Ooey-gooey Chocolate

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Writing is an interesting phenomenon for me. I used to write my memoirs of my mundane ordinary life. I did this on computer and then in some handwritten journals. I then wrote the blog. At present I am exchanging emails with my best friend from high school in the middle of this pandemic. She’s in the Midwest; I’m in the Northeast. The point is that these writing episodes do not seem to overlap. I’m writing either one or the other. And lately I decided to handwrite letters to my son who is in the Northwest. But here I am back on the blog.

It’s not that I have not been baking or cooking. Well, actually, I have been doing less as Hubby has picked up cooking and dinner making. He continues to make me breakfast as I go off to work, either at the Agency or to the Dining Room. Either commute is not a hardship as the Agency is just up the street and across the road. Most of my baking is for something sweet. I have made a few batches of brownies. The problem with that is we tend to eat the whole pan in one sitting, or in two days, whichever comes first!

So I wanted to make something chocolate but not brownies…again! For some reason I had a couple of cake mixes in the baking pantry. Why do I have these? Because I thought I would have to bake my own birthday cake which is traditionally German Chocolate. I have made German Chocolate cake from scratch but have no problem making it from a mix. I’m telling Hubby that I found coconut so have all the ingredients and plan to bake the cake.  He has to tell me then that he has bought me the cake as a surprise and now I went and ruined his surprise!

In my search for something to bake I remembered a cookie bar made from cake mix and sweetened condensed milk. It takes me some time to find the recipe notebook with this scrap of cake mix box. These are called Macaroon Cookie Bars. They are sort of a brownie as well.

  • 1 package chocolate cake mix: I used a German Chocolate mix. The original recipe was from a Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¼ cups flaked coconut; divide this to use the ¼ cup separately
  • 1 cup chopped nuts; I used pecans

Mix the first 3 ingredients and press into a greased 13-inch x 9-inch baking dish. Mix the  remaining ingredients except for ¼ cup of the coconut. Spread that mixture on top of the cake mix batter. Sprinkle the ¼ cup reserved coconut on top. Bake for 350 degree F for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. The edges will be the darkest. Cool completely and cut into squares.

Super simple and yummy!

Pain de Pandemic

How are you all?

I am working from home (miracle of miracles) part of the time. When going into the agency I am wearing a mask. Said mask is to last 5 shifts. I made a cloth mask to wear over it although contact with people is minimal, making being in the office a very grim place to be. But I am working and am not furloughed and am counting my blessings.

On weekends I bake. This past weekend I made a cake and Hubby and I ate it in two days. Not a good thing. Lunchtime on tele-working days has resulted in an apple pie and a chocolate snack cake over the past two weeks. Oh, and cookie dough. The problem with cookie dough is that I freeze rolls of it and then can slice and bake a dozen cookies each day, which I did, and we ate! Weekends have bread baking sessions. So when Hubby went out to the grocery store he bought plenty of flour.

Looking through my Fleischmann’s yeast cook-booklet I came across Verona Loaf.  At the time of this bake I had been running low on flour so wanted a recipe that did not call for 7-8 cups. Verona Loaf calls for half that. Although it says “loaf” it is made in rounds or boules. This recipe makes two. And is more than just flour, salt, water, and yeast.

  • 3 ¾ to 4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3  cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (I use instant yeast so 2 teaspoons)
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • ¾ cup very warm tap water (120-130 degrees F)
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ cup cold butter

In large bowl thoroughly mix 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, lemon peel, and yeast. Then add softened butter. Gradually add hot water to dry ingredients and mix at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add eggs, vanilla and ½ cup flour and beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in enough flour to make soft dough. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk about 45 minutes.

I am using my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer. I use the dough hook throughout. I use speed 2 for medium although maybe that should be 4 which I use for high speed because 6 just seems too fast.

After the first rising comes the interesting part. This will now be laminated similar to puff pastry. First turn dough on floured board and roll dough to ½ inch thickness. Cut 2 tablespoons of cold butter into small pieces and place on center 1/3 of dough. Fold 1/3 of dough over butter. Now place the remaining 2 tablespoons of cold butter, also cut into small pieces, on top of the folded third. Bring remaining third of dough over to cover the butter. Now roll the dough into an 18 inch strip, fold in thirds, and wrap loosely in wax paper (or parchment) and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Repeat rolling procedure and folding into thirds and refrigeration. Repeat twice. Next, on floured surface divide dough in half. Lightly knead each half and shape into a ball. Place in 2 greased 8-inch round pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 35 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes. I have found that my oven requires the maximum bake time plus 5 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool on wire racks. (Sprinkle with sugar while warm. I’m not certain I did this last bit.)

