Thursday, December 31, 2009
Apple Frangipane Tart

I have been dying to try my hand at frangipane ever since I purchased almond meal from the Ferry Building in San Francisco in the middle of autumn. When I started planning my Christmas baking lineup I was faced with the difficulty of creating desserts that would not only satisfy my ambitions as a baker but would also be accessible to people of different ages, with tastes ranging from simple to adventurous. As suggestions started pouring in, I started to see that apple would have to make some sort of appearance. But I was determined to present it in a not so traditional way. That's when an apple frangipane tart came to mind and I was instantly sold on the idea, the days approaching Christmas Eve were filled with images and days dreams of a beautiful, seemingly intricate, yet deceptively simple tart in bloom. If dessert is my life, would it be appropriate to say that, in my opinion, dessert (life) should imitate art?

Anyways, enough with the idealistic blah blah blah. End result: delicious and devoured.

Apple Frangipane Tart

makes a 9-10 inch tart

Pate Sucrée:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten

In a mixer, beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated. Don't overmix or butter will separate and lighten in color. Add the flour and salt and mix until a ball is formed. Don't overwork or pastry will be hard when baked.

Flatten dough into disk, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about an inch larger than the size of the tart pan. Roll out from the center to maintain a uniform thickness, about 1/4-inch thick. Take rolling pin and gently wrap dough over pin, dust off excess flour, and transfer to top of pan. Gently lay dough down, careful not to stretch dough, or dough will shrink down. Press dough into sides of pan, remove excess dough from edges by rolling pin over top of tart pan. Prick bottom of dough with a fork, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

At this point you can bake your crust for 20 to 25 minutes at 400 degrees F with pie weights or dried bean atop dough. Instead, I opted to just fill the uncooked crust immediately and just bake the completed tart.

Frangipane Cream:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 gr) granulated sugar
1 cup (100 gr) ground almond
seeds from one vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup (60gr) heavy cream

Place the butter, sugar, almond powder, vanilla bean seeds and the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth (can also be done in a food processor). Add the cream but stir in it instead of whisking not to emulsify it or it will rise while baking. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Assembling the tart:
6-8 Apples, peeled, cored, halved, and thinly sliced (keep in cold water; I used Golden Delicious)
4 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar mixture

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Gently spread frangipane over bottom of crust. Beginning at the outside, place apples slices perpendicular to the bottom, halfway overlapping each slice. For every new layer, place apple slices alternatively to the layer before. Cut smaller apple slices to fit in center of tart.

Sprinkle apples with a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until crust is a deep golden brown and apples are cooked through, about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from oven and cool before serving.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Finally taking the time to divulge my Christmas baking adventures. It's been so long since I've been able to go all out baking what I will that I've compiled an extensive list of things to try next. Of course, I was reminded to take into consideration what everyone else might enjoy rather than just what I'd fancy making. This Pineapple Upside Down Cake was my mom's request. In truth, it was meant to be a gift for a friend, but after it was finished she decided that we "didn't have enough desserts" for the Christmas party and so we kept it for ourselves...*ahem* I mean, the family.

This particular recipe is from Thomas Keller's "Ad Hoc At Home" and the first time I made it, my family and I fell in love. Try it, love it.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Note: The recipe makes more schmear than you need, but it is difficult to make less. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, ready when you want to make another cake, or it can be frozen.

For pan schmear:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon dark rum

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract

Kosher salt

1 Gold (extra -sweet) pineapple

For cake:

1 1/3 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle, combine the butter, honey, rum, sugar, and vanilla, and beat until smooth and well blended. Spread 1/3 cup of the schmear over the bottom of a 9-inch silicone cake pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt. (The remaining schmear can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 1 month; bring to room temperature before using.)

Cut top and bottom from pineapple, and cut away peel. Cut pineapple lengthwise into quarters, and cut off core from each section. Cut each piece crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Beginning at the perimeter of the pan, make an overlapping ring of pineapple slices with the curved side facing out. Make a second ring inside the first one, overlapping the slices in the opposite direction, working toward the center of the pan. Reserve any pineapple for another use.

Sift flour and baking powder together; set aside.

Put butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle and mix on low speed to combine, then beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Mix in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding second and scraping down the sides as necessary. Beat in milk. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating just until combined.

Pour batter into pan and spread over pineapple. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan for even browning and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 20 to 30 minutes.

Run a knife around the edges of the cake, invert onto a serving platter, and serve warm. (Leftover cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

From “Ad Hoc At Home”

Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Millionaire's Shortbread

I love how my new camera can make even the most disappointing attempts look deliciously mouth-watering. The recipe for Millionaire's Shortbread seemed simple enough: buttery shortbread crust, creamy dulce de leche center, and smooth chocolate on top. Unfortunately for me, despite my many victories in much more complex areas of baking, these basic treats had me stumped. First, there was my use of an 8x8 inch pan instead of a 9x9 inch, which left me with a slightly too overwhelming shortbread base. Then my compulsive need to achieve a darker, more caramel colored dulce de leche, which required more cooking time, but ultimately left me with only a small amount of nearly unspreadable sauce. Finally, there was the fact that I couldn't find the kitchen scale amidst all the Christmas-prep chaos in order to properly measure the chocolate because the recipe I found gave the amount in only ounces and grams. So I eyeballed both the chocolate and the butter that I needed to melt into the topping and was left with a not so flawless finish. (However, this mishap I grew to overlook as the swirled chocolate on top looked so charmingly homemade)

I certainly would like to try it again, especially since I hate to leave such "defeats" unresolved. But for now, the end product is edible and really, I just wanted to take my new camera for a spin.

Millionaire's Shortbread
recipe from Joy of Baking