31 May 2018

Fallue - The Traditional Norman Brioche

Fallue - The Traditional Norman Brioche - Regional French Baking / www.delightfulrepast.com

Fallue is a traditional French brioche loaf from Normandy. And I can’t believe it’s taken me all these years to finally hear of it! Blogger Phil’s Fallue post at As Strong As Soup had me sputtering about “How have I never heard of this before now?!”

Just as I was sputtering when PBS presented Island at War on Masterpiece Theatre and I learned for the very first time that one of the Channel Islands had been occupied during WW2! (I like to know stuff!) Anyway… 

Breadaholic that I am, I wanted to make this immediately. Phil uses his bread machine to mix the dough, but I decided to use the stand mixer. I nearly always make bread by hand, but I thought I’d break out the heavy-duty stand mixer...

...and make this historical loaf in a modern way SINCE I ONLY JUST HEARD OF IT! (I know, I’m shouting, but you should’ve heard me during Island at War!) 

The recipe actually calls for crème fraiche, but I use only organic dairy products (and eggs and flour and everything else) and couldn’t find any organic crème fraiche, so I came up with my own little “faux” version: 1/2 cup organic heavy whipping cream with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar stirred in, left to thicken a bit for 5 or 10 minutes or so. 

Crème fraiche is higher in fat than sour cream and is not nearly as tangy, so I didn’t think sour cream would make a good substitute. My faux version seemed to have just the right amount of tang. I think I’ll be finding lots more ways to use it.

You know what popped into my head when I took my first bite of Fallue? I immediately thought, This is the perfect bread for Coronation Chicken Sandwiches

So tell me, is Fallue a new one on you as well? I'm sure I would remember if Julia or Jacques (Child and Pepin) had mentioned it. I don't mind telling you, I'm a bit miffed with Jacques right now. Thank goodness Phil clued me in! 

Fallue - The Traditional Norman Brioche - French Regional Baking / www.delightfulrepast.com

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La Fallue – Brioche Normande 

(Makes one large loaf)

The Dough 

3 1/2 cups (17.5 ounces/496 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (plus 1/2 cup – 2.5 ounces/71 grams to “work from”) 
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar 
2 teaspoons (7 to 8 grams) instant yeast 
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) salt 
1 stick (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, thoroughly softened 
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) heavy whipping cream with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar stirred in, room temperature 
5 large (medium in UK) eggs, room temperature, beat 1 of them and reserve 2 tablespoons of it for the egg wash 

The Egg Wash 

Reserved 2 tablespoons beaten egg 
1 teaspoon water 

1 In the mixer bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, instant yeast and salt. With fingers or a pastry cutter, cut softened butter into flour mixture until it looks like fine crumbs. Attach the dough hook and mixer bowl to the stand mixer. Add the thickened soured cream and eggs (don't forget to beat one and reserve 2 tablespoons). Mix on speed 3 for 10 to 15 minutes, adding flour during the last 5 minutes, if needed, from the 1/2 cup a tablespoon at a time until the dough is not quite so sticky. I used half of the 1/2 cup.

Note: The dough will not come together into a ball like other bread doughs. Resist the urge to keep adding more flour; too much flour will turn your soft and fluffy brioche into something entirely different. 

2 Transfer dough to lightly oiled 2-quart glass measure and cover with silicone lid or plastic wrap; let rise until nearly doubled, about 2 1/2 hours. You could leave the dough in the mixer bowl, but it’s easier to monitor the dough’s rise in a straight-sided clear glass container. Besides, since the dough will be going into the refrigerator overnight, you might want to free up your mixing bowl for something else. 

3 When the dough has not doubled but has risen by 75% (from the 4-cup level to the 7-cup line—see what I’m sayin’ about using a 2-quart glass measure?), put it in the refrigerator overnight (18 hours, actually, in this case). This will slow the fermentation, improving flavor and texture, and chill the butter, making shaping the sticky dough much easier. 

4 Line a large baking tray (I use a heavy-duty 18x13x1-inch half-sheet pan) with parchment paper. Turn the chilled dough out onto lightly floured surface (working from the remains of the 1/2 cup) and press it into a smooth 9-inch (23 cm) square; it will soften a bit as you handle it. Starting at the edge farthest away from you, roll the dough rather tightly into a log, sealing the seam (which will go on the bottom) and turning the ends under, shaping into a long oval loaf, about 12 inches (30 cm) by 3 to 3.5 inches (8 to 9 cm).

