Baking with Julia – The Big Finish

Baking with Julia

All the way back in 2012, Tuesdays with Dorie started working their way through Baking with Julia. They’d recently finished baking through Dorie Greenspan‘s Baking, From My Home to Yours and wanted to continue with another of her books. Meanwhile, I’d been participating in French Fridays with Dorie, which was tackling Dorie’s terrific Around My French Table.

Thinking this would be a great project to do with my teenaged nieces, I jumped on board. I created a collaborative blog, The Family That Bakes Together…, and we were off to the races. Or the kitchen, really.

We didn’t last through the project. As my nieces became adults, it became too difficult to co-ordinate baking dates. But, I’ll always cherish the experiences we had in our Baking with Julia adventures and I’d like to think they will, too. I’ve followed along since, reading some of the posts of those who continued with the project, and I love finding occasions to bake from the book on my own.

Since the logistics of getting together to bake the group’s final recipe would have proved impossible, I’ve decided to share some of my favourite posts from our year-and-a-bit on the project. Though honestly, I read through all the posts with relish, enjoying the memories they evoked. If you have the opportunity to bake or cook (or do anything you love to do, really) with two or more generations, do it – it’s a wonderful experience.

Kat’s meditation on sisters and chocolate.

How my French-Canadian mother made Irish Soda Bread her signature bread.

Jessica’s debut post: Hungarian Shortbread.

How making biscotti revealed Kat’s power-hungry ambitions.

Jessica waxes poetic about pie and cake.

The most fun I’ve had writing a post, on this blog or my own: Bagel Throwdown.

Kat evokes Proust and Jessica makes madeleines.

The real stars of the show are the stalwarts that baked their way through the whole book. I can hardly wait to read their posts, detailing their experience with the project’s crowning glory – Martha Stewart’s Glorious Wedding Cake.

After you head over and congratulate them, you might want to consider joining in on the other project the group is working on – working through Dorie’s Baking Chez Moi. I join in when I can and everything I’ve made has been fantastic. Or, you can jump on board Dorie’s latest initiative, Cookies & Kindness, and help spread some joy.

Baking Chez Moi – The Rugelach That Won Over France

Rugelach

I’ve made rugelach before, over at The Family That Bakes Together with my nieces, so I was curious to see how this recipe compared to that one. Those rugelach were filled with rich apricot lekvar, lots of cinnamon sugar, and a mix of fruit and nuts. My nieces also inadvertently rolled them along the short end, creating pinwheels which were huge – and a huge hit with everyone that tasted them.

So, I was curious to try Dorie’s chocolate version. I used a semisweet chocolate that was a little darker than was called for and substituted dried cranberries for the cherries, but otherwise stuck to the recipe. The dough was surprisingly easy to work with for something that soft, though getting the rolls started needed a little gentle help from my bench scraper. I left three of the rolls in the freezer and sliced and baked the other.

The oven I used seems to run a touch hot, so the rugelach were a bit browner on the bottom than I’d like. Next time, I’ll turn down the heat a touch and perhaps take them out sooner, too.

I was a little disappointed with them when I first tasted them – they seemed a bit dry and the flavours didn’t meld very well. But, the next day the leftovers were terrific. The flavour of the cream cheese dough became more pronounced and the filling was moist and delicious.

I still love the version we made for Baking With Julia best, but I think I’d like to have rolls of both kinds of rugelach in the freezer, to serve together. I’ll just bake this version a day ahead.

A very happy Chanukah to everyone who observes it! I hope these eight days are filled with food, family, and friends.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this recipe here: The Rugelach That Won Over France.

FFWD – Pierre Hermé’s Olive Sablés

Olive Sablés

My parents’ freezer is full of various French Fridays and Baking with Julia projects. I make a lot of French Fridays dishes at home, of course, but if I’m visiting my parents, I like to cook for them, so they’ve gotten their fair share of Dorista bounty. It’s great for my mom, who is as busy as she was before she retired. She still enjoys cooking and baking, but it’s less of a priority for her now – there’s so much she wants to do with the grandkids, her friends, and her volunteering. I only baked a dozen of these sablés today and packed up the remaining 2 1/2 logs of dough and put it in the freezer for her. Next time she gets together with her friends for wine and nibbles, they’ll be ready for baking.

Logs of olive sablés, ready for the freezer

I think her friends will enjoy these as much as we did. A little savoury and a little sweet, olive sablés are surprisingly delicious. The recipe is a little unusual, too, incorporating grated egg yolk, potato starch, and cured olives into the usual sablé mix. The dough is much softer than traditional sablé dough, but when it’s baked, the cookie somehow achieves the familiar sandy texture.

Some members of the French Fridays crew were unable to locate potato starch (though scheduling these right around Passover made it much easier than it might have been at other times of year), and corn starch was the substitution of choice. Check the link at the bottom of this post to see how that worked out for folks.

I hope that last week’s long weekend was relaxing for everyone and for those who celebrated Passover or Easter, that it was filled with family, friends, and food.

Olive Sablés in a crystal dish atop a vintage lace tablecloth

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Pierre Hermé’s Olive Sablés

Baking Bread and Watching Birds

Birds at the feeder.

I’m out in the Valley today, baking bread at my parents’ place, which gives me a great view of the birds making short work of the seed in the back porch bird feeder. My mother tells me that it takes them about two-and-a-half days to work their way through a full container. That should slow, now that the weather (dare I say it?) is turning toward spring.

Stll more birds, feeding.

I’ve started participating in another group project, but I’m reserving Tuesdays for my community posts on this blog, so I’m taking my Tuesdays with Dorie posts over here. It’s going to be a bit different, more collaborative, and a little more focused on the kitchen.

Thanks so much to Elaine for sending me the copy of Baking With Julia! I think my friends and family will be thanking her, too. I see a lot of baked goods in my future.

A bird at the feeder.