p2: French Sea Salt Caramels

The Sweet

4293852900_16753e7c6f_oSo my recent job, if I haven’t already mentioned, has kept my schedule notably busier and with less time to devote towards planning and developing the many recipes on my list. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying to do them all, of course, it just may take much longer than I thought… though luckily it should clear up a bit more in a few months. Every now and then I get a chance to go after something small, or something cool that fits a little request… more often than not, it’s been the desserts lately. What can I say, guess I like baking and such. For this past weekend, I took about an hour to make a little bite that Buzzfeed paired with Cheese Souffle: Salted Caramel pieces.

Did you know there’s an actual REASON that Salted Caramel hasn’t been used and popular until our recent 20th century? And no it’s not just because ‘modern chefs are more creative.’ In 1343, a large salt tax was put in place by King Philip VI, making it a luxury that only rich could afford. Thus even simple salted butter couldn’t be used by the masses until Brittany unified with the Kingdom of France. Even then, the ‘staple’ salt, Guerende Sea Salt, was a rather difficult ingredient to obtain [and I’ll admit, I myself just used a simple sea salt that’s in our pantry. We’ve got so many salts as it is, no reason to buy another one]. Thus the overall USE and distinction of it historically as far as pastries are concerned, a craft which focuses a lot on transforming very INexpensive ingredients, would logically take a much longer time to be realized.

In fact, that time came in the later 20th century, with Henri Le Roux, son of one of France’s most legendary pastry chefs. With his continued Swiss educated, he became France’s best chocolatier and caramel maker, ‘inventing’ the little confection midway through the 1900’s. Though it snuck in rather low on our radar, in 1980 salted butter caramel was voted the best candy in France. And now… well, now it’s the over-used dessert addition/focus that some people still use and rave over as if it was 5-8 years ago when the fad seemed to kick in.

That’s not to say it isn’t still delicious; there IS a reason it’s been so popular.

Chef’s Overdramatic Self-Centered Lecture Corner

It is often read with this particular recipe, or really ANY French recipe with such simple components as such, should really be made with the BEST of each ingredient in order for it to come out in that perfect form of buttery-salty-caramel chew. Of course, my idea on making this was rather last minute and I didn’t exactly grab everything that fit that bill. Which I actually don’t mind, since it was my first time attempting the caramel recipe and I don’t want to ruin any awesome ingredients with a minor screwup that masks everything.

20160116_225956That said, I DID have a little bit of leftover Organic Can Sugar that I mixed with my regular sugar, we’ve had plenty fantastic Scottish Butter sitting in our freezer for months now, so I used some of each to help level it up decently.

There’s a rather decent technique I’ve found about for this, one which makes a lot of sense. Let me start off by saying that caramel really IS quite simple; you cook the sugar until it turns color, not too much, and then add in your cream and butter. That said, one usually has to be careful adding in the cream, since he shock in temperature can make the hot liquid sugar seize up and turn solid too fast. It’s fixable, just got to slowly bring it back to temperature, but not condusive and a pain. So, as other recipes have done, one just heats up the cream on the side to a simmer, leave it warm, and add it in like so. This is also a great way to dissolve most of the salt to the mix into the caramel.

Of a quick final note, it’s very important to prepare your pan to pour the caramel in afterwards. Parchment paper works perfectly, though I’ve seen a recipe with aluminum foil too; the main key to it, however, is getting a thin layer of Vegetable Oil brushed along the bottom and sides to ENSURE that no sticking happens. Which is a pain, since with the paper already there it tends to pool. And don’t try to play with different oils unless they’re even MORE neutral in flavor; otherwise you’re getting an olive oil-flavored caramel [which actually doesn’t sound too bad if done right, but not the goal here]. I bring it up mainly since coating the knife or other cutting/handling tools for the finished candy is a great way to keep it clean and easy handling. May just want to pat with some paper towels afterwards to soak up any excess.

Salted Butter Caramels
1¾ cup Sugar
Vegetable Oil
1/3 cup Cream
¾ + tsp Sea Salt
5½ tsp Butter, cubed
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Directions

  1. Place Sugar in sauce pan, moving over medium heat, stirring very often and NOT leaving the kitchen20160116_230959
  2. While this is initially heating up, quick mix the Cream and ½ tsp of Sea Salt in another pan over low heat, bringing to a simmer before removing. Keep warm20160116_230106
  3. Also, line a square baking pan with parchment paper, lightly brushing the bottom and sides with Vegetable Oil20160116_230528
  4. Stir more often as the sugar melts, making sure not to let it sit too long and burn while others are still crystallized20160116_231132
  5. When most of it’s melted, stick in a candy thermometer, continuing to stir and cook until the sugar reaches 180C [supposedly 356F]20160116_231334
  6. Briefly remove from heat and slowly, carefully add the warm cream mixture, stirring in until fully incorporated20160116_231626
  7. Return to heat until sugar has come back up to 140C [284-ish F]20160116_231944
  8. Remove from heat again, adding in Butter and Vanilla, mixing quickly until it’s thoroughly incorporated and smooth20160116_232220
  9. Pour the caramel into the parchment-lined baking pan, sprinkle the remaining sea salt over the top20160116_232530
  10. Leave to cool for about an hour or more
  11. Upturn onto the cutting board, taking a knife to cut into the desired piece sizes. If still rather sticky, coat the knife blade with some of the vegetable oil every now and then20160116_235716
  12. Transfer to bags, wrap in wax paper if needed/desired, and enjoy20160117_000330

My Thoughts

Of course it didn’t come out as I wanted. I could see even before it was fully cooled that this caramel would be much firmer than what should have been achieved; instead of that soft, stretchy, tender little chew, I got a hard and crunchy-chewy toffee-like creation. Not that I mind in general, it’s still quite delicious to suck on; creamy-buttery richness with that almost-burnt sugar mixed in. Perhaps not in a perfect blend, again not ALL the ingredients were of anything more than average/cheap quality, but it succeeded where needed. Well, it needed more salt, could only taste it IF sucking vs chewing, and then only in the fir half minute. I’m debating if it’s just the result of not using a classic big-grained French sea salt, which may have more compact flavor too, or if the recipe needed more… I blame the recipe.

As for why the sweets didn’t turn out as desired in consistency, I have two main theories. Either I may have cooked the sugar a bit hotter than called for at one or two periods, very possible though I’m pretty sure it didn’t get THAT much higher than the recipe called for, or the recipe really needs to have notably more butter and cream added into it. My money is on a combination of the two.

Possible Pairings

cremant-de-bourgogne-4278-1-2Not the kind of recipe that usually comes with a whole glass of alcohol to ‘pair’ with, but assuming one DOES want to imbibe while chewing on a [properly] soft and salty-creamy piece of cooked sugar heaven, I could think of a few tasty options.

