Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lemon-Raspberry Jam Sandwiches

These cookies only seemed easy. I didn't realize what I was getting myself into...

The dough in this recipe uses almond flour, which consists of ground blanched almonds and is quite expensive. After it's mixed, the recipe calls for it to be chilled for half an hour, rolled out between pieces of parchment, then frozen for 10 minutes.

That's where the problems started. Trying to cut and transfer the cookies onto a baking sheet proved to be a nightmare. I had to keep freezing and refreezing the dough, which refused to peel off the sheets of parchment. By sheer determination, I managed to get all of the dough onto the cookie sheets.

The final cookie was quite good.  I paired them with some reverse chocolate chip cookies.  (Here's the link for chocolate cookies.) Next time I try these, though, I may have to make the dough thicker and freeze it longer...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Two New Cooking Classes for Summer!

This week I'd like to announce I'll be doing two classes at Whole Foods this summer, one in July, the other in August.  They're repeats of two really fun classes I did there earlier.

The first, The Art of the Sandwich Cookie, teaches how to make a variety of sandwich cookies, chocolate with cream filling, lemon with lemon cream filling, peanut butter with peanut butter filling, and oatmeal "scotchies" with vanilla ice cream filling.  It's on Thursday evening, July 21, from 6 to 9.  Sign up here.

The second, Out of the Box, teaches how to make your favorite boxed treats like Pop-Tarts and Milano Cookies at home using all natural ingredients.  No chemicals allowed!  It will be held on Tuesday evening, August 23 from 6 to 9.  Sign up here.

Both classes are not only fun but also teach a variety of techniques you can use to make a whole host of other desserts.  Sign up fast, as these classes tend to sell out!

You can see some pictures of previous classes and read about them by clicking here, on Sandwich and Out of the Box.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lemon Chiffon Cake

Lemon Chiffon Cake

When I saw the picture of this cake featured in the Williams-Sonoma cookbook The Essentials of Baking, I imagined something luscious and buttery, dense and tangy.

In reality, this is an extremely light cake, almost like an angel food cake with hints of lemon in it. I added some whipped cream and a strawberry coulis to dress it up. It would be perfect for tea or a summer afternoon outdoor party as a light dessert.

Lemon Chiffon Cake
(adapted from Williams-Sonoma Baking)

4 lemons
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup water
6 large eggs, separated, room temp
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Citrus glaze:
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tbsp lemon juice (plus extra if needed)
1 tbsp heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325.  Grate zest from lemons and set aside.  Juice the lemons and strain until you have 1/2 cup of juice.  

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  In a large bowl, whisk together oil, water, egg yolks, lemon juice, and lemon zest until fully combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients until batter is smooth.

In a stand mixer, combine egg whites and cream of tartar, then whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.

Gently fold half the white into the batter until almost fully incorporated.  Add remaining whites and gentle fold until just combined.  Pour batter evenly into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom.

Bake the cake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and invert the pan so air can circulate around the cake.  Cool completely inside the pan upside down, about 45 minutes.

Loosen the cake from the sides, then use the center tube to pull cake out of the pan.  Then remove the pan bottom from the cake.

To make the citrus glaze, whisk together all ingredients until glaze is smooth.  Add more liquid if it's too thick or more powdered sugar if it's too thin.  Place the cake on a rack and put some parchment paper underneath to catch the glaze.  Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drizzle down the sides.  

Serve with whipped cream and strawberry coulis (pureed strawberries with a bit of lemon juice and sugar to taste).  

Friday, June 3, 2011


photo by Anthony Palatta

What do you expect from a cinnamon bun? A sticky, gooey, pecan mess?  A soft, mushy dough doused in royal icing or a sweet cream cheese frosting?

I went for something in between with this recipe, from good old Martha's Baking Handbook.  I started with a danish dough, then rolled it out, filled it with cinnamon and sour cream, and then cut it into rounds, which I baked off.  Sounds simple, but trust me, it's not.

Another time, I used the same dough, added crushed pecans, and then placed the cinnamon rounds into a goo of light corn syrup, brown sugar, and more chopped pecans.  Voila--sticky bun heaven.

However, neither of these alternatives, delicious as they may be, come close to my version of cinnamon bun heaven:  the gooey Cinnabon, of mall food court fame.  Yes, I admit it.

So, does anyone have their recipe?

Danish Dough
(from the M. S. Baking Handbook)

1 cup warm milk
2 envelopes (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar (for the yeast)

1 lb 4 oz (about 4 1/2 cups) flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp, cut into tablespoons
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk

In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm milk, add sugar, then stir until dissolved.  Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.  In the bowl of an electric mixer with dough hook, combine flour, sugar, salt, cardamom, and 4 tbsp butter.  Beat on low speed until butter is incorporated and mixture resembles coarse meal, 3 to 4 minutes.  Pour in yeast-milk mixture.  Mix until dough just comes together.  Add eggs and yolk.  Mix until just combined, 2 to 3 minutes.  Do not overmix.

Turn out dough onto lightly floured work surface and knead gently to form a smooth ball, about 30 seconds.  Wrap well with plastic and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 18 by 10 inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.  Keep corners as square as possible.  With short side facing you, evenly distribute remaining butter over 2/3 of the dough.  Fold unbuttered third over like a business letter, followed by remaining third to seal in the butter.

Roll out dough again to an 18 x 10 inch rectangle, then fold dough in thirds again as above.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.  This is the first of 3 turn.  Repeat rolling and folding two more times, refrigerating for an hour between turns.

Refrigerate dough tightly wrapped in plastic for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Dough can be frozen, tightly wrapped in plastic, for up to 2 weeks.  Before using, thaw in fridge overnight.

Use 1/2 the dough above plus:
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp cinnamon
plus flour for dusting

Let dough stand at room temp until slightly softened, about 15 minutes.  On lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 18 x 14 inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.  Spread sour cream over surface of dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Dust sour cream with cinnamon and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Roll up dough tightly lengthwise to form a log about 3 inches in diameter and trim ends using a serrated knife.  Transfer log to baking sheet.  Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350.

Using a sharp knife and a sawing motion, slice dough crosswise into 12 rounds, about 1 1/2 inches thick and place in two 6 cup jumbo muffin pans.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until 1/2 inch above the cups, about 25 minutes.  Transfer to oven and bake until buns are dark golden brown, about 35 minutes.

Sticky Bun Variation:

Fill muffin pan cups with 3 tbsp light corn syrup (total 2 1/4 cups corn syrup) and then sprinkle syrup with 1 tbsp brown sugar (total 3/4 cup dark brown sugar).

Chop 2 cups pecans and break 1 1/3 cups in half lengthwise (total 3 1/3 cups pecan halves).  Add chopped pecans to the cinnamon and sprinkle over sour cream in step above.  Add halved pecans to muffin cups with corn syrup and brown sugar.

Slice cinnamon buns and place into muffin cups with corn syrup on bottom.  Continue as directed above.  Bake slightly longer, about 40 minutes and as soon as they're done, immediately turn out buns onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.