Back to Baking – Maple Tuiles

I know everyone, it has been quite a while since I last posted.  Blame it all on the companies who have to report their third quarter earnings.  Hey, it’s not my choice to work 11 hours a day!  Why does every company in the world have to do it all at the same time??? Oh wait, I think there is some international law about that.  Oh well.  Either way, the month of November has been a bit crazy and I haven’t had time to bake, let alone blog about it.  I hope that you loyal readers have not yet given up on me, I will provide sweetness and happiness for all!

But in order to get back on the wagon, I have made this week’s TWD recipe.  I know that I am doing this at the very last minute (I even prepared a lot of this post ahead of time so that I could do the baking all the way until the end).  We are in the middle of Hannuka, the Festival of Lights and Fried Foods (okay the second part is not the official name, but it might as well be). In the span of a week, I have made two kinds of doughnuts (overcoming my fear of deep-frying), fried potato latkes, and eaten about five different varieties of sufganiyot (originally jelly doughnuts, but today, they fill them with all sorts of things like pastry cream, mango cream, almond cream – cool stuff).  So yeah, fried foods.  I actually read an article that says that the average Israeli gains about 5 lbs. during the holiday of Hannuka.  So I’m average, big whoop.

Since the holiday started on November 30th, we have had two parties at our house and other related celebrations.  Rocker Dude has been off from work as the public schools have vacation for the whole week of the holiday.  The Little Rocker has off on Thursday, so we will all be home and spend quality family time together.  Rocker Dude will be sleeping late (as he has done all week, the Little Rocker will be coloring on any surface her crayon can get to and I will be wiping up after her in between cooking for Shabbat.  And then we will go to the park if it doesn’t rain (please let it rain!!!  We need it really badly!!!!).

So back to the whole baking thing, remember that?  This week’s recipe was chosen by Hindy of Bubie’s Little Baker.  She chose Translucent Maple Tuiles and I am very excited to make them.

I have never made cookies like this before and since I am all about trying new things, hey why not?

The batter keeps in the refrigerator for a week, so I made the dough after our party on Monday night and then made the cookies on Tuesday night after work (hence the late posting).  It was really easy to mix up.  I just used a spatula and mixed everything in a bowl.

Ingredients for the batter.

After reading the comments that other people made, I knew to space the little balls of dough really far apart.  These cookies really spread, as much as I spaced them, they still ran together.

 

Spaced cookies

 

And this is what they looked like after 7 minutes in the oven:

 

Cookies baked and ready to shape

 

Dorie says to wait only about a minute before removing these cookies from the cookie sheet to shape them.  I found that it was too soon, and the cookies completely smushed and I couldn’t get them back to their previous glory.  So I waited a little longer, and then I could get them off the sheet and over the rolling pin.  Though perhaps because I used margarine instead of butter (like I always do) or maybe because I used imitation maple syrup and not the real stuff (which is prohibitively expensive as it has to be imported from the US and Canada) they stayed soft and did not hold their curved shape.  So we have flat tuiles.

 

Maple Tuiles

 

I tried some of the mess-ups and they were absolutely delicious, I can’t wait to eat these with a nice bowl of ice cream – yum!

You can find the recipe on Hindy’s site here, and see what other TWD bakers did here.

P.S. sorry for the late posting, due to our internet upgrade, we had no internet last night, so I had to wait until I got to work to post it.  But yay for faster internet for the same price!

 

Tuesdays with Dorie: All-American All-Delicious Apple Pie

I am so behind on my posting, and I apologize to everyone out there.  Things have been busy at work and even busier at home.  I have been involved in planning three different wedding-related celebrations, we went to one wedding and still have two more this week.  It’s a busy time, and I have been baking, I promise, I just haven’t had time to post it.  So let this post be the first drop in the bucket.

A little apple pie

This week’s recipe was the All-American Apple Pie.  It was chosen by Emily of Sandmuffin.  She chose it because she loves apple pie.  Of all the fruit combinations in the world, I LOOOOOOOVE apple pie!  I think that apples are my favorite fruit to bake with and I love baking with fruit.  I was looking forward to this recipe as soon as it was chosen, and I finally made it last week.

