17 July 2013

Golden Galette


The other day, I was stood up. By an adult female. I'd gussied myself up for a mid-morning business meeting only to arrive at said business person's location, a Williamsburg Warehouse, with the attendee nowhere to be found, unreachable. A complete no-show. When I did get a hold of her she'd insisted she emailed me that morning that something came up (nope) and then suddenly changed the story that she'd filled the position she was interviewing for. Bullocks! As I get older, I seem to have less and less of a tolerance for this behavior. Does this kind of thing not mess with you for the entire rest of the day? (ok, yeah, if you're nodding--thanks!) So, whether it was the weather's tendency to incite forgetfulness and dispel motivation to disembark from the proximity of a window A.C,. or a complete lack of respect for others' time that caused my appointment to flake, we'll never know. The point is, in general I am peeved by flakiness. Except. Except! When those flakes come in the form of tart dough. And this should not come as a surprise. 

Prime-picked sliced golden summer squash, along with a bit of caramelized onion and a sprinkling of pan-fried corn, rounded out by a garlicky cheese mix and tucked into a half batch of flaky rye tart dough, folded in over itself just enough, brushed with egg yolk to make it shine, cooked off and sprinkled with a bit of basil and coarse salt. It will make your day. The theme here is  gold if you didn't notice. The zucchinis right now are so good. I mean, I don't have to tell you that because most likely you're aware, but man. This is the peak. And might I add, that if typical green zucchini are always shown getting all the attention, then the yellow squash sister is a worthy star, too. Actually, many times, I prefer the yellow, which is why I use it here. The flesh, melty and sweet and vegetal all at once, is so tender and ripe it even cooks more quickly than it would if it were, say, January. Duh. So, in point, summer squash is summer's gift. These squashes were meant to be barely roasted in the oven, or quickly pan-fried, enjoyed with good olive oil and salty cheese and sharp greens and whatever else you fancy. They are also prime material for stuffing galettes with, since, after being sweated a bit on a towel with some salt, they cook with the pastry.



The dough here is the same dough I used in the berry-peach mini tarts (I had frozen the second half and defrosted it in the fridge all day before rolling and filling) and Brussels sprouts galette from last year. Then the sheet pan took a quick chill in the freezer for 5 minutes before being brushed and baked. Since it is pretty neutral and nicely nutty from the rye, it is a fine base for sweet and savory fillings. But do note that brushing the sides of the tart with egg yolk before baking here is crucial for the ending golden, toasty hue. Don't skimp, and sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt, too. The other thing you'll want to note is Size. I am a sucker for small batches, clearly, so I made this with half a recipe of tart dough I'd saved. The bake time with half the dough was about 30 minutes flat. There is no reason you could not use all the dough for a 9-10 inch tart as opposed to a 5-inch, or make two smaller ones if you need to use all the dough at once. Just adjust the fillings to double. I thought this was a nice size for two though-this sort of personal pan pizza-size. Since tart dough is more decadent than pizza dough, though, daintier portions are appreciated.You finish it off quite easily with a side or two, are not confronted with huge buttery tart slices, and you don't have to worry about storage. My favorite situation. So, all flakes aside, this one is special. It's a delicious way to spend a summer evening. Bake it off a bit before you plan to eat, then turn the oven the heck off, make a side salad and let it (and your home) cool. Drink a glass of chilled white wine in front of your air conditioning unit before heading to the table.

 Golden Galette 
Makes one 5-6-inch galette. 

*1/2 a recipe rye tart dough disc, chilled 
+A spoonful roasted Corn
++A spoonful Caramelized Onions
8-10 slices yellow squash, raw
2 T feta cheese, grated or crumbled small, divided
1 T grated pecorino
Sea Salt + Pepper
1 small garlic clove
1 T olive oil
1 egg yolk, beaten
Coarse Salt 

+For roast corn: shuck and shave kernals off a husk. Heat a cast iron skillet, melt a knob butter + oil, and throw in the corn, a pinch salt, letting it cook a few minutes. Toss, then lower the heat and cover for a minute. Take off the heat, add a pinch of minced garlic, stir and cool. 
++For caramelized onions, melt butter + oil in a skillet, slice an onion thin. Sautee onion 5 minutes on medium until transluscent, sprinkle with salt and decrease heat to low, cook about 40 more minutes. De-glaze pan with splash water, scrape onions and set aside. 

