Hawaiian Rolls

Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t like Hawaiian bread?

Yeah, me either.  While most than just fine served warm and topped with butter, this enriched and slightly sweet bread is a delicious tableau for a whole host of other concoctions.  Think bread pudding.  Think French toast.

When TD decided to try out pulled pork on his Big Green Egg for Memorial Day Weekend, I knew it was time to try my hand at these Southern California mainstays.  I’ll admit it felt a little like taking on Goliath considering we live in the city that calls itself home to the King’s Hawaiian headquarters.  But as you know, I like to live on the edge.

First things first–can you guess the secret ingredient?  Think Hawaii.

Nope…not coconut but close: pineapple.  Makes perfect  sense.

These rolls are really fun to make (and not because the stand mixer does most of the work) but give them time.  The enriched dough has both eggs and butter in it, meaning the first and second rise will be on island time.

I couldn’t find an original recipe from King’s so used one from King Arthur Flour instead.  The recipe calls for a couple of tablespoons of potato flour.  Despite following my own rules and reading the recipe through days in advance, I forgot to pick up potato flour so I just omitted.  I don’t think it made a noticeable difference but just to be safe, I’ll include next time and report back.

If sliders in any form are on your Fourth of July festivities list, consider trying your hand at a homemade version of these summer icons.  They’ll make your guests feeling like royalty (sorry, I couldn’t help it).

King’s Hawaiian Rolls

from King Arthur Flour

makes 16 buns

Ingredients

Sponge

  • 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1 TBS instant yeast
  • 2 TBS water

Dough

  • 1/2 C pineapple juice, canned
  • 1/4 C (4 tablespoons) softened, unsalted butter
  • 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, white reserved
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 C all purpose flour
  • 2 TBS potato flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt

Directions

  1. For the sponge: In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the sponge ingredients. Allow the sponge to rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Add the pineapple juice, butter, brown sugar, eggs and yolk, and vanilla to the sponge mixing until well combined.
  3. While the wet ingredient mix, in a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, potato flour, and salt before adding to the liquid ingredients.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet dough in stand mixer.
  5. Beat with the flat beater for about 3 minutes at medium-high speed; then scrape the dough into the center of the bowl, switch to the dough hook, and knead for about 5 minutes at medium speed. It may have formed a very soft ball, but will probably still be sticking to the bottom of the bowl.  If the dough isn’t coming together, add a tablespoon or two of flour.
  6. Lightly grease a large bowl; round the dough into a ball, and place it in the bowl. Cover, and let rise until very puffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 
  7. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.
  8. Gently deflate the dough. Divide it into 16 equal pieces, by dividing in half, then in halves again, etc. Round each piece into a smooth ball. Space the buns in the pan.
  9. Tent the dough gently with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in the pan for 1 hour, until it’s nicely puffy. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  10. Mix the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon cold water, and brush some onto the surface of the rolls; this will give them a satiny crust.
  11. Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 190°F on a digital thermometer.
  12. Remove the rolls from the oven, and after a few minutes, turn them out onto a cooling rack.
  13. Serve warm. Store leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Browned Butter Coconut Cookies

Nowadays, the recipes I choose to bake generally either center on new ingredients or techniques I’ve yet to master.

However, every once in a while I make something for the singular reason that I want to eat it.

That’s exactly what happened when these browned butter coconut cookies popped up in Smitten Kitchen’s Instagram feed.  There I was, casually scrolling one weekday afternoon and there they were: nutty, coconutty and buttery.  I’m not kidding when I say it took a herculean effort not to grab my car keys and flee my office so that I could go home and start browning butter.

Luckily for my employment status, I held off until the weekend.

They were SO worth the wait: browned butter and coconut were meant to be together.  Even better than peas and carrots.  I’m telling you.  Cripsy on the edges but chewy through the middle, I really can’t think of a more appropriate summer picnic treat.

As if you needed further incentive, in my book, there is nothing that smells better than browning butter.  Forget the potpourri or scented candle.  If you want to sell your house, brown some butter before the open house.

While the original recipe only calls for coconut chips, the first time I made these I added a cup of butterscotch chips.  The second time I used cinnamon chips.  I have big plans for the third batch.

Coconut Brown Butter Cookies

From Smitten Kitchen who got the recipe from The City Bakery by way of The Martha Stewart Show.  Adapted by The Misanthropic Hostess.

