Sunday, September 08, 2013

Polly's Fresh Fig Newtons

I almost forgot to share this.  My mother had a bounty of fresh figs this year.  Last year, I peeled them and dried them  Hoping to make Cucidatti.  This year, I made the Fig Newtons.  There are some great looking Fig Newtons by other bloggers where I got the tips from.
Here is my result:

I wished I posted this back in August when I made them.  Now I forgot if I used the recipe link Weelicious to Mehan' or
My hand notes got several recipes and scribbling, but I think it's the Mehan' recipe I used. The big difference is that I used fresh figs rather than 12 oz dried fig.
Ingredients for Dough:
6 Tbsp Soft Butter
1/3  C Sugar     (instead of 1/2 C as in the original recipe)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 C flour

Sift flour, then, measure 1-1/2 Cup.  Set aside.
Cream 6 Tbsp soft butter with 1/3 C sugar for 2 minutes.
Add 1 large egg, and 1 tsp vanilla and beat a couple more minutes or less to incoroporate egg into butter mixture.
Add flour.  Roll into 12 inch logs.
Chill in refrigerator rolled in plastic wrap until the Fig paste is ready.

When the fig paste is ready:   (Recipe below)
Over a parchment paper, Roll out into 12 x 8 inch.   Or after rolling it out, place on a parchment paper.
Each piece of dough is 4 inches wide.  Fill 2" inside with an inch border on each side.<<< I think I eyeballed this section of the instruction to make mine.

Add fig paste into pastry bag.  Squeeze the paste out without any tips.  This works out better as the paste is very sticky and thick.
Squeeze the prepared fig paste in center.
One side at a time, lift each side the parchment paper over and fold the dough over the fig paste to envelope it.    Form the dough into shape with the help of parchment paper.
Transfer over to baking sheet and remove the parchment paper.
Bake at 350'F for 20 min - a hint of browning at the bottom edge. 

 This one is actually already a bit browner than desired at the edge.  Make sure your is not like this.
 Gently, slice with sharp serrated knife when it is bit cooled but warm, not cold.
Gather about 40 fresh figs.   Make sure that they are not over ripened.    To Jar/can them, they have to be in a tip top shape and at ripening stage.
Peel figs and open the figs to make sure that they are good.
Place them in a small pot.
Add 1 cup of sugar                Add a 1/8 tsp of Fresh Fruits Ascorbic Acid
Stir to mix.
Bring heat to simmer.
Cook/simmer until it starts to thicken - about 2 hours at least.  Set timer to check at 1 hour and then at 30 minutes interval.
When it starts to show sign of thickening, use a heat proof spatula, for example, and start stirring to help evaporate more liquid.  Set your alarm and check every 15 minutes, and stir.   Pay attention not to burn at the bottom.   Do not go too far away from the kitchen.   
Next, Stir constantly to help the evaporation until it becomes paste.
Remove from heat and let cool.

 Scrape the side of the pot with heat proof spatula.

 When it starts to become a thick paste, you can see the bottom of the pot while stirring.

Do the same for rest of new fresh figs picked.   Prepare mason jars - sterilize and heat seal.
 After 2 to 2-1/2 hours of simmering and stirring.

Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

I came across this recipe quite accidentally on Tuesday evening.  The recipe sounded very interesting.  And I was just thinking of something to bake.  It was a perfect timing, if I pull it through for Wednesday's Rosh Hashanah, I thought.  
 Based on the ingredients listed, it sounded like a very heavy dense cake with 2-1/2 C of flour, vege oil, 1 C of honey, and coffee liquid.  To make sure that it does not fail.   I decided to use my Chiffon Cake mixing technique.  The cake turned out light and tasty.
 The recipe is found at

Ingredients are:

For cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon - Use Ceylon Cinnamon - "Not Saigon Cinnamon"
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • Divide 1 cup sugar ---> 1/4 C for egg mixture and 3/4 C for Egg White Meringue
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup pure honey
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm coffee (brewed, or instant dissolved in water)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons packed grated orange zest
  • 3 large eggs - separated
For chocolate glaze:
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk (not light)
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 4 ounces bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped
Mix first 7 ingredients and shift them 4 times.  Remeasure 2-1/2 C into a mixing bowl.  Do NOT Pack down the flour into the measuring cup.  Just scoop and flat off at the top. Some extra flour... about 1/4+ cup remains and use it to coat the Bundt cake pan.   Grease the full size Bundt cake pan all around including the center tube - and add 1/4 C of extra flour mixture you saved.  Tap the cake pan firmly to remove excess by letting flour fall into the shifted flour mixture.
Separate eggs.
Hand whisk eggs yolks with sugar. 
Mix vegetable oil, pure honey, coffee, and orange zest together.  Add to egg mixture.  

Then, "Slowly" start adding some liquidy egg mixture into a large size bowl with about 1/2 C of shifted flour to make slurry like mixture.   This is to keep the flour to form into lumps if you add liquid mixture all at one time.   Lumps can be minimized when you add think slurry like mixture.

Now this time, Add the rest of the shifted flour "slowly" into the thickened egg mixture all the while stirring to assure that all flour and liquid is combined without forming flour lumps.  Set aside with a cover to keep it from drying.

Start Preheating oven to 350'F. 

Whip egg whites.  When it starts to form good white foam (about 2 minutes) start adding sugar in a steady stream while the mixer is going.  Whip to firm meringue. (Total of about 8 min - but it will depend on the power of your mixer and whip attachment design.)
Fold meringue into batter mixture 1/3 at a time.  Mix until the batter is smooth and shiny without Meringue cloud.    Add to bundt cake pan.

Give firm Taps of the Bundt cake pan on a foam pad or anything firm to remove air bubbles.  I tapped mine on the foam floor mat for over 30 times to remove all visible air bubbles coming up to the surface.   (Notice the air bubbles in the batter after adding batter into the cake pan. These bubbles need to be removed to prevent large holes in the cake here and there you see in a baked cake.)
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes.  Insert cake tester at 45 min.  The cake is done when the cake tester comes out dry. 
Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.  You will notice the slight deflation of the cake by 1 cm the first 3 minutes of cooling.  But that's all it deflated with mine. 

Let it cool in the pan for 20 min.    Remove from the pan and set it aside.
 Note: Shrinkage during cooling - But Not Collapsing, is expected.
 In the meantime, prepare the Ganache.
Open a can of Coconut Cream.  Measure chocolate pistoles (my chocolates are in disc form) and rough chop them.
Warm the coconut cream and add heavy syrup.  Pour over the chocolate and let it melt for 30 seconds.  Hand mix to incorporate the rest to liquid form.  Heat in microwave, if necessary, but only for a short seconds.  Or you will end up needing to remake another batch.
Spoon Ganache over the cake.

Note:  Depending on the type of coffee you use, I think my honey cake is a bit heavy on the coffee flavor side.  While everyone at the office liked it very much, I was expecting "honey" flavor of the special local honey I added.   Nevertheless, when I sliced into the cake, it was light, fluffy, and full of interesting flavor.  But the one slice I saved for two days turned out more tastier than the first day.  I was able to taste the cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and zest in it.  So, it's worth making this cake two days ahead in the future.

