I don’t know about you but I have been baking a LOT since this whole COVID thing started. I like to use the ingredients I have on hand, I put in my ear buds, start up a book and putz around in the kitchen for an hour. That’s what I did on Friday anyway. I had the day off work and thought this Blueberry-Buttermilk Bundt cake sounded great for breakfast the next day. I’ve been making this particular cake for about 17 years. I know, right? It’s a tried and true, delicious cake. I found the recipe in Bon Appetit magazine in 2004 and have been making it ever since. I prefer it for breakfast since it has the consistency of a muffin, but really any time of day is great!
What I really like about this recipe is that I usually have everything on hand. Frozen blueberries, an orange, and the buttermilk are the standouts in this cake. The orange is zested into the creamed sugar mixture and really adds a nice orangey punch to the blueberry flavor. They only ingredient I may not have on hand is the buttermilk. This time I did, but usually I just make it myself by adding a TBSP of white vinegar to a cup of milk. It’s that easy!
After you mix your flour, baking soda, and salt set it aside to cream your butter, sugar, orange zest, eggs, and vanilla. Now, blend in your flour alternating it with the buttermilk. Once that’s all mixed together you add in your frozen blueberries and vôilá! You have a nicely shaded purple batter. That color mostly cooks out, which is a shame because it’s really pretty in the pan.
I was going to save this cake for breakfast on Saturday but my sister came downstairs upset over a friend quitting at work and you know what? A piece of cake is just the thing to make you feel better. Shhh. No lectures, please! Anyway, she got that first slice and you know how that goes…. once the cake is cut it’s open season for taking a slice!
I finished it off with a nice sugary glaze made with some ground up caster sugar and the juice from the orange (zest) I used in the cake. It tastes just as good as it looks, promise!
I have this little series of books that I write and tape recipe’s into if I’ve found one in a magazine, on Pinterest, or one given to me by a friend. I’ve been collecting recipe’s in these books for years. As you can see below. If you blow up the picture, maybe you can make this one yourself! Maybe not, my handwritings a mess. I’ve looked up the link for you just in case you’d like to try it yourself.
It’s confession time. After I finished making scones I read ahead to the next chapter’s first recipe, took a look at the list of ingredients and skipped to the next recipe. It was the Chocolate, Praline, and Cocoa Nib Tart where I would need to spend almost $130 to make. I just couldn’t see buying all of those ingredients, spending that money just to test myself. Instead, I decided to make the Caramel Nut Tart. I’ll buy those ingredients slowly over time and come back to that some other time. I’ll still try my hand at Pâte Sucrée, a delicious dough, and learn how to make caramel. The new recipe will still stretch my wings.
So, how’d it go? The Pâte Sucrée was delish, and pretty simple to make. The dough was sweet, made with a combination of flour, powdered sugar, butter, and almond flour. AND I get to pommade butter again! I love this pommade technique. For those of you who may be reading my baking journey for the first time if you slightly warm the butter in your mixing bowl over an open flame and then whip the butter it turns into this really creamy mayonnaise consistency. Pretty cool!
In addition to the pommade technique above, I’ve learned that you sift EVERYthing when following a Bouchon Bakery recipe. So, I sifted, cracked and egg, mixed, etc. I got this really yummy dough. I did notice my almond flour was slightly different than what must’ve been used by Bouchon Bakery because my dough was a little nuttier looking with these brown specks. Tastes great though, so no worries! I’m going with the flow. Now, Bouchon wants me to use a Fraiser technique to mix the dough, so I wash off the countertop and drop my dough straight onto the counter, no flour and by hand push my hand into the dough to blend the dough into these little waves.
Once it was blended I wrapped it in cellophane and stuck it into the fridge to chill out for a couple of hours. Onto the caramel jam! Don’t let that word jam fool you, it’s just a fancy way of saying sauce. Maybe sauce is too plebian? Not sure, but from here on out I will be saying caramel jam. Doesn’t it make me sound smarter? I think so!
For my first purchase (outside the normal flour, sugar, etc.) I had to research and purchase glucose. Now, I know that glucose is sugar, but I wasn’t sure until I got the jar, why I couldn’t just brown some sugar as I’ve done in the past. Actually, I’m still not really sure. The glucose was really super thick and I think must be used in order to make the sauce thicker? It’s just a guess because after I prepared everything, it turned out the same as any other caramel “jam” I’ve ever made, although it was a lot silkier.
Luckily, I had my candy thermometer from some other project and was able to put it to good use in getting my jam to the correct temp of 350º.