The first thing that comes to mind is Bubbly; just a simple glass of that delightful drink that never really needs to be fully figured out as to why it tastes good with anything. Since there’s no real confining aspect to the candy that requires distinct characteristics in its partnered drink to balance out, besides the sweetness itself [the saltiness is already being handled by its own sugar content], we can revel in the option of that most celebratory of wines. A Champagne or nice Cremant de Loire/Bourgogne/Alsace wouldn’t be out of the question. The beautiful complexities of a good bottle can be easily featured under the simple candy, any toasty/buttery notes compliment the buttery/creamy aspect of the caramel, they’re even paired often with local seafood dishes so it works with the salt aspect on a secondary level. The one thing I WOULD make sure to try and do, if possible, is to get a Demi-Sec [the sweeter styles of French bubbly], just to make sure the balance is right.

B9315771956Z.1_20150107133802_000_GIS9K0B6R.1-0Many a sweet, fortified, and aged wine will shine here, much like the delectable muscat-based creations from the south of France. Though in this category I can’t think of anything better than a properly thick, brown, caramelly ‘Sticky’ from Australia. Or, as they’re technically known as, Tawnies, influenced by aged ports and one of the best things to ever come out of the country in my opinion.

Of final note, any Aged Spirit would also be on my list, a-la Whiskey. The vanilla and caramel flavors picked up from the toasted oak will compliment these flavors greatly, and high-alcohol actually helps pair with various difficult food concerns. Very ‘heavy’ meals, fatty, acidic, but especially SWEET things can be cut or balanced next to a good spirit. If I had to pick one thing, though, I’d definitely have to go for a GOOD quality, special Rum. Aged well and from a proper estate, they’re flavors are amazing and encapsulate the epitome of ‘sugar’ complexities. They even make some in the French Martinique. Just saying.

p2: Navettes des Marseilles

The Sweet

Due to flavor requirements from a certain Tropezienne cream-filled Tarte, I am now stuck with almost a full vial of Orange Flower Water with nothing to use it on. Lucky me, however, I recall yet another recipe in my lineup that calls for this not-so-oft-used ingredient. Luckier still, this past Thanksgiving had me as the person to bring over desserts; and with the host not actually like pumpkin pie or other very sweet items so much, a secondary confection was called for. And these guys just happen to look like little French footballs!!

navette064

For those in the know, I’m of course discussing Navettes des Marseilles; also known as ‘Navettes de Saint-Victor,’ ‘Navette a la fleur d’oranger,’ or simply ‘Navette’ cookies. These little spritz/sugar cookie/shortbread-like treats come equipped with a pow of distinct floral flavor from the orange flower water, though they can be easily flavored via other means depending on region and personal preference. Their unique oval and middle-indented shape belies their name, which roughly translate can come to mean ‘boat’ or ‘transport.’ This to supposedly celebrate the arrival on Saint Lazarus, Saint Mary Magdalene, and Saint Martha by boat in the Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer over 2,000 years ago. Though the Catholic roots of this sweet have ALSO claimed that it was created as a ‘souvenir’ of sorts for wooden statue of ‘Our Lady of the New Fire’ that washed ashore of Lacydon in the 1200’s.

Nowadays various bakeries have become quite cult famous in their areas for their proficiency at putting this little treat together… which feels like it won’t bode to well for my attempt, but we’ll see how it goes!

Chef’s Overdramatic Self-Centered Lecture Corner

I’m not really sure I have anything to discuss here, though a fair warning as you read through the recipe: I didn’t state it, but I added thyme to this recipe, which can sort of be seen in some of the later pictures. Obviously this has NOTHING to do with the classic cookie, but I wanted to do a flavor twist for the people I was serving this to. Plus it was for a Thanksgiving dessert, had to get something besides just orange in there.

Oh you know what, there IS one thing. I’ve noticed a lot of recipes, after or before shaping the dough, have you ‘rest it’ for 2 hours on the counter before baking. I have NO idea what this is for. If there was yeast or notable leavening ingredients in, or if it was simply pie dough, it’d make sense… here just don’t know. Perhaps it wants to rest any potential firmness of the dough right after being worked by hand so much, but I don’t see why it needs that long. I’ll do it anyways just to see if there’s anything I can divine.

Navettes des Marseilles
200g Sugar
3oz/6 Tb Butter
2 Eggs
1 Tb Orange Flower Water
1 Tb Kosher Salt
500g Flour
Milk

Directions

  1. Cream Butter and Sugar until fluffy20151123_202606
  2. Add in Eggs, one at a time, Orange Flower Water, and Salt, blending until fully incorporated into creamy batter20151123_202858
  3. Slow mix in Flour in thirds, waiting until mostly incorporated before adding more, and blend into a dough20151123_203755
  4. Divide dough into 24 even pieces via cutting in half, each half in quarters, and splitting each of those into 320151123_204655
  5. Shape pieces into flat, pointed ovals: one popular technique is to roll into a cylinder, press flat, slightly shaping into good starting form as you do, and pinching each end. Will likely need further manipulation20151123_205406
  6. Press a slit down the middle with back of knife, spatula, etc, arrange on baking sheets and leave to ‘rest’ for 2 hours at room temp20151123_213232
  7. Heat oven to 350-375 degrees [it’s not really consistant]
  8. When ready, brush tops with thin layer of Milk to coat20151123_224536
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes minimum, until firmed up and, ideally, it’s developed a light golden color around sides
  10. Remove, let cool, and enjoy20151123_234502

My Thoughts

In the vein of these being a French, orange flower water-flavored sugar cookie, this recipe worked out brilliantly! I may have overcooked probably half of them, but the flavor of the orange flower water came through nicely through a nice spritz-like cookie base flavor and texture. In the vein of what I WANTED to make… I chose the wrong recipe. From the pictures I saw, in creation and final product, I expected to see these cookies rise a bit, create that proper slit-bread-like-rift on the top, with a thicker form and softer, ender texture. Mine just came out firm, like an Italian biscuit cookie… though I did read a description that these ARE at times considered in the same context for texture, makes me feel a bit better. That said, I’ve encountered a few recipes that, among the proportions I’ve used, also add in Baking Powder and up to ½ cup of Water. Figured this would have greatly helped achieve the outcome I was looking for, but made the decision to avoid the baking powder since it didn’t seem like something that would have ORIGINALLY been used; debated the water, but the texture of the dough seemed perfect for me, as many a page mentioned ‘sticky look/feel but not actually sticky.’ So I know what I’ll be adding in next time when I want to make the other outcome.

20151123_234509Though there’s also the chance that I could have heavily improved my odds, perhaps even fixed the issue altogether, by leaving the cookies thick, perhaps even shaping them as big as I originally wanted with the slit. Thus by the time it was ‘fully cooked’ and had a bit of browning on the very edge/bottom, the more voluminous insides would remain soft and tender as opposed to getting so firm.