Oven to 400 degrees F
Prep the Veggies 
Spread squash slices on a towel and sprinkle with salt. Let sit while you prep everything else. When ready to use, blot any excess water that surfaced. I had a jar of roasted corn and caramelized onions on hand so I threw a Tablespoon of each in for contrast. Set those out too. You want everything at your ready as you don't want the pastry to sit out too long.

Make the Spread:
Mix both pecorino and most of the feta save a pinch, with half the egg yolk, a pinch each salt and pepper and half the garlic. It will not be very wet and may seem clumpy, dry and that is ok. Set aside.

Assemble
Roll out your dough  into a rough circle, between 2 pieces of parchment, rotating the circle to get the edges, not too thin, not too thick--mine was 8-ish inches. My kitchen was hot so at this point I put the parchment lined dough into the fridge for a few minutes. Take off the top piece of parchment, scoop the cheese mixture onto the center and spread into a circle. Next Scoop the onions and corn on. Arrange the squash so that it is exposed, concentrically. Fold in the edges, using the parchment to help if needed. Sprinkle the remaining oil and garlic over the squash, along with the reserved pinch of feta. Transfer on parchment, to baking sheet. Put the tray in the freezer for another few minutes, then brush the edge with the remaining egg yolk, sprinkle with salt, and bake for 30 minutes until the cheese is puffed, the squash wilted and the crust nicely browned. Let cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes and serve warm or room temperature.


*Rustic Rye Tart Dough from Kim Boyce:
Note: Allow at least 3 hours from when you make it to before you plan to use this dough. For best planning, just make the dough when you randomly have time and assemble the tarts another day.

1/2 c rye flour
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 T very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. 
4 T ice water

Sift Dry ingredients into a bowl. Cube butter. It is a good idea to set the dry ingredients and the cubed butter into the freezer while you prep everything else. Next, add butter on top of flour and work flour and butter between your fingers or with a pastry blender, so the dough forms pea size crumbs. Add the cider vinegar and the water. Working from the sides, gather dough to center so it forms a ball. Transfer to a piece of plastic wrap, shape/flatten it slightly into a ball,  wrap tightly, refrigerate an hour minimum.

Get out a rolling pin and lay a piece of parchment or plastic out. Sprinkle it with flour, lay the dough disk on the parchment, sprinkle with flour very lightly. Place plastic or parchment on top of the dough if desired. Now roll it into a rectangle.

Now, fold the dough like a letter, the left side in then the right on top of it.

Roll it out again into a rectangle, rotate, fold like a letter again. You are creating layers. Do this twice more, then roll into a rectangle again.

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate again for an hour minimum, up to three days, or freeze for a few weeks and thaw in fridge for a day.

12 July 2013

Berry Rye Galettes



Last summer, I remember reading an article in the New York Times about anxiety over the bounty of summer produce from the farmer's market, and I felt like I'd stepped into my own personal AA meeting. Or shall I say, "FA."  Berries and cherries. Berries and cherries. Baskets and bushels of them. They are everywhere. All around. And now peaches. And they don't have that long of a peak. The sites on which I'm hooked: TheKitchn and Food52, are all about tarts, crumbles and crisps right now, encouraging the cooking of these pure, in-season fruits. I've been watching this all from the sidelines, and with the exception of this one roasted strawberry batch, I can't help eating these berries raw, in relish-mode: a pile of blueberries on morning yogurt and granola, dressed in honey, a late afternoon handful of cherries, thankful that they just taste like berries should! And then-- the Internet. And its crumbles and tarts. I thought the moment would come in a month or so, when the berries were inching past their prime, perhaps my kitchen was a bit cooler in temperature and I'd be compelled by default to cook the buds tucked into dough, but, I can't not do this now. So, I did this. 


I started with my Kim Boyce Good To the Grain cookbook and made the rye pastry to modify the recipe for the Apricot Boysenberry Tart in a Rye Crust. Despite the anxiety I feel around the plethora of available fruits at the moment, I have seen neither apricots nor boysenberries by me yet. So that was one thing that would be different. I did have a scattering of raspberries, strawberries some stray tart cherries and a peach, though, and some strawberry jam on hand, so I decided that's what I'd work with. And the second thing I'd modify was the size of the tarts. Since Boyce smartly has you freeze the formed tarts raw before baking them, for as little as an hour and up to a month, I figured I could get four tarts out of one round of dough (actually half a recipe of the Boyce book dough in general) and bake them off as I wanted them. So I made the dough, then divided that in half, and in half again. I formed two tartlets, both when folded up measuring around 3 inches each, froze them, and baked one so far. The other half of the dough itself is also in the freezer for use later. As I mentioned in the Peanut Butter Cookies post, freezing raw is very convenient.


