piping bag and then pipe half of the batter into the pan and create a well that way.  Either way you go about it will work as far as I'm concerned. Nevertheless, once you have half the batter spread in the bottom of the pan with a well in the center of the batter, spoon the cherry preserves into that well.  Then pour/pipe the rest of the batter on top of the preserves and cake batter and smooth out the top evenly.  Finally, place the cake in the oven to bake for at least an hour--mine took about 75 minutes (like the original recipe stated).  The cake is done when it's set and as the original recipe stated--err on the side of baking longer because the cake has so much fat in it, it would be quite difficult to dry it out.  Once the cake is done, remove it from the oven and let cool completely before removing it from the pan.  Eat in small portions--if you can resist...





Monday, July 13, 2015

Pistachio and Raspberry Financiers


Financiers were once described to me as little tea cakes.  And when they were, I conjured up the image of  a proper English tea time with elderly woman wearing big hats sipping Earl Gray from floral printed cups all while sitting next to tiered trays of several different types of these tea cakes.


It seemed so elegant--and I imagine that that image actually comes to fruition some where in the world--or at least at one point in time it did.


And even if it doesn't today it doesn't change the fact that, still, there is something elegant and quaint about financiers.


They're not ornate or ostentatious by being garnished with piped frosting or layered with different types of mousse.  It's just the cake and any flavor added to the batter by way of nuts or fruit.  Nothing is overly embellished and everything about them is restrained--but not dull.


So simple that I can't seem to find anymore words to write about them--albeit a few notes/words of advice.


Financiers are usually baked in little rectangular loaf-like pans--which I happen to own.  If you don't, it's not uncommon to use mini muffin/cupcake pans, which the author (Dorie Greenspan) of this recipe points out.  That said, the recipe baking times may differ a bit depending on which type of mold you use--so you'll need to keep any eye out for that.  I have another recipe that specifies the financier molds I have so I referenced that for the baking time and tested it out a bit on my first batch. Initially, the first batch seemed a bit over-baked.  I felt like they were a bit too crunchy on the outside edges.  So, I reduced the baking time for the next few batches and that seemed to allay that issue. However, during the next few days--while being stored in an air tight container--the financiers seemed to soften up a bit and their texture was even more cake-like--which pleased me.  I've read from other recipes that financiers are best the day they are baked and then a few days after.  I completely disagree with this.  I think they taste even better as they age a bit---I mean I'm not talking anymore than a week--but after a few days I think they taste even better--in fact I happen to think this about a lot of desserts that aren't deep fried.  But anyway, contrary to what most recipes state I think these will keep great for up to a week in an air tight container--and at room temperature.



Recipe slightly adapted from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan

170g (12 T) unsalted butter
180g (+/- 6 large eggs) egg whites
99g (3/4c) roasted and salted shelled pistachios
200g (1c) granulated sugar
90g (2/3c) all-purpose flour
pinch of sea salt
123g (1c) fresh raspberries

Place the egg whites in a small bowl and using a fork or a small whisk, whisk the whites just until they are broken up and then set them aside.  Next, using a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat--whisking often so you don't let any of the butter burn.  Essentially you're browning the butter--although Dorie Greenspan doesn't specifically state that.  She states to melt the butter until it just about turns a "pale golden" brown color.  So, I guess you're slightly browning it.  Anyway, once it just starts to brown remove it from the heat and pour it into a measuring cup and set it aside.  Then, take the shelled pistachios and place them in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse the pistachios until they are a course grind--be careful not to over-process them or else you might form an oily paste. Add the flour, sugar and salt to the ground pistachios and pulse until they are well combined with the pistachios.  Next, pour the mixture from the food processor bowl into a clean medium sized bowl. Pour the egg whites into the dry ingredients and whisk gently just until fully combined. Lastly, slowly pour the butter mixture into the egg white mixture and whisk just until combined.  I poured the butter mixture in incrementally--so I poured a little in and whisked it just until combined and continued doing that until I poured all of it in.  Once all of the butter is mixed in, place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the batter and refrigerate the batter for a least 8 hours or overnight.  Once the batter has been chilled, butter your molds (I used 3 1/4 inch by 1 3/4 inch rectangular molds) and then place them on a baking sheet and into the fridge to chill.  Then, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Divide the batter evenly between the molds (about 25g or 1 1/2T for each rectangular mold).  Place at least one raspberry in the middle of the batter of each financier mold.  Then, bake the financiers for about 17-20 minutes.  As I mentioned previously, I had to lower my baking time and that time ended up being 17 minutes.  Once the financiers are done--they should be springy when you lightly touch the top of one--remove them from the oven and immediately remove them from the mold and let cool completely on a cooling rack.  Store the cooled financiers for up to a week in an air tight container.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Strawberry Sour Cream Scones


