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Archive for the ‘baked treat’ Category

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Our first full day in LA, we set out for the Farmers Market for breakfast. What started out as a true farmers’ market over 70 years ago is now a conglomeration of food vendors, with a few produce stands thrown in. We wound our way to the back and discovered Bob’s Coffee and Doughnuts.

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A Farmers Market institution, Bob’s award-winning doughnuts come in a dizzying array of flavors.

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Dave opted for an espresso and a chocolate caramel nut doughnut. It was, “nice and crunchy from the nuts, very sweet, and BIG.” Yes, he enjoyed it.

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I passed on the doughnuts and went with a smoothie from a nearby stand. I had been craving a smoothie ever since Santa Barbara, but this one was far from satisfying (hence the lack of photo).

On our way out we saw a sign for a true farmers’ market which sets up outside the Farmers Market twice a week, and just happened to be coming the day we there at noon. So, after a lovely visit to The Getty, we drove back and bought some fruits and vegetables for dinner that night.

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After two days in San Francisco, we set out for Los Angeles, driving scenic Highway One and stopping for three nights along the way, in Monterey, Morro Bay, and Santa Barbara. Our first leg, from SF to Monterey, was riddled with signs for farms stands selling strawberries and cherries. We got sucked into a few.

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Our first stop involved a bit of a detour off the main road, and led us to a tan, wrinkled man and his friendly mutt. As the farmer talked our ears off about everything from growing strawberries to his one visit to NYC, the dog rolled onto his back and nestled his face into my foot. We came away with two pints of beautiful berries.

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Our next stop, which was right off the highway, was the Swanton Berry Farm store. Despite the fact that you can see employees baking in the kitchen behind the counter, the store relies on the honor system with an open cash tray where you pay and make change yourself. They are also very pro-union and proudly display signs that make this clear.

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Dave and I bought blackberry cobbler and strawberry shortcake, respectively, and sat down to eat at one of the blue picnic benches outside the store.

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After our snack we picked out some jams to bring home as gifts, and I encountered something new: the olallieberry. I had never heard of the fruit (said to be a mix between a loganberry and a youngberry) before, and eagerly bought a jar of strawberry/olallieberry jam.

On the way out, we saw this sign. Cute.

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Dave’s friend Tim turned 30, so I made him 30 chocolate cupcakes. Dave referred to them as, “Ridiculously good tasting.” We took them to a BBQ Tim hosted last night. They didn’t have a big rectangular plate, but I made it work…

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(The “AA” above was continued onto the green plate you can see in the corner above. It is the start of “AAAAAAAAYS” which represents Cluster A, Dave’s business school class.)

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I decided to make a nice weekday brunch for my parents. I knew I wanted to use up some of my CSA produce, mainly apricots and summer squash. After some digging around the Internet, I settled on two recipes, one sweet, one savory (I can never choose between the two at brunch so I tend to make both). Both recipes called for tart pans with removable bottoms, one in a 9-inch and the other in a 10-inch. I only have a 9-inch and an 11-inch, but they worked out just fine.

For savory, I went with this recipe for yellow squash and mozzarella quiche with fresh thyme. It was perfect because I had gotten the squash and thyme in my farm share, and only had to buy the mozzarella.

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Making crust from scratch is so satisfying and it is a dying art. Let me just say here and now that it’s easier than you think and the pay-off is enormous. Not only will it taste better than a store-bought one, but most people will find it quite impressive.

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This was a nice and simple quiche. While the crust is blind baking, you saute the zucchini with the thyme, and the hard work is done.

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Lastly, you whisk together a simple custard made of eggs, cream, salt, pepper, and a dash of hot sauce, and assemble your quiche.

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35 minutes in the oven and voilà:

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What you see in the background of the photo above is my sweet choice: an apricot brioche tart. I found a Dorie Greenspan recipe for a brioche plum tart which I modified for use with apricots.

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I had never made brioche dough before and was very excited at the challenge. It was much easier than I expected, it just needs a lot of time to rest. Some time soon I want to try to make a simple brioche loaf (and then I can use the left overs for french toast!).

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Once the dough has rested overnight (the same went for the quiche dough), the assembly is simple (just like the quiche). You simply spread the bottom with your favorite jam, arrange the stone fruits of your choice on top, and sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and the chopped nuts of your choice.

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The potential combinations are endless. I will definitely make this again and I’m already imagining the possibilities: cherry/pistachio, peach/pecan, nectarine/hazelnut, I could go on forever…

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The brioche puffed up something fierce and looked so good that I really had to restrain myself from digging in before I got to my parents’.

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I managed to get them both into my rectangular cake caddy by placing a cooling rack inside and putting one on top and one on the bottom. It’s amazing how many people talk to you and/or stop and stare when you’re carrying homemade baked goods on the subway. One woman even asked, “did you make that crust from scratch?” See what I mean.

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I was worried that it would be too much with two tart/pie-type things in one meal, but it was fine. They were both delicious and much-appreciated. I had to try really hard not to eat the entire brioche tart.

