Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Eclair/Cream Puff Battle is on

Is it that time again, all ready? Wow where did the summer go! Here I am on the last day of August, smack dab in the middle of Labor Day weekend trying to get my Daring Baker post together. Oh how we made eclairs at our house and boy did we, we had an eclair battle.

A few years back my Husband wanted me to make eclairs or cream puffs and I found a recipe, read through it, and declared that if he waned cream puffs he would have to make them himself. Guess what you guys, he did! He had been our Puff Daddy ever since, that is until this month when I announced to the family that this months Daring Baker challenge was nothing more then eclairs and my loving hubby dubs this on a battle, an eclair battle between his recipe and the Daring Baker recipe...Who do you think won, we will have to see.
now you have to remember I have little helpers on my team

Who are very careful about not getting egg shell in the eggs.
The other helper is on baking strike right now, yes this is really what he was doing while Sissy was cracking eggs.
However, when it comes to stove top cooking he is the man for me. The is his little hand pouring in the flour.
we plugged along at this daring baker recipe:

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature
1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.
2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.
3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your hand mixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed below.
Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.
2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.
3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

I piped mine into little bite size (2 inch) rounds.

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.
until we came out with these babies:

Now it is Hubbies time to do his magic with his dough recipe.

His recipe is this:
  • 65g. all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g butter, diced
  • 150ml water

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a large baking sheet (I could have used this direction for mine they did stick a little). Sift the flour and salt on to a small sheet of baking parchment (I am not so sure his actually does this step). Heat the butter and water in a pan very gently until butter melts.

  2. Increase the heat and bring to a rolling boil. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately tip in all the flour. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the flour is mixed into the liquid.

  3. Return the pan to a low heat, then beat the mixture until it leaves the side of the pan and forms a ball. Set the pan aside and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes.

  4. Add the beaten eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition, until you have a smooth and shiny paste, which is thick enough to hold its shape.
  5. Spoon the choux pastry into a piping bag (he used 2 spoons to make cream puffs like this...

  6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the pastries are well risen and golden brown. Remove for oven and make a neat slit along the side of each to release the steam. Lower the oven to 350F and bake for a further 5 minutes. Cool of a wire rack.
He does make some nice cream puffs but this time they are HUGE.
Now Time for the filling.
Per the Daring Baker Challenge I had to add a chocolate element to the eclair/cream puff so I did that with half of the pastry cream and half with vanilla. We do have to try to compare apples to apple when it comes to testing who has the better eclair and he only does vanilla pastry cream.
Chocolate Pastry Cream Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.
2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.
4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.
5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

And Hubby made this pastry cream:
3 Cups Milk
Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean - or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. If you are using vanilla extract it is added when the cream is finished cooking.
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

In a 3 quart saucepan combine the milk and vanilla bean seeds. Heat just below the boiling point (scalding).

Using an electric mixer (with whisk attachment if available) beat the egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl until they lighten in color. Stir in the cornstarch.

Pour about 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture (this is called tempering), whisking continuously to incorporate. Whisk the tempered egg mixture back into the remaining hot milk, and place the saucepan back on the heat. Cook on medium high heat, stirring constantly with the whisk, until the mixture comes to the boil. Reduce heat and boil for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and gently whisk in the butter.

Strain the pastry cream into a bowl, place plastic wrap directly on the surface, and chill completely.

Can be made up to 3 days ahead.

In the end we were both winners we found that the Daring Baker pastry dough was a little too eggy; however, we liked the extra dough in the puff apposed to the old recipe which is not so eggy but only leaves a think crust to fill without much substance. Both Pastry creams were very good but the daring baker one had a little more flavor; however, non of us really cared for the chocolate as matter of fact I ended up having 3 chocolate ones left over.

Thank you Tony and Meeta for a great Daring Baker Event!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

He Got an Allis Chalmer for his 3rd Birthday

On August 8th My little man turned 3 and he asked for cake, 2 presents and spaghetti.

Allis Chalmer tractors are known for their orange color and my son being an orange loving engine revving boy he is he picked the tractor pan out at the pan rental store and then after coming home he did not choose the green, blue or yellow tractors pictured on the pan, no. His Tractor had to be ORANGE.

I did use a box cake for the tractor because the shape comes out better with box cakes for some reason...German Chocolate.

And for My big boys play group Birthday party I made these cherry jam filled cup cakes. I thought they were so good.

I got the recipe from my 2004 Better homes and Gardens cookbook and I used my homemade sour cherry jam that I made earlier this summer (see I have been cooking even if I have not been blogging) .

Cherry Filled Cup Cakes

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup Cherry preserves
powdered sugar icing
cherries for decoration

1) preheat the oven to 350F. Line muffin cups with paper baking cups and set aside.
2) In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, butter, egg, and vanilla. Beat on low speed until combined. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Spoon 1 scant tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup. Add 1 teaspoon of cherry preserves (I added a little more) and top with 1 tablespoon of cake batter.
3) bake cupcakes for about 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out center of cupcake clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.
4) Drizzle each with powdered sugar icing and top with a preserved cherry.

Powdered Sugar Icing
Combine 21/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 2 tablespoons milk. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing reaches drizzling consistency.

Happy Birthday my Son!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Thank you Jason for this Ciabatta

This bread is in no way mine, the only credit I can take is that I enjoy it very much. I found the recipe here and I have made it many times.

500g A/P flour
475g (~2 cups) water
2 tsp. yeast
15g salt

In Kitchen Aid style mixer with hook: Mix all ingredients roughly till combined, let it rest for 10 minutes.
Beat the living hell out of the batter, it will start out like pancake batter but in anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes it will set up and work like a very sticky dough. You'll know it's done when it separates from the side of the bowl and starts to climb up your hook and just coming off the bottom of the bowl. literally climbing!

Place into a well oiled container and let it triple! it must triple! For me this takes about 2.5 hours
Empty on to a floured counter (scrape if you must, however you gotta get the gloop out), cut into 3 or 4 peices. Spray with oil and dust with lots o' flour. Let them proof for about 45 minutes, which gives you enough time to crank that oven up to 500F.
After 45 minutes or so the loaves should be puffy and wobbly, now it's iron fist, velvet glove time. Pick up and stretch into your final ciabatta shape (~10" oblong rectangle) and flip them upside down (this redistributes the bubbles, so you get even bubbles throughout), and onto parchment or a heavily floured peel. Try to do it in one motion and be gentle, it might look like you've ruined them completely, but the oven spring is immense on these things.
Bake at 500F until they are 205F in the cnter (about 15-20 minutes), rotating 180 degrees half way through. Some people like to turn the oven down to 450F after 10 minutes, but whatever floats your boat. I usually bake in 2 batches.