Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lemon-Glazed Madeleines

My idea of a perfect madeleine: has a bump, is airy and springy, and must have nice seashell shape. And I finally found it thanks to David Lebovitz! I don't think I've ever made anything I regretted from him, everything always turns out delicious!

These madeleines didn't require much time to make. In fact, I left them in the refrigerator overnight and baked them in the morning. I used to use cooking spray for the pans but they would stick a bit and it would ruin the whole shape! Butter and flour is the way to go!


Lemon-Glazed Madeleines
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes 24 madeleines

3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 (130g) cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 (170g) cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of one small lemon
9 tbsp (120g) unsalted butter, melted and at room temperature

Lemon Glaze:
3/4 cup (150g) powdered sugar
1 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp water

Brush the madeleine mold with the melted butter. Dust it with flour, tap off the excess flour, and place it in the refrigerator.

In a medium bowl, whip the eggs, granulated sugar and salt until thickened, about 5 minutes. Spoon the flour and baking powder into a sifter and use a spatula to fold it in as you sift it over the egg mixture. Add the lemon zest to the cooled butter and drizzle it into the batter a few spoonfuls at a time while folding the batter to incorporate it.

Cover and chill the dough for at least one hour (and at most 12 hours).

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Fill the madeleine molds with about three quarters dough (don't spread it). Bake for 8-9 minutes.

While madeleines are baking, make the lemon glaze by stirring the lemon juice, powdered sugar and water together in a bowl until smoothe.

When madeleines are cool enough to be handled, dip one side of each into the glaze (the shell side) and rest them, glaze-side up, onto a cooling rack until glaze has cooled.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tarte aux pommes - Apple Tart

Lately, I've been doing a lot of thinking about my future. I had a hard time choosing my major in University and I sometimes wonder if I made the right choice. I still have some time ahead of me, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to motivate myself and devote myself 100 percent to studying Accountancy.

This past summer, an idea occurred to me and I am surprised I didn't think of it earlier: why don't I study pastry and do something that I actually enjoy? I do spend most of my time reading baking blogs, flipping through food magazines and baking books, watching the Food Network, baking and making ice cream...

So I've come to a big decision: I will apply to the Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec for next Fall and meanwhile continue my studies in Accountancy! The only thing really motivating me is knowing that I will be able to attend the Professional Pastry Making Program. Until then, I have made it my objective to learn as much as I can about pastry arts! I own The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts, the book used in the Classic Pastry Arts Program at the French Culinary Institute, and believe that I can learn a lot from it!

So here goes, the tart I've been meaning to make for a long time, the apple tart. I will not be posting the recipes from the book since I will be using it a lot and I don't think it would be right. I used a pâte sablé (shortbread) dough for the crust and made an apple compote with apples, sugar, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Thinly-cut apple slices were arranged on the top and the tart was baked for 50 minutes at 350 degrees F. When cooled, I lightly brushed the top with a nappage made from apricot jam and a bit of water.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rainbow Cake

I am so obsessed with Whisk Kid, Kaitlin's blog! She always makes these truly amazing cakes and cupcakes and has really good photographing skills... like the grapefruit cupcakes she posted recently! I really want to learn how to make those buttercream roses!

Whisk Kid is one of the first blogs I discovered when I entered the food blogging world. Like many others, the famous Super Epic Rainbow Cake is what led me to it! I was so happy for her when she made her appearance on The Martha Stewart Show in June. That means that not only bloggers and people who bake for fun visit food blogs, but bigger companies (like even the Food Network) are constantly searching the web for ideas!

Last Saturday was my boyfriend's and friend's potluck birthday. Their birthday falls on the same date so they celebrate it together every year. I wanted to bring a cake but not just any cake. Not a simple buttercream layered one, but a huge colorful cake with lots of layers!

Making THE cake was pretty long, which is why I don't make cakes often! It is pretty simple if you think about it: make the cake batter, divide it into 6 bowls, put different colors in each, bake, cool, make swiss meringue buttercream and assemble. There was one problem: I only had 2 round cake pans so it made the process longer. And let's not forget all the dishes pilling up non-stop...

I only suggest you serve this cake at room temperature so leave it out for about an hour or so. I served it right out of the fridge and the swiss meringue buttercream tasted really buttery...

I have to admit though, I am quite pleased with the result and so was everyone else. The birthday boys were really surprised when they cut a slice and got to see the rainbow!

For the recipe, you can visit Whisk Kid here where she also put the link for you to watch her appearance on The Martha Stewart Show (I watched it before making the cake, it really helped).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Checkerboard Cookies

I first saw these cookies in The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts book and have avoided making them ever since because I found they looked really hard to make. In the book, there's a recipe for the chocolate and vanilla doughs, but no explanation on how to achieve the checkerboard! Luckily I found a diagram on Baking Obsession that Vera drew to help people like me :)

The doughs didn't require much time to make but I had to keep taking them in and out of the fridge. Cutting and assembling the dough (following the diagram from Baking Obsession) is easier when they are cold.

As long as the dough doesn't get too soft at room temperature (like the spritz cookie dough), any shortbread or sablé cookie dough recipe would do. I used the recipe from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts book for sablé cookies and was very pleased with the results!