Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays Granola

Photo by shantilly picnic


My recent career change has inspired all sorts of creativitywithin me. I’ve been baking up a storm, drawing, making jewelry, and constantlyjotting down ideas for future projects. This holiday season I wanted to takethe opportunity to share some of my new life with loved ones that I don’t getto see often enough. I decided to make a special batch of granola withingredients that I’ve been using a lot of these days. I had so much fun pulling this all together. Thank you so much to Leigh and Steve Mignogna for helping me withthe design of the new shantilly picnic logo. So, from my little kitchen in Brooklyn to yours, Shantilly Picnic Holiday Granola. Merry Christmas, everyone! 


Ingredients 
Makes about 10 cups


4 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ (except for my special gluten-free batches)
1 cup sunflower seeds, lightly toasted   
1/2 cup golden flax seeds 
1 cup sliced almonds 
1 cup chopped pecans 
1/2 cup dried cranberries 
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
4 tsp fresh lemon zest
2 tsp grey sea salt 
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup honey 
3/4 cup pure olive oil
1 tsp bourbon vanilla extract 


Preparation 


Preheat oven to 325 degrees (feel free to crank the heat up but just watch it so it doesn't burn). In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients except for the dried fruit. Heat the liquid ingredients together and pour over oat mixture. Stir and spread out evenly on 2 half sheet pans. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don't be a slave to exact measurements and time instructions. Add ingredients to taste and bake until you think it looks right. Mixture should brown evenly; the browner it gets without burning, the crunchier the granola will be. Remove from oven and immediately stir in dried fruit. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Photo by shantilly picnic
To make this batch extra rich, I used olive oil (not extra virgin) and flavors very significant to my first few months as a professional baker. I love the fresh nutmeg, lemon zest, and course grey sea salt combination, and it will always remind me of my time at Saltie. 


Photo by shantilly picnic
Photo by shantilly picnic
Photo by shantilly picnic
Depending on the coarseness of your sea salt, you may want to crush it a bit with a mortar and pestle, but don't grind it down too much. It's nice to get a little blast of salt every once in a while.
Photo by shantilly picnic
      












I had to get in at least one picture of my new 20 quart stainless steel mixing bowl. I can now make 4 batches/40 cups of granola at a time!
Photo by shantilly picnic
 And here they are, all wrapped up underneath the Christmas tree.

Photo by shantilly picnic


Photo by shantilly picnic


Photo by shantilly picnic

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Kouign Amann a.k.a. Butter Cake

This dessert should be on everyone's bucket list. However, you may have to make it yourself since only a handful of places know how to make it, let alone sell it. Kouign Amann (koo-WEEN a-mon) is a buttery Breton pastry made with a similar technique to croissants. The main differences are: (1) a slightly stiffer dough, (2) the use of salted butter instead of unsalted, (3) sugary layers, and (4) the unique shaping. The end result is a caramelized crust and a delicate buttery cake inside. Perfect sweet-salt, crunchy-chewy balance that I'm determined to master.

I've made the Kouign twice now, first, on Hallo-WEEN (get it?), and again a couple weeks later in Redondo with my insanely talented nephew, Josh. I followed the tourrier.com formula pretty much to a T the first time. Everyone loved it but I wasn't happy with the inside texture. It was more dense than I would have liked and I felt the amount of butter and sugar could be reduced. I was after a lighter, flakier Kouign Amann. Normally when you're testing recipes, you want to make slight variations until you get the formula just right. I threw that method out the window for my second batch and changed it up completely. Some things improved, some didn't. I was holding off on posting this until I perfected the recipe but with all the buzz right now about Kouign Amann, I didn't want to miss the boat completely. I will make it a third time very soon to test out my recipe hypothesis. For now, enjoy the pictures and let the suspense build.




Batch #1 - 10/31/2011
Ingredients:


Preferment (makes double the amount needed for this recipe):
5.3 oz all-purpose flour
3.5 oz water
pinch of instant yeast


Final Dough (yields 24 pastries):
1 lb 11.3 oz bread flour
13.75 oz water
2.25 oz sugar
.8 oz kosher salt
.5 oz instant yeast
1.4 oz milk powder
2.75 oz unsalted butter
4.1 oz prefermented dough
1 lbs 10.4 oz salted butter, for laminating
1 lb 5.1 oz sugar, for laminating
4 oz salted butter, for muffin pan
4 oz sugar, for muffin pan


Preparation:


The preferment and method won't change, it's just the final dough ingredients that I'm tweaking. For the preferment, mix all ingredients until well incorporated. Allow to ferment 2 hours at room temperature and then refrigerate at least 3 hours or until needed (up to 18 hours).




Skipping the mixing and fermentation of the final dough and going straight to the lamination. The same technique for laminating croissants is used, however the butter block will be thicker and the second and third folds have the addition of sugar. It is important to use butter that is cold but pliable so place the butter on your counter, and pound it with a rolling pin.




