Baking History

A Taste For The Past

Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Chess Pie (quiche, tarte, & co.)

Posted by bakinghistory on October 14, 2008

A Southern classic: Chess Pie

Blog-Event XXXIX - Quiche, Tarte & Co.

This is my entry for the event hosted by  Zorra of 1x umrühren bitte .

ROUNDUP IS HERE

Chess pie is a classic dessert in the culinary repertoire of Southern U.S. The flaky crust encloses a sweet, sweet, sweet, and creamy filling topped by an ever-so-thin, crispy layer of meringue.

From the original recipes by:  Mattie Lee Wehrley

In: “Handy Household Hints and Recipes”, 1916, USA

and Juniata L. Shepperd

In: “Handbook of Household Science”, 1902—USA

Ingredients:

Filling:

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

2/3 cups butter

1 tbsp flour

1/2 cup milk or cream

Crust:

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (scant) butter

1/4 tsp salt

ice water as needed

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

Make the Crust: In a food processor put flour salt and butter (diced), and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the machine running add enough water for the dough to come together. Do not overprocess. Wrap the dough in wax paper and let rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes. Roll the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness and line a deep pie dish, make a decorative rim.

Filling: melt the butter and let cool. Warm the milk and set aside.Beat the eggs at high speed with the sugar until very light (at least 15 minutes), then add the flour, the melted and cooled butter, and the lukewarm milk. If the milk is cold the mixture will curdle. If this happens, blend with an immersion blender until smooth and glossy.

Pour the filling in the prepared pan and bake at 350F (180C), until the top of the filling is golden brown. Let the pie cool in the pan placed on a rack. Serve cold; refrigerate any leftovers.

A note on the pie pan to use: I recommend using a metal deep-dish pie pan. In my experience, pies baked in  glass and ceramic pie dishes often have a soggy, undercooked pastry layer, which spoils the final result. Natural finish aluminum pie pans are best because they bake evenly.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Dairy, Desserts, Pies & Tarts, Regional American Food, Tarts & Pies | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Junket (Got Milk?)

Posted by bakinghistory on August 6, 2008

A delicate jelly-like milk dessert flavored with almond

A delicate jelly-like milk dessert

This is my entry for the blog event Got Milk? hosted by Linda from Make Life Sweeter! for world breastfeeding week.

ROUNDUP IS HERE

Junket is an old-fashioned dessert made very simply by curdling fresh milk with rennet and adding a bit of sugar and flavoring—in most of the earliest recipes a little wine (sack) is added as well.

It is very easy to make and  a very pleasant, delicate and refreshing dessert that is also ready in almost no time and with very little work involved.

I used a kosher vegetarian rennet but liquid rennet or regular animal rennet tablets can be used, following manufacturer’s directions.

It can be flavored with vanilla, lemon oil, caramel, cocoa, coffee, fruit juice, cinnamon…possibilities are almost endless. My personal favorite is almond extract. It is also nice to pair it with fresh fruit such as berries.

From the original recipe by Frances Elizabeth Stewart

In: “Lessons in Cookery”, 1919—USA

Ingredients

1 quart fresh whole milk

1 junket tablet

1 tbsp cold water

2-8 tbsp sugar (I used 8 )

1-2 tsp vanilla extract (or to taste) or any other flavoring

dash of salt

Heat the milk in a double boiler (or in the microwave) just until lukewarm (96.8 F—37C)—not higher than that or the milk won’t set.

Dissolve the sugar and salt in the milk and add the flavoring of your choice. Dissolve the rennet in cold water.

Get ready 6-8 stemmed glasses. Mix the rennet water into the milk stirring very gently and very briefly and immediately pour the milk into the prepared glasses. Cover each with a piece of plastic wrap and let the milk set in a warm place. It is important not to stir, move or otherwise disturb the milk while it is setting, or the curds will separate from the whey, ruining the final result.

As soon as the milk is set (it will have the consistency of a soft jelly) place the glasses in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly. Serve immediately—if the junket is left to stand it will become curdled and separate from the whey.