This dough. I've told you about it before, when I used it for a savory brussels sprouts galette. It starts as a rough ball you rest in the fridge and then magically becomes smooth when you fold it like a letter and roll it, and then rest it again. While I've experimented with another way of making tart dough, similar to this, but working the butter in differently, bowl-lessly (is that a word?) with your palm, and mentioned it in a post on the wonders of Chez Pim, I wanted to stay true to Boyce here, really use the rye flour the way she calls for (this is a half all-purpose, half-rye ratio with less butter than Pim's), as well as Boyce's in-bowl technique. What both of the methods have in common though, is the rolling and folding of the dough, thus making this dough an exercise in zen alleviation of anxiety as it is.


And the tarts! Yes! Bake the fruits in season. They'll bubble and soften, and the crust crisps and after waiting a few minutes for them to cool, you have your own little tart in a deliciously rustic crust. I loved doing the little tartlet concept because we are only two people here and actually one of them is perfect splitting-size for that afternoon nosh or evening treat, but by all means, one big tart is also a good idea for a larger group. Not surprisingly, my only issue here was perhaps going a little heavy-handed on the fruit filling for the tartlets, since they are small. Next round I'd scale back just a tad and maybe drain the juices a little more before plopping the fruit mix into the dough. But at the same time...Boyce assures a little berry bubbling/dripping/caramelizing while the tarts are on their last leg in the oven is just what signifies their done-ness. And that's exactly what happened.



Berry-Peach Tartlets in a Rye Crust
Adapted from Good to the Grain

Notes: This dough recipe makes enough for one 9-10 inch tart (size when folded in). You can either make one large one or 4 small ones (or even three). Baking time for me for the smalls was about 35 minutes since they were frozen raw.

1 Disc **Rustic Rye Tart Dough
Heaping 1/2 cup jam of your choice
2 small peaches, peeled, sliced
3/4 c berries
2 T sugar

Egg wash:
1 beaten egg
1 T turbinado sugar mixed with a pinch cinnamon 

Mix the peaches in one bowl and the berries in the other. Mix 1-2 T sugar into each bowl, depending on the sweetness the fruit already has. Take a large spoonful of jam and carefully mix into each bowl, aiming to not break up the fruit. Set not too far aside.

After you've made the dough, divide it into 4 equal parts with a bench scraper or sharp knife. Keep the others refrigerated and work with one piece of dough at a time. Roll it out a bit carefully, thin but not too thin (see above photo). I like to put a piece of plastic over it and essentially roll it between plastic. Add a pinch flour if you have any sticking. Transfer to parchment. 

Smear a scant tablespoon jam on the center of the tart. Top with a few peach slices and top with the berry mix, nestling them into the peaches. Tuck the dough over the center and pinch a tad, folding it in just so it creates a nest. Set this one in the freezer while you repeat with the other pieces of dough. 

When the tarts are formed, freeze them for a minimum of one hour and up to a month tightly wrapped in plastic. When ready to bake, beat the egg well into a milky yellow wash and brush the sides of the dough with it, then sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar. Set on a parchment-lined sheet at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is dark tan and the fruit is bubbly. 


**Rustic Rye Tart Dough:
Note: Allow at least 3 hours from when you make it to before you plan to use this dough. For best planning, just make the dough when you randomly have time and assemble the tarts another day.

1/2 c rye flour
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 T very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. 
4 T ice water

Sift Dry ingredients into a bowl. Cube butter. It is a good idea to set the dry ingredients and the cubed butter into the freezer while you prep everything else. Next, add butter on top of flour and work flour and butter between your fingers or with a pastry blender, so the dough forms pea size crumbs. Add the cider vinegar and the water. Working from the sides, gather dough to center so it forms a ball. Transfer to a piece of plastic wrap, shape/flatten it slightly into a ball,  wrap tightly, refrigerate an hour minimum.

Get out a rolling pin and lay a piece of parchment or plastic out. Sprinkle it with flour, lay the dough disk on the parchment, sprinkle with flour very lightly. Place plastic or parchment on top of the dough if desired. Now roll it into a rectangle.