I swear it feels as if the purpose of this blog has switched from celebrating awesome recipes to simply providing perfect examples of what NOT to do.

Possible Pairings

Though many alcoholic accompaniments may taste good alongside these, truly there are a few exceptional options one should attempt to actually find.

First and foremost, ‘Orange Muscat/Moscato.’ Unlike how its name suggests, it is not moscato flavored with oranges; it is actually a specific variety/member of the grape’s extended ‘family.’ That said, it almost always carries an exceptional and deep flavor of the citrus fruit along with all other similar aspects. There are some lighter, classically fizzy versions, but here we want the dense and flat proper dessert wine versions. These will be reminiscent of what one will find in the dessert wines of the Italian Islands and French Mediterranean.  Not to mention perfect for dipping these little buggers.

cantucci-vin-santoSpeaking of dipping, ‘Vin Santo,’ an Italian dessert wine made by drying the grapes to concentrate their sugars and sweet flavors, is traditionally paired alongside biscotti for that exact purpose. And the flavor is amazing and deep. Perfect for these.

Finally, a simple glass of Grand Marnier with ice, or perhaps a similar Orange Liqueur-based cocktail, ideally with brandy. One could still dip for the more viscous drinks, or simply enjoy the matching flavors, letting the more complex notes of any of these options shine while the connected floral orange flavors of both cookie and drink tie them down to earth.

p2: French Yogurt Cake

The Sweet

French-Grandmothers-Lemon-Yogurt-Cake-5I do love when a recipe ends up convening with an appropriate get-together, and with a day of hangout following my cousin’s birthday it only made sense to tackle one of the many cakes on my list. To make things even more perfect, one of the more simple ones I’ve been meaning to make comes out like the classic birthday-favorite white cake, but of course with a little twist and some added flavor. French Yogurt Cake takes a simple sweet batter and mixes in that classic Mediterranean ingredient for added moisture, texture, and a little bit of tang in the cake itself; definitely helps with leavening too when combined with baking powder.

There’s little history to find on this, but what is known is rather interesting; not because of anything that ties into world events, local sourcing requirements, economics, fun accidents or whatever, but due to the homey simplicity. For one thing, the actual French name of the cake is ‘Gateau de Mamie,’ or ‘Grandmother’s Cake.’ This is due to the long habit, truthfully I don’t know how far back it goes, of this recipe being made by old French Grandmothers; or maybe it was just one generation that did it and it stuck. What makes it stick out is HOW they made it though. First, yogurt in France was actually bought in these small glass jars, like many things were packaged. This was dumped out into the bowl… and the jars re-used to measure everything else! So instead of weighing or leveling things by specific milligrams or liters, it was ‘one jar’ or ‘two jars’ etc, thus the recipe was ever a simple game of proportions, easy to make no matter what size jar or measuring devices one had on them.

Which made it easy to do recipe conversions; for though many would try to justify if these jars were exactly ½ cup or more, less, etc, at the end of the day all the ingredients just had to stay in these proportions. Most of the ‘conversions’ I found were exactly the same; and considering the jar-based source of this recipe, I almost wonder if it originally came off a company’s package a-la the famous Hershey Chocolate Chip Cookie. That said, there was one which looked absolutely delightful, the only difference being an extra egg, and I can’t say no to that.

Chef’s Overdramatic Self-Centered Lecture Corner

20151025_122414Obviously I don’t have, and am too lazy to go find, the little French yogurt jars this recipe is based off of, but any decent Greek or Greek-style will do. Though I didn’t realize the one we had at home was Vanilla flavored, as opposed to plain, until I started, and I’m rather squeamish with the idea of any ‘flavored’ yogurts… make one wonder how properly yogurt-ish it actually is. But at least vanilla is simple, and I could just use THAT instead of adding extract like recipes usually do.

Speaking of additions, there is of course the classic ‘vegetable oil’ necessity in the recipe, providing a full liquid fat for texture and moisture. A few recipes allow, and even suggest, substitutes for Canola or Grapeseed, even Coconut, oils. None of which I had, and truthfully I didn’t like the state of my cheap-ass vegetable oil. Thus I made the decision, since there IS noted flexibility here, to use Olive Oil instead; which I think would be rather fitting, considering the region’s Mediterranean ties, the use of olive oil and yogurt together, and just the fact that it would only make it taste BETTER.

Finally, one particular requirement leads to a fun little lesson in a daily kitchen cheat! This, like many cake recipes, requires lining just the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper. We could try cutting out a circle to fit, but the bottom we trace for it would be too big. I’ve learned an easy little trick where we take our decently-sized sheet of parchment paper, fold it in half, then again in quarters, and again and again… until one ends up with one thing, triangular sliver of multiple layers. Hold this above the pan, with the point at the center, and cut it just a bit under the inside edge of the cake pan, giving it a curve as you do. Unfold and there you go: perfect fit.

20151025_122825_001

Recipe
½ cup Greek-style Yogurt
1 cup Sugar
3 Eggs
1½ cups AP Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt
Zest from 1 Lemon (optional)
½ cup Vegetable, Olive, Sunflower, or Other Oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and generously spray 8” Cake or Springform Pan with oil, lining the bottom with your circle of parchment paper (discussed earlier)20151025_122921
  2. Whisk Yogurt, Sugar, and Eggs together in bowl20151025_121335
  3. Add in Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, and Zest if using, mixing until just combined20151025_121727
  4. Add Oil, stirring until fully incorporated20151025_122555
  5. Pour into pan, tapping to remove any potential air bubbles20151025_123114
  6. Transfer to oven and bake anywhere from 30-50 minutes depending (check early), or until toothpick stuck in center comes out clean20151025_144740
  7. Remove and cool on wire rack, turning over from pan or releasing sides after about 10 minutes to continue cooling20151025_173542
  8. Cut into wedges and enjoy as desired, perhaps with some homemade ice cream…

My Thoughts

20151025_173805Just like a classic white birthday cake, on its own it’s soft, tender, with that great extra cake flavor and a base that allows any addition, like that lemon zest, to shine. And it may not be very distinct, but one CAN get a little bit of that yogurty sense if one looks for it. Also like any other white cake, one almost craves to pile it in whipped cream, frosting, dessert sauce, fresh/cooked fruit, whatever you can find to make it even BETTER, because you know it’d work as an awesome base. And the recipe itself turned out well, no issues I could see besides taking an extra 10 minutes of baking time than the original recipe called for.