Once ready it can be sprinkled with cinnamon or nutmeg and/or sugar.

the recipe can be halved.

Note: Junket tablets or liquid rennet (regular or vegetarian) are sold in most supermarkets, health food stores, and cheesemaking supply stores.

Posted in Blog Events, Dairy, Desserts, Eggless, Milk, Puddings | Tagged: , , , , , | 10 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 »

Pesach Cake With Walnuts

Posted by bakinghistory on April 16, 2008

A moist and light walnut torte for Passover

One of my favorite songs in the Sephardic music repertoire begins with this verse:

“Purim, Purim, Purim lanu

Pesach, Pesach a la mano”

which in the Ladino language means that Purim is over and Passover is approaching.

Tortes and pastries made with ground nutmeats (almonds and walnuts, pistachios and hazelnuts) are common in the Passover menus of Jewish communities around the world given the prohibition against foods that are considered leaven. Grains such as rye, spelt, wheat, barley, and oats, which can ferment, cannot be used to make baked goods to be eaten at Passover. Ground nutmeats, and potato starch, are then used instead.

This cake is simply made with ground walnuts, a small amount of matzo meal, no shortening, and a relatively high amount of eggs. The result is a moist sponge cake that can be enjoyed at the end of the Seder meal or with afternoon tea and coffee. The walnut taste is intense thanks to the long baking time at a moderate temperature, which toasts the nuts and brings out their flavor. There are many variations on this basic type of cake, such as those made with a mixture of walnuts and almonds and flavored with orange juice and zest, or by using toasted hazelnuts in place of the walnuts.

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

1/2 lb shelled walnuts

1/2 lb sugar

9 eggs, divided

2 tbsp fine matzo meal

1 pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 300° F (150° C). Line an 8-in cake pan with aluminum foil and generously grease with almond oil (or olive oil).

Grind the walnuts with 2 tbsp of sugar until fine and set aside. Beat the yolks at high speed until pale yellow and fluffy, then add the remaining sugar 1 tbsp at a time until the mixture is light. Mix in the ground walnuts, salt and the matzo meal and beat at high speed until well mixed. Take care to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula once in a while. Beat the egg whites until firm peaks form and add a small quantity to the walnut mixture, mixing well to lighten it. Add the remaining egg whites by hand, gently folding them in with a spatula, making sure they are well distributed (the walnut mixture tends to stick to the bottom of the bowl). Pour the prepared batter in the pan and bake for about 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean (not less than 45 minutes anyway).

Make sure not to open the oven door before 45 minutes, or the cake might collapse.

Take the cake out of the oven and leave it in the pan on a rack to cool for about 5 minutes. It will slightly sink and shrink from the sides. Unmold it and let it cool completely on the rack.

This year the Festival of Passover, the celebration of the Exodus from Egypt, from slavery to freedom, begins at sundown on Saturday April 19.

Chag Pesach Sameach!!

Posted in Cakes, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Flourless Cakes, Jewish Cooking, Pareve, Passover, Treenuts | Tagged: , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Almond-Orange Cake (Focaccia alla Portoghese)

Posted by bakinghistory on April 9, 2008

A light and delicate sponge cake made with almonds and orange zest

The original name of this cake is Focaccia alla Portoghese which means Portuguese-Style Cake in Italian. In fact, the word focaccia in Italian does indicate both a savory flat bread and a sweet leavened cake. Artusi does not tell us anything more about the origins of this recipe besides its name, however the combination of almonds and oranges is an unmistakable characteristic of the cuisine of Sephardi Jews. This recipe might then have been inspired by those brought to Italy by Portuguese Jewish merchants or by the refugees that settled in many Italian cities at different times in history, such as following the expulsion of Jews from Portugal in 1497.

Incidentally, Artusi mentions a number of ingredients and dishes in his cook book that were introduced by the Jews and became part of mainstream Italian cuisine, for instance eggplants, pumpkins, and Pan di Spagna (sponge cake).

