Cook the Book Fridays – Bay Leaf Pound Cake

Bay Leaf Pound Cake

I love the French name for pound cake – weekend cake. The English name is so prosaic, a sort of short-hand recipe. The French name is functional in the best way, evoking family meals, snacks for adventures, and impromptu gatherings with friends. It’s a simple, sturdy cake that’s welcome at almost any occasion.

Its simplicity is also what makes it so open to variation. This week’s cake has elements of a standard orange pound cake, but the flavour is deepened by the addition of bay leaves and it’s finished with an orangey, boozy glaze.

I skipped a couple of steps, based on the pre-post comments at Cook the Book Fridays, leaving off the extra bay leaves at the bottom of the pan and not piping the extra tablespoon of butter down the centre of the loaf before baking. I think it’s a lovely cake, but I’d like to know if anyone knows:

  • Which side was meant to be the top of the cake? (Bay leaf pattern on top?)
  • What function the piped butter serves?

I’m still munching away on this cake and I’ve shared over half of it, so it’s a substantial loaf that will get you through the weekend and give you a head start on your work week, too.

Bay Leaf Pound Cake

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

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Everyday Dorie – “My Newest Gougères”

Emmental, Mustard, & Walnut Gougères

I first made gougères in October of 2010. I’d just started a blog and was looking for some structure to keep me posting, learning, and connecting. I noticed that a cooking group called French Fridays with Dorie was just about to start cooking through a book called Around My French Table. I bought the book and signed up. I liked the idea of cooking my way through an accessible French cookbook, making some old favourites while being challenged by recipes that I’d been afraid to attempt. I wasn’t sure what to expect from an online community of bloggers, but I was intrigued to find out.

Over the years that we cooked through the book together, and beyond, I’ve been grateful that I decided to cook along. It turns out that I found a group of truly lovely people from around North America and all over the world. I’ve met a few in person and kept up with others online and I’m so pleased that many of us are gathering again to cook through Everyday Dorie together.

Everyday Dorie

It’s not a surprise that the glue that has held us together has been Dorie Greenspan’s cookbooks. She is a lovely person, a great teacher, and an inspiring community-builder – it’s only natural that a terrific community of cooks would spring up around her work, starting with Laurie Woodward and the Tuesdays with Dorie crew.

Gougères ready for the freezer

These gougères are not just a call back to our very first recipe for French Fridays with Dorie, they’re also a perfect celebration treat, elegant, delicious, and simple. Those first gougères showcased the beautiful cheese that they were made with (Gruyère, if I recall correctly), but these new ones complicate things a bit with mustard and walnut playing against Emmental. We’ve all become a little more complex as cooks over the last eight years, too.

If you’re new to the group and to gougères, they’re still a perfect introduction to the path we’re taking, and I bet you’re just as pleased as I was to discover how easy and infinitely variable choux pastry can be. Try it for yourself – we’ve been given permission to share the recipe with you. Tonight, I’ll be toasting to cooking friends old and new, remembered and present with a glass of wine and plate of gougères.

Excerpted from Everyday Dorie © 2018 by Dorie Greenspan. Photography © 2018
by Ellen Silverman. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton
Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

MY NEWEST GOUGÈRES

Makes about 60 gougères

Gougères are French cheese puffs based on a classic dough called pâte à choux (the dough used for cream puffs), and it’s a testament to their goodness that I’m still crazy about them after all these years and after all the thousands that I’ve made. Twenty or so years ago, when my husband and I moved to Paris, I decided that gougères would be the nibble I’d have ready for guests when they visited. Regulars chez moi have come to expect them. Over the years, I’ve made minor adjustments the recipe’s ingredients, flirting with different cheeses, different kinds of pepper and different spices. The recipe is welcoming.

This current favorite has a structural tweak: Instead of the usual five eggs in the dough, I use four, plus a white—it makes the puff just a tad sturdier. In addition, I’ve downsized the puffs, shaping them with a small cookie scoop. And I’ve added Dijon mustard to the mix for zip and a surprise—walnuts.

  • 1⁄2 cup (120 grams) whole milk
  • 1⁄2 cup (120 grams) water
  • 1 stick (4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1-1⁄4 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (preferably French)
  • 2 cups (170 grams) coarsely grated cheese, such as Comté, Gruyère and/or sharp cheddar
  • 2⁄3 cup (80 grams) walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
W O R K I N G A H E A D

My secret to being able to serve guests gougères on short notice is to keep them in the freezer, ready to bake. Scoop the puffs, freeze them on a parchment- lined baking sheet or cutting board and then pack them airtight. You can bake them straight from the oven; just give them a couple more minutes of heat.

