Sunday, November 23, 2008

David Lebovitz's Fresh Ginger Cake

Ginger Cake

Ginger Cake

Now that Thanksgiving is over and there's snow on the ground, I'm thinking less about pumpkin and more about cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice, peppermint, rum, cider, hot cocoa, candied citrus peels and nuts, and cranberries.

This simple, spicy cake that was once David Lebovitz's most requested recipe. It's very moist, and the flavor improves with age. My cake domed quite a bit and started to burn, so after it cooled I just sliced off the top and flipped the whole thing over. It made a nice breakfast for several days and I thought it was seasonally appropriate.

The cake was one of my last forays into Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts (it's titled "East West Ginger Cake" in the book). I also tried the "Rich Soft Spice Cake" and "Hilda's Apple Cake"; both were good, but neither was my favorite from the book. As much as I've enjoyed it, I think it's time to return it to the library.

This recipe is available here.

Sables Korova (World Peace Cookies)

Sables Korova (Chocolate and Fleur de Sel)

Sables Korova (Chocolate and Fleur de Sel)

Sables Korova (Chocolate and Fleur de Sel)

In the world of food blogging, Pierre Herme's Sables Korova, renamed World Peace Cookies by Dorie Greenspan, are somewhat legendary. If you don't believe me, take a look through the google or flickr results.

Since so many people have described the addictive qualities of these indulgent, chocolate-studded, teasingly salty cookies, i'm going to spend more time talking about making them rather than eating them.

The nice thing about making a widely tried recipe is you can see the differences in others' results. I don't know about you, but I find photographic evidence of cookie diversity very comforting when a recipe doesn't turn out as expected.

I got a little impatient and baked a few cookies before the dough was thoroughly chilled. This batch yielded flat cookies that spread a little strangely. They looked a little like this. The photos above are from day two, when I sliced the well-chilled dough a little thicker.

In addition to temperature and size, ingredient distribution also effects these cookies. I'd suggest using very soft butter; cold butter doesn't incorporate as quickly, or as well. I had to mix my dough longer than i'd have liked, and my finished dough wasn't exactly homogenous. Foodbeam is a good blog for browsing photos and comments on sable technique.

Shaping the dough into logs takes a little practice too- I think this is a case where I would have liked to compress the logs in parchment paper, using the technique on page 185 of The Simple Art of Perfect Baking. I'll upend the dough onto some parchment, gently knead/shape it into a rough log, and then use the parchment and a straight-edged cookie sheet or dough scraper to shape it into a nicer circle.

You can view the recipe here. It's also been printed in Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets and Baking From my Home to Yours. The cookies were a hit at work, and I think they'd be an elegant addition to a holiday cookie box. You can freeze the logs ahead of time and bake them as needed.

Pecan Pie and Buttermilk Silk Pie

Pecan Pie

Buttermilk Silk Pie

Sometimes I get so curious about an unfamiliar recipe that I have to try it. Neither of these recipes appealed to me initially, but I was so pleased with the chunky pear pie that I decided to make the pecan and buttermilk silk pies from Classic Home Desserts.

Sax's Pecan Pie substitutes Golden Syrup and muscovado sugar for corn syrup and refined sugar. Dark rum adds a pleasant richness to the flavor. I can't say i'm a big fan of pecan pie, but this pie was certainly different from others i've had, and i'd make it again if someone requested it.

Buttermilk may seem like an odd ingredient for pie, but in this case it was perfect. The Buttermilk Silk Pie was creamy, sweet, and slightly tangy, with a fluffy texture reminiscent of a light cheesecake. I think a little berry compote would be lovely with this, or maybe a touch of lemon zest. Try not to overbake it or the custard will crack.

I left out an egg yolk, which wasn't a problem. The custard was a little loose on the very bottom (like a pudding cake), but it tasted good.

