Archive for the 'pastry' Category

26
Jun
10

This one is for Robert, or……………

the squeaky reader gets the decadence.  Ok, Robert, you asked for it, so here it is:   Strawberry Rhubarb Cream Cheese Tart.  I hope this satiates you for a while because it’s all I got at the moment. 

Stop licking the computer screen!

We went to Chuck and Emily’s last night for our first barbeque of the summer season.  I made a spicy wheat berry salad (which was yumtastic, BTW) and this delectable little morsel. 

A little something I whipped up

Our neighbour, Snowie, the 83-year-old Master Gardener, has a massive amount of rhubarb in her garden.  Her 53-year-old son, John, invited me over to cut as much rhubarb as I wanted.  He confided in me that he has never, ever eaten rhubarb in his life!  His mother grows it every year.  I teased him and inquired if he was afraid of it.  Bingo!  He said he was,  indeed, afraid of rhubarb.  I don’t want to cast dispersion on the neighbour and I want the free rhubarb to keep coming, so I will reserve comment on this one. 

OK, I admit that I want to lick the screen now

So, I’m sure many of you out there in blogville and saying “Enough with the chit chat and witty repartee, VG, get to telling us how we can make this at home!”  Fine.  If you insist, here goes: 

The Crust 

adapted from The Pie and Pastry Bible 

by 

Rose Levy Beranmaum 

Sweet Cookie Tart Crust 

1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes 

1/4 cup sugar 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

1/8 teaspoon salt 

1 large egg yolk 

2 tablespoons buttermilk (the original recipe calls for heavy cream, but buttermilk is all I had on hand) 

 Pulse sugar and butter in food processor about 15 times or until sugar disappears.  Add the flour and salt and pulse again until the butter is no larger than small peas. 

In a small bowl, combine egg yolk and buttermilk (or heavy cream).  Add it to the  mixture and pulse just until incorporated.  The dough will still be in crumbly pieces.  Empty it into a plastic bag and press from the outside until it holds together. 

Remove the dough from the bag and place on a large piece of plastic wrap; knead the dough a few times until it becomes one smooth piece.  Flatten to a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes in fridge or freeze for 10 minutes until it is firm enough to roll. 

Roll dough out on a piece of plastic wrap.  Transfer to a tart pan.  Chill again for about 30 minutes. 

Place a piece of parchment paper over the crust bottom and use pie weights or dried beans to fill the inside.   Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for five minutes.  Reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue baking for 15 minutes.  Remove parchment and pie weights and return tart shell to the oven.  Bake another 10 -13 minutes, until the crust is set and lightly browned. 

 While all of this baking is happening, make your cream cheese filling.  I made this one up on the fly.  It turned out great and is super simple. 

Cream Cheese filling 

8 ounces cream cheese 

4 ounces mascarpone 

1 large egg 

1/2 cup sugar 

1 teaspoon vanilla 

Dump it all in the food processor and blend until silky smooth.  Stop and scrap several times in the process.  That’s all, folks.  I told you it was simple. 

Another tempting look. Check out that cream cheese filling.

So, what’s the red saucy stuff on top of those beautiful strawberries?  That’s where that scary rhubarb comes in.  Heh heh! 

Rhubarb Sauce 

About two cups of washed and chopped fresh rhubarb (or frozen) 

1 cup sugar 

2 – 4 tablespoons corn starch 

1 – 2 drops red food coloring (optional) 

Place rhubarb and sugar in sauce pan.  Let sit until the rhubarb starts releasing  it’s juice.  I actually frozen the rhubarb a few days before making this tart.  It works great because I thawed it out the night before in the fridge, it became juicy and I could make the sauce right away. 

Bring the rhubarb and sugar to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook until the rhubarb starts to break down and gets really soft.  Dissolve cornstarch in a small amount of water and whisk into the rhubarb sugar mixture.  Cook until thickened slightly.  Add food color, if desired.  Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

OK, so now you have all of your components.  Bake the tart shell,  add the  cream cheese filling and smooth.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 – 30 minutes, until filling is set.  Remove from oven and cool slightly on the counter and then refrigerate until completely cold. 

Slice strawberries in half.  Arrange in a pretty fashion on top of the filling.  Pour and spread evenly (I used a pastry brush) the rhubarb sauce on top.  You will have some sauce left over, lucky you!  It’s great on ice cream, waffles, pancakes, standing in front of the open fridge with a spoon in your hand, etc.  Put it on whatever you want; wink wink, nudge nudge. 

