Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Baguettes #10

After 10th practices, my baguettes finally start to look like the handsome musketeers.  I incorporated all the mixing and kneading techniques I learned at my class and TV food channels, and especially from incredible blogger bakers all around the world who kindly shared their baking adventures.
Baguette Recipe can be obtained from Recette: Baguette   **Unfortunately the following website is no longer in service.  It surprised me when the the following link took me to a blank site.  Whatever the reason maybe, I feel the loss of another good recipe.

It is worth an investment to get the baking stone.  I was lucky to have this Baking Stone, 14x15 inches by FoxRun for $21.50 from DOMUS.

I found out recently that Louiserecettes blog site is no long active.   Luckily I had typed my copy in my recipe collection and saved the how to.  I hope louiserecettes won't mind.  It's a terrible shame if a good product recipe is lost forever just like great PONCHIK I came to love at Europe Deli in Sacramento after they sold their business.   I never had their recipe but the sheer joy of being able to buy such a comforting food close by is good thing.  The new baker who took over is using the same Pirashki dough, I am sure they are, and PONCHIK tastes diffferent.

Recette: Baguette from
Notes: Allow seven hours total time to make this recette. The recette calls for cake flour in additon to regular flour because flour in France is of lower protein than flour in the U.S. Cake flour is a "softer," lower protein flour, so this will help you achieve a more authentic loaf. To obtain that classic crisp crust, use a baking stone. The stone plus steam will give you the crust you want. This recipe produces three loaves.
1-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 C (2 ounces) very warm water ( 105 to 115º F)
3 C (13-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 C (4-1/2 ounces) cake flour (see note)   **Total of 18 oz - 1 lb 2 oz
2-1/4 teaspoons salt
1-1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon, (10 1/2 ounces) cool water ( 75º F)
1. Combine the yeast and the warm water in a small bowl and stir with a fork to dissolve the yeast.  Let stand for 3 minutes.
2. Combine the flours and salt in a large bowl.
3. Pour the cool water and the yeast mixture over the flour, and mix with your fingers to form a shaggy mass.
4. Move the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 4 minutes. It should be supple and resilient, but not too smooth at this point.
Let the dough rest on the work surface for 20 minutes, covered with plastic wrap or a light towel.
5. Knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes. Don't overknead it: The dough should be smooth, stretchy, and resilient.
6. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn it in the bowl to coat with oil, and cover it with plastic wrap.
Preferment #1:
7. Let rise at room temperature (not more than 75 degrees F) for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until nearly doubled in volume.
8. Gently deflate the dough and fold it over itself in the bowl. Reshape it into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.
Ferment #2:
9. Let it rise for 1-1/4 hours or until it has nearly doubled again.
Ferment #3:
10. Gently deflate the dough again, reshape into a round, cover, and let rise for about 1 hour.
11. Place the dough on a very lightly floured surface and divide it into 3 equal pieces (about 10 ounces each).
12. Gently stretch one piece into a rectangle, leaving some large bubbles in the dough.
13. Fold the top third down and the bottom third up as if you were folding a business letter.
14. Now form the loaf into a log by rolling the dough over from left to right and sealing the seam with the heel of your palm.
15. Fold the dough over about 1/ 3 of the way each time, seal the length of the loaf, then repeat.  *For newbies like me, follow the illustrations in the Tartine Bread book by Chad Robertson.
You want to gently draw the skin tight over the surface of the baguette while leaving some air bubbles in the dough.
16. Seal the seam, being careful not to tear the skin of the dough or deflate its airy structure.
17. Set aside on the work surface to relax before elongating it, and repeat the shaping process with remaining pieces of dough.
18. Now elongate each baguette, starting with the first one you shaped, by rolling it back and forth on the work surface.
19. Begin with both hands over the center of the loaf and work them out to the ends until the loaf reaches the desired length. (Don't get carried away, or the baguettes won't fit in your oven!)
20. Place the finished loaves on a peel or upside down baking sheet lined with parchment paper and generously sprinkled with cornmeal or on a baguette pan.
Proofing #3:
21. Cover the loaves with a floured cloth and let rise for 30 to 40 minutes until the loaves are slightly plump but still not doubled in volume. The final rise is short, because you want the baguettes to be slightly under proofed; this will give them a better oven spring, resulting in loaves with a light, airy crumb and more flared cuts.
22. Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500º F. Place a baking stone in the oven to preheat, and place an empty water pan directly under the stone. Use a very sharp razor blade to make 3 to 5 slashes, depending on the length of your loaves, on the top of each baguette.
23. The blade should be held at a 30 degree angle to the loaf so that the cuts pop open in the oven. Be careful not to press down too hard, or you may deflate the loaves.
24. Using a plant sprayer, mist the loaves.
25. Gently slide the loaves onto the preheated stone, or place the baguette mold in the oven.
26. Pour 1 cup of very hot water into the water pan and quickly close the oven door.
27. After 1 minute, mist the loaves and oven walls 6 to 8 times and close the door. After 2 more minutes, spray the loaves and the oven walls again.
28. Bake for 12 minutes at 500'F, then lower the oven temperature to 400º F and bake for 25 to 30 minutes longer until the loaves are golden brown and crisp.
Move them to a rack to cool.
Try it and see what happens.  If you have specific question with her method, please visit her site and ask.  - the site is no longer active the last time I checked - Feb, 2015.  
If you have question with my result, please let me know.

