Helpful Hints to simply the baking process
Helpful Hints to simply the baking process
Since Cherry Season is in full swing in Southern California it was decided that a second week of baking products with Cherries was in order. So this weeks project was Cherry/Cornmeal Upside Down Cake. The title implies that there is a lot of Cornmeal in the batter, but there was not. However, the Cornmeal was prominent in feel and in taste. Many of the participants like or loved the Cornmeal but I did not. Maybe I was the only one who didn’t like – no one else said anything negative about it. Of course, I am not a Cornbread Lover, so it figures that I would not be too found of the Cornmeal in this recipe. All that being said, it does give a little different feel and taste to the texture of the cake.
One thing that I did like about this recipe was the addition of Balsamic Vinegar. i do love the taste of Balsamic and I for one think that even a little more than the recipe called for could have been used. I do use Balsamic a lot with fruit, especially summer fruits such as berries and melon.
By the way, just because I am not fond of the Cornmeal in the recipe does not mean that I didn’t like it – I did like it – in fact I loved it, probably because of the Cherries which I can’t stop eating when they are in season. They are my ‘All-Time Favorite Fruit’ and there are many fruits which I absolutely love, especially Summer Fruit. My Husband loved the Cake – in fact we ate it for Breakfast at least two times. This cake is a 10″ cake and offers up quite a few pieces. One of my Sons had it for Dessert one night and one of my Stepdaughters also had it for Dessert one night – both on a different night. The Cake keeps well and needles to say everyone who ate it loved it!
With all that Hyperbole out of the way let’s get to the recipe and finished product itself.
The recipe can be found at the web site of Epicurious
The Ingredients that you may not have on hand are 3 cups of Cherries (most of us used Bing), Balsamic Vinegar and Cornmeal. Everything else in the recipe is pretty common in most kitchens. The recipe does say to use an ‘oven-proof skillet’ but if you don’t have one that can be used as a baking pan, just use a 10″ layer pan or other similar container which is what I did.
You will need to wash and pit your Cherries before starting the recipe but everything else in the recipe is pretty straight forward. Below are some photos of the different steps in the process:
Measure and Wash your Cherries, then remove the pits with either a Hand Cherry Pitter or a Multiple Pitter. (See last Weeks’ Post – Cherry Clafoutis)
Pitters can be found at your local Culinary Store or at Amazon.com.
Or you can do as one of our members did and use chopsticks. You can also do it the very ‘old-fashioned’ way and use a darning needle to push out the pits.
The next thing to do is to melt the Butter with the Brown Sugar and then add the Cherries and bring them to a boil. Shut off the heat after about a minute or so – just to give the Brown Sugar a chance to melt.
Now make your Batter – it is easiest to do this in a Food Processor but if you don’t have one then use whatever would be easiest for you. Then whip the Whites in a Standing Mixer or with a portable mixer. DO NOT TRY TO WHIP THE WHITES IN THE FOOD PROCESSOR – They will just get overheated and not whip properly.
Next gently fold the Whites into the Batter. You can do this in the Food Processor but only use the Pulse Button so that you do not over-mix.
After the Whites are folded into the Batter it is time to pour the Batter over the Cherries and finally to bake the cake.
The Cake is baked when a toothpick or cake tester is inserted into the cake and comes out clean.
Allow the Baked Cake to cool for at least 5 minutes before inverting onto a large plate. In the Photo above right, you can see that the Cherries gravitated towards the edges, but it still tasted good and when sliced and served with Ice Crema or Whipped Cream one cannot see that the Cherries are not completely covering the cake.
Serve warm with Ice Cream or Whipped Cream. The Cake also tastes good cold or at room temperature.
