Sunday, September 27, 2009

Russian Grandmother's Apple Pie-Cake

I ADORE Dorie Greenspan. She's a baking guru, she's knows how to make good stuff. There had been a basket of apples festering on the kitchen counter, begging to be baked I just knew I couldn't go wrong. 

This is Russian Grandmother's Apple Pie-Cake. It's thick and dense and crumbly and heavy and not for the faint of heart. Don't get me wrong, it's good, it's not exactly everything I hoped for, but it's taken me a day and half a pie-cake to decide if I like it. I do. 

Dorie also suggests that this dough, which is basically cookie dough, can also be used to make old fashioned sugar cookies. How perfect is that? I love you Dorie. 

Russian Grandmother's Apple Pie-Cake

For the Dough:

2 sticks(8 ounces butter)

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Juice of 1 lemon

3 1/4 - 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the Apples:

10 medium apples 

squirt of fresh lemon juice

1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)

1/4  cup sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon 

In a mixer  with paddle or with a hand-blender beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth. Add eggs and continue to beat until mixture is light and fluffy.  Reduce mixer speed to low and add baking powder and salt. Add the lemon juice-dough will probably curdle but don't worry about it. Still working on low speed, slowly but steadily add 3 1/4 cups flour, mixing to incorporate it and scraping down bowl as needed. The dough is meant to be soft, but if it looks more like batter than dough at this point add extra 1/4 cup flour. Turn dough on work surface, gather into a ball and divide in half. Shape each half in a rectangle. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (dough will last up to 3 days) 

Peep and core apples, cut into slices 1/4 inch thick. Toss in bowl with lemon juice and raisins. Combine sugar and cinnamon, toss with apple/raisin mixture. 

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 9-x-12 inch baking pan. 

Remove dough from fridge. Roll out on well floured surface or between sheets of wax paper. Or (you can do as I did) press and roll pieces of dough and patch them together in pan. DON'T worry, because of the baking powder everything will work out fine. 

Give apples a final toss in bowl and turn into pan, spread evenly across the bottom. 

Roll out 2nd piece of dough and position it over the apples. (This took me forever and this was so frustrating I just gave up, I did as I did for the bottom dough layer, VERY ARTISTICALLY patching top dough layer together. It looked beautiful.) 

Brush dough lightly with water and sprinkle with sugar over dough. Using a small sharp knife cut 6 to 8 evenly spaced slits in dough. 

Bake for 65 to 80 minutes or until dough is nice golden brown. Transfer the baking pan to a cooling rack and cool until warm or room temperature. You'll be tempted to eat this right away but I (Dorie) think the dough needs a little time to rest. (Because Dorie is so AWESOME I obey her every word. I waited.) 

Monday, September 21, 2009

No-Knead Rye Bread

 No knead bread. 
Oh where have you been all my life???
The texture... It's to die for, the crust is swoon-worthy. It's that good. I've been craving hearty, brown, bread. So I made no-knead rye bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. All I'm going to say is: DELICIOUS. While I absolutely think this bread is delicious, next time I'd be interested to try a different recipe. Not that this one wasn't satisfying, but I'm intrigued by other recipes which have molasses and more rye flour. Also next time, I'll use fewer caraway seeds. Not that I don't like them, but I'm not exactly in love with them. 

Deli Style Rye
from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

This recipe calls for a lot of equipment, most of which I don't have. (No baking stone, no pizza peel etc, no boiler tray.) In this regard I improvised a little. I just used baking sheets. And instead of a boiler tray used a little bread pan. 

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 cup rye flour
5 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

Mix yeast, salt, and caraway seeds with water in a 5 quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container. 

Mix in remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, a 14 cup capacity food processor(with dough attachment) or heavy duty stand mixer (with dough hook). If you're not using a machine you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. 

Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest a room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours. 

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. (Lies. It was still difficult.) 

ON BAKING DAY, dust the surface of refrigerated dough with flour and cup off a one pound (grapefruit size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the sureface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. Elongate ball into an oval-shaped loaf. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal covered pizza peel (Or baking sheet.) for 40 minutes. 

TWENTY MINUTES BEFORE BAKING, preheat the oven to 450F, with a baking stone (Or baking sheet.) placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that wont interfere with the rising bread.

Sprinkle with additional caraway seeds. Slash with deep parallel cuts across the loaf, using a serrated bread knife. 

Slide the loaves directly onto the hot stone (Or sheet.) Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close oven door. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time. 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Luscious Cake

I just read Molly Wizenberg's book A Homemade Life. It was great, about life and food and love and everything in between. But what I really loved were the recipes, they all seemed so simple and different and original. I knew, the second I finished the book, that I had to make her 'Winning Hearts and Minds Cake'. It's a very simple, french cake. It's ridiculously rich and chocolately and a snap to make. Almost like a brownie. It's luscious. That's the perfect word to describe this glorious cake. Luscious. 

'Winning Hearts and Minds Cake' from Molly Wizenbergs, A Homemade Life

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 3/4 sticks (7 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375, and butter and flour an 8 inch (I used a nine inch.) round cake pan. 
Pour chocolate and butter in a medium microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time, stirring often, until just smooth. When mixture is smooth, add sugar, stirring well to incorporate. Set batter aside to cool for 5 minutes. Then add eggs, one by one, stirring well after each addition. Add the flour, and stir to mix well. The batter should be dark and silky. 
Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for about 25 minutes, or until top of cake is lightly crackled and the edges are puffed and center of cake looks set. (Molly says to set the timer for 20 minutes to start with and check cake every 2 minute after that, until it's ready. At 20 minutes the center of cake is still very jiggly. The cake is done when when the center jiggles only a little.)
Remove cake from oven to cooling rack, let cool in pan then flip and magically transfer cake to serving platter so that crackly side is up. 

I'm just going to say, that this cake is especially good cold. Of course, it's delicious warm and melty, but cold. Oh it's just sooo good. 

Friday, September 11, 2009

White Chocolate Goodness

I love to try new recipes. I love eating different things. Maybe it's because I've grown up on several foods, (beans, rice, homemade bread) that are ALWAYS THERE. It's comforting, to know on the one hand that beans, rice and bread will always be in the refrigerator, waiting for me, but sometimes, I get impatient and demand to be fed something different. 
I often resist making the same thing over and over again. 
But not these cookies. NEVER these cookies. 
These are cookies to eat everyday, all the time. They are that good. They are as good as the Dorie Greenspan O-Cookie-of-Cookies-the-Best-Chocolate-Chip. But these babies. The babies are some serious competition. 
As I said before. They're that good. 
My parents even, who are notorious white chocolate haters love these cookies. They even bought more white chocolate specifically for these. Like I said. They're that good. 

Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated by SmittenKitchen 

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup white chocolate chips

Optional: 1 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped (Ooh so good.)

1/2 teapoon flaky sea salt (for sprinkling on top)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and table salt in a medium bowl.

2. Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down bowl again. Add flour mixture gradually and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add oats and white chocolate and mix until well incorporated.

3. Divide dough into 24 equal portions, each about 2 tablespoons. Roll between palms into balls, then place on lined baking sheets about 2 1/2 inches apart. Using fingertips, gently press down each ball to about 3/4-inch thickness. (I never do this, I just spoon a little more than a tablespoon right on to the sheet and pat them down a little.) 

4. Sprinkle a flake or two of sea salt on each cookie

5. Bake until cookies are deep golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool.

6. Eat and moan with pleasure.