Fallue - The Traditional Norman Brioche - Regional French Baking (this photo - the loaf's final rise) / www.delightfulrepast.com

5 Place diagonally on the prepared baking tray. Cover lightly. Let rise until doubled and very puffy, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. 

Fallue - The Traditional Norman Brioche - French Regional Baking (this photo - loaf risen and glazed) / www.delightfulrepast.com

6 Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. 375F/190C/Gas5. In small bowl, beat together egg and water with a fork. Brush the dough with the egg wash. Use kitchen scissors to snip the dough all around the top edge of the loaf to make the traditional spikey effect.* Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown and sounding hollow when tapped on the bottom, or when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center bottom of the loaf registers 195F/90C.

* My spikey effect wasn't very spikey, but I don't mind! 

7 Cool completely on wire rack, 1 to 2 hours, before slicing. Serve with butter and preserves or with its traditional Norman accompaniment, Teurgoule

La Fallue - Brioche Normande / www.delightfulrepast.com

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24 May 2018

Vegetarian Chili - Won't-Even-Miss-the-Meat Chili

Vegetarian Chili - Won't-Even-Miss-the-Meat Chili / www.delightfulrepast.com

When I first developed my recipe for meatless chili many years ago during one of my vegetarian periods, I just called it Vegetarian Chili. But when a meat-loving friend who had expressed his doubts that it could possibly be any good at all declared it delicious and said he didn’t even miss the meat, I renamed it Won’t-Even-Miss-the-Meat Chili.

A big pot of chili is great for feeding a crowd. Set up a chili bar where guests can choose their favorite garnishes. Offer guacamole or diced avocado, sour cream, shredded Cheddar and Jack cheese, sliced black olives, diced onion, sliced green onion, shredded cabbage or iceberg lettuce, cilantro, lime wedges and thinly sliced radishes.

If you’re not vegetarian, you could even add shredded beef to your chili bar for the die-hard carnivores. But when I was a vegetarian, this was the one dish I could count on to satisfy even the most carnivorous of my friends! No longer vegetarian, I still enjoy meatless meals often. Just add a salad (maybe this Broccoli Salad) and some Cornbread, and you’re all set.

You can use info from my Slow Cooker Pinto Bean post to adapt this recipe for the slow cooker. 

(I'm using just a single old photo I have of this dish because I'm taking a break this week and not cooking or taking photos! Next time I make it, I'll add a much better photo to the post!)

Vegetarian Chili - Won’t-Even-Miss-the-Meat Chili

(Makes twelve 1 1/2-cup servings)

The Beans

2 pounds dry red kidney beans
10 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

The Sauce

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
1 cup chopped celery (2 large stalks)
1 cup chopped green bell pepper (1 large)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 tablespoons dried ground chiles
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (soy sauce if you're vegan or vegetarian)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (to start!)
1 29-ounce can diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted)

1 Wash beans in cold water. Put beans and water in a 6- or 7-quart pot. Soak beans at least 5 hours or overnight. Drain off soaking liquid and add 10 cups of fresh water. (I'm so precise about the water because we're going to add the sauce to the beans, so I don't want the beans to be swimming in water.)

2 Bring to a full rolling boil, boil for a minute, then reduce heat. Simmer, partially covered, for about 2 1/2 hours, adding salt during the last 1/2 hour. And don't bother skimming off the foam that will form on the surface. A lot of people do, but I consider it just a waste of my precious time.

3 During the last 45 minutes, make the sauce. In large skillet or 3-quart saucepan, heat oil and cook onion, celery and green pepper until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and seasonings, and cook for about 10 minutes to "brown" the tomato paste and toast the spices (mixture will be very thick). Add diced tomatoes.

4 Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. If the beans aren't tender by the time the sauce has cooked 30 minutes, turn the heat off under the sauce, cover and let stand until beans are done.

5 Add sauce to beans. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the chili is the consistency you like. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into bowls and serve, offering assortment of garnishes. Can be made a day or more ahead--it just gets better!

