Baking with Julia – Cinnamon-Orange Madeleines with Grand Marnier Glaze

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First financiers, now madeleines? I feel like I should be opening up a little tea-shop or something. Or at least like a Starbucks knock-off. But really, who has the time? I was actually pretty stoked to make these madeleines since I have the special pan and I’ve only used it one time before this. These litte guys came together really quickly for me on a slow Sunday at work and I’m really happy with how they turned out. I decided to halve the recipe because I only had one egg and also I only have one madeleine pan and the thought of baking one batch, cooling the pan, washing the pan, then buttering it and sugaring it again for the second batch seemed like tons of unnecessary work. Plus as I said before, it’s not like I need a ton of these hanging around at this point in my life.

As I was whipping the eggs in the mixer I started pondering mix-ins. It sort of seemed like a shame to just make plain little guys so I looked around the kitchen and came up with a Cutie, some cinnamon sticks, and the almost-full bottle of Grand Marnier I bought for our cooking class on Thursday night and an idea was born. I used the Microplane and grated about half a cinnamon stick into the batter along with most of the zest from the Cutie. Halving the recipe got me 11 madeleines and probably would have gotten me 12 had I not totally overfilled one or two of the molds. Whoopsie.

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As is my custom of late, I buttered and sugared the molds so there was a nice little crunch to the outside of the cookies that I really like. Sugar trumps flour, who knew? Actually everyone. Everyone knew that.

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There was some debate over whether or not this batter needed to rest before baking and whether it was too dry, blah blah blah. I just followed the recipe pretty much as written and I think they turned out great but as I said, I’ve only done madeleines one other time. I was nervous about making this batter not because of those reasons but because of the Bitch Cake debacle from last summer and I’m proud to say that I think I’ve got this whole genoise thing down. I made it MY bitch.

IMG_2915The crumb seems nice and tight and I got a lot of lift out of those eggs so I’m pretty pleased. Overall, I give these madeleines two enthusiastic thumbs up (RIP Roger Ebert) and I even thought they were good for a couple of days as a treat with coffee in the morning. This week’s hosts are Katie and Amy from Counter Dog so you can get the original recipe there. Here’s my version though:

Cinnamon-Orange Madeleines with Grand Marnier Glaze

(adapted from Baking with Julia, by Dorie Greenspan)

1 1/2 T unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup cake flour, sifted

1/3 cup sugar

1/16 t salt

1 large egg, room temperature

2 large egg yolks, room temperature

1/2 t vanilla extract

1/2 cinnamon stick, grated or probably 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

zest of one orange (or Cutie if that’s what you have on hand :))

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush your madeleine pan with melted butter, then sprinkle sugar into all the wells, making sure to get it in all the crevasses.

Put the melted butter into a medium bowl and set it aside. Sift together the flour, 1 T of the sugar, and the salt and set it aside. Put the egg, yolks, and 1 T of the sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk them together lightly. Then using the whisk attachment, beat in the remaining sugar and continue the beat the mixture on medium speed until the eggs have tripled in volume and are light yellow in color. This will take about 4 or 5 minutes. Make sure they reach the ribbon stage before you stop which means that when you lift the whisk out of the eggs, the drips of batter sit on top of the mixture for about 10 seconds before being absorbed. When you have reached this stage, take the bowl off the mixer and sprinkle about 1/3 of the flour mixture on top of the batter. Using a big spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet, being careful not to deflate the batter. Do this two more times, adding the cinnamon and zest in with the last addition of flour.

Scoop out about a cup of the batter and put it in the bowl with the melted butter. Fold the butter into the batter, again being very careful not to deflate things, then add this back to the rest of the batter in the same way. Fold, fold, fold. It sucks, I know.

