Thursday, 19 August 2010
This week I thought we'd try something totally unlike what has gone before. A clafoutis is a wonderful French, custardy cake filled with fruit. It's definitely unlike anything we've made and it will help us take advantage of the summer fruits while they last. Traditionally black cherries would be the fruit used and the stones would be left in adding flavour to the dish as it cooked. I've also seen or heard of plums, apples, cranberries, blackberries, apricots or raspberries.
If you use a fruit other than cherries it's more properly known as a flaugnarde although you'll often see a 'plum clafoutis'. I'm just going to go to the greengrocer's and see which fruit looks the best and I'll encourage Her to do the same. I think it would be a shame to use apples or blackberries though. I'm going to try and take advantage of the season! (I'd prefer to use cherries but it looks like while I was away in the U.S. the price has rocketed. Perhaps I can snag a bargain though).
The recipe here is adapted from one posted by Robin Bellinger on Serious Eats, itself adapted from the French Farmhouse Cookbook by Susan Hermann Loomis.
Enough fruit so that once halved it will cover the bottom of a 9 - 10" tart pan or quiche dish (for cherries this is about 350g)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 450 F, gas mark 8.
Butter then lightly flour your pan and lay the fruit in it, cut side down.
Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl then whisk in half of the milk. Once it's all incorporated add the eggs one at a time followed by all of the other ingredients except the butter and whisk until you have a smooth batter.
Pour the batter over the fruit then dot the butter over the surface.
Bake for 25 minutes until it's lightly browned. It will probably puff up a lot around the edges but will likely fall as it cools.
It sounds simple enough and it will keep for a couple of days in the fridge getting tastier all the while. I think she'll approve. I'm excited for it!
Making the cupcakes was good. The method was slightly unusual, but I've noticed that this baking adventure has made me a lot more open to new methods. I'm far from a carefree baker, but I'm getting rid of some of my baggage!
In the end, I'd say that my cupcakes turned out a pretty good. They are a little dry, but the cake is rich, spicy, and spongy. The bits of ginger have a nice kick and bite. The sweet, tart icing is a nice complement to the cake; it cuts the spice and lightens everything up, even if it is a little grainy. But good luck keeping the icing even semi-firm in a warm climate!
Overall, these little cakes are tasty and satisfying. They aren't "light" but they are yummy. But if you want to make a delicious, gingery cake, I suggest making the Fresh Ginger Cake instead! I personally need to remake it so I can remember exactly why it made my taste buds sing.
Wednesday, 18 August 2010
It's a David Lebowitz recipe so before I even bought the ingredients I knew it would turn out fantastically!
I fancied using something other than Guinness. Something that I hadn't had before since I'd end up drinking 5/6 or so of the bottle. I chose this bottle of Brewer's Dark by Lee's. It was a good choice. Its flavour went well with the ginger and syrup and it was a pleasant task to polish off the bottle. It was the cheapest of the options I had too!
I used golden syrup and a mixture of light and dark brown sugars. I think the balance was good. I'm happy I didn't use dark molasses or all dark sugar because the taste ended up complex and deep but not too heavy.
It's an interesting way to make a cake batter. Certainly quite a long way in technique from my fall back sponge. The batter was very tasty but suprisingly thin. It was good that She was baking along so we could reassure each other. I popped them into a mixture of muffin size and bun size cases. In they went.
The cakes ended up light and pleasingly moist. They were a little clingy when you try to unwrap them but always came out in one piece easily enough. The frosting split on me just a tiny bit. It wasn't bad at all though. It tasted absolutely awesome. The bright, punchy citrus pairs incredibly well with the rich, slightly heavier cake. It's an awesome combination! I didn't have any candied peel but I cut a few strips of zest and decorated them with that and a little extra ginger. I think they're one of the prettiest things we've made. The flavour's right up there with the best too.
Friday, 13 August 2010
Sunday, 1 August 2010
The first step in making the strawberry meringue tarts was cooking the strawberry filling. I used what must have been the worst strawberries in Houston. I almost bought some pricier ones at Whole Foods, but I decided to be stingy and get cheaper ones from Fiesta. Good lord, they were terrible. A few years ago we were looking at produce at Fiesta, trying to find something good enough to purchase. Some guy said, "It looks like it's been kicked all the way from Mexico." Too true. When you're shopping for produce at Fiesta, you need to be flexible about what you're buying. Thankfully after the strawberries were cooked down, their secret past was veiled:
Then came the pastry dough, which was easy to make. I was excited about it, because I'd never tried brown sugar crust. It sounded promising. Plus it was fun putting it into these little tart pans I got at Sur La Table, and covering it with foil for blind baking:
Mine didn't darken up much in the oven, but they were definitely done.
Then came the syrup for the meringue. I'd never have guessed that I'd get so much mileage out of a candy thermometer:
And into the whipped egg whites it went!
The end was finally upon us. I spooned the strawberries into the shells:
Plopped some meringue on top:
And put them uner the broiler. Finis!
I'd give the end product a mixed review. The filling was just right. I couldn't taste the orange, lime or vanilla but they worked magic with the strawberries and came together for a lovely, sweet taste. When I combined that with the sweet, creamy merigue, these tarts were half win. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that they were delicious, because I made the crusts too thick which took away from the end product. Worse yet, the too-thick crusts didn't have much flavor, just crunch. A nice pasrty would have taken these much further. I'd guess that it wasn't the recipe, but me. Who knows? Try it out and let me know!
We were on schedule in the baking of this recipe but the write up has taken a while since, wonder of wonders, I've managed to take a trip over the pond to see Her.
I'm going to keep it short and sweet on the write up since time with Her is precious.
They turned out pretty yummy but they weren't my favourite of the things we've made. That's partly my fault though I think since I didn't roll the dough out as thin as I should and it made them a little heavy and dry.
There's nothing wrong with the dough recipe, it's nice if you prepare it properly. The filling and meringue were good too! I can recommend them. They'd be great with other fruits too I'm sure. Just make sure to make the shells nice and thin!