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Bring the milk, water, butter and salt to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat and immediately start stirring energetically with a heavy spoon or whisk. The dough will form a ball and there’ll be a light film on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring for another 2 minutes or so to dry the dough. Dry dough will make puffy puffs.

Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or work by hand with a wooden spoon and elbow grease). Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one, followed by the white, beating until each egg is incorporated before adding the next. The dough may look as though it’s separating or falling apart but just keep working; by the time the white goes in, the dough will be beautiful. Beat in the mustard, followed by the cheese and the walnuts. Give the dough a last mix-through by hand.

Scoop or spoon out the dough, using a small cookie scoop (1-1⁄2 teaspoons). If you’d like larger puffs, shape them with a tablespoon or medium-size cookie scoop. Drop the dough onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each mound. (The dough can be scooped and frozen on baking sheets at this point.)

Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F.

Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the gougères are puffed, golden and firm enough to pick up, another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately—these are best directly from the oven.

S T O R I N G

The puffs are best soon after they come out of the oven and nice (if flatter) at room temperature that same day. If you want to keep baked puffs, freeze them and then reheat them in a 350-degree-F oven for a few minutes.

These gougères disappeared quickly!

You can read through everyone’s posts here. You can join in on the singular pleasure of cooking, writing, and eating your way through Dorie Greenspan‘s Everyday Dorie with a group of French Fridays veterans, Doristas, and lovely people at Cook the Book Fridays.

Cook the Book Fridays – Chicken Pot Parmentier

Chicken Pot Parmentier

I’ve always been fond of chicken pot pies, cottage pies, veggie pot pies, and shepherd’s pies. They’re the essence of comfort food for me, especially because my mother’s versions have always been so delicious. When we were first starting on Around My French Table, I was introduced to hachis parmentier and I thought I’d found the ultimate expression of this genre of food. I was wrong. This week’s dish, a chicken twist on the standard, is my new gold standard. Perhaps it’s because I prefer chicken to beef mince, or maybe it’s the vast quantity of butter incorporated into the dish, but I could happily eat this every day (and did, for several). The dish was made even nicer by the lovely carrots from my Dad’s garden, along with fresh herbs from my mother’s planters.

I froze some turkey from a recent holiday weekend bird and I’m planning to make a turkey version when the weather turns cold and rainy and I’m in need of some comforting fortification. In the meantime, I’ll be whipping up some gougères for next week’s Cook the Book Friday, in celebration of the release of Dorie’s new book.

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Tuesdays with Dorie – September Omnibus Edition

The fading flowers of September

Summer is fading quickly, but I’m trying to enjoy the last of the flowers before turning my attention to the changing leaves.

For the first time in forever, it seems, I’ve managed to bake all the selections for this month’s Tuesdays with Dorie. Strange that it happened in a month in I was too busy to blog. So, I’m treating (?) you to an omnibus post of all September’s Baking Chez Moi and Dorie’s Cookies treats.

Smoothest, Silkiest, Creamiest, Tartest Lime Tart

Smoothest, Silkiest, Creamiest, Tartest Lime Tart

I made a full-sized version of this tart for my parents to take to one of their semi-annual get-togethers with some of their oldest friends. I held aside a bit of dough and a bit of filling to make a cook’s treat version for myself and it’s almost prettier than the larger version. To be fair, the one my parents got was whisked off before I could get a very good photo of it, but you can get a sense of how pretty it was even from this shot:

Lime tart ready for its final chill.

There isn’t much to say about this tart that isn’t expressed in its name, but I’ll add that it was a hit with my parents and their friends. I was left wishing I’d made a full-sized tart to keep on hand for myself. 😉

Basque Macarons

Basque Macarons

These are delicious in an entirely different way than their more famous (here, at least) cousins. They are crispy around the edges and chewy in the centre, with a caramel note that I can’t resist. Mine aren’t quite what they should be. I got carried away when spooning them out (they’re huge!) and I think I overworked the batter a touch (a byproduct of feeling a little overworked myself, perhaps). They were still delicious, just lacking the shape and crackled texture they should have had.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this month’s recipes from Baking Chez Moi here and here.

Double-Buckwheat Double-Chocolate Cookies

Double-Buckwheat Double-Chocolate Cookies

I split this dough into two logs, leaving one in my mother’s freezer with baking directions attached. I’m now sorry I did, because I baked these before a meeting and almost missed my chance to try them. My very generous meeting mates saved two for me, though, so I can attest these are delicious. I snuck a spoonful of cocoa nibs into the batter, after A Whisk & A Spoon‘s example, and they added yet another delicious element. Buckwheat on buckwheat with chocolate on chocolate on chocolate, topped with a little sugar and Maldon salt – don’t you wish you had a plateful of that? I do.