Margarine for the pie crust.

Rocker Dude had been nudging me for a while saying that I haven’t ever made a pie with a lattice crust and why haven’t I made one and is it because I can’t make one.  After reminding him that I have made pies with a lattice crust before (he still doesn’t believe me), I decided that just to prove him wrong, I would make this pie a lattice-topped pie.

Pie crust dough ready for refrigeration.

I made this pie a week and a half ago, on Friday, so because Little Rocker came home from daycare early and I needed to entertain her, I decided to make this a joint project and we had a ton of fun with it.

Ready to be rolled out

I made the dough while she was napping, so it was all ready to be rolled out when she woke up.  For her birthday, J. and M. had gotten her a mini kitchen set – but with real tools, not toys.  It has a mini whisk, a mini rolling pin, a measuring cup, a mini sifter and some little cookie cutters.  I gave the Little Rocker a 4 inch pie plate and we were in business.

Rolling out the dough

We rolled out the dough together, and made sure there was enough flour.

Flouring the dough

Then we placed the bottom crust in the pie plate and put it in the refrigerator while we got the filling ready.

Pressing the dough into the pie plate.

I did not have tapioca, and I had no idea where to get some, so I just added some cornstarch to the mix.  This is the first time that I have used lemon zest in an apple pie, but I can promise that it won’t be the last (even though Rocker Dude complained that he could taste lemon and it made the pie too tart).

Apple filling

We filled the crusts with the filling, and then I rolled out the top crust.  I cut it into lines, and the Little Rocker helped me put the “stips” on the pie.  We crimped the edges and then went to work on her little pie.

Elephant Cookies

We rolled out a top crust and carefully pressed it over the apples.  Because there was some extra dough, and the Little Rocker has developed a total obsession with elephants (or ephelants), I used one of her new cookie cutters, which conveniently was an elephant, and we made little elephant cookies.  Some we put as decoration on top of the crust and the others we baked plain.

Pies ready to be baked!

The pie came out looking beautifully.  I got to prove to Rocker Dude that I could make a lattice-topped pie and the Little Rocker got to make her own little apple pie.  Okay, I will admit, she didn’t really eat the pie, she just gobbled down all the elephant cookies while doing her elephant impression – it was really cute!

The Little Rocker is a little possessive of her apple pie.

This pie tasted delicious.  The apple filling wasn’t gooey and it didn’t make the pie crust soggy at all.  Unlike commercial apple fillings, you really taste the apple and it makes eating the pie so much more enjoyable.

All-American All-Delicious Apple Pie

For the recipe go to Emily’s blog here, and see what other TWD bakers did here.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Fold-Over Pear Torte

Hmm. Pears and apricots in a custard tart.  Definitely an interesting combination and something to try.  I haven’t real used pears yet this season as they are just coming into season.  (It’s still not cold here.)  But I love pear tarts and other pear desserts, and the apricots add a nice splash of color.

This week’s recipe was hosted by Cakelaw of Laws of the Kitchen.  She chose the Fold-Over Pear Torte.  I noticed that a number of bloggers were ambivalent about the use of pears and planned on substituting apples.  I love pears, I love when they are ripe and soft and the juice drips everywhere when you bite into them, so yeah, no substitutions, exchanges or refunds (Bonus: what children’s movie is that from?).

 

Pears ready for dicing.

 

Well, actually, I did decide to not include the walnuts as I am surrounded by nut-haters, tough they would have added some more texture to the torte.

 

Rolling out the pie dough.

 

I realized on Thursday night that I did not have dried apricots in the house, so I decided to take the Little Rocker to the farmer’s market on Friday and get some from the spice store there.  They always have the best stuff.

 

Fruit Filling

 

Of course there was another factor added to this mix, the weather forecast predicted the first rain of the season for Friday and of course it would start as soon as I picked up the Little Rocker from daycare (it only rains between October and March in Israel).

