Tag Archives: baking

Chocolate Eclairs: the August Daring Bakers challenge-

When I saw this months challenge was Pierre Heremes chocolate eclairs I became deeply excited.  I was lucky enough to visit his bakery in Paris just 3 short months ago.  I am so deeply enamoured with Monsiour Herme I have contemplated teaching myself ‘cookbook French’ so I can use his French language only cookbooks!

Anyway, this was a relatively quick challenge to complete (aside from the fact I have up until mid August been without a functioning oven.  The saga of my defective oven went on far, far too long.  Fingers crossed I have no more problems.

The choux pastry went together really well.  I got my Kitchenaid a year ago and it is fantastic.  I so didn’t want to beat the eggs in with a whisk!

I wanted to mess around with the flavors a bit so I divided the custard just before the adding chocolate and butter stage into 3 portions and made one chocolate (as per the recipe) and coffee (really bold amounts of espresso powder so the coffee flavor came through) and vanilla (using generous amounts of vanilla bean paste).

I made the glaze as per the recipe (which sneakily had you make a chocolate sauce as well).  My glaze never really got firm in the warm weather here, but it was lovely.

My piping is getting better, but I still have a long way to go!  I made my eclairs about 5-6cm long so my testers could try all 3 flavors and pick their favorite.

The chocolate and coffee were equal favorites and then one of my guests mentioned how she adored caramel.  I had some left over from another baking project so I ran a drizzle down the centre of the vanilla custard eclairs and that was the hands down pack everything else away fav!  No pictures as proof.  My shutter lag didn’t allow for the speed those babies moved from the plate to the mouth.

Now go and check the Daring Bakers blogroll to see what other fab creations the other bakers came up with.

TWD- Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler


This week for the Tuesday’s with Dorie Bake Amanda from Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake selected ….Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler on page 415 of From Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan.


When I saw this recipe I longed for the cherry tree in my parents yard in the Czech Republic.  I am home in Darwin now and very far from a cherry tree.  Yet in this world of imported food there were cherries from the USA in my supermarket.  Now, they did start to go mouldy in my fridge the day after buying them but I pitted them and found some rhubarb (the freshest and pinkest I had seen in Darwin in some time) to be their partner in cobbler.

My in laws have just arrived (more than 4000 km of driving to get here) so this was a nice desert to share.  

I saw some of the comments from others who had made this earlier and since my cherries were not that sweet I popped in another couple of Tablespoons of sugar with the fruit.  I also sliced the rhubarb stalk in half before I portioned it into 1 inch pieces.  My fruit was not going to fit in my 9 inch pie plate so I put it in a 2.5l dish.  The dough was cold enough after the quick blitz in the processor to quickly portion into about 20 little balls.    

I liked this topping more than the Mixed Berry Cobbler from a couple of weeks ago.  It had more texture and some zing (with the wholemeal flour, brown sugar and ginger).  My rhubarb kept its shape, but was tender to the tooth.   The sugar in the sauce was about right (with a couple of extra lovin spoonfuls).  Matthew thinks the only thing to make it better would be crunchy sugar over the cobbler (but those of you familiar with his stance on food would know he almost always suggests more crunchy sugar as a topping!)  The corn flour only slightly thickened the sauce, but it was lovely and syrupy in a tart way.

All in all, a nice desert to make when you feel like a bit of taste bud brightness.

Daring Bakers Challenge- Danish Braid

This months Daring Bakers Challenge is Danish Pastry.  I have tried my hand at laminated dough before.  I remember making Danish pastry years ago.  What I remember of the recipe was it was most definetly not  laminated (I seem to recall it was a Nigella Lawson recipe involving a food processor…).  I had also tried my hand at laminated dough like croissants (worked fairly well) and puff pastry (why, oh why, did I try that when it was 95 F all day every day, getting down to a ‘chilly’ 85 F at night?)

Thankfully, this challenge was announced over our dry season when the temperature is a bit more forgiving for people trying to make thin layers of butter in their pastry.

This dough is a pleasure to work with.  I used the grating the butter technique (using the food processor for speed) and that was a wonderful revelation.  I wasn’t sure if I was then supposed to process the flour through so i just tossed the butter in the flour and patted it on the rolled out dough (so much like mozzarella, it is not funny).