Ingredients

  • 1 C (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 TBS water
  • 1/2 C plus 2 TBS (125 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C (145 grams) packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 C plus 3 tablespoons (175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Slightly heaped 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 C (240 grams) dried, unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1 C chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter or cinnamon chips (optional)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do.  Once it is a deeply fragrant, almost nut-brown color, remove from heat and pour butter and all browned bits at the bottom into a measuring cup. Adding 2 tablespoons water should bring the butter amount back up to 1 cup.
  2. Chill browned butter in the fridge until it solidifies, about 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Scrape chilled browned butter and any bits into a large mixing bowl. Add both sugars and beat the mixture together until fluffy.
  4. Add egg and beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed, then vanilla.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Pour half of flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined, then add remaining flour and mix again, scraping down bowl if needed. Add coconut chips in two parts as well.
  6. Fold-in additional chips if using.
  7. Scoop dough into 1 inch balls, flatten each slightly and arrange all onto a baking sheet (separating layers with parchment paper).  Refrigerate for an hour up to over night.
  8. When you are ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
  9. Arrange a few with a lot of room for spreading on the baking sheets.  Bake cookies until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes (rotate halfway through cooking).  Repeat to bake all cookies.
  10. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cookies keep for up to one week at room temperature. Extra dough can be stored in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for a month or more.

Sables Bretons

Butter is my favorite food.  Not kidding.

I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten it on its own (though I’ve been tempted); but it does make just about anything better.  Especially butter cookies. Especially, especially French butter cookies.

I made my first batch of sables Breton years and year ago after TD and I returned from France.  Brittany the region in the Northwest corner of the country, is famous for its high fat, ultra rich butter.  Enough years have passed since that trip that I am no longer embarrassed by how many of these cookies I ate while there.  These French biscuits are everything I want in a cookie: simple, just barely sweet and sandy in texture.

The sandy element is incredibly important: sable is French for sand.  And, made possible by the letter B for butter.  The first recipe I used was from Martha Stewart.  I made that recipe several times and then drifted away over the years.  As one does.

When I came across David Lebovitz’s recipe, I was reminded of our early fall trip to Bayeux and immediately pulled the butter from the freezer.

These cookies are known for the deep criss-cross pattern on the tops.  I made this batch over the course of a weekend and chilled them after cutting them into circles but before adding the cross hatching.  Cold butter doesn’t make for easy criss crosses and I did not press hard enough.  Do as I say, not as I do.

While butter is the front and center flavor in this cookie, the salt is equally important, so use the good stuff.

The uniformity in shape of these crumbly cookies make them lovely as gifts packaged up in a clear bag with some red and blue ribbon (think Bastille Day or Fourth of July).

Sables Bretons

by David Lebovitz (adapted just slightly by TMH)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 C (5.2 ounces, 150g) high quality high fat butter at room temp (I like Plugra but for best results, David Lebovitz recommends a cultured butter)
  • 2 tsps flaky sea salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 C (200g) sugar
  • 1 3/4 C (210g) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp water

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and salt together on low speed until smooth (about 30 seconds).
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, gradually adding the sugar while whisking until the yolks are light and fluffy–about a minute.  With the mixer on low, add the egg yolk mixture to the butter, stopping the mixer to scrape down any butter clinging to the sides.  Mix until everything is incorporated.
  3. Sift together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl.  Stir into creamed butter mixture until it’s just, but completely, incorporated.
  4. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 1-inh thick.  Wrap in plastic and chill for an hour (dough can be made up to five days in advance and stored in the fridge).
  5. Line baking sheet with parchment. Cut the rectangle of chilled dough in half and place the first half between two pieces of parchment.  Roll out the dough to about 1/3 inch thickness.  Using a 2-3 inch cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough.  Place them on the prepared baking sheet.  Set aside scraps and repeat with second half of dough.  Once you have completed the first layer of cut-out circles, top with two sheet of parchment and start with the second. Top circles with another piece of parchment and into the fridge for another 15 minutes.
  6. Gather your scraps.  Roll again between pieces of parchment.  If dough is still cold enough, cut out more circles.  If not, pop in fridge until cold.  Repeat process until all dough is used.
  7. Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Adjust oven rack to middle of the oven. Line baking sheets with parchment.  You want to bake-off cookies one sheet at-a-time.
  8. Beat an egg with 1 tsp water.  Place first round of dough circle on pan leaving a couple of inches in between each.  Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash then use a fork to cross hatch a pattern on the top of the cookies.
  9. Bake the cookies until the tops are golden brown, rotating baking sheets halfway through, about 15 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.
  10. Repeat with dough until all cookies are baked.