There we were, mom, kid and stroller, racing through the drip dropping of the beginning of the rain.  Racing before the thunder that threatened from the next town over, counting the seconds between the lightning and the thunder.  And all the while the Little Rocker is entranced by water dripping on her pants. (Not a bad description – I too can get a masters in creative writing – so there Rocker Dude!)

 

Filling in the crust.

 

We made it to the spice store before the rain really started.  There we got a whole bunch of delicious things, not just the apricots.  We then braved the pending rain to run out to the farmer’s market to get the best pickles ever.  Just as we paid for the pickles, the sky opened up in earnest.  We raced to the bank and took shelter inside, to the harmony of the Little Rocker saying, “Weening, weening!”

The rain eventually stopped and we were able to make it home with no further mishaps, though it was fun to watch the rain fall (from inside of course).

The base of this torte is a regular pie crust that is rolled out into a springform pan.  The fruit (and nuts) are poured into the middle and the custard poured over that.

 

Custard on the filling and crust folded over it.

 

I wasn’t 100% sure what Dorie meant by her instructions, when she said to fold the dough over the custard but to leave space (I wasn’t sure how the crust was supposed to defy gravity), so I just lightly laid the crust on the custard and when it baked, it rose when the custard rose as well.

 

The finished product.

 

I was not super impressed with this dessert, but everyone else liked it, so they must know what they are talking about.  I thought that it needed more texture – that’s probably why the recipe called for walnuts.  Something to think about next time.

 

Fold-Over Pear Torte

 

To see the recipe, check out cakelaw’s blog here and see what other TWD bakers did here.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Coffee-Break Muffins

So as not to pull another last minute TWD baking, I decided to make these muffins on Thursday night.  Conveniently, our friends A. and E. came back from the US on Wednesday so they were able to join us and watch Empire Records together.  That is a classic movie that deserves to be watched every few months so that you always remember how to rock out.  I love the song at the end when Renee Zellweger sings “Sugarhigh”!  It’s probably my favorite part.  So while watching we had some of these muffins and fruit – you know, so that we wouldn’t starve before the Yom Kippur fast that started Friday night (I swear, what is it with Jews and food, either you’re eating too much or you’re not eating at all!!).

Batter - mixed up by hand!

The Little Rocker saw me pulling them out of the oven as she was about to go to bed, so I had to promise her that she could have one in the morning.  I know that I shouldn’t give her caffeine, but I have to be honest, I don’t feel a difference when I have coffee in food, and I don’t notice a difference in her either.

Filling the muffin cups.

Either way, this week’s recipe was hosted by Rhiani of Chocoholic Anonymous.  She chose these muffins, actually a recipe that I skipped over a few times because it didn’t seem my style, not sweet enough I think.  But for Tuesdays with Dorie – I will try anything.  These muffins mixed up in about five minutes (in between bathing the Little Rocker and getting her into pjs) and baked really quickly.  When we tried them, there were mixed reviews.  Everyone said that they tasted good, though Rocker Dude did say that they were a bit bitter.  Rocker Dude’s comment was that it was missing something sweet.  I told him that they didn’t have soymilk which is what I normally bake with, which adds a lot of richness to the end product.  So he said that next time I should add the soymilk, after all, who likes coffee without milk?

Coffee-Break Muffins

For the recipe, check out Rhiani’s blog here and see what other TWD bakers did here.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Peach Upside-Downer

Due to Rosh Hashana and all the holiday-ing that ensued, I was a bit behind on this week’s recipe.  I had bought peaches last week in anticipation (see, I am planning ahead!) but I did not have a chance to make the cake until Sunday night, which come to think of it is not that last minute.

I was really happy to see that Dorie provided the peach option for this cake as there is no way in heaven that I was going to be able to get my hands on fresh or frozen cranberries.  It’s just not a fruit that exists here in Israel (may have something to do with the climate, hmmm).  The most I can get are dried cranberries, or canned cranberry sauce imported from America.  Besides, it’s still peach season here, so why not take advantage?

This week’s recipe was hosted by Sabrina of Superfluous.  She just got married in August (actually on the same day as my brother!) so congratulations to her and her new husband and may they find only happiness together.

Sabrina picked the Cranberry Upside-Downer and I was really excited to make this.  I haven’t made an upside-down cake in a long time, in fact, I think I’ve only made one other upside-down cake ever.  (When I brought the cake into work on Monday, my coworker asked, “Why did you need to flip it over?”  I didn’t really have a good reason for that except that that’s what the recipe said.)  This cake turned out so easily and nothing got messed up when I flipped it over!

Margarine-sugar mixture waiting for placement of peaches (right next to break the fast potato-leek soup - mmmm)

I almost didn’t make this until Monday night because I was so tired.  Sunday was a fast day (almost like practice for the 25 hour long fast of Yom Kippur), and unfortunately, our air conditioning decided not to work on Saturday night, and on top of that, the Little Rocker decided to get up about four times during the night.  So we woke up on Sunday morning tired, already dehydrated and not ready for a fast day.  By the end of the day I was just so wiped that I almost went to sleep right after putting the Little Rocker to bed, but then I remembered this week’s recipe, and I sucked it up and made the cake.

So glad I did.

The hardest part of the cake was pitting and slicing the peaches – just goes to show how hard it was, and in about 20 minutes, I had the cake in the oven, smelling up the house.

Peaches are in!

Dorie recommends to eat the cake warm – no problem there, and when I tried the cake after it was done I was surprised.  I am used to apple cakes, and the peaches just added something special to the cake and made it just a little bit different.

Cake batter in and ready for the oven

In order to further our dieting goals, I decided to bring the cake to work so that we wouldn’t eat it all.  As I packed it up in the morning, Rocker Dude protested.  I asked if he wanted to try the cake (his excuse the night before was that he had already brushed his teeth, humph).  He said that he had planned on eating a slice for breakfast.  I offered to cut him a slice, but he declined.  I am not blaming him, he is under a crazy amount of stress, poor guy.  He just started a new job teaching high school English, and on top of that he has to defend his masters’ thesis on Monday – he’s a bit stressed – you can do it baby!

And when he passes (because I know he will) champagne and cheesecake for everyone!

Right, back to this week’s recipe – everyone, go get some peaches and make this cake!  But only if you want to eat something totally delicious.

Out of the oven!

Check out the recipe on Sabrina’s blog here and see what other TWD bakers did here.

Peach Upside-Downer

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Espresso Shortbreads

Yay!  We’re home!  Things have gone back to normal and everyone’s time zones have settled in the correct region.  Things have been a bit tough because the Little Rocker has been at home since we got back to Israel.  Unfortunately, Israel follows the European custom of taking off for the month of August.  This means that there is no daycare, no camp, no nothing.  The assumption is that parents will take off as well.  When I first encountered this, I was shocked.  Coming from America, where everyone works all the time, I couldn’t conceive of an entire country taking off at once.  On top of that, August is one of the busiest seasons at my office as that’s when publicly traded companies report their second quarter earnings, or losses as the case may be.  Thankfully, Rocker Dude is a high school English teacher (they don’t know about his dudeness, we are trying to keep it under cover) so he is also off for the summer.  He has really been stepping in and taking care of the Little Rocker while I go to work.  But she starts daycare today!  Okay it’s only a couple of hours and tomorrow is only half a day, but then on Thursday – full day and life goes back to normal!  Besides, I think she would have more fun playing with kids her age and doing all the arts and crafts than staying home with us.

Mixing up the dough.

Since things have gone back to normal, I obviously had to keep up my Tuesday with Dorie-ing.  This week’s recipe was chosen by Donna of Life’s Too Short Not to Eat Dessert First – so true!  She chose Chocolate-Espresso Shortbread cookies.  Dorie added another option of making Oatmeal Spice Shortbread cookies.  I really wanted to try that – I love oatmeal cookies, but after a decision-making summit with Rocker Dude, I went with his choice and made chocolate-espresso.

I have never made shortbread cookies before.  I love being a part of this group because it forces to make things that I would not normally make.  So even though I could not make the cookies that I preferred, hey, how could chocolate chip cookies go wrong?

I prepared all the ingredients.  I did not have espresso powder, so I used instant coffee – I think the coffee flavor was still nice and strong.  I mixed it all up in the Kitchen -Aid and then added the chocolate chips.  They were not exactly evenly distributed, but it looked okay.

Rolling out the dough in a bag.

Then the cool part.  I stuck all the dough inside a ziploc bag and rolled it out – no mess!  I got the dough to be pretty rectangular, just one rough edge on the side.  I didn’t have time to let it chill in the fridge for two hours, so I stuck it in the freezer while I watched an episode of Monk, love that show!

Cutting up the cookies - almost perfect squares!

Rocker Dude reminded me that I had cookies that needed to be baked when he said, “Wait a minute, wasn’t I supposed to be getting cookies to try tonight?”  Whoops!  I cut up the cookies into squares and baked them.  Because there was no leavening agent in the dough, I was able to put a lot on one pan.  I baked all the cookies in two batches.

Shortbread cookies!!

We decided to bring them to Rocker Dude’s parents for the weekend, they were well received there.  On Friday night, when I asked Rocker Dude for a review, we had an interesting little conversation.

Me:  So, how did you like the cookies?

RD: Are you happy with the way they came out?  Texture-wise? (If that’s not a leading question I don’t know what is.)

Me:  Well they are supposed to be sandy…

RD: Then you succeeded in your goal admirably.  You made them exactly as they should be made, I just don’t like them that much.  Everyone else liked them so I trust that they were good, I just didn’t like them so much.

Me: Why?!?!

You can see where it went from there.

So verdict: great!  But I definitely want to try the oatmeal spice version, I mean, if Rocker Dude isn’t going to like it anyway, why use his choice?

Chocolate Espresso Shortbread cookies

Check out the recipe at Donna’s site here and see what other TWD bakers did here.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Crunchy and Custardy Nectarine Tart

This week’s recipe was hosted by Rachel of sweet tarte.  She chose the crunchy and custardy peach tart.  I have actually made this recipe a couple of times already, each time a bit differently.  The first time I made it with canned peaches because it was the middle of  the winter and there were no fresh peaches to be had.  The second time I made them, I forgot to specify to dear Rocker Dude when he bought the fresh peaches that I would need them the same day, so they were really hard.  I have to say that I liked the tart better with the canned peaches than with the underripe fresh ones.  This time, we are at the height of peach season, so I was going to do this right, well, sort of.

Pitted nectarines. Not the neatest job in the world.

I used nectarines so that I wouldn’t have to peel them before putting them into the tart.

Tart crust ready to be baked.

I also decided to slice up the nectarines completely and make a spiral pattern in the tart instead of partially cutting them and spreading the nectarine half.  I did this with the canned peaches (because they came sliced) and it came out looking really nice.  I used an extra nectarine half because I made a ten-inch tart instead of a 9 inch one.

Nectarine filling

The recipe is really east to make.  The topping takes about 1 1/2 minutes to mix up, then get your tart crust going add filling (which requires no pre-cooking by the way) and bake the whole thing!

We just came back from America on Wednesday, so it has taken the Little Rocker a while to get back to the right time zone, giving us a few hard nights.  Friday morning, when I made this tart, I was only about half-functioning.  And the Little Rocker and I walked out to the farmer’s market in the 108 degree heat – we got the greatest pickles ever!  (And some fresh mangos and grapes too.)  So when we came back I was pretty wiped and all I could think about was if I had enough freezer space I would have tart crusts already frozen and then I wouldn’t have to procrastinate baking.  Haven’t we all had those days?  Granted, I procrastinated by finding cool things to bake, but it is procrastination nonetheless.

Crunchy and Custardy Nectarine Tart

We brought this tart to our friend S.’s house for lunch on Saturday and it was well received, though Rocker Dude did say that he did not like the tartness of the nectarines with the creaminess of the custard filling.  Oh well, can’t please everyone.

Close up. Looks delish!

Check out the recipe on Rachel’s blog here and see what other TWD bakers did here.

P.S. Can you tell that I am still recovering?  This post was all over the place!