Baking History

A Taste For The Past

Archive for June, 2008

Madeleines

Posted by bakinghistory on June 30, 2008

Traditional French teacakes baked in shell-shaped moulds

Madeleines are delicate teacakes with a velvety texture and an unmistakable shape. They originate from the town of Commercy, France, and they have been immortalized in Proust‘s “Remembrance of Things Past”.

Later versions call for baking powder in the ingredients, while the old recipe I used here does not, relying only on the air incorporated in the batter and a high baking temperature to ensure the characteristic hump on the cakes top—true sign of a well-made madeleine.

They are traditionally flavored with lemon zest and vanilla which pair well with the buttery texture, but almond extract is another well suited flavoring—and my personal favorite.

From the original recipe by Sara Van Buren Brugière

In: “Good-living. A Practical Cookery-Book for Town and Country”, 1890—USA

Ingredients

1/2 lb (scant 2 cups—227 g) powdered sugar

grated rind of 1 (organic) lemon

1/2 lb (2 sticks—227 g) slightly softened + extra to grease the pans

1/2 lb (2 scant cups—227 g) AP flour

4 eggs

1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Generously grease the Madeleine pans with melted butter and set aside. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).

Cream the butter and add gradually the sugar through a strainer, still beating at high speed and taking care to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula once in awhile.

Add the eggs but keep 1 egg white aside. Beat at high speed until the mixture is light and frothy, adding the zest and vanilla as well. Add the flour through a strainer and mix it in by hand with a wooden spoon just until incorporated.

Beat the remaining egg white until stiff peaks form, then add it delicately to the flour batter, folding it in and making sure not to deflate it.

Fill the moulds 1/2 full with the batter and bake for 10 minutes. Do not open the oven before 10 minutes are past, to check if the cakes are done a tooth pick should come out clean and dry.

They can be kept in an airtight container but they are best eaten fresh. The recipe can be halved.


Posted in Cakes, Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti, French cuisine, Tea | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Linzertorte (Novel Food 4)

Posted by bakinghistory on June 21, 2008

A traditional Linzer tart made with almonds, spices, and berry jam.

Novel Food is a lovely, seasonal blog event that pairs food and literature—hosted by Simona of Briciole and Lisa of Champaign Taste.

ROUNDUP PART 1 & PART 2

This time I chose to recreate a food item from the novel The Inn at Lake Devine , by one of my absolute favorite contemporary American writers: Elinor Lipman.

In this novel the author addresses the issues of antisemitism and prejudice, of religious and ethnic barriers and the courage to cross them. It is no small feat to explore these themes in a novel and Ms Lipman succeeds at doing that through a flawless, witty tale in which sharp social satire intertwines with romance and tragedy, and destiny takes unpredictable turns.

The most remarkable aspect of the novel, in fact, is that it carries across its message clearly and powerfully by describing how the social and historical context affects the personal and the individual—and vice versa.

The novel unfolds at a swift pace and is masterfully written in a language peppered by humor—and a few Yiddish words here and there.  The story is told through the voice of Natalie Marx, who embarks in her own personal crusade against bigotry and social injustice and finds love in the process.

Food is present throughout the novel, as a metaphor for separateness and closeness, identity and nurture. Natalie realizes that her call is becoming a chef and through food she will finally, albeit unwittingly, conquer a local example of antisemitism—the Inn that gives the title to the novel itself.

Here is an excerpt from the novel in which the Linzertorte is actually mentioned:

Ahead of Nelson, a woman in a blue lace dress, with hair the smoky gray of cat fur, turned to speak. “What’s the name of your hotel again?” she asked.

“The Inn at Lake Devine”

“Is that near Rutland?”

“Very close. Do you know Rutland?”

“I have a cousin there,” she said. She held her plate out to the chef overseeing the Linzertorte. “Is it a white hotel with a big porch and a lawn that goes down to the water?”

“That’s us,”said Nelson.

She paused before asking, “And how long has your family owned it?”

