Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cranberry Crackle Tart : TWD

Our second bake from "Baking Chez Moi" by Dorie Greenspan, at Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD). A lovely tart, with a buttery crust, spread with a layer of jam, and topped with egg white meringue which is mixed with fresh cranberries. Unfortunately, fresh cranberries are not easily available over here in Malaysia, and I could not find any frozen ones too, so I've used dried cranberries.

 According to Dorie, when the tart is done baking, the top will be light beige and most probably cracked here and there. Well, there's some cracks here and there on my tart, mostly at the sides, but the meringue bakes up with a darker shade of beige, I would prefer if it is a little lighter!

The recipe has given an option to make the crust using either the Sweet Tart Dough or Galette Dough, and I have chosen the latter, as it has lesser sugar, lesser butter and no eggs. The crust is made in the food processor, roll out to fill the pie pan, freeze for at least 30 minutes, and bake as instructed in the recipe. I have used a tablespoon less of the water calls for in the recipe, as our weather here is hot and humid, and I find that I tend to use less water than stated in most recipes, sometimes not at all, when I'm making dough crust for pies and tarts. When the crust is at room temperature, spread some chunky jam, of which I have used lingonberry preserves. I've used more preserves to cover the crust base, more than the recipe calls for. Make the meringue by beating the egg whites with some sugar, which I've reduced slightly. Fresh cranberries are then added in. I've used dried cranberries. (soaked in some hot water until they plumped up, about 45 minutes, drain and left them in the sieve for about an hour, to make sure they are dry). Spread the meringue over the jam, making swirls if desired, and bake for an hour until the meringue is light beige.

The meringue was already starting to brown at the 20 minutes time of baking, so I've tented the top with foil, reduce the temperature by 10 degrees,  and continue baking till done. I've added 10 minutes to the baking time.

The meringue bakes up crispy nice. Using dried cranberries works out great, though I think that with fresh cranberries would be even better! And I like the buttery crust, with the balance of the dough scrapes, as Dorie suggested, I've made two turnovers, filled with my homemade apple jelly. Really, really, yummy. The dough makes great turnovers, really flaky, tender and buttery. 

The recipe for this tart can be found at Dorie's website, or better still get the book! To view the other bakers take on this lovely tart, do stop by TWD blogroll.

I'm sharing this post with :

Monday, November 24, 2014

Spanish Baked Fish

"November Potluck", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). I've decided to make one of Diana Henry's fish recipes, and she has quite a number of fish recipes. 

Ever since I saw the photo of this dish, "Spanish Baked Bream" in the Diana Henry's cookbook, "Food From Plenty", I knew that I will be making it sooner or later. This dish has really simple ingredients and yet it looks so delicious. And it is delicious!

The ingredients needed are fish, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, smoked paprika, white breadcrumbs, garlic and finely chopped parsley. Firstly brush the fish inside and out with olive oil, squeeze on some lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Lay the fish in a baking dish. Mix the breadcrumbs, smoked paprika, crushed garlic, and salt to taste in a small bowl. Scatter this mixture over the fish, drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Bake in a preheated oven at 190C until fish is cooked through, about 20-30 minutes.

I've used 1 large sea bass, about 600gm, and it takes about 35 minutes to be fully cooked. After about 20 minutes in the oven, the breadcrumbs mixture are beginning to brown, and the fish is still not fully cooked yet, so I have tent the top with foil, and continue to bake until the fish is cooked through. I then sprinkled the finely chopped parsley over the top, and continue to bake for another 3 minutes. Serve hot. Take note of the cooking times, depending on the size of the fish. To know whether the fish is done, I use a fork to poke thru the thickest part of the fish flesh (along the back), if the fork goes thru without any resistance, then the fish is cooked. If the fork can't get thru the meat, then it needs a few minutes more of baking time.

If the fish is large, you might want to bake the fish for 10 or 15 minutes first, before scattering the breadcrumbs mixture over the top and continue on baking until the fish is done.

This is one delicious dish!  Since I've used only one fish, I have used half the ingredients and the next time I would certainly double the ingredients. We had this for dinner with rice and other dishes, and everyone was spooning for the breadcrumbs-paprika mixture. This is one dish that you got to be a little generous with the olive oil and lemon juice. Simple, so easy to cook,  yet so good! I would definitely make this again.

