Playing with different scoring styles for sourdough… The only new recipe is Pecan Flour Sourdough (top left). I had a bag of pecan flour hanging around, and did a little sourdough experiment with it. Pecan flour brings flavor and some fat to the party, but no gluten, so it’s not a good idea to add too much to your basic bread formula. We loved the texture of the crumb, the delicate flavor, and the slight purple tone it contributed. The bread lasts longer at room temperature without drying. And of course, it freezes beautifully, like any sourdough does.
PECAN FLOUR SOURDOUGH (from the Bewitching Kitchen)
480g bread flour 20g spelt flour 20g pecan flour 10g salt 370g water 80g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.
When you are ready to make the final dough, place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the three types of flour, and the salt. Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. If the dough is too sticky, add 1/4 cup flour, you want the dough to start clearing the sides of the bowl, but still be sticky at the bottom.
Remove from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so. After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.
Next morning, heat the oven to 450F. Invert the dough over parchment paper, sprinkle tapioca flour over it for a very light coverage. Next, use a brand new razor blade to score the design.
Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam. Cool completely over a rack before slicing.
Comments: The picture did not really show the color too well. In real life, there was a very very light hint of purple. The bread is delicious, with a complex flavor, not clearly associated with pecans. I wanted to keep just the flour in this version, but adding pieces of toasted pecan to the formula will be happening in the future.
Cucumber might be one of the most under-appreciated veggies, at least in our kitchen. I love raita, but rarely make it. At the grocery store, I grab every single veggie before inviting a cucumber into my shopping bag. But in the past couple of weeks I’ve been on a cucumber obsession, so today I share two recipes that will be part of our regular rotation from now on.
CUCUMBER & CRISPY CHICKPEAS WITH AVOCADO DRESSING
CUCUMBER AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH AVOCADO DRESSING (adapted from Minimalist Baker)
for crispy chickpeas: 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 1/2 tsp paprika salt and pepper to taste spray of olive oil if using air-fryer, 1 tablespoon olive oil if baking
for salad: 2 large cucumbers, peeled in strips, seeds removed, sliced thin 1 avocado, mashed 2 Tbsp olive oil 2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar squirt of lemon juice 1/4 tsp each sea salt and black pepper 1/4 cup freshly chopped mint 1/4 cup freshly chopped dill
Make crispy chickpeas. Best way is with air-fryer. Spray with olive oil, season with paprika, salt and pepper, and cook for about 15 minutes in the highest temperature your fryer allows. Reserve.
When ready to make the salad, mash the avocado in a large bowl, squirt some lemon juice oven, then the olive oil, balsamic and the herbs. Season with salt. Mash it all well together. Add the slices of cucumber, toss with the creamy avocado dressing. Add the crispy chickpeas and serve.
This salad took Phil and I into a state of awe. I have a great friend who always says that food bloggers tend to use too many superlatives to describe their food, and I agree that can be annoying. But please allow me to say, this is an outstanding little salad, in which every ingredient works perfectly. Creamy, refreshing, hearty, we had zero leftovers. A moment of silence for my lunch next day, in which this salad was just a memory.
Moving on to version #2…
CUCUMBER & SHAVED CARROT SALAD WITH YOGURT-DILL DRESSING
CUCUMBER AND SHAVED CARROT SALAD WITH YOGURT-DILL DRESSING (from The Bewitching Kitchen)
2 cucumbers, peeled in strips, seeds removed, sliced very thin 1 tablespoon salt 1 large carrot, shaved in a box grater 1/2 cup full-fat yogurt 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 1 tsp agave nectar fresh dill to taste, minced salt and pepper to taste
Place the slices of cucumber in a colander, add the salt and let it sit for 30 minutes. Lighty rinse the slices, and dry them on a paper towel.
Make the dressing by mixing yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, agave nectar, dill and spices. Whisk well. Add the dressing to the slices of cucumber, incorporate the grated carrot. Leave the salad in the fridge for about 20 minutes before serving.
Comments: I took two different approaches to the cucumber. In the first recipe I used them straight after slicing, whereas I salted them in the second version. As expected, in the salted version the cucumber had a slightly more tender texture. We loved them both ways, so if you are in a hurry, skip the salting in version #2, as it won’t compromise the outcome.