Note: I made those fettuccine-like shreds of cheese with my Microplane Professional Extra Coarse Grater!


17 May 2018

Meyer Lemon Sheet Cake

Meyer Lemon Sheet Cake - A Feeds-A-Crowd Half Sheet Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Meyer Lemon Sheet Cake is not something I would have made back in my days of fancy layer cakes.

Ages ago I took a long series of cake decorating lessons and spent many hours converting all of my cake, frosting and filling recipes to work with all the various sized pans I might be using for different numbers of people.

Gradually (quite quickly, actually!) I acquired all the equipment one would need to make all sorts of beautiful cakes for any occasion, including weddings. It was fun, but I am so over all that!

Sure, I'll still do a fancy cake once in a while, if I happen to get in the mood. Usually, I just make a layer cake (homemade, of course) frosted and filled with a buttery icing and maybe do a simple piped border.

But for days when even that is too much effort ... there's always one of my quick and easy sheet cakes that are served right from the pan—a quarter-sheet pan or a half-sheet pan for a big feeds-a-crowd cake like this.

It is quite a flat cake, tender and velvety, and can be cut into about seven or eight dozen 1 1/2-inch squares as a quick and easy stand-in for petits fours (I don't make those anymore either!) at your next large tea party.

I like to spread the frosting on while the cake is still warm so it sort of melts into a smooth, shiny glaze. But in this case, it just looks like frosting because the cake completely cooled while I ran to the store for some powdered sugar.

I know, I know, you’re supposed to make sure you have everything before you start cooking (mise en place). And I did. But what I thought was powdered sugar was actually tapioca flour, so …

You might also like my Banana Sheet Cake and, soon, my Fresh Peach Sheet Cake. Are you for making easy sheet cakes this summer? 

Meyer Lemon Sheet Cake - A Feeds-A-Crowd Half Sheet / www.delightfulrepast.com

Meyer Lemon Sheet Cake

(Makes 18x13x1-inch half-sheet, 32 servings)

The Cake

4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/3 cups (10.67 fluid ounces/315 ml) buttermilk, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (12.5 ounces/354 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups (12.25 ounces/347 grams) sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 sticks (7 ounces/198 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
Finely grated zest of 3 Meyer lemons

The Frosting

6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 firmly packed cups (12 ounces/340 grams) unsifted powdered sugar
1/16 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons (1.5 fluid ounces/44 ml) fresh Meyer lemon juice

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Spray an 18x13x1-inch half-sheet pan with cooking spray; don’t try to make-do with a smaller pan, or the batter will overflow.

2 In medium bowl, lightly combine the eggs, 1/3 cup of the buttermilk and the vanilla extract.

3 In large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; with electric mixer on low speed, mix for 1 minute to blend (it rather takes the place of sifting). Add the softened butter and remaining buttermilk. Mix on low speed until combined. Mix on medium-high speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Beat in the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Stir in the lemon zest by hand; otherwise, the zest gets all tangled up in the beaters.

4 Pour into prepared pan. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly on wire rack, about 15 minutes, before frosting. While the cake is cooling just a bit, make the frosting.

5 In large mixing bowl, beat softened butter. Gradually beat in confectioner's sugar, then salt, vanilla and lemon juice. With offset spatula, apply thinly to the slightly cooled cake. It will melt a bit into a smooth, shiny glaze. Let cool thoroughly, 3 to 4 hours, before serving.


10 May 2018

Hummingbird Muffins - Banana-Pineapple Muffins

Hummingbird Muffins - Banana-Pineapple Muffins / www.delightfulrepast.com

Hummingbird muffins are just the thing to make when you’re craving Hummingbird Cake but don’t want to go to quite that much trouble. Of course, you could slap a little cream cheese frosting on these muffins and call them hummingbird cupcakes, even though they have less sugar than actual cupcakes.

This was one of those days when I was missing a vital ingredient—in this case, eggs—but would rather take a beating than venture out to the grocery store. So I decided today was the day to try something I’ve wanted to try for a long time: “flax eggs." I had the ground flaxseed meal on hand, so why not?

I was really pleased with the results. The muffins seemed no different from muffins made with eggs.