Once it's soft enough you can stick your finger into it, fold it up into a 8" x 13" parchment rectangle. Use your rolling pin to spread it out into a thin layer of cold butter. Avoids a lot of mess! 




Nearly perfect 8" x 13" sheet of cold, pliable butter.




The first single fold in which you lock in the butter should be done normal as for croissant. Roll the dough out to a 13" x 16" rectangle and place the cold 8" x 13" sheet of butter in the center. Fold the dough so the sides meet in the center of the butter.  Allow the dough to rest 30 minutes in the refrigerator before continuing to the double fold.




Measure out a third of the sugar (about 7 oz) and set aside. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out to a 32" x 8" rectangle. Apply sugar over the entire surface of the dough. For the double fold, fold up from the bottom 2 inches and then fold the top down to meet the bottom. Fold it in half for the book fold before placing it in the freezer for 30 minutes to relax.





The third fold is a single fold. Roll the dough to 32" x 8" apply 7 oz of sugar for lamination over the dough and fold the dough in thirds, like a letter. You now have 25 layers. Again, reserve the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes. NOTE: Allowing the dough to relax longer than 30 minutes or in the refrigerator may cause the sugar to become liquid, which renders the project very difficult.


While the dough is resting, prepare your muffin pans, brushed with salted butter and coated with sugar.




To divide, roll the dough to 24" x 16 ", cut 4" x 4" squares and fold the four corners of the squares in towards the center of the square. Next, deposit into the prepared pan to proof. Unlike croissants, these pastries do not get egg-washed.




Let the Kouign Amann proof at room temperature for 1.5 to 2 hours. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until dark brown color. Remove from pans immediately and let cool on a wire rack.




For Halloween, I served the Kouign with a pumpkin mousse and fresh berries.



Batch #2 - 11/9/2011


Ingredients:

Preferment (makes double the amount needed for this recipe):
5.3 oz all-purpose flour
3.5 oz water
pinch of instant yeast

Final Dough (yields 24 pastries):
1 lb 4 oz bread flour
7.3 oz pastry flour
14 oz milk
2.25 oz sugar
.8 oz kosher salt
.5 oz instant yeast
2.75 oz unsalted butter
5 oz prefermented dough
1 lb 8 oz salted butter, for laminating
8 oz sugar, for laminating
4 oz salted butter, for muffin pan
4 oz sugar, for muffin pan


Preparation:


Again, the preparation did not change with this second attempt, only the raw materials. Notes below:
  1. The addition of pastry flour made the dough much easier to work with. I would like to try making it using only AP next time. 
  2. Using real milk vs powdered took away some of the nice caramel taste and may have also impacted the fermentation. I will definitely use water + powdered milk for my third batch.
  3. Cutting the sugar in half was a bit too much. The outer crust turned out nicely but the pastries could have been sweeter.  
  4. The larger muffin pans worked nicely, allowing the pastries to puff more and the layers to stay more defined. The end result was a flatter puck shaped pastry, rather that a dense little cupcake shape. 



My mom made great use of the dough that didn't fit into the muffin tins. These slightly less sweet Kouign made the perfect pastry crust for her cheesecake.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gruyère and Black Pepper Popovers

Photo by shantilly picnic

Steve-o and I discovered our love of popovers last year while dining at BLT Steak in White Plains, NY. We told each other that should we open our own restaurant one day, we most definitely would serve popovers. Shortly after, we tried out this Tasting Table recipe for Gruyère and Black Pepper Popovers. Yup. It was a keeper. Since then we've made them several times for different groups of friends, usually accompanying them with a poached farm-fresh egg. This last time we did a soft scrambled egg, red fingerling potatoes with scallions and fresh thyme, and a light arugula side salad. 

Ingredients
makes 12-16 popovers depending on your pan size 

2 cups organic whole milk
4 large farm-fresh eggs
1½ tsp grey sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 oz Gruyère cheese, cut into 16 small cubes
plus extra freshly grated Gruyère for garnish


Photo by shantilly picnic

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 375˚ and position a rack in the bottom third. Place 2 muffin pans (or popover pans if you have them!) in the oven to warm. 

2. In a small saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat until it is hot (about 125˚) but not boiling. Remove from the heat. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the salt and black pepper until smooth. Slowly whisk in the warm milk. Add the flour and whisk until the batter is just combined. (It may be slightly lumpy. 

3. Remove the puffing pans from the oven. Spray the pans generously with nonstick cooking spray. Pour about ⅓ cup of the batter into each of muffin cups. Drop a cube of the cheese on top of the batter in each cup. 

4. Bake the popovers until puffed and deep golden brown, about 40 minutes. Do not open the door or they may collapse (Steve!). Remove the popovers from the pans, sprinkle with the grated Gruyère and serve immediately.



Photo by shantilly picnic
Photo by shantilly picnic
Photo by shantilly picnic