I've been buying a crap load of strawberries.  They are my favorite berry--and they were having a two for one deal at the farmers market the other day.  That said, I'm getting a little frazzled trying to figure out how to consume all of them before they go bad.  I eat them every day--either on their own or in my cereal--but I still have a lot.  I mean I know I can make pies or cakes or jams but sometimes I want something a little different.  So when I came across an article on The Kitchn that so conveniently presented me with a slide show of just things to do with your spring/summer berries, I was like f yeah.  And then scrolling through it I came across these scones.


I never think of making scones.  I like scones.  My partner loves them.  They're not hard to make. My only problem with them is that they are really only good the day of baking them--like donuts--which is kind of a drag... After a day they seem to get a bit dry and a little less palatable.  But that wasn't really a factor for me. And I'm glad it wasn't because these scones were delectable.  The strawberry to dough ratio was perfect.  They were moist and tender.  And they had a crumb topping.  I love crumb toppings.  Crumb toppings--with all of their butter and sugar--can really elevate a baked good for me and this one did not disappoint.

So, if you're looking for an alternative from strawberry shortcakes or strawberry rhubarb pie, and want to expand your strawberry baked goods repertoire then make these guys because strawberry season is short and you should explore their presence in a variety of baked goods--especially these scones.



Recipe from The Kitchn

5oz (2c) all purpose flour
1.75oz (1/4c) granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4oz (1/2c) cold unsalted butter cut into small 1/4 inch cubes
6oz (3/4c) cold sour cream
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste--or extract
1c chopped fresh strawberries

First, line a large baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Next, in a large bowl sift and whisk all of the dry ingredients together.  In a separate small bowl, whisk the sour cream, egg and vanilla together until well blended and then set it aside.  Toss the cubed butter into the flour mixture and using a pastry blender--or a fork--cut the butter into the flour until it resembles course bread crumbs. Then, pour the wet ingredients--not the strawberries--into the dry. Using a silicone spatula, gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry just until incorporated--don't keep folding or else you are going to form some gluten strands and have a tough end product.  Next, place the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and gently pat--most easily with either a spatula or the back of your hand--it into a rectangle that's about a half of an inch thick.  Spread half of the chopped strawberries over the rectangle and gently press them into the dough--they do not have to be fully embedded within the dough.  Then--most easily with the use of a bench scraper--fold the rectangle in half and pat it again into another rectangle that's about a half of an inch thick.  Spread the remaining strawberries over the rectangle, press them gently into the dough and fold it in half again.  Gently pat the dough into another rectangle, fold it in half and do that one more time--you are just trying to thoroughly fold the strawberries into the dough.  Lastly, after your final "turn" pat the dough into a large circle that is an inch thick on the baking sheet.  Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least an hour--I did mine overnight.  In the meantime you can make the crumb topping.

Crumb topping

1.75oz (1/4c) all purpose flour
1.25oz (1/4c) brown sugar
1.5oz (3 T) cold salted butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes

In a small bowl--whisk together the flour and sugar.  Then--using either your fingers, a pastry blender or a fork--blend the butter into the flour/sugar mixture--into a crumble if possible.  My mixture just formed a big mass so I refrigerated it overnight and then I crumbled it the next morning when it was nice and cold.  At any rate, cover the mixture with plastic wrap and chill it until your scone dough has chilled.

