Thursday, February 4, 2010

Strawberry Linzertortlet

One might assume that time would extend as they sleep less and less. But no. Working 40 hour weeks and schooling full time as well seems to have sped time up. I feel old. This made me feel better though....

I invented this recipe as a way to use old stale cinnamon buns without having to make strudel dough. It does, however, require linzer dough:

  • 200 g butter
  • 150 g sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 60 g finely ground walnuts*
  • 70 g finely ground almonds
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp vanilla, kirsch, or other liqueur
  • 250 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
*Traditional linzer dough uses hazelnuts here, but I find walnuts or pecans work nicely too.

  1. blend sugar, salt, butter, and spices until well mixed (not creamed until light!!)
  2. add almonds and walnuts and blend in
  3. add egg and flavorings. Mix until just absorbed
  4. Sift flour and baking powder, add, and mix just until evenly blended
That's really all there is to the dough. Remember, it is like a short dough, so handle as little as possible, refrigerate for easier handling and don't over-mix!

For the tortlets I photographed above, divide the dough into 12 portions and press into tart tins. This should create shells about 5mm thick. Fill with the following:

Strawberry Strudel Filling

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 150 mL strawberry dessert topping (as for waffles or ice cream)
  • 1 - 2 finely ground cinnamon buns
  1. Mix it all together.
Fill each unbaked tart shell to the brim with filling and bake @ about 350° F for 20 - 30 minutes.

I love the taste of these things. It reminds me of the strawberry shortcake ice cream bars that Dickie Dee used to carry when I was a kid, waaaaay back when kids played outside (allowing Dickie Dee ice cream vendors the potential to make a profit, you see). Scrumptious strawberry nostalgia right there.

But I digress. I'm old.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pretty Things

I made some pretty things today with choux paste, mascarpone cheese (flavoured with blue Hypnotic liqueur, mango juice, and vanilla bean), and candied blood orange and star fruit. As I got up at 3:00 AM this morning, worked 7 hours and then went to school for 8 hours, and also have to get up at 3:00 AM tomorrow - I'm not in any shape to get into the details of how it was done. I'll try to fill in the gaps tomorrow, but until then - enjoy photos!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

That's funny... They don't look like little cabbages to me.

When I got to work today, I found a requisition for baked goods to feed 200. It didn't matter what the baked goods were, but my instructions were specific in that they said to "show off". Who am I to refuse such a request?

Among other various petite fours, I made a great variety of eclairs and cream puffs including a flock of 56 swans. The ones you see above were actually from a function in December... I just forgot my camera today. I don't know why I do it, but it seems any time it's up to me to choose something to make for a function, it involves pâte à choux, which translates to cabbage pastry in English. It's not that the dough smells of cabbage, but that's maybe kind of what it resembles if you pipe it out into rounds after baking. Yeah.... I don't know. Most people just call it eclair paste.

Anyway, I guess I do it because I've done it enough that I know what the results will be, and it looks classier than butter tarts. Gosh is it ever labor intensive though, doubly so when it's piped, cut, and then reassembled into swans afterword.

There's a million recipes floating around for eclair paste, and is a standard in most baking cook books. I feel it kind of redundant to repost it here. If you're really stuck, this one is as traditional and accurate as it gets.

So, I actually formed blisters on my hand from incorporating the 18 eggs one at a time into the 8 pounds of clay-like batter.... manually.... with a wooden spoon. Yes I complained the whole time, but that's just the relationship I have with choux paste, and it's how I know it will turn out. It has to hurt.

I used pastry cream to fill the small round shells I made, and then drizzled them with tempered chocolate. For the swans, I made a white chocolate German butter-cream filling, simply by mixing regular white chocolate butter-cream and vanilla pastry cream together. And it was good.

But I digress. Once you know eclair paste, and especially if you also know pastry cream the showing off comes all to easily, and people are quicker to be amazed than one might expect. The compliments far outweigh the blistered fingers. :-)

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I know I'm in the right profession because I was all excited to finish my baking requisitions at work early today so I could come home and... do more baking.

A while back I made cinnamon buns for the neighbor, but as it turned out he wasn't home to receive them and as a result they went stale. As the buns sat on their plate turning into wonderful cinnamon sugar croutons, I pondered on what I could do with them (other than bread pudding).

Strudel it is! (my first time!!)

Austria and many other central European countries enjoy fresh breads and pastries. A lot. I'm told the reason strudel contains bread crumbs is in part because of this reason; to reduce the waste of breads that have gone stale. I did a quick bit of research on the interwebs and can't seem to find any supporting document to this claim. Allow me to simply cite and/or thank "The Yodeling German" for that one.

So, I chopped up some very ripe apples I had on hand and tossed them with some nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, and walnuts (walnuts compliments of my mother in law)

I didn't go too crazy on seasoning the apples because my bread crumbs were already seasoned from being cinnamon buns.

And here I have to confess.... I did not go through the trials of making traditional strudel dough. I instead thawed a box of filo pastry leaves, layering five sheets with melted butter spread inbetween. Next time, I will do it all from scratch... mark my words. If anything, the real fresh dough might be easier to work with than the frail, dry, break-apartyness of the filo.