Though let me say that a big attraction of this recipe for me was the picture of a perfectly flat, even, browned top on the cake. Which sadly did not get reproduced in this attempts, one of two reasons: either I should have given the pan an EXTREME amount of buttering so it didn’t rise in the middle, a-la soufflé technique. OR, and I’m now very heavily suspicious of this considering how the pictures on the original website are angled… they probable cut the domed top off and just turned the damn cake upside-down! The conniving old bastards! Tricking me with promises of caramelly cake crust deliciousness… I mean, I guess I got that anyway, but with a curve…

Possible Pairings

Ugh, I started this a couple weeks ago, had a brilliant idea on what would be perfect with this, and then went on vacation and forgot what it was! Not fair!

mlkThough I will say the idea of a Milk Shake seems fantastic. This IS totally the cake+ice cream kind of thing, sort of, so I could see myself going for that. Perhaps with a boozy addition of Cream Liqueur to boot; either that or just do it straight with ice. No Bailey’s, something purely cream/vanilla-focused alongside the supporting flavors… I used to love soaking my Tres Leches with Tres Leches Liqueur, or Rum Chata.

Speaking of liqueurs, keeping things simple is definitely the name of the game for this not-complicated dessert, and a nice, chilled glass of Limoncello would be a great way to match and improve the sweet cake without overriding any subtle flavors; matches the lemon zest too. Not to mention the recipe I got this from DID have a lemon icing glaze.

Though truthfully I think any simple, sweet fruit or creamy liqueur or non-complicated liqueur-based cocktail would work wonderfully with this, especially if one took the cake up a notch with some frosting or whipped cream and any accompanying toppings. But if one wanted to try something a bit off-base and fun, then perhaps a nice, simple glass of demi-sec or other semi-sweet sparkling wine, a regional French Cremant or Prosecco or something. Interestingly, I might actually AVOID Champagne, as I think the fruity-fresh-tart flavors are more preferential than the very yeasty-toasty-buttery notes that are so predominant with the classic methods so prevalent in that region.

I do wish I knew what my idea was though… pretty sure it had something to do with the yogurt aspect of the whole thing…

p2: Basque Pumpkin Cornbread

The Sweet

downloadIt’s Autumn in Minnesota, we’re getting ever closer to Halloween and Thanksgiving, everyone is becoming unnaturally obsessed with ‘pumpkin spice’-flavored things, and my sister gathered us together last weekend for a family dinner of grilled pork and potatoes. So what better ‘dessert’ accompaniment for me to make than Basque Pumpkin Cornbread!? Yes, that is apparently a thing, as I found out while searching through the mountain of ‘classic French desserts’ I still had left on my Buzzfeed checklist.

Though, thankfully, my personal embarrassment for not knowing a lick about this particular item was short lived. It didn’t take me long to realize that, apparently, ‘French pumpkin cornbread’ is quite the ‘obscure’ recipe. There is ONE recipe for it online… one. I mean one can find other pages with it, but the recipe used is exactly the same; some blatantly display the fact it came from Lemons and Anchovies, the link which Buzzfeed itself uses (not that they have any other option). Any other recipes that try variations aren’t even relating themselves to the French recipe, or outright state they’re taking it and putting ‘American twists’ towards the bread, bringing it back to a classic US cornbread with pumpkin flavoring. But if you really want to understand just how random, for lack of a better term, this recipe is to French culture… I couldn’t even find any hint of it in my Larousse Gastronomique, THE definitive encyclopedia to French food, terms, recipes, culinary history, etc. And I checked EVERY term that would connect with it, even looking for its French name: ‘Meture au Potiron Basquais.’ Though I only found that in one blog post, of which could have been that particular author trying to make a name through his own direct translation. I would not be surprised if there was no other actual term given to this recipe by the French themselves, besides simply saying what it was not in English.

So that was an interesting thing to go through and realize as I attempted to search for other recipes which to compare to. But that’s not to say it doesn’t have history; for it DID get introduced to the southern part of the country at one point in time, it simply hasn’t had the luck to reach the fame and intrigue as their many other breads and pastries. The idea is that its creation developed after Christopher Columbus returned and introduced ingredients like Corn to the new world; of course starting in Spain and then spreading to Southern France first before the rest of the continent. Those in the shared Spanish-French Basque region turned the grain into a bread much like back in the Americas where they came from. Of course they had to put their own addition to it, mixing with rich seasonal squash while incorporating whipped egg whites, definitely a French introduction, as its sole leavening inclusion. Minimalistic by today’s recipes, but at that point an exceptional addition! Now it’s seeing if I can translate some of this exceptionalness into something that works today.

Chef’s Overdramatic Self-Centered Lecture Corner

20151010_211450So, I’ve gotta use an actual pumpkin with this one, just for the fun. Which, if you are yet unaware, does NOT mean one of those giant monsters we love to get for carving. Those are NOT food! They taste like crap, back away and save those for Halloween! One has to ensure that their store, which most Whole Foods and decent grocery stores should have, stocks the specific cooking varieties in the produce section. These are smaller squashes, their size and development made to concentrate their natural flavors and sugars. You know, so they taste good.

This solo recipe seems to only use the canned version, but assuming this IS something that was made semi-frequently in the past, it’d be with an actual pumpkin. And I want an excuse to roast a whole one! Though… as I found out, and you can see in my semi-recipe for ‘Roasted Pumpkin’ below, came out rather stringy, like spaghetti squash. So not quite that mashable; attempts at ricing and putting in my mini-processor failed. Should have just boiled the pumpkin instead, but I always prefer the flavor of roasting and thought it would result like a butternut. It’s an easy fix though, solved by re-heating the roasted pumpkin with the milk and blending, where it purees simply.

But it sucks because I originally planned to use a particular technique I learned with my bread-making adventures, whereby one makes a ‘soaker’ by combining cornmeal and water/liquid overnight. This helps to make sure the very dry and crunchy meal actually softens and yields a more tender final result; something I REALLY wanted to make sure happened this time as I was using a stoneground, ‘medium grind’ cornmeal; one I expect is likely bigger than the kind of cornmeal originally used in the recipe.

If taking the recipe like I did, using an actual pumpkin and roughly ground, delicious cornmeal vs the canned pumpkin ‘jello’ and a mass of processed maize flour, as I found out you’ll likely want to re-adjust certain proportions and procedures. You’ll see how I found this out later. Nevertheless, I’ve listed some notes in the recipe on the side if this is the case for your own adventures.

The ‘original’ recipe also called for Rum, which I chose not to use because… okay, I won’t like, I forgot the darn rum. Which I myself didn’t care about at first as it seemed like just a random addition; rum isn’t really much of a French ingredient except on that one Island. It made more sense to consider using an Armagnac, fruit brandy or something. Then I realized… Christopher Columbus, durnit. Of course there would be a connection to rum, it’s a dish that originated from overseas travel! Maybe rum wasn’t QUITE as vital to their crews in those very beginning days of runs between the Americas, but I can’t say it wouldn’t have been used in the dish now as a fun new ingredient. Sooooooo my bad.

