Tag Archives: Bouchon Bakery Challenge

Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Palet d’Or

Palet d'Or

It’s my final Bouchon Bakery Challenge!  I wanted to go out with a bang, so I made Palet d’Or (“gold disk”).  It’s a fancy, rich, chocolate cake with chocolate cream filling and chocolate glaze.  A lot of chocolate went into this cake!

This recipe caught my eye as soon as I received my copy of Bouchon Bakery.  It looked like it would stretch my skills a bit, but I wanted to give it a try.  Christmas seemed like the perfect occasion for such a decadent dessert.

Making and assembling this cake took a fair amount of time over three days (it can be done in two days), but it was fun to make and none of the steps was difficult.  I learned several new techniques and ended up with a super dessert.

Unmolded cake ready to glaze

Unmolded cake ready to glaze

The Chocolate Cream layer is incredibly delicious!  I may or may not have had a hard time not eating all the leftovers.

The Chocolate Glaze was very interesting in that it used gelatin to help it set.  I have never seen a recipe do this before and I have to say it was the easiest chocolate glaze I have ever used.

All in all, this cake was fabulous!  Everyone ate it very enthusiastically with lots of oohs and ahhs.  What more can a baker ask for?

Palet d'Or

Recipe Notes

  • I do not own a cake ring and didn’t really want to buy one for just one dessert (also, I had trouble finding the exact right size).  I used my 8″ springform pan without the bottom instead.  It was too tall, so I was not able to make the top as smooth as I could with the ring, but I am not selling this cake at a bakery and am not looking for absolute perfection.  The pan worked well for making the layers and freezing the cake.
  • The recipe calls for Brune pâte à glacer (also known as compound chocolate) or plain bittersweet chocolate.  Since it was for such a small amount (to coat one side of each cake layer) I used the regular chocolate and it worked just fine.
  • Instead of garnishing the cake with gold leaf, I used gold edible glitter, which I found at King Arthur Flour.
Cake with glittering Christmas lights reflecting off it

Cake with glittering Christmas lights reflecting off it

Altitude Adjustments

I made several adjustments for altitude (I am at about 4500 ft.).

For the Devil’s Food Cake:   I used a scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda and a scant 1/8 tsp. baking powder.  I used one whole egg and one egg white, for a total of 90 grams of egg.  I added an extra tablespoon of water.  The adjustments seemed to work, as the cake turned out well.

For the Chocolate Cream:  When warming the egg mixture in the double boiler, I took it off the heat when the temperature reached 175°F to account for the lower boiling point.

Slice of Chocolate Cake

Next Month

There is no next month as I intended this to be a year-long project.  However, I will continue to make an effort to use this book and try more recipes.

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Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Welcome to the November edition of my Bouchon Bakery Challenge!  This month I made Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  I was looking for something quick and easy to make, partly because I didn’t have a lot of time this month, and partly because I wanted to try one of the more pedestrian recipes.

The authors describe these cookies as “crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside”.  That’s exactly how mine turned out.  The texture was very pleasing and the flavor delicious.  These are truly excellent cookies!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

While technique for making these cookies is very similar to normal cookie-making methods, I thought the end result was better than average.  I took most of these cookies to Center for Adaptive Riding as a thank-you to the volunteers (my daughter takes lessons there), and the Director asked me for the recipe!

Recipe Notes

  • I made 32 smaller cookies, rather than the 6 extra-large cookies the recipe would have you make.  I baked them for 11 minutes using the convection feature of my oven.
  • I did not bring the dough to room temperature before baking the cookies and I don’t believe it harmed them in any way.  It is probably more important if you make the larger cookies.
  • The amount of egg called for is 62 grams, which is very close to the average weight of one large egg.  I just used one whole egg without weighing it.  In this case, why didn’t they just say “use 1 large egg”?
  • The cookbook discusses the need to sometimes warm the mixing bowl to bring the butter to the correct consistency.  They warm it by holding the bowl over a burner or using a blowtorch(!) on the outside of the bowl.  What I do works very well:  I soak a washcloth under hot water and hold it against the outside of the mixing bowl while I mix.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

If you would like to make these cookies (and you should!), I found the recipe in two places:

StyleBlueprint shares the recipe as it is written in the book here.