MEMBERS PHOTOS – Featured Photo this week belongs to Kristy Gobright
Cherries are a relatively expensive fruit but when you consider that their season is so short you may be a little more inclined to spend the money on them if you can. I can remember when the price was way lower than they are now but things have changed and Farm Workers are now making more of a ‘living wage’ when they were decades ago. And if you think you are paying a lot of money for Cherries just look at what Christine Rola Biskaduros had to pay for them. (Photo above right) Christine lives in Shanghai and I guess the Cherries were imported although I did think that Cherries do grow in China but I may be wrong.
Elizabeth Bernhardt Mockapetris
June is Cherry Season in California and they are plentiful indeed! All the Markets are featuring them and they are readily available at your local Farmer’s Market where you know they have recently been picked – no shipping, no mishandling – just great fresh Cherries. Both Bing and Ranier are available but for today’s recipe we are using Bing. Bing provide much more color and flavor and are perfect for baking.
If you are lucky enough to be close to Cherry Orchards (we used to go to Cherry Valley in Beaumont) to pick Cherries when I was growing up and I won’t tell you what the price was then – you would flip as you compare it to what we are paying today. When my sons were young we went to Leona Valley which is North of the Conjeo – prices were still good then as compared to today. One of the great things about taking your children to pick Cherries is that (at least when we did it) the owners said you could eat what you want as you were picking them. Don’t worry – it didn’t hurt the farmers as you can only eat so many as you are picking.
To make the Cherry Clafoutis, you have to pit the Cherries. When I was growing my Mother and I used to use a darning needle to push the pits out of the Cherries. You can imagine how long that took. Today you can buy Cherry Pitters to help you do the job. I have one that pits the Cherries one at a time and one that does it in multiples. The one that does it in multiples is from Germany and does a great job, but you do have to sort through the pitted Cherries to make sure that all the pits were removed. it is easy for one or two to get through the chute without having their pits removed. There are multiple Cherry Pitters available at Amazon – enough to confuse you about which one to buy.
The recipe for the Cherry Clafoutis is available at ‘Bake from Scratch’. Just click on the previous ‘Cherry Clafoutis’ and you will get there.
I used to teach this recipe to my International Food Classes – there are a few differences between the one I used and this one. I think that I prefer this one more because I love Cream and this is what this one uses. My old recipe used Milk and this one uses Cream. In addition, my old recipe just had you putting the Cherries on the bottom of the pan and this one has you baking a thin layer of the Custard before adding the Cherries. This makes it much easier to serve and get those luscious cherries on each serving.
One you get the Cherries pitted, it is quick and easy to make – the Clafoutis is best served warm but it can also be served cold. We like it with Whipped Cream but Ice Cream is good too or you can just serve it as is.
When you read the recipe you will be amazed that originally the pits were left in the Cherries – you can imagine what eating it must have been like! The reason that the pits were left was for the flavor but today the flavor of the pits is replaced with Almond Flavoring. The reason for this is that Almonds, Peaches and Cherries all have similar flavor characteristics. Just compare a Peach Pit with an Almond and you will see the similarity. I know a Cherry Pit does not look like an Almond or a Peach but the flavor profile is very similar.
BELOW ARE PHOTOS OF THE PREPARATION PROCESS:
Ham and Cheese Brioche Pudding was the selection for Week 4. It was decided upon as a nice contrast to the sweet selections from the previous weeks. Unlike the previous 3 selections which we loved, this one will not go on my favorites list. My Husband and I both love Bread Pudding, but as a sweet dish; it turns out that the savory version is not so palatable for us. I am not a fan of Ham but my Husband likes it, and eats Ham and Cheese Sandwiches at least once a week, if not more often, so I decided to stick with the Ham and Cheese Version. The Bread portion of the Pudding is Brioche. I used Challah which is very similar to Brioche. The Pudding itself was beautiful – it raised up and was a beautiful golden brown and had a great texture but would have been more to our liking if it had apples, raisins and some brown sugar in it.
I served the Brioche Pudding for Breakfast along with Maple Syrup and Watermelon on the side.