Two hours have since gone by and I can remove my dough from the refrigerator. For the first time, as instructed, I’m going to try rolling out my dough between sheets of waxed paper, without any flour. Apparently adding flour during the rolling process messes with the flour to butter ratio or something and makes for too dry a dough. Surprisingly, or not, really, because all of these techniques I’ve learned and used so far are really working. I easily rolled out my dough using the waxed paper, measured it to 11″ across and what looked to be about the right depth and laid it into my fluted tart pan (that I had to purchase for this recipe).
Doesn’t that look nice? Admittedly, I think the dough ended up being a little too thick, but lesson learned! LOL. There was a bit of a lengthy cooking process for this dough, so if you’re going to prepare this one yourself, put aside about 60 minutes of turning the pan around so all sides cook evenly.
Once the crust is cooked, you fill the tart with nuts, cover it with caramel and voilá! You have your Caramel Nut tart. Confession time #2. Reading the instructions is super important, and if you have a bad memory like me? Read them again as you are doing everything. I was supposed to pour “most” of the caramel jam onto the nuts so it looked as if they were layered into a nutty caramel and you could still see the nuts clearly. I did not do this. I poured all of the caramel jam into the tart so you couldn’t actually see any nuts at all. So, while it didn’t look great, it actually tasted devine. Although a bit sweet. I added vanilla ice cream to my piece to counter that overabundance of caramel. It was quite nice!
Would I make this one again? For the first time, I’m going to say no. Glucose is kind of a weird ingredient and nuts are not really my thing. The crust though was fabulous and I’d definitely make that one again. In fact, I have the other half of this dough in my freezer and will use it again sooner rather than later!
Cost of tart pan $14.99 and cost of Glucose $13.99. A lot cheaper than the $130 the chocolate tart would’ve cost but I think I’d have liked to eat chocolate more than the Caramel Nut tart I did bake.
What did I enjoy? Pommading again! Man, I love that technique and the outcome is light and wonderful, even after mixing in all of the sugars and flours. I also enjoyed learning to roll out the dough between the waxed paper sheets. It’s really easy to turn and make a round dough!
What didn’t I enjoy? Caramel overload after eating the tart. That’s totally my fault though, and truthfully? It still tasted good and the family enjoyed this bake.
Madeleines – a cake like cookie that shouldn’t be confused with my cousin Madalaine who is also sweet but should never be baked… or well, no. I’m going to let that comment lie. Anyhow, madaleines are one of those things where I always think, wow, that’s so pretty! But, again, never thought I’d actually be baking. Mostly because you have to have a special pan that creates a fluted shell like shape, and it was never important enough for me to actually purchase that pan. UNTIL NOW.
The main characteristic of a madeleine is that when they bake they have a slight hump, which my Bouchon Bakery cookbook says mean they are “pregnant with flavor.” I decide since there are two madeleine recipes that I’ll bake both because they are essentially the same recipe although one calls for pistachio paste. Cue the screeching brake noises! Pistachio paste? Definitely not something I have in my refrigerator! I Google it and see that there are a ton of companies that sell it, but it’s pricey! Anywhere from $16.99-$35.00! Those must be some golden pistachio’s! I decide to go on Pinterest and see how hard it would be to make my own pistachio paste. It doesn’t look hard at all!
The day before I’m going to bake my madeleines I go out and purchase a bag of raw, shelled pistachio’s. I need to blanch the pistachio’s, which is to basically put the nuts in just boiled water and let them soak for a couple of minutes. The blanching makes the green in the pistachio even brighter and also helps loosen the papery skin that’s surrounding the nut. That skin has to be removed before blending or it will affect how green your paste will turn out. Thankfully, my husband decided to help me because, you know, that’s 30 minutes of quality time with moi. Yep, great fun. Once done, you blend them into a paste and voila! Pistachio paste!
But, whoa! It made a LOT of pistachio paste and my recipe only calls for 46 grams or 3 Tablespoons. I’m seeing lots of pistachio flavored goodies in my future. LOL Note- you don’t need to actually blend the entire package of pistachio’s, maybe just a half cup would do the job.
The madeleine recipe is actually pretty simple. I was happy to see that I get to use my just learned Pommade technique again but this time on my eggs and sugar. The thought being that if you warm the bowl before mixing them together that you’ll melt the sugar a bit. Don’t overheat though because you could cook your eggs. Luckily, I did not do that. My egg mixture did seem to whip up nicely after warming, so I guess it worked! Once I make my batters they need to spend the night in the fridge.
You can see that the pistachio batter on the right is a little greener than the other. Before baking I must prepare the pan. Now, normally I’d just spray on some baking spray, but since I’m trying to grow my experiences I decide to brush the madeleine tray with butter as instructed and freeze the tray for a few minutes before filling up my batter. Surprisingly those madeleines popped right out! I think in part because it was a brand new non stick tray too, but you know, we’ll say the butter thing worked too.