I like this version:  Eva Bakes simplified the recipe for those of you who don’t have kitchen scales, or just want to measure out your ingredients for this otherwise simple recipes.

Altitude Adjustments

None.  I don’t generally have to make adjustments for cookies.

Next Month

I want to end this year-long project in style, by making Palet d’Or (page 117), a rich chocolate cake with chocolate cream filling.  It will be our Christmas dessert, so look for the results some time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

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Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Cream Puffs

Cream Puff

You probably thought I forgot to make these Cream Puffs.  They were my October Bouchon Bakery Challenge recipe, and October is long over after all.  I didn’t forget – I just had trouble fitting them in.  But here they are!

Cream Puffs

What makes the Bouchon Bakery cream puffs different from other cream puff recipes is the little unbaked cookie that is placed on top of the pâte à choux before baking.  It gives the puffs a nice crispy texture, and also adds a touch of sweet almond flavor.

Ready for the Oven

Frozen pâte à choux with cookie dough on top – ready for the oven!

Whenever I make cream puffs (or any other recipe involving pâte à choux), I think about a book I read when I was a kid.  I don’t even remember what book it was, but in one chapter, the main character and her friend made cream puffs.  As they measured out the batter, they thought surely something was wrong with the recipe and the cream puffs would be much too small.  So instead they made 1 big cream puff.  Well, if you have ever made cream puffs, you can imagine how big that puff became!  Does anyone else remember that book?  What was it called?

Freshly Baked

Unfilled and right from the oven

These cream puffs are really tasty.  I love, love, love the extra crunch from the cookie on top.  It really makes these special.  While the pastry cream inside was very good, I like the pastry cream from Dorie Greenspan’s eclairs better.  When I bake up the rest of my cream puffs I will try using that pastry cream instead.

Recipe Notes

  • The recipe has you pipe the pâte à choux into silicone molds so they are uniformly sized and shaped.  I don’t care about perfect uniformity, so I simply piped them “freestyle” onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  • The dough for the cookies was supposed to “come together in large crumbles” during mixing.  Mine stayed in very small crumbles, so I added a tablespoon of cold water to the dough.  This seemed to work fine, and I’m sure it has to do with my dry climate.
  • The pastry cream uses Bird’s Custard Powder.  Both times I have used Bird’s (I also used it for my Blueberry Flan Tarts) I found that once the custard started to thicken, it thickened very quickly!  So quickly that I feel like I overcooked the custard both times.  So, beware, and consider keeping the stove temperature low.
  • I love that the piped pâte à choux and cookie dough can be frozen and used as needed!  This time, I made just enough pastry cream to fill 12 cream puffs and I will bake more later.

Cream Puffs

Altitude Adjustments

None.  The pâte à choux puffed up very nicely without any adjustments.

Next This Month

November’s recipe is Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (page 32).  I know what you’re thinking.  November is more than half over and I am just getting to October’s recipe.  How I am going to fit another one in?  Never fear!  I have already baked the cookies and will share my results with you next week.

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Bouchon Bakery Challenge: TKOs

TKOs

Why do we procrastinate?  I have always been good at procrastinating.  I was the one starting my papers in college at the last minute and getting them done just in the nick of time.  And I have trouble completing house projects because I don’t have deadlines (I have tried setting my own deadlines, but I’m not fooled).

I even procrastinate fun things, like making these cookies.  Why?  I knew all month I wanted to make these cookies in time to write about them today, but I still made them at the last minute.

TKOs

Oh well, let’s talk about these cookies.  They are called TKOs (Thomas Keller Oreos) and are Bouchon Bakery’s take on the classic American cookie.

Now this is what Oreos should taste like!  Not too sweet, but very chocolatey.  The filling is very clever:  it is a white chocolate ganache that is cooled and then whipped to become thick and spreadable.