My trip to Manhattan was nice; my sister and I braved the Union Square Trader Joe's on Wednesday night and pulled off a Thanksgiving dinner in less than 48 hours (not without a little stress). While I thought i'd visit some old favorite places, I ended up trying mostly new ones. Some of my favorites:

  • Abraco Espresso (fantastic olive oil cake, and possibly the best cortado i've ever had). I also had coffee at Ninth Street Espresso and Joe the Art of Coffee. I preferred Abraco and Joe.

  • The Japanese style cheesecake at Amai was killer. I tried some muffins and tea cookies, but they weren't to my taste.

  • The pretzel croissant from City Bakery really is as good as David Lebovitz says...especially warm out of the oven. So wonderfully salty. The gingerbread men are good too.

  • Little Branch. Amazing cocktails and ambience.

  • Momofuku Noodle Bar. I could eat six of their pork buns in one go! We also had excellent kim chi stew, and romanesco cauliflower with boquerones.

  • The calamari tacos and posole from Barrio Chino were delicious. The tacos are very small, so plan to eat something additional if you're hungry.

  • Pumpkin scones from Alice's Tea Cup were huge, tender and coated with a perfectly burnt, sticky caramel. They made me want to brush all my baked goods with caramel.

    I went back to Chikalicious, which was excellent as always. I had an almond cake with persimmon brulee and vanilla milk sorbet. It was a mostly enjoyable trip and I'd love to go again. There was not enough time/room in my stomach to try Porchetta, and i'm itching to go back to Sfoglia.

    I hope everyone had a nice holiday. I am definitely going to eat a little more simply until Christmas.

    Pecan Pie
    adapted from Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts
    1/2 quantity Basic Pie Dough
    1 cup raw cane dark muscovado sugar, turbinado sugar, or light brown sugar
    2/3 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup
    2 tbsp dark rum
    4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
    3 large eggs
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    1/4 tsp table salt
    2 cups broken pecan meats

    1. Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness and fit it into a 9in pie pan. Trim off excess dough, leaving about a 3/4in overhang. Fold under the edge of the dough, pressing along the rim and forming a high, fluted border. Chill until needed.

    2. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, Golden Syrup, rum, and butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove pan from the heat and set aside to cool until lukewarm, at least 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the lower third.

    3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs until creamy. Beat the eggs into the cooled syrup; stir in the vanilla, salt, and pecans. Pour filling into the pie shell.

    4. Bake until the filling is set but still slightly wobbly in the center, about 50 minutes. Cool the pie completely on a wire rack.

    5. Serve the pie at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

    Buttermilk Silk Pie
    adapted from Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts
    1/2 quantity Basic Pie Dough
    1 cup sugar
    3 tbsp corn starch
    1 large whole egg
    3 large egg yolks
    6 tbsp butter, melted
    1 1/2 cups buttermilk
    1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    1/4 tsp salt

    1. Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness and fit it into a 9in pie pan. Trim off excess dough, leaving about a 3/4in overhang. Fold under the edge of the dough, pressing along the rim and forming a high, fluted border. Chill until needed. Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the lower third.

    2. Bake the pie shell, gently pricking any air bubbles with a fork until it is partially baked, 8-10 minutes (I would have left mine longer). Cool the pie shell on a wire rack, leave the oven on.

    3. Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar and corn starch until there are no lumps. Add the egg, egg yolks, melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla, and salt and mix well. Pour the filling into the partially baked crust.

    4. Bake until the surface is a very pale golden color and the custard is set but still slightly wobbly in the center, about 40 minutes. Do not overbake.

    5. Cool the pie to room temperature on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature, or slightly chilled.
  • Cranberry Nut Bread w/ Brown Butter Icing

    Cranberry Nut Bread with Brown Butter Icing

    I slathered this cranberry nut bread with a generous helping of burnt-butter icing. The rich, crackly glaze was a perfect foil for the tart berries and orange zest. I think the loaf would look exceptionally festive with some chopped sugared nuts on top.

    I think this is a great recipe for the holiday season. It's simple, and yields an attractive, portable, delicious product. I ended up making it twice this week; the first time, the bread was done a good twenty minutes before the baking time. The second time, I needed the full hour. I think I was a little haphazard with my flour and liquid measurements. Anyway, the wet mixture will incorporate better if you combine the butter and egg before adding the other ingredients.