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Apricot Brioche Tart
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients:
For the crust
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup whole milk, just warm to the touch
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the tart
8-10 apricots, quartered (or stone fruit of your choice)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped almonds (or nut of your choice)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup fruit jam (I used blackberry because I had it in my fridge, but next time I will likely use apricot)

Procedure:
Make the brioche crust
Put the yeast and warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir until the yeast is dissolved.  Add the rest of the crust ingredients to the bowl and fit the mixer with the dough hook.  Working on low speed, mix for a minute or two, just to get the ingredients together.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 7 – 10 minutes, stopping a few times to scrape down the bowl and the hook, until the dough is stretchy and fairly smooth.  The dough will seem fairly thin, more like a batter than a dough, and it may not be perfectly smooth.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, 30 – 40 minutes.

Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap into the bowl.  Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator.  Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours.  If you’ve got the time, leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight, it will be tastier for the wait.

Assemble the tart
This tart looks prettiest when it’s made in a fluted pan.  You can use either a 9-inch metal tart pan with a removable base or a porcelain baking dish, the kind sometimes called a quiche pan.  Generously grease the pan.

Press the chilled dough into the bottom of the pan and up the sides, don’t worry if it’s not even.  Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the dough is in the refrigerator, prepare the filling.  Pit and quarter the apricots. Toss the chopped nuts with the sugar and set aside.

Remove the tart pan from the fridge and press the dough up the sides of the pan.  Spoon the jam onto the dough and spread it over the bottom.  Arrange the apricots, cut side down, in concentric circles covering the jam.  Scatter over the nut sugar mixture, and cover the tart lightly with a piece of plastic wrap.  Place the tart on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat and let it rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Uncover the tart and bake for 15 minutes.  Cover it loosely with a foil tent to prevent the crust from getting too dark, and continue baking for another 10 minutes, or until the fruit juices are bubbling and the crust is firm and beautifully browned, it will sound hollow when tapped.

Transfer the tart to a rack to cool for at least 45 minutes before serving.

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Our first full day in LA, we set out for breakfast at the Farmers Market. What started out as a true farmers’ market over 70 years ago is now a conglomeration of food vendors, with a few produce stands thrown in. We wound our way to the back and discovered Bob’s Coffee and Doughnuts.

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A Farmers Market institution, Bob’s award-winning doughnuts come in a dizzying array of flavors.

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Dave opted for an espresso and a chocolate caramel nut doughnut. It was, “nice and crunchy from the nuts, very sweet, and BIG.” Yes, he enjoyed it.

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I passed on the doughnuts and went with a smoothie from a nearby stand. I had been craving smoothies ever since Santa Barbara, but this one was far from satisfying (hence the lack of photo). On our way out we saw a sign for a real farmers’ market which sets up outside the Farmers Market twice a week, and just happened to be coming the day we there. So, after a lovely visit to The Getty, we drove back and bought some fruits and vegetables for dinner that night.

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DSC04026My mom swam the Hudson last weekend and I made these muffins for her as well as for those of us who woke up early in the morning to cheer her on. I used Nigella Lawson’s recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess which I think needs some tweaking (less blueberries, more batter overall), but was quite good anyway.

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Baking with fruit seems to be the theme of the moment. I received one luscious pound of the season’s first peaches in my CSA share this week. They were still a little hard when I got them so I was letting them sit for a bit but, before I knew it, it was Thursday night and I was packing for Canada (where I sit and write this) to attend a friend’s wedding.

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In order to use some of the fruit (I cut up and froze half for later) I decided to make breakfast for Dave’s office. I turned again to Whole Grain Baking, this time to their peach coffee cake recipe, which is just divine. Especially when made with fresh summer peaches.

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The recipe gives you the choice of making two 9-inch round cakes or one larger 9 x 13-inch one. When I think of coffee cake I think back to when I was a kid (before I learned of the evils of packaged foods) and I used to sometimes get Entenmann’s coffee cake as a treat. They always used to come in rounds (both big and 2-bite sized) so perhaps that’s why I went with the circular option.

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What I like most about this cake is that–unlike Entenmann’s–the crumb coating is not so overwhelming with huge globs. In fact, in this case, most of it sinks into the cake, but, don’t worry, it still maintains its crispiness and contrasts nicely with the very soft cake.

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It was a huge hit at Dave’s office, some people even said, “keep it coming.” So, I’ll have to decide what I’m going to make for them next time.

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Peach Coffee Cake
From Whole Grain Baking, King Arthur Flour
Yield: Two 9-inch round cakes or one 9 x 13-inch cake, 24 servings

Ingredients:

Cake
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk*
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups peeled, diced fresh peaches

Topping
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Procedure:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans or one 9 x 13-inch pan.

2. Make the cake batter: Whisk together the dry ingredients (pastry flour through salt) and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients, one third at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Add the vanilla. Fold in the peaches until evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth down with a rubber or offset spatula.

3. Make the topping: Combine all the topping ingredients in a small mixing bowl and combine until it looks like wet sand (I found that using my hands was the easiest way to do this). Sprinkle mixture evenly over the batter.

4. Bake according to pan size–25-30 minutes for the two rounds, 30-35 for the one rectangle–until the top is golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before serving.

*I didn’t have any buttermilk around, so I made my trusty substitute: 3/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt + 1/4 cup water for every cup of buttermilk. If you look online you can find other options, namely souring some milk with lemon juice or vinegar, but I prefer the texture that results from the yogurt plus water.


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