This bread needs 4 turns (roll it out and then fold it like a business letter) with a chill 30 minutes in between each turn.  Easy enough to do during a morning with the boys.  I used my trusty pastry mat so I didn’t have to clean the bench between turns. 

Please take a moment to admire the lamination…

I struggled a little bit with the instructions for the shaping of the braid (I do wish Sherry Yard had included a simple diagram).  So I turned to the Pastry Bible and Rose Levy Beranbaums (RLB) chapter on Danish.  Her books are my go to guides when I need simple clear instructions and I want to know why…

I used a ruler to mark everything out and then I used my bencher to give me even cuts 

My braid came out pretty well although I didn’t keep perfect even tension.  

I made the apple filling from the Sherry Yard recipe and it was good.  However, being a girl who likes to experiment a little I also made RLB’s Apricot Levkar and her Remonce (almond filling).  One would think I would take it easy on myself given I was about to go on holidays and I still don’t have a functioning oven at home but that’s not very Daring Baker is it…

So I messed around with fillings and shapes.  My stunt kitchen oven was running a bit hot so they got a touch more malliard than I was aiming for.  

My hands down favourite was the bear claws filled with the Remonce.  The almond filling really brought out the cardamon and orange flavours in the pastry.  I have some work to do with shaping and not letting the filling leak out so much, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

TWD- Mixed Berry Cobbler

Bless the fact this weeks Tuesdays with Dories recipe chosen by Beth of Our Sweet Life  was Mixed Berry Cobbler on pages 416-417 from Baking from my Home to Yours was posted on the internet and was fairly simple.  

I am on holidays in Europe in the moment.  We are basing ourselves at my parents in the Czech Republic.  Mum has some cooking things but has fairly basic kitchen set up during the renovation of their building.  

Anyway, there is a Tesco (English chain of supermarket) nearby so we could find most of what we needed (without needing a Czech translator in tow).  There was a fair amount of looking at packages for helpful pictures.

Most of the Czech flour is quite a course grind (semolina flour for dumplings).  At the Makro market (catering supply store that you have to show company ID and membership of the store just to get into) we found some Italian 00 flour which was much better suited to the cobbler topping. Mum had been given a box of Gustin which is similar to corn flour by a Czech friend who is a Home Ec teacher.  Baking powder is not always available so you hoard it when you can find it.  The local cream is 12% fat but I could find some German UHT cream which was 30% fat.

The frozen berries were pretty easy to find although One batch had strawberries which when paired with the unfamiliar Gustin lead to quite a wet berry filling.

I was lucky enough to have a little helper in the kitchen.  Patrick will be 2 in July.  He already takes his cooking seriously.  He could say cookie and cake before he said his brothers name!


So what was the verdict?  The cobbler topping was a bit thick in places so stayed a bit undercooked.  5 more minutes would have been benificial.  I already mentioned I was unfamilair with the thickening agent and the amount of juice in the berries is difficult to guess at the best of times.  If I was making this again here, I would add another Tablespoon of Gustin and Sugar.  

This dessert needed ice cream.  With just cream there was nothing to temper the rather tart nature of our red current intensive berry mix.

The nicest compliment was it reminded my mother of things her mother and grandmother used to bake years ago.  This recipe with a few tweaks is a keeper.

One thing that was challenging was getting a photo.  My good husband now knows I take photos of my food.  My parents did the sensible thing and dug in!  My mother just smiled at me as I was trying to get a photo of the plated dish.

TWD- Paris Chocolate Brownies

Di of Di’s Kitchen Notebook has chosen…French Chocolate Brownies on pages 92-93 of Baking from My Home to Yours.  Thanks so much for this treat.

I like the story of how these brownies got their name but, I told my husband these were rum and raisin brownies and- By Golly! That worked for him.

These little treasures of richness really are closer to the fondant cake end of the spectrum, but luckily when baked in individual size molds you really play up the crispy edge thing that brings it closer to its spiritual home of brownie-ness.

I shared these with a dear friend who just doesn’t get my love of dried fruit. I managed to get the sultanas drunk enough that they couldn’t remember they were sultanas, and Mel didn’t pick them until I asked what she thought of them.