This cake has a wonderfully moist and spongy texture and is nicely flavored by the orange zest and the almonds without being too sweet. It keeps fresh for many days and it is actually better when made one day ahead. It is excellent served with tea or coffee, cut into tiny squares (or other fancy shapes) .

It is important to grind the almonds until they are reduced to a very fine powder, and even the granulated sugar should be ground briefly in the food processor or coffee grinder, especially if you use—as I do—organic sugar that tends to be relatively coarsely grained. The ground almonds need to be sifted and the larger pieces that remain in the sifter should be ground again until of the necessary fine consistency. These steps require an extra amount of time and might be tedious but are necessary to ensure a successful result and make a significant difference. Of course you can prepare the ground almonds ahead of time.

It is also essential to bake the cake at a very low temperature.

Artusi suggests to cover the cake with a crisp icing made with egg whites and sugar syrup. Personally I find that a light sprinkle of powdered sugar is more suited to the delicate texture of this cake.

From the original recipe by Pellegrino Artusi

In: “La Scienza in Cucina e l’Arte di Mangiar Bene”, 1891—Italy

Ingredients:

1 cup (150 g) whole Almonds, blanched, raw

3/4 cup (150 g) Granulated Sugar

1/3 cup (50 g) Potato Flour (starch)

3 Eggs

1-1/2 (organic) Oranges (juice and zest)

Powdered sugar to sprinkle on top of the cake

Preheat the oven to 300° F (150° C). Line a 9-inch (23 cm) round cake pan with aluminum foil and grease with vegetable oil (I used almond oil, grapeseed oil is also good for this).

Grind the almonds with 1/3 of the sugar in the food processor or coffee grinder until very finely powdered. Sift the almond mixture with the potato flour and grind again any large pieces of almonds that might have remained in the sifter. Set aside.

Grate the zest of 1/2 orange. Squeeze the oranges and strain the juice; set aside.

Grind the remaining sugar with the orange zest until fine and powdery.

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the balloon whip attachment beat the egg whites until stiff and glossy; set aside.

Beat the yolks at very high speed until light and pale yellow (using the balloon whip attachment). Gradually add the ground sugar and beat until well incorporated.

Switch to the flat beater attachment and add the ground almond mixture to the yolks and beat at high speed until light and well incorporated, taking care to scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula.

Add the orange juice and mix well.

Finally gently fold in the whipped egg whites, by hand, making sure they are well distributed and without deflating them. Pour the mixture in the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven (place the rack in the middle position) for about 45 minutes. A cake tester in the center must come out clean and dry when the cake is ready.

Place the pan on a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. The cake will slightly deflate and shrink from the sides of the pan. Unmold it and let it cool on the rack. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top once the cake is completely cool.

Note: I had inadvertently forgot to write when to add the orange juice to the batter. I have just corrected the text.

Posted in Cakes, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Flourless Cakes, Fruit, Gluten-free, Italian Cuisine, Italy, Pareve, Tea, Treenuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Crostata di Marmellata (Jam Tart)