Mini Sandwich Baguettes

The best part about baking your own bread is you can customize the size and shape the way you want. I know, I should stick with the traditional, but I need bread that I can make sandwiches for my lunch. Anyways, this recipe I found worked out again successfully for my home oven.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pandan Coconut Chiffon Cake Variations - PCC Cupcakes with Creamcheese frosting and Coconut Flakes

Persian-Love-Cake Variations - Tropic Snow Cake and Hold-My-Heart Cake

Persian-Love-Cake recipe is one of my favorite cake recipe now.  For our office - United Way fund raiser, I baked two different types of Persian-Love-Cake - one covered with Ganache Icing "Hold-My-Heart Cake" and the other with Persian-Love-Cake's fresh whip cream frosting topped with home made coconut flakes with banana - I call it the "Tropic-Snow-Cake".

Yield: 2
Prepare Two - 6x3 inch cake pans with buttered parchment paper at the bottom.
1/2 C Prepared Coconut Flakes
Preheat oven to 335'F

MISE-EN-PLACE:  Prepare a day before or allow 2 extra hours for Coconut Flakes and Ganache Icing preparation.
Fresh Home Made Coconut Flakes Preparation:
Save the fresh coconut flakes refused out of the "Juiceman" while making fresh thick coconut cream for the Pandan Chiffon Cake with Strawberries (from my blog) - frozen in Ziploc bag.  (I also have a Video demo of how Pandan juice and coconuts were processed at     Defrost it to bring to the room temperature.
After defrosting the coconut flakes, about 1 C, transfer it to non-stick fry pan, add 1 Tablespoon of sugar and toss to mix sugar and coconut flakes.  or add more sugar to your taste of sweetness you like.
Turn on the stove heat - Low.
At low temperature, toss coconut and sugar to 'dry' the coconut flakes.  About 3 min, but  not browned.  Do not toast to brown the coconut unless that's what you want.  Taste to make sure that it is the sweetness you want.
Transfer to a baking sheet lined with the parchment paper.  Spread coconut flakes evenly and flat on parchment paper.
Heat oven to 350'F.
Turn off the oven.
NOTE:  the drying time depends on your model of oven.  (My oven is a gas oven.)
Place baking sheet with coconut flakes in the oven - with the oven door cracked Open to further dry for 5 minutes **Depends on your oven - keep your eyes on it  - Do not Brown the coconut flakes.
Take it out and toss bottom to the top and spread evenly and flat on  parchment paper, again.
Place it back in the oven - 5 minutes with oven door cracked open.
Feel the coconut flakes, it should feel dry.  Store in air-tight container.

Making Cakes - yield two
Prepare Ingredients for the regular Persian-Love-Cake.
Divide the batter equally into two - 6x3 inch cake pans with buttered parchment paper at the bottom.
Bake till the tester inserted comes out clean and cake is golden brown.
Cool the cake pan inverted on cooling rack.

Cake Assembly - Total Frosting and Center Filling Ingredients for Both Cakes:
*Hold-My-Heart might need overnight preparation, depending on your available time to prepare.

2 C Pastry Cream for each cake's center filling
2 C Persian-Love-Cake Cream Frosting for each cake's center filling
2 C Persian-Love-Cake Cream Frosting to frost the cake
2 C Total Ganache Icing prepared on the same day, cooled to room temperature.  It has super shiny shimmer look.  Divide into 1/2 C and 1-1/2 C portion.
  • Ganache Icing:  Formula includes at least 10 oz of 61% European chocolate couverture (get it from Wayne Gisslen's "Professional Baking", 5th Edition, or I am sure the Joy of Baking site has the recipe. If you would like me to provide you one, please request.)
  • Cool 1-1/2 C Ganache Icing - room temperature - still in "fluid" state.
  • Set aside 1/2 C Ganache Icing without cover to air dry under the fan--if you are in a hurry or set it aside overnight.  The texture will be medium thick and a bit dull.
1 medium ripe, but firm Banana - cut into slices
10 Air dried Maraschino cherries with no stem set on paper towel-no liquid (air dried overnight is even better)
Home made sweetened shredded coconut flakes