Gently spoon the batter into the madeleine pan, only filling the molds a little over halfway. Place the pan on the middle rack in the preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes – the cookies with turn golden along the edges and probably start to pull away from the pan a bit. Take them out and let them cool in the pan on a cooling rack for a few minutes, then turn them out. You may need to use a sharp, thin knife to loosen them from the molds but they should pop out relatively easily. Let them cool completely while you make the glaze. When the cookies are completely cool, slide a piece of parchment paper underneath the cooling rack and drizzle the glaze over the top. So pretty, right!?

Grand Marnier Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1-2 T heavy cream

1 T Grand Marnier

a little orange (or Cutie) zest

Mix together the sugar, 1 T of cream, the zest, and the Grand Marnier in a small bowl. If you think the glaze is a little too thick add a bit more cream, drop by drop, until you reach a good drizzling consistency.

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French Fridays with Dorie – Financiers

IMG_2896Tonight my friend Susan taught a Fancy French Desserts class at the store so I thought it was a perfect day to make this week’s recipe and share it with the students. Bonus: I only ate 3 instead of the 12 I probably would have eaten had I made these at home! Fancy they are not, but they’re definitely French so I thought they fit. I mixed the batter up at home and after about 4 hours in the fridge, I pulled it out and finished them off at work. I don’t have a special financer pan so I used a mini muffin pan at work and I think they turned out pretty cute. When Susan and I were talking to the class about them she described what they’re really supposed to look like (little gold bars) which would also be adorable.

IMG_2888I buttered and sugared the pan and crossed my fingers that they would come out alright.

IMG_2889I know I’ve said this before but cookie scoops are seriously a godsend. I used a small Oxo cookie scoop to fill these little wells and it was perfect. Keep an eye on the one in the middle though – I may have slightly overfilled it…

IMG_2892Other than the monster in the middle that overflowed a lot, these popped out of the pan super easy after running a thin knife around the sides. The sugary coating on the outside was delicious and made them a little bit crunchy and the inside was really dense and moist. Like I said before – nothing fancy but definitely delicious.

IMG_2893To make some of these little teacakes for yourself, get the recipe here on Dorie’s blog.

Cleaning & Baking

IMG_2879I know, I know, very 1950’s of me right? But when you have the day off and it’s one of those gray and dreary spring days where you can’t tell what time it is from looking outside because it stays the same color all day, sometimes it’s just what you want to do. Or is that just me?

So there’s this little ol’ website called Pinterest, have you heard of it? And on said site you can find so many things to want and buy and make and try that it becomes kind of overwhelming at times. Not joking, when it first came out I had to take like weeklong breaks from it because I would just see so many cool things I wanted and then get mad that I couldn’t afford them. Kind of like every time I’ve ever gone into Anthropologie. AnthroRage – it’s a real thing, I swear.

Anywho, I have pretty much gotten over grounding myself from Pinterest and mostly use it to find recipes to try and to store up ones I have tried and liked but I also use it for cleaning tips. For instance, I cleaned my washing machine out using a Pinterest tip and though I don’t know if it really did anything vis a vis making the machine run better, it did make me feel accomplished which is what really matters, right? So yesterday I decided that I wanted to try another one – cleaning the window on my oven. I have no idea how old our oven is because it came with the house but I’m gonna guess it’s pushing 20 and you really can’t see through the little window at all. Kind of defeats the purpose.

IMG_2863Yuck right? So the Pin said to make a very thick paste out of baking soda and hot water and then smear it all over the inside of the window until it was completely covered. Doesn’t the paste look really pillowy soft?

IMG_2865Then you’re supposed to leave it on there until it gets completely dry, which in my case took about 4 hours. And you’re supposed to keep your oven off obviously so it really cut into my baking plans for the day. Thus more cleaning happened. I have been meaning to clean out and organize my pantry for months and I finally did it yesterday. Huzzah! I know it’s weird to be excited about that but seriously you guys, I found a canned good that expired in 2009. That means when we bought our house and moved in in 2010, I brought this expired item with me and it’s been here ever since. That’s pretty bad. I didn’t take pics because honestly it was embarrassing beforehand and even after it’s not that great to look at but it fills me with joy and that’s all there is to it. Are you dying to see how the oven door turned out?? Spoiler alert: It’s not crystal clear and magnificent.