    I'm off to Manhattan tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving with my sister. I'm planning to visit some of my old favorites (Payard, breakfast at Balthazar, Grom, maybe Cafe Sabarsky, City Bakery, or Lupa) and a few new places (Amai, Barrio Chino, Joe The Art of Coffee, Doughnut Plant). I love walking around aimlessly- I'll often walk over 100 blocks in one go!

    I did a ton of baking last week- i've worked my way through some cookie recipes and 5-6 recipes from Classic Home Desserts. I will share soon!

    Cranberry Nut Bread
    adapted from Cook's Illustrated
    1/3 cup orange juice
    grated zest from 1 large orange
    2/3 cup buttermilk
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
    1 large egg, beaten lightly
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon table salt
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1 1/2 cups cranberries, chopped coarse
    1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped coarse

    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease bottom of 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, or line it with foil or parchment. Stir together orange juice, zest, buttermilk, butter, and egg in small bowl. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in large bowl. Stir liquid ingredients into dry with rubber spatula until just moistened. Gently stir in cranberries and pecans. Do not overmix.

    2. Scrape batter into loaf pan and spread with rubber spatula into corners of pan. Bake 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees; continue to bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 45 minutes longer. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool at least 1 hour before serving. If using icing, glaze the loaf while still warm and let harden at room temperature.

    Burnt Butter Icing
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 cup confectioners' sugar
    2 tbsp milk

    While the loaf is cooling, heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swiring the pan constantly, until the butter is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the butter to a bowl and whisk in the confectioners' sugar and milk. Pour all of the icing over the cake and spread to cover.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Pittsburgh Eating 11/08

    Chocolate Caramel Nougat

    I'm starting to crave different things now that Pittsburgh's begun the brutal transition from fall to winter. In the baking department, I think about apples, pears, pumpkins, cranberries, toasted nuts, spices, holiday treats, and hot beverages.

    I've also noticed a change in what I want to eat outside the apartment. Last weekend I was excited to see Strip District stores stocking my favorite lebkuchen and Bahlsen cookies. I've enjoyed quite a few locally available items, and I thought i'd take a moment to mention a few:

    In Mon Aimee Chocolat, my friend Diane described this Caramel Chocolate Nougat (pictured above) as "the most decadent Mars bar you can imagine." It's too intense to eat in one sitting, but I loved the dark, rich nougat studded with almonds and pistachios.

    I made several sandwiches on the Parmesan Baguette from Allegro Hearth Bakery. It has great flavor and gets brilliantly golden and crusty when oiled and grilled. Allegro Hearth also has a really nice brioche, if you're looking to make decadent stuffing, french toast, bread pudding, or bostock.

    I don't usually tout restaurants, but I've eaten at Dinette three times already. I've tried a few of the pizzas: grilled eggplant with oil-cured olives, escarole with a sunny-up egg, fontina with fingerling potatoes and rosemary, and radicchio with pancetta. The fritto misto was delicious, as were the wines I tried. It's dangerously close by.

    I also had a pleasant lunch with a coworker at Baba D's in Oakland. I particularly love the Fool Madamas and the Sleek. The tahini in the Fool Madamas was sublime.

    I'd love to hear if you've tried an interesting Pittsburgh food product lately!

    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    Rhode Island Chunky Pear Pie

    Chunky Pear Pie

    Chunky Pear Pie

    My coworkers asked how I made this pie, and I said, "it's pretty simple."

    "It's just pears, walnuts and raisins...and some maple syrup. And some orange juice, zest, and cloves. And some tapioca, which I like to grind it in a coffee grinder so it dissolves faster."

    When asked about the crust, I said something like: "I make the crust entirely in the food processor. Except I like to pulse the butter and dry ingredients before I add the shortening because it incorporates faster. Sometimes I add the water and knead the dough by hand, smearing it against the counter...and yes there's an egg wash."