‘Meture au Potiron Basquais’
1 cup Milk (+ ¼-½ when dealing w/ fresh pumpkin)
¼ cup Sugar
½ tsp Salt
1 cup Pumpkin Puree (1 ½ – 2 Fresh Roasted, Recipe Follows)
2 cups Cornmeal (if stoneground, medium grind, maybe a little less)
¼ cup/½ stick Butter
3 Eggs, Separated

Directions

  1. Turn oven to 375F20151011_151428
  2. Warm up Milk, Sugar, and Salt in sauce pot; if using actual Pumpkin, add in and bring to a simmer20151011_152655
  3. Blend until pumpkin is smooth, or whisk milk into puree
  4. Add Cornmeal, whisking in until smooth, ideally in stockpot to keep warm and encourage moisture absorption/softening20151011_152954
  5. Move to bowl, let cool a little, and stir in Butter so it gently melts
  6. Mix in Egg Yolks, making sure batter is only warm at the most20151011_154727
  7. Whip Whites until foamed, fluffy, and formed Stiff Peaks20151011_155013
  8. Fold into the batter, using 1/3 at a time, making sure it’s evenly distributed but minimally handled20151011_154221
  9. Thoroughly butter bottom and sides of cake pan or springform mold20151011_155239
  10. Pour into pan, transfer to oven, and bake 50-60 minutes, until set in the middle
  11. Remove, slide knife around sides, and carefully unmold from pan and onto cooling rack20151011_170226
  12. Let cool 10 minutes, cut into wedges and enjoy! Perhaps with some whipped cream or toasted meringue fluff20151011_201053

Roasted Pumpkin
1 Sugar Pie, or other sweet baking, Pumpkin
2-3 Tb Olive Oil

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350F20151010_215500
  2. Carefully cut Pumpkin in half, scooping out all the seeds and ‘squash guts’
  3. Thoroughly rub oil over the top and inside of the pumpkin, placing it on a foil-lined tray cut-side-down20151010_220339
  4. Roast 1½ – 2 hours, or until a knife cuts in smooth and easily
  5. Remove, let briefly cool and scoop out inner flesh while still warm. Reserve for use20151011_001350

My Thoughts

Let’s start off with what went wrong. I couldn’t really taste any of the pumpkin, a side effect of using the fresh stuff vs the rather ‘concentrated’ canned paste, so I’d need to use much more next time if sticking to it. It also had that drier, crumbly cornbread-like texture; wasn’t horrible, but not that great for a dessert. Should have cooked it less, ideally found a way to have soaked that cornmeal like I planned, and/or used some more milk/less cornmeal in the final mix. But despite those tweaks, as cornbreads go it was still a rather nice bite, especially for such a simple recipe developed from what would have been made in old America with just corn and water. By the way, do I think the rum would have helped? Flavor wise it would have been a nice addition, though I might personally enjoy soaking it into the cake AFTER baking, get that nice texture and ideal unctuous aroma.

20151011_201348Now obviously a lot of this result was due to how I myself ended up making it today, but still it makes me even wonder why this is in the dessert section at all. Already one debates if it actually has the clout to be on the list of French dishes, let alone on this side of the selection. The rum and a softer crumb would have eaked it closer yes, but still it tastes more like something that should be enjoyed as a Thanksgiving side dish as opposed to end-of-the-meal indulgence. My meringue didn’t help that much, though it was tasty! I swear almost nothing feels better to me in cooking than when a meringue turns out perfectly.

Possible Pairings

Now this is interesting as, I’ve already mentioned, this isn’t really much of a dessert; even if made well, still feels like a side, like a regular corn or other form of bread. So it’s hard to think of a ‘dessert alcohol pairing’ to go along with it, especially sweet items and anything from France. Truthfully I can’t think of anything that would be ‘classic’ to go alongside it.

20151015_105714But if I take it from a different direction, looking not where it is NOW but where it originally came from, the answer makes itself a little more known. I mean, why should a sweet corn ‘bread’ not be paired with that very well known, sweet-ish corn distillate? Yes, Bourbon, I believe, is the answer here. A little snifter glass of a good 9+ year bottle to sip and enjoy alongside the rich, corny baked item. It’s just a mouthful of southern US/American goodness.

Sticking along that route, we could take advantage of those so-favorite Thanksgiving-esque flavor combos, and bring some more sweetness into it, and go with a bottle of Pecan/Pecan-Pie Moonshine/Corn Whiskey. Slightly sweet, whiskey-ish, and with that nice brown sugar-pecan notes that are so reminiscent of baking spices and the we so nostalgically would enjoy alongside pumpkin and baked corn stuff. Just make sure you get a GOOD bottle, from a smaller and preferable non-nationwide, distillery and not the mass-produced moonshines; I myself got turned onto this one that our family friends from Missouri keep bringing up.

p2: Tarte Tropezienne

The Sweet

tartSo for this week’s project, I had the mother take a look at my list of things and pick out a few things that sounded good. Which is how I ended up finally doing Baked Camembert, which I’ll be writing about soon, and the one dessert that she made mention of: Tarte Tropezienne. Which, and I’m glad she brought my attention to it considering I forgot, was a perfect sweet project to try considering my recent bread-based interests.

The ‘confection’ itself is basically a large, round Brioche-cake, sliced in half and filled with a particularly unique version of ‘buttercream’ or mousse. As such, with how it looks, Buzzfeed ended up describing it as ‘basically a giant cream puff,’ which is certainly true in one sense but completely off in another, but so can many things be. Either way it seems decadently-simple and sinful in buttery goodness.

Alexandra Micka is the inequitable source for where this pastry comes from. Of Polish origin, this baker move to St. Tropez in Provence during the 1950’s, after which he made the infamous cake in ’55 for the cast of a film production in the area. Obviously they completely adored it, and the name was supposedly suggested by the main actress at the time, Brigitte Bardot, most likely as a nod to the region (though interestingly, the name ends up translating to ‘roof pie’), even though technically it’s not really a tarte even as the French or English may widely define them.

Though that doesn’t make me want to attack it any less, so let’s get to the important parts of this briochy creation!

Chef’s Overdramatic Self-Centered Lecture Corner

It took me a while to whittle down and figure out what bread and ‘cream’ recipes I wanted to use, but there are a few things that helped narrow it down. First and foremost, one of the items I do believe I ran across was a mention that the original brioche recipe used was a ‘milk brioche,’ and despite my complete urge to go for this own really-decadent looking kind from a professional chef, he had absolutely no liquid in it at all besides eggs. So that was out. Afterward, I just had to go for something with a higher proportion of fat, eggs, and sugar, a Middle-Class/Rich-Man’s style, since it’d suit a dessert more and I really want to prove myself after my not-so-great Rich Man’s version that came out a couple months back. Found one that seemed good, was relatable to the one I originally enjoyed, and I even added an extra tablespoon of butter for good measure!