For assembly

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Remove the scones from the fridge and remove the plastic wrap as well. If any strawberries have fallen out of the dough, just gently press them back into it.  Crumble the crumb topping evenly over the dough and then cut the dough into eight equal wedges.  Carefully separate each wedge from its neighbor--as much as possible.  They will rise and spread out so ideally a two inch gap would be nice.  Finally, bake the scones for 18-20 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove them from the oven and let cool just enough until you can pick one up with your hand and it doesn't burn you.  Serve warm.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Rhubarb Cake


Sometimes it seems hard for me to find recipes that I would think shouldn't be too hard to find.  For example, the subject of this current post.  I wanted to find a recipe for a rhubarb cake.  But let me be clear.  I didn't want a recipe for a yellow cake that had chunks of rhubarb scattered throughout. I wanted a cake where pureed rhubarb was added to the batter to create a rhubarb cake--similar to what one would do to create a banana cake.


As I mentioned, I couldn't find it.  So I made one up.  But then bothersome things began happening. First, some odd chemical reaction occurred when I added the pureed rhubarb to the already mixed cake batter.  It fizzled and popped like a freshly opened carbonated beverage.


I guess maybe it had something to do with the acid in the rhubarb reacting with the baking soda or baking powder that I had already mixed into the batter.  But I'm no chemist so I can't precisely say for sure what went down.  Also, the cake turned from a pink to a green when I took it out of the oven. That wasn't so much of a surprise because rhubarb does have a lot of green pigments and I've seen that happen before when rhubarb meets the heat.


But it was a gross looking green--like vomit green. And then there was the actual taste and texture of the cake.  I'll be honest, it tasted nothing like rhubarb to me.  It didn't taste bad.  In fact, it tasted good--just like a yellow cake. But not like rhubarb.  And the texture of the cake was all wrong.  It was overly spongy and moist--more like a bread pudding.  Thus a fail on my part.


Perhaps this is the reason why I couldn't find a recipe. Perhaps not.  I actually think that with some tweaks, I could get it right.  So, maybe next season. On the plus side, making this cake gave me the opportunity to pretty it up in a special kinda way.  I had been wanting to try this decorating technique since I saw it last spring on Sprinkle Bakes. By the way, if you want to see a woman who makes some truly beautiful desserts with a real creative hand, check out her site here.


Some of it isn't necessarily my style but nevertheless, they all appear very well crafted.  And when I saw this cake posted, it made a visual impact on me.  Since I keep buying an obscene amount of rhubarb I had plenty on hand to make it happen.  At first, I was getting a little frustrated with peeling the thin layers of rhubarb off from the stalk.  It may have had something to do with my dull vegetable peeler.  So if you are going to attempt this, then make sure you have patience and a good sharp peeler.  But that was the hardest part about the process.  The rest was pretty simple and not too time consuming.  My pattern wasn't as uniform or pretty as the one on Sprinkle Bakes but I liked it.  I'm calling it nouveau rustic.



Recipe for two six inch rhubarb cakes

190g cake flour
200g granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2/3c buttermilk at room temp.
100g butter melted and cooled to room temp.
40g vegetable oil
100g eggs at room temp.
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 lb or 3 c of rhubarb chopped to 1/2 inch wide

*Fair warning--this recipe was not such a big success but here goes anyway...

First, cook the rhubarb.  Place the chopped rhubarb in a medium non-reactive saucepan with 3/4c of water and bring it to a boil.  Once it's boiling, reduce the mixture to a simmer and continue to cook until the rhubarb softens and begins to break down--about 15-20 minutes.  Then, remove the rhubarb from the heat and let cool completely.  Once, it's cooled to room temperature place the rhubarb in a blender and puree it until it is smooth.  Set the rhubarb aside.  Next, start the rest of the cake by preheating the oven to 350 F.  Butter two six inch cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift all of the dry ingredients together.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk all of the wet ingredients together--except for the rhubarb puree--until well combined.  Pour all of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Using the paddle attachment, mix the dry and wet ingredients together on medium speed for about two minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Pour the rhubarb puree in the batter, turn the mixer back on and mix until the rhubarb has been fully incorporated into the mixture (when you add the rhubarb it may fizzle and pop).  Stop the mixer and divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans.  Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of each cake comes out clean.  Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool completely before removing them from the pans.