Cake #1 - Tropic Snow Cake
1.  Insert a plastic knife to encircle the cake's edge to loosen the cooled cake.
2.  Use a serrated knife and slice over the 'top' of the cake to make it flat (and gobble the sliced piece :-) )
3.  Place a 6-inch cake cardboard on the sliced 'top' and turn it down.  Now the top of the cake is the bottom of the cake.  Place the cake on top of the cake decorator tray.
4.  Without removing the parchment paper, cut the cake into halves -- use the serrated knife to make 1/2 in incision all around the cake at half point while turning the decorator tray that it is sitting on.  Once you made a full turn, press the knife in deeper as you turn the decorator tray till the cake is cut evenly in halves.  Or use of those handy wire cake slicer on the D clamp.
5.  Remove the parchment paper.
6.  Brush off excess crumbs.
7.  Top the bottom half of the cake with 1/2 to 1 C of pastry cream.  Smooth out with small offset spatula.
8.  Top with banana slices.
9.  Top with 1/2 C of fresh cream frosting.  Smooth out.
10.  Place the top cake piece.
11.  Top with fresh whip cream frosting.  Smooth out all around.
12.  Sprinkle top and side with sweetened shredded coconut.   
Storage/transport idea:  Use a large bowl with cover that can hold the cake. (Unless you have a cake container or cake box from "Michaels", for example.  Invert the container.  Set the cake on the "cover" of the container.  Cover with the bowl part of the bowl as lid.
If you are transporting the cake, make two or three reversed double tape on the container's lid where the cake would be placed to keep the cake from sliding around.

Cake #2 - Hold-My-Heart Cake
Follow steps 1 through 6 of the Tropic Snow Cake above.
7.  Top the bottom half of the cake with Ganache Icing without letting it ooze off the sides.  Smooth out with small offset spatula.
8.  Top with 1/2  to 1 C of pastry cream. Smooth out.
9.  Top with air dried maraschino cherries - press them down to bury in the pastry cream
10.  Place the top cake.  Making sure it is sitting evenly.
 11.  Stir the ganache icing to make it smooth and pourable.
ganache icing)
13.  Hold the ganache icing bowl directly over the cake and pour as much and enough to cover the cake artfully and allow the excess icing to pour down the sides of the cake.
14.  Smooth out the top to make sure icing is even on the top, but this must be done within few second when the icing is poured.
15.  Stop. Enjoy the beautiful shiny ganache covered cake.

Variation:  Cover the air dried maraschino cherries with Ganache Icing.
Top the bottom half of the cake with Ganache and Pastry Cream and then press in the Ganache covered cherries into the pastry cream or instead of placing Ganache covered cherries into the center, place them in circle around the top of the top layer cake, then pour the Ganache Icing over the whole entire cake.  Top with piped whip cream and maraschino cherries.
or do whatever your heart desires.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Bouchon Bakery Day Trip

It was one of the exciting day trip I made in a spontaneous decision.  While doing my assignment research study on Chef Thomas Keller, I learned that he has several restaurants and a bakery right here in Northern California.  Even though the chance in making a lunch reservation at The French Laundry or Bouchon or Ad Hoc did not look possible, I decided to pay visit to the Bouchon Bakery Yountville, California.  I was very excited to learn about it.  Nothing better than to visit a bakery with master Pastry Chef Janine Weismann and led by Executive Pastry Chef Sebastien Rouxel. I don't know if the pastry I will be buying will be prepared personally by Pastry Chef Janine, but I thought the trip would be a great experience.  Whoops! it was past noon by the time I got all the information and direction and map together on a drizzling Sunday.  I wanted to try their croissant and baguettes and whatever they have "left".  The drive was pleasant.  It took me by surprise when I made the last left turn to Washington Street.  I thought I was driving into some body's driveway... that's how cozy looking the area looks.  In a little bit, I noticed Ad Hoc... then, further down, Bouchon Bakery and right next to it is the Bouchon Bistro.  Wow! this is great place.  I found a parking space right in the "Marketplace".  Even though it was raining and a bit chilly, there were many tour buses and tourists everywhere.  I was third one right out the door of Bouchon Bakery, but I didn't have my camera ready, so I stepped aside for a moment.  Within 30 seconds, I was number 6 out the door way and with several more behind me.  The bakery is a nice cozy place.  Perfect size, if I were the owner and baker. I noticed the croissants are no where to be seen, including in the bakery room, expected, as it is so late in the day.  So, I saw two baguettes left and three epi baguettes, and lots of Macarons, tarts, etc.  I quickly called out what I wanted when my turn came and got the last baguette and muffin, tarts, eclairs, Wagyu brisket sandwich, etc.  $51 worth.  I was delighted with all the goodies and head back home.  I enjoyed the sight, touch, aroma, and every bites of the pastries.  Tasting and examining the textures and taste balance.  I think many home bakers and students of culinary arts would agree, the more you know the how and what are involved in preparing pastries and cakes, every bite you took into the well made purchased products from a bakery like Bouchon become critically delicious and appreciated.  These beat the ones that I bought at Panera for sure.  And - baguette - I was smiling from ear to ear.  I have been testing and trying to perfect my baguette making with the  home oven for the 10th time and with only two satisfying results, this baguette gave me a 'take-a-break' - just enjoy.  (And today, Friday morning - I did it!! my baguettes turned out Wunderbar!!)




 I read in some of the feedback on Bouchon Bakery's Macarons.  When I first saw full trays of Macaroons, I thought that must be the least popular item.  But I was wrong.  I wished I have picked it, may be the next time.
I am very inspired after this trip.  I visited our college's library and started my next level of "Becoming a Chef" adventure.  Chef Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home cookbook is filled with tips and techniques and reassured my baking and cooking practices over and over are in the right course.  And I am looking forward to the next food adventure.