20151004_155203The second and more important part, in my opinion, is the filling… now, this isn’t just some simple frosting, or pastry cream, or anything like that. A few recipes will basically say, or make it look, like a pastry cream that is simply folded with whipped cream like a mousse; similar to what I once made for a Crepe Cake. But if one looks further, or at particular discussions of recipe and history, you might see the mention that the filling is truly a mixture of Pastry Cream, Buttercream, and sometimes also Whipped Cream. The French Wikipedia called for pastry cream + a term that LINKED to crème Chantilly, but translated to cream butter.

My first thought at this was that ‘Oh great, now I have to make pastry cream AND buttercream AND whipped cream and fold them all together.’ Ah, but then I found one article that featured what the actual technique was, calling it ‘German Buttercream,’ or something like that [of course I can’t find the recipe again NOW], or ‘Mousseline.’ Basically after making the pastry cream, instead of just immediately adding 1-2 pats of butter to melt in, one waits until it cools… and then beats in the equivalent of a whole stick, MINIMUM, until incorporated. Basically, it’s a Pastry Butter-Cream? And then of course one folds with whipped cream… you know, to make it ‘lighter.’ I just wanted to attack this head-on, so I found the one recipe that basically called for 3 whole sticks of butter to REALLY get this crossed effect, and it just so happened to be a rather egg-yolk rich cream, because that’s the kind of pastry cream I usually enjoy and felt like making this time.

20151004_134410As you look through other recipes, you’ll see the consistent habit of sprinkling the top of the dough with an even layer of Pearl Sugar, those ubiquitous large crystals so famed in Eastern Europe for those waffles we love so much. As always though, they’re a pain to get a hold of; but luckily for us, it’s highly likely they aren’t REALLY all that classic and traditional, even if the chef was from Poland. It would be more likely that he used large-flake sugar or crushed up some compressed, so simply taking sugar cubes and crushing them up lightly would work just fine. At least that’s what I read in another article, I could be wrong here… it WAS only 60 years ago.

Finally, Orange Blossom Water! It’s the one oddly classic ingredient here, and some recipes won’t make mention and try to substitute it with ‘rum or kirsch,’ despite the fact that kirsch has been stated to not be traditional, especially in the much-further-southern region of origin. Though think of this now, it might not be too impossible… Polish baker, I could see him using Cherry Brandy… but orange blossom water is a DEFINITIE must-do, and you don’t want that delicate flavor to try crossing with other alcohols, especially when it’s so pricey why not just have it shine? As for WHAT it goes in, I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be solely in the bread, custard, or both… recipes differ, so I just went BOTH to really make sure you could taste it! Plus, I’ll admit, I did do ONE thing I’m almost 100% sure isn’t too classic, in that I made a simple orange syrup and then flavored it with more of the orange water, to which I soaked the cut bread with. But I haven’t made any bread/spongecake soaked with syrup yet, I thought it’d be fun… and again, make sure I didn’t screw up with too-light orange flavors. Hopefully it turns out.

Tarte Tropezienne
2½ tsp Dry Yeast
1/3 cup Milk, Warm
2 cups/275g, ish, AP Flour
3 Tb Sugar
2 Eggs + 1 for eggwash
½ tsp Sea Salt
2 tsp Orange Blossom Water
1 tsp Vanilla
8 Tb/1 Stick Butter, softened
1-3 Tb Crushed Sugar Cubes/Pearl Sugar
‘Mousseline,’ Recipe Follows
Orange Water Syrup, Recipe Follows

Directions

  1. Pour Warm Milk over Yeast, leaving for at least 5 minutes to dissolve and bloom20151004_002208
  2. Once done, combine with Flour, Sugar, Salt, 2 Eggs, Orange Water, Vanilla, and the 2 Eggs in a stand mixer, mixing on Low speed with the paddle attachment until everything is combined into a single ball/mass20151004_002731
  3. Turn up to medium speed, slowly adding in small pats of butter one piece at a time, until fully incorporated and dough stretches from the sides20151004_003136
  4. Switch to a dough hook, start beating at medium-high speed for 5-10 minutes, adding more flour if too sticky, until the dough is smooth and, ideally, pulls away from the sides. It should pass the windowpane test if a small piece is very carefully stretched between fingers20151004_015627
  5. Transfer to an oiled bowl, carefully turning to coat, and cover tightly with plastic
  6. Leave to bulk ferment at room temp for 1 hour, until about doubled in size, then move to fridge for overnight20151004_121711
  7. Transfer onto a lightly floured surface the next day, dusting some more on top. Push down with your fingers to press out any excess gas, folding over if need be
  8. Swiftly but gently roll dough out into a circle-ish form at least 10” diameter20151004_122128
  9. Move onto a parchment-paper lined sheet tray and brush with a light layer of egg wash (the one egg, beaten with a bit of water). Leave at room temperature for at least 1 hour, until soft and hopefully risen a little bit20151004_134925
  10. Preheat oven to 400F
  11. When ready, brush another layer of egg wash over the top, sprinkling with Pearl Sugar or crushed Cube Sugar to create an ideally even coating20151004_140343
  12. Move into oven, immediately reducing the temperature to 350F. Let back 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through, until it’s developed a nice, thorough golden brown color on top and feels cooked when tapped20151004_141644
  13. Remove and let cool on the counter, 20 minutes minimum20151004_202850
  14. Carefully slice, using a bread knife, in half, sawing horizontally along the edge to create a level cut from one side to the other20151004_203112
  15. Remove top, turning over, and brush the Orange Water Syrup over each side, soaking it evenly over the bread
  16. Take the reserved Mousseline and spread in an even, thick layer over the bottom piece, using as much as desired. Conversely, one can also pipe in, starting at the center to practice your motions and leaving the edge for some more attractive work (if the annoying makeshift piping bag will let you of course)20151004_204423-1
  17. Slice in wedges and serve

“Mousseline”/”Pastry Butter-cream Mousse” Filling
2 cups Milk20151004_131532
6 Egg Yolks
¾ cup Sugar
1/3 cup Cornstarch, Sifted
Tsp Salt
1 ½ cups/3 Sticks Butter, softened
1 Tb Orange Blossom Water
1 tsp Vanilla
¾ – 1 cup Heavy Cream

