Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Buckwheat Linzer Cookies

Doughs made with buckwheat don't look all that appetizing.  They're the color gray.  Incidentally, I dare someone to name one gray food that looks inviting.  I for one can't think of any.

Luckily when you bake with buckwheat, it browns a bit so the appearance warms up.  But before that--yuck.  For this recipe I had to create this log of gray buckwheat cookie dough to chill so I could slice it up into cookie circles later and bake. As you can guess, the log of gray dough looked less than tempting--like some sort of generic sustenance that would be served to the masses in a post-apocalyptic earth science fiction movie.  It was sticky, wet and of course...gray.  The upside is that the old adage, don't judge a book by its cover, applies here.  The resulting cookies were delicious.

This recipe is another one from Alice Medrich's Flavor Flours.  I've been baking from this recipe book a lot lately--partly because I'm intrigued to see how some of Alice Medrich's gluten free creations turn out.  Also because I've bought just about every flour specified in the book and I'm afraid it's going to go rancid if I don't start using them up faster.  Nevertheless, its been fun.  And the buckwheat linzer cookies--despite their pre-baked appearance--were delectable. They were buttery, sweet and soft.  Aside from the color, the buckwheat adds a bit of a grainy texture to the cookie--which I didn't look at that as a negative attribute.  A little texture is nice sometimes.

But at the same time I feel as though I need to have a traditional linzer cookie at my side in order to properly perceive the differences between the two types of flours.  Plus, in addition to buckwheat flour this recipe calls for oat flour and white rice flour.  Technically, the buckwheat flour is the predominant flour in the blend but I can't help but feel that with the added butter and sugar plus the other flours it might be hard to pick out the flavor of the buckwheat.  Or...maybe my taste buds just aren't that sophisticated.

If anyone has any trepidation about baking with buckwheat, let me be the one to allay those concerns. It may look kinda gross before it's baked but it doesn't taste gross--unless you make it taste gross of course.  I'm assuming, from my recent experience that you could use it to make any number of good baked goods--this recipe being proof of that in fact.  It's different yes.  But certainly not in a bad way--in a good way, a real good way.


55g (1/4c + 2 T) white rice flour
70g (1/2c + 2 T) buckwheat flour
65g (2/3c) oat flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
100g (1/2c) granulated sugar
60g (1/4c) cream cheese cut into chunks
170g (12 T) unsalted butter at room temp. and cut into chunks
1 T water

1/2c of preserves--I used blackberry

Using the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the dry ingredients and process for about 30 seconds.  Then add everything else and process until a smooth ball forms.  Scrape the dough out of the food processor and divide it in half.  With each half of dough, form it into a log that is about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  The next day when you are ready to get baking, place oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and then preheat it to 325 F.  Line two baking sheets with either silicone baking mats or parchment paper and set them aside.  Next, take one chilled log of dough from the refrigerator and slice it into just a little less than 1/4 inch slices and place each slice on baking sheets at least 2 inches apart.  Make sure you have equal slices on each sheet--it will make the next step a little easier.  Do the same thing with the other log of dough.  Bake two baking sheets at a time for 12 minutes.  Remove the baking sheet from the upper rack.  Place the one on the lower rack into the upper position and rotate it 180 degrees. With the baking sheet that was removed from the oven, use a 1/2 inch cookie cutter to cut circles in the middles of each cookie--the centers may or may not pop out--it doesn't matter whether or not they do.  Place the baking sheet in the lower rack and bake both sheets for another 10-15 minutes or just until the edges start to brown a bit.  Once done, remove each baking sheet from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on each sheet.

Once the cookies are cooled, match all of them up and spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of preserves on the bottom of each one.  Sandwich it with the cut-out top and enjoy.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Lemon Tart with Coconut Crust

In my neck of the woods, citrus is about the only fruit available during the frigid winter months.  And if I really didn't like citrus, I'd probably be mad about that.  Luckily I do like it--quite a bit in fact.  Its got that tart bite that I find refreshing during the bleak winter months--and they're tropical fruits that hint at the warmth from which they are borne.  And I fantasize about that warmth.  My all time favorite citrus dessert is key lime pie.  My ideal one has a tooth-achingly sweet and salty graham cracker crust that cuts up the key lime filling.    

I found a recipe for a key lime tart in Alice Medrich's Flavor Flours.  Unfortunately, I only had lemons on hand and no condensed milk so I couldn't make it.  But, I could use the recipe for the crust. Not surprisingly--since this particular recipe book explores baking using just about any flour other than wheat flours--it doesn't call for my beloved graham cracker crust.  Instead, it pairs itself with another tropical fruit, the coconut. Both shredded coconut and coconut flour join forces to create the base for this tart.  The result is essentially a crust that tastes like a macaroon.  And since the recipe for the crust is just about the same as one for macaroons, it's not all that shocking.  The only difference is that it uses coconut flour. I think macaroons are pretty amazing so eating a crust in the form of a giant one is by no means a chore.  

My only trouble with making this coconut crust was that it wasn't exactly the most structurally sound crust.  Macaroons are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  But this crust was just chewy all over.  So when I cut into the tart, it was more pliable than anything else so I never got a clean cut.  I always ended up having to scrape off some of the crust from the bottom of the pan.  Nevertheless, I think that if I baked it a bit longer, that issue would have been resolved.  

In my mind, pairing two tropical fruits like this just seems to make perfect sense.  And truly, they go together well--it was an excellent crust.  I'm not saying I'm going to totally give up on a graham cracker crust for a key lime pie but it's certainly a nice alternative to have in your back pocket.  


Crust via Alice Medrich's Flavor Flours

40g (1/3c) coconut flour
100g (1c + 1T) unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
85g (6T) unsalted butter at room temp. and softened
100g (1/2c) granulated sugar
1 large egg white

First, preheat the oven to 350 F and then grease a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Next, using a large bowl combine all of the ingredients together until everything is well incorporated. After that, press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the tart pan--making sure that every inch is covered well and that the sides of the pan are thicker than the base.  Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake it in the oven for at least 15 minutes.  I baked mine for 15 minutes and I felt that it wasn't done so maybe in the time range between 15-20 minutes depending upon your oven.  I would touch the bottom of the crust and if it seems fairly firm then it will probably be good.  Once, the crust has baked, remove it from the oven and let it cool completely before making the filling.


100g (1/2) granulated sugar
2T corn starch
1/8 tsp salt
1/2c water
1/4c milk
2 large egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
1T unsalted butter
1/4c fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

First, preheat the oven to 350 F.  Then using a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks until lighter in color and set it aside.  In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn starch, salt, water and milk. Set the mixture over medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture just comes to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour about a third of the mixture into the egg yolks and quickly whisk to combine. Pour that mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk mixture. Set it over low heat while whisking constantly and cook just until it thickens and it starts to slowly bubble. Remove it from the heat and add the butter, lemon juice and lemon zest and whisk to combine.  Place a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the filling and set aside while you make the meringue.


2 large egg whites
50g (1/4c) granulated sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, start whisking the egg whites on medium speed until they are foamy.  Then slowly start pouring in the sugar.  Whisk the whites on medium-high speed until stiff glossy peak form.  Set the meringue aside while you assemble everything.


Pour the slightly cooled filling into the cooled tart shell and make sure it's evenly distributed.  Next, either spread the entire meringue over the tart or pour it into a piping baking with a plain tip and pipe any sort of design you wish.  Once that's done, bake the tart for about 12-15 minutes until it is set and the meringue peaks have just started to brown.  Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool completely before slicing into.