Now, fold the dough like a letter, the left side in then the right on top of it.

Roll it out again into a rectangle, rotate, fold like a letter again. You are creating layers. Do this twice more, then roll into a rectangle again.

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate again for an hour minimum, up to three days, or freeze for a few weeks and thaw in fridge for a day.

06 July 2013

Babycakes


While the odds are that over the past few days you've been surrounded by blueberries and cherries and the debut of peaches (I'm leaving shortly to go scavenge for some at the farmer's market), I'm bringing you something a tad more season-less or shall I say, timeless, today: Little banana muffins.

Let's get something out of the way though: all classic-ness aside, as a summer berry fiend--why did I really make these? There was a single, sad, browning banana sitting in the fridge that was calling out for help and primed for bread-baking or muffin baking.


And yet, despite its omnipresence, I always find banana bread is a fickle nut to crack: do you use three bananas for a standard loaf? Four or five? A mixer? Just your arms? Recipes run the gamut. Less flour? More? Any milk/yogurts/creams? Everyone seems to think their method works better. Not to mention using oil, melted butter or creamed butter. It's all up for grabs, it all turns out a baked banana something but my suspicion is we'll keep debating what works best.

I however, have found something I like, that I'll make again. With my mission to use one banana I found an acclaimed recipe from the amazing Dorie Greenspan in which she calls for not three but two, large bananas. Bingo. So, I'd halve it for a small muffin batch--my almost favorite thing to bake.




These muffins are not dressed up much, and I think that is precisely what makes them themselves. They are a nutless, coconut-less, straightforward, muffin version of a basic banana bread/cake but there are a few things that set them apart. The butter here is creamed with just enough sugar and kept moist with sour-cream. With a flour ratio already on the more minimal side, I decided to mix just a little whole wheat into the ratio, too. They are light and airy and just so good halved, warmed a tad and slicked with a dollop of honey and/or butter.

Before I share the recipe, I'll leave you with some muffin philosophy. Whenever I meet a muffin I'm interested in, I first analyze when I'd have to bake it off in order to enjoy it at its prime. There's no use in making blueberry muffins, for example, the day before only to have them go soggy on you (especially in this weather...) the next morning. Banana, bran, (and even some corn) though? They, depending on their ingredients, tend to hold up differently. And when possible, I'd like to have breakfast within a half hour of waking up. This bran muffin, as I've shared, gets better over its 1-4 day shelf life. This banana muffin was also splendid the next day.



Dorie Greenspan's Little Banana Cakes  

Adapted from Dorie

Notes: What you see below is a halved batch. It will yield 5 or 6 muffins. Feel free to double it, or bake it for 60 minutes in a loaf pan (if doubled) for a classic bread form. I found 28 minutes to be sufficient for these muffins. Keep an eye after 24 minutes though. Sugar: sweetness is rather personal. With the recipe calling for 1/2 cup and banana already being sweet, I dialed it to between 1/4 and 1/2 and it was great that way.


3/4 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour (MN note: I used about 60 grams all purpose and 30 grams whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
 2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
*1/4-1/2 cup sugar (see headnote) 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 (27 grams) large egg, at room temperature 
1 very ripe banana, mashed 
1/4 cup sour cream (full-fat yogurt is doable too)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter 5 or 6 regular-size muffin cups.

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then the egg, beating for a little under minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the banana. Scrape down as needed.

Mix in half the dry ingredients, all the sour cream and then the rest of the flour mixture. Do not over-mix. Batter should be lumpy-ish. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake the little cakes for about 27 to 31 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Transfer the muffin tin to a rack, cool for 3 minutes, then gently turn the little cakes out of the tin. Cool to room temperature on a rack.

Wrapped airtight, the little cakes will keep at room temperature for a day or two (watch the weather though) or in the freezer for a month.

01 July 2013

Wait and Bake


I'm protective of a good cookie.

I am not going to go about mixing a wad of dough on a sweltering afternoon, throw it into a hot oven and sit there and face one and a half dozen cookies like a fool, as they present themselves, perched on a rack, nicely tanned, puffed and speckled in sea salt, waiting to be attended to, while in their prime. This is not a bakery, unfortunately. So unless I know I'm going to see a bunch of people over the next few hours, I find that above prospect slightly daunting and depressing. Fortunately, there's a solution for that, one that enables you to preserve your work and stretch it out, too.