To make the Pudding you cut up 12 ounces of Brioche or other similar bread (I used Challah which is very similar to Brioche) and place in a buttered baking dish (12” x 12” or even 10” x 10” will do). I made half a recipe and used an 8” x 8” dish which was perfect.
Combine the Eggs, Milk or Cream or Half and Half along with the seasonings which are Salt, Pepper, Cayenne and Nutmeg.
Pour the Custard mixture over the bread cubes and top with Julienned Ham and Shredded Cheese.
In the photos above you may see that the Bread and Custard Cubes are in a different dish than the product with the Ham and Cheese. I mistakenly thought that the half recipe would fit in my ceramic loaf dish but not to be – had to transfer the mixture to my 8 x 8 glass baking dish.
Press everything down so that the bread absorbs the custard and the Ham and Cheese are incorporated into the whole. Slivered Green Onions (which I omitted) are sprinkled on top.
The complete recipe can be found at Cooking – New York Times
Normally Bread Pudding is assembled and then refrigerated overnight so that all the custard is absorbed into the bread. This recipe did not call for that but since we were going to eat it for breakfast, I did do that. I made it in a glass baking dish, so I had to let it warm up for about an hour before baking it. The baking took 45 minutes, exactly what was called for in the recipe. The Pudding should be served immediately or it can be baked and cooled and then cut up into squares as suggested in the recipe or you can just reheat any leftovers that you may have.
Even though I only made a half recipe we still had leftovers which I sent home with my Grandson who loves Ham. I have yet to hear if he has eaten it and if he likes it. Will notate that here when I find out.
I am sure that many people will like this version of Bread Pudding, especially if you are a fan of Quiche. I do like Quiche but never make it with Ham. I usually use Spinach or Mushrooms. I am a Vegie Fan, but not a Vegetarian or Vegan. I am thinking though of becoming a Pescatarian. I do not get stuffed when I eat fish and/or vegetables like I do when I eat meat.
There are variations among the members of our group – some did use Spinach, another used Bacon, etc. And a couple of the members made the Brioche Loaf from the recipe that was given. I did make my bread but it was Challah and since I had it on hand decided to use that instead since it is very similar, both in ingredients used and the end result.
MEMBERS PHOTOS IN THE ORDER THEY WERE POSTED
A Very Berry Torte was the selection for Week Three of our Sunday Baking Project. The recipe was selected from the book – Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.
The Torte consisted of a Cookie Crust which differs from the traditional Graham Cracker Crust in that you actually make it from a Sugar Cookie Dough. Jam goes on the bottom and the Cheese Cake Filling goes over the top. It is made in a Spring Form pan which allows you to remove the cake without destroying it – this is especially good when the crust is quite fragile due to the ingredients it is made with. A Spring Form Pan has sides that lock on to the bottom and by use of a spring lock can be removed once the baked product is finished. If you don’t have a Springform Pan you can purchase one at your local Culinary Store or on line at Amazon.com.
The Filling was also a little different than the traditional Cheesecake in that in addition to Cream Cheese it also had Cottage Cheese in the Filling. The Cottage Cheese helped to give the filling a little more texture than normal which turned out quite well.
The preparation of the Torte begins with the Crust which is pretty similar to a traditional Sugar Cookie Dough and it certainly behaves like one in that it is not super easy to work with. To roll the Dough out with as little trouble as possible it is best to refrigerate it first. I did this by flattening the dough into a circle between two pieces of waxed paper. When you do roll it out it is best to roll it between the sheets of waxed paper so it doesn’t break up. You can also press the dough into the Springform pan although I don’t think you can get as even a crust as you would like with this method.
After the Dough is rolled out it is then refrigerated for 30 minutes before baking. To bake the Crust it is best to use a ‘Blind Filling’- a sheet of buttered Aluminum Foil placed on the Dough with Pie Weights. The Weights can be purchased or you can use dried beans. The beans can be stored in an airtight container and used again many times as of course the weights can. The Weights come in various forms – some are metal, others are ceramic. They all work in pretty much the same way and whatever you buy would be up to you.