Spanish Baked Bream
serves 4
for the bream :
4 x 300gm (10-1/2oz) bream, gutted, trimmed and scaled
7 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
5 tsp smoked paprika
4 garlic cloves, crushed
35gm (1-1/4 oz) white breadcrumbs
small handful of flat leat parsley, finely chopped

To serve :
extra virgin olive oil
wedges of lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Brush the fish inside and out with olive oil, squeeze on some lemon juice and season well. Lay the fish - in a single layer but close together - in an overproof dish. Mix the smoked paprika, garlic and breadcrumbs together and season. Sprinkle this all over the fish, then drizzle on the remaining oil and lemon juice.
  2. Bake for 20 minutes. Throw on the parsley when the fish has cooked for 15 minutes. The bream is cooked when the flesh near the bone is white and opaque. Drizzle with extra virgin oil and serve with lemon wedges.

I'm linking this post to I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week, "November Potluck"

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Elenore's Plum Cake

I have been seeing lots of plums in the market lately, it must be the plum season in other parts of the world where they came from! Taking advantage whilst they are in season, I bought some with the intention to make some plum jam, and ended up eaten as they are (they are really sweet), with a few went into this lovely plum cake.

Elenore's Plum Cake recipe, is taken from "The Seasonal Baker" by John Barricelli, and this recipe belongs to his mother-in-law. It is a buttery German-style plum cake. I can see why this cake is such a hit with his family. This is my kind of cake, simple, easy, fruity and really, really nice.

Really easy cake to make, using the usual cream method for making the batter, the sliced plum wedges are arranged on top of the batter, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar, and bake until cake is done. There are a few changes I've made. Firstly, as usual, I've reduced the sugar by half! I've used only a scant half cup (recipes calls for 1 cup), and it is already sweet enough for us. Also I have omitted the salt as the I've used salted butter. And I've added half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, just because I feel that somehow cakes needed that vanilla touch! For the cinnamon-sugar sprinkling over the top, I've used only 1 teaspoon sugar (recipe is 2 tbsps). 

Recipe says to arrange the plum wedges skin side down, but from the photo of the book, the plums wedges looks like they are skin side up! So, I have arranged them skin-side up, which looks nicer anyway! Instead of a 8" pyrex dish, I've used the normal 8" square baking pan, lined and greased, and place the pan directly on the baking rack in the oven (recipe says to place the pyrex dish on a baking sheet, and bake). My cake was done at 45 minutes (recipe says to bake 70 to 75 minutes until done), so check your cake at the 40-45 minutes baking time!

This cake can be served warm or at room temperature with a dusting of icing sugar, either way, it is good (with or without the icing sugar)! The crumbs are light, moist, soft, buttery, with soft tender plums. According to the author, "It's very nice for a weekend breakfast, an afternoon snack, or as a dessert. It's incredibly simple to make, and tastes fantastic. What else is there to say?".  He's right!

*my changes listed in blue
Elenore's Plum Cake
(adapted from "The Seasonal Baker", John Barricelli)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt (omit this as I've used salted butter)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (used salted butter, 125gm)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (scant 1/2 cup plus 1 tsp)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1-3/4 pounds (5 to 6) large black plums, halved and pitted, each half cut into 1/4-inch thick wedges
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (my addition)

  1. Set  the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch Pyrex baking dish. (I've used a normal 8" square cake pan, line and greased).
  2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and salt; set aside,
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with 1 cup of the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Turn the mixer to low speed. Add the flour mixture and beat until the flour is absorbed.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Arrange a line of plum wedges along one side, skin sides down, and press gently to settle them. Arrange another line of plum wedges right next to and touching the first. Continue to use up the plums and cover the batter.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture over the plums. Place the cake on a baking sheet and bake, rotating the sheet about two-thirds of the way through the baking time, until the top is golden brown, the plums are tender and bubbling, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 70 to 75 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes. Cut into nine squares to serve warm, or let cool completely. (I placed the pan directly on the baking rack in the oven, and the cake was done at 45 minutes, so watch out for the baking time!)

Product Details
I bought this book at last year's BBW sale, and I'm so glad that I did. I really like this book and the recipes, so many I've bookmarked to try! He has authored two cookbooks, and I have them both, the other one which is his first cookbook, The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook, is just as wonderful. I'm looking forward to try out other recipes in due time! So, in the meantime, I'm sharing this post with Cookbook Wednesday, hosted by the lovely Louise of Months of Edible Celebrations. If you have a cookbook that you would like to share, hop over to Louise's site for more info.

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