If you are trying this recipe at home be aware that this recipe makes exactly twelve madeleines. Not even one more! They baked so nicely and even got that little pregnant hump that is indicative of a good madeleine! yay!
My color could have been a little bit darker but overall I’m pretty happy with them. If you’ve never had a madeleine before they really are like little cakes. Moist and airy and delicious!
Now, I’m a girl that likes a little extra, extra. So I added white chocolate and coconut to the plain madeleines and semi-sweet chocolate with crushed pistachios. Yum!
Purchased for this recipe : 1 Madeleine tray $10.99 and 1 bag of pistachio’s $15.89. OK, I know I could’ve bought the pistachio paste for that price, but it’s all about the learning!
I have to say, I would definitely make this recipe again, although I’d double the batch.
This week in my Bouchon Bakery challenge I skipped from the cookie chapter to the Scones and Muffins chapter. When I took a look at the first recipe I danced a little jig. Score! A plain scone. I’ve made scones before and even though a couple of ingredients were new to me I thought this was a recipe I could handle.
I made up my grocery list and headed off to the store. The Plain Scone recipe called for Creme Fraiche and I headed to the dairy department not knowing exactly what it was but knew it was a dairy. LOL. I looked by the sour cream…nope, by the heavy cream….nope, by the cream cheese….nope. Then I re-looked in all of those places again! Finally I found someone who worked there and they pointed me to the gourmet cheese section. Huh! This was the brand available at Kroger but I’m sure there are many more.
Now that I had the ingredients I was ready to bake! I got out my brand new scale, started to measure and realized I did not purchase a scale that went down to a .10. The scale rounds up on the number. How did I do that again? Aargh. Oh well, I need to suck it up and just carefully estimate any measurements. The measuring commenced!
When I put it all in my KitchenAid mixer to blend in the butter I paid special attention to how long they said it would take for the butter to mix in. Low and behold, the timing works! At 3 minutes the butter was incorporated without me having to blend in any chunks by hand. Note to self…when the recipe calls for the mixer to mix for a certain amount of time, that number is pretty spot on. Usually I don’t have the patience to wait three minutes for something to mix, give up and stop a lot earlier. Hmm. Patience. Not something I can purchase, but maybe something I can learn. I got out my cell phone and turned on the stopwatch function determined to start timing everything.
At this point I met my challenge.
When I read the prologue of this cookbook it says to read the instructions of your recipe all the way through before you start baking. That way you’ll know what to do and at what time to do it. Repeat. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS ALL THE WAY THROUGH. This way, you don’t leave things out, or miss why you are mixing something at a certain time. For example when it says to pour the cream into the dry mixture, and I’m doing that, I should read further to incorporate the Creme Fraiche at that time as well. Yeah, I waited a little too long. I think I over mixed the scones a bit and because I added that Creme Fraiche a little late, the dough is slightly wet.
Oh well, it’s too late to change the recipe and I’m moving on to the next item. Cooling my dough. Funny enough, this recipe requires more time for refrigerating and freezing than it does in actually mixing the ingredients together. For someone like me who likes instant gratification, this stop and start routine was tough! I patted the dough into the expected large rectangle, put it in the fridge and waited two hours.
After the two hour cool down I try my hand at cutting the dough into individual scones. Looking at the photo, you can see I am triangularly challenged. They may not all be the same size but they will all taste alike! Next, they go into the freezer for at least 2 more hours. Start and stop. I wish they’d tell you why? I can only guess. Maybe because this is a restaurant cookbook they make these individually to sell or is it that the freezing process does something to the butter so that it cooks better and maybe holds its shape? Who knows! I will say that not having to cook every single scone is pretty handy. So I didn’t. LOL.
Other than challenging my patience this scone recipe was pretty easy! In addition to the plain scone recipe I noticed another which used the same Plain Scone recipe but added in a honey cinnamon paste to the dough, so I whipped up those as well and actually did better with the dough the second time around.
The Cinnamon honey cubes were made from a combination of flour, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and honey. You freeze the mixture and then cut it into little cubes to add into the dough. Other than my cubes maybe being a little too large the end result was a success!
I’ll admit that the first one with the whipped cream and strawberry jam looks a lot better than the second, but my second attempt at that mix actually had the scone rise a little bit more and it was tasty too!
This week I knocked out two recipe’s in one day of baking. Now, I’m not going to get a big head because I pretty much plowed through these scone recipe’s. There are bigger challenges ahead!
When I challenged myself to bake every recipe in Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook I fully expected to learn some new things. After all, that’s kind of the point to this whole thing, right? When I turned the page on the first chapter titled cookies and saw Oatmeal Raisin, I figured I had this one in the bag. After all, I’ve made oatmeal raisin cookies dozens of times! Surely I could follow this recipe and conquer Keller’s oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. Well….