After baking @ 350° F until golden brown, I brushed generously with a slurry of simple syrup, cornstarch, and cinnamon.

Finally, I iced the thing with flat icing and promptly delivered it to the neighbors who were home this time. It could very well be that they saw me coming with cinnamon buns last time and decided to hold out for something better....

They did indeed get something better. Mmmmmmmmm. Serve with vanilla pastry cream, pudding, custard, or ice cream!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm Hungry

I first started blogging in 2004 as "Canadian Mark". I blogged (and still do) off and on about a great variety of things including: photography, parenting, Canadiana, Star Wars, cooking, nature, and so on and so forth. I made many friends along the way, one of whom is the very inspiration for this post.

Carmi Levy at Written Inc. hosts thematic photographic every Wednesday, where a theme is picked and his readers post a fitting picture on their own blog. It helps get the wheels of creativity going and also helps to connect people of like minds. Great guy, Carmi.

This weeks theme is "I'm Hungry", and I thought I might take the opportunity to share some photos from the archives to potentially wet a few appetites. I'll probably post recipes for all that you see below, but if you want one sooner that later, please let me know in the comments.

White Chocolate Eclair Swans

Ontarian Apple Pie

Strawberry Meringue Pie

Apfelsine Schocoladentorte (Orange Chocolate Torte)

Well.... I'm hungry again. See ya!

An Experiment....

Firstively, let me start by saying I know I didn't blog yesterday and yet my blog mandate clearly states that I will blog every day with a new recipe. Well, I'm changing it. I'll blog whenever I bake. That's usually at least once a day; sometimes twice, and sometimes every other day. The bottom line is this: If I only post when I bake there will be more creative and rich posts filled with pictures, stories about how I burn myself, slice fingertips off, and all that other fun stuff. Deal?

That said....

I'm attempting to post while baking this morning. It's a new recipe I'm creating on the fly for orange chocolate chip muffins. I've always felt that once you introduce chocolate into a muffin, it becomes more of a cupcake, but hey.... breakfast is breakfast!

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 2 Lg eggs
  • zest and juice from 2 Lg oranges
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  1. combine dry ingredients and mix well, but don't sift
  2. combine wet ingredient and mix well
  3. combine the dry, wet, and chocolate chips, folding just until incorporated
  4. portion into lined muffin tins
  5. bake @ 350° F until done (about 25 - 30 minutes)
How it all went down:

The kitchen smells like burnt orange now, but I'll get to that a little later....

Depending on the size of recipe, I usually use a fork or whisk to uniformly blend dry ingredients together. Not necessarily what the tool was designed for, but it works well.

Even though it costs a little more, I always try to use free range and/or organic eggs in my recipes. Once incorporated into baked goods, I don't think there's a real difference in taste but it still makes a difference ethically. The eggs I'm using today however are neither free range or organic, but do have a higher level of omega 3 fatty acids due to the diet of the chicken. It's my first time using these eggs and I'm not sure how I feel about it. If the recipe flops, I'll be sure to look in their direction first.

I got a micro-plane for Christmas. Aside from my french knife, it's probably one of the most used pieces of equipment in my portable kitchen. It's pretty grate. :-)

It already smells good.

For muffins with berries or chocolate chips in them, I often mix the dry and wet part way, then add the fruit or chocolate, and then complete the combining process. This way everything gets mixed evenly without creating those evil gluten strands. (Evil to muffins, anyway)

Into the oven to bake for 30 minutes and.... the tops collapsed. :-(

I think I portioned to much into each muffin cup and they couldn't hold their own structure. Some of the edge muffins even spilled over the side creating the lovely burnt orange smell I mentioned earlier.

The most important thing, of course, is the taste.... which in this case is phenomenal. I'll surely make these again, but also fully intend to mess around with the amounts of leavening agents, portion size, and oven temperature. I like my muffin to have a nice crested top, not some crazy plateau. In the meantime if anybody in blog-land decides to try fixing this recipe or has other ideas, feel free to suggest something.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The perfect chocolate chip cookie

After long and arduous searching, near-endless taste-testing and adapting, combining recipes and adapting some more, (and then much more taste-testing!) I do believe I've finally stumbled upon....

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
(yeild: about 48)

  1. ¾ cup room temperature butter
  2. 1 cup packed brown sugar
  3. ¼ cup white sugar
  4. 1 Lg egg
  5. 1 Lg egg yolk
  6. 2 tsp vanilla
  7. 2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  8. 2 tsp cornstarch
  9. 1 tsp baking soda
  10. 1 cup 55% cocoa Belgian chocolate chips
  11. 1 cup 72% cocoa Swiss chocolate chunks
  1. combine flour, cornstarch, and baking soda and blend with a whisk - set aside
  2. cream butter and sugars together with wooden spoon
  3. add egg and extra yolk continuing to mix until just absorbed
  4. add vanilla continuing to mix until just absorbed
  5. add dry ingredients and chocolate, folding until just incorporated
  6. drop onto parchment lined pans
  7. bake @ 345° for no longer than 10 minutes (cookies will appear undercooked when they come out - they should!)
I think they stay chewy past three days, but to be honest they've never lasted that long.