Directions

  1. Place Milk in pot over medium heat, leaving to scald/come to a simmer20151004_131616
  2. On the side, combine the Yolks, Sugar, Corn Starch, and Salt, whisking until thoroughly mixed and pale yellow in color20151004_132023
  3. When the milk is ready, remove from the stove and slowly pour into the egg mixture, whisking all the while to temper everything together carefully. Pour back into the pot and move back over heat20151004_132442
  4. Keep, whisking slowly at first while picking up the pace the longer and hotter it gets, making sure to keep it moving so none of it stays on the bottom or sides to scald or overcook, which will happen faster the thicker it gets20151004_133121
  5. As it starts to notably thicken, whisk fast and thorough, removing from the heat when it feels like it’s oneor two steps away from being a heavy cream [it will get to that point from continual cooking and when it cools]20151004_133430
  6. Quickly transfer to a bowl, straining if desired and/or worried about overcooking, and leave to cool on the counter20151004_141913
  7. When it’s down to room temperature, add in the Butter, Orange Water, and Vanilla, whipping it all thoroughly together with a whisk, or even an electric beater, until it’s all combined, ‘fluffy,’ and somewhat resembling buttercream20151004_142047
  8. Now start beating your Heavy Cream, ideally with a hand mixer to have it go faster, until it turns into Whipped Cream, drawing stiff peaks when moved; you’ll need about 1 ½ cups of it total20151004_135951
  9. Fold whipped cream in, 1/3 at a time, to make an aerated and fluffy ‘mousse’ of sorts20151004_155025
  10. Transfer to piping bag for use, storing in fridge if needed20151004_155754

Orange Water Syrup
½ cup Water
¼ cup Sugar
Zest of 1 Orange
1 Tb Orange Blossom Water

Directions20151004_135405

  1. Combine everything but the Orange Blossom Water in a pan, heat until it comes to a boil and the sugar is dissolved. Remove off to the side
  2. Once cooled, strain and add in the orange blossom water

My Thoughts

Well where to start… obviously it’s not as pretty as the other ones you see online; part of that being the sugar, pearl may not be ‘traditional’ but it gives the best effect. I really should get some soon, if anything to make those amazing Belgian waffles…

That and it’s too wide and thin… well, that was my thought, even after baking. But once it got cut, filled, and sliced into wedges, the inside actually looked a lot thicker than from outside, so on an everyday note I’m rather satisfied, but it’s still not as pretty as preferred. To fix, I should have probably fermented it in a smaller bowl, or folded it over20151004_204532 before rolling, or maybe just cut out the perfect circle from the rolled out dough; it was already at 10” just from the de-gassing stage. Though what I would have really liked to do was a little trick I read from a professional chef’s recipe where the dough is shaped inside of a tart mold rim; that way it stays a perfect circle, at the desired size, even when baking, and rises straight up like a cake! And I have springform pans, rather similar… but much taller circles than the tart pan rim, I was worried it wouldn’t bake right.

Speaking of which, it didn’t really rise while proofing… not much of an issue since it rose in the bake, but something doesn’t feel right, especially since it was still QUITE sticky; I’m positive I should have followed the technique in other recipes where you actually knead the dough to smooth, window-pane consistency first BEFORE adding the butter. That said, it turned out a lot better than the Rich Man’s Brioche I did earlier, was actually bread-like, though truthfully it could still be more Middle-Class level… if anything, I’m considering that I may have cooked it a little longer than I should have, and that’s the only real flaw I’ve found in final texture/flavor, proof-rise or no.

God-damn though was this thing rich!! Choosing the really eggy pastry cream recipe woulda been great if it was on its own, it tasted fantastic btw, but I probably should have gone a lighter version… and it was really cool trying out the buttercream-like technique, and that also was really good, but I think next time I’m gonna lean more towards the lower-butter recipes! Even after folding with the whipped cream, fatty enough as THAT was, put that between brioche bread and all you get is a mass of heavy fat and sugar; really good tasting, delicious mass, but believe me when I say a single slice will do you well for the night! I’m sure the tartes that are more well-done than mine are probably not so overwhelming, but I understand why I’ve seen quite a few that add strawberries and pistachios, to help cut through and then add texture (even with crunchy sugar, overwhelmingly one-note soft) in a tasty fashion.

There’s probably more to say, and done in a better and concise fashion, but I’m drawling out now… that frosting bread be weighing me down!

Possible Pairings

iD2fkPrWith how rich and heavy this turned out, I don’t even think I want to think about dessert wine, or anything thick and sweet to drink with it. That said, one of the ‘classic’ pairings often mentioned to enjoy with it is a little dessert wine called Monbazillac, a smaller sub region very close to the oh-so-famous Sauternes in Bordeaux, the latter known for its rich, honeyed, and devilishly complex dessert wines based off Semillon and Sauvignon. Though, THAT is rather expensive, and even the really aged ones stay thick. Dessert wines from nearby regions however, such as Monbazillac, come in at some rather great price deals for the consumer, and usually end up a lighter-bodied and definitely reduced in sweetness, usually a nice simple sweet drink to enjoy chilled without much thought. So it really would fit this particular purpose quite well, especially if you made a better and more ideal tarte than I did!

Though really, at the end of the day: we need liquor. Non-sweet, cuttingly dry and high in spirit to help cut through all of that fatty, creamy texture and flavor. If Kirsch was actually used, as so many recipes keep saying even though, again, it’s not really regionally sound, it’d be the perfect pairing. Otherwise, a young Cognac, that hasn’t developed all that really deep and thick texture and ‘sweetness’ that the older ones have, would be great; though Armagnac would probably be better regionally, and the simpleness of the tarte would let the complexities of it shine, though its extra roughness in texture could overshadow that as well.

Or you could just make a Sidecar with Lemon Juice, Cognac, and Grand Marnier to bring out the orange notes in the dessert and still have that brandy flavor and aspect; and shaking these with ice will help lighten all the heaviness while still cutting through the custard some.

p3: Lussekatter/Lussebullar (Swedish Saffron Buns)

'l#18, Lussekatter/Lussebullar

So the sister just got back from India for business, and she brought goodies! A couple packets of chili spices, which I need to remember to use more, some special sweets/snacks, a tin of masala chai, a little tin of ‘digestive’ dried herbs+spices to nom on at the end of the night, a ginger-garlic ‘pickle’ which is AMAZING, and last but certainly not least a little jar of Saffron. Which I sorely need to find uses for; I’ve had a lot of saffron in the past that just sat on my shelf… in fact I know I still have more, but don’t have a clue where. Can no longer let all these special ingredients sit on the shelf.

20150920_221314Thus this week I had it in my mind to find a bread recipe that focused on saffron, which was yet in my book; though I’m sure I could easily just add it to any basic recipe by steeping some of the stems into the water/milk before adding, but it’s always fun to find something new. And new I found, as my simple search for ‘saffron bread’ found my engine heavily dominant with a particular sweet-butter bun from Sweden. Absolutely perfect. I love foods from Eastern Europe.

Lussekatter, or lussebullar or lusse-whatever (I guess it depends on region or dialect or personal preference, as with many foods), is one of the many international holiday-celebration breads, so well known for their part in the Swedish Christmas-time holiday of St. Lucia, also known as the Festival of Light. There’s some interesting things to say about the holiday itself, but I could give a penny or two, I’m more interested in the bread.

