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.

Boston’s Best Bakeries


Recently I had the opportunity to revisit Boston and some of my favorite bakeries there.

Clear Flour Bakery is a great neighborhood bakery established in 1983 that makes great French bread and pastries and rustic fruit tarts.  My favorite is the morning bun, flaky with caramelized sugar and walnuts.  Their baguettes are outstanding as are their seasonal fruit tarts.

Mike’s Pastries in the North End serves classic Italian cannoli, cookies, pies, and cakes.  They serve many different types of cannoli, with ricotta-based fillings flavored with vanilla, chocolate, or almond, dipped in pistachios, chocolate chips, or oreos.  There are rum-soaked cakes and the dense ricotta pie.  It’s definitely a calorie bomb.

Flour Bakery and Cafe was established by Joanne Chang.  From the original location in the South End, Flour has expanded to other sites in Boston and Cambridge.  The breakfast sandwich was delicious with thick cut bacon and egg on a fresh roll.  I am a big fan of the Flour cookbook.

Finally, while on the East Coast I couldn’t help stopping by Dunkin’ Donuts!

Clear Flour Bakery – 178 Thorndike Ave, Brookine, MA, website here

Mike’s Pastries – 300 Hannover St, Boston, website here

Flour Bakery and Cafe – multiple locations, website here

Making Ice Cream at Home: A Primer


The summer months make me think of making home-made ice cream, which can be a real treat.  I will highlight several styles of ice cream that can be made at home, ranging from simple to more complex.  The great thing is that even the simple ones are really good, made with fresh ingredients, and so much better than store-bought.

Typically, a flavored ice cream base is made and then chilled and then churned in a pre-frozen ice cream maker.  The churning allows for the formation of tiny ice crystals and pockets of air surrounded by thick, concentrated cream, leading to the smooth and creamy texture associated with ice cream.  There are many types of ice cream makers out there.  I own an ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid Mixer.  The bowl is pre-chilled in the freezer overnight and then a plastic dasher attaches to the mixer to churn the ice cream.  I have also used stand-alone ice cream makers, such as the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker.  With the Cuisinart there is a bowl that is placed in the freezer, and then the bowl is rotated within the machine to churn the ice cream.  After churning, the ice cream is then placed in the freezer to harden for a couple hours.

There are many types of ice cream bases.  The traditional French custard ice cream base is made with egg yolks and heavy cream that are whisked together over low heat to make a thickened custard.  However, this is a bit of a pain, because you end up with a lot of leftover egg whites (which can be used in a meringue or in an egg-white omelette), and heating the custard so that the eggs don’t cook quickly and become scrambled requires a lot of attention.  A great example of a French vanilla ice cream made with this type of base can be found in Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook.  This goes great with tangerine or tangelo juice to make a creamsicle with candied orange sugar cookies.  (You can cheat and buy vanilla ice cream, but where’s the fun in that?)

However, a super-easy ice cream to start out with is No-Cook Strawberry Ice Cream, from Gourmet magazine.  As the name implies, there is no cooking of a traditional custard ice cream base.  Instead, mashed strawberries, a little bit of lemon juice, sugar, salt, and heavy cream form the base, half of which is pureed in a blender to smoothen, and the entire mix is then spun in the ice cream maker.  Really easy and really delicious fresh strawberry flavor.

A bit more difficult is Sour Cream Ice Cream, also from Gourmet magazine.  It might sound strange, but the tartness of the sour cream works really well as an ice cream flavor.  This one does require making a cream and egg yolk custard.  The Sour Cream Ice Cream goes wonderfully with Honey Caramel Peach Pie.

A little bit more complex ice cream, but one that does not require egg yolks is Sweet Corn and Black Raspberry Ice Cream.  I first saw this published in The New York Times as an excerpt from the book Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, from Jeni Britton Bauer’s famous shop in Columbus, OH.  Her base is non-traditional and includes corn syrup, cornstarch, and cream cheese.  Milk, heavy cream, and sugar are heated together with freshly shucked corn kernels as well as the spent corn cob.  The base is thickened with cornstarch slurry, then strained, mixed with cream cheese, chilled, and spun in the ice cream maker.  The ice cream is layered with a black raspberry syrup cooked down from fresh berries and sugar.  Black raspberries are hard to source, and I substituted 1/2 blackberries and 1/2 raspberries instead.  This is a really great and unexpected flavor combination and perfect to make in the summertime with fresh corn and berries.

 

  

Christina Tosi at Momofuku Milk Bar uses sheet gelatin to stabilize her ice cream base, and again no eggs are needed.  I have made the Graham Ice Cream, and there are many other unique recipes in the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook like Cereal Milk Ice Cream and Red Velvet Ice Cream.  A little more complicated but worth doing for the unique flavors.

Finally, Joanne Chang’s Honey-Cinnamon Ice Cream, from her Flour cookbook, is really rich and sophisticated.  It is made with a traditional custard ice cream base (heavy cream, egg yolks), with the delicious combination of honey and cinnamon.  Really good paired with a fall dessert like her Roasted Pear and Cranberry Crostata.

Try an easy recipe or try a harder recipe, but hopefully you will be convinced to go out and make your own ice cream!

Link to No-Cook Strawberry Ice Cream recipe here.

Link to Sour Cream Ice Cream recipe here.

Link to Sweet Corn and Black Raspberry Ice Cream recipe here.

Link to Honey Cinnamon Ice Cream recipe here.

Cookbook Review: Flour by Joanne Chang


Flour Bakery and Cafe is Chef Joanne Chang’s popular bakery in Boston, MA.  Last year she released an outstanding cookbook that has become a go-to for classic and updated pastries, cakes, cookies, breads, and desserts.  There are several recipes with excellent home-made icing, like the easy Oatmeal-Maple scones and Cranberry-Maple-Pecan breakfast cake.  Another standout was the buttery Brioche, the dough from which is also used in the Sticky, Sticky Buns.  Another winner and the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner was the Roasted Pear and Cranberry Crostata and Honey-Cinnamon Ice Cream.  A sophisticated dessert was the Lemon Sherbet and Prosecco Sorbet with Strawberries.  Cornmeal-Lime Cookies were a hit.  A stand mixer is necessary, as well as an ice cream maker for the ice creams and sorbets.  Almost everything has been a winning recipe, except for the Black Sesame Lace cookies that spread too fast, and the Milky Way Tart that did not set completely.  Highly recommended.

Link to cookbook here.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: