Tag Archives: baking

Bay Leaf Pound Cake with Orange Glaze

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Happy Friday! It seems that adding Dorie to the Cook the Book Fridays mix is keeping me on task (so far). Now that our cooking/blogging schedule is so busy, the fear of falling hopelessly behind is motivating!

I have been falling a bit behind with My Paris Kitchen, in part because we have a dessert on the schedule each month. I haven’t been making the desserts for several reasons, but a big one is that I have been “dieting” this year (I don’t like the term dieting, it implies that have been severely cutting back on calories; rather I have been focusing on getting fit and shedding extra pounds at a healthy, sustainable rate). Now that I am transitioning to a phase of maintaining my new current weight, I want to learn to enjoy treats and desserts in moderation. I have a serious problem with self control when there are fresh-baked treats in the house! But I can’t imagine a world where I can’t enjoy an occasional treat.

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Bay Leaf Pound Cake with Orange Glaze was a good choice for easing back into baking and treat-making. It was easy to whip together and easy to eat. The cake is flavored with orange zest, vanilla, and bay leaves. The simple glaze gets its flavor from orange juice and Cointreau. The orange added a fresh brightness, and the bay leaves added a subtle, but distinct flavor that I really enjoyed.

The day I made the cake, my daughter kept gazing at it longingly as it cooled. I assured her she could have a piece when she was done working with her tutor. She enjoyed her slice immensely!

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Altitude Adjustments

Regular readers know that I live at a higher altitude (4500 feet) and usually need to make minor adjustments when I bake a cake. These are the adjustments I made to Bay Leaf Pound Cake with Orange Glaze:

  • 1/8 teaspoon less baking powder
  • Added 1 tablespoon milk (higher altitudes can cause cakes to dry out and I live in a dry climate, so I always add a little extra liquid)
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Everyday Dorie: Newest Gougères

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It’s a very exciting week for Dorie Greenspan fans! Her latest book, Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook was released on Tuesday. My first impression is that it is going to  be wonderful and delicious. The main dish recipes appeal to me in particular, but many of the vegetable dishes sound wonderful as well.

Cook the Book Fridays is taking on Everyday Dorie. As many (most?) of you know, our cooking group has it’s roots in French Fridays with Dorie, in which we cooked our way through Dorie’s book Around My French Table. So cooking through Everyday Dorie is a no-brainer for us.

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To kick things off, we made My Newest Gougères, Dorie’s latest iteration of the tasty treat. Apparently that was the first recipe French Fridays with Dorie made from Around My French Table. A fitting tribute to a group that meant a lot to many of us. Her tweaks include the addition of Dijon mustard and chopped walnuts (I left out the nuts; I and several of my family members can’t eat walnuts, and I didn’t have any suitable substitutes on hand).

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How can you go wrong with gougères? These cheesy puffs are so good! I only baked five, freezing the rest for future enjoyment. It’s a good thing that’s all I made, because I polished off four of them in no time! My daughter enjoyed the fifth.

If you have ever considering joining in a “cook the book” project, now is the time to jump in! We would love to see new people participate. I am also looking forward to catching up with the FFWD gang; it looks like some old faces will be joining us.

Happy Dorie Week everyone!

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Carrot Cake

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Happy Friday! I love baking and baked goods, but I don’t bake very often. My small family just doesn’t need to have too many tempting treats lying around. So I was very excited when Cook the Book Fridays gave me the perfect excuse to bake this week with Carrot Cake.

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The recipe as it is written is for a giant layer cake that serves 12 to 16 people. Since I didn’t have a birthday party or other event to bake for, I had to pare things down. I cut the recipe in half and baked cupcakes! Not only did I bake cupcakes, I also took the opportunity to use my mini bundt pan. I got 18 cupcakes out of the half recipe, though I probably should have filled the mini bundt pan with a little less batter per cake.

The frosting is a mix of cream cheese and mascarpone with small amounts of powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest.

My cupcakes turned out really well. The cake is moist and tender, with just the right amount of spice, and the frosting is decadent but not too sweet. They seem to keep well; they were just as good (if not better) on the second day.

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Altitude Adjustments: I made a few small adjustments for my altitude of 4500 feet:

  1. Since the full recipe uses an uneven number of eggs (5), when I cut the recipe in half I rounded up to 3 eggs. This provides a little extra moisture and structure for the cake.
  2. I also added an extra tablespoon of buttermilk for even more extra moisture. My climate is dry, so I always add a little extra liquid when I bake.
  3. I reduced amount of baking powder and baking soda slightly. I took an 1/8 teaspoon out of the baking powder, and when I measured the baking soda, I used just a smidgen less than a half teaspoon.

If you would like to try your hand at making these cupcakes (or the whole, giant cake!), you can find the recipe in David Lebovitz’s book, My Paris Kitchen.

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Celery Root Soup + Some Catching Up

Happy Friday! I have some catching up to do! While I’ve been doing a pretty good job keeping up with my Cook the Book Fridays cooking, I have been terrible about keeping up with the blog. Which means I have three recipes to share with you today.

Celery Root Soup with Horseradish Cream and Ham Chips

First up is Celery Root Soup with Horseradish Cream and Ham Chips.

The soup itself is pretty basic: leeks, celery root, butter, and some herbs and spices cooked until tender and then blended smooth. What makes this recipe shine is the garnishes! The horseradish cream is made from crème fraîche, horseradish, and a squeeze of lemon juice. The “ham chips” are thin slices of prosciutto baked until crisp. The final flourish is a sprinkling of chives.

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I liked this soup a lot, but the rest of my family thought it was only OK (actually my daughter only took one bite and moved on…).

Indian Cheese Bread

Next is Indian Cheese Bread. It’s basically naan stuffed with cheese.

I made a few of these with the cheese stuffing, and the rest I cooked plain. I actually preferred the plain ones, but I can’t quite put my finger on why.

The cheesy version:

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You can’t really see the cheese, but it’s there. Also, when I cook this type of bread, I can’t quite seem to find the fine line where the pan is hot enough to actually cook the bread, but not so hot that it gets charred.

The plain version:

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There’s nothing like a photo to point out that you should have wiped the plate clean before taking pictures.

Individual Chocolate Cakes with Dulce de Leche and Fleur de Sel

I saved the best for last! Individual Chocolate Cakes with Dulce de Leche and Fleur de Sel are decadent single-serving molten chocolate cakes. You might guess from the title that they each have a spoonful of dulce de leche and sprinkling of sea salt in the middle.

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These cakes are best eaten when they are still warm from the oven. As an experiment, I baked half of them right away and baked the rest the next day. They were just as good after an overnight rest, which means they are perfect for a dinner party: assemble early in the day (or the day before) and bake right before serving.

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Huge hit! We loved these! I love that these little cakes are flourless. My husband is eating grain-free and he loves chocolate, so this recipe will probably be my go-to decadent treat recipe.

All the recipes mentioned in this post can be found in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.

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Multigrain Bread + Coffee Crème Brûlée

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I don’t make bread very often. It always feels like it will be too hard and labor-intensive. But really, all you need is time (mostly inactive) and practice. This week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe gave me the chance to flex my bread-making muscles and it was fun!

Multigrain Bread is a delicious, crusty loaf of bread. It uses mostly bread flour, with a touch of whole wheat pastry flour, plus pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, millet, flaxseeds, and poppy seeds for interest. I was happy for the bulk section at Whole Foods this week!

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This was great bread recipe. Everything worked for me as written, except I had to add a bit more water to my dough (not unexpected as I often add water to bread recipes due to my dry climate). I really like the technique of baking the dough in a Dutch oven; it give the bread a nice crust.

My bread turned out great! One of the best loaves of bread I have ever made. It is delicious toasted and was also nice for sandwiches. I will definitely be making this one again.

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I also caught up on a recipe I missed a few weeks ago: Coffee Crème Brûlée. I love Crème Brûlée but don’t make it very often. I think the last time I made it was for French Fridays with Dorie back in 2011.

What makes this Crème Brûlée special is the addition of coffee and Kahlúa to the custard. It tasted like a cafe au lait! Add that caramelized sugar topping and I was in heaven.

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This post participates in Cook the Book Fridays, an on-line cooking group currently making our way through David Lebovitz’s book My Paris Kitchen.

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Slow-Roasted Spiced Pineapple + Madeleines

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I’m sure it’s the American in me, but I don’t generally think of eating fruit as a dessert. A fruit sauce garnishing a dessert, yes. But just fruit, no. But really why not? It’s a relatively healthy treat and one my whole family will eat.

This month, Tuesdays with Dorie has provided me the opportunity to try fruit as a dessert. We tried a recipe called Laurent’s Slow-Roasted Spiced Pineapple. A whole pineapple is peeled and cut into quarters. It is roasted slowly in a bath of liquor, orange juice, jelly or jam, and a variety of whole spices. I chose a mix of rum, orange marmalade, vanilla bean, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and fresh ginger.

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The house sure smelled wonderful while the pineapple was roasting! My husband enjoyed this treat together after our daughter went to bed. I decided the flavors were a little sophisticated for her. Plus, the rum. The marmalade I used was a little bitter and I wished I had used a sweeter jelly or jam, but my husband thought the bitterness went nicely with the rum. All in all, a successful dessert. I look forward to drizzling some of the leftover syrup on vanilla ice cream!

A quick make-up: Last month I made Black-and-White Marbled Madeleines, but didn’t get a chance to write about them. Madeleines are always fun to make; I’m not sure why I don’t make them more often! These ones are scented with lime zest and vanilla. Half the batter is mixed with a bit of cocoa powder and melted milk chocolate.

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These were a fun treat! I didn’t get the traditional “hump” (Dorie warned us we wouldn’t), but they were still delicious.

This post participates in Tuesdays with Dorie, a group devoted to baking through Dorie Greenspan’s baking books. Both these recipes can be found in the book Baking Chez Moi.

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Green Beans with Snail Butter + a Tart

Happy Friday! For the last two weeks I have been caught up in the vortex that is Spring Break. Whenever my daughter is on break from school, the routines get disrupted such that I feel like I only accomplish the bare minimum. In fact, I feel quite lucky that this post is getting written at all. It helped that the recipe of the week for Cook the Book Fridays was an easy one.

A large part of Spring Break was spent visiting my family in Seattle. It has become a bit of a Spring Break tradition for my daughter and I to spend some time there. We had a lovely visit and I even squeezed in a CtBF make-up recipe!

First we’ll talk about the recipe for this week, then we’ll discuss the make-up.

Green Beans with Snail Butter

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Green Beans with Snail Butter had a hard time making on to the Cook the Book Fridays schedule. I think people took one look at the title and thought the butter was made from snails, but in reality it is the garlicky butter generally put on snails. Big difference!

This was a great recipe. Steamed green beans are simply tossed with a generous amount of butter, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. It couldn’t be easier and it couldn’t be more delicious. This was a hit with my whole family and may even be my new favorite green bean recipe.

Chocolate-Dulce de Leche Tart

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I think I have mentioned before that my Mom is cooking though My Paris Kitchen with us behind the scenes. Chocolate-Dulce de Leche Tart is one of the few recipes neither of us had made yet, so we took the opportunity to make it together for a family dinner while I was in Seattle.

We had one problem with this recipe: the chocolate filling was very jiggly when the baking and resting time was finished. I decided to turn the oven back on and bake the tart for an extra ten minutes or so. That did the trick, but it also caused the dulche de leche to bubble up and parts of the chocolate filling to crack. Later, when we sliced the tart, I noticed that the distinct layers shown in the book did not really exist in our tart.

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No worries, the minor problems we experienced did not diminish our enjoyment of this dessert. The tart was delicious! We chilled the leftovers and found that the filling got fudgier. I think I liked it even more the second day than I did the first. Another winner!

Both these recipes can be found in the cookbook, My Paris Kitchen, by David Lebovitz.

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Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake

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The recipe I made this week for Tuesdays with Dorie presented me with both a challenge and an opportunity. Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake calls for peanut butter and chopped peanuts. You may recall that I recently discovered I am allergic to peanuts. Thus, the challenge.