Both salads ended up as the star in our dinner, I highly recommend you consider increasing your consumption of cucumber, if you are also part of the team that keeps forgetting all about them…
With Pride Month in mind, I made a batch of colorful macarons, filled with raspberry jam and lemon-flavored buttercream. The universe conspired so that in that exact week I had a maintenance appointment with my orthodontist. And to my surprise, they were “wigging it”: every staff member, orthodontists included, went to work wearing a colorful wig. They asked the patients to do the same, if they were so inclined… I was more than happy to comply (see the end of this post).
For the macaron shells, follow this recipe (I added 1/4 tsp egg white powder to the granulated sugar, whisked very well, before incorporating into the meringue, because humidity was at 58% the day I made the macarons)
LEMON-BUTTERCREAM MULTICOLOR FILLING
120g butter, softened 320g powdered sugar zest of 1/2 lemon 1 tsp lemon juice pinch of salt heavy cream to adjust consistency
Whisk the butter for 30 seconds or so, then add all other ingredients except the heavy cream. Whisk until the sugar is fully dissolved, then adjust the consistency with heavy cream. Divide the buttercream in 5 or more little bowls, add gel color to each bowl. Place lines of buttercream in different colors over plastic wrap, then roll them together as a little sausage. Cut one end, and place the roll inside a piping bag with a star tip. To assemble the macarons, add a circle of buttercream and a small dollop of seedless raspberry jam in the center.
Comments: These were a lot of fun to make. After the shells were assembled, I used different luster powder colors diluted with vodka to pain a stripe for a simple, but effective decoration. They were delivered to the staff at Hayden and Kholmeier office with proper wig, as required…
And this virtual spot is now officially a teenager! Thirteen years. One thousand, five hundred and forty-six posts published. Over twenty-nine thousand comments. But how do we measure all the joy I get from keeping this site alive? Impossible. For thirteen years I’ve been doing it with the exact same enthusiasm of the first week. I don’t think I could keep at it, if I was not fully in love with the whole process. To celebrate, I share a little entremet with mirror glaze, the kind of bake I adore, but with the limitations of the pandemics I’ve been unable to do. Since it was just the two of us, I went with individual portions, very small cakes with a combination of cherry, pistachio, and mascarpone. Plus the mandatory bling!
CHERRY AND PISTACHIO MINI-ENTREMET CAKE (from the Bewitching Kitchen)
for the cherry-pistachio centers: 20 g egg yolk 8 g caster sugar 3 g cornstarch 20 g milk 60 g whipping cream 10 g pistachio paste 4 Amarena cherries in syrup
Heat the oven to 200F (yes, very low temperature). In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with the sugar and cornstarch. Put the milk, cream and pistachio paste in a saucepan and heat while whisking. As soon as it boils, pour it over the egg yolk mixture and whisk. Put one cherry in each of 4 holes of a small half-sphere mould (about 1 inch in diameter). Pour over the pistachio mixture. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the center is almost fully set. Cool to room temperature, then freeze for several hours to overnight, to be able to un-mold them.
for the sponge: 70 g icing sugar 70 g almond meal 100 g egg 10 g all-purpose flour 10 g pistachio paste 70g egg white 10g granulated sugar melted white chocolate for brushing cake circles
Heat the oven to 375F. Using a KitchenAid mixer, whip together the icing sugar, almond meal and the eggs. The mixture should double in volume, so whip it for at least 8 minutes. Reserve.
Make a meringue, gently beating the egg white until soft peaks form. Increase the speed of the mixer and add the sugar, a little bit at a time. Beat until firm peaks form. Fold one-third of the meringue into the whipped egg mixture, followed by the flour. When the mixture is smooth, gently fold in the remaining meringue. Spread the mixture on a half-sheet pan covered with parchment paper, and smooth the surface with an off-set spatula. Bake for about 10 minutes, until dry to the touch. Dust a sheet of baking paper with a little powdered sugar and invert the baked sponge over it. Peel off the parchment paper that it baked on. Using two cookie cutters, cut out 4 discs that will fit inside the mold that will hold the dessert, and 4 discs that will fit inside the little mold used for the cherry inserts. Melt the white chocolate and apply a very thin coat over one side of the larger piece of sponge. Reserve.