 

Paprika Peanut Butter Cookies

Move over chocolate, peanut butter has a new love interest and her name is smoked paprika.

You read that right.  Paprika.

When you think about it, pairing peanut butter with earthy, slightly spicy paprika makes a whole lot of sense.  Think of how much better peanut butter is on toast than just plain bread (toasty and smoky are similar…just go with it).  Now, add a little heat.  And to that, think of the sandy, crumbly texture of a perfect peanut butter cookie.  You picking up what I’m putting down here?

This recipe incorporates smoked paprika is both the dough and on top.

The overall effect is pretty perfect.  I found this recipe through David Lebovitz who came across the original recipe in the book Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit by Lisa Ludwinski.

Since I’ve been baking for a million years and new things are what keep me going, I’m always on the hunt for new flavors.  Sometimes flavor combinations aren’t meant to be (I’m thinking of the holiday 2012 pink peppercorn and white chocolate sables…ew).  Others you think, ‘where have you been all my life?’  These smoked paprika and peanut butter cookies are definitely the latter.

P.S. Lest you feel bad for chocolate’s new rival, I dare you to make these, throw in some dark chocolate chunks and call it a threesome.

Peanut Butter Paprika Cookies

As seen on David Lebovitz’s blog and originated from  Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit

Ingredients

For the paprika topping
1 TBS turbinado or raw granulated sugar
1 TBS granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
Directions
  1. To make the cookie dough, in a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole wheat flour with the baking powder, baking soda, 1 tsp kosher or salt, and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand, beat the butter, peanut butter, and the light brown and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract, stopping the mixer between adding each egg to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Stir in the dry ingredients until completely incorporated, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl, as you’ll likely find some unincorporated flour underneath the dough.
  4. Scrape the dough into a shallow bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or up to 3 days (TMH: I scraped everything into a gallon size freezer ziplock patted into rectangle–evenly distributed, the dough chills more quickly and evenly). (Dough can be frozen for up to three months–scoop into balls first.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC.) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  6. In a small bowl, mix together the turbinado and granulated sugar, paprika, and flaky sea salt.
  7. Scoop the dough into balls about (I like using a 1 1/2 TBS scooper). Roll each ball in the sugar and paprika mixture so it’s evenly coated, and place each on the baking sheet so they’re about 2 inches (5cm) apart.
  8. Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheets in the oven midway during baking, until they are golden brown across the top, about 8-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a spatula to gently tap the tops of each cookie to flatten them slightly, which makes them more attractive, and chewy when cool.

Salted Honey Pie

Spoiler alert–the next few weeks are all David Lebovitz recipes all time.  I’ve probably already talked about how much I enjoy the author, blogger and former Chez Pannise baker.  But have I talked about his Instagram (@davidlebovitz)?  I don’t experience a ton of social media envy but Mr. Lebovitz curates his gram very, very well (and enjoyably).

I can’t remember if I saw this pretzel crust on his instagram or blog but I knew I had to try it out with “why didn’t I think of that” urgency.

He paired it with a salted honey filling.  And since honey pie sounded simultaneously sounded delicious and novel, I followed suit.

A note on honey.  I used what I already had in the pantry–which I think was an everyday clover honey.  Mr. Lebovitz suggests using a darker honey because it is less sweet.  About a week after I made this pie, I was chatting with a former student who had spent some time during her after graduation travels working on  a kibbutz in New Zealand that made manuka honey (produced from the Manuka tree).  Manuka honey is pretty pricey–but also supposed to be medicinally magical. So next time I might spring for some Manuka honey for a salted honey pie…as if pie could get any more transcendental.

While I didn’t find the honey taste to be particularly overt, the combination of salty pretzel and creamy rich filling was incredibly satisfying (at least until I wanted another bite).