Enjoy and welcome summer!

I just learned a new technique using Picasa!

26
Apr
10

Oh, No, You Didn’t!

Probably falls under the category of a mortal sin

 

Oh yes, I did!  I combined three of my most popular cakes into one.  If there is indeed a hell, I just know there is a big fat red devil with his pitch fork poised, just waiting for me to drop in with this cake.  It’s definitely a cross between heaven and hell.  Heavenly to behold, sweet, moist and rich in the mouth.  Hella hard to resist.  Oh, I’m sure it’s off the charts in fat grams and calories, but who’s counting?  I totally envision the angel and devil routine, each one  perched on my shoulders and whispering in my ear.  Devil -“Go ahead, eat it!  No one is looking!”  Angel – “Oh, my, all those calories!  All that fat!”  Devil – “Don’t listen to her.  You can eat whatever you want.  You deserve it.”  Angel – “It does look delicious.  Maybe just one eensy, teensy bite.”  Devil – “Screw that!  Eat it all.  Now!”  At this point I shake the Angel off my shoulder, give the Devil a conspiratory wink and devour that one way ticket to diet damnation with no remorse.   

If you can’t tell by the picture, the bottom layer is Chocolate Buttermilk Cake, the center layer is, are you ready?, Vanilla Mascarpone Cheesecake (!)and the top layer is Red Velvet Cake.  If that isn’t sinful enough, I frosted it all with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting.  Yeah, it’s even better than it sounds.   

Wanna see how it’s assembled?  OK, since you asked, here goes:   

I baked a 9 inch Chocolate Buttermilk Cake, a 9 inch crustless Vanilla Mascarpone Cheesecake and a 9″ Red Velvet Cake.  The cheese cake was baked the day before the other two cakes were made so it could get good and set up in the refrigerator.   

Bottom Layer - Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

 

Here is the bottom chocolate layer with a thin layer of the frosting.  Yeah, I do call that thin. 

The center cheesecake layer

 

I unmolded the crustless cheesecake directly on top of the frosted chocolate layer.  The parchment paper is still attached in this photo, that’s why the bottom (or top, here) of the cheesecake looks wrinkly.  Don’t forget to remove the parchment before frosting the cheesecake layer.  The only reason I mention this is I actually started frosting this after I snapped the photo and then stopped myself.  Fortunetly it’s really easy to remove frosting from cheesecake when it has parchment on it!  Yes, sometimes I am a dork.  

Frosted cheesecake layer

 

Ok, so then I spread a layer of frosting on top of the cheesecake layer, after first removing the parchment paper!  This was the first time I had ever frosted a cheesecake and it glided on there smooth as proverbial silk.  

Last but not least, the top layer, Red Velvet

 

I placed the Red Velvet layer on top and then frosted the whole, beautiful creation.  By the way, I leveled both of the cake layers with a serrated knife before frosting, duh.  

Here's the finished product

 

I made the executive decision not to do my usual piping top and bottom borders.  The true attraction of this cake is on the inside.   

Is the devil whispering in your ear yet?

 

I wish the Red Velvet cake crumbs didn’t get drug across the cheesecake layer.  I used a sharp hot knife and cleaned it between cuts, but I still got crumb dregs.  Well, this was just an inspiration I came up with and thought I drive it around the block a few times until I come up the perfect rendition of this cake.  Not bad for a proto type, though, eh? 

So, what do you reckon, am I going to hell, or what? 

ps:   We did not eat this whole cake ourselves.  Katie and I shared the piece that appears in the picture next to the whole cake.  I sent almost half of the cake to work with Katie and I took almost the other half to my job.  The photo at the beginning of this post was kept at our house, for us to enjoy and share with a couple of lucky people who came by that weekend.

06
Oct
09

Fresh Fig Tart and an ode to Marie

Insanely delicious Fresh Fig Tart with Crystallized Ginger

Insanely delicious Fresh Fig Tart with Crystallized Ginger

I have a confession.  I get crushes on cook book authors.  My daughter used to call them “my new friends”.  She was right.  I think of these wonderful people as my friends.  They give me advice and impart knowledge about food and it’s preparation at any hour of the day or night.  They are always there for me.  They encourage me to try new things and inspire me to create my own concoctions.  And they actually live the life I aspire to live.  And, to tell the truth, my life is turning into the life that others envy. 

