Endive, Apples, and Grapes {FFwD}

Do you remember when you made Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup for French Fridays with Dorie? You can be forgiven if you don’t; it was almost a year ago. It was also the last FFwD recipe that I made before I dropped out of sight.

Well, I”M BAAAAAAACK!!!!

I was going to restart French Fridays in October. In fact, I read through the recipes and have already started buying the ingredients. But when I saw this week’s pick, I decided to jump in a week ahead of schedule.

I love sautéed apples, but I had never had grapes or endive cooked in butter before. OK, truth be told, I don’t think I’ve ever had endive at all. But slow cooked with fruit and butter — how bad could it be?

This was a really simple recipe. Other than the fruit, butter, and endive, it contained only rosemary, salt, and pepper, all of which I tucked into a cast iron skillet over low heat.

After 20 minutes, I turned everything over to cook some more.

Another 20 minutes, and it was done.

I put everything on a plate, scraped up the buttery bits in the bottom of the pan, and poured that over the top.

I sprinkled on a little salt and pepper, and tucked into this delightful little dish. The apples and grapes were amazing. (If you’ve never had a grape cooked in butter, you don’t know what you’re missing.)

As far as the endive goes, I enjoyed it with bites of fruit, but it was too bitter to eat just by itself. I think if I were to make this dish again, I’d try to come up with something to use in place of the endive. Having a savory component to the dish is a great idea. But I wish I could think of something less bitter and with a bit more flavor on its own.

In any case, it’s good to be back doing French Fridays again. I’m not going to try to make every recipe — that’s how I got burned out last time. And some of my posts may be short and sweet, been-there-made-that kind of affairs. But at least I’ll be making recipes from Around My French Table again.

And after all that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

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Triple Chocolate Cake {ModBak}

A few weeks ago, I wrote about making this wonderful light and airy Cocoa Génoise.

Today’s Modern Baker Challenge post is about what I made with the génoise layer. As the name implies, this cake is chocolate on chocolate covered with chocolate. In addition to the chocolate cake, there are two versions of chocolate ganache — one used to frost the cake and the other a glaze that goes over the whole thing.

With my génoise at the ready, I began by making a moistening syrup, which consisted of water, sugar, and raspberry liqueur.

I set the syrup aside to cool while I made the ganaches.

First, the ganache for filling and spreading. While I heated cream and corn syrup on the stove, I melted bittersweet chocolate in a bowl.

I poured the cream mixture over the chocolate, mixed well, then whisked in softened butter.

Next, I made the ganache glaze, which was also made with cream, corn syrup, and chocolate, although not as much chocolate as the filling. And there was no butter in the glaze. And rather than melting the chocolate, I poured the cream mixture over the chocolate and let the heat from the cream melt the chocolate.

To assemble the cake, I cut the génoise into three layers. I put the bottom layer on a tart pan bottom and brushed it with 1/3 of the moistening syrup. I topped this with about 1/3 of the ganache filling and spread it to the edge of the cake. I repeated the layers two more times, then spread ganache frosting over the entire cake.

I refrigerated the cake for a while, then poured the ganache glaze over the top and smoothed it over the sides.

This cake was beautiful. The glaze gave it a smooth, perfectly finished look. The kind you see in a bakery and wonder, “How do they do that?”

I made this cake before my parents came for a visit so they could enjoy it with us.

This cake was amazing! It may be the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. And my parents, with over 140 years of cake-eating experience between them, agreed that this was by far the best chocolate frosting they’ve ever tasted.

As Nick points out in the notes, this is a cake for a milestone birthday or other very special occasion. It has enough flavor and visual appeal to match up to any celebration. And even though it’s a bit of work to put together, the accolades you’ll receive make it well worth the effort.

Banana Rum Coconut Layer Cake {ModBak}

This week’s Modern Baker Challenge cake features one of my favorite flavors. No, I don’t mean dark rum (although I’m certainly not opposed to rum). I’m talking about bananas. Regular readers of my blog know about my obsession with all things pumpkin, as well as my love of apples. But I am equally enamored with bananas.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’ll eat anything that’s banana flavored. In fact, like strawberries, while I love real bananas, I really dislike “banana flavored” foods. But give me a fresh banana, or better yet a baked good made with ripe bananas, and I’m a happy man.

So this cake was right up my alley. It combines ripe bananas with rum and coconut for a delicious tropical flavor baked into a homey layer cake.

