Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
I miss breakfast in France.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
It’s recently gotten so chilly outside that everything seems to being saying fall. It’s the start of jacket season, hot chocolate, warm soup, and this beautiful apple tart-cake.
Really, how else to celebrate fall then to bake something with apples? And if you’re going to bake something with apples, you really should consider making this, which has a base that caramelizes in the oven so that it’s crispy on the edges and moist and densely cake-like in the center. This also has a topping which bakes to form a delicious cinnamon glaze that blankets the whole thing delicately and fills your kitchen with the warm scent of autumn spices. The end result is stunning in the complexity of its flavors and textures.
Best of all, for something which I could contain to praise for pages and pages, this tart-cake is surprisingly easy to make.
Before I get into the recipe though, perhaps I should explain the name. I have never had or seen anything else like this, so coming up with a name was difficult. Molly from Orangette dubbed this the “Apple Tart Cake” since it falls somewhere between a tart and a cake, and that name is easy to remember and very fitting, but it also is a bit confusing to write. It is also confusing to people when you try to explain that you made them a tart-cake. Thus, I began to refer to this as a right-side up apple tarte tatin. Everyone knows what a tarte tatin is, and really this tart-cake is just like that, except without the hassle of flipping a cake out of the pan upside down.
Plus, the whole thing is so easy and such an instant classic, I can’t help but hope that it will catch up and spread across kitchens everywhere, just like the famous tarte tatin. And this is really perfect for entertaining, since it doesn't involve a lot of work, requires no special ingredients, and can be served the next day with beautiful results. In fact, Molly argues that it is better on the second day. I've still not reached a definite conclusion on that fact, despite having made this recipe so many times I've lost count. (Hence why you'll notice that my pictures don't seem to be of the same tart-cake each time... these pictures were taken on different days)
Admittedly, it can look a little homely, from the brown color of the glaze topping (from the cinnamon), but what it lacks in looks it most certainly makes up for in taste. And, if you want this to look sexy, all you need to do it be more careful about the glaze. You can use less, or you can use a pastry brush to “paint” it on. I wouldn’t omit the glaze, because it does add some great flavor and color to the tart-cake. Without it, the whole thing looks a little pale (as you can see below).
Right-Side Up Apple Tarte Tatin
Adapted from Orangette’s recipe
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp almonds (or one generous handful)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
dash of cloves
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
5 Tbsp cold butter, cut into a few pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract OR vanilla sugar
1 large egg
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
For the glaze topping:
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp demerara sugar
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan. (You can also make this in a glass pie dish, pie tin, or in little tartlettes... see the note at the bottom for the baking times for the tartlettes)
In a food processor with the steel blade attachment, combine the sugar, almonds, and salt. Pulse till the almonds are finely ground.
Add the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, flour, and baking powder. Pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the biggest lumps are only slightly larger than peas.
Add the vanilla and the egg, and pulse to blend well. The dough will start to come together. Once this happen, stop pulsing and pull the semi-formed dough out of the food processor.
Gently nudge and pat the dough into a tart shell type of shape, so that you have edges that slope up
Arrange the apple slices over the base in whatever pretty design you’d like.
Slide your pan into the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile make the topping (I generally do this when there are about 15 minutes left on the timer) by combining all the ingredients and whisking/pulsing to mix. If you don’t feel like washing another bowl, you can easily make the topping in the food processor from before. You don’t even need to wash it out!
After your 45 minute timer goes off, remove the tart-cake and pour/spoon the topping over it as evenly as you can.
Bake for another 20-25 minutes. The topping should look set.
Cool and remove from pan. Enjoy.
Note: one recipe makes four 4” fluted tartlettes with a thick base, or five tarlettes with a thinner base (bake 25-30 minutes, glaze, then bake for 10-15). Two recipes makes 6 fluted tartlettes and one 9-inch pie pan.
This cake is delicious fresh from the oven, it is delicious when it has cooled, and it is delicious the next day. As it is very moist, it doesn’t keep well beyond the 4th day.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Well now, I would like to issue my sincere apologies. I am sorry, sugar cookie. I underestimated you.
After the deliciousness that was Blue Duck Tavern, I decided that for the better part of two decades, I was wrong about the sugar cookie. It was time to give the poor thing a chance. I didn’t want to just try my hand at any old sugar cookie recipe though; I wanted Blue Duck Tavern’s recipe. Luckily enough, I am not the first to have been smitten by those darlings, so with just a little bit of research, I found the recipe online.
Of course, being me, I couldn’t follow it. I wanted to, I tried to, but old habits die hard, and I’m just one of those people who can’t follow a recipe even if their life depended on it. I can’t even follow my own recipes. I can never make the exact same thing twice. Perhaps the problem is that I really never use measuring spoons. And I enjoy substituting things with whatever I have on hand.
As such, I replaced the unsalted butter in the original recipe with salted butter. I always use salted butter when baking. I think it provides more depth of flavor and helps balance the sweetness of a dessert. I also noticed that the original recipe called for 1 1/3 cups sifted flour. Feeling a little lazy, I decided to cut down the things I would need to wash afterwards by not sifting the flour. Instead, I used my normal measuring method, which means I used my measuring scoop to “fluff” the flour first (this can also be accomplished with a fork or spoon), and then I gently scooped up the flour I needed and I leveled it off by shaking side-to-side. This method works 99% of the time when baking. In this case though, I probably should have paid heed to the fact that recipe specifically asked for sifted flour. In the future, since I am still too lazy to sift my flour, I will edit the recipe to 1 ¼ cups flour, not sifted. Lastly, I also used vanilla sugar in place of vanilla extract. I did this because 1) I had no vanilla extract on hand and 2) the vanilla sugar I have is excellent.
We buy this in France and it is deeply scented with vanilla, not like the timid vanilla sugars that you get from at-home experiments. I use it most of the time when I am baking and things require vanilla, since I like the flavor it imparts more than the flavor you get from vanilla extract.
Ultimately, the cookies were not the same as the ones we had at Blue Duck Tavern, but this was to be expected. I think the next time I try this recipe, I use a decreased amount of flour (look above) and then refrigerate the dough overnight to allow the flavors to deepen and meld, and for the moisture of the egg to really set in.
The final cookie was a little sandy and crumbly, like shortbread cookies. I attribute this to the fact that I may have added a little too much flour. I think next time I will use a scale to measure how much flour I use so I can scale up or down more precisely. The taste of the cookies was good though. Obviously, not restaurant level, but good enough for me to save this recipe for future experiments. I will report back when I redo this recipe and tell you if it's improved.
adapted from Blue Duck Tavern’s recipe
1 1⁄3 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1⁄3 teaspoon baking powder
1½ sticks (6 ounces) salted butter
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
7.5 grams vanilla sugar (or ½ tsp vanilla extract)
For rolling: 2 tbsp white sugar + 1 tbsp demerra sugar (if you have it on hand)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder.
In an electric mixer, cream the butter with 2 tablespoons white sugar and the brown sugar and vanilla. Beat in the egg. Mix in the dry ingredients.
Place the 2 tbsp white sugar and 1 tbsp demerra sugar in a clean bowl. Using a small ice-cream scoop, shape little balls of cookie dough and roll each in the sugar. Bake 11-12 minutes on the top rack, until the cookies are just browning at the edges. Remove from the pan and cool. Transfer to an airtight container, or your belly.
These cookies will keep about 4-5 days at room temperature in an air tight container.
Yield: approximately three dozen small cookies
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
4822 MacArthur Blvd NW
Washington, DC 20007