Devil’s Food Wafflets with Chocolate Sauce

Devil's Food Wafflets with Chocolate Sauce

These are just made for a Sunday brunch potluck. They’d disappear as soon as they came off the iron and the only danger would be streaks of chocolate across your counter as your guests dipped them into the chocolate sauce. I made a half-portion of the chocolate sauce, as I froze most of these, half for my parents and half for my uncle (there are perks to being seniors now, they’ve told me). There was sauce left over after we snacked on about a quarter of the batch, which I’m told made a nice accompaniment for my parents’ ice cream dessert. The waffles are light, rich, and not too sweet – a perfect foil for the chocolate sauce, but I suspect they’d be just as welcome with a dusting of icing sugar.

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

A whirlwind round up of a month of baking. I may not have had the time to post about them, but I’m glad I made the time to make these recipes. Baking is my most reliable salve for hectic times.

Cook the Book Fridays – Stuffed Vegetables & Babas with Pineapple

Duck Fat Potatoes

I have an ice cream problem, and not the one you’d think. I’ve stuffed the freezer with homemade tomato sauce, berries, rhubarb,and all the other summery goods that I’ll be grateful for in winter. But, I’ve left no room for the bowl of my ice cream maker. So, instead of apricot kernel ice cream, I’m catching up on the other two recipes for August’s Cook the Book Fridays, which I made on time and then neglected to post about.

Stuffed Vegetables (Légumes Farcis)

Stuffed Vegetables

I made these at the beginning of the month, but I was just so busy that I didn’t have an opportunity to post about it. I made the full amount of these, sending some home with my mother so that she could have an easy dinner component while my Dad was away. I was grateful for the same with the ones I kept.

I used eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, and tomato as the vessels for this dish and I used ground moose in the filling. I changed the seasonings a little, adding some smoked paprika and mixing it with fresh thyme and rosemary from the garden. Otherwise, I stuck to the recipe, finishing the dish with Italian parsley and basil from my garden.

I enjoyed these, but they were a little drier than my usual recipe, which incorporates rice. They made for a good meal, though, with duck fat potatoes. (Hey, that makes three catch up recipes this week!) You can see the potatoes at the top of this post.

Kirsch Babas with Pineapple

Babas with Pineapple

These were fun to make. They’re a little like popovers, but they seem so brittle when they come out of oven. I thought they’d disintegrate when I gave them their syrup bath, but they plumped and shone, becoming miraculously resilient. The pineapple is a terrific accompaniment for these, and so easily made, once the messiness of breaking it down is through. I stuck with rum for these, simply because I couldn’t find kirsch at the closest liquor store.

I’ll leave you with a photo of a dish only tangentially related to the group – a tomato and goat cheese tart that I made to test-drive Mardi’s pâte brisée from In the French Kitchen with Kids. It was so easy to work with and baked up beautifully!

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

You can read through everyone’s posts here and here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Tuesdays With Dorie – Cold Chocolate Crémeux, Wine-Poached Cherries and Lots of Crumbs & Rosemary-Parm Cookies

It’s one of those rare months when I’ve had the opportunity to make everything on the schedule for this month’s Tuesdays with Dorie picks. I even managed to post about them, twice!

Cold Chocolate Crémeux, Wine-Poached Cherries and Lots of Crumbs

Cold Chocolate Crémeux, Wine-Poached Cherries and Lots of Crumbs

The first dessert is one I’ve been meaning to try since I got the book. Cherry season is fleeting, though, and I’ve never managed to get ’round to this one until I had the extra prompting of having it on the Baking Chez Moi schedule. I’ve been missing out. All the components of this dessert are delicious in their own right and together they make a beautiful and delicious treat. I made this dessert on the same day as I made the Babas with Pineapple for Cook the Book Fridays. I gave some of each to my parents, with the following instructions:

Baba + pineapple + whipped cream.

Crémeux + cherries + cocoa crumbs.

They quite happily followed (then flouted) my instructions and loved every bit of them.

As did I. The crémeux was a joy to make and managed to be perfectly smooth and creamy without straining. I love the texture that gelatin gave the pudding, which was so rich and chocolatey that it could pass for ganache. The cherries were wonderful poached in wine and I made extra, which gave my morning yogurt a little sophistication once the crémeux was gone.

The crumbs, though. I’m not sure how happy I am to know how easy it is to make them. They were incredible in the dessert and could easily be added to, well, almost everything. It reminds me of whenever I’ve made the caramelized Rice Krispies for Dorie’s Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars. Everyone wants them in everything.

