Baking History

A Taste For The Past

Posts Tagged ‘Tree Nuts’

Miss Diether’s Chocolate Brownies

Posted by bakinghistory on November 9, 2008

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Chewy brownie drops made with barley flour, spiced with cinnamon, and full of crunchy toasted almond bits

A very interesting version of brownies, shaped like drop cookies, and flavored with cinnamon, vanilla and a touch of almond extract. They also contain 50% of barley flour, which contributes great flavor and a velvety texture. Toasted almonds provide a wonderful crunch and are very well paired with chocolate. All in all, a variation on classic brownies really worth trying.

From the original recipe by Miss Diether (Boston Cooking School)

In: “American Cookery”, 1917—USA

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup (113 g) butter

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

2 squares (56 g) unsweetened baking chocolate

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup (65 g) AP flour

1/2 cup (75 g)  whole-grain barley flour (stone-ground)

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 tsp pure almond extract

1 cup (145 g) blanched almonds

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Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C), place the almonds on a cookie sheet and toast them until they are a reddish-brown color. Set aside to cool, then coarsely chop.

Melt the chocolate and set aside.

In a large bowl cream the butter and add the sugar little by little—the mixture does not need to be fluffy. Add the eggs and the melted chocolate, mixing well. Finally mix in the almond and vanilla extract.

Sift together the two flours and the ground cinnamon, then add to the chocolate mixture, stirring gently just until incorporated. Finally stir in the chopped almonds.

Place the mixture for 15 minutes to chill in the refrigerator, and meanwhile lightly grease 2 cookie sheets (preferably insulated).

Shape the brownie drops by rounded teaspoons and bake in a preheated oven (325°F—160°C)  for about 10 minutes.

Let the brownies cool on the baking sheet—they are too fragile to remove while warm.

P.S. I have recreated the original recipe as it was written, so I made the brownies as drop cookies. However, they can be baked in an 8×8-inch square pan (better lined with aluminum foil and then lightly greased) and then cut into bars.

Posted in American Cooking, Chocolate, Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti, Spices, Treenuts, whole grains | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Prune and Walnut Whole-Wheat Loaf

Posted by bakinghistory on September 8, 2008

A sweet whole wheat bread full of prunes and walnuts

This is my entry for this month edition of Weekend Breakfast Blogging, a blog event started by Nandita of Saffron Trail and hosted this time by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. The theme proposed by Aparna is “Grains in my Breakfast”.

HERE IS THE ROUNDUP

This simple whole-wheat bread is one of my favorites to have for breakfast, usually lightly spread with very fresh cream cheese and paired with a cup of strong black tea.

The liquid for this dough is provided by the water in which prunes are briefly simmered to soften, which provide flavor and just the right sweetness, counterbalanced by the slightly bitter aftertaste of the walnuts and the full  flavor of whole wheat.

Other dried fruits can be used instead of prunes, and in my opinion dried tart cherries work amazingly well—however, my favorite remains the one made with prunes, as in the original recipe.

This bread also goes to Susan’s Yeast Spotting

From the original recipe by Carolyn Putnam Webber

In: “Two Hundred and Seventy-five War-time Recipes, 1918—USA

Ingredients

1/2 cup dried prunes (I used unsulfured, organic prunes)

1 cup water

1/4 cup (organic) sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp butter

1/2 cup walnut pieces

2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour (or as needed)

1-1/4 tsp active dry yeast dissolved in 1 tbsp warm water.

Briefly simmer the prunes in 1 cup of water, just until tender—they should not be mushy. Strain the prunes and reserve the cooking liquid (add extra water to make 1 cup). Cut the prunes in quarters, then set aside.

Add the sugar and salt to the cooking liquid, mix well and set aside until lukewarm

Place 2 cups of the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast and then the cooled cooking liquid. Mix on low speed until a dough forms, and towards the end add the butter cut in small pieces. The dough should be well developed and supple, but not too stiff. Add the remaining flour as necessary.

Let the dough ferment, covered, until doubled in bulk. Knead briefly again, let ferment once more in a covered bowl until doubled in bulk. Gently flatten and stretch the fermented dough to form a rectangle, then spread the walnut and prune pieces, pressing them into the dough. Roll up like a jelly-roll, pushing to avoid trapping air inside. Form into a loaf and place into a lightly greased  8 x 4-inches bread pan and let it ferment covered until the dough reaches about 1/2-inch above the rim of the pan.