Salted Honey Pie with Pretzel Pie Crust

for the crust

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 C (140g) pretzel crumbs (I ground mine in the food processor)
  • 3 TBS sugar
  • 6 TBS (85g) unsalted melter butter plus additional for preparing dish

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Lightly butter a pie plate or pan with butter.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the pretzel crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until the crumbs are saturated with the butter and everything is moistened and evenly mixed.
3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pie plate or pan and use the heel of your hand or the bottom of a coffee mug (TMH preferred method) to press the crust mixture across the bottom of the pans and up the sides.
4. Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes, until it’s slightly golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.

for the pie and filling

Ingredients
  • 8 TBS (113g)  unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 C (45g) sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 C (240g) honey
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 C (120g) sour cream, heavy cream, or crème fraîche (TMH: I used heavy cream because I had it in the fridge)
  • 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • flaky sea salt, to finish the pie

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC).
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, and honey.
  2. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the sour cream and vinegar. Scrape the filling into the baked pie shell.
  3. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the center is almost set. It should still jiggle, but not be watery. (If the edges of the crust get too dark during baking, use one of the techniques listed in the headnote to mitigate that.)
  4. Let the pie cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt before serving.
Note: Mr. Lebovitz offers a variation whereby you replace 3 TBS of the dairy (cream/sour cream etc) with bourbon or dark rum.  Someone needs to do this and report back.

Tomato salad, variation one

Every time I eat a tomato I think about how sad it is that Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen don’t.

While eating tomatoes may be keeping TD and I from being professional athletes and/or super models, if shunning night shades is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

In fact, we eat a lot of tomato salads nearly year round.  During the summer we eat the ones we grow and the rest of the year we stick to the smaller grape and cherry varieties because I think they taste better than other store bought offerings.

It should be no surprise then that when I spied a recipe for tomato salad with pine nuts and pomegranate molasses in May’s Bon Appetit I immediately added it to our Sunday dinner plans.

Per the recipe’s author Kamal Mouzawak, apple cider soaked golden raisins make this recipe just a little bit extra.  The pomegranate molasses is a bonus but you could also use that great balsamic molasses you can find at Trader Joe’s.

I diversified the herb select just a little in my version mostly because I can’t resist adding mint to everything.

I also snuck in some avocado.  I’m pretty sure I don’t have to explain why. Really, this is less a recipe and more a set of guidelines to riff on.

Add a grilled protein and dinner is done!

Tomato Salad with Pine Nuts and Pomegranate Molasses

Kamal Mouzawak, Bon Appetit May 2019

Ingredients

  • 1/3 C golden raisins, chopped
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 C pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 lb small tomatoes, some halved, some left whole
  • 1/2 small red onion or shallot (my preference), very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 C basil leaves, torn if large (can sub-in mint and/or Italian parsley)
  • 2 TBS pomegranate molasses

Directions

  1. Combine raisins and vinegar in a large bowl.  Marinate until raisins soften, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes to colander.  Sprinkle about 1 tsp salt over tomatoes and let sit for 5 minutes or so, allowing tomatoes to release and drain some of their juices.
  3. Add pine nuts, tomatoes, red onion and oil to bowl with raisins.  Season with salt and toss gently to combine.  Add basil and toss once more.
  4. Transfer salad to a platter and drizzle pomegranate molasses over it.

Parmesan Swirly Rolls

I’m an unabashed fan of Instagram.  Unsurprisingly, most of the content I consume outside of friends stuff consists of cooking/baking, house design and cats.  Thinking about it, I may follow more cat than human accounts.  If you follow me on the Gram (oh God) [@tmhostess], you’ll know that this basically mirrors the content I produce.

Like the technologically advanced game of telephone that it is, one of my favorite aspects of Instagram is discovering new to me accounts.  One such discovery a couple of years ago was Tiegahn Gerard of Half Baked Harvest.  Her food styling is so good that I enthusiastically followed her account for months just for its gorgeous aesthetic before I realized I could actually make everything she posts.

I know, I’ve never claimed to the be the quickest horse in the race.

I’ve made it a goal to experiment with yeast for the next few months (when my kitchen is finally warm enough to proof dough) and Tiegahn’s cheesy swirly rolls were at the top of my list.

This recipe is rich with possible variations but I went with parmesan and pesto for these Easter dinner rolls.

The dough is supple and incredibly easy to work with (I made some slight tweaks to it in an attempt to develop the dough’s flavor just a snidge).

The second proofing is subtle, but worth the time.