I borrowed my sister’s food scale. Thank god we had one in the house because I kind of forgot about needing a scale when I was looking over the ingredients and buying stuff from the store. The scale was in working order, but it didn’t take things down to the .10 degree. It rounded up. I thought to myself, ok, here’s the first challenge. Even though the teaspoon, cup, etc. measurement is right next to the grams, I really wanted to tackle the skill of measuring and bake exactly as it was intended when following the recipe. As I measure my flour, cinnamon, soda, and salt into the bowl I try to put in just enough to get a .5 gram and I realize that the scale has a couple of blips. Sometimes it doesn’t measure the weight properly. I tried to adjust accordingly but wrote myself a note. BUY A NEW SCALE.
This is also where I accepted the next challenge. When reading the recipe I saw that it called for Kosher salt. I could’ve sworn I had kosher salt in the house, but alas, I did not. I did have Mediterranean Sea Salt.
It’s coarse like kosher salt, so I figured why not? What I didn’t take into account is that first, again, the scale wasn’t working properly, and second, sea salt is a LOT more salty than kosher salt. So, I overdosed the cookies. Not to a drastic uneatable degree, but they are definitely a tad salty.
When I got to the creaming of the butter and sugar I saw the words “Turn to medium-low speed and cream the butter, warming the bowl if needed (see Pommade, page 190)”. Pommade? Warm the bowl? What’s this all about? I turned the page to 190 and read about how if you warm the mixer bowl with the butter in it, over an open flame, like on your stovetop, when you beat it, the butter will turn into the consistency of mayonnaise. This process is called Pommade. More excited at the process of turning butter into a mayo like cream, I flipped on the gas burner and lightly warmed the bowl. I should mention that I was working with a glass mixing bowl so was able to control the temperature. I put the bowl back onto the mixer and beat the butter. Low and behold, it worked! I was so excited, I dragged my sister into the kitchen to show her and got a raised eyebrow of praise. I then added in the two sugars and turned on my stopwatch app to cream them for 3 to 4 minutes until nice and fluffy. Along with measuring on a scale, I was also determined to pay more attention to the timing of the mixing process. This seemed to work well because I got a cloud like sugar butter mixture that I’d never seen before! I, of course, forgot to take a picture of it. But, lucky you, I did take a very blurry picture of the mayo like butter below.
When I was prepping for baking I tried to find vanilla bean paste at my local Kroger and needless to say, was not successful. I picked up a jar of actual vanilla beans instead. When I got to this point in the recipe where I’d add in the eggs and vanilla I saw I’d need 7.7 grams or 1 1/4 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste and saw my maybe 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla scrapings wasn’t going to get me there. Google is my best friend and I got on my phone for help. I found this great article from kitchn.com. https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-vanilla-extract-vanilla-bean-vanilla-paste-169336 It was very helpful in giving me the differences between all of the vanilla types but it was also too little too late. Deciding a mixture of two would be better than none, I scooped in my vanilla bean goop (pulp?) into the bowl and then added in 1 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. You can’t have too much vanilla, right? Note: buy VANILLA PASTE. Who knows how many more recipe’s in this book will call for it, right?
I add in my dry ingredients, oats, and raisins and mix them all in my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer. If you don’t have one, go out and buy a mixer. I only use mine for baking but you can make pasta, grind meat, and so much more. They are awesome and except for the fact they are heavier than a, well, I don’t know what, but they are danged heavy! AND they are wonderful.
With the exception of being just a touch too salty, I could already tell this was going to be a great cookie. The batter was fluffier than any oatmeal raisin cookie that I’d baked previously. Excited, I measured out each cookie with a scoop and baked. Again, using my trusty stopwatch on my phone.
C’est Voila! They looked truly delicious! Not sure why my cookies turned out so much darker than the Bouchon Bakery picture maybe it was my high quality cinnamon, but otherwise looked identical. I’d only messed up a couple of times but learned a LOT!
What I learned: 1) You really need a good scale. 2) Pommade! 3) The type of salt does matter. 4) Vanilla comes in all shapes and sizes but they don’t all measure in the same increments.
Purchase list: 1) Scale 2) Vanilla paste
Would I make this again? YES. I think my mom would cry if she couldn’t lick the mixing blade clean. Seriously, I had to lightly tap her hand with my spatula. LOL
Next week I jump to the Scone and Muffin chapter so I hope you’ll come back for the next dish!
To find the recipe for the above Oatmeal Raisin Cookies check out the book Thomas Keller | Bouchon Bakery at your local library or click this link to purchase the cookbook.* Bouchon Bakery (The Thomas Keller Library)
*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.