March is just around the corner but here in Toronto we’re still firmly planted in winter, with a good foot of snow outside our front door. Hailing from a part of the world where daffodils often start blooming in February, I often start feeling a little color-deprived this time of year. Thank God for winter citrus! Just having a bowl of lemons, limes, and oranges around provides a truly welcome splash of color.
Since I usually get a little citrus-happy and stock my grocery cart with a few too many lemons or limes, I inevitably make some type of citrus poppyseed cake or two this time of year. My go-to recipe is the lemon pound cake from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible (one of my all time favorite cookbooks), but this time around I had some sour cream that needed using so I decided to try a different Rose recipe, her Triple Lemon Velvet Cake from Rose’s Baking Basics. It didn’t disappoint, with a lovely velvet crumb that keeps nicely for days. I swapped out lime for lemon since that’s what I had the most of, and added a little bit of hibiscus powder for a pretty pink glaze. Definitely a cure for the winter blues!
A few notes:
I used my favorite 6-cup Heritage bundt pan and it worked fabulously. Just be sure to grease and flour it well, and don’t wait too long to turn the cake out (about 10 minutes works for me). This cake can also be baked in a regular loaf pan; the baking time should be roughly the same.
The original recipe calls for either cake or all-purpose flour. If you use all cake flour the crumb will be a bit more fluffy; with all-purpose a bit more dense. My personal preference is a a mix of the two (50/50).
I found hibiscus powder at my local bulk/health food store, but it is also easily found on Amazon.
Preheat oven to 350F with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Grease and flour a 6-cup bundt pan (or grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper).
In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and 1/4 (30g) of the sour cream.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the sugar and zest. Use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar until fragrant. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine.
Add the butter and remaining sour cream (90g). Mix on low until the dry ingredients are moistened, then increase the speed to medium and beat for about a minute to aerate the batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle.
Add the yolk mixture in two portions, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, prepare the lime syrup. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the lime juice and sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved. Cover and set aside.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, transfer to a wire rack. Poke the bottom of the cake all over with a skewer and brush the bottom with about 1/3 of the syrup. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining syrup.
When the cake has cooled completely, make the hibiscus glaze. Whisk the hibiscus powder into the lime juice. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Whisk in the hibiscus-lime juice, followed by the butter. Pour or drizzle the glaze onto the cake.
A few months ago, my husband casually mentioned that one of his favorite breakfasts was a bagel with cream cheese. How did I not know this, after five years of marriage??? After bemoaning that fact for awhile, I decided to get to work on a house bagel recipe.
I’ve posted a bagel recipe before, which is definitely delicious and worth making. But this time around I really wanted to put my own spin on bagels, incorporating my favorite features of New York (chewiness) and Montreal-style (a touch of sweetness and enrichment from eggs and oil) bagels and adding sourdough. After test batch after test batch, here we are!
A few notes:
There are many ways to shape bagels, but I prefer the rope method. It makes for a nice even crumb and the center hole stays a bit more open. If you need a visual, this video is similar to what I do.
This recipe calls for a couple special ingredients — vital wheat gluten and barley malt syrup. I can get both easily at my local bulk food / health food stores. In a pinch, you can sub in more bread flour for the VWG and honey or brown sugar for the barley malt syrup, but I really do feel like these two ingredients make bagels more….bagel-y! The VWG adds extra chew and the barley malt syrup has a unique flavor that is so distinctive.
This dough is quite stiff so it’s easiest to mix it in a stand mixer with a dough hook. If you do it by hand be prepared for a good workout — it’ll probably take a good 15+ minutes of hand kneading.
Bagels are best enjoyed soon after baking. You can toast them on the second or third day (store them in a plastic bag), but any longer than that I’d recommend splitting and freezing, then reheating in the toaster.
Makes ten 3 oz. bagels / Adapted from many sources
340g bread flour (I have subbed in 15% whole wheat flour with good results)
10g vital wheat gluten (makes bagels extra chewy — sub more bread flour if you don’t have it)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the bread flour, vital wheat gluten (if using), milk powder, sugar, and salt.
In a large glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the water, olive oil, egg, barley malt syrup, and starter.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, then turn the mixer on low to combine.
Turn the mixer up to medium-low and mix until the dough is very smooth and strong (about 8 minutes, but depends on the strength of your mixer).
Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and form into a smooth ball. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap or a large mixing bowl and let rest for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 10 equal portions, about 85g / 3 oz. each. Round each piece into a ball (it doesn’t have to be too tight) and let rest another 10 minutes.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with semolina.