This was a very tasty bread.

And more pains de pandemic:

Raisin white bread made with potato water!
Everyday mixed grain bread

Comfort Baking: Olive Oil Cake

My son and daughter-in-law visited so I baked a cake. I was flipping through magazines and so I baked a cake. I was looking through my news-feed and had to bake a cake. I sense a pattern here. I’m thinking I might be baking a cake in the near future as well.

I finally got around to making this cake. I was looking for the magazine that had created a recipe for veggie sauce with the mouth feel of ground meat. I had attached a note to the front of the magazine with the names and page numbers of recipes I wanted to try and this one was there. This turned out well, having a grown-up taste, not too sweet and quite moist. It is possible that I under-baked it by 5 minutes but that did not affect our enjoyment of the cake. The problem with this cake is that it was so easy to slice off a sliver each time one walked by it.

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest (I used orange zest; the second time I used lime zest. Stick to lemon or orange)
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk.)

Oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9 inch spring-form pan. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl whip eggs on medium speed (stand mixer with whisk attachment) until foamy about one minute. Add sugar and zest increasing speed to high and beating for about 3 minutes. Reduce speed back to medium and slowly pour in oil, mix only one minute. Add ½ the flour mixture about one minute. Add milk and mix for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix for one minute. Of course, you are scraping down the sides of the bowl during the addition of the flour and milk. Pour the batter into prepared pan and sprinkle on the remaining sugar. Bake 45-50 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing. Supposedly let this cool completely before slicing. Hah!

And here’s another cake: Guinness Chocolate Cake in honor of St. Patrick’s Day but really because it was a Friday and I got home from work. For this one I made a Bailey’s Buttercream and not a cream cheese frosting.

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1875-chocolate-guinness-cake

Thoughts:

Weight loss is out the window. With all this Coronavirus Pandemic, hunkering down, figuring out how to work from home, how worried should I be, binge-watching Netflix for escapism, I eat what I want. I apparently bake and eat cakes too! See above. We re-watched the whole Lord of the Rings Special Edition DVD set. There’s a situation that puts this in perspective. I would have liked to put one of those images and quotes here but am not sure how or if things are copyrighted.

It’s all about priorities and enjoying life. I like to learn about food. I like to do new things with vegetables to eat more of them. I like to bake and cook. I am reasonably healthy and not too overweight. I do not want to add more anxiety in this day and time with regard to the food I eat.

Maybe I’ll get back on the weight loss train sometime later this year. One day at a time.

Scones for Hubby

Food: More Scones

One weekend I seemed to spend all my time in the kitchen. I decided to bake as well as cook. Hubby likes scones and I remembered a recipe that I had made once. It took me a bit of time to locate it in my various recipe notebooks but I did.

Basically scones appear to be made up of 2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, salt, 1/3 cup butter-like substance and 1 cup cream, and then flavor ingredients if using. The recipe I made is one touting itself as “healthier” with supposedly lower calories, lower fat content, and the like. This healthier tagline does not mean a hill of beans when Hubby eats half the pan in one sitting! And Hubby likes cranberry as the flavor ingredient but failed to remind me we have oodles of frozen whole cranberries in our possession.

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup butter (the healthier original called for trans-fat-free buttery spread)
  • 1 cup + 2 Tab. Yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (the original called for ½ cup raspberries)
  • ¼ cup candied ginger bits (the original called for mini chocolate chips)

Mix flours, baking powder, and baking soda in large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly. Mix in the cranberries and ginger bits. Mix yogurt and honey and then mix with the flour mixture. This will be very soft dough. Pat out onto a floured surface and knead 2 to 3 times. Roll into a circle or square to about ½ inch thickness. Or pat with your floured hands. Cut into shapes or a circle to cut into wedges. I have a scone pan so I made a square and then cut into four squares and then four triangles per square. Bake at 400 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. You can sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top before baking but I did not.

These are quite tasty. They are best the day made but not too bad the next day either.

Thoughts: Stay Home and Stay Safe!

I am working hard at following my professional training on staying calm, maintaining hope, finding meaning, and practicing good public hygiene during this time of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Reading the news constantly has not been a good plan for my mental health. The public agency that I work for has deemed me essential. The folk we work with are in need of knowing that there are people to talk to who care who have not just shut the doors. The agency worked very hard and quickly to manage a part-time work from home which we have begun. Most of our face-to-face is for crisis and emergency management.  Most of the work now is phone contact for health promotion, supportive counseling, prompting self-care, and making sure people have access to basic needs such as medicine, food, and shelter as well as connecting with those living alone who have invisible struggles.