The recipe said to bake the crust for 30 minutes before removing the weights, but I found that to be a little too long. Try it yourself with different times – every oven is a little different so what I tell you may not work in your oven. I would start out with the suggested time and then adjust it from there if you plan to make the torte again.
After the foil and Weights are removed the crust is returned to the oven for about 5 more minutes to brown the surface. I personally thought the crust was over-done and would definitely try it with less time or maybe not pre-bake at all. If I do bake the Torte without prebaking the Crust I will come back here and post the results.
The Jam is spread over the baked crust – to my taste, 1/3 cup of Jam was not enough to cover the bottom of the crust – next time I would use at least half cup or maybe even more. It is supposed a Berry Tart and you do want to be able to taste it.
1/3 cup thick Berry Jam
To make the Filling the the Cottage Cheese and Cream Cheese are first blended together. Then the Sugar, Salt and Spices are blended and then the Eggs are beaten in. This can all be done in the Food Processor or by hand in a large bowl with a whisk. I think the Food Processor (if you have one) is the preferred method. Much faster and the ingredients will be beaten more thoroughly than if you do it by hand.
9 oz. Brick Cream Cheese
9 oz. Small Curd Cottage Cheese
3/4 C. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
Pinch Ground Cinnamon
Pinch freshly Ground Nutmeg
The Torte should bake for about 60 minutes or until the filling no longer jiggles when the pan is moved. Additional cooking will take place after the heat is shut off and the pan is taken out of the oven. In the older methods of making Cheesecake the instructions say to leave it in the oven (after it has been turned off). I haven’t checked my old recipes but I think the actual baking time would be less. i have the bad habit of over-baking my cheesecakes so if I looked up the old method it would probably be better for me to do it that way.
In the Baked Torte photo you can see the clasp that holds the circular sides onto the bottom of the pan. When the Torte is baked and cooled the clasp is opened and should slide right off. Oftentimes you may have to use a straight-edge spatula to completely separate the cake from the pan.
All in all, this Berry Torte Cheesecake was very good – it tasted delicious even if my version didn’t come out looking beautiful. We had it for Breakfast – after all it does contain Eggs, Cheese and Fruit – items that we often incorporate into our Breakfasts. Of course we didn’t eat the whole thing at once, so it was also eaten for Dessert at another meal.
In the photos below are the plated cake and a slice topped with Whipped Cream.
MEMBERS PROJECT RESULTS
This Past Sunday,May 7th was the second week of our Sunday Baking Project. The selection this week was Lemon Chiffon Cake. It was supposed to be a nice contrast to the ‘Decadent Chocolate Cream Pie’ of last week. Indeed, it was a nice flavor contrast to the Pie but it was decadent in its own right. The Cake was light and flavorful and the curd between the layers was very nice and Lemony, but it wasn’t mouth puckering as lemon can sometimes be. I think maybe, it could have been just a tad more tart – in other words- a little less sugar. Will try it that way sometime. The Italian Buttercream Frosting was indeed the decadent portion of this cake as it was quite Buttery and I loved it!
The Recipe chosen was ‘Lemon-Love Chiffon Layer Cake from the Fearless Baker Cookbook by Erin Jeanne McDowell’. If I didn’t mention this last week, the purpose of the club is to try new recipes which none of us has ever made – not specific to the item but specific to the published recipe. In other words, I am sure that most of us have made Lemon Cake before, but not this specific recipe. There were some things that were done differently than the traditional methods – therefore it makes it a new recipe for all of us.
Before going through the procedure for making the cake please take a look at the photos which will show how the final project is interpreted through different eyes.
Thank You Terrie for allowing me to use your photo for the feature image and I have to apologize to Eileen Delcore Bennet and CM Wolkon but I was unable to upload your photos.
MAKING THE CAKE: This recipe actually took several steps to make and gave us the opportunity to hone different skills.
