Recipe Review: Leek and Potato Galette with Pistachio Crust


This savory galette from Bon Appetit 2016 makes an elegant dinner party appetizer.  It features a unique crust made with ground pistachios (ground with a blender).  The dough is easy to make using a food processor or mixer, and the dough is very easy to roll out.  Inside the galette is a spread of garlic, goat cheese, and dill that is topped with thinly sliced Yukon gold potatoes and sauteed leeks.  There is a nice balance of flavors with the tangy goat cheese, dill, potatoes, the pistachio crust, and a drizzle of honey after baking.

Level of difficulty: medium

Cost: about $10-15

Time: about 1 hour active time, 2.5-3 hours total including refrigerating dough for one hour and baking for 40 minutes

Deliciousness: 3 of 5 stars

Make again: yes, maybe trying a different filling

Link to recipe here.

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Milk Bar Bake the Book Class


Milk Bar offers weekend classes at their Williamsburg, Brooklyn shop and I had the opportunity to go last year.  I have made some of their cakes at home, but it was a real treat to make them at Milk Bar.  Actually, it is more like assemble, because they pre-bake the cake and the crumbles and pre-made the frosting.  It was still fun, because the instructors were great, very helpful, friendly, and full of Milk Bar trivia.  After assembling the cake, we also made cake truffles.  Finally, after the class our instructor took a few super-fans on a tour of the Milk Bar bakery.  So fun!  Classes are $95 as of 2016, and you get a cake and truffles to take home.

Link to Milk Bar class schedule here.

Link to Milk Bar cookbook here.

Tartine Manufactory


Tartine Bakery is one of the best bakeries in San Francisco and for years has operated out of a small, crowded store in the Mission.  Now they have opened a much larger, beautiful new space called Tartine Manufactory about 12 blocks east from the original Tartine.  Manufactory combines a bakery, restaurant, coffee shop, and a soon-to-open ice cream counter.  Compared to the original Tartine, Manufactory has expanded breakfast and lunch options, as well as different pastries and breads.  Tartine bread really is special.  Bread at the old Tartine was available once a day after 430 PM, and now at Tartine Manufactory it is baked three times per day.  When I went on a Friday morning, they told me the first bread availability was 1030 AM, and chef-owner Chad Robertson himself was manning the enormous oven, a centerpiece of the new space.  Tartine Manufactory is in a building that also has a Blue Bottle Coffee and also houses the Heath Ceramics factory and store.  The Heath Ceramics store showcases some of beautiful (and expensive) dinnerware, tile and curated home goods.  This is a really amazing space and a definite new SF culinary landmark.

Link to Tartine Manufactory here.

Cookbook Review: Huckleberry


Someday I would love to open a place like Huckleberry, a bakery/breakfast/lunch venue in Santa Monica, CA.  I first became aware of Huckleberry when they were featured in Bon Appetit several years ago with a recipe for a delicious cornmeal blueberry cake.  Now Chef Zoe Nathan has chronicled many recipes in the Huckleberry cookbook, and I have thoroughly enjoyed baking from the book for the past few months.

The book is divided into several sections including muffins, cakes, scones, breads, fried pastries, sandwiches, and grain bowls.  What is immediately noticeable is the use of various different kinds of flours.  All-purpose flour is still the mainstay, but other flours are incorporated including whole wheat, rye, bread flour, wheat germ, and nut flours like pistachio and almond.  These different flours result in a more complex crumb and flavor and hopefully healthier recipes as well with the use of whole grains.

Healthy does not mean lack of flavor.  So far the recipes have been outstanding, with excellent versions of chocolate-chip muffins, chocolate walnut banana bread, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, and whole-wheat raisin scones.  The most impressive were the pistachio-lemon cake, the cara cara orange galette, and the pear whole-wheat crumb cake, all of which drew raves.