Marie Simmons is my new BFF.  Oh, she doesn’t know it,  but she wrote a cookbook that I can’t stop thumbing through.  Fig Heaven is fantastic!  We moved into our house in March of this year and I’ve posted about all of the fabulous fruit trees we have.  The front yard boasts a bountiful fig tree.

Ripe for the picking

Ripe for the picking

I actually met my current “crush” Marie Simmons.  It was years ago, when I was beginning to get Naked Baker off the ground.  Another cook book author crush, Patricia Greenberg, was doing a soy demonstration in the home of a chef in the hills of Berkley, California.  She invited me to attend (well, sort of, we did have to pay for the event, but if was sooooooo worth it).  There were about 15 people in attendance and we all sat in this tiny dining room facing the open kitchen.  Patricia did her demonstration of soy genius making a complete meal including appetizer and dessert.  Afterwards, we all sat down to a wonderful meal, complete with wine.  The woman seated to my left and I started a conversation as people do when they are sharing a meal.  We introduced ourselves and talked a bit about what we do, what our interests are, why we were attending this event and so on.  Her name stuck in my head: Marie Simmons.

I did not know who Marie Simmons was.  I know she told me she had written cook books and articles for food magazines.  I wanted to be her friend, but at the time I was too shy and did not feel confident in myself to persue any type of communication with this woman.   She was really nice and actually interested in my little business.  She said all of the usual nice things, very encouraging and wished me success in my endeavours.

The very next day I saw that name, Marie Simmons, in a Bon Appetit magazine.  I started to see her name in a lot of those magazines.  Wow!  I sat next to a food celebrity and talked to her and she was a normal person.  I think it is good that I did not know how important this Marie Simmons actually was.  She was just a nice pleasant woman who I had the opportunity to share a meal with.

Katie, my wonderful spouse, claims to be anti-fig.  In fact, I’ve met a number of not-so-much fig fans.  Marie, your recipe for Fresh Fig tart made a believer out of Katie!  She loved this.  I loved this so much I made her take it to work so I would not be tempted to nibble on it all day today.  The crust is amazing, like a butter cookie.  I look forward to trying some of the savory recipes before all of the figs are gone.  So, here’s to you, Marie, and your wonderful fig cookbook.  And, hopefully you won’t mind, but I am posting this recipe for my readers to enjoy.

Fresh Fig Tart

With Crystallized Ginger

From Fig Heaven by Marie Simmons 

1 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour

6 tbsp granulated sugar

¼ tsp salt

10 tbsp (1 stick plus 2 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces

1 egg yolk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 pounds (approximately) firm, ripe figs, any variety, stems trimmed

2 tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger

Confectioners’ sugar 

1.  Preheat oven to 400°.  Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch loose-bottomed tart pan.

 2.  Combine ½ cups flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of  a food processor.  With the processor motor running, gradually add the butter through the feed tube.  Process until crumbly.

3.  Stir the egg yolk and the vanilla together in a small bowl.  With the motor running, gradually add the egg mixture through the feed tube.  Pulse the mixture until it begins to pull together.  (If the dough seems dry, sprinkle it with ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time (I used about ½ tablespoon when I made it).   The dough should be crumbly, but not dry.

4.  Turn the dough out directly into the prepared tart pan.  Gently press it on the bottom and up the sides of the pan in a relatively even layer; the dough will have a rough surface.  ( The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, until ready to bake.) 

5.  Reserve 8 to 10 of the figs for the topping.  Cut the remaining figs into ½ inch pieces.  Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, the remaining 2 tablespoons flour, and the crystallized ginger in a large bowl until blended.  Add the cut up figs and toss gently to coat them with the sugar mixture.  Spoon the filling evenly into the prepared crust; top with any sugar left in the bottom of the bowl.

6.  Bake the tart for 20 minutes.  Then reduce the oven temperature to 350° and bake until the edges of the crust are golden brown and the figs are hot and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes.  (It took about 40 more minutes in my oven, but do check often after 25 minutes).  Remove from the oven

7.  Trim about ½ inch from the tops and bottoms of the reserved figs.  Cut each fig crosswise into three or four ¼ inch thick rounds.  Carefully place the sliced figs close together on the surface of the tart, pressing them down gently into the hot fig mixture.  Let the tart cool on a wire rack.