Before even beginning to prepare the Cake, Curd and Frosting, it is best to Juice and Zest all the Lemons and Lemon Product that you will need. The best Lemons to use for Lemon Desserts are Meyer Lemons if they are available. Right now in Spring, they are readily available, at least in the So. Calif. Farmer’s Markets. The difference between Meyer and Eureka is that Meyer are less tart and better for baked products. Eureka are great for cooking and for drinks like lemonade.
You can Zest the Lemons with a fine grater but it is best to have an actual zesting implement.
In this photo the Meyer Lemons are the ones with the orange hue and the Eureka are the ones front and more yellow.
The first Preparation was for the Lemon Curd which I chose to make the day before. It needed to cool for at least 2 hours so making it a day ahead gives you plenty of time to let it chill. The instructions for this Curd are a little off the norm in that all the ingredients are mixed together and then cooked to the desired thickness. Normally, the Egg Yolks are beaten first, then tempered and then cooked to the proper thickness. Using the traditional method gives you a shorter cooking time but definitely more utensils to clean. Even though the clean-up takes a little longer I do prefer the traditional method. In the photo below, the Curd is covered with plastic wrap which you want to cover the curd with to prevent a crust from forming. The plastic wrap should actually be touching the curd.
The second Step was to make the Cake. Making the Cake, in itself was multi-faceted. It involved:
2. Sifting together the Dry Ingredients
3. Whisking together the Wet Ingredients (other than Eggs)
4. Beating the Yolks for the Cake Batter – once the Yolks were beaten to almost the desired thickness, the Liquid ingredients were added and beating resumed for one more minutes. Next the Dry Ingredients were added in four separate increments.
5. Beating the Whites to add to the almost finished Batter.
6. Next the Whites were folded into the Batter and then the Batter was divided between two greased and floured Pans. I recommend lining the greased pans with parchment paper to allow for easier cake removal.
7. The Cakes were baked and cooled and then brushed with the Lemon Syrup.
8. Making the Lemon Syrup involved only combining the Lemon Juice with the Sugar and bringing to a boil so that the Sugar is completely dissolved. This takes only minutes.
9. Once split in half there are 4 separate layers. Each one should be brushed with the Lemon Syrup before assembly.
The Fourth Step was to make the Frosting – this involved Beating Egg Whites Again and making a Sugar Syrup and bringing it to the Soft Ball Stage (240 degrees F.)
So All in All, there were a lot of skills involved. Of course it is easier for an accomplished baker to do these things but it is also a good recipe for a novice to learn these skills. All in all, the Cake was delicious in every part of it. I do love Lemon and especially Lemon Curd but do also love the Italian Meringue that covered the cake.
October is ‘National Apple Month’ so I decided to look up and see how many different kinds of Apples there are. Wow, I did not expect to find the number I did – there are literally dozens and maybe hundreds – the only letter in the Alphabet that does not bear the name of an Apple is ”X”. There are numerous kinds of Apples for each and every letter, however most of us are familiar with only a small number of them.
The most common Apples are the Red and Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Pippins and Granny Smith. The best for eating are the Delicious, of course and the Gala and Fuji. The best for baking are Granny Smith and Pippins. The last two are not terribly sweet and have a firm flesh which lends them well to baked goods such as pies and pastries. For cooking and Applesauce the Winesap and Gravensteins are excellent.
My favorite use for Apples is to make Pie and of course, there is nothing as American as ‘Apple Pie’. I also love Apple Turnovers made with Puff Pastry. Puff Pastry is a pain to make but you can purchase frozen Puff Pastry Sheets which work very well. You can also use Pie Crust or even Yeast Dough for your Turnovers Shells.