To shape the bagels, roll each piece into an even rope (not tapered) about 10 inches long. Wrap the rope around your hand, with the ends overlapping by about 2 inches in your palm. Roll your palm firmly on your unfloured work surface to seal the ends together. Use a bit of water to help the ends stick together if needed. Transfer shaped bagels to the prepared baking sheet.
Once all the bagels are shaped, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for about 4 hours, or until noticeably puffy (they will not double in size). To check if the bagels have risen enough, fill a bowl with warm water. Place a bagel in the water and if it floats within 10 seconds, the bagels have risen enough. If not, keep checking every 15-20 minutes until a bagel passes the float test. (Pat the water off the test bagel before returning to the sheet pan.)
Place the bagels in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
When you are ready to poach and bake the bagels, preheat the oven to 500F with a rack in the middle. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large cooling rack with a dishtowel underneath and carefully transfer the bagels to the rack, brushing the semolina off the bottoms. Redust the sheet pan with more semolina.
Once the water comes to a full boil, add the honey/barley malt syrup and baking soda. Stir to dissolve.
Drop as many bagels as will comfortably fit in your pot (usually 3 or 4) and poach for about 45-60 seconds. Flip the bagels and poach for another 45-60 seconds. Remove the bagels with a slotted spoon and transfer to the cooling rack. Let drain for about 30 seconds, then transfer to the sheet pan and sprinkle with desired toppings. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
Bake the bagels at 500F for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 450F and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until you reach the desired color. Cool bagels on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before splitting, slathering with cream cheese, and devouring. Bagels are best enjoyed the day they’re baked, but leftovers can be stored in a plastic bag for a couple days or split and frozen, well wrapped, for up to a month.
Is there anything more comforting than the smell of buttery pastry baking away on a cold winter’s day? Winter is definitely my favorite time of year to make puff pastry and laminated doughs, so here we are with another way to use that rough puff pastry from the raspberry palmiers recipe. But this time we’re going savory with these curry beef puffs, inspired by the Asian pastries often found on dim sum carts or in Chinese bakeries.
Crisp and flaky with a luscious curry filling, these little hand pies make a great portable snack or light lunch, and are a welcome addition to any party. The best part about making these guys at home is that you can really pack that filling in, because IMO there’s nothing worse than ordering one of these and getting only half a bite of curry. To be honest I probably overstuff mine just a bit, but as long as you can seal and crimp the edges well you shouldn’t have too much problems with overflow.
A few notes:
I really like using boxed curry roux blocks instead of curry powder for the filling; to me the flavor is better and they contain cornstarch which also helps thicken the filling. Curry roux blocks are easily found in Asian supermarkets. You can probably substitute curry powder (I’d start with 3-4 Tbsp), but you may need to add a cornstarch slurry to help thicken the filling.
For best results, make sure to thoroughly chill your pastries before baking. The pastry should be firm to the touch — about 10-15 minutes in the freezer for me.
While these are best the day they’re made, they recrisp well in a 350F oven or the toaster. I suspect you could also freeze some unbaked ones and bake straight from frozen; you may need a little longer on the baking time.
Curry Beef Puffs
Makes about 18-24 puffs
One full recipe rough puff pastry (or one box/two sheets, storebought and defrosted in the fridge overnight)
1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water or milk, for egg wash
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium high. When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic and ginger. Season with a little soy sauce and sugar and saute until onion is softened, about 3-5 minutes.
Add the ground beef, using your wooden spoon or spatula to break up the meat. Cook until the beef is no longer pink, stirring frequently.
Add the grated carrot, curry cubes, and 1/2 c water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the onions are completely soft and the mixture is thick, about 30 minutes. If the mixture starts to look dry or the onions don’t seem to be breaking down, add a tablespoon of water (I usually add about two more tablespoons during the simmering process).
Turn off the heat and check for seasonings, adding salt / sugar / pepper to taste. The filling should be just on the edge of too salty in order to cut through the rich pastry.
Cool to room temperature, remove the ginger slices, then cover and refrigerate until cold.
When the filling is cooled and you are ready to assemble, preheat the oven to 400F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
Remove one half (or one sheet) of puff pastry from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into a large square about 12-13″ on each side. Trim the edges to neaten, then cut the sheet into 9-12 equal pieces, depending on what size puffs you want (I like to cut each sheet into twelve 4″ squares, which makes a nice appetizer size).
Transfer the squares to one of the parchment-lined sheets and chill while you repeat step 7 with the remaining pastry.
Remove the filling and 2-3 squares of pastry from the refrigerator (keep the rest of the pastry chilled — I find it’s easiest to work with only a few squares at a time). Brush the edges of one square with a bit of egg wash. Place a heaping Tbsp of filling in the center of the pastry. Fold the top left corner down to meet the bottom right corner to form a triangle (or you can fold