So if you or someone you know is vegan or allergic to eggs, you can make this recipe with “flax eggs" and, for vegans, with an oil in place of the butter. Though flax is certainly no across-the-board substitute for an egg, it should work fine in things like muffins, quick breads and cookies.

Hummingbird Muffins - Banana-Pineapple Muffins / www.delightfulrepast.com

Hummingbird Muffins - Banana-Pineapple Muffins

(Makes 12)

1 1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (6.67 ounces/189 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon non-GMO baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (2 ounces/57 grams) finely chopped pecans, toasted
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature OR 2 flax eggs*
2/3 cup (5.85 ounces/166 grams) mashed very ripe banana (1 large 8.25-ounce/234-gram banana in its skin)
1 8-ounce (227 grams) can unsweetened crushed pineapple in 100% pineapple juice, undrained

* To make 2 “flax” eggs:
In small bowl, gradually whisk 6 tablespoons of boiling water into 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal; let stand for 5 minutes, until gelatinous.

1 Preheat oven (toaster oven is perfect for hot summer days) to 375F/190C/Gas5. In 4-cup glass measure or small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir in finely chopped and toasted pecans.

2 In 2-quart glass measure or bowl, melt butter. Stir in sugar and vanilla extract. Beat in eggs, beating well. Stir in mashed banana (a fork works just fine on a very ripe banana) and crushed pineapple. Add flour mixture to wet mixture, and mix just until combined; do not overmix.

3 Spray 12-cup standard muffin tin with cooking spray or line them with paper liners. Using a 1/3-cup measuring cup, divide batter between cups. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a middle one tests done with a toothpick.

4 Turn out onto a pristine kitchen towel, if baked without paper liners. Place on wire rack to cool for a few minutes before serving. 


03 May 2018

Brown Butter Rhubarb Cake

Brown Butter Rhubarb Cake - an easy, hand-mixed cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

My Brown Butter Rhubarb Cake might look Plain Jane, but it tastes wonderful. And, with just 3.5 teaspoons of sugar per serving, it is well within my self-imposed daily sugar allowance of 6 teaspoons.

Since I’m a confirmed tea drinker, I don’t call it a coffee cake. And a coffee cake might call for a streusel topping and drizzle of icing sugar glaze, both of which would significantly up the teaspoons-per-serving of sugar, so Plain Jane it is.

Those willing to throw caution to the wind might up the sugar to 1 cup or add a thin layer of cream cheese icing. But we don’t think this light, fluffy, tender cake with little pinkish pockets of tangy rhubarb needs a thing.

Since the “you might also like” feature at the bottom of each post seems to have disappeared for some unknown reason, … You might also like: Rhubarb Crumble – A British Classic.

I feel right on top of things, getting my hands on some rhubarb in April. Last year I didn’t manage to until July. A small victory, yes, but a victory nonetheless!

What will you be making with rhubarb?

Brown Butter Rhubarb Cake - an easy hand-mixed cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Brown Butter Rhubarb Cake

(Makes one 8-inch square cake, 9 servings)

8 tablespoons (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Milk to make 1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) milk
1 3/4 dip-and-sweep cups (8.75 ounces/248 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (4.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons non-GMO baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cardamom or ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (9 ounces/254 grams) diced rhubarb, 1/4-inch dice

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Grease an 8x8x2-inch baking dish or tin with butter or cooking spray. Dice the rhubarb into 1/4-inch dice.

2 In a 1-quart saucepan with a shiny interior so you can judge the color of the butter as it browns, melt 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) of the butter over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring or swirling frequently, until butter gets foamy and bubbly and just starts to turn light tan and smell nutty. You cannot take your eyes off it; it can go from brown to black in a flash! Let it cool slightly.

3 In a 1-cup glass measure, stir together cider vinegar and milk; set aside to thicken a bit.

4 In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom or ginger and cinnamon. Take out 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture to coat the diced rhubarb before adding it to the batter. With your fingers, rub the remaining 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) of butter into the flour mixture.

5 Add the soured milk to the brown butter, and whisk in eggs and vanilla extract. Add thoroughly whisked wet mixture to thoroughly whisked dry mixture. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the diced rhubarb.

6 Scrape batter into prepared baking dish or tin. Bake for about 40 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.