For the frosting, I made a swiss meringue buttercream base, pureed some strawberries I had and mixed it into the base.  And for the rhubarb wrapped decorating technique, I used the the link above from Sprinkle Bakes.









Friday, May 22, 2015

Tiger Cakes


Dorie Greenspan's newest addition to the written word, Baking Chez Moi, is a baking tome.  And it's amazing--albeit a bit overwhelming for me.  There is a wealth of recipes to choose from.  Unless you are looking for something very specific or something that has specific ingredients, you'll be hard-pressed over deciding just which recipe to sate your sweet tooth.  Unfortunately--but not that unfortunate because I love perusing through this book--this is what happened to me the other night.


I was paging through the book with the intent of choosing one thing to make.  My only criteria was that I needed to have all of the ingredients already on hand because it was eight o'clock at night--on a weeknight--and I wasn't even considering the idea of leaving my apartment.  Luckily, I ran across quite a few recipes that I could make.  But after reading through many of them I realized that I had to amend my criterion to not just ingredients I already had on hand.


I also needed a recipe that was fairly simple and not time consuming to make because it was just two hours before my bed time.  Finally, my search ceased with the turn of a page and the visual of these guys....these...."tiger cakes" that befell my eyes. When I started reading through the recipe I started to think that they were just inverted cupcakes.  But they're not.


For one thing, they are mostly made with almond flour.  So if anything they are more like financiers with some chocolate chunks.  Also, after sampling the batter the first thing that came to mind was chocolate chip cookie dough.  For me, it was a dead ringer.  After baking them, that correlation didn't break because they tasted like little chocolate chip cookie cakes with an additional flavor and texture courtesy of the almond flour.  They were addicting too--so easy to just pop one in your mouth and then another and another--just like a can of Pringles--except insurmountably better than Pringles.


As for the name....from what I read in the book, the chocolate is somehow supposed to create striations within the batter--so you'd have alternating stripes of chocolate and cake batter I assume. But I didn't really notice this with my tiger cakes.  The chocolate just embedded itself within the batter as though it would within a chocolate chip cookie. So I don't know what was supposed to occur.  Maybe I did something wrong.  But, whatever--tiger stripes or not--these little cakes were delicious.



Recipe unintentionally--gladly--adapted because I didn't have unsalted butter from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan

3 large egg whites at room temp.
1c (100g) almond flour
2/3c (132g) granulated sugar
3 T all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
8 T (113g) salted butter (the original recipe calls for unsalted butter and also 1/4 tsp salt but I had only salted butter so I used that and omitted the salt)
85g finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate chunks

First, preheat the oven to 350 F and butter 24 mini cupcake molds.  Then, pour your egg whites in a large bowl and whisk them just until they are broken up.  Add the almond flour and stir until all of the flour is moistened.  Next, add the sugar, all-purpose flour and vanilla and stir until fully combined.  Then, using either the microwave or the stove top, bring the butter to a boil and then gradually add it to the batter stirring each time before you add some more butter until all of it is fully combined.  Lastly, stir in the chocolate chunks.  Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake molds and bake the cakes for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick that is inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool for a couple of minutes before removing them from the molds.  After the cakes have been removed from the pan let them cool completely before glazing them with the chocolate.

Recipe for chocolate glaze (the book uses a basic ganache but I already had this glaze leftover from some eclairs I made earlier and I thought it would work just as well)

3oz unsalted butter
5oz semi-sweet chocolate cut into chunks
1 T light corn syrup

First clarify the butter and then set it aside while you melt the chocolate.  Melt the chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl.  Add the still warm clarified butter and corn syrup and stir until fully combined.