Yes, I am the kind of friend that will serve you things you may have said you don’t like, if I think I can sucker you into going “Gee,that’s pretty good”.



So, one of the things Matt brought back from the States for me were the pyramid shaped moulds. Now, I have a kitch streak a mile wide. I made my Paris Brownies in a pyramid shape to echo the Louvre pyramids. (this links to where I found my lovely picture) That is pretty daggy now I come to think of it.

These came together very very simply. The chocolate melting method is almost exactly the reverse of what I have been doing (generally I melt the butter first and then add the chocolate to that- same result different order).

I think the reason Dorie told us to heat the rum for 30 sec was so we could get our cameras ready for blogging purposes. Trying to capture the excitement of flambe on camera while making sure the rum doesn’t get carried away with itself really should be a 2 person job. But, I like to live on the edge.

One small grumble is the sultanas sink straight to the bottom of the mix. Something that causes presentation problems when using silicone molds like me.

These will absolutely, positively get made again (working oven be willing).  An obvious substitution is dried cherries flambed in brandy. 

It is just mean to tease myself like that with an oven on the blink.

Here is the recipe with metric conversion.

French Chocolate Brownies

– makes 16 brownies –
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours.


1/2 cup (65g) all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 (50g) cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces (175g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces 170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you’re using it.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It’s important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you’ve got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it’s better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you’ll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won’t be completely incorporated and that’s fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they’re even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!

Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Daring Baker Debut- Opera Cake

I adore opera cake, Chocolate and Coffee, how could one go wrong. When I read this months challenge for a white or pale opera cake I had a moment of petulance and then… Fruit and alcohol (well liquers) fillings were encouraged.

I thought of a recent Dorie Greenspan post about Ispahan, Pierre Hermes combination of Rose, Lychee, and Raspberry. But then I became a commitment fobe. What if I didn’t like it? 10 x 10 is a lot of cake.

Then the liquer thing started me thinking, of cocktails. What about fabulous fruit and a touch of alcohol in the cakes? I started with what was tucked away in my freezer. Coconut and pineapple, great start. Limes are in season. Pina colada cake tempting. Mojito, lime mint and rum, has promise. Decisions, decisions. So what is a debut daring baker to do?

Go mad. Make 3 small cakes and pick my favourite.

Only one small problem. I had never really added fruit (other than a bit of lemon or lime) to butter cream before and wasn’t sure about quantities.  I had never made an opera cake before but I did have an impressive collection of bookmarked recipes waiting for the right reason (I was thinking my own birthday cake this year). I turned to my copy of The Cake Bible for some help.

So I decided on

Rose butter cream, rasberry mouse with lychee syrup and thinly sliced lychee fruit.

Pineapple butter cream, coconut mousse with the pineapple poaching syrup and Malibu, with pineapple puree.

Lime butter cream, Fresh mint mousse, Bacardi, lime juice and mint sugar syrup.

I made the full batch of the cake, butter cream (I used the smaller amounts of sugar version) and mousse and then divided it up by weight into 3 portions. I then added my ‘mix ins’ by taste.

I made a half batch (all the raspberries in the freezer) of Rose Levy Beranbaums raspberry puree. I was pleased that my new food processor with centrifcal juicer did a fabulous job of straining the seeds.

I also saw her recipe for pineapple buttercream. So I poached my pineapple that had been put in the freezer, blitzed it to a pulp and added that in to the buttercream from the ‘master recipe’. The pineapple puree ended up a bit sweet to my taste. I would probably omit the sugar next time. I also blitzed up fresh mint.

The coconut came from the coconut palm in my backyard. The limes from the local markets. The lychees were canned in syrup (not in season now).

My cake pans were a touch bigger than 27cm x 36cm. So I trimmed them down to make a total of 12 pieces 18 x 9 cm (Those of you talented with math will pick I have 3 extra pieces of cake left for unauthorised coffee and chocolate action).

I made little cake boards for them, and set to filling them, with all my creations in all the little plastic containers I own.

Now, I did have some problems with 2 of the mousse flavours. The coconut behaved perfectly. The raspberry mousse was a bit runny and grainy. The mint mousse became soup. Take home message, this mousse recipe doesn’t want much more fluid added and really doesn’t want to messed with very much.