    I forgot to mention that I often roll the dough on a silpat, and i'll pop it in the freezer if it starts sticking. I core my pears with a mellon baller, and I use frozen shortening and toasted nuts (which I prefer to chop with a serrated knife).

    The recipe does look simple on the page, and I think that's a good thing. Too much detail can render a recipe inaccessible. When confronted with a giant text-block, some will assume the recipe is too complicated or time consuming. Thankfully, many cookbooks limit clutter on the page by including seperate sections on techniques and ingredients.

    Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts does a beautiful job of organizing content. It has a good balance of historical and personal anecdotes, techniques, and recipes. It's a really nice multi-purpose baking book that's been extremely reliable so far. I'm really pleased with the variety and consistency of the recipes.

    I loved this pear pie. The filling is low on sugar and chunky, not gloopy.If you aren't keen on the orange/clove flavor combination- I think cinnamon and apple cider could be nice substitutions. This pie is great slightly warm, but it will slice best when fully cooled.

    Rhode Island Chunky Pear Pie
    adapted from Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts

    Pie Dough
    2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    2 tsp sugar
    3/4 tsp salt
    11 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    2 1/2 tbsp cold solid vegetable shortening
    5 tbsp cold water, plus more as needed

    1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, butter, and shortening in a food processor or in a mixing bowl. Pulse the machine (or cut the ingredients together with two knives) until the mixture is crumbly.

    2. Add the water and pulse (or toss with a fork) until the mixture begins to clump together. Gather it into a ball, sprinkling with a few more drops of water, if needed. Divide the dough into two slightly unequal pieces and flatten into discs. Wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

    3. Preheat the oven to 425F, with a rack in the lower third. Roll out the larger piece of dough on a lightly floured surface to a large circle 1/8 inch thick. Fit it into a 9.5 inch pie pan. Trim the edge, leaving a 3/4in overhang. Roll out the remaining dough and transfer it to a foil lined baking sheet (or a silicone mat). Chill the doughs while you prepare the filling.

    Pear Filling
    4 pounds (about 12) ripe pears (preferably Bosc or Anjou)
    2 1/2 tbsp orange liqueur, orange juice, or amaretto
    2 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
    2 tsp grated orange zest
    1/2 tsp ground cloves
    2/3 cup walnut pieces
    1/3 cup golden raisins
    2 tbsp quick cooking tapioca
    2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water, for egg wash

    1. Peel, halve, and core the pears; cut into coarse chunks, letting the pieces fall into a large bowl. You should have about 6 cups (*I had -way- more. I only needed about 8-9 pears). Add the orange juice (or liqueur), maple syrup, orange zest, cloves, walnuts, raisins, and tapioca. Toss gently to combine the ingredients. Place the filling in the pie shell, mounding it in the center. Dot with the butter.

    2. Brush the edges of the pie crust with egg wash. Loosely drape the remaining dough over the filling. Trim off the excess pastry, leaving a 3/4in border. Turn the edges of the top crust under the edges of the bottom crust, leaving a smooth border on the rim of the pie pan. Crimp or flute the border. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash. Make several slashes in the top of the dough.

    3. Place the pie on a baking sheet (*I put the sheet in the oven ahead of time). Bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices begin to bubble up, about 50 minutes.

    4. Cool the pie on a wire rack. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature.

    Pear and Walnut Muffins and Coffee Cake

    I had mixed success with last week's baking.

    Pear Walnut Muffins

    Pear Walnut Muffins

    This recipe for pear and walnut muffins was a hit at work, but i'm not sure i'll make it again. It was more complicated than most quickbread recipes. While whipping cream, separating eggs, and toasting walnuts, I couldn't help thinking that I like muffins to be a quick and not-too-messy project.

    The muffins were rather rich for breakfast, but they'd be nice for tea. The tender white cakes are studded with crunchy walnuts and big chunks of canned pear. Whipped cream, orange zest, and ginger give them a delicate flavor.

    Coffee Cake

    Coffee Cake

    I also tried the cinnamon swirl buttermilk pound cake from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book, which ripped horribly during unmolding (though I greased and floured the pan). It's not the first time i've had trouble unmolding filled coffee cakes. I'm not sure if I need to allow more cooling time or invest in a non-stick pan. It was also well received, but I found the texture tough and the flavor plain.