I am experimenting with different nut/seed butters for both eating and cooking. I currently have some cashew butter in the refrigerator and sunflower seed butter waiting in the pantry. I have tried the cashew butter on toast and apple for snacking, and I used it for a Thai “peanut” sauce. It’s pretty good, but still not as good as peanut or almond butter. But it definitely works.

I hadn’t had a chance to use the cashew butter for baking until the Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake recipe came along. I substituted it for the peanut butter and topped the cakes with roasted cashews, but otherwise did not make any other changes (other than my “altitude adjustments”).

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The verdict? The cashew butter worked! The texture of the cakes seems slightly different than expected, but that may or may not be caused by the change in nut butters. Also, my cashew butter is unsalted, and I feel that my cakes would have benefited from a pinch more salt. I am pleased that I will not have to completely give up on baked goods that call for peanut butter.

Altitude Adjustments

Living in a dry climate at 4500 feet, I often have to adjust my cake recipes to account for my higher altitude and low humidity. I made two small adjustment for Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake: 1) I reduced the baking powder by a rounded 1/8 teaspoon; and 2) I added a tablespoon of milk.

The recipe for Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake can be found on page 72 of Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful book, Baking Chez Moi
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Granola Cake

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Hello! I’m back for another installment of Tuesdays with Dorie. Yay for sticking with my self-imposed schedule! This week we make a tasty treat called Granola Cake.

I am not quite sure why Dorie calls this a cake; I thought it was more like a cookie bar or blondie. Whatever you want to call it, it was delicious!

The secret ingredient in Granola Cake is…granola! Dorie recommends homemade granola, but I went the store-bought route this time. I actually had a tough time finding the perfect granola for this recipe. You see, I recently found out I am allergic to peanuts, walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. And of course, all the granolas that sounded best to me contained one or more of these nuts. Walnuts and almonds are particularly hard to avoid in granola. Darn allergies!

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Other interesting ingredients in Granola Cake are finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and shredded coconut (sweetened for me, but unsweetened works too). Cinnamon and nutmeg can be added if the granola is not spiced (mine wasn’t).

I really liked this one! It has the perfect balance of chocolate and oats and is not too sweet. The texture is both tender and chewy and the cake keeps well. It made a nice after school treat for my daughter, and I enjoyed snacking on it too. I will definitely be making this one again!

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If you would like to give Granola Cake a try, you can find the recipe here, or in Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking Chez Moi
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Tuesdays with Dorie Rewind

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Well hello! It’s been a while since I’ve done a Tuesdays with Dorie post. I have baked a few things over the last few months, but never got around to writing about them. In honor of today’s TWD Rewind Week, I though I would briefly tell you about each of them.

Edouard’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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At first glance, this looks like a pretty basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, but the addition of a generous amount of almond flour takes these up a notch. The almond flour adds so much flavor and a nice chewiness.

I did find that the cookies are best on the day they are baked. While the flavor is still wonderful the next day, they get a little too crunchy. I recommend freezing the scooped out dough so you can bake just enough to eat in a day, whenever inspiration hits!

These cookies were a big hit! So delicious, and perfect for the quintessential after school snack.

Custardy Apple Squares

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I was really looking forward to this recipe! So simple, but it sounds so good. Thinly sliced apples were tossed with a simple batter made from flour, baking powder, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, whole milk, and a bit of melted butter. Pour into a baking dish and wait patiently while it bakes and cools.

Luckily, the reality lived up to my expectations! This was a delicious treat that both my daughter and I enjoyed. It’s a perfect snacking cake for any day.

Pear Tart with Crunchy Almond Topping

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I made this delicious tart for Thanksgiving dessert.

Dorie’s delicious Sweet Tart Dough was filled with lightly caramelized pears, and topped with a crunchy topping made from almonds, egg whites, and confectioner’s sugar.

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Everyone loved this tart! The Sweet Tart Dough recipe is one of my favorites and I am always happy to make (and eat) it. The filling and topping were simple but flavorful. My pears were perfectly ripe and full of flavor, which added to the deliciousness. Can you tell I liked this tart? It was the perfect ending to Thanksgiving dinner.

If you are interested in trying any of these delicious baked goods, you can find the recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking Chez Moi.

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