The one recipe I tried that failed was the cover recipe for blueberry brioche.  This recipe called for double the flour that was required, so there was not enough egg to bind the dough.  I saved it by adding two additional eggs, but the ratio of other ingredients like butter and sugar was then off.  Chronicle Books sent me the following list of corrections:

Huckleberry ingredient and measurement corrections:

Page 43: In the ingredient list, MUFFINS, 5th entry (1 tbsp cracked) “wheat, chai seeds,” should be “wheat, chia seeds,”

Page 105: In the ingredient list, 4th line (bread flour), “1 3/4 cups/185 g” should be “1 3/4 cups/215 g”

Page 108: In the ingredient list, 4th line (all-purpose flour), “+ 2 tbsp/280 g” should be “+ 2 tbsp/140 g”; 5th line (bread flour): “+ 2 tbsp/280 g” should be “+ 2 tbsp/140 g”

The corrected version made an excellent brioche punctuated by a ribbon of fresh blueberries that was delicious hot out of the oven.  Overall, this is a great book for impressive breakfast pastries and brunch recipes, introduces a unique use of different flours, and contains a bunch of keepers.  Huckleberry takes a place among my favorite baking cookbooks including Momofuku Milk Bar, Tartine, Flour, and Bouchon Bakery.

Link to Huckleberry cookbook here.

Recipe Review: Cinnamon Cream Brioche


Cinnamon Cream Brioche

Cinnamon Cream Brioche

These Cinnamon Cream Brioche pastries from Joanne Chang’s flour, too cookbook are great.  A brioche dough base is topped with pastry cream, creme fraiche, and a dusting of cinnamon sugar.  Brioche is a rich yeasted dough made with eggs, butter, and sugar.  A stand mixer is a definite must, because a large amount of butter must be incorporated into the dough at high speed.  My mixing bowl got stuck in the base of the mixer due to the force of mixing.  If that happens, I suggest using a mallet to knock the bowl loose.  After mixing, the dough must rise in the refrigerator for a minimum of six hours, so it’s good to make the dough and pastry cream in the evening and do the final assembly and baking in the morning.  The pastry cream is pretty straightforward: scald some milk, add a mixture of cake flour, sugar, and egg yolks, whisk until thickened, and then let set overnight.  In the morning, divide the dough into pieces, shape into rounds, and top with pastry cream, creme fraiche, and cinnamon sugar, and bake.

Couple of notes on how much to make.  The recipe calls for half-recipe of brioche dough for eight pastries, but I used the full recipe to make sixteen.  I used a double recipe of pastry cream.  The creme fraiche I bought from Trader Joe’s, and two tubs were less than what was called for in the recipe but I thought was plenty.  The cinnamon sugar in the original recipe (1 1/4 cups sugar + one teaspoon cinnamon) is more than enough for sixteen pastries.

The baked pastry cream, with a little tartness from the creme fraiche and a little sweetness from the cinnamon sugar, all on top of the airy brioche dough, is a great combination and got great comments.

Cost: about $15 to make 16

Level of difficulty: moderate-difficult

Deliciousness: delicious (4 of 5 stars)

Healthy: no

Make again: yes

Link to recipe here.

Link to flour, too cookbook here.

Link to previous post on first flour cookbook here.

 

Recipe Review: Apple Snacking Spice Cake


Joanne Chang, Flour, apple snacking spice cake

Joanne Chang, Flour, apple snacking spice cake

This is an easy-to-make cake from Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook that is also one of the most popular items at Flour Bakery in Boston.  The cake is full of spices, pecans, and raisins, and the high percentage of diced apple makes the cake really moist and flavorful.  This cake got great reviews, with people coming back for seconds.  I made a few modifications: doubling the amount of cinnamon and cloves (because mine were a little bit old) and substituting about 1 tsp of fresh ginger for powdered ginger (because I didn’t have any on hand), and baking in a 9×9 square cake pan.

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Deliciousness: 4 of 5 stars

Cost: about $10

Time: 20 minutes active time, around 1.5 hours total

Healthy: no

Make again: yes

Link to recipe here.