    This week i'm trying a Rhode Island chunky pear pie and some cookies. I have high hopes for them! I'm hoping I have time to go through some of my Paris photos too. That project has been on the back burner for too long.

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Quiche Lorraine

    Quiche Lorraine

    Quiche Lorraine

    Here's a fairly simple Quiche Lorraine from Tarts: Sweet and Savory. I'd recommend using your favorite basic shortcrust recipe; the one in the book is fine, but it's a little difficult to make by hand. I also returned the book to the library, so I don't have the recipe (sorry!).

    While I enjoyed this, I prefer a thicker quiche. I'd love to be able to emulate the thick, just-cooked spinach and mushroom quiche from Jin Patisserie, or the sage, roasted squash, bacon, and asiago quiche I had a few weeks ago. Sometimes I have trouble getting the crust to cook through without overcooking the filling, and I still haven't found a really consistent crust to use.

    I'm getting plenty of crust rolling and shaping practice from these pies and tarts. I tried the Butternut Squash Pie again last night using a crust recipe from Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax. The crust turned out well, but I undercooked the butternut squash and ended up with a denser, weaker flavored filling than usual. I think i'll get it right next time.

    Quiche Lorraine
    adapted from Maxine Clark's Tarts: Sweet and Savory

    1 blind-baked 9 inch shortcrust
    8 oz bacon, chopped, or cubed prosciutto
    5 large eggs
    3/4 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche
    freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
    1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese, about 2oz
    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Heat a nonstick skillet and saute the bacon or prosciutto until brown and crisp, then drain on paper towels. Sprinkle over the base of the pie crust.

    Put the eggs and cream or creme fraiche into a bowl, beat well, and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Carefully pour the mixture over the bacon and sprinkle with the Gruyere.

    Bake for about 25 minutes until just set, golden brown, and puffy. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Sunday, November 9, 2008

    Pumpkin Muffins x 2

    Pumpkin Muffins

    What autumn would be complete without pumpkin muffins? Certainly not a typical autumn in Pittsburgh, when bakeries, street vendors, workplaces, and Starbuckses are brimming with pumpkin pies, cakes, breads, rolls, scones, and lattes.

    Pumpkin desserts seem tied to thoughts of limited availability. They also seem to incite seasonal compulsion; last week I overheard several people saying they were hopelessly addicted to the glazed pumpkin cookies at Eat Unique. I've also seen people chase a venti pumpkin spice latte with a pumpkin cream cheese muffin.

    I'm not saying this is a bad thing, or that i'm immune. I quite enjoyed Dozen Bakeshop's baked french toast with pumpkin/cream cheese custard today, and I have plans to try some more pumpkin pie recipes. I do wonder how this phenomenon evolved, and whether it significantly impacts food sales.

    As much as I enjoy pumpkin, I haven't found a favorite pumpkin muffin recipe. Before my trip to Paris, I tried two different recipes: one from Belinda Jeffery's Mix and Bake and one from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From my Home to Yours.

    I can't say which I liked better, since they were completely different. Jeffery's recipe (pictured in the front) has a rich, cake-like texture, a strong nutmeg flavor, and a delicious cinnamon sugar and walnut topping. Greenspan's recipe is simpler with a more balanced spice blend, but the resulting muffins reminded me more of biscuits than cakes. They'd be good spread with butter or jam.

    I will print both below and leave you to decide which you prefer. I'm also planning to try the recipe from Sara Foster's Fresh Every Day. I'd love to know if any of you have recipe recommendations.

