weekend baking

March 9, 2010 § 1 Comment

Baked a few things this weekend, starting with puff pastry that I started Friday night and finished into palmiers on Sunday. This was my second attempt at puff pastry, and although still imperfect, it was a huge improvement on the first attempt. I think I may be getting the hang of this kneading thing.

Next, I baked Compost Cookies on Friday night. The family “sort of” liked them, and I wasn’t a big fan. Meh. HOWEVER, I did find the addition of coffee grounds to the cookie dough to be inspired and surprisingly tasty.

Saturday lunch shared with my sister was composed of this lovely onion and fennel tart that was absolutely delicious:

Onion Tart with Mustard and Fennel
Adapted from Gourmet, March 2008 via smitten kitchen

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (a 1/4-ounce package)
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115°F)
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
3 pound yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I use a bit more)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I like it coarsely grated for this)

Stir together yeast and warm water in a small bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)

Put 1 1/2 cups flour in a medium bowl, then make a well in center of flour and add yeast mixture to well. Stir together egg, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt with a fork. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture and mix with a wooden spoon or your fingertips, gradually incorporating flour, until a soft dough forms. Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead, working in additional flour (up to 1/4 cup) as necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

While dough rises, heat remaining 1/3 cup oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté fennel seeds until a shade darker, about 30 seconds. Stir in onions, remaining teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover onions directly with a round of parchment paper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very tender and golden brown, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

[Do ahead: I made the dough several hours in advance and let it rise in the fridge, and the onions too, which I let sit covered at room temperture until I was ready to assemble and bake the tart.]

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Knead dough gently on a floured surface with floured hands to deflate. Pat out dough on a large heavy baking sheet (preferably blue steel) into a 15- by 12-inch rectangle, turning up or crimping edge, then brush mustard evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge. Spread onions evenly over mustard, then sprinkle evenly with cheese.

Bake tart until crust is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cut into 2-inch squares or diamonds and serve warm or at room temperature.

Finally, on Saturday night I made Dark Chocolate, Walnut, and Raisin cookies that were just about heaven on earth. I even had to pack some to take back to my apartment with me, which I never do:

Dark Chocolate, Walnut and Golden Raisin Cookies

adapted from King Arthur somewhere via Joy the Baker

8 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate , 60%-72%(chopped or in chips)

3 Tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) butter

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon espresso powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoons salt

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 cup golden raisins

In a double boiler, or in the microwave, gently melt together the chocolate and butter.  To avoid heating the chocolate too much and possibly burning it, the best method is to heat till the butter is melted and the chocolate has partially melted, then remove from the heat.  Stir until all the chocolate melts.

In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs till they’re thoroughly combined.  You don’t need a mixer, just do it in a medium sized bowl with a wooden spoon.   Add the melted chocolate mixture, then stir in the remaining ingredients, including the chocolate chips, walnuts and raisins, if you’

re using them.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets, three if you have them.

Drop the cookie dough by the tablespoonful (about the size of a small ping pong ball) onto the prepared baking sheets.  A tablespoon cookie scoop makes this task extremely simple.  Leave about 2? between the dough balls, as they’

ll spread as they bake.

Bake the cookies for 11 to 12 minutes, until their tops are shiny and cracked.  They won’t crack until the very end, so keep a close eye on them; when they’re cracked all the way across the top surface, they’

re done.  The point is, you want these baked all the way through, but just barely; additional baking makes them more crisp rather than chewy.  Remove the cookies from the oven.  Wait 5 minutes then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

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Enjoy!

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