For myself personally I found the virtual church service this morning was a blessing. I did not expect it to be but lately I find I am often surprised by joy spiritually.

Hubby and my walks are around our neighborhood. People are walking their dogs or just themselves. We all wave and maintain social distancing standards. But the fresh air is good, and getting up off the couch, and a change of venue from the four walls!

Take care of yourselves. Follow social distance guidelines. Do not hoard supplies. Find comfort in faith, family, and friends. We are all in this together and will weather the storm. One day at a time and any other ways we manage our thoughts, feelings, and emotions to get through.

And don’t forget to wash those hands!

two pounds in two months!

Part A: dessert

So I made brownies. I am not always making brownies but they are easy to make and almost always good. I like fudgy brownies. I was thinking of making brownies all week but had run out of eggs. And we were not going to shop until the weekend. I waited. Then after buying 5 dozen eggs at the Walmart (the regular eggs were all packaged in Styrofoam which I do not like to buy) I made brownies. I decided to try Alton Brown’s cocoa brownies which claim to be fudgy and “ooiey”. https://altonbrown.com/alton-brown-brownie-recipe/ and/or https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/cocoa-brownies-recipe-2085484

I do not have a kitchen scale. I’m not that precise a baker. So I guess-timated the amounts of ingredients as he gives them in weights. These turned out very gooey. I did use the thermometer because I could not tell if they were actually done. We ate these while warm which meant they could not actually be picked up. They fell apart. Apparently that was not a problem in that we ate most of them! The next day they could be picked up and they were still very fudgy and very rich. Beating the eggs for a few minutes really does make a difference in producing the shiny crust on top. If I make these again I will bake them at 350 degrees F and not the 300 degrees in his directions. Here’s what I did.

  • 4 large eggs.
  • Scant 1 cup granulated sugar.
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar.
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour.
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter (melted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

Beat eggs for 2-3 minutes. Sift dry ingredients in separate bowl. Add the sugar mixture and mix, then the melted butter and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. The pan is 9 inch square, sprayed and lined with parchment so the parchment overhangs two sides by 2 inches. This will be used to lift the brownies from the pan. Bake at 300 degrees F for 45 minutes. Mine took 55 minutes and I had to use the thermometer to be sure they were done. Alton Brown says this should register at 195. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes and then lift out. Cut into 9 squares. Actually you could cut into smaller squares as these are very rich. Even letting them cool for that bit of time, lifting them out was difficult because they were so soft.

ooey-gooey brownies

Part B: two months of weight loss

Hah! Brownies are not good for weight loss. Eating Oreo cookies is not good either. And not counting calories appears to be my downfall. For the past two weeks I stopped counting calories. Counting calories makes me accountable for

  1. How many Oreos I eat,
  2. How many glasses of wine I pour myself,
  3. Portion controlling potato chips, crackers and cheese, and other late night-TV watching snacks,
  4. Not having seconds at meals.

So I have actually gained back the 2 pounds lost in January. I have a net loss of HALF a POUND! The good news is that I have lost 2.5 pounds since last summer and at times will weigh at a 5 pound loss since then. The inconsistency is frustrating.

So now I ask myself what to do. I want to bake and I want to enjoy my food. Yes, I should not be eating Oreos or Potato Chips, but I want to make a cake once in a while. I want to make new and interesting vegetable dishes.

Life is too short to not eat dessert!

Who is Sally Lunn?

Food:

It was a weekend and I wanted to bake. Bread should be better than cake when counting calories, don’t you think? I looked through several cookbooks and finally settled on one from my handy-dandy Fleischmann’s Yeast Booklet from long ago. I have wanted to bake this particular bread for a long time but have never done so. It looks like a cake and is in the “no-knead” chapter. One of my other cookbooks explained that the origin is probably French and is popular in the South here in America. The Smithsonian magazine site relates that she may be a French pastry chef who sought refuge in England or a different woman, or even from Sun and Moon as descriptive of appearance. Others say it was one of George Washington’s favorites. Read all about it here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/colonial-recipes-sally-lunn-cake-82438919/

Whatever its origin it sounds of interest to me and I set out to bake. No knead breads are batter breads. This recipe made one large loaf baked in a tube pan, the kind used for Angel Food Cake.