And, before you know it, you’ll have a pan full of cheesy, chewy rolls.

There will be enough to share.

But I wouldn’t blame you a bit (and I definitely wouldn’t tell anyone) if you decided not to.

Make these!

Parmesan Swirly Rolls

adapted ever so slightly from Half Baked Harvest

Ingredients

  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1 packet (about 2 tsp) instant dry yeast
  • 1 TBS honey or sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 TBS butter, melted
  • 3 1/2 to 4 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 C shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 basil pesto
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, heat milk on low until just warmed.  Remove from heat, add yeast and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, gently add milk and yeast mixture.  Then add honey/sugar, eggs, butter and 3 1/2 C of flour.  Give it a few rounds on low until things are generally combined.  Add-in salt.  Switch to dough hook and combine on low to medium speed until dough forms (4 to 5 minutes).  If dough is super sticky, add-in remaining 1/2 C flour a couple of tablespoons at a time.
  3. Grease a large bowl with olive oil.  Turn dough into the bowl, shaping into a ball allowing entire surface to be coated in olive oil.  Wrap bowl in with plastic and allow to rise in a warm, dry place (I used the laundry room) about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9X13 inch baking pan with parchment.
  5. Lightly dust work surface with flour.  Turn-out dough and roll into a 10X16 inch rectangle.  Spread a thin, even layer of pesto over surface. Top with even layer of cheese.  Finish with freshly ground pepper to taste.
  6. Starting with the long edge of the dough, roll dough carefully into a log keeping the roll as tight as possible.  When you reach the edge, gently pinch into dough.
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut into twelve piece (cut dough in half, each half into thirds and each remaining piece in half).
  8. Place rolls, spiral side-up into prepared pan (I like three rows of four). Cover pan with plastic wrap and allow to rest and rise for 30 minutes.
  9. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling.  Serve warm.

 

Cleopatra (Vineyard) Cake

Does your mom like wine?  Of course she does.  That is why you should probably make her this cleopatra/vineyard cake for Mother’s Day.

I’ve made my devotion to Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh no secret around here, exhibits: damn cake, tahini cookies and chocolate Krantz cakes.  I recently spent a very enjoyable afternoon going through their book Sweet cover to cover earmarking recipes to try.

Intruiged by a cake with grapes, their cleopatra cake was first on the list.

According to the authors, the recipe came from Mr. Ottonlenghi’s friend who found the original in Gourmet magazine.  Got and Ottonlenghi then adapted it for Valentine’s Day, coronated it Cleopatra cake (on account of the grapes that serve as jewels on this crown of a cake).

The grapes are a lovely addition, but this really is a wine-forward cake.  Like, WINE forward.  The recipe calls for a specific dessert wine called Carte Or Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.  I did a little research before I went hunting for it locally and while it seems well known in Europe (and a favorite of Nigella Lawson), it’s not as common in the U.S.

So, I substituted a nice muscat-based dessert wine.  One word of warning: if you decide to make this cake, be prepared to use the whole bottle.  I did not play close attention to the amount the recipe calls for when I bought the wine and was surprised when called to drain every last drop of the bottle into my measuring cup.

But, come on, your mom is worth it.  As I mentioned, this is a wine forward cake…kind of like your grandmother’s holiday rum cake.  It is rich, fragrant and very indulgent.  As such, a little goes a long way so this would be fantastic to bring to a Mother’s Day brunch.  As a bonus, because this cake is so fortified, it will stay fresh (nay, dare I say even get better) for a few days.

And happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.  I raise a toast (wine, cake or both) to you all!

Cleopatra (Vineyard) Cake

Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh in Sweet

Ingredients

for cake

  • 4 C (500g) all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 2/3 C (300g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C (170g) unsalted butter, at room temp plus extra for greasing
  • 1/2 C (80ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons (2 tsp)
  • finely grated zest of 1 orang (2 tsp)
  • scraped seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 C (450ml) Carte Or Muscat de Beaumes de Venise wine (or other dessert wine made from white grapes)
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100g) red grapes washed and halved lengthwise

for sugar crust topping

  • 5 TBS (70g) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/3 C (70g) granulated sugar
  • 3 /12 ounces (100g) seedless red grapes, washed and halved lengthwise