IMG_2869I can see a little bit of a difference but honestly it was kind of a let-down. Sigh. I guess I will just have to wait until I get a new oven sometime in the future to really have a useable oven window. On to the more photogenic and edible part of the day!

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Recently Joy the Baker did a whole week on toast and not only was it beautiful and delicious-looking but it also made me remember that toast is probably my favorite food of all times. I know it sounds boring but the crunch of toasty bread with obscene amounts of butter and jam is the most comforting edible thing I can think of (followed closely by mac & cheese obviously). In high school when we used to go out to eat at the all-night diner in town I would always order toast and jam and munch happily away while totally seagull-ing everyone else’s plates for stray fries and chicken fingers (duh). My dad had this big jar of change which is where I got the majority of my money before I had a job and one night, when the change jar was running a little low I asked the waitress if the toast would be cheaper without butter and my friends have NEVER let me live it down. Honestly, I thought it was a valid question. Nowadays I would never order toast without butter cause now when things get tight there’s always a credit card. $1.59 charge for toast? Ummmm yeah.

So after I got over the disappointment of a somewhat failed oven cleaning, I decided I needed to make some bread. The oven needed to be redeemed and I needed some flippin’ toast. I haven’t been baking much lately because I’m trying to be less chubby but it just had to happen. My last few bread baking attempts have left me less than pleased with my stand mixer so I decided to try to re-unite Candy with her estranged best friend – yeasty dough. I have this Kitchenaid cookbook that I haven’t used much so I pulled it out and gave their Scrumptious Sandwich Bread a try, with a few tweaks of course.

IMG_2872Totally one of my favorite sights, smells, and feels actually. It’s all very sense-y. During all this baking & cleaning I managed to watch 4 movies and wax my eyebrows so I think it was a pretty productive day all around. Next time it’s gloomy, make some bread – it helps.

Scrumptious Sandwich Bread ala Me

1/2 cup lowfat milk

3 T sugar

2 t kosher salt

3 T unsalted butter

2 packages active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water (about 115 degrees)

5-6 cups bread flour

Put the milk, sugar, salt, & butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool down a bit. Put the warm water and the yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer and let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast becomes creamy. Add the milk mixture to the bowl with the yeast along with 4 1/2 cups of the flour. Attach the dough hook and mix gently on low for about 1 minute to bring things together. Add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough sticks to the hook and starts to clean the sides of the bowl. You might not need all 6 cups of flour.

Turn the mixer to 2 and let it knead the dough for another 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile get out a big bowl and oil it. When the dough is ready it will still be a little sticky. Scrape it out onto a clean and floured surface and knead it a few times by hand to get the feeling of it and bring it together into a ball. Put it in the oiled bowl and turn it over a few times so it has a nice sheen to it. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and leave the bread to rise for about an hour in a warm place free of drafts. After an hour it should be big and poufy like the picture above. Grease two loaf pans with butter or oil and have them nearby. Punch the dough down and use your scraper to divide it in half. Shape the dough into a rectangle and fold it like you would a business letter. Try to make the letter the same length as your loaf pan. Place the dough into the loaf pans, cover them with the towel again and let them rise for another hour or so until they have come up over the top of the pans a little. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the pans on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until they are golden brown and beautiful. About 5 minutes before they’re done you can brush the tops with some melted butter if you like (I did!). Take the pans out and turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack immediately. If you want to be sure they’re done, stick an instant-read thermometer in the bottom of the loaf and make sure the temp hits at least 200 degrees. Then let the breads cool and you’re dunzo. Delicious and impressive sandwich bread for everyone!

IMG_2877Proceed to eat as much toast as your can stand. I had 4 pieces this morning and I’m not sorry. 4!

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P.S. I also made myself a grilled cheese for lunch using the bread and it was amazing!