I did things a little differently.  Instead of 8 large sandwich cookies I made 21 smaller cookies.  Also, rather than piping the filling in concentric rings of teardrops, I used a 1/2″ tip and piped a plain dollop onto each cookie.

Dollops of Filling

I should have rolled out the cookie dough a little thinner, but I got a bit impatient with it.  I froze the dough scraps to turn into chocolate cookie crumbs at a later date.

If you are interested in trying TKOs, you can find the recipe here.

Recipe Notes

  • While mixing the dough, I could not get it to come together.  It was just a bunch of crumbs.  I added ice water a tablespoon at a time until it began to come together, 8 tablespoon total.  Even then, it was very crumbly and I had to really press it together.  I’m not sure if this a problem with the recipe or just a result of my very dry climate, but it’s something to be aware of.
  • The recipe doesn’t mention it, but these cookies really should be chilled before serving.  Otherwise the filling is too soft and presses out when you try to eat it.

Bouchon Bakery Cookbook TKO

Altitude Adjustments

None.  I don’t generally have to made adjustments for cookies.

Next Month

In October, I am going to make Cream Puffs (page 160)!  I will share my results with you on or about October 29th.  Knowing me, I will probably be making them on October 28th.

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Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Apricot Flan Tart

Blueberry Flan Tartlette

I am finally getting around to writing about August’s Bouchon Bakery Challenge here in early September.  The recipe I chose was Apricot Flan Tart, which can be found on page 141 of the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook.

Astute readers will notice that the pictures don’t quite look like an Apricot Flan Tart.  Instead, they look more like Blueberry Flan Tartlettes.  It turns out apricots are not longer available in August (I had never really paid attention before), so I decided to try blueberries instead.  Also, the tart as written is very large, so I cut the recipe in half and made three smaller tarts.

English Muffin Rings

English Muffin Rings

The recipe has you use a cake ring instead of a tart pan.  I don’t own any cake rings, but I found that my English muffin rings were the right height when I stacked them up one on top of the other.  It was a little tricky getting the Pâte Brisée dough into the rings, but otherwise they worked well.

Pâte Brisée in the rings

Pâte Brisée in the rings

The Pâte Brisée used an interesting technique that I had never seen before.  To start, half the flour is placed in the bowl of a stand mixer.  The butter is added a bit at a time, and then thoroughly blended in.  Next, the rest of the flour is added and mixed just until combined.  Finally, a bit of ice water is added and mixed until incorporated.  The result was a very smooth dough that was easy to work with and had a very nice texture when baked.

I loved the custard filling, and it tasted great with the Pâte Brisée and blueberries.  The custard makes use of Bird’s custard powder, which I found at World Market.  Vanilla bean seeds are added for extra flavor.

Blueberry Flan Tart

These little tarts were delicious!  We all loved them.  My husband liked that they were not too sweet, and we both felt like the blueberries tasted better than apricots would with the custard filling.  I would like to try the full-size tart some time.

Recipe Notes

  • By cutting the recipe in half and making three small tarts instead of one large tart, I had to play around with the baking times.  For the crust, I baked it a total of 10 – 20 minutes less than the time recommended for the larger tart.  The filled tart was baked for 1 hour 10 minutes, rather than the suggested 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes.  I felt like I overcooked the custard filling a bit, so next time I would bake it for only 1 hour (if I were making small tarts again).

Tartlettes

Altitude Adjustments

No adjustments were needed for this recipe.

Next Month

We’re making progress!  There are only 3 chapters left that I have not made something from.  We’ll tackle something from the Cookies chapter in September:  TKOs (page 40).  I will share my results with you near September 24th (hopefully!).

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Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Traditional Madeleines

Traditional Madeleines

I have a confession to make:  I don’t think I have ever had madeleines (before now, and except for these flavored ones I made a while back).  I often see the packaged ones in grocery stores, and while I instinctively knew I would like madeleines, I also knew the packaged cakes would not be worth buying.

