Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TWD: BWJ - Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

So, there I was procrastinating again. I was talking with Laurie on Sunday and she assured me that cold butter was needed for the crust. No prep time really to make it. So why was it when she sent me a text with a photo of her gorgeous tart at 4:00 Monday afternoon that I hadn't started the crust yet? I started.

I did my crust in the food processor. I love being able to whir dough together in seconds. I did need to use quite a bit more water than called for. The recipe asks for 1 T, and I ended up using 4 T before the dough would come together. After a 60 minute chill, I cut the dough into six little chunks and pressed them into my tart pans. I know, I know, the directions said to roll. But I was a) lazy and b) wary because of the troubles some of the other bakers had with rolling. I knew I was sacrificing some tenderness, but I did it anyway. I baked my tarts with their bottoms on right on the oven rack. They came out perfectly.

I decided to make only half the filling. (I did make and bake the full dough recipe. I now have three lovely mini chocolate tart shells well wrapped and waiting in the freezer for my next tart experience.) I melted my butter and chocolate in the microwave. (lazy) The rest of the ingredients were duly whipped together and I added the chocolate mix. I didn't have biscotti, so I went with what I did have. Thin mints! (The Girl is a Girl Scout and I was the cookie mom for her troop. I have LOTS of cookies at my house.) I decided to skip the white and milk chocolate because I wanted a more dark/bitter taste to our tarts.

Four hours after beginning, I was done!

We ate the tart while it was still warm, so it was a bit soft. Still, warm minty chocolate on a delicious chocolate crust? Win! The whole gang gave this one a thumbs up.

Lousy photo due to no natural light.

This one was so much easier than I was expecting it to be. It was delicious and just elegant enough for a nice dinner.

For much better photos and the recipe, please visit one of our host's blogs: Jessica, Spike, Jaime, and Steph.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

TWD: BWJ - White Loaves

Woo hoo! Woo hoo! It's the first official week of our new book, Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Along with Laurie Woodward, I am lucky enough to be one of the group administrators and host for the first recipe. This group is a follow up to the wildly successful run of Tuesdays with Dorie wherein we baked through every recipe in Dorie's book, Baking From My Home to Yours.

I've had this book for forever and have, literally, never baked anything from it. To give you a sense of how long I've owned it - my copy is signed by Julia Child from the 1996 book tour. I am so glad to finally start using it! The book is based on recipes used in Julia Child's Master Chefs television series. Each of these recipes is attributed to a contributing baker.

On to the bread! This bread was lovely. The dough was a breeze to put together. (Thank you Nancy for your food processor tips! I'll detail those in a bit) The dough was silky and rose incredibly easily. One of the nice things about this bread is how versatile it is. The recipe makes two loves. It could easily be halved, but why? I made one loaf according to the recipe and put mini cinnamon chips in the second loaf. My rising times were pretty right on. It smelled incredible while baking. The Girl and Boy could not wait to dive right in and it was very hard on them to wait for it to cool a bit. Warm with butter and a sprinkle of sea salt, this bread is divine. The cinnamon version begged to be toasted and spread with a bit of butter. This is absolutely a keeper recipe.

Here is my bread pre-rise. I found a flour container to use as a rising bucket. I filled it with water and used a Sharpie to mark the lines. Cheap and easy! Right now it's at about the six cup mark.

Post-rise (sorry that it's hard to see) the dough is just about at the 12 cup mark.

Here it is formed and waiting for the second rise. Interesting that both of these pans are labeled as 8.5 x 4.5

Top view. They are not exactly equal. Hmmmm.

Side-ish view. You can see the one on the bottom has a bit of cinnamon spilling out.

Here's a cut side of the cinnamon loaf.

And a cut side of the plain loaf. Gorgeous rise. Tender crumb. Yum.

Toasted with butter.

And more toasted with butter. I'm sorry it's gone.

White Loaves (contributing baker - Craig Kominiak)

Makes 2 - 1 3/4 pound loaves

2 1/2 c. warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1 T. active dry yeast
1 T. sugar
7 c. (approximately) bread flour or unbleached all purpose flour
1 T. salt
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Mixing and kneading: Pour 1/2 cup of the water into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, sprinkle in the yeast and sugar, and whisk to blend. Allow the mixture to rest until the yeast is creamy, about 5 minutes.
Working in the mixer with the dough hook in place, add the remaining 2 cups water and about 3 1/2 cups flour to the yeast. Turn the mixer on and off a few times just to get the dough going without having the flour fly all over the counter and then, mixing on low speed, and 3 1/2 cups more flour. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat, stopping to scrape down the bowl and hook as needed, until the dough comes together. (If the dough does not come together, add a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time.) Add the salt and continue to beat and knead at medium speed for about ten minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you prefer, you can mix the dough in the machine for half that time and knead it by hand on a lightly floured surface for 8 to ten minutes. When the dough is thoroughly mixed (return it to the mixer if necessary), add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, and beat until incorporated. Don't be disconcerted if your beautiful dough comes apart the the addition of butter - beating will bring it back together.

First rise: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball. Place it in a large buttered or oiled bowl (one that can hold double the amount of dough). Turn the dough around to cover its entire surface with butter or oil, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest at room temperature until it doubles in bulk, about 45 minutes to one hour.

Shaping the dough: Butter two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans and set them aside. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half and work with one piece at a time. Using the palms of your hands and fingertips, or a rolling pin, pat the dough into a large rectangle about 9 inches wide and 12 inches long, with a short side facing you. Starting at the top, fold the dough about two thirds of the way down the rectangle and fold it again, so that the top edge meets the bottom edge. Seal the seam by pinching it. Turn the roll so that the seam is in the center of the roll, facing up, and turn the ends of the roll in just enough so that it will fit in a buttered loaf pan. Pinch the seams to seal, and turn the loaf over so that the seams are on the bottom, and plump the loaf with your palms to get an even shape. Drop the loaf into the pan, seam side down, and repeat with the other piece of dough.

Second rise: Cover the loaves with oiled plastic wrap, and allow them to rise in a warm place (about 80 F) until they double in size again growing over the tops of the pans, about 45 minutes.
While the loaves rise, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 F

Baking the Bread: When the loaves are fully risen (poke your finger into the dough; the impression should remain), bake them for 35 to 45 minutes, or until they are honey-brown and an instant-read thermometer plunged into the center of the bread (turn a loaf out and plunge the thermometer through the bottom of the bread) measures 200 F. (If you like, 10 minutes or so before you think the loaves should come out, you can turn the loaves out of their pans and let them bake on the oven rack so they brown on the sides) Remove the loaves from their pans as soon as they come from the oven and cool the breads on racks. These should not be cut until they are almost completely cool; just-warm is just right.

Storing: Once completely cool, the breads can be kept in a brown paper bag for a day or two. Once a loaf is sliced, turn it cut side down on the counter or a cutting board and cover with a kitchen towel. For longer storage, wrap the breads airtight and freeze for up to a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

My Notes: I use instant yeast so I skip the proofing step. I have a 13 cup Cuisinart food processor with a dough blade and setting. It's big enough for the full recipe. If you have a smaller FP and want to try this method, I would make one loaf. I added all my dry ingredients (except the salt) and gave it a quick whirl. Because the food processor tends to heat up, I used cold water to get my dough to come together. I added the salt and processed for about 45 seconds. I also used cold butter cut up into small chunks. I processed for about another 45 seconds and I was done! On my cinnamon loaf I scattered mini chips on the dough before I folded it up.

Go check out all the fabulous loaves by stopping by the Tuesdays With Dorie site.