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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fondant Class with Dad!



Forgive me for the low quality pictures. I took these using my camera today in another Baking Arts class. This time I chose a fondant class, and my dad came too! His is on the left and mine is on the right (and on top.) We named them Herman and Beatrice, respectively. Fondant is fun!

Cinnamon Palmiers


French Palmiers always remind me of my Persian grandfather. When I was little he would take me out at least once a week for some treats and fun. Sometimes it was to a magic shop I liked, and sometimes to a local donut shop that was on Chestnut street. Neither of them are still around but I remember going to these places as a little girl with him. The people there knew us, and probably even expected us.

Another place we frequented was a French bakery by my grandparents home. We went there so much that the people probably knew us there too. Without a doubt I would always look forward to a buttery, sugar tainted, Palmier which was probably larger than my face. And my grandfather would always remind me of an important saying he learned in one of his French classes as a youth in Iran: "Il faut manger pour vivre, non vivre pour manger." Which translates to: "One must eat to live, not live to eat." To be honest I can't say that I've managed to live by this lesson of his, but I can say that the words stuck with me.

And with this, I give you a French Palmier recipe I recently picked up from a class at Baking Arts in San Francisco. The recipe is very easy, and I hope it creates some fond Palmier memories for you too!

Preheat oven to 425, and start by making the following puff pastry (prepare for a lot of folding, and grab a rolling pin).

Ingredients:


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 9 ounces unsalted butter (divided)

  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt or 1 tsp table salt

  • 1/2 cup water (ice cold.) And keep some extra handy.

*Note: It is important you keep the butter well chilled; and if the dough starts to feel too warm, soft, or oily, cover it in seran wrap and pop it in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.


Directions for puff pastry dough:



  • Dice 8 oz of the butter into 1/4 inch pieces and refrigerate until needed.

  • Mix the salt and flour in a large bowl.

  • Add remaining 1 oz (2 tbs) of the butter and rub thoroughly into the flour until no lumps of the butter remain. The mixture should look sandy.

  • Drizzle the cold water in 4 additions while gently tossing the flour mixture with a fork. When it starts to mass together, dump it out onto your work surface and using a rolling pin, pat and roll it into a rectangle about 18"x6".

  • Fold the dough into thirds so you have a square. Your first turn is now complete.

  • Next, turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat rolling the dough to an approximate 18"x6" rectangle.

  • Fold in thirds again. Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat the rolling process until three turns have been completed.

*If the dough ever loses it's chill wrap it up and refrigerate it 20-30 minutes. If you don't plan on using it immediately you can refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or overnight. You can keep the dough refrigerated 2-3 days, or well wrapped in the freezer for up to 2 months.


Directions for making the Palmiers:


*Use 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of cinnamon. And remember, if the dough ever starts to feel soft or warm, cover it and put it in the fridge.



  • Heavily sprinkle your work surface and top of the pastry with the cinnamon sugar.

  • Roll out the puff pastry to a 12"x16" rectangle (about 1/8 inch thick).

  • Trim the edges of the dough evenly and fold the opposite sides of the dough by 1/4th.

  • Fold each side in one more time so the two sides meed in the middle.

  • Sprinkle with sugar and fold in half. Press gently to seal it, and you should have a sort of log with a swirly looking center. You'll want to see 4 lines of cinnamon. Then you know you're good.

  • Cover the dough in seran wrap and chill it until it is firm.

  • Slice the log into 1/4 inch this slices.

  • Arrange them about 1" apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.

  • Cook for 6-9 minutes until they are puffed and golden around the edges.

  • Remove them from the oven, turn them over, and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the sugar looks caramelized.


A few words of caution...



  1. I did not have parchment paper so I buttered the pan and my Palmiers turned out a little greasier than desired. Still good, but parchment is best if you want them at their most crisp and light.


  2. The other thing is that you want to keep a good eye on them! They are very sensitive, so you may even want to bake them for less time than recommended depending on your oven.

Hope you enjoy them. Bon app├ętit!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Orange Chocolate Chunk Scones

While vacationing in Wellington, New Zealand I had some amazing baked goods. The fresh scones at Deluxe cafe reminded me how much I love scones, and inspired me to make some of my own. So, after returning home with about 5 bars of New Zealand's famous Whitaker's chocolates I decided to put them to good use in these scones. I encourage you to make some yourself!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
Chunks of orange-chocolate if you can find it. If not just use regular chocolate.
A good amount of Orange zest (basically just grate some Oranges down to the white area, but be sure not to include that bitter white part!)

Directions:
  1. Sift all the dry ingredients together.
  2. Chop up the butter and add it to the dry ingredients (or rub it into pea size amounts using your hands) and drop into dry ingredients.
  3. Mix the milk and sour cream together and add to the above mixture.
  4. Add the Orange and chocolate.
  5. Roll them into balls and bake on a baking sheet for 10-12 minutes until gold brown.
Once you do all that you should end up with something muy tasty like this: