Dorie’s Cookies – Classic Jammers

This spring and summer have been punishingly busy, but not so much so that I couldn’t find time to bake some cookies for dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen in forever. Dorie’s Classic Jammers are perfect for sharing and for baking in small batches. The dough and the streusel freeze very well and you can fill them with whatever jam you happen to have on hand.

Freshly made rhubarb jam

I chose a terrific rhubarb, candied ginger, and cardamom jam that I made with Melissa of Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach when we visited The Preservatory at Vista D’oro Winery for a book launch. (I’ll be reviewing the book in my summer cookbook review series and telling you a bit more about our visit then.)

I had just enough jam left for two-and-a-half batches, sharing them with friends and family a dozen or half-dozen at a time. Later in the week, I made another batch with some grape jelly I’d gotten as a gift, and though it was a bit runnier than jam, it was just as tasty in this cookie. I still have some circles of dough in the freezer, along with some leftover streusel, awaiting the next occasion for sharing some cookies and kindness.

Classic Jammers, with jelly

July’s Dorie’s Cookies goodness can be found here at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Baking Chez Moi – Streusel-Topped Rhubarb Lime Tart

Streusel-Topped Rhubarb Lime Tart

I know I was extolling the virtues of sharing all over Instagram last week, but I realized today that for all the baking I did last week, I didn’t have any treats (savoury or sweet) left in the house. I remedied that by picking up a pint of strawberries this afternoon and am now battling the urge to re-purpose the goat’s cheese I’ve got saved for Cook the Book Fridays – there’s nothing nicer than a goat cheese and strawberry tartine at this time of year. Except maybe fresh summer strawberries all on their own. So, the goat cheese is safe for now.

I do admit to hanging on to more of this rhubarb tart than I usually do for the baked goods I make. Rhubarb is one of my favourite things in the garden and my estimation of my fair share of a rhubarb dish may be a little skewed. This was wonderful the day it was baked and it was still good for breakfast the next day (or so). Its base is Dorie’s sweet tart dough, cookie-ish without being overly sweet. The filling is rhubarb brightened with lime juice and zest and covered in custard, then topped with streusel.

I could eat variations of this tart with whatever happens to be in season and enjoy them very much, but I’d always be counting down the months to when it’s time to harvest the rhubarb from the garden.

Luckily, there’s still some rhubarb to be had, though I rarely make the same thing twice with it in the same season – my rhubarb recipe file is ridiculously large. Once it’s gone, I’ll console myself with all the other berries and stone fruits to come.

I’ll also start getting to know my new friend – a very kind Co-op neighbour gave me some sourdough starter at a meeting tonight. So, if you have any sourdough advice, let me know. I’m determined not to let it die!

Sourdough starter

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this month’s recipes here.

Baking Chez Moi – Granola Cake and Honey-Yogurt Mousse

Honey-Yogurt Mousse

January is a tough month for bakers, professional or amateur. So many people have sworn off…well, food…that it can be hard to find takers for anything sweet or rich. This month’s Tuesdays with Dorie picks from Baking Chez Moi will gently lure almost anyone back onto the dessert wagon. Neither of them are too sweet and they’re both perfect comfort foods, for me at least.

With the relentlessly icy winter we’ve been having, a cup of tea and a comforting treat are exactly what’s needed to chase away the chill.

Granola Cake

Granola Cake

This cake reminds me of the “snacking cakes” we used to have in our lunchboxes in elementary school. Invariably baked in a 9″ x 13″ pan, they existed at the corner of cake and cookie. I don’t remember any that incorporated granola, but it’s a brilliant addition. I used muesli in mine, which was perhaps a little less sweet than granola would have been, but I found the cake just right – not too soft to eat out of hand, without being too dry; sweet enough to eat by itself, but not so sweet you’d pass up a little compote or ice cream on the side. I cut the cake into small squares, saving a few for myself this week and freezing the rest to share later this month.

Honey-Yogurt Mousse

Honey-Yogurt Mousse

I’ve made this recipe a few times now and it has even made a guest appearance on the blog once before.

I love desserts like this, homey enough for a weeknight meal, but also just as nice for a special meal – it’s all in the presentation. This mousse is as simple to make as panna cotta, but there’s a little extra prep time needed for straining the yogurt.

I’ve made it with flavoured yogurts and plain, served it with whipped crème fraîche, macerated berries, or all on its own. I do think Dorie’s suggestion to serve it with a crunchy cookie sounds brilliant, but I’ve yet to try that.

I think if more people knew how easy it is to produce a simple dessert like this or panna cotta, scratch pudding, or even pots de crème, sales of boxed puddings and gelatin desserts would plummet, don’t you?

Here’s to a year full of ordinary delights (punctuated with splashier ones for special occasions), on the table and across the rest of our lives.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this month’s recipes here.

Baking Chez Moi – Custardy Apple Squares

Custardy Apple Squares

I always gravitated to the humanities in school – literature and writing, history and philosophy – these subjects, along with the more concrete elements of the sciences, grabbed my attention and often felt almost effortless. Math, however, was not my natural element and I remained convinced that I had no talent for it.

But, I’m kinder to myself than I once was and realize now that I had been delving into math from a very young age. I just expressed it in the form of cookies and cakes. It may not be higher math, but baking is certainly one of the more satisfying – and even elegant – ways to experience math.

So, even though I can only experience the majesty of black holes and fractals through popular science writing, I am able to witness the wonder of a few simple ingredients coming together in precise proportion to create something magically more than the sum of its parts.

Dorie’s apple squares are a lovely example of this kind of culinary marvel. A little flour, milk, butter, sugar, and eggs transform into something that isn’t quite cake and isn’t quite custard. In different proportions, the same ingredients can produce everything from a rich bread to a sturdy sponge cake.

This recipe is quite similar to one of my favourite apple desserts, Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake, but with its own unique texture and snackable square shape. I differentiated it further from its rum-rich cousin by taking Dorie’s suggestion of using a tiny drop of almond extract in the batter, which somehow manages to enrich the apple flavour even more.

Nicola apples

I used some gorgeous Nicola apples that I found at my local food co-op today, but these would be great with any baking apples (or pears, another one of Dorie’s variation suggestions).

These won’t last long, but the good news is that they’re quick to prepare, even with the 40-minute bake factored in. Delicious dessert that requires a minimum of effort and uses pantry staples. That might be the baker’s golden ratio.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this recipe here or here, along with posts about this month’s other selected recipe, Pear Tart with Crunchy Almond Topping.

Baking Chez Moi – Cornmeal & Berry Cakes

Cornmeal and Berry Cakes

Muffins and cupcakes went through faddish phases and now are disdained by those who fancy themselves food sophisticates. But, little cakes have their place. They can be frozen and enjoyed over time. Their single-serving size might suggest individualism, but nothing speaks of sharing as much as a container full of them. A large cake is impressive, but it can also have a gatekeeper (like the poor host who served 1 centimetre by 1 centimetre pieces of cake to people he wanted to insult). Even mini-cupcakes are inherently polite and egalitarian.

They’re especially convenient for someone like me, who gets the urge to bake whether or not there are people to feed. My freezer is filled with projects savoury and sweet, awaiting occasions for sharing or celebration.

Some of these little cakes are going into the freezer, though fewer than usual. Sweet olive oil and polenta cakes are hard for me to resist. These also include a considerable portion of butter and are flavoured with lemon, blueberries, and a pinch of cardamom. The recipe calls for raspberries, but their season is over, so I used blueberries instead. The cardamom was a last-minute addition.

I over-filled the muffin tins, so they’re not as pretty as they might be. I think when people taste them, they’ll forgive me. I also think that those who turn their noses up at little cakes might find themselves betrayed by their sense of smell – I can’t imagine anyone being able to turn these down just because they’re cupcake-shaped, can you?

You can find the recipe here and if you really can’t stand the idea of a small, round cake, fret not – the recipe is really meant for mini-loaves.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this recipe here or here, along with posts about July’s other selected recipe, Summer Market Galette. And here’s the link for any other recipes members chose for this week’s Rewind Post.

Baking Chez Moi – Rice Pudding with Spiced Hibiscus Syrup

Vanilla bean rice pudding with blueberries and spiced hibiscus syrup

I’ve had Dorie’s rice pudding before, with lemony caramel apples. It’s different from the rice pudding I grew up with, which was all about making leftover rice delicious. (Though even that kind of rice pudding can put on some party clothes.)

Dorie’s rice pudding uses arborio rice, which is simmered in whole milk and flavoured with a little sugar and half a vanilla bean. It’s simple, rich and delicious, the perfect backdrop for flavours in every season.

In summer, she recommends spiced hibiscus syrup and fresh strawberries. We’re well into blueberry season here, so I used those instead. They’re just as nice a pairing for hibiscus as strawberries and they’re what was freshest at the market today.

Spiced Hibiscus Syrup

As a bonus, there is plenty of leftover hibiscus syrup. I mixed a tablespoonful into some cold Pelligrino earlier today, but there are endless cocktail and mocktail possibilities for this jar of simple syrup. Or, I could just spend the rest of the week drizzling it over ice cream.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this recipe here or here, along with posts about this month’s other selected recipe, Rose Frasier.

Baking Chez Moi – Jammer Galette

Jammer Galette with piña colada jam

If I were a perfumer, I’d take my inspiration from the kitchen. One of the rewards of cooking is carrying away a trace of the scent of the ingredients you’ve been working with, unless it’s something like garlic or onion. But consider lemon, ginger, or tarragon and that’s a different story. Perhaps the best kitchen aroma of all comes from buttery sweet dough, especially if it’s been flavoured with a dash of vanilla.

That’s the perfume filling my house this evening, mixed with traces of pineapple, coconut, lime, and rum. I baked a jammer galette filled with piña colada jam this evening and it tasted just as wonderful as it smelled.

A slice of jammer galette

The reward was out of proportion to the work involved – the cookie base and buttery streusel came together quickly and the jam was already on my pantry shelf. The hardest part was waiting an hour while the rolled out dough rested in the freezer. This jam tart is essentially an enormous cookie – much less work than conventional cookies, with an extra reward in its pretty presentation. This is the second giant cookie that Dorie Greenspan has introduced me to and I’m looking forward to more when her new cookbook comes out this fall.

In the meantime, I’m going to work my way through the galette over the rest of the week. It’s my reward for evenings of weeding and digging in new soil into my garden beds. Its butter vanilla scent makes an especially lovely contrast to the heady earthiness of the garden.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this recipe here or here, along with posts about this month’s other selected recipe, Cocoa Crunch Meringue Cookies.

Hot Chocolate & Tangerines – A Baking Chez Moi Catch Up

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We haven’t been enjoying sweet treats nearly enough around here, but I did manage to catch up on two of the selections from Baking Chez Moi over the past few months.

Hot Chocolate Panna Cotta

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I drink a cup of hot chocolate or two each winter, especially when it’s time for Vancouver’s Hot Chocolate Festival, but I think I like this method of enjoying it even better than the traditional one. All the flavour of hot chocolate in a creamy dessert and none of the dilemma involved in choosing between it and a cup of tea.

I used an extra-dark chocolate that I like, Denman Island Chocolate‘s Cocoa Loco, and infused the cream with Lady Grey tea. The tea’s clear citrus notes played well against the flavour of the chocolate. The chocolate’s flavour is bolstered by cocoa powder in this panna cotta and I think it’s this addition that makes the flavour so reminiscent of hot chocolate.

This is one I’ll be having again, especially now that I’ve found a nearby source for granulated gelatin and can avoid the awkward conversions involved in using leaf gelatin.

Fluted Carrot-Tangerine Cake

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My fluted quiche pan was otherwise occupied, so this cake had to be content with a plain edge. I still think it’s very pretty.

I love my mother’s version of carrot cake, a classic rich rectangle liberally slathered in cream cheese icing, but this cake is one that I can see myself making more often. It’s a much lighter cake, full of ginger and tangerine with an undertone of carrot’s sweetness. I added a tangerine glaze, which made it look festive and boosted the citrus flavour even more. This cake will get you through the worst part of winter, whether you glaze it or not.

I’ll be joining in with the rest of Tuesdays with Dorie’s bloggers at least once in April, so dessert is on the horizon. That’s always a cheering prospect.

Find out what the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew caught up on here: Rewind.

Baking Chez Moi – Odile’s Fresh Orange Cake

  
Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! Here’s to continuing the march toward equality for all women, across the world and at home.

Baking may not seem like a good fit on a day that’s dedicated to women’s equality, but all the activist and community groups I’ve been part of have fuelled change with agile minds and satisfied stomachs. Even cookbooks have been wielded as tools for change by feminists – suffragists used them to spread their message, filling them with recipes and resistance.

So in this spirit, I think it’s fitting that I’m writing about a cake that begs to be shared. Any group of people who were lucky enough to find this orange cake on their meeting room table might find the fortitude to change the world.

I have a special fondness for orange cake – my grandmother used to make it and it was a favourite for everyone in the family. Unfortunately her recipe is lost to us, so I’ve tried any that I’ve encountered in an attempt to find one that measures up to my memory of hers.

That’s the problem, of course – what can measure up to a treasured memory? So, I just enjoy the orange cakes as they come along, noting down the ones that come close, along with those I appreciate just for themselves.

Odile’s Orange Cake falls into the second category. Though I think my grandmother would have appreciated the orange-y, buttery flavour very much, it’s a cake that’s different in kind than the one she used to make. Hers was moist, with a fine crumb, but also sturdier than this cake. That’s no surprise, since this one is soaked in the syrup used to poach the oranges that decorate it. It’s not just moist, it’s suffused with moisture in the best possible way.

  
There’s something else that’s different about this cake. I used goat butter to make it. It’s a delicious butter that has a different character than that made from cow’s milk. If you’re interested, Chowhound made a short video on the subject.

This recipe was well worth using my tiny stash of goat butter. And I think that if I bring it to my committee meeting tomorrow night, it might be the perfect way to celebrate solidarity amongst a group of women working to benefit our community.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this recipe here: Odile’s Fresh Orange Cake.

Tea and Apples

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On Sunday, I had a near-perfect day. I started by baking apple pielettes, this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection. Then, I went to Heritage Hall for Tea Sparrow‘s Tea-Off. After tasting (and tasting again) eighteen teas, we walked a block and had dinner at Burgoo, one of my favourite places for comfort food in the city.

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The apple pielettes (or pielets, depending on your spelling preference) are going to become a seasonal feature in my kitchen. They’re made with the galette dough from Dorie’s Baking Chez Moi, which she describes as “both sturdy and supple.” Sturdy enough to hold the saucy apple filling, supple enough to fit into muffin cups easily. But when you bite into it, it’s not tough at all. Instead it’s flaky, tender, and delicious.

For the filling, I decided to keep things simple, opting for apples with apricot jam and a little cardamom and cinnamon. I don’t think I need to tell you the filling was as delicious as the crust. Nearer the holidays, I think a version with dried cranberries might be in the works.

I sent some downstairs to my neighbour for her birthday, then sent some more home with my mother. They were my companions for the tea-tasting and for dinner and I believe they had a great day, too.

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We certainly enjoyed the seemingly endless cups of tea we had at the Tea-Off. I’ve told you about Tea Sparrow before and the process they use to choose the teas that go into their monthly boxes.

This time, we sampled teas that ran from cocoa and chocolate notes to herbaceous tisanes. I enjoyed most of the teas presented, but I had some favourites:

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The last one surprised me, because it doesn’t fit my usual tea preferences, but the flavours were beautifully balanced.

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There’s an endless amount of learning in the world of tea. Even though I’ve been drinking it since adolescence, I feel I’m still a novice in many ways. Visiting the Tea and Coffee Show helped and I’m looking forward to learning more at the Vancouver Tea Festival in November.

But, in some ways, I’ve learned most from those for whom tea has become a passion. At the tea-tasting at Tea Sparrow last week, I picked up a lot of interesting information, including these tidbits:

  • Some big tea companies pre-stale their tea before it hits the shelves to ensure a uniform flavour.
  • There are no real standards for tea, so companies like Tea Sparrow have to do a lot of their own research and testing to determine which teas are free from additives and artificial ingredients.
  • The growing popularity of premium teas is prompting larger tea vendors and corporations to cater to this market, making more clean, quality teas available to everyone.

The next step will be nurturing a tea-serving culture that has the standards of coffee barista service – no more lukewarm brewing or 1/2 cup portions of tea leaves in a cup, please!

I came home with a package of Vanilla Honeybush tea, which I happily enjoyed with my remaining apple pielettes. Since I gave so many away, I think I’m justified in making another batch this weekend, don’t you?

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this recipe here: Apple Pielets.