To assemble, just dip each of the cakes in the chocolate and let the chocolate set before consuming--or don't and eat them as you will...




Thursday, May 7, 2015

Chestnut Sponge Cake


I purchased Alice Medrich's new cookbook, Flavor Flours.  It caught my attention when I first heard about it because I'm always curious to see if you can replicate traditional desserts and pastries (ones that use wheat flours) using non-traditional ingredients (ones that don't use wheat flours) and have them still taste...well, good.  My default impulse is to assume that the end result of these types of desserts is just mediocre. And honestly, that's not a fair assessment on my part because it's rare for me to veer away from using a good old fashioned all-purpose flour.  Maybe that will change with this new cookbook.  Yet, I don't believe that the intent of this cookbook is to convert people away from wheat flours.  It's not even a book meant to rouse healthier eating or aimed specifically at gluten free bakers--at least not intentionally.  Instead, Alice Medrich is hoping to open up our taste buds to a completely new realm of flours and how they can alter--and maybe even enhance--desserts that we know so well with wheat flours.  So in that sense, I love the book and am truly excited to try out many (all) of these recipes.  That stated, shortly after I read through the introduction of the book, I bought a slew of the flavor flours.  I didn't even know what recipe I wanted to start with--it was semi-impulsive.  But after browsing through the recipes--and simultaneously running through in my head my new flour inventory--I decided on the chestnut sponge cake.  It was simple with the most basic of ingredients--aside from the flour of course.  At first, when it came out of the oven and I removed it from the pan I thought it would be dry because I saw some dry-like crumbs at the edges of the cake. It also didn't seem as spongy as a wheat flour cake.  When I went to lightly press my finger on the top of the cake, it seemed harder than a cake I normally make.  It didn't rise much either.  But that could have been a result of me deflating the batter too much during the folding process too.  I guess I wasn't sure what it was supposed to look--or taste--like.  But all fears were extinguished when I actually bit into the cake.  It wasn't dry and it tasted kinda like a gingerbread cake with some nuttiness.  There was no disappointment or a feeling of mediocrity towards it.  I was pleased with the outcome and left with a definite sense of hope towards the non-wheat flour baked goods.  I have a feeling that they will be a valuable asset within my baking stockpile.



Chestnut sponge cake recipe from Flavor Flours by Alice Medrich

3 T (45g) clarified butter
1c (100g) chestnut flour
2/3c (130g) granulated sugar
4 large eggs
pinch of salt

First, line the bottom of an 8 inch round cake pan with a piece of parchment paper and set it aside. Place one of your oven racks in the lower third tier of your oven and preheat it to 350 F.  Set aside a large bowl.  Take the clarified butter and pour it into a small microwaveable-safe bowl and set aside. Then, in a different medium bowl whisk 2 tablespoons of the sugar, salt and the chestnut flour together and set that aside.  Next, place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer and attach the bowl to the mixer.  Using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on high speed until they've tripled in volume and have thickened up.  Before the eggs have tripled in volume--while your mixer is still running--heat the butter in the microwave until it's hot and then pour it into the large bowl you've set aside. Once the eggs are done, stop the mixer and remove the bowl from it.  Now, pour 1/3 of the flour mixture over the top of the eggs and fold it into them until almost all of the flour has been incorporated.  Then, pour half of the remaining flour mixture over the eggs and fold until almost all has been incorporated.  And repeat with the remaining flour mixture.  Next, take about 1/4 of the batter and pour it into the large bowl that contains the clarified butter and gently fold the two mixtures together until they are well combined.  Lastly, pour the buttery batter mixture into the eggy flour batter and fold until well combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 20-30 minutes (I left mine in for 22 minutes and I think it could have been done in less time--it all depends on your oven though). Remove the cake from the oven and let cool before removing from the pan.

Once the cake was cooled, I frosted it with some leftover pecan whipped cream I had from a prevous project.  I thought it would be a nice complement for it.  Alice Medrich's exact recipe uses a pear butter and creme fraîche--but I didn't have any ingredients to whip that up so I went with what I had...