To make the cake layers, I beat butter, granulated and dark brown sugars, and vanilla until fluffy, then added eggs. I mixed flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in one bowl and mashed bananas, milk, and dark rum in another. I alternated adding these to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

I beat the batter for several minutes to lighten it, then divided it between two 9-inch pans. I baked the cake layers in a 350°F oven for about 25 minutes, until the cake was well risen, golden, and firm in the center.

This cake smelled good enough to eat right out of the oven. But I resisted and cooled the layers while I made the frosting.

As I’ve baked my way through the Cakes section of  The Modern Baker, I have really come to appreciate the simplicity, lightness, and wonderful flavor of whipped cream as cake frosting. And when you add rum to the whipped cream, well, things can only get better.

Having cooled the layers and made the frosting, which consisted of whipping cream, sugar, and dark rum, I was ready to assemble the cake. I placed the first layer on a cake plate, sprinkled it with about a tablespoon of dark rum, and spread the top with whipped cream. I inverted the second layer on top of the first and topped it with rum and whipped cream. I spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake, then pressed coconut into the frosting.

We enjoyed this cake for dessert, and everyone asked for seconds.

This cake was delicious, with the tropical flavors of banana and coconut shining through. And even though it had dark rum in the batter and frosting, it wasn’t at all boozy tasting.

This is another celebration cake: one that’s simple enough to make for any gathering, but impressive enough to commemorate those special occasions.

Backyard Mint Ice Cream {Ice Cream Sunday}

For my second Ice Cream Sunday post, I decided to make Backyard Mint Ice Cream. This recipe is Jeni’s basic recipe with “a large handful” of hand-torn mint added just before the base is chilled.

If you aren’t familiar with the base recipe, check out my Sweet Corn & Black Raspberry Ice Cream post and leave out the corn and blackberry sauce. You can also find the Backyard Mint recipe here.

Phyl’s notes:

  • The recipe says to add the torn mint to the ice cream base, chill for 4 to 12 hours, then strain out the mint. Several of the Jeni ice cream bases I’ve made have been quite thick, almost the consistency of set pudding, and I was afraid I might have trouble getting the base through the strainer. To avoid this issue, I tied the mint in a double layer of cheesecloth, as I figured this would impart the mint flavor without having to strain it. What I didn’t count on was how much of the base the cheesecloth would absorb. I ended up with about a pint of ice cream, rather than the quart it should have made.
  • I skipped the ice bath, as the base had to chill with the mint in it anyway.
  • This ice cream would be great with mini chocolate chips or small chocolate pieces added at the end of churning.

We really enjoyed this ice cream, and all wished we had more. Luckily, this is a really easy recipe to make. And I have plenty of mint in the backyard.

Whole Wheat Loaves {TWD-BWJ}

Many of the Tuesdays with Dorie recipes from Baking with Julia have been new to me, either in ingredients, technique, or finished product. Not so these hearty whole wheat loaves. I’ve been baking bread for over 30 years, so there was nothing new here. Classic ingredients, standard techniques, nothing fancy.

But don’t take that to mean this was a ho-hum recipe. Far from it. While everything about this recipe was comfortably familiar to me, the finished loaves were nothing like the dense, crumbly whole wheat loaves so many recipes produce. No, these were light, airy, slightly sweet loaves that rose well over the pan and far beyond my expectations.

The ingredients list for the loaves was simple: water, yeast, honey, bread and whole wheat flours, canola oil, malt extract, and salt. It’s the honey and malt that give these loaves their earthy sweetness. And the combination of flours resulted in a hearty, yet tender, crumb.

The dough was wonderful to work with: firm, tacky but not sticky, and quite supple.

Here it is before bulk fermenting:

And here’s what it looked like 1 1/2 hours later:

I divided the dough (not too evenly, as it turns out), shaped the loaves, and put them in pans to proof.

After an hour of proofing, the loaves were well-risen and ready to bake.

This, boys and girls, is why you should always scale your dough.

I baked the loaves, cooled them, then put one in the freezer and kept the other out to use for toast and sandwiches.

This is a delicious bread, and easy enough to make a bread baker out of anyone!

Our host for this week are Michele of Veggie Num Nums and Teresa of The Family That Bakes Together. Check out their posts for the recipe and to see what they thought of this bread.

Sweet Corn & Black Raspberry Ice Cream {Ice Cream Sunday} {Recipe}

I recently bought myself two presents: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer and The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. And since I knew I would be trying lots of ice cream recipes, I decided to declare the beginning of the week “Ice Cream Sunday”. I probably won’t post every week, and I’m sure I won’t write about all the recipes I try. But I do want a place to record my adventures so I can keep track of what I liked, what I didn’t, and what I might do differently next time.