  • ½ cup warm water (105-115 degrees F); I got to use my new instant read thermometer which was not very “instant”; hmmm?
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk (I used unsweetened oat milk)
  • ½ cup softened butter; okay, I nuked it for 20-30 seconds ( this apparently is a no-no but works for me in a pinch)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs, well-beaten at room temperature; I put the eggs in a bowl of warmish water to take the chill off
  • 5 ½ to 6 cups all-purpose flour

Put the warm water in the big bowl of the stand mixer (KitchenAid fitted with the dough hook) and sprinkle the yeast and stir to dissolve. Add milk, butter, sugar, salt and eggs and beat until well blended about one minute. Stir in enough flour to make soft dough. Cover, let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled, about one hour. So my kitchen is not a warm place. Hubby suggested I bring the bowl into the living room near the fireplace but I was afraid it would rise too fast. So I went off to the library and let it rise almost 1 ½ hours.

Grease well the tube pan. This needs to be a 10-inch pan and not a smaller decorative one. Stir the batter down, it basically needed to be gently pounded by the wooden spoon for this. My batter was all in one piece so I “poured” it into the tube pan and stretched it around to fit the circle. Cover and let rise until doubled, about one hour. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Very yummy!

Thoughts: Also about food

I am hungry! I continue to count calories but find that I go over the weight loss amount regularly now. And it is not from the empty calories from drink. I’m not even eating a lot of sweets. How can I enjoy food and cooking this way? I don’t want to not pay attention to what I eat because I tend to put on weight that way. So far, I am not gaining but not losing either. Here is a typical work day’s food intake:

  • coffee, black
  • egg and cheese on English Muffin
  • leftover chili or vegetable curry, one cup
  • orange
  • 17 whole almonds
  • homemade sausage, peppers, and onions, one cup, if that
  • hamburger bun for sandwiching the sausage and peppers
  • handful of potato chips
  • dates for a sweet treat after dinner
  • glass of red wine at bar for Trivia night

Okay, so the potato chips were not the best choice. The dates add up as well but they are very nutritious. But this is not a lot of food. And this put me over the “limit” by at least 300 calories! Some mornings Hubby fixes oatmeal for me and sometimes I have yogurt for lunch. But I am still hungry.

One night we had grilled steak (4-6 ounces), sauteed squash, and Caesar salad with red wine and sat around the table having a nice conversation. The calorie count was over 50% of the allotted amount. And we only added a piece of fruit for dessert.

How can I keep this up? Yet I don’t want to give up. We’ll see at the end of the month what the scale says. Stay tuned.

Cake and Books

On this MLK, Jr. Day let us take a moment to remember all those who have lost their lives due to racial inequality. Let us also pause to remember those past and present who have worked and are working to eliminate racial inequality in our world.

Part A

So I broke down and baked a cake! It was a choice between a chocolate Coca-Cola cake or a cream cheese pound cake. Hubby likes pound cake and I did give him the choice. This particular recipe calls for clementine zest. I have not thought of zesting clementines. I zest oranges and lemons and limes. Now that I think of it I waste a lot of zest left on un-zested pieces of fruit. Think of all that zest one could stash in the freezer for later use. I wonder what use there would be for grapefruit zest.

I have a cream cheese pound cake recipe somewhere in my magazine clippings. This particular recipe is from a cookbook I got from the library. This is one published by a southern bakery apparently: Back in the Day Bakery, Made with Love by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day.

  • 1 ½ cups cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated clementine zest (2-3 pieces of fruit)
  • 12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

I was able to let the various ingredients come to room temperature because my daughter called and we got busy planning a camping weekend this summer. They plan to get a large tent. We will be going to a campground where I used to take her and her brother “back in the day”.

Directions for the cake: sift the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Mix the zest with the sugar in a small bowl and set aside. In the stand mixer cream the butter and cream cheese on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar mixture and beat until very light and fluffy for 4-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. On low speed add the flour mixture in thirds just until incorporated. Finish this by hand.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Oh yeah, a 9 x 5 loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray and lined with parchment paper. And the oven is to be 350 degrees F. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Mine took only 50 minutes. Cool in pan for 20 minutes then remove from pan and parchment paper and cool on rack until completely cool.

Frost with a chocolate ganache or glaze as you would like. The honey chocolate glaze from the cookbook is very rich. I changed it somewhat so here is what I made.

  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Bring the milk to gentle boil in small sauce pan. Put the honey in a small bowl. Pour hot milk onto honey and add chocolate. Stir until melted. Add vanilla. Let cool to thicken slightly. Pour over cake.