The cake was a dream to work with. I will certainly use that recipe again.

Here they are pre glaze.

And here are the lovely’s post glaze. I had some difficulty working with the glaze. When it was warm enough to spread nicely it melted the mousse. When I let it cool a bit it wasn’t smooth. However, I tell myself the little bits of raspberry mousse peeking out looks quite handsome.

And the taste… The mojito was the favorite. The lime buttercream worked really well. The Isphan with a touch of extra raspberry sauce to cut the heady floral notes from the lychees and rosewater was a close second. The pina colada was let down a bit by the sweetened pineapple. It needed the tartness to brighten up the flavors.

All in all, this was a lot of fun. This recipe has many parts but it wasn’t hard. If I was to make the light versions again I would try another mousse recipe. Perhaps with a more stable mousse (that wasn’t trying to melt away) my glaze could have been a bit smoother.
The recipe is many pages long so if someone is interested I can email it on.
And finally,
Hey mum, I’m a daring baker!

TWD- Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

Sticky Buns of this gooey caliber are not commonly found in Australia. There are scrolls and buns but they tend to get their sweetness from dried fruit and a dab of fondant icing on top.

I had a childhood of cinnamon buns that were rich and decadent. The Australian versions seemed a bit austere for my tastes. So these are a lovely addition to the repertoire. Thank you to Madame Chow for choosing this weeks recipe.

I really struggled with what bread I would use in this recipe. In the end I thought about the flexiblity that is built into the TWD challenges. The recipes are a starting point, not dogma.

I used the challah dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day instead of Dories Brioche. I will try her recipe one day but 1 minutes mixing and a great result was too tempting to pass up. This post details the recipe and process.

Something that is important to know about me is I am not a perky morning person. I feel that the first 20 minutes of the day should be spent very quietly sipping a coffee and coming to terms with the impending day. Having children completely stuffed that management strategy.

What I can do is be kind to myself and not try to do too much in the morning. Which brings me to my standard operating procedure for sticky buns. I make them up the night before leave them on the bench for 40 minutes and then pop them in the fridge. Whoever gets up first preheats the oven and takes the prepped buns out of the fridge.

All the glory with minimum effort (first thing in the morning anyway). You don’t even have to face the washing up (unless you got slack the night before)!

The twist of these is the use of honey in the glaze. The honey adds an interesting flavor and I think helps prevent the glaze from becoming a hard caramel topping. This is an advantage in terms of gooey topping not needing to be molten to stay sticky (which is the fatal flaw in many other recipes).

I like the honey flavor but I don’t LOVE the honey flavor. This recipe has made me think about how to adapt other recipes to achieve the texture of the glaze. I will experiment with adding a bit of glucose syrup for pure sweet flavor to see if I can keep the sticky factor up.

Now because I used a different bun recipe, I thought the least I could do is follow the rest of the recipe to the letter. My suspicions about the glaze being even better with a touch of salt were correct. I sprinkled on a bit of Maldon and Oh My it was good

I made a half batch. There are four of us so that would mean two each. Patrick (almost 2) liked his so much he moved over to my lap to polish off mine as well. That will teach me to eat slowly (and take my time taking photos) in a house full of boys!

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
Makes 15 buns
For the Glaze:
1 cup (packed) (220g) light brown sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) (115g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup (60g) honey
1-1/2 cups pecans (180g) (whole or pieces)
For the Filling:
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Buns:
1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight) (I used 1/4 full batch of the challah dough -400g)
Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this). (I used a 9 inch round pan for a half batch. I used a baking paper round)
To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out as best you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula.

Sprinkle over the pecans.
To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable. (I misread the instructions and mixed all of these things together).

To shape the buns:On a flour-dusted work surface (be generous here with the flour), roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. (or 8 x 16 inches for a half batch) Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough.

Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (I use a pastry mat getting underneath with my hand to get a good roll)

(At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you’d like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glaze recipe accordingly).

With a chef’s knife, (or my personal favorite, a bencher- which will just slice through) using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they’re very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.

Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper (or plastic wrap that has been oiled) and set the pan in a warm place until the buns have doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. (You can prep this far and put the buns to bed in the fridge if that suits your schedule, do make sure the buns have properly proofed before baking though) The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.
Getting ready to bake: When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven.
The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful – the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.
What You’ll Need for the Golden Brioche Dough (this recipe makes enough for two brioche loaves. If you divide the dough in half, you would use half for the sticky buns, and you can freeze the other half for a later date, or make a brioche loaf out of it!):
2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm
What You’ll Need for the Glaze (you would brush this on brioche loaves, but not on the sticky buns):
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can– this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you’re doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you’ll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You’ll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. (After this, you can proceed with the recipe to make the brioche loaves, or make the sticky buns instead, or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)
The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.
Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)
Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.
Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.

No Knead Challah

I have made brioche a few times now. Thankfully, each time successfully. I came across the recipe in Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hetzberg and Zoe Francois and wondered how good it could be. You weren’t slowly and painstakingly adding butter. It is almost embarrassingly easy. In fact total mixing time is 1 minute.

The answer is it is stunning. I have made the brioche and the challah from this recipe book a few times now. My personal preference is to save the seriously butter and egg rich brioche for enjoying on it’s own as a loaf or as Brioche a Tete, and use the challah in sweet rolls where there is a whole lot of other butter rich madness going on. That said I think this challah is really nice as a stand alone enriched bread.

Another real advantage of this recipe is it is not temperamental if you make a half batch (which I give the quantities for here). This amount is perfect for a batch of sweet rolls of choice. In fact, I will follow up this post with the challah in action. To be continued.

So here is the recipe for the No Knead Challah (half batch).

220ml lukewarm water

2 1/4 tsp yeast

1 1/2 tsp table salt

2 eggs lightly beaten

60g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter or oil if making dairy free

60g (1/4 cup) honey

420g (3 1/2 cups) plain flour


Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter with the water in a large bowl. Make sure the yeast dissolves.

Then mix in the flour without kneading using a spoon.

You can use your food processor or mixer but this dough is very much like a batter and only takes 1 minute.

Prepare a plastic container (minimum of 2.5l size for a half batch 5l for a full batch. I always grease the inside of the container to ensure I don’t deflate the dough when I am trying to turn it out. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temp until dough rises and starts to collapse (approx 1-2 hours).

straight after mixing

Look at the textural changes after just 1 hour on the bench.

Refrigerate in a lidded container overnight and use in the next 5 days. If you need to store it longer than that freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to a month. The flavour develops over time which for me is more important in brioche that stands alone than challah which is working to contain all the gooey goodness.

This dough is easy to work with when still cold. With the amount of butter in it, I wouldn’t let it get warm before shaping it.

TWD- Madelaines

Thank you to Tara of Smells like Home for choosing this recipe for this weeks Tuesdays With Dorie Baking Challenge.

On the trip a few weeks ago that Matthew brought back Baking From My Home To Yours, he also brought back a couple of silicone madelaine moulds (the Lueke ones if anyone is brand obsessed).  Now, I believe (this is the kitchen junky speaking) that an item is not extravegant if it is used.  So the very first recipe I made from the cookbook was the traditional madelaines and I christened my new pans.

Matthew really likes madelianes so it is a recipe I have made a few times now.

From this experience I have come to some rather firm conclusions.

Brown the butter, it seems to emulsify better into the batter (when I skipped this step I got rice size chunks of butter in the chilled batter they left little dents in the cake like the butter dots on the polenta and ricotta cake), gives a depth of flavour and I achieved the hump when I browned the butter.  I added 10g more butter to allow for evaporation.  The picture below shows the big bubbles that start just as the solids on the bottom of the pan start to brown.  

This batch went very dark brown but was not burnt (I tasted it to make sure)


Microplane the lemon zest.  The first time I made this I used my zester.  It was nice but the mini ribbons of zest were a bit over the top for even me.  (Especially in the mini size).

Whip it good.  The more I bake, the deeper my appriciation has grown of the importance of a decent beating!  It makes such a difference for so many baked goods.  Now that I am lucky enough to have a powerful stand mixer I have no excuse.

Don’t underbake.  My hump started to appear after 12 minutes of baking.  After 16 minutes they were golden and had a polite little bump that survived cooling.