for the mascarpone mousse: 6 g Platinum gelatin (3 sheets) 80 ml whipping cream 55 g egg yolks 80 g granulated sugar 160 g mascarpone cheese 1/4 tsp vanilla paste 320 g heavy cream
Bloom the gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes. Combine egg yolks with sugar, whisking well and set aside. In a saucepan, heat 80 ml of cream until it boils. Remove from heat, and slowly pour a bit of the hot liquid into the egg yolk mixture, to temper it gently. Add the rest of the cream and transfer all the mixture to a saucepan.
Over low heat, cook until 180 F stirring constantly. Remove from heat, drain the gelatin, and add to the mixture, stirring until completely dissolved. Let the mixture cool down to around 140 F. Add the mascarpone cheese, mix until the cheese is incorporated. Process with a hand mixer, to emulsify. Add the vanilla paste, and let it cool to around 95 F. Meanwhile, whip the 320 ml of cream to soft peaks. Incorporate the cream gradually to the mascarpone mixture.
ASSEMBLE THE DESSERTS. Place a small amount of mascarpone mousse inside each of 4 cavities of a semi-sphere silicone mold (3 to 3.2 inches in diameter). Drop the cherry insert inside. Place the small circle of sponge on top. Cover the cavity with mousse, leaving a little space on the top, so you can place the larger circle of sponge on top, with the chocolate painted side facing up. Smooth the surface, adding a little more mousse if needed. Freeze overnight, or for a minimum of 6 hours.
for mirror glaze: 3 sheets Platinum grade sheet gelatin 120ml water 150 g liquid glucose 150 g granulated or caster sugar 1 tsp agar-agar 100 g condensed milk 150 g white chocolate, chopped fairly small ½ tsp titanium oxide (optional, but advisable) red and purple gel food coloring Prism powder to sprinkle in the end (optional,I used Tourmaline Pink)
Put the water, sugar, liquid glucose and agar-agar in a small pan and bring to simmering point, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let it stand for about 5 minutes. This is the base syrup for the glaze. Meanwhile, soak the gelatin in some cold water for about 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and stir into the hot water, sugar and liquid glucose mixture to dissolve. Stir in the condensed milk and the titanium oxide.
Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and pour this hot mixture slowly over the chocolate, stirring gently to melt it, avoid making bubbles. Add the red food gel dye. A stick immersion blender works great, but you must keep the blades fully submerged at all times. If bubbles are present, pass the mixture through a fine sieve.
The ideal temperature to glaze is 92 to 94 F. Un-mold the cakes, immediately pour the mirror glaze over the frozen surface. Sprinkle with Prism powder or golden luster powder. Cake should sit in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.
Comments: I love making entremet cakes. They seem complicated but the nature of these cakes pretty much forces you to do everything in steps, over a period of a couple of days. No rushing is advisable, not even feasible. Just take your time and enjoy the ride. This version calls for a baked center. That part of the recipe came from a great cookbook, Patisserie at Home, from Melanie Dupuis. Once that is made (and it can sit in the freezer until you are ready to proceed with the recipe), it is all very straightforward. A sponge bake, some assembling, freezing everything and then my favorite step, mirror glazing!
I used two different ways to present the mini-cakes. In the first version the cake was placed on a small plate and little chocolate covered candy added around the base. A little gold leaf for a final touch on top.
The second version was a little less time-consuming, I just carefully added golden non-pareils around the edge, in a random pattern, and a little white pearl on top.
I imagine you are curious to see the cake cut… So here it is, the different components of this very tasty dessert…
I must say that of all the entremets I’ve made, this ranks very high in the deliciousness level. The cherry, when cooked to make the center, gets a very nice texture and the taste seems concentrated. Lovely. If you make mirror glazes, I want to point out that I add a touch of agar-agar to my recipe. That makes the layer cut more nicely, without slipping, as it is common with gelatin-only formulas. There is no change in taste.
Without further ado, I invite you to step with me into the 14th year of my blogging adventure!