“All my life,” Nelson said, with the polish of a spelling bee finalist. “And my grandparents before that.”

“My cousins told me about you,” said the woman, minus the smile of a satisfied customer.

From the original recipe by Florence Kreisler Greenbaum

In: “The International Jewish Cookbook”, 1919—USA

Ingredients

8 oz. flour

8 oz. shelled almonds (not blanched)

8 oz. sugar

4 oz. butter (room temperature)

2 eggs

1/2 tbsp brandy

1 generous pinch of allspice

1 pinch of salt

2 jars berry jam (e.g., strawberry, raspberry)

Grind the almonds with the sugar until powdery. Mix with the flour, spice and salt. Work in the butter at low speed until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the eggs, lightly beaten, and the brandy, and mix at low speed until the dough holds together. Wrap the dough in wax paper and let rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Prepare a 10-inch springform pan.

Take 2/3 of the dough and roll to about 1/4-inch thickness on a generously floured surface. The dough is crumbly and is tricky to roll. Alternatively it can be patted into the pan. Line the pan bottom and half way up the sides. Prick all over the dough with a fork, then fill with jam. Roll the remaining dough and cut in strips to form a lattice top on the jam layer.

Bake the tart for 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan placed on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold it and let it finish cooling on the rack.

The tart is better made one day ahead.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Jewish Cooking, Pies & Tarts, Spices, Treenuts | Tagged: , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Maple-Walnut Fudge

Posted by bakinghistory on June 13, 2008

A delicious fudge flavored with maple syrup, walnuts, and a pinch of salt

Maple and walnuts are a wonderful combination and this creamy and smooth fudge is one of the best among the many wonderful variations in which this candy is made. Fudge is not complicated to make and results are always great, especially if one has a reliable candy thermometer and a few precautions are followed.

The recipe I made comes from a wonderful book on candy-making published in 1917 and written by Alice Bradley. The result is a candy with a smooth and sugary texture, to which the crunchy walnuts provide just the right counterpart. The sweetness is nicely balanced by a good sprinkle of salt, which really should not be omitted.

This is my entry for the blog event Food Swap: Fudge hosted by Joelen Culinary’s Adventures

ROUNDUP IS HERE

From the original recipe by Alice Bradley

In: “The Candy Cookbook”, 1917—USA

Ingredients

1 tbsp(15 g) butter

1 cup (200 g) sugar

1/2 cup (161 g) maple syrup

1/3 cup (80 g) cream

1 cup (100 g) chopped walnuts or pecans

1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter in heavy-bottomed saucepan (preferably cast iron) , add the sugar, maple syrup, and cream, stirring on low heat until sugar is dissolved.

It is important that the sugar dissolves completely, or the final results will be grainy rather than smooth. Using a small brush dipped in water wash off any sugar crystals clinging to the sides of the pan and to the wooden spoon you use to stir the mixture.

Once the mixture is completely smooth and blended, bring it to the boil, insert a candy thermometer and let cook, without stirring, until it reaches 238°F (114.44 C°) or soft ball stage.

Remove from the heat , and let stand undisturbed until cool (110F)—place the pan on a trivet so that air can circulate around the bottom. The candy will initially be gooey but later will set perfectly. Add walnuts and salt, and beat with a wooden spoon until candy begins to get creamy. Place in a 8×8-in (20×20 cm) square pan lined with aluminum foil well greased with butter or almond oil and press with a spatula to distribute the candy evenly. Mark in squares before the candy sets. Cut along lines and serve.

Notes: for perfect results, it is necessary to make sure that the sugar is completely melted before the mixture is boiled. Candy thermometer must be always read at eye level, or false readings will cause candy that is either under-or over-cooked, both of which will end up in disappointing results. Beating too long or not long enough after the mixture has cooled is also a potential source of problems. Practice is as usual the best teacher.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Candy & Confections, Maple, Treenuts | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Covered Cheesecake

Posted by bakinghistory on June 8, 2008

An unusual version of cheesecake: the cheese filling is baked between two layers of sponge cake

While reading this recipe I was immediately intrigued: a cheesecake that was made by baking the cheese filling between two layer of sponge cake was unusual and I was curious to see how it would turn out. Mid-way through assembling it I was suddenly sure it would never work: the cheese filling seemed too liquid compared to the cake batter and at that point I had not many hopes of getting any decent results.