Madeleine

Madeleines are quite simple to make.  I don’t know why I don’t make them more often!  The hardest part is waiting overnight for the batter to rest before baking them.

I can now say with certainty that I like madeleines!  They are very flavorful for not having any added flavoring (such as vanilla).  I also like that the recipe only makes 12 little cakes, so you don’t end up with way too many.

If you are interesting in trying this recipe, you can check it out here at the USA Today site.

Recipe Note

While I did not test the theory, my sister informs me that letting the better rest overnight is important.  Having an impatient 4 year old at home, she baked a few right after mixing the batter then baked the rest the next day.  The ones baked the next day had a much better texture than the ones she baked right away.

Madeleines

Altitude Adjustments

I made a couple of adjustments:  I reduced the amount of baking powder by 1/16 teaspoon and I used 103 grams of egg.  The recipe calls for 83 grams of egg, which ends up being about 1 and 1/3 egg.  I used two whole eggs to get my 103 grams.

The adjustments were close, but not quite right.  While I got some of the “characteristic bump”, I think it could have been bigger.  Also, the texture wasn’t quite right (though I am only guessing about this since my history with madeleines is limited).  In the picture below, you can kind of see how the top the madeleine is a little “bubbly” looking on the cake in the upper-left.

3 Madeleines

Next Month

My recipe for August will be Apricot Flan Tart (page 141).  I will share my results with you on or about August 27th.

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Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Doughnuts

Donuts!

June’s Bouchon Bakery Challenge recipe was Sugared Doughnuts.  The recipe can be found on page 196 of the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook.

Doughnut seem kind of intimidating to make.  Not only do you have to work with a yeasted dough, but you have to deep fry it.  The deep frying is what seems intimidating to me as I don’t do it very often.  The intimidation factor is what led my sister and I to agree to make the doughnuts together when I visited family in Seattle earlier this month.

Donuts ready to go

The dough itself was very easy to work with.  It is a brioche dough with a little less butter than normal.  Our dough took longer to rise than expected, but my sister and I suspect the yeast rather than the recipe.  But it was very easy to roll out and cut into the doughnut shapes.

Frying the donuts

I am happy to report the deep frying part went very well!  We only fried two at a time because it seemed less hectic than trying to do four at a time.  The key is keeping the temperature of the oil consistently at 350°F.  The instructions in the book were very clear and helpful.

Fresh, hot donuts

The recipe includes instructions for coating the doughnuts in vanilla sugar.  We did the vanilla sugar, but also tried cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar.  I can’t decide which flavor was my favorite!  They were all good.

These doughnuts were excellent!  They were fresh and soft, but the bite had a bit of substance to it.  They did not seem overly greasy or oily.  The sugar coatings were delicious.  I would like to try a glaze sometime.

A big hit!

Donut

Recipe Notes

  • If you hope to serve these doughnuts for breakfast, you either need to wake up very early, or switch up the instructions a bit.  The instructions have you prepare the dough, proof it in the fridge overnight, then cut the doughnut shapes in the morning, letting them proof for an hour or two before deep frying.  I recommend the following:  The morning before you wish to serve the doughnuts, prepare the dough.  Let it proof in a warm place until it is nicely puffed.  Cut the doughnut shapes, then proof in the fridge overnight.  You may have to let them rise a bit in the morning, but you will be much closer to doughnut goodness than if you followed the book.
  • Many baking recipes state that the item you baked is best the day it was made.  In the case of these doughnuts, that statement is very true!  We saved a few for the next day and they were not good at all.  In fact, they were kind of rubbery.  If you don’t think you will be able to eat all the doughnuts in one day, you will be better off freezing some of the unfried doughnuts to make later.

Cinnamon-Sugar Donuts

Altitude Adjustments

None, because I made these at sea level.

Donut Holes

Next Month

I had a recipe all picked out for July, but then French Fridays with Dorie selected a dessert for July that was kind-of sort-of similar.  We don’t need two big desserts in one month, so I will save the tart I had selected for August.