September Achievement in the Kitchen - Fixing Mixer

This is just a pre-start to give a pat on my shoulder.  Last year, my faithful Sunbeam Mixmaster quit on me.  For no reason it stopped.  The day before, it worked perfectly.  The next day, it made no sound.  I tried everything by plugging it off and on.   Futile.  I tried many times to throw it away but I got attached to it that even after it's dead, I kept it.  I have three mixers that can do the work but this Sunbeam Mixmaster is quite special for me.  First of all it is a very first mix that I got at the church's swap meet.  I was sooooo thrilled.  I have never been to a swap meet, and I just can't believe that I took home with me a mixer.  The previous owner was a Chaplain's wife, and she had it since she got married, and it travelled with her from Monterey Bay, California, all they way to Ft. Knox Kentucky.  Now it is in my care.  I tried to buy the same brand.  But the new model does not have the same feature as mine.  One of the most handy feature is the swirling bowl while the mixer is going.  And off side bowl feature that allow me to place a spatula into the bowl to scrape the bowl while the mixing is going.  Can I do that with the Kitchen Aid?  Well, in a way, kind of, but not, and I always have to stop the mixer and had to give the mixture a turn that is left at the bottom of the bowl.  While, the Kitchen Aid mixer has a powerful motor, but this Mixmaster has 12 power setting.  So, what I did finally yesterday was to take it apart.  I know from my past experiences as a Avionics and PCB  assembler and having watched my brother take apart a wind up alarm clock in the old days, also I had to repair my son's Fisher Price pull string toy to repair it, I know I can take this apart as well.  It was not easy, as I cannot seem to see the entry point.  But I know what man has put together, it can be taken apart.
After carefully examining the fixture, I know it's either the end or the head of the casing with the emblem that needs to come off first. 

But first thing first.  Take a good picture of the mixer and it's parts each step of the way, so that I can put it back by reviewing the photo taken backwards.   Secondly, becareful not to use a full force when checking for opening with tools.  Be gentle.  Check visually to decide if it's screw-on type or Snap-on type.   Thirdly, be aware that many parts used in the appliances are heavy duty 'plastic' parts and plastic moldings or tin.  

I could not tell at the beginning if the silver "power on" handle located at the end of the mixer is a twist-on screw type.  I tried to ply it open backward to see if it will unscrew.  No, it did not budge or turn.  So, I know it is not a screw-on type.   Then I used the flat tip screw driver to try to ply off gently what seems to be an arm inserted into a opening.  Bingo!  it was a snap-on.   After carefully removing the handle, the actual screws revealed itself.  I am in business to find out what caused the mixer to stop.
After a careful examination and taking pictures of each part in their position, there doesn't seem to be a problem.  The red wire for power is still soldered on.  I thought it broke off after years of usage.  I think the black is the ground wire.  It's a bit exposed and bent.   I can see tons of Flour and Cocoa powder build up in all parts.
I carefully used tooth brush and dust pan to start dusting off each parts.  Cleaned with moist swabs.  Before I had enough of the cleaning  and checking I decided to plug the electric cord in.  Wow! its working!
I had enough for the day, and I left the mixer open to dry well over night to make sure that there are no moisture or water left in any parts before putting the casing back.

I can't believe the amount of flour and cocoa powder accumulated in there.

 Ply open gently just a bit and turn the handle of the mixer to the right.
(Turning the mixer's handle to the right.)
Turning the mixer's handle all the way, and you will feel it that it can be taken off now.
 Picture of internal parts of the handle and front casing that you took off.
 Front component.  Clean this part carefully.  Do not remove anything here.

 To remove the entire casing cover, remove the two screws.
 Gently lift it up.

 Take a good picture of everything, so you can put them back later.
 Picture of suspected black power wire.... I think the black is the ground wire and red is power wire.   Red is still attached on with a good solder.  I straighten the black wire a bit to position the casing back over it a bit.  Becareful not to cut the wire.

 After thorough cleaning of all the accumulated flour and cocoa powder. 
 Remember not to turn anything to set it into out of synch position while you are cleaning. 

 Clean dust off all around
 Make sure everything is clean to assure good part contact to allow power flow.
 Check the pictures you took and put it back together.

Why am I posting this on a Food Blog?  because may be you have favorite mixer too that gone dead? maybe not?  maybe you have three other models around home, so just throw the bad ones away?  I was not convinced of it's sudden death.  I wanted to know why it died.   When you get attached to a good mixer that lasted 40+ some years, it's difficult to say good bye without making sure of it's cause of death.  Death!?  it's a machine, for crying out loud!  But I feel better now that it's all cleaned and the cause of it's death was found - due to build up of flour and cocoa powder all around the electrical parts causing the short.
From now on for any mixer I use, I will premix the flour a bit with moist food to prevent fly-up.  Take a 1/4 cup of moist mixture and premix the cocoa powder first before adding to the batter to mix further.  I think all my mixers will be happier.  Happy Mixing!