    Spicy Pumpkin, Pecan, and Maple Muffins
    adapted from Belinda Jeffery's Mix and Bake
    1 cup pumpkin or butternut squash pulp
    1 cup (150g) all purpose flour
    1/2 cup whole wheat flour (80g) (I added extra all purpose)
    1 tsp baking soda
    3/4 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp nutmeg
    1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    120g toasted pecans or walnuts
    120g raisins or dried cranberries
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup (110g) brown sugar
    1/2 cup maple syrup
    1/2 cup light olive oil (I used melted butter)
    1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    1/2 cup buttermilk

    1/4 cup (55g) sugar
    1/4 cup (40g) chopped pecans or walnuts
    1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

    1. Preheat your oven to 200C/350F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin, or line the cups with paper liners.

    2. Combine the flours, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large bowl and whisk them to combine. Add the nuts and raisins and toss them about to coat in the flour mixture. Set aside.

    3. Lightly whisk the eggs in another bowl, then add the remaining ingredients and the cup of mashed pumpkin. Whisk them together until thoroughly mixed.

    4. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the pumpkin mixture. Stir them together until just combined; the mixture will be quite loose and sloppy so let them sit for 1 minute to thicken up. Divide the batter among the muffin holes, filling them to the top.

    5. For the topping, stir all the ingredients together. Sprinkle the topping mixture thickly over each muffin.

    6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins in the tin on a wire rack for a few minutes, then turn them out onto the rack to cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Pumpkin Muffins from Dorie Greenspan

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Cinnamon Buns

    Cinnamon Rolls

    Cinnamon Rolls

    I'm still working on a post about my trip. For now, I thought i'd share some of the baking I did beforehand.

    I'd been meaning to try this recipe for a while, and i'm really pleased I did. Most of the cinnamon bun recipes i've tried yield rich, danish-like pastries as opposed to fluffy, bread-like ones. The relatively low fat content of the dough makes these buns ideal for topping with sugary glaze or creamy frosting.

    I used whole milk, all purpose flour, and lemon extract for the dough. I think bread flour would have been better, and i'm eager to try the buttermilk variation. I encourage you to be very cautious with the lemon extract. The Nielsen-Massey brand is incredibly potent, and I wish i'd cut the amount in half. Most of my friends liked the lemon flavor, but I think I would have preferred vanilla.

    I haven't included the fondant glaze from the original recipe; it was a pretty standard combination of confectioners' sugar, warm milk, and lemon extract. Instead, i've added a cream cheese frosting recipe from another blog. These buns are texturally similar to the ones sold at Dozen Bakeshop in Lawrenceville, so if you're a fan i'd try out the recipe.

    There's nothing quite like biting into a huge, freshly-baked cinnamon roll. I spent a leisurely afternoon proofing, shaping, and baking the dough, and then end product was incredibly satisfying.

    Cinnamon Buns
    From Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
    Makes 8-12 large or 12-16 smaller buns

    6 1/2 tablespoons (3.25 ounces) granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    5 1/2 tablespoons (2.75 ounces) shortening or unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 large egg, slightly beaten
    1 teaspoon lemon extract or zest
    3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) unbleached bread or all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons (.22 ounce) instant yeast
    1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups (9 to 10 ounces) whole milk or buttermilk, room temperature
    1/2 cup (4 ounces) cinnamon sugar (6 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar plus 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

    1. Cream together the sugar, salt, and shortening on medium-high speed in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Whip in the egg and lemon extract until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast, and milk. Mix on low speed until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium, mixing for approximately 10 minutes, or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to cover it with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.

    2. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

    3. Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top of the dough with flour. Roll it into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 even pieces, each about 1 3/4 inches thick for larger buns; or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 1/4 inch thick for smaller buns.

    4. Line 1 or more sheet pans with baking parchment. Place the buns approximately 1/2 inch apart so that they aren’t touching but are close to one another.

    5. Proof at room temperature for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size. You may also retard the shaped buns in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, pulling the pans out of the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before baking to allow the dough to proof.

    6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

    7. Bake the buns for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

    8. Cool the buns in the pan for about 10 minutes and then glaze the tops. Remove the buns from the pans and place them on a cooling rack. Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.

    Cinnamon Bun Glaze
    From Molly Wizenberg, Bon App├ętit, March 2008

    4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    1 cup powdered sugar
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Back from Paris.

    I am back from Paris. New posts are imminent!