For July, I will make Traditional Madeleines (page 94).  I will share my results with you on (or about) July 30th.

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Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Scones

IMG_5416_edited-1

Scones! This month for my Bouchon Bakery Challenge I tried two of the scone recipes from Bouchon Bakery. I was gong to make only the Plain Scones, but my sister insisted that I try the Cinnamon Honey Scones too. Since the Cinnamon Honey Scones recipe makes use of the Plain Scones dough, I decided to use half the dough for the plain ones and the other half for the cinnamon honey.

It’s hard to go wrong with all the good stuff packed into these scones: butter, heavy cream, and crème fraîche. Cake flour is used for a tender crumb.

Cinnamon Honey Scone

Cinnamon Honey Scone

These are excellent scones. The texture is perfect: slightly crunchy and short on the outside and tender on the inside. They are very flavorful without being too sweet. The Cinnamon Honey Scones are wonderful on their own, while the Plain Scones are the perfect foundation for butter and a special jam. The cookbook mentions that the Plain Scones would make a great base for shortcakes, and I agree.

Plain Scone with Meyer Lemon & Lavender Marmalade

Plain Scone with Meyer Lemon & Lavender Marmalade

A great thing about these recipes is that shaped scones are meant to be frozen overnight before baking.  This provides so much flexibility!  Having a big celebration?  Get the scones made a few days early and pop them in on the big day.  Having a small celebration, or baking scones “just because”?  Just bake what you need and save the rest for later.

Recipe Notes

  • The Plain Scone recipe is ready-made to be tinkered with. Try adding nuts or dried fruits, flavorings, or use your imagination. I am thinking of trying to reproduce the petite vanilla scones they have at Starbucks or doing something with my leftover rose extract.
  • The recipes give instructions for baking these in both convection or standard ovens.  A comment suggests they will have a slightly higher rise in a convection oven.  Since my oven has a convection feature that I don’t use very often I gave it a try.  My scones turned out slightly sunken in and the interior was a little dense, almost like they weren’t cooked all the way through (but they still tasted good!).  In a bolt of inspiration (after I took most of my photos) I decided to try baking some of them using the “standard” instructions and they turned out much better.  Fully risen and cooked through.

You can really see the sunken look in this photo:

Sunken Scone

Sunken Scone

This scone was baked in a standard oven.  See how it’s nicely rounded at the top?

Cinnamon Honey Scone baked in a "standard" oven.

Cinnamon Honey Scone baked in a “standard” oven.

Altitude Adjustments

None. I generally don’t need to make adjustments for scones and biscuits, especially those recipes without eggs. I was slightly “ungenerous” when measuring the baking powder and baking soda, but that’s it.

I do think that my troubles baking these in convection mode is somehow related to altitude. The issues are similar to high altitude issues: the “fallen” look and dense interior. Perhaps the temperature was too low to support the rising dough? One of the recommendations for combating fallen cakes is to raise the oven temperature a bit, which causes the batter to “set” before the cells expand too much and collapse. Just some rambling thoughts…

Next Month

For June I will be making the Doughnuts (page 196) with my sister while I am visiting family in Seattle. I will share my results with you on June 25th (my birthday!).

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Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Caramel Popcorn

Caramel Popcorn

I have always liked caramel popcorn but had never tried making it.  The first time I looked through my copy of Bouchon Bakery, the recipe for Caramel Popcorn caught my eye and I knew I would be high on my list of things to make.

Caramel popcorn is fun, but hectic, to make.  From start to finish it took me less than an hour to produce a very impressive treat.

This popcorn is so good!  It might be the best caramel popcorn I have ever eaten.  It has the perfect balance of sweet and salty, and just the right amount of crunch.  In fact, I cannot stop eating it!

If you are interested in trying Caramel Popcorn I found a slightly adapted version of the recipe here.

