Baking Cookbook Review Cookies Recipes

Toasted Buckwheat and Chopped Chocolate Sablés

Toasted Buckwheat and Chopped Chocolate Sablés

I remember the first cookbook I bought – I was a teenager on a summer vacation in Hong Kong. Browsing in a bookstore, I picked up a Chinese pastries cookbook. In fact, I still have that book, sometimes I’d make the steamed buns recipe. That was how my love for cookbooks started, my collection continues multiply, especially in the past few years as I started blogging.

Baking Chez MoiI was very excited to receive a review copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi. As you would have guessed by now, my favourite cookbooks are about baking. Dorie Greenspan has written award-winning cookbooks on baking and French cooking. Baking Chez Moi is her latest book on French baking. It is divided into 5 sections, from simple cakes to frozen desserts. It really covers many great French baking recipes that can be easily done at home. One of the recipes that caught my attention was the Toasted Buckwheat and Chopped Chocolate Sablés. The idea of toasting buckwheat flour is great, as it intensifies its heartiness and adds a nutty flavour to it.


 

Toasted Buckwheat and Chopped Chocolate Sablés

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups (150 grams) buckwheat flour
  • 1-1/2 cups (204 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 sticks (12 tbsp, 170 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) bittersweet, semisweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped

Method

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper of a silicone baking mat.
  2. Spread the buckwheat flour out on the baking sheet, leaving a border of a few inches bare. Toast the flour for 5 minutes, then stir it with a table knife or a heatproof spatula. Continue to toast the flour, stirring every 5 minutes, for another 15-20 minutes. The flour is ready when it is a darker shade of beige and fragrant; it might even smoke around the edges. Let it cool to room temperature. Turn off the oven; you won't need it for a while.
  3. Measure a cup of the cooled buckwheat flour into a medium bowl and add the all-purpose flour; whisk to blend.
  4. Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until it is soft and creamy. Add the sugar and salt and beat for another 2 minutes, or until the mixture is again smooth and creamy. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute more. The mixture may curdle; if it does, beat for another few seconds, and it that doesn't undo the curdling, adding the dry ingredients will. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flours in 2 or 3 additions, mixing until they disappear into the dough. Add the chopped chocolate and pulse the mixer on and off several times to incorporate it. Or, if you'd prefer, use a flexible spatula to stir the chocolate into the dough.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead it gently, just so that it comes together. Divide the dough in half.
  6. Working with half of the dough at a time, put the dough between two sheets of parchment or wax paper and roll until it is 1/4 inch thick. (Check for thickness, not shape.) Slide the dough, still between the papers, onto a cutting board or cookie sheet. Slide the second piece of dough on top of the first and put the dough in the freezer to firm for about 1 hour. Alternatively, you can refrigerate the dough for several hours (or for up to two days).
  7. When you are ready to bake: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  8. I like to use to a 1-3/4 inch round cutter for the cookies, but you can use whatever you like, knowing that your yield and perhaps your baking time will change depending on the size of your cutter. Cut out as many cookies as you can from the first piece of dough and put them on a baking sheet, leaving an inch or so between. Keep the cookies in the fridge or in a cook spot while you cut cookies from the second piece of dough. Combine the scraps, put them between two sheets of parchment or wax paper and roll out until it is 1/4 inch thick; chill before cutting and baking.
  9. Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the cookies rest on the sheets for a few minutes, then transfer them to rack to cool to room temperature.

Notes

Recipe excerpted from Baking Chez Moi, Dorie Greenspan, 2014, Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

http://yummyworkshop.com/2015/05/15/toasted-buckwheat-and-chopped-chocolate-sables/

Toasted Buckwheat and Chopped Chocolate Sablés

This hearty sablé is great with coffee or tea. I used a 80% cocoa dark chocolate, it has a smokey flavour, which works well with the toasted buckwheat. Good ideas for this recipes as suggested in the book: toasted flour sablés and toasted flour or buckwheat sablé sandwich cookies. The Bonne Idée section of some of the recipes is my favourite of the cookbook, it provides the different variations of the recipes you can make, or make another dessert out of the same recipe. The storage information on each recipe is also very helpful because always freeze my cookie doughs so I can bake them fresh whenever I want some freshly baked cookies. Next time, I might try using a different flour in place of the buckwheat for my own little experiment.