Link to Flour cookbook here.

Recipes from Craftsman and Wolves: Apple Gruyere Scone, Cocoa Carrot Cake with Cocoa Crumble


Several recipes from my favorite bakery, Craftsman and Wolves in San Francisco, have been published on-line.  These include a previous iteration of the cocoa carrot muffins, in cake form, and a sweet-savory apple gruyere scone.  Both are delicious and definitely worth doing.  I am hoping for the pear-yuzu croissant, the Rebel Within, and Valrhona chocolate chip cookie recipes to someday be published.  Note to Chef William Werner: cookbook, please!

Cocoa carrot cake recipe here

Apple gruyere scone recipe here

Other William Werner recipes on-line:

– Thai scones and Chocolate coffee eclair on the Starchefs site here.

– several recipes on Food and Wine, including chocolate peanut butter shortbread sandwich cookies recipe  here.

– update December 2014: C&W made it to the cover of the annual Bon Appetit Christmas issue with five recipes for Christmas sweets!  Link here.  And, the Valrhona Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe was finally published in 7×7 magazine here!

Recipe Review: Chocolate Krantz Cake


There is an interesting section of sweets in Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook.  Chocolate krantz cake is like a chocolate babka, with a sweet leavened dough layered with chocolate and nuts.  The dough must rise overnight, then is rolled out and layered with chocolate and pecans, rolled up, split, and twisted back together to create all the layers.  It then proofs for 90 minutes before baking.  The recipe recommends baking for 30 minutes at 375.  At that point, the crust is browned and a toothpick inserted into the center came out dry, but the bottom layers were a little underdone.  It might take 10-20 minutes longer than suggested to bake through, depending on your oven.  After baking, a simple syrup is brushed onto the cake.  The cake was rich, sweet, and chocolately, and got good reviews, but is a little bit involved to make.

Cost: about $10

Time: about 16 hours (2 hours active)

Level of Difficulty: moderate

Taste: excellent (four of five stars)

Healthy: no

Make again: yes

Link to recipe here.  Link to Jerusalem: A Cookbook here.

Recipe Review: Thomas Keller Bouchon Cream Puffs


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Cream puffs are light and airy pastries that puff and rise in the absence of any agents such as baking powder or yeast.  They are made from a classic French pastry dough, pate a choux.  Water and butter are brought to a simmer, then flour is added to form a thick paste.  Eggs are then added to the dough, which can then be piped into various shapes, such as cream puffs or eclairs.  The dough’s water content forms steam which creates air pockets and rise in the pastry when baked.

Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel’s recipe for pate a choux has no sugar in it.  Instead, an ingenious “cookie” made of flour, brown sugar, butter, and almond meal is placed on top of the pate a choux, which bakes on top and forms a sweet, crunchy crust.  I had a little bit of trouble with the cookie crumbling when I tried to cut out rounds, but it didn’t matter too much.  The cookbook recommends piping the dough into silicone mold half-spheres to make perfectly uniform shapes, but I simply piped them onto a Silpat, per the suggestion of The Food Groupie Club blog site.

The cream puffs were delicious and airy with the sweet crunchy cookie crust.  They can be filled with ice cream or Thomas Keller’s pastry cream.  The puffs are best eaten soon after baking, because they soften by the next day.

One does need a pastry piping kit to pipe out the pate a choux and the pastry cream, such as this set made by Wilton.

Level of difficulty: difficult (easier than the Bouchon Pain au Chocolat and Pain aux Raisins)

Cost: about $10-15 for 24 puffs

Deliciousness: delicious (4 of 5 stars)

Healthy: no

Make again: yes

As I make more recipes from Bouchon Bakery cookbook, I have found that this book basically gives you perfect recipes for classic french pastries.  Link to Bouchon Bakery cookbook here.