I have a bit of a love affair going with silicone.  There are a few reasons for this (humidity rusts pans over night, good heat conduction, funky shapes but the real reason I love silicone comes down to the fact I stack things very badly.  When you stack metal badly it falls on you and has the potential to hurt.  Silicone can be rolled up and left in a plastic container waiting for you (then you just have to worry about the plastic container attacking you).  

Now back to the advise part of this post always grease your pans.  Spray oil is quick (yes it leaves a residue over time but I prefer that to leaving part of my baked good in the pan).  Even with all the butter in this recipe some of them stuck when I didn’t give it a little bit of prep.

Only bake what you want to eat.  These are so good fresh with crispy edges.  Keeping the batter in the fridge means fresh ones are only a preheat away.  I have stretched batter storage out to 4 days, but after that the egg content may not be safe.


Now to be fair my madelaines didn’t have the kind of hump that would get them confused with Quasimodo.  However, they certainly out-bumped the picture in the book!

Traditional Madeleines

From Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.


2/3 cup (85g) all-purpose flour 
¾ teaspoon baking powder 
Pinch of salt 
½ cup (75g) sugar 
Grated zest of 1 lemon 
2 large eggs, at room temperature 
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) (85g)(95g if you plan on browning the butter) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Working in a mixer bowl, or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl. Working with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines. (For convenience, you can spoon the batter into the madeleine molds, cover and refrigerate, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge; see below for instructions on prepping the pans.)

GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds, or up to 36 mini madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Or, if you have a nonstick pan (or pans), give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If you have a silicone pan, no prep is needed. (my silicone needed the prep) Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don’t worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven’s heat will take care of that. Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.

If you are making minis and have more batter, bake the next batch(es), making certain that you cool, then properly prepare the pan(s) before baking.

Just before serving, dust the madeleines with confectioners’ sugar.

makes 12 large or 36 mini cookies

serving: Serve the cookies when they are only slightly warm or when they reach room temperature, with tea or espresso.

storing: Although the batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, the madeleines should be eaten soon after they are made. You can keep them overnight in a sealed container, but they really are better on day 1. If you must store them, wrap them airtight and freeze them; they’ll keep for up to 2 months.



Lychee Cake

I bought some tinned lychees recently for use in a recipe to be posted soon.  What I realised is I really like the fresh ones better and lychees and their cousin rambutan grow well up here (but just weren’t in season).  Here is a rather lovely photo (if I do say so) of a rambutan.

Now I have been posting more, I have less time to look at other peoples posts.  I took advantage of a quiet moment and had a look at Desert First fabulous blog.  Low and behold she had a recipe for a lychee cake.  Calling for the very same tinned lychees sitting in my fridge edging towards a use by date.

I halved the recipe which made 6 cupcakes and 3 mini cupcakes.  The boys were not going to wait for adornment so not further decoration than the golden edges from the oven.  

This was really lovely and quite simple so will get made again.  I was also pleased that the recipe (leavening) didn’t need tweaking to made into cupcakes.  I imagine this recipe would work well for other tinned fruits as well (peaches leap to mind).

As I slowly added the lychee syrup the mix curdled but came good with the addition of the flour.

The other thing I did was alter the technique slightly.  I reserved 1/3 of the flour mixture to coat the lychee and added the remaining flour 1st to build a bit of structure (and prevent lumps of flour which I am paranoid about). This worked really well.




Lychee Butter Cake from Desert First

1- 14 oz can lychees (about 1 cup lychees, reserve the liquid)

2 cups (240g) flour (I used plain unbleached)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (160g) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup (160 g) sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 baking pan.

Drain the lychees and cut into small pieces; set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed for several minutes until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla. Mix to combine.

Add in about 4 -6 tablespoons of the reserved lychee liquid slowly. Mix between additions to fully incorporate before adding more.

Toss the lychee pieces in the flour mixture to coat (this will help keep them from sinking to the bottom of the batter).  (As I wrote before I reserved 1/3 of the flour for the coating and added the flour mixture first and then the fruit covered in flour).

Add flour and lychee mixture to the batter and mix to combine.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack before serving.

The mini cupcake size took 14 minutes and the cupcakes took about 20 minutes.  (Conventional oven, bottom element only)