However, the cake did surprisingly turn out well—the filling stayed in, the cake baked just fine and the final result was surprisingly good. It is also a relatively quick cake to make and overall I found it worthy to share. A good cup of tea or coffee to accompany it are all that is needed. I have made this cake many times since and it is always a pleasant dessert.

The holiday of Shavuot begins June 8 at sunset and ends June 10 at nightfall: to celebrate this holiday it is customary to eat dairy foods, and cheesecake is one of the traditional choices. This recipe would be a nice addition to the holiday menu.

From the original recipe by Florence Kreisler Greenbaum

In: “The International Jewish Cook Book: 1600 Recipes According To The Jewish Dietary Laws…”, 1919—USA

Ingredients

Filling:

2 eggs

1/2 cup (100 g) sugar

1 cup milk

1 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 lb. pot cheese

1 tsp (organic) lemon extract (or to taste)

Cake:

1 cup (200 g) sugar + a little extra to sprinkle on top of the cake

2 oz. (60 g) butter

1 cup (237 g) water

2 eggs

2-1/2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1tbsp butter + 1 tbsp flour for the cake pan

Preheat the oven at 325F (160C). Butter and flour an 8-inch springform cake pan

Make the filling: Dissolve the cornstarch in a little milk (taken form the total), then add the rest of the milk and mix well. Bring to a boil on low heat until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool, stirring once in while to prevent a skin from forming on top.

Put the pot cheese through a fine strainer and set aside. Beat the eggs with the sugar at high speed, until very light and fluffy. Mix in the cheese, lemon extract and finally the cooled milk mixture. Set aside in a cool place.

Using a blender or mixer to make the filling is not a good option: the mixture turns out too liquid.

Make the cake batter: Sift the flour with the baking powder and set aside. Cream the butter then begin to add the sugar a little at a time, then add the eggs well beaten and continue mixing at high speed, then add 1/3 of the flour and mix well. Add 1/3 of the water and mix it in, then continue adding 1/3 more flour, 1/3 water, the the remaining flour and then the rest of the water. The batter should be light and fall in a ribbon when the beater is lifted.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared cake pan, making sure it is well distributed to make an even layer.

Then pour the cheese filling all over it, working in circles starting from the center (the filling should be soft enough to fall in a ribbon) and making sure the cake layer is well covered by the cheese filling.

Finally pour the remaining cake batter on top of the cheese filling, still working in circles to distribute it as evenly as possible. With the back of a spoon gently even out the top cake layer and then sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden.

Let the cake cool in the pan placed on a rack for about 5 minutes, then gently remove the side of the pan. Let the cake cool and then refrigerate overnight in a closed container.

Remove from the refrigerator 15 minurtes before serving. Keep any leftover cake refrigerated.

Posted in American Cooking, Cakes, Desserts, Holidays, Jewish Cooking | Tagged: , , , , | 13 Comments »

Hello Again

Posted by bakinghistory on June 8, 2008

For several weeks I just could not afford the time to bake and blog about it. I wish to thank here all of you who kept visiting Baking History, leaving comments and linking to recipes that you tried and liked. And all of you who wrote to me to let me know my posts were missed. During these past weeks I also received two awards from fellow bloggers Laurie of Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska (ENMAPYMMD Award: for best use of historical recipes) and Miri of Room for Dessert (Excellence Award). Thank you! It meant a lot to me to know that so many people cared and I am delighted to be back to blogging.

The painting above shows a Spring garden: on May 23, last year, I opened this blog. It has been so much fun to share old recipes and to get to know so many talented food bloggers from all over the world who inspired me to continue blogging.

Thank you!!!

Posted in Blog Awards, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

 
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