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease and lightly flour a 10-inch round 4-inch deep angel food cake or chiffon pan, tapping away excess flour.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into bowl and set aside.
  3. Place the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Add the butter, olive oil, lemon and orange zests and vanilla seeds and beat for two minutes on medium high until smooth and fluffy.  Add the eggs one-at-a-time beating well after each addition.
  4. Turn the speed to low and add a third of the flour mixture followed by half of the wine.  Repeat with the remaining flour and wine, finishing with the final third of flour and continuing to beat on low speed.  Once combined, pour into prepared cake pan and scatter the grapes evenly on the top.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. To make the sugar topping (while cake is in the oven), place the butter and sugar in a small bowl and beat with a wooden spoon to form a thick paste.  When the cake has been in the oven for 20 minutes, quickly but gently remove it and dot the sugar crust evenly over the top, breaking it into small pieces as you go.  Scatter the grapes evenly over the top and return to oven.
  7. Lower oven temp to 350 degrees F.
  8. Bake cake for another 35-40 or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan.  The cake can either be served strait away or stored in an airtight container.

Ruth Reichl Said to Make These

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only recently discovered Ruth Reichl.  Earlier this year, a friend recommended Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table, by the former Gourmet Magazine Editor in Chief (among many the other accomplishments including four James Beard Awards).

Actually it wasn’t so much a recommendation as it was a reference to the book the friend assumed I had already read.  Again, embarrassed.  So, in turn, I’m assuming everyone else already knows (and has known for most of her more than 40 year career) who she is.

But, just in case not: she’s wonderful.

Anyhow, in April of this year, Epicurious ran a feature by Ms. Reichl titled “I’m Ruth Reichl, and These Are the Best Recipes from my Gourmet Years.

Knowing what I had learned just before this article came out, I was ready to take her word for it and, went straight for the first of two dessert recipes featured in the article: a Raspberry Crumble Tart by Ruth Cousineau featured in the August 2006 edition.

The first thing that jumped out at me was that the recipe calls for six, yes 6 cups of fresh raspberries (that’s four of those little containers these expensive little jewels usually come in).

Looking between my tart pan and the bowl of berries, I couldn’t quit figure out how I was going to get them all in there.  Me of little faith.

The next notable thing about this recipe is that the fruit does not get sweetened.  Here are in ingredients for the raspberry filling: raspberries.  There is some sugar in the crumble on top, but none in the fruit.  Again, me of little faith.

Finally, there is the crumble.  To be clear, you could put crumble on an old sock and I’d eat it.  With enthusiasm.  But, I at least, generally think of crumble as a topping on something homey and unrefined.  On an elegant tart? Well.

You don’t need to hear it from me because Ruth Reichl already said it–but I’m going to say it anyway: trust the process.  To begin, your house will smell like everything early spring and summer hint at being: tangy, sweet and full of promise.  Then there is the tart itself, as inviting as it is sophisticated.  Sweetened only by the berries, the filling is bright, clean and gorgeous against the crumble rich crust.  Serve it with a generous dollop of real whipped cream and nobody will remember the meal (or anything else) that came before it.

Raspberry Crumble Tart

Gourmet Magazine, August 2006

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 C) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 C cold vegetable shortening (butter works just fine here if you don’t have shortening…don’t sweat it)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 to 7 TBS ice water
  • 3/4 C whole almonds (3 ounces), chopped (TMH–I used blanched almonds because I already had them)
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 4 (6-ounces) containers fresh raspberries (6 cups)

Directions

Make dough:

  1. Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Transfer 2 cups mixture to a bowl and drizzle 4 tablespoons ice water evenly over it (reserve remaining mixture). Stir gently with a fork until incorporated.
  2. Squeeze a small handful of dough: If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring until incorporated. (Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.)
  3. Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together with pastry scraper and press into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. If dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour. Wrap disk in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Make topping while dough chills:

  1. Add almonds and sugar to reserved dough mixture in a bowl and rub together until some large clumps form.

Assemble pie:

  1. Put a large baking sheet on oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out disk of dough into a 14- by 13-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Fit into tart pan and trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under pastry and press against rim of pan to reinforce edge. Fill shell with berries and sprinkle evenly with topping. Bake tart in pan on baking sheet until topping and crust are golden and filling is bubbling, about 55 to 60 minutes (loosely cover with a sheet of foil after 30 minutes to prevent overbrowning). Cool in pan on a rack 20 minutes, then remove side of pan and cool tart completely, about 45 minutes.