The best part of this week’s dessert is how easy it was to schedule and make an impressive multi-part dessert. I’m considering organizing a neighbourhood dessert party this winter, mostly because it helps me distribute my baked goods. I’d love to have a dessert bar loaded with components of desserts that people can mix and match, as my parents did with the desserts I left for them.

Rosemary-Parm Cookies

Making the Rosemary-Parm Cookies

I’ve been procrastinating about this one, even though I was the one who suggested it for the schedule. My rosemary plant is prolific, I’ve got all the ingredients on hand, and I can’t wait to try them. What I haven’t had is a good occasion for them. These are cookies I want to pass around, seeing what everyone thinks. So, I’m making them as I write this post – something I do quite a lot, come to think of it. My compromise was to divide the dough into three, one small one to bake off tonight and two larger disks for when the occasion calls for some adventurous cookies.

The dough itself comes together beautifully and my hands and my kitchen are still fragrant with rosemary-sugar. I love Dorie’s trick of rubbing aromatics into sugar more than just for its effectiveness at distributing flavour. It’s a soothing process that engages the senses, making me more attuned to the texture and fragrance of the dough as I work it in turn. The perfume it leaves behind makes its hour-long rest in the refrigerator seem longer, though.

My impatience was warranted, by the way. These cookies are sandy in the best sablé cookie manner, they’re flavour is both delicate and earthy, barely sweet and just a touch salty. The rosemary and Parmesan don’t overwhelm, while the pecans give a nutty undertone rather than taking centre stage.

It’s a balanced, pretty, delicious little cookie and I’m looking forward to taking out the remaining discs of dough when it’s time to share.

Rosemary-Parm Cookies

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this month’s recipes from Baking Chez Moi here and here.

AND

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

Dorie’s Cookies – Chocolate-Raspberry Thumbprints

Chocolate-Raspberry Thumbprints

I’ve been working a lot in the vegetable garden lately: moving my decade-old thyme from a pot that it literally burst out of to a bed near my fig tree; repotting the miraculously long-lived oregano that was the thyme’s companion; training my squash and mouse melon vines along their trellises; harvesting whatever’s been ripening along the way (quite a lot of kale this year). But, I’ve also been planting more pollinator-friendly perennials and leaving a lot of my plants to the bees this year. I’m grateful for all the goodness pollinators give us and I want to nourish them as long as I can before this neighbourhood is converted to a tower-filled concrete heat island.

I’ve not harvested many squash blossoms this year and I’ve let more of my herbs go to seed than is prudent for human purposes. In return, my fruits and vegetables have been plentiful (though I didn’t plant as much as I would have liked this year). I’ve also worked my way through loads of berries, cherries (sour and sweet), figs (from my own tree), and am deep into stone fruit now. I just picked a tromboncino squash that barely fits into my refrigerator and I have almost more green beans than I know what to do with. That’s a lie, there are never enough freshly picked green beans.

Some of the things I've baked and grown this summer

I’ve managed to do a bit of baking, too. This week’s cookie might not include anything from my own garden, but its ingredients are pollinators’ gifts that I’m grateful for. The combination of raspberry and chocolate is a classic and irresistible one and these cookies showcase that beautifully.

Dorie’s Do-Almost-Anything doughs are ones to keep in mind any time you’ve got a lot of cookie-baking in mind. Both the vanilla and chocolate produce quadruple batches of cookie dough and Dorie provides four recipes for each in Dorie’s Cookies.

At this time of year, my freezer is a little full, so I only made a half batch of the chocolate dough. I only baked 15 cookies, though, so I still have a bag bursting full of the prepared balls for future cookies. I’ll make more of these, for certain, but I may also experiment with fillings and toppings, too.

I sent a dozen of the cookies home with my parents, who have reported that they love them, and kept three for myself to enjoy. Normally, I would not be so abstemious, but I have at least a pound of cherries in the fridge, a fig version of Feast’s lunar cake just baked, and a tiny apple pie, too. So, I’m going to wait to bake more of these cookies, even though I wish I hadn’t sent so many of them out of the house!

I’ve made rolled out cookies with this dough in the past and have found it very easy to work with. It’s even easier to form into balls and press the indentation for the jam with a knuckle. I used a raspberry jam that only ran a little, firming up nicely once the cookies had cooled. After drizzling a bit of melted chocolate on each, they were done and delicious.