20150920_223101Because my research in finding a recipe I liked, in keeping common proportions and certain ingredients, brought up some intriguing ideas. Obviously, one uses the saffron to infuse into warm milk and sugar, which is then used to jumpstart our Yeast; this is followed by making a typical enriched bread dough with butter and egg additions. Flavor wise, a few recipes may also add a little extra something; I found one seemingly classic recipe that uses a bit of Cardamom, which sounds right with the region and should be awesome alongside saffron; and I love cardamom, so I’m doing it. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t call for typically using the pod; instead, you break it open and just use the seeds INSIDE it, which is something I never really paid attention to. But it’s the heart of the whole thing, might actually provide the true sense of flavor without any flavorless husk numbing it out. Another optional concept, many a lussebullar will include raisins and/or a sprinkle of large-grained sugar on top before baking, adding to its sweet flavors; but I’ve seen some that don’t do this, keeping it a straight, eggy-buttery enriched bun to use for a more savory application. I’m gonna do both myself, but I wouldn’t say one should or should not do either.

20150920_220910Then there’s Quark. Nope, that wasn’t me trying to impersonate a duck getting strangled, it’s a typical kind of dairy ingredient used in Sweden for baking and cooking, which a few recipes list with the ‘substitution’ of sour cream for those who can’t find any in specialty stops. My thought, of course, was that it was then one of those super-rich naturally made sour creams that Sweden and Russia and all those countries are known for when you go in their markets, but I typed it into Google just in case… and nope, it’s not. Thank god, because I was heading to use a ‘substitute’ that should never have been suggested.

I understand the reason why of course. Quark itself is made from soured, turned milk, so it has that distinctive tangy aspect which sour cream does. But in reality it’s more of a fresh cheese product made from it, like marscarpone and ricotta. A more proper sub, which I made sure to double check as well, would be one of those cheeses or, ideally, a 2:1 mixture of Ricotta and Sour Cream, to provide that wonderfully similar combo of richness, fresh-cheese flavor, and tang which a real quark would. And now that I’ve got that figured out, I can make my bread!

Oh, one final note: I’ve seen two different ways of handling this. One can make the dough the night before, then put it in the fridge overnight after an hour or less of counter fermentation (my plan in the hopes of getting some good slow yeast flavor development), or a lot of recipes just let it bulk ferment 1-2 hours and proceed on the same day. The option is officially up to you.

Recipe
¾ cup/175ml Whole Milk
½ tsp Saffron Threads
¼ cup/50g + 1 tsp Sugar
0.25oz Dry Yeast
3½-4 cups/490-570g AP Flour
½ tsp Kosher Salt
Seeds from 3 Cardamom Pods, Ground
4Tb/56g Butter, softened
¼ cup Quark or Quark Substitute (2 parts Ricotta to 1 part Sour Cream, ideally)
3 Eggs
Raisins and Organic/Large Grain/Pearl/Good Grain Sugar, Optional

Directions

  1. Combine Milk, Saffron, and Tsp of Sugar in saucepot, heating until scalded/steaming20150920_220918
  2. Remove, let cool until 115F, or warm to the touch, and add Yeast, leaving 5-10 minutes until fully bloomed20150920_223215
  3. In bowl of stand mixer, combine3 ½ cups Flour, Salt, remaining Sugar, and ground Cardamom, quickly tossing together20150920_223441
  4. Make well in center, pouring in the bloomed and saffron-infused milk, Butter, Quark/Substitute, and 2 of the Eggs20150920_223933
  5. Mix on low with paddle until everything’s evenly distributed20150920_224325
  6. Switch to dough hook, knead on medium speed, adding additional flour a tablespoon at a time if the dough seems particularly sticky/wet, until the dough no longer sticks to the fingers, ‘but is still sticky,’ and passes the windowpane test20150920_224938
  7. Transfer to oiled bowl, cover w/ plastic wrap, and let it ferment at room temperature 1 hour
  8. Gently knead to de-gas, return to bowl and transfer to fridge, leaving to sit overnight and up to 24 hours; it should double in size20150921_114741
  9. Next day, let it warm up to room temperature, about 30-60 minutes, and cut dough into 12-14 separate 60-70g chunks, forming each into a rough ball20150921_114838
  10. To shape: roll each ball into a thin, 14” long line, using the top of your palms to rub between and against the counter to do so20150921_115106
  11. Take the ends and twist a tight pinwheel towards the center on opposite sides, turning each line into a very curly s-shape
  12. Transfer to baking pan, spray tops with mist oil and cover with plastic wrap or loose towel; let proof about 30 minutes, until doubled in size20150921_121637
  13. Turn oven to 400F
  14. Beat the remaining Egg thoroughly and brush over the proofed buns
  15. If desired, and to make these even further ‘desserty,’ place a raisin in each of the curly centers, or wherever you want on the dough, and/or lightly sprinkle the top with sugar at this stage
  16. Place into oven, cook 10-11 minutes, rotating pan 180F halfway through, until golden brown in color20150921_132531
  17. Remove and let cool on rack before enjoying. Or cram in while piping hot, that is when they’re best afterall20150921_132456

What Have I Learned This Time?

This has nothing to do with the recipe, but I had to pick up some more yeast and ended up reading the label. Did you know dry yeast needs to be refrigerated!? After opening the thing of course. Who the hell would have known?

Next time I’m separating the buns into two different pans… and making sure I get them in the BIG oven; got a bit crowded and the outer lussebullar ended up ready a minute or so before the inner ones. Need to ensure more airflow, especially considering their rising… though it’s good to pack them tight for classic pull-apart buns.

20150921_133111I am SO using the Cardamom Seeds more often! They’re much easier to grind fine without the skins, and the aroma is so much more pungent, though really comes in on more of that ‘soapy’ side, so gotta use wisely…

It may be rather sweet and dessert-y, but still tastes great hot and spread with butter!

Any Thoughts?

I can taste everything that went in here and I love it. The saffron is distinctive, so absolutely worth using here, and I love how it tastes with that eggy/enriched dough flavor and experience. The cardamom is very slight but still there, if I do it again I’m putting even more because I LOVE the taste so much; maybe I’ll toast it in a pan this time too. Even the ricotta-sour cream, there was that certain ‘fresh wet cheese curd’ flavor that I could sort of get in place of the usual milky aspect, which isn’t naturally noticeable. Think I got some of the sourness too. God I love how these turned out; maybe not absolutely perfect, shape and bake wise, but the flavor was even better than expected. Oh, and my mom’s Swedish friend identified them on Facebook in an instant, which is so cool!

20150921_132438Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

I think I may have won over the Enriched Doughs, though I need to double-check with Rich Man’s Brioche before I can know for sure.