Cake has no place in an eating for health and weight loss plan, but needs must! Cake has zeroed out any beginnings of weight loss this week. But at least I did not gain anything! Yay. And truth be told I started out this year 3 pounds less than the beginning of last year.

Part B

Library books! I went to the library after many months of not. I usually download library books onto my Kindle from my library using my computer. No need to step foot into our wonderful town library. But my library card had expired. Ahhh! Luckily the library was still open so off I go. It takes probably 10-15 minutes to get there but I always think of it as 5 minutes away.

There are books everywhere. Next to camping the library may be my second happy place. Well, being outdoors near the river or in the woods might take second place. It is the closest we have here in Connecticut as “the wilderness”.

Back to the library. They have reorganized the lobby so I wander around looking at titles of books, reading book jackets, and breathing in the atmosphere of paper and ink. I pick a few of the offerings in the lobby and head to the stacks. I’m in search of books about food and cooking. I just can’t stay away. I find a book on bread and a bakery cookbook which is the one mentioned in Part A.

I am on my way down the steps of the stacks and think “What about a book on sewing?” I have recently had my sewing machine repaired after gumming it up sewing an applique quilt with my daughter’s childhood through college t-shirts.

The quilt was far from perfect. My daughter had started it years ago with my advice on using heat and bond to attach the cut out designs to a large sheet. Then it languished at her house for years and years. Then I took it from her to fix and complete. It languished in my house for years and years and I finished it for her this Christmas. So now I need some sewing projects. I find a book on improvisational sewing and making simple patterns using a t-shirt. Interesting.

I come home with a tote bag full of books, real books!  I have one biography, one memoir, one mystery, one on sewing, and two on baking. I love books!

Apple Crumb Coffee Cake

I was chatting with a colleague this week about cooking and baking and cookbooks. He said he inherited a cookbook and maybe should find it and cook from it. When I told him I have 50+ cookbooks he asked “how do you know which recipe to use?” That question has been haunting me all weekend. I wanted to bake bread. I wanted to bake cookies. I needed to make quiche for a church event. Which recipes to use? I was perusing several cookbooks and found there are too many choices. I make a list for each cookbook on what I want to try and then go to the next book. Reading cookbooks has always been enjoyable but having too many is like 31 flavors and asking a toddler to choose chocolate or vanilla!

I was reading and rereading through my Fleischman’s Yeast Bread booklet. This has been used for so many years that the cover is no longer attached. Choices, choices, choices! I thought about making the sour dough starter. I thought about making Lucia buns and a chocolate yeast cake. After an hour or so I settled on the Apple Crumb Coffeecake. We have some older apples that need to be used. So after several cups of coffee and cookbook browsing on a lazy Saturday morning I bake.

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (equivalent to one package active dry)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 large apples, cored, peeled and sliced
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 6 tablespoons butter

In mixer bowl mix 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt and yeast. In a Pyrex glass measuring cup put the water, milk, and 1/3 cup butter. I nuke this in the microwave for 1-2 minutes until 120 degrees. I use a thermometer as I have been known to kill yeast with too hot liquids. Gradually add the liquid to the dry ingredients and beat two minutes on medium speed. I am using the regular paddle and not the dough hook for this. The recipe is in the section on “no need to knead”. Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour or enough to make a thick batter. I used the total of 2 1/4 cups at this point. Beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Spread evenly in a 9 inch square pan that has been greased or sprayed.

Meanwhile I am cutting up apples and sprinkling a bit of lemon juice on them. Arrange these on top of the batter in the pan. I have not yet made the crumb topping either. So I melt the last 6 tablespoons of butter (not the best way to make crumb) and add the 2/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. This makes a paste vs. a crumble and I diligently spread this onto the apples. Cover and let rise for about an hour. It should double in bulk.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Looks good. Mine bubbled up a bit on the edges due to the melting of the butter in my crumb/paste.

Very tasty!

Next on the baking list was quiche. My standard quiche is 4 eggs and 2 cups cream/milk/half-and-half per 9-inch pie. Add whatever else you fancy, cheese, onion, bacon, etc. Here’s the final product:

Two for the church, two tart-lets for our supper.

Coming up next time: shortbread…

Custard Tarts!