Yummy Caramel Popcorn

Recipe Notes

  • You have to move quick once the caramel is ready.  Have everything in place and ready to go, move kids and pets out of the way, and go for it!
  • I found that half a cup of unpopped kernels produced just about the right amount of popped corn (maybe slightly too much, see below).
  • My caramel didn’t coat the popcorn kernels quite as much as I would have liked, but I think this is due to my using a little more than 10 cups (more like 12 cups).  It is still good though, so don’t fret about getting the exact amount of popcorn.

Cooling

Altitude Adjustments

Surprisingly, yes!  Even though this recipe involved no baking, adjustments need to be made when making candy due to the lower boiling point of water at higher altitudes.  I used this formula to adjust the temperature down when making the caramel.  For Reno (elevation 4500 feet) I adjusted down 9°F.

I think this is the reason why I have had trouble making caramel and other candies in the past.  I always end up burning them while I wait to get the temperatures up the final few degrees.  Now I know why!

Next Month

May is already moving quickly, so I have chosen another simple recipe:  Plain Scones (page 68).  I will share my results with you on May 28th (hopefully!).

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Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Croissants

Freshly Baked Croissants

Croissants!  They seem like the kind of thing that can only be made with good results in a bakery.  But, if you have some time and follow the instructions in Bouchon Bakery, you can make them at home.

Making croissants is quite a process.  First you make a poolish, with flour, water, and a pinch of yeast.  This sits overnight until the yeast has exhausted it’s food supply.

These kind of look like snails to me...

These kind of look like snails to me…

Next, the fun part begins!  First, you get to pound a block of butter with a rolling pin until it is flattened into a rectangle.  Then you mix the dough and let it knead in the mixer for 20 minutes.  The dough then rests for an hour (the dough rests a lot in this process!).

Then the rolling and folding process begins, to encase the butter in the dough in lots of layers.  Let’s just say there is a lot of rolling, folding, resting in the freezer, and more rolling.  There is a nice description of the process (with pictures) on King Arthur Flour’s blog:  Making Croissants.

Finally, after several hours, the dough can be shaped into croissants.  The book gives instructions for both traditional croissants and pains au chocolat (aka chocolate croissants).  I made both!

Pain au Chocolat

Pain au Chocolat

After shaping, you’re still not done!  The croissants have to proof (rise) for a couple of hours before they are ready to go into the oven.  I got so anxious to get these in the oven I forgot to do the final egg wash, so they are not as shiny and browned as they should be.

My house smelled like a bakery while these were baking.  It smelled so good!  I could hardly wait to try my first one.  It was worth all the effort!  I was very impressed by how well these turned out.  The outside was crisp and flaky, and the inside soft and moist and buttery.  They tasted like croissants should taste.  And the pains au chocolat  were amazing!!

Buttery interior

Buttery interior

Recipe Notes

  • Definitely use the European-style butter called for in the recipe.  I could really taste the difference!
  • The recipe makes it sounds as though the dough needs to be shaped and proofed immediately after it is ready.  Because of time constraints, I shaped some of the croissants right away (but proofed it the next day), and left half the dough in the refrigerator overnight before rolling it out and shaping it.  I didn’t discern any problems doing this.
  • The recipe also makes it sound as though the unproofed and unbaked croissants should not be frozen.  To me, it seemed easier to freeze the unbaked croissants rather than the baked ones.  So I froze most of the pains au chocolate and a few of the traditional croissants.  As an experiment, I tried one of the frozen ones today and it turned out great.
  • To prepare the frozen croissants:  Thaw the croissants in the refrigerator overnight.  The next morning, place them in a warm place and let them proof for about 2 hours.  Bake as instructed.  Because I only baked one croissant, I used some canola oil spray instead of the egg wash.  I know, blasphemous!  But I thought it turned out fine – nicely browned and flaky.
We had chicken salad sandwiches on our croissants!

We had chicken salad sandwiches on our croissants!

Altitude Adjustments

None, but I did have to use all of the extra water the authors have you reserve in case the dough seems dry.

Next Month

April is going to be a busy month, so I have chosen a recipe that can be made in less than a day:  Caramel Popcorn (page 338).  I will share my results with you on April 30th!

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