Monday, March 22, 2010

More baking trickery

So the adventures in baking continue. For Week Two I decided to do an apple tart and a brioche loaf. Even though there was some consternation with the recipes themselves, the final product, to quote one obnoxious Food Network personality, was Yum-O.

So I did the brioche first. Brioche are usually baked as individual rolls, in this cute little scalloped muffin-sized cup. I chose not to buy the cute little muffin-sized cups because I’m already spending plenty on ingredients (and a kitchen scale, lest we forget) and there was a variation in the book where you could just roll them and put them in a loaf pan and bake that way. The dough itself was incredibly stiff and difficult to work with, and I was honestly worried about my Kitchen-Aid there for a while. It couldn’t mix the dough completely; it kept bumping up and down and making straining noises. I didn’t lock it, because I wanted it to be able to bump if it needed to bump, but it was still unnerving. My roommate came in and, knowing my concern for my kitchen items, kept saying, “Kathy? Kathy?” I didn’t answer—not because I was concentrating so hard on the brioche dough, but because I didn’t know how to answer. She told me I ought to stop and not break my Kitchen-Aid, but I soldiered on. And it didn’t break the Kitchen-Aid, thank heaven (I truly would have been heartbroken). And the brioche was goooooooood.

So it wasn’t complicated, it was just worrisome. I let the dough “proof” in the fridge for four hours, then rolled it into the rolls and let it rise for an hour, and then baked. I burned myself a couple of times getting the rolls out, because I was hungry and impatient and I am a big bread fan. I pulled apart the rolls and stuffed one in my mouth and I just can’t tell you how good it was. Transcendent, really…light and fluffy and buttery and had a wonderful melt-in-your-mouth crust…mmmm. I baked half of the recipe into one loaf, and I was glad because after they cooled down they were still nice, but really just dinner rolls. I rolled them out two or three at a time for the rest of the week to eat them hot. It worked for three days, and then the last day they were heavy and didn’t rise. Sigh. Good eating takes work.

I also did an apple tart, which was delish as well. And it made for a terrific breakfast the next day. I made the pate sucree dough, a whole recipe, just like the tart recipe said to do. It also said to use the whole recipe. The pate sucree recipe itself said it made enough for two 9-inch crusts, but one would think that the apple tart would say, “use half a recipe for pate sucree” rather than “make a recipe for pate sucree.” Ah well. I rolled out the whole recipe and tried to put it in the 9” tart pan and realized the whole recipe would take up the entire pan. Fortunately the pate sucree recipe did say that it freezes well for up to a week, so I cut it in half and stuck half in the freezer.

The apple tart itself was amazing. Very simple: an apple compote with diced apples on bottom, sliced apples on top. The apple compote had apples, water, sugar and vanilla bean and I just boiled them until the apples were soft; then sliced several apples into thin slices and decorated the top. Baked it, then brushed it with apricot jam. Easy. And wonderful.

The bigger concern this week was that my foot started giving me problems. I am assuming it was plantar fasciitis, which is an irritation of the bottom of the foot that makes standing and running painful. This is a problem because I am now consuming huge quantities of fatty desserts. If consuming huge quantities of fatty desserts, one must be able to exercise if one wants to continue to fit into one’s pants. And I do. So I bought an ankle brace that was a semi-torturous device that inflicted more pain, but it did calm the heel enough that I could do yoga on Friday and go running both Saturday and Sunday, when it was gorgeous outside. I hope the pain stays away so I can keep exercising and therefore eating huge quantities of fatty desserts. Because, oh yes, there’s more to come.

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