I can’t promise I’ll make it all the way to fall without making some more of these, even if it’s high stone fruit season and I really should be making some pies…

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

Cook the Book Fridays- Duck Fat Cookies

Duck fat

I think many of us grew up in homes where there was a jar of bacon or chicken fat in the fridge, ready to be used whenever a dish needed a boost of fatty flavour. I now have a jar of duck fat in my refrigerator and I think it’s going to be rapidly and well-used. I’ve just made one thing with it so far, and it’s not what you’d expect.

Duck fat is the secret ingredient in the sablé-like cookies I made this afternoon. The cookies manage to be crisp and melt-in-your-mouth all at once, with salt playing against the caramelly sweetness and vanilla and cognac adding a little depth to the flavour, as well. The cookies are studded with currants, which are due for a resurgence in popularity, I’d say. They’re perfect in these cookies, tart, sweet and soaked in cognac.

Duck Fat Cookie mise en place

I had a bit of fun with these on Instagram over the past couple of days, first posting the photo of the jar of duck fat, then posting the mise en place for the cookies as an extra hint. No one guessed, but I got some great suggestions for what to do with the leftovers. First, I’m going to catch up on the duck fat potatoes that everyone from Cook the Book Fridays has already made and raved about. Then, I’m going to try duck fat popcorn, which another commenter suggested. I looked for a recipe, and found a great one from one of our own, Trevor of Sis Boom Blog, along with some advice on how duck fat can improve your life (or at least your dinner parties).

Duck Fat Cookies

I only baked half of the cookies today and froze the other half. I don’t expect this batch to last past tomorrow. Next time I’m in need of goodwill, I’ll bake the rest of them.

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Cook the Book Fridays – Baba Ganoush & Tourteau Fromager

Baba ganoush

I’ve got a pretty straightforward post today, featuring two recipes that I’ll revisit.

This week’s recipe is baba ganoush, one of those spreads with seemingly endless variations. David Lebovitz’ take on this is particularly good. A little heat, just enough garlic and lemon, fresh parsley and a nice ratio between the eggplant and tahini. I used parsley from my balcony garden, which this year is all flowers and herbs and topped the finished dish with olive oil and za’atar. Tonight I scooped it up with some seedy crackers and tomorrow I’m looking forward to using it in a veggie sandwich. I’ll also be packing up some to share, as this recipe makes a generous amount.

Tourteau fromager

I also managed to make the Tourteau Fromager last weekend. I shared it with my parents and they had it with fresh berry compote several days in a row (as did I). My father can’t stand American-style cheesecake, but he loved this. (I’m going to have to bring him to Uncle Tetsu to see if he likes that style of cheesecake, too.) I’ve made Dorie’s version of this before and this recipe is just as good. I really enjoyed working with the tart dough, it was supple and easy to coax into the pan. This batch had a gorgeous yellow colour from the farm-fresh egg that I used, too.

Here’s hoping for a quiet summer full of good food. Do you think that’s a realistic wish, these days?

You can read through everyone’s posts here and here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Dorie’s Cookies – Cocoa-Tahini Cookies with Sesame Crunch

Cocoa-Tahini Cookies with Sesame Crunch

We’re in the midst of a heatwave, so I baked these cookies quite late this evening and I only baked three of them. Luckily, they all turned out beautifully, because I wouldn’t have had much leeway for outtakes. And even more luckily, this cookie dough holds well in the refrigerator, so I can wait a day or two for the temperature to drop before baking off the rest. I left them in the oven just long enough to become slightly crunchy around the edges, which is a wonderful thing in a cookie.

These almost didn’t get made, because the sesame crunch reminded me so much of one of my favourite supermarket treats, Sesame Snaps. (In fact, those who are intimidated by caramel-making might pick up a pack of Sesame Snaps to use in place of the homemade crunch. But, you shouldn’t be intimidated – hot sugar is easier to work with than people realize.) I kept my baser instincts in check and saved the crunch for baking. It adds so much to the texture of this cookie and plays so well against the give of the chopped chocolate.

I’ll make these again, perhaps for this year’s cookie swap season. I suspect they’ll be popular.

Swedish Visiting Cake Bars

I’ve been pretty behind with blogging and I have been wondering when I’d make the Swedish Visiting Cake Bars this month. But then, I realized I already have (and loved them) way back in November of 2016. I’m not sure why I haven’t made them again, except that there are so many recipes to try and so few treat-eaters in my life. So, I’ve actually completed both Dorie’s Cookies recipe selections for this month! Here’s what I said about it on Instagram at the time, “It’s a thin layer of butter-rich cake flavoured with vanilla and almond topped by a meringue of egg white, powdered sugar, and sliced almonds – so good!”

Just a short post tonight, as I have been feeling a bit sapped of energy and optimism this week, the former lapped up by the heat and the latter ground out by the news. Cookies help.

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