Baking Cake Dessert Recipes

Strawberry Basil Cake with Vanilla Cream

Strawberry Basil Cake

Cakes are so celebratory, which is the perfect reason to make one to celebrate mother’s day. This cake is actually a shout-out to one of my first popular posts back in 2011, the Strawberry Shortcake: my version. It was a cake inspired by the popular Japanese style strawberry shortcake. Back in 2011, blogging was a means of just sharing what I made. I have been trying to find my voice as a blogger and baker since. Here I am, having become a full-time baker, my perspective on baking has different levels of meanings. My mother has always been more than supportive of my baking endeavours ever since I was young. She has never complained that there’s flour everywhere or how I constantly occupy the kitchen, baking away. She is the best. Anyway, I am sharing with you my twist on the strawberry shortcake that I made four years ago. Continuing my experiment in adding herbs to sweets, I chose to add basil to this dessert. Basil and strawberry just complement each other so exceptionally. Since we are celebrating mother’s day, how can we skip the flowers? Edible flowers are a great addition to any dessert, making them look so beautiful and elegant.

Strawberry Basil Cake with Vanilla Cream

Ingredients

    Basil Sponge Cake
  • 4 egg, separated
  • 100 g / 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 95 g / 3/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted
  • 50 g / basil olive oil* see instructions below
  • 60 g / 1/4 cup water
  • 1 - 2 drops green food colouring - optional
  • *blend 15 g of basil with 65 g of extra-virgin olive oil, strain. Top with more oil if strained oil does not measure 50g / 1/4 cup.
  • Jellied Whipped Vanilla Cream
  • 250 g / 1 cup whipping cream
  • 25 g / 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • vanilla seeds scraped from 1/2 of a bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 gelatin sheet or 1 tsp powdered gelatin
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Assembly
  • 500 g / 1 lb fresh strawberries
  • fresh basil
  • fresh or sugared edible flowers, if you wish

Method

    Basil Sponge Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C. Line the bottom of a half sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment, set aside.
  2. In a mixer bowl or mixing bowl, whip egg whites until it reaches soft peaks, add egg yolks, whip until it is well incorporated. Add in sugar and whip on medium speed until it is light and pale.
  3. Fold in sifted flour lightly with a spatula just until flour is distributed. Lastly fold in basil oil, water, and food colour if using.
  4. Pour onto prepared pan, bake for about 10-12 minutes. Bake until it is just cooked, it does not need to colour much because we want it to stay moist. Cool until ready to use. Cut into two 7 inch rounds.
  5. Jellied Whipped Vanilla Cream
  6. Soak gelatin sheet in cold water until softened. Gently squeeze out water, heat with 2 tbsp of fresh water in a small pan. If using powdered gelatin, soak it with 2 tbsp cold water in a small pan for 2 minutes, heat until dissolved. Cool for 10 minutes before folding into cream.
  7. Whip cream, sugar, and vanilla until it reaches soft peaks. Add in gelatin and continue to whip just until it is incorporated.
  8. Assembly
  9. In a 7 inch cake ring, line the inside with 3 inch high acetate, or a strip of parchment.
  10. Place the first slice of cake. Line sides with strawberries sliced in halves, with the cut side touching the acetate or parchment. Reserve about 1/2 of cream for the top. Spread a thin layer of cream on the inside and place some diced strawberries. Fill with the rest of the cream, be sure to get in the gaps between the strawberries.
  11. Place the remaining cake on top, smooth off with a offset spatula. Set in the fridge for about 2 hours.
  12. Unmould the cake, remove the acetate or parchment. Decorate the top with more strawberries, fresh basil, and edible flowers, if using.
http://yummyworkshop.com/2015/05/06/strawberry-basil-cake-with-vanilla-cream/

Strawberry Basil Cake

I love how the the cut sides of the fresh strawberries are shown around the cake, it is simple to make yet makes a very attractive presentation. (This is also the signature look for a classic fraisier, a French fresh strawberry cake with Bavarian cream.) The green creates a nice contrast to the red, as the basil flavour complements the strawberries.  This cake is not very sweet nor heavy, which I know my mom would love. The basil flavour makes it very refreshing and light.

Strawberry Basil Cake

Saluting to all the amazing moms and moms-to-be, thank you.