Posted by bakinghistory on January 23, 2008

crostata-artusi-4.jpg
A traditional Italian jam tart
This is my entry for the event hosted by Erin from Skinny Gourmet, for which participants should post about a food that for them evokes memories and stories. My entry is a jam tart, a dessert rather simple and homey in itself, yet never boring or dull. This is the first kind of baked goods that as a little girl I learned to make from my mother. It was easy and quick to assemble, improved with time, and was our favorite to have with tea. In Italian we called it a crostata di marmellata. It evokes memories of many happy, precious hours spent with my mother in the kitchen, watching her preparing food and learning from her. We always used the following recipe to make pastafrolla—a perfect shortcrust pastry: sweet and buttery but not too rich, tender and crumbly yet sturdy enough to hold the filling.
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From the original recipe by Pellegrino Artusi
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In: La Scienza in Cucina e l’Arte di Mangiar Bene” , 1891–Italy
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Ingredients
2 cups (250 g) AP flour, unbleached
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1/2 cup (125 g) unsalted butter, diced
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1/2 cup (110 g) sugar
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1 medium egg
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1 yolk
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1 cup (260 g) fruit jam (such as apricot, plum, or sour cherry)
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If the granulated sugar is coarse, it is preferable to process it briefly in a food processor or coffee grinder. Mix flour and sugar, then work the butter in with the tip of your fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the egg and yolk and work briefly until the dough just holds together.
It is important not to overwork the dough (do not knead it) or it will harden when baked.
A food processor works perfectly to make the dough: start by placing flour and sugar in the work bowl, process for a few seconds to mix, then add the butter and pulse a few times until the mixture looks like wet sand. Add the egg and yolk and process a few seconds more until the dough forms. Do not overprocess.
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Wrap the dough in wax paper and let it rest in a cool place for at least 30 minutes.
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On a lightly floured board roll 2/3 of the pastry dough to a 1/8-in (3 mm) thickness, and line with it the bottom and sides of a 9-in (23 cm) tart pan with scalloped edges and a removable bottom. The sides should be lined with a slightly thicker layer of pastry than the bottom, about 1/4-in (0.5 cm). Fold back in the dough that is hanging over the sides to make a thicker lining along the sides. Cut of excess. Prick the pastry bottom with the tines of a fork in a few places, then spread with the jam. Do not use a deep tart mold.
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Roll the remaining pastry on a lightly floured board slightly thicker than 1/8-in (3 mm), then with a sharp knife or pastry cutter cut it in strips 1/4-inch (0.5 cm) wide and make a lattice on top of the jam layer. There might be some leftover pastry. I usually make a few cookies with it, or tartlets.
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You can see how the lattice should look here.
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Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and bake the tart until golden, about 25 minutes. Unmold the tart as soon as it is ready and let it cool on a rack. If left in the pan it will turn irremediably soggy. It is great freshly baked but it definitely improves after a day or two, if kept in a closed container.
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A note on the fruit jam: select a jam that is relatively low in sugar, 38% to 40% content of sugar is best; jams that contain a higher percentage of sugar tend to be adversely affected by the baking temperatures, turning sticky and ruining the final result.
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Posted in Blog Events, Desserts, Fruit, Italian Cuisine, Italy, Pies & Tarts | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Arroz Con Leche (Rice Pudding)

Posted by bakinghistory on January 17, 2008

arroz-con-leche-ii.jpg
Comfort food: a bowl of creamy arroz con leche, lightly sweetened and flavored with cinnamon and lemon zest
cookoff200.jpg This is my entry for the 2008 edition of the Comfort Food Cook-Off hosted by Eve from The Garden of Eating.
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This type of rice and milk pudding is, for me, the ultimate comfort food. The texture is velvety and speckled with pleasantly chewy rice kernels, while the flavor is delicate without being bland or cloyingly sweet. It is also easy and quick to make—perfection is simple.
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From the original recipe by Calleja
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In: “La Mejor Cocinera”, 19….? –Spain
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Ingredients
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1 qt (1 l ) whole milk
1 cup (200 g) sugar
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1 cup (200 g) short-grain rice
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1 cinnamon stick
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zest of 1 (organic) lemon
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ground cinnamon to serve
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Rinse and drain the rice and set aside.
Place the milk, sugar, cinnamon stick and lemon zest in a large saucepan and bring slowly to the boiling point, add the rice and, on low heat, let it cook in the milk until the
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kernels are tender and the mixture turns creamy. Stir often to prevent scorching, and keep the heat low. It will take about 20-25 minutes, depending on the rice. If it
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thickens too much and the rice is not cooked through yet, add a little hot milk and continue cooking until the mixture reaches the right consistency and the rice is tender.
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Transfer the pudding into individual serving bowls (discard the cinnamon stick and lemon zest strips) and sprinkle lightly with ground cinnamon.
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Serve either warm or chilled.
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Posted in Blog Events, Comfort Food, Desserts, Puddings, Rice, Spanish Cookery, Spices | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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