Ginger and Hibiscus Scones

Usually, my trips to Traders Joes are surigcal.  I’m there right when they open.  I have a list. And, I follow the list with tunnel vision.  I do not stroll.  I do not look around me. This is because  I have to do my TJs run on Saturday mornings.  Just like everyone else.

A couple of months ago my parents were in town for a visit.  They live outside of Bozeman Montana.  And while it has a lot going for it, Bozeman does not have a Trader Joes (I think the closest one is in Salt Lake City).

My parents have lived there full-time for nearly 10 years.  My mom still hasn’t gotten over the lack of a local TJs.

For this reason, California visits by my parents involve multiple trips to Trader Joes.  I was out and about with them for one visit.  Because it wasn’t Saturday morning, my local TJs was actually hospitable.  So, we worked our way up and down every single aisle.  By aisle two I had to abandon my basket for a cart as treasures like I’d never seen were revealed to me.  Pancake bread?  Yes please.  Mushroom umami salt?  Sign me up.  Dried hibiscus flowers?  Sure–I know I can come up with a way to use them.

I am a collector of “things I’ll figure out how to bake with.”  I have two bins full of wonders like honey powder, freeze dried corn and dried blueberries.

This time, I actually already had something in mind when I picked up the dried hibiscus flowers.  Whole Foods makes a fantastic ginger scone.  They’re crumbly, spicy and just sweet enough.  I don’t eat them very often but every time I do I think “I gotta make these.” I then immediately forget until the next time I eat a Whole Foods ginger scone.  You know how it goes.

Luckily, I’d just had one the week before so the pump was primed.  Hibiscus flowers are aromatic, slightly sour (but in the good way) and at least to my taste buds, reminiscent of citrus.  I thought they might be good friends with candied ginger.

I used buttermilk in this recipe as opposed to the traditional cream because I already had it. I worked.  But, cream would work too.

And instead of traditional pie wedges, I decided to go with cut-out rounds.  That’s how Whole Foods does them.

But, I give instructions for both shapes in the recipe (and, next time I make them, I’ll do the wedges–these looked too much like biscuits to my eyes).

My guess was correct–ginger and hibiscus do pair well together.  The same combo would also be great in a muffin or loaf.

Ginger and Hibiscus Scones

adapted from Ginger Scones by Elise Bauer on Simply Recipes

makes 12-18 scones depending on size

Ingredients

  • 3 C (400 g) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 C (160 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C (110 g) candied ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 C (73g) dried hibiscus flowers (found at Trader Joes)*
  • 1 TBS fresh ginger, grated
  • 3/4 C (200 ml)  buttermilk at room temp
  • 10 TBS (140 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
  • 1 TBS coarse sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)
  • 1 egg + 2 TBS water (for egg wash)

* There are multiple kinds of hibiscus flours.  For this recipe, I used the kind that are similar to dried fruits like these dried eatable hibiscus flowers.  You can also get hibiscus flours that have been dried for tea.  This version is more desiccated like these organic hibiscus flowers.  The latter would work as well but the result would be more like adding dried tea to the dough rather than a dried fruit.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (or 200°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Stir in the gingers and hibiscus flowers until combined.
  4. Add-in the cold butter pieces. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry mixture until the “dough” resemble wet sand with larger pea-sized pieces of butter.
  5. Create a well in the center of the flour, pour in  the buttermilk. Gently mix with a wooden spoon until the flour mixture is just moistened. The mixture should look very shaggy.
  6. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface.  Give the dough two or three kneads (to just barely pull it together).  You have a couple of options here.  To make triangular scones, divide the dough into two and form each into a round disc.  Cut each disc into 6 pie parts.  You could also use a biscuit cutter.  To do this, flatten the dough into a disk.  Using biscuit cutter, cut out rounds.  Once all rounds that will fit have been cut, push remaining dough together and cut again. Repeat until you cannot cut any more rounds.  Do remix dough as you go.  Just squish together.
  7. Place triangles or rounds on baking sheets with a couple of inches in-between each.  Bruch the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until scones are lightly browned on top (start checking at 15 minutes).  Cool on cooling rack.  Best served the day-of but can be stored for a couple of days in an airtight container (you just lose the crunchy texture).