It all started when I decided to host Ice Cream Week earlier this Summer. A full week of ice cream recipes — how bad could that be? I had picked my recipes, made all five of them, and written the blog posts., Then I discovered this recipe.

Sweet Corn Blackberry Ice Cream
Picture from saveur.com

A lot of my friends had made Jeni’s recipes, and they all raved about how good they were. So even though my Ice Cream Week recipes were in the bag, I decided to try a Jeni recipe. Saveur had a bunch of them on its website, and I pinned several to my Ice Cream board. Although they all looked good, I quickly settled on this recipe. Not only do I love black raspberries, the idea of making ice cream with sweet corn was just too strange and intriguing to pass up.

I generally don’t post recipes when I’m making them from a published cookbook, but this one is readily available online, so I’ll share it here.

Sweet Corn & Black Raspberry Ice Cream (from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup black raspberries or blackberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (for black raspberry sauce)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 ear sweet corn, husked
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar (for ice cream)
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Directions

  1. To make raspberry sauce, bring black raspberries and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 8 minutes; strain and chill.
  2. To make ice cream, in a small prep bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of the milk and the cornstarch to make a slurry. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk cream cheese and salt until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Cut kernels off cob of corn and cut cob into large chunks; reserve kernels and cob together. In a 4-quart saucepan, whisk together remaining milk and the cream, sugar, and corn syrup; add corn kernels and cob and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook and stir for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in slurry. Return to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine strainer into a bowl and discard corn solids.
  5. Gradually whisk hot cream mixture into cream cheese until smooth.
  6. Cover bowl and refrigerate mixture until well chilled, preferably overnight. Or to quick chill, pour mixture into a gallon-size zipper seal bag and submerge in ice water for about 30 minutes.
  7. Churn base in ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  8. Layer ice cream and black raspberry sauce in storage container. Press a piece of parchment or wax paper against surface of ice cream and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Makes 1 quart

This ice cream is insanely good. The sweet corn gives it a silky texture and an almost vanilla-like flavor. And the blackberry sauce adds visual appeal and a nice sweet-tart finish.

I can’t wait to try more of Jeni’s ice creams. And I haven’t even cracked open David’s book yet.

Stay tuned.

Whipped Cream Layer Cake {ModBak}

I’m still baking my way through the Cakes Section of the Modern Baker Challenge, and this week’s entry is a simple and delicious layer cake. What makes this cake unique is that the butter you would normally expect to find in a cake is replaced by whipping cream. This makes sense if you recall that overwhipped cream turns into butter.

So all you are really doing with this recipe is replacing the butterfat in butter with that in whipped cream. The fat and the air whipped into the cream add to the texture, lightness, and tender crumb in this cake.

The frosting for this cake is also made with whipped cream, but the sweetness of the cake and cream are balanced by the addition of caramel to the frosting. At least, they are supposed to be.

My misadventures with caramel are legend (although I’ve had some successes, too). At least I’m at the point of not fearing caramel in recipes anymore. So I wasn’t really concerned about making the caramel for this frosting. And it seemed to come out OK. But some of it seized up when I mixed in the cream, and after pulling out the solid chunks, what remained wasn’t enough to be visible or to flavor the whipped cream in any discernible way.

No matter, because even with regular whipped cream, this cake was light, airy, and delicious. Definitely one to make again.

Cocoa Génoise {ModBak}

The next cake in the line up for the Modern Baker Challenge is cocoa génoise. Flush with my recent success with a classic génoise, I was looking forward to making the cocoa variation.

First, a correction. The original hardback edition of The Modern Baker contains an erratum in the instructions. The book says to use 1 cup all-purpose flour for the cocoa génoise; it should read 1/3 cup all-purpose flour. This erratum was corrected in the paperback version of the book.

The cocoa génoise recipe is based on the classic génoise recipe, the only difference being the amounts of flour and cornstarch and, of course, the addition of cocoa. Otherwise, the ingredients and instructions are the same.

Check out my classic génoise post for step-by-step photos and details about the process. Here’s a picture of the cocoa génoise batter in the pan:

And here it is after it was baked:

It didn’t bake up quite as high as the classic génoise. I had to work a little harder to get the cocoa and flour mixed it, and I think I deflated the egg foam a bit. Nevertheless, it was light, airy, and delicious.

And I was still able to cut it into three layers. You’ll have to check back in a few days to see what I used them for….