There are also many other ways in which we can use Apples and so I am going to explore some of them here and reference several really great recipes. The first one is for Apple Bread – what a good way to use up those Apples from your tree or even the ones you bought. You can even use Applesauce. Try the referenced recipe. This recipe makes two to three loaves, depending on the size of the pans you use. You can also make Muffins from the same recipe. If there is too much for your family to consume at one time, these loaves freeze well or you can share them with your friends. www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/breads/apple-bread/
Apple Pie can be made in various ways – there are French Apple Pies with a streusel topping and then there are the traditional ‘American’ type Apple Pies with both a bottom and a top crust. The referenced recipe is for a French Apple Pie which always easy to make because there is only a bottom crust and you don’t have to worry about getting the top crust to fit and look beautiful. www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/pies-pastry/
Apple Turnovers are absolutely my favorite way to go! You can eat them out of hand without utensils; they are good for Breakfasts on the Go or for snacks or Desserts. You can use Puff Pastry or Pie Crust or any of your favorite pastry doughs.
Apple Brown Betty is an old fashioned dish which can also be used for dessert or for Breakfast. There is no Pie Crust to worry about, just a cumbly topping. It is fast and easy to make and is great with Vanilla Ice Cream or Whipped Cream on top. www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/deserts/apple-brown-betty/
Caramel Apples are one of my favorite ways to eat Apples. I love Apples and I love Caramel and nothing goes better together than Apples and Caramel. And since Halloween is this Month what better treat than Caramel Apples to share with the kids. This recipe is simple to make and the Apples are fun to eat. The best Apples to use for Caramel Apples are Granny Smith or Golden Delicious. Pippins are also good, but make sure that they are somewhat ripe or they will be to tart to eat, even with the Caramel. www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/halloween-recipes/caramel-apples/
Remember, October is ‘National Apple Month’ and there is no better time to buy and eat Apples than now. Even better is if you can pick your own, either from your own trees or nearby orchards. Play around and experiment – Apples are a wondrous fruit and don’t forget ‘An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away’. Try a different Apple Recipe for the Month of October – ‘National Apple Month’. And another reason for eating and using them now is that later on, the Apples you buy will all have been in cold storage which makes them mealy and less tasty. So take advantage of ‘National Apple Month.
Today I wanted to get rid of some of the items in my refrigerator and freezer, so i decided to make a non-traditional Zucchini Bread, using Zucchini, Carrots, Chocolate Cookie Crumbs and chopped Macadamia Nuts and dried Pineapple.
Since I ended up with 4 cups of shredded fruit/Vegetable (yes, Zucchini is a fruit) I doubled my normal recipe./zuchinni-muffins/ The ingredients that I used are:
2 cups Brown Sugar*
1 cup granulated Sugar
1 cup Butter
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
4 cups shredded Zucchini and Carrots
5 cups Flour
1 cup finely chopped Chocolate Cookie Crumbs
2 tsps. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 tsps. Salt
2 tsps. ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground Cloves
Pour into the prepared pans (half full) and bake as directed above.
The fruit used can be varied – almost any fruit will do in this recipe.
When a toothpick inserted in the middle of the breads comes out clean, they are done. However, I usually bake them about 5 minutes longer so that the tops are more brown and crispy. If you are muffin top lover, then definitely bake them just a little bit longer than necessary.
As an added note, this recipe produces a relatively healthy product. You have your vegies in the Zucchini and Carrots (Vitamin A here). I used Red Carrots which seem to have much more pigment than the orange ones – this means more Vitamin A as the pigment is where the Vitamins are. In the photo at the top of the page, the carrots look orange (dark orange!) but if you look closely you will see the red. Most of the red is on the outside, but the orange is much darker than on regular orange carrots, thereby probably containing more Carotene (Vitamin A source)
The recipe also contains Eggs, Macadamia Nuts and dried Pineapple. The Butter and/ or Oil are also essential products for a healthy body. Whether you think it or not, oils are essential for survival!
Try my version or create your own. This is a very flexible recipe and you can do a lot with it. By the way, I usually use Raisins (good source of Iron) but since I had the Pineapple and am trying to clean out my fridge and freezer, I used that. You can use whatever you have on hand! Enjoy!