I had a baking weekend! Two types of bread and custard tarts. I have been fascinated by custard tarts ever since being a devotee of As Time Goes By on PBS. Lionel’s favorite was custard tarts. These pastry treats are not easily found in my grocery bakery. Nor are they a staple in many of my cookbooks. What type of custard is to be used? My two French cookbooks had several types: patisserie, baked, Chantilly, anglaise. I had recently made a pumpkin pie which is essentially a custard pie. Should I pre-bake the tart shells or could I bake the custard and the pastry at the same time? So I got out several cookbooks. I looked at the custard/pastry cream recipes. I had to choose what to do. So here’s what I did.

The Art of French Cooking suggested pastry cream for tarts. These recipes are a bit fussy. French Feasts instructions are not always clearly written. So that left (not really, I have over 50 cookbooks) Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. And his pastry cream recipe was simple and not fussy at all. The only change I made was to add the zest of one orange.

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs or 4 egg yolks (I used two eggs)
  • 2 cups cream, half-and=half, or whole milk (I used light cream)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest from one orange (my addition)
  • orange marmalade for glaze (my addition)
  • 4 tart shells; I used a refrigerated pie shell and cut it into four to line four individual tart pans. Pre-bake these.

Do you notice a theme of “2s”?

My successful blind baked tart shells. I used parchment filled with beans to hold the shells in place and to prevent shrinkage.

In a saucepan combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl mix the eggs with the cream. Whisk the egg mixture into the dry ingredients over medium heat for about ten minutes whisking constantly to prevent lumps. This will thicken. The test for readiness is when the mixture coats a spoon and when you draw a line through the coating the line will hold its shape. Remove from heat and stir in butter and extract and zest. The butter will melt. Let this cool to room temperature before filling the shells.

I filled the four tart shells and had a cup of pastry cream leftover. I think this amount of cream would fill a 9 inch pie, or 2 more individual tarts. I then melted a small amount of orange marmalade to spoon onto each tart for added orange flavor and to make them pretty. I then grated a very small amount of dark chocolate on top. Chocolate curls would have also been nice. I put these in the fridge to set for about an hour. I then popped them, carefully, out of the tart pan and placed them on a platter to serve.

They kind of look like poached eggs!
The first day we each had half. The next day we each ate a whole one.

And here are pictures of the breads. These were not so successful. Eaten when first baked but then left alone. They seemed underbaked and either overproofed or underproofed. I think I will buy fresh yeast before trying bread again.

Scones

Another recipe made by request of Hubby. It was a cool weekend and prime for baking. I got out a number of cookbooks looking for bread recipes. There were so many and then I saw a recipe for scones with maple syrup and pecans. Yum! I also have a scone pan that I had never used. The retired doctor and baker from whom I purchased this at an estate sale told me to be sure to grease the pan because it is not non-stick. I think he sold this to me for $3.

The problem with the scone recipe is that we have no cream, not even half-and-half now that we drink our coffee black. Well, I did not look up substitutions but decided I could use sour cream (or yogurt) and thin this with a bit of almond milk. And hope for the best!

This recipe is an adaptation of maple-pecan scones from The New England Table by Lora Brody.

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped roughly
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup full fat sour cream + 1/3 cup almond milk (I have unsweetened vanilla)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray scone pan with cooking spray or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine dry ingredients, stir with a fork (I use a whisk), then add pecans and cranberries stirring to coat. In another bowl whisk together the butter, maple syrup and sour cream/milk mixture. Dribble this over the flour mixture and stir with a fork until it comes together. Turn out on a floury surface. Knead ever so slightly so as not to make a tough dough. Pat into a circle.

At this point I have to figure out how to make triangles out of a circle to fit into the sections of the scone pan. I confess I did not think of this ahead of time or I would have patted the dough into a square. So I cut the circle in half and then each half into 8 pieces and gently stuff each piece into the pan. If not using a scone pan, cut the circle into 10 wedges, or as many as you would like. For wedges you are to place them on the prepared baking pan about and inch apart. Bake 14-16 minutes.

For my scone pan, these were not done after the baking time. I had Hubby taste test and sight test. So I put them back in to bake for another two minutes and then another minute with the oven turned off.

While these are baking I make the glaze. Glazes are simple, right? Well, I did not read the directions and ended up with a thick frosting-like concoction. I mixed it together in a small bowl. To make it softer I had to heat this over the stove so that it would be thin enough to drizzle on the scones. Apparently this particular glaze was to be cooked on the stove. The lesson is to read all the way through the recipe first.

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • Melt butter over low heat, whisk in the sugar and syrup until smooth.

The finished product was very tasty. Hubby thought they were a bit too sweet. They had a slight but not overpowering taste of maple.