8.  Before serving, remove the rim from the pan.  Slide the tart, still on the base of the pan, onto a serving plate.  Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.  Cut into wedges, and serve with a spoonful of whipped cream or a scoop of softened vanilla ice cream if desired.  (We served  it plain because we have been pigging out on home made ice cream all week and it’s time for a break from the butter fat!!!)

 

 

02
Oct
09

Fig & Hazelnut Scones

A sweet glaze tops these fig and hazelnut scones

I’m still recovering from my surgery, but you just can’t keep me out of the kitchen.  Katie picked these figs the other day and I just had to make something with them or they would just go bad.  It’s been a while since I invented a new scone so figs seemed just the right thing.  I still had toasted hazelnuts from making the ice cream earlier in the week so these two items would pair nicely.  And I just happen to have some hazelnut liqueur in the house, so the glaze will have a nice hazelnutty flavour.

I used my standard basic scone recipe that can be found in my“Everybody Must Get Sconed” post.  The substitutions are as follows:

Substitute  (1) hazelnut liqueur for the vanilla  (2) cardamom for the nutmeg, trim stems and bottoms of 5 large firm, ripe figs, any variety, and cut into bite size pieces.  Add 1/3 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts.

Mix and bake as directed.  While scones are baking, sift 2 cups of powdered sugar into a bowl, add 1 tbsp hazelnut liqueur and 2 tbsp heavy cream or half n half.  Mix until smooth.  It should be a nice glazing consistency.  Glaze scones while they are still hot, minutes after you pull them from the oven.  Allow the scones to cool a bit and the glaze to set.  Enjoy them warm or at room temperature.

21
Sep
09

Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Frosting

This past week, a co-worker ordered a cake from me.  It was for her Grandmother’s birthday party.  Both Katie (the co-worker) and her mother LOVE my hazelnut frosting.  So do I!  They also love chocolate.  This hazelnut frosting and buttermilk chocolate cake are perfect together.  The light, sweetness of the frosting with the dense, dark chocolate of the cake are a match made in dessert heaven.  Here is a picture of Grandma Elsie’s cake.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Hazelnut Frosting

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Hazelnut Frosting

The chocolate leaves were simple to make.  I went into my garden, picked some raspberry leaves, coated them in melted dark chocolate, let them sit in the freezer until firm and gently pulled the “real” leaves off.  Make sure you use leaves that are not sprayed or poisonous!

Of, course, as always with me, I had left over cake batter and frosting so I made a few things for my spouse to bring to her job.  I only had enough frosting left over for one cupcake after frosting three individual cakes and I sprinkled them with toasted hazelnuts.

Same cake, different presentation

Same cake, different presentation

I used the same Vanilla Frosting recipe that is in my Elephant Cupcake post and added 1/2 cup hazelnut paste to it.  You may be wondering where to buy hazelnut paste.  Well, it can be tricky to find.  I would suggest calling some upscale foodie markets and shops first.  If they don’t carry it in your area, go online and order it.  There are a lot of sites that sell it, just Google hazelnut paste.  Or you can try making your own.  If you have a Champion juicer, just toast the hazelnuts and put them through using the homogenizing method. 

Well, I am back to the kitchen to work on more goodies to share with you!

28
Aug
09

Everybody Must Get Sconed!

That was a tag line for my website when I owned Naked Baker.  I had one of those license plate holders made at the mall for my car.  You know the ones with sayings like “My grandchild is cuter than yours” or “Zero to Bitch in 24 seconds?”  Mine said “nakedbaker.com”on the top and “Everybody Must Get Sconed” on the bottom.  Someone stole it right off my vehicle in a parking lot in broad daylight after having it on my bumper for one week!  So much for free advertising.

People loved my scones.  Customers would say “I just got back from London.  Your scones are better than the ones at Harrods!”  “I was just in New York  and your lemon scones are so much better than the scones at The Plaza”.  I never got tired of the compliments.  They never got tired of the scones.