Baking Bread Recipes

Vanilla Orange Rhubarb Brioche Loaf

Orange Vanilla Rhubarb Brioche

I fell deeply in love with brioche ever since I made those brioche hot cross buns earlier this month. I’ve been using the same recipe to make loaves for breakfast, and I’d eat three slices in one sitting. Working at a French bakery made me mentally immune to the word “butter”, but I think my growing belly says otherwise. While my co-worker is getting all hyped up about the rhubarb season, I suddenly thought of adding tart-tasting rhubarb to a rich, buttery brioche. What a great idea. What else goes well with the mighty rhubarb of spring? Orange and vanilla, of course. And the vanilla orange rhubarb loaf is born. I decided to fold in a rhubarb compote into the brioche dough and make it into a nice twisted shape, it’s so easy and pretty! There isn’t a lot of compote in the loaf, as I wanted the loaf to stay intact and slice nicely after baking while holding its beautiful shape.

Vanilla Orange Rhubarb Brioche Loaf

Serving Size: One 4.5" X 8.5" loaf / 25 cm X 10.5 cm loaf.

Ingredients

    Rhubarb Compote
  • 125g rhubarb (about 4 thin stalks), chopped
  • 100g / 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 30g / 2 tbsp orange juice
  • half of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
  • Brioche Dough
  • 250g / 1-1/2 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 15g / 1 tbsp milk
  • 4.5g / 1-1/8 tsp instant yeast
  • 6 g / 1 tsp salt
  • 30g / 2-1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 150g eggs (about 3 large)
  • 150g / 2/3 cup unsalted butter
  • Finishing
  • egg wash
  • raw sugar or granulated sugar

Method

    Compote
  1. Place all ingredients except the orange blossom water into a small pot, cook on medium heat until rhubarb pieces break down into a compote, about 5-10 minutes. Lastly, stir in orange blossom water if using and let cool, place in refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Brioche
  3. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixer bowl.
  4. Whisk together eggs and milk in a small bowl, and add to the dry ingredients.
  5. Start the mixer on low speed with a dough hook to mix the dough until it comes away from the side of the bowl, about 2 - 3 minutes.
  6. Add in butter by the tablespoon, mixing a little after each addition until all the butter has been incorporated.
  7. Cover the mixing bowl and let the dough rise until it doubles in size, punch down, cover and place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. *It is important to work with the dough while it is cold otherwise it will be too soft and difficult to shape.
  8. Prepare a 4.5" X 8.5" / 25 cm X 10.5 cm loaf pan, brush the insides with butter, lined with a piece of parchment paper. Butter the paper with more butter, it will brown the sides nicely. *The parchment paper will prevent the compote from sticking to the pan.
  9. Roll out dough into a rectangle, about 9" X 5", spread the rhubarb compote evenly onto the dough, avoiding 0.25"around the sides. Roll up from the longer edge, pinch the ends seal in the compote.
  10. Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled dough in half lengthwise. Carefully twist the two strips, and shape into a log. Lift up and place into the lined pan.
  11. Proof the dough for about 2 - 2.5 hours, until it reaches the rim of the pan. When almost ready, preheat oven to 350 F.
  12. Lightly egg wash the top of the loaf, sprinkle with raw sugar or granulated sugar. Place the loaf pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 - 35 minutes. It is done when the top is a rich golden brown, and the internal temperature is 200 F.
  13. *A note on baking: since the compote is exposed on the top, it will darken in the oven faster. If you find that it is browning too fast, cover loosely with foil and continue baking until the center is fully cooked. That way, the loaf will cook thoroughly without a burnt top.
http://yummyworkshop.com/2015/04/30/vanilla-orange-rhubarb-brioche-loaf/

I’ve made the same recipe by replacing the rhubarb with a homemade jam and it was equally delicious. It is like lazy jam toast where the jam is folded in already. I love how easy it is to make but looks impressive at the same time. It makes a great bread for a weekend brunch. You can shape it the day before, place the pan in the fridge. On the next day when you are ready to proof it, take it out, proof for 2 – 3 hours and bake. Deliciously buttery and jammy brioche is served.

Fun fact: As we all know, Marie Antoinette once said, “Let them eat cake.” However, the infamous line was more like, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche,” which means, “Let them eat brioche.”

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