Bake in a preheated oven (350F) for about 35 minutes, until golden brown. Unmold the bread and let it cool on a rack before slicing.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Eggless, Fruit, Tea, Treenuts, whole grains, Yeasted Breads | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 12 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 »

Cinnamon Tartlets (Small Tarts Have Big Hearts! Mini Pie Revolution Event #2)

Posted by bakinghistory on February 12, 2008

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These plain little tarts hide a tender almond meringue heart scented with cinnamon
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For Valentine’s day, in the second blog event hosted by Karyn and Ann, as my contribution I chose these little tarts from a vintage cookbook published in Chicago in 1907.
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While reading the recipe I could tell they should be pretty good, but once I made them I realized I had underestimated the results.
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Even if their plain appearance might not catch too much attention at first, they actually hide a surprisingly delicate meringue heart in their tender pastry shell.
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From the original recipes by Paul Richards
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In: “Paul Richard’s Book of Breads, Cakes, Pastries, Ices and Sweetmeats, 1907—USA
Ingredients
Short paste for tarts
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2 cups (227 g) flour
1/3 cup (75 g) butter, cold
2-1/2 tbsp (30 g) sugar
1 yolk
1-3 tbsp (15-45 ml) milk (or as needed)
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Cinnamon filling
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1/3 cup egg white (whites from 2 extra-large eggs)
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
scant 1/2 cup (2 oz., 60 g) whole almonds, blanched
1-1/2 tsp (3 g) ground cinnamon
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extra sugar to decorate ( I used Demerara but any kind will do)
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Prepare the almonds: Place the almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer. Toast the almonds in the oven (preheated at 350F°—180°C) for about 10 minutes, or until just lightly colored. Let the almonds cool completely.
Make the short paste: Put the flour in the food processor with the butter (diced) and pulse until the flour resembles wet sand. Add the sugar and pulse briefly to mix it in. Add the yolks and process briefly, then, with the machine running, add milk. Start with 1 tbsp of milk and add a little more at a time, pulsing, until the crumbly dough just holds together. Be careful not to add too much milk or the dough will be wet and sticky.
Wrap the dough in wax paper and let it rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes.
Roll the paste on a floured board to a scant 1/8-inch (3 mm) thickness and line bottom and sides of tartlet molds. I have used heart-shaped tartlet pans that are as big as min-muffin cups.
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Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C)
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Make the filling: Grind the almonds with 2 tbsp of sugar (taken from the total) and the cinnamon until they are fine and powdery. It is important that the almonds are cool when you grind them or they will become pasty and oily.
Beat the egg whites at high speed until soft, glossy peaks form, then add the remaining sugar 1 tsp at a time. The meringue should be stiff but not overbeaten and dry. Gently fold in the almond-cinnamon mixture, being careful not to deflate the meringue.
Assemble the tartlets: Fill each pastry shell to the rim with the meringue mixture, sprinkle a little sugar over the filling. Bake in a slow oven until puffed and golden (about 30-35 minutes, depending on the size of your mini pans). Cool the mini tarts on racks.
P.S. I scaled down the original recipes–the short paste recipe called for 3 lb of flour, and you might have a little more dough than filling, depending also on the type of tart pans you have.

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Pies & Tarts, Spices, Treenuts | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Chinese Almond Cakes

Posted by bakinghistory on February 5, 2008

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Traditional Chinese almond cakes

here is the ROUNDUP

This is my entry for the Chinese New Year blog event hosted by FoodFreak.

From the original recipe by Sara Bosse and Onoto Watanna [pseud.]

In: “Chinese-Japanese Cook Book”, c1914—USA

Ingredients

2 cups (320 g) rice flour + a little extra to form the cookies

1/4 cup (50 g) almond oil

1/2 cup (50 g) almonds, blanched

1-1/2 cups (180 g) confectioners’ sugar

2 eggs

To decorate: 10-12 almonds, blanched and split in half + 1 yolk mixed with 1/2 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C)

Place the almonds, rice flour, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until the almonds are chopped very fine. Add the almond oil and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the eggs and process briefly, until a soft dough forms.

Sprinkle some rice flour on a wooden board and roll small amounts of dough into balls about the size of a small walnut.

Press the balls with the bottom of a glass (floured), then brush with egg wash and place a split almond in the center.

Alternatively, you can roll the dough 1/4-inch (0.6 cm) thick, then cut the cookies with a round cookie-cutter.
Bake the cakes on baking sheets for 1 hour, making sure the oven temperature is not higher than 325°F (160°C)

Let the cakes cool on racks and store in an airtight container

Posted in American Cooking, Blog Events, Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti, Dairy-Free, Flourless Cakes, Gluten-free, Pareve, Rice, Treenuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

 
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