Break time with Apricot Scone and a hot  cup of coffee
Break time with Apricot Scone and a hot cup of coffee

 BASIC SCONE

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 heaping tablespoon baking powder

1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup half n half or heavy cream

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

dash of nutmeg or spice of choice

1/2 cup dried fruit or nuts

Preheat oven 400 degrees.  Parchment or Silpat lined baking sheets

Place flour, sugar,  baking powder  and salt in food processor.  Add cold butter pieces and pulse until mixture is somewhat crumbly.  Transfer to a mixing bowl.  Add dried fruit or nuts.  Make a well in the center of flour/fruit mixture.  Stir together half n half, egg and vanilla.  Pour into the center well and quickly mix by hand until flour incorporated the liquid.  Do not overwork the dough.  Dump out onto a floured surface and gently knead and smooth into a round disk shape.  Flatten with your hands or use a rolling pin until the dough is about 3/4 of an inch thick.  Cut with a floured biscuit cutter or cut dough disk into wedges.  Place on a parchment or Silpat lined sheet pan.

You can (A) brush the tops with melted butter and bake, (B) Melted butter and sugar and bake or (C) Do what I like to do:

Equal amounts of butter and sugar.  Before you make the scone dough, cut butter into chunks and freeze.  Put frozen butter and sugar into food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs.  Working quickly and with cool hands, top each scone with the butter/sugar combo. 

Bake for 17 minutes in the center rack of oven.  Bottoms should be browned and tops firm

 

24
Aug
09

Turtle Brownies

The magnificent Turtle Brownie
The magnificent Turtle Brownie

 

Back in 1999, I actually took a leap of faith and quit my day job to become a full time baker.  Fresno, California may not have been ready for the name of my business, Naked Baker, but they certainly loved the treats.  My scones were the cornerstone of the original biz, but these Turtle Brownies were a close runner up.  Sweet, chocolately, and extremely sinful, we couldn’t keep them in the pastry case for long.  Perfect for pairing with a cold glass of milk or hot cup of joe.

Brownies

¾ cup sugar

½ cup butter

2 tablespoons water, coffee or liquor (pick only 1 of these liquids)

2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips, divided

1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

 Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease and parchment line a 12 x 17 inch sheet pan.

 Combine sugar, butter and liquid in large saucepan.  Heat over med heat stirring gently until butter and sugar are melted.  Add 1 cup of bittersweet chips; stir until melted and blended.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. 

Place flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl; stir to combine. 

Beat eggs into the chocolate mixture, 1 at a time, with a mixing spoon.  Add flour mixture and mix well.  Stir in 1 cup bittersweet chips.  Spread evenly into prepared pan.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting.

Use the vanilla frosting recipe from my Elephant Cupcake post.

Spread frosting smoothly and evenly over the entire surface of the brownie.  Sprinkle with toasted pecans.  Drizzle with chocolate syrup. caramel and white chocolate syrup.  You can make your own syrups or do the quicky thing and get them from the store.  Either way you choose, you can’t lose with this one.  Trust me, whoever gets to enjoy this treat will think you are the greatest!

20
May
09

Strawberry Buttercream Cake

Hi all!  I just wanted to share a couple of shots of the cake I made two weeks ago for National Receptionist Day.  It is true, it is an actual commemorative day, like Secretary’s Day and Bosses Day.  After all, receptionists deserve recognition too.  This lovely cake was dedicated to Susie, the receptionist at my spouse’s place of employment.  Everyone loved it and the little woman brought home an empty cake carrier.

Strawberry Buttercream Cake with Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Strawberry Buttercream Cake with Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake sandwiched between layers of fluffy white cake cushioned by Strawberry Filling and Strawberry Buttercream

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake sandwiched between layers of fluffy white cake cushioned by Strawberry Filling and Strawberry Buttercream

I really love what I do, can you tell?  I’m looking forward to posting pictures of the cupcake order I have for next week and then a wedding cake the first week in June.  I am so blessed.  Anyone need to order a cake?

VG

30
Apr
09

Pretty Things

I’m kinda tired today so I decided to just upload some pictures of some of my past projects.  I hope you enjoy the pretty things.

Individual Lemon Cheesecakes

Individual Lemon Cheesecakes

Fresh Fruit Tarts

Fresh Fruit Tarts

I made this cake while attending WCI

I made this cake while attending WCI

Some of my goods at New Seasons Market in Sellwood

Some of my goods at New Seasons Market in Sellwood

Hawiian Celtic Wedding Cake

Hawiian Celtic Wedding Cake

Ganache glazed cake

Ganache glazed cake

Mmmmmm.....Caramel Corn

Mmmmmm.....Caramel Corn

Rhubarb Scone with Strawberry Glaze

Rhubarb Scone with Strawberry Glaze

Fruit Tart

Fruit Tart

 

 

Hopefully something looked tasty to you.  Have a sweet day!




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