A week ago I made the Alpine Baguettes again from Dan Leader’s book “Local Breads.” This is probably my favorite bread for sandwiches to take to work (because for me, the more crust, the better). I toast them in the morning which makes them extra crunchy and brings out the nuttiness of all the seeds; a bit of mustard and then some prosciutto or spicy turkey, olives, salad, and I am in for a big treat I look forward to eating all morning.
I substitute 200g of the 500g bread flour in the recipe with 150 ww and 50 rye flour. The soaker has oats, sunflower, pumpkin, flax and sesame seeds.
We were invited to our Italian friends’ place on Saturday for an Easter meal and I was bringing an appetizer. I decided to make vegetable tarts. On Friday I made the puff pastry, but this time I cheated a bit. I had seen this recipe of “quick puff pastry” a while ago and bookmarked it. It’s like making a “pâte brisée” where the butter is cut-in versus folding it in like in the classic recipe. Then one proceeds with 6 turns. For these vegetable tarts, I figured it was o.k. to test this version. Did it work? They came out well and were really appreciated by everyone.
I roasted 10 different vegetables: spring onions, regular onions, asparagus, bunch carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, brussel sprouts, broccoli and butternut squash.
Making this dough was super easy and there was a nice lift in the finished product, despite the shortcut. However, next time I’ll go for the classic version again, I think.
For our Easter brunch I made these Swiss milk Brötchen Murren from Pötzblog for my kids; excellent with all kinds of spreads, butter and marmalades.
Also, another baguette experiment, this time the Fromartz Traditional, but I messed it up big time. I made the dough the previous day during my vegetable tarts assembly and was supposed to give the final S&F just before our departure, after which the dough needed to be transferred into the fridge for the night. Since I was running late and things were quite chaotic, the baguette dough got forgotten and over-proofed by about 6 hours! I just put it into the fridge once we got home and nonchalantly proceeded the next day. I thought, if nothing else, they would still be tasty - and they were. There was even a bit of oven spring, who would have thought. The crumb, however, was dense, not surprisingly. The baguettes didn’t brown at all and I had expected this too. I had to turn on the broiler some two or three minutes at the end to give them a bit of a “tan.”
And another batch of macarons for dessert for our afternoon treat with coffee.
UPDATE: Dear TFL-ers; here some more impressions of my macaron adventures :-)
A macaron has little to do with bread, unless your name is Pierre Hermé, and are raking in the dough on these little babies...
Nevertheless I have the guts to go totally off topic and ask your help in making a shortlist of macarons. After feasting your eyes on the options, I hope you're willing to cast your vote at the end of the post! I promise the next one will be healthy and hearty again, okay? :-D
To the Fullest
In the last couple of months I have taught myself to make a wicked macaron. They are hip, they are cool and every body will tell you how hard it is to make them, including me...
/>But guess what, it ain't half bad, once you get the hang of it!
And once making those macaron shells has become second nature to you... that is where things really become interesting!
It took me two batches to find out that in order for me to really like a macaron to the fullest, it needs to be not overtly sweet. Since the sugar parameters are practically set in stone in a macaron recipe, the only thing left to do is play with the flavors.
Another important factor to make the macaron live up to its expectation of utter exquisiteness, is to come up with a combination of flavors, rather than a single one. Eating it has to be like an adventure into unknown lands, or at times exactly those places you know your way around with your eyes closed.
Pierre Hermé is a master at this, and this whole macaron "revival" can be directly credited to him. His book on macarons has quickly become a hit, and when you start baking out of it, you understand why.
From the "classics" to the "fetish", all the way through to the "exceptions" you never stop being amazed at what he comes up with; wasabe and grapefruit, chestnut and matcha green tea, there's even something in there involving Heinz Ketchup...
Help me choose!
Here are some takes on Hermé macarons from the BreadLab kitchen. You can really do me a favor by letting me know which one of these flavor combinations you would try first, or like best! There's a poll at the end of this post, to make it easier for you (well, there is some scrolling involved...), but if you like to; feel free to leave a comment, it's very much appreciated :-)
(You will help me put together a very special gift for a very special person! but shhhht about that!)
Enjoy, and happy baking.
Chestnut Matcha Green Tea Macarons (Hermé's recipe)