Recipe Review: Thomas Keller Bouchon Pain au Chocolat, Pain aux Raisins


Pain au chocolat

Pain au chocolat

Pain aux raisins

Pain aux raisins

Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook has an amazing, meticulous recipe for croissant dough, which can be used for classic French pastries: traditional croissants, pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants), and pain aux raisins.  This is a weekend project, and I literally mean the whole weekend.  I complained about the meticulousness of some recipes in this book in a previous post, but I actually really appreciated the level of precision in the recipe for the croissant dough.  Everything worked out exactly as described, and it would have been frustrating to put in all that work and have something not turn out correctly.  Case in point: rolling out the croissant dough to 19 x 9 inches, so that one could trim the edges for a 17.5 x 8 rectangle that could then be divided into ten equal rectangles for the chocolate croissants.  Also, the trimmings made a nice bonus traditional croissant.

Thomas Keller recipes often have one or two ingredients that are quite specialized, which makes for quite the scavenger hunt.  For the croissant dough, a small amount of diastatic malt powder is added to the dough.  Malt powder comes from malted barley and contains the sugar maltose.  Diastatic refers to the presence of enzymes such as amylase, which are preserved if the malting process is performed below a certain temperature.  The presence of maltose and the enzymes works together with the yeast to make the dough more complex and also contributes to the color.  Diastatic malt powder is not available at Safeway, Whole Foods, Draeger’s, Berkeley Bowl, Bi-Rite Grocery, or Rainbow Grocery in the Bay Area.  Dry malt extract, found in home-brewing supply stores, I am pretty sure is not correct.  I found “malt powder” in a Korean grocery store in Santa Clara, but I have no idea whether it is diastatic or non-diastatic.  Regardless, the pastries turned out great using this malt powder.  I found Bird’s brand custard powder, used to make pastry cream, at The Milk Pail in Mountain View.  Finally, chocolate batons or chocolate pieces used for the chocolate croissants can be found at Spun Sugar in Berkeley.  I think everything could be found on-line, but what’s the fun in that?

The croissant dough starts with a poolish, a yeast, water, and flour mixture that ferments overnight and is used as a starter for the croissant dough.  The croissant dough contains flour, water, sugar, salt, butter, and the poolish.  A stand mixer with a dough hook attachment makes kneading the dough easy.  The dough rises for about an hour.  Then a 330 gm (11.6 oz) block of European-style butter is enrobed in the dough and then laminated several times (rolled out and folded over itself to create layers).  This takes a lot of time and work, because the dough has to be put in the freezer after each fold to keep the butter cold, and the cold dough is a bit difficult to roll.  One can then use the dough right away, but I kept mine in the refrigerator overnight.  I used half of the dough to make the pain aux raisins, and half to make the pain au chocolat.  To make the pain aux raisins, there are two sub-recipes, Rum-soaked Raisins and Pastry Cream.  Rum-soaked raisins are easy – raisins are soaked overnight in simple syrup and a splash of rum (actually, 30 gm to be more precise).  The pastry cream uses egg yolks, vanilla bean, whole milk, and custard powder and requires constant attention over low-heat for the thickening process.

The croissants had shatteringly crispy outer flaky layers, and were buttery, rich, and delicious.  Pretty much perfect versions of pain au chocolat and pain aux raisins, fresh out of the oven were incredible.  I might have liked a little more pastry cream in the pain aux raisins, but this is a minor complaint.

Cost: about $20 for 10 chocolate croissants and 10 pain aux raisins.  This includes ingredients that were used in limited amounts, like the diastatic malt powder (3 gm or about one teaspoon), custard powder, and chocolate batons.

Time: minimum time 22 hours.  Mine took about 34 hours from start to finish with active time of about 7-8 hours.

Level of difficulty: Thomas Keller.  I have a new scale for level of difficulty: easy, moderate, difficult, and “Thomas Keller”

Deliciousness: incredible (4.5 out of 5 stars)

Healthy: no

Make again: although the pastries were really good, this is probably a one-off due to the amount of time required.

Link to Bouchon Bakery cookbook here.

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