Mix. Scoop. Flash Freeze. Bag. Wait. Bake.

Frozen dough balls at your service. Suddenly you're calm, and you feel like you do own a bakery. We don't have to rush into things.



The wonderful thing about the Internet is that you can find out about anything and everything you are thinking of doing before you go ahead and do it. Sometimes this is just a more confounding practice, sometimes it pays off and prevents you from making huge mistakes. I must confess that the amount of Googling I do is starting to alarm me. I want a little more mystery, and yet, I don't. Not when it comes to peanut butter cookies.

I found out about these Salted Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate cookies from the Orangette blog, the recipe which she found out about through Hot Cakes Confections, a bakery, who I'm almost positive did not find it on the Internet. I stalled making them, thinking they were a bit too... bakery-ish! In their production... with grams measures and pastry flour. But then I did a little more research and dove in.



Here's the science. These cookies are soft and chewy, that's their M.O. They are studded with milk chocolate and slightly delicate but not crumbly. To make them shine out in that way they were meant to, you have to be sure and do a few things. Bake them until the sides are beginning to turn golden, but not the tops. The tops will look under-done. Take them out at that point (I can't resist a tiny coarse salt sprinkle at that point, either), then cool completely, over 20-30 minutes. And then look at them. They will have firmed up.

Timing. I searched baking time for smaller cookies than Orangette blogged but didn't find much. So then it was up to me. That's why baking off one or two at a time is also pretty great. Now, I did not try baking from the bowl to the oven--baking from the cold is the secret here that helps the cookies hold their shape. I made the dough, scooped, froze the dough balls and baked a few the next day. And the next. And today...just a few minutes ago.

What we're learning about bakeries is they rely on their freezer. The freezer preserves. And we can rely on it too. After a few times in the oven, I'm banking on a solid 20 minutes oven time on these (there's an extra 5 tagged in there because they are frozen). And while my cookies were smaller than Hot Cakes specified (about 2 Tablespoons dough versus the original recipe's scant 4 Tablespoons) I still found them "big" enough and I like that size. My scoop yielded cookies that measured on average about 2 1/2 inches across.



The other notes I have are about volumes/measurements. I highly recommend a kitchen scale. Not just for this but for most baking. It is much easier to measure everything, including your salt, that way. I'm a convert. The last few things I've baked I've nixed the cups and weighed in grams and like it better. Who knows if you're ever measuring your flour right even if you think you scoop and swipe just fine?

It's just much more reliable to weigh it and it's less fussy than it sounds. And speaking of flour, while the recipe originally calls for pastry flour, I found using about 2 grams less of my go-to low-protein unbleached all-purpose flour to be fine (I use Heckers). While the original recipe called for Kosher salt, I used sea salt. Weighing salt yields universal results so you don't have to worry about various Kosher catastrophes.

A few more words about this dough and then I'll pass the recipe. It is soft and a little delicate. That is why it functions best when baked from the frozen. These bakeries have some things figured out for us, already, right? If you don't believe me, ask the Internet. I found my cookie scoop there, too.




Salted Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
 Halved and adapted from Orangette

Note: I highly recommend the weight measures. If you must... I also included cups

118 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour (low-protein like Heckers)
2.5 grams (1/2 tsp.) baking soda
6 grams kosher or sea salt  (about 1 heaped tsp)
137.5 grams (1 stick plus 1.5 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
100 grams (about 1/2  cup + 2 T ) brown sugar
85 grams (1/2 cup plus 3 T) sugar
1 large egg
200 grams (3/4 cup) natural salted creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
85 grams chopped milk chocolate

Measure all ingredients. In a bowl, combine the  flour, baking soda, and salt, and whisk well.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, beat. Add the peanut butter and vanilla, and beat on medium-low speed to blend. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing on low speed until incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the chocolate, and beat briefly on low speed, just until evenly incorporated.

Using a cookie scoop to scoop the batter onto a lined sheet pan. Since this dough freezes beautifully, I suggest baking from frozen. Scoop the dough onto a sheet pan and flash freeze until hard (an hour); then transfer the dough mounds to a freezer bag or other airtight container. Do not defrost balls before baking.

When ready to bake: Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake 19-21 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and pale golden around the edges, but their tops have no color. The cookies will not look fully baked, and this is important! The chewy texture of these cookies depends on it. Transfer the pan to a rack, and cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan. They will firm up as they cool.

Yield: about 18 2.5-inch cookies