Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rustic Plum Galette

Tart is really my favourite type of dessert, because it can be paired with any fruits that are in season.  Although it's mid-October and it's already getting chilly, I can still get various types of plums and peaches in Toronto.  If you don't like plums or peaches, you can use figs, berries, apples or any fruits you can think of!  This is so delicious, I don't mind having it for breakfast.  

Flaky Pie Pastry
(Recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma, "Essentials of Baking"):
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
3 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar 
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons ice water

- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Mix on low speed until blended.
- Add the butter and shortening, and then continue mixing on low speed just until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs.
- Add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix on low speed just until the mixture begins to hold together.  
- Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape the dough into a 6-inch disk. 
- Wrap the disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled.  

6 firm plums, halved, pitted, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
sugar for sprinkling
1 tablespoon apple jelly or peach jam and a tablespoon water for glaze

Preheat over to 350F.  On a lightly-floured surface, roll out dough to 12 x 16 inch rectangle, 1/8 inch thick.  Transfer dough to a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.  Arrange plums on top.  Fold and pleat edge of dough over plums.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Bake until crust is golden, about 60 minutes.  Glaze and allow to cool before slicing.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

French Apple Tart

I baked this French Apple Tart for the Thanksgiving dinner.  This simple and elegant tart is really easy to make.  I could have cheated by using store-bought apple sauce as filling, but I decided to try the home-made version because I like having chunks of apple in the apple sauce.  The store-bought ones are usually too runny.  Anyway, this is a great and healthy dessert.  Please note that I only used 1 tablespoon of sugar for the filling and it's already quite sweet.  The tart is usually served at room temperature but I think it's best to serve warm.  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Black Sesame Macarons

I was casually chatting with F yesterday and this time I really listened and learned that he genuinely likes macarons.  I remember that he did tell me before, but I didn't think too much of it because I am not too crazy about making and consuming this dessert.  It's just too difficult to make them and they are way too sweet for my taste.  F went on to ask me all these technical questions about the process of making macarons and all... like I could answer any of them.  He seemed really interested.  I felt guilty and decided to try to make some.  

Must have been my lucky day, these macarons turned out ok.  I have tried several recipes, with aged and non-aged egg whites, leave the oven door ajar or not... it does not matter.  To me, it's simply pure luck.  After all, baking, to me, is  for fun.  Let's not get too serious about it.  

As for the filling, I have a jar of blood orange spread I hardly ever used.  It's quite interesting to put black sesame and blood orange together. I found the taste very mild and refreshing. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brioche Rolls

I love bread.  I love the aroma of freshly baked bread in the kitchen.  There is nothing more satisfying than baking your own bread for the family.  Today, I did just that.  

I cannot be certain if brioche is considered bread or pastry.  I would say it's pastry because of the high egg and butter content.  I like its light and fluffy texture and the slightly flaky crust.  

Since I don't have any individual brioche molds, I simply divided the dough in 12 equal portions in a muffin pan.  It worked just as good.  

Recipe adapted from Essentials of Baking, William-Sonoma:


2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
4 large eggs, plus 1 egg, beaten, for glaze
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

- In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy.
- Beat in 4 eggs and the sugar with a wire whisk.
- Add the flour and salt.
- Place the bowl on the mixer, attach the dough hook, and knead on low speed until smooth and elastic.
- The dough will be thick and sticky.  Periodically stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the dough hook with a plastic pastry scraper.
- Add the butter and continue kneading until it is completely incorporated.
- Scrape the dough into a clean, buttered bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 6 hours or for up to overnight.
- Divide the dough into 12 portions and place the dough in a muffin pan.  Cover the pan loosely with a dry kitchen towel and let them rise in a warm, draft-free spot until they almost fill the pans, 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
- Lightly brush the breads with the beaten egg.
- Bake until golden brown, for approximately 15 minutes.  
- Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and serve.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

More Snow-Skin Mooncakes with Custard Filling

These are the same mooncakes from yesterday but I used a different mold.  Still pretty!  

Flaky Mooncakes with Custard Filling (酥皮奶黃)

More mooncakes!

Pardon me for not posting the recipe here because I am not entirely happy with it.  The crust is supposed to be flaky, mine turned out to be somewhat like cookie, a tough one too.  It's possible that I worked the dough too much but then when I mixed the ingredients, the texture just didn't look or feel right.  Luckily, after a day, the crust softens and it tastes much better than they were just out of the oven yesterday.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Snow-skin" Mooncakes with Custard Filling

I'm still here!

Some of my friends wondered why I have not been baking.  I have, just not as much as I used to.  It's mainly because, well, I have been lazy since I came back from Hawaii.  The trip was great and everything... but I saw a very fat Jennifer in every pics taken there.  It's time that I really lose some weight and I decided to stop baking for the time being.

And of course, I cheated... because this recipe does not require baking.  

Mid-Autumn Festival is fast approaching but I have never been crazy about mooncakes.  Traditional mooncakes usually have lotus seed paste as filling, which I found too sweet and oily.  In recent years, people have come up with interesting ways to make mooncakes.  "Snow-skin" mooncakes (冰皮月餅) have quickly become one of the most popular among the younger generation.  There are many variation when it comes to the filling of the snow-skin mooncakes.  I picked custard because it is simply my all-time favourite.  

Here are some research I have done and it proves most helpful in the process of making these adorable mooncakes (unfortunately they are all in Chinese):

I am very happy with the result.  The mooncakes are not too sweet (quite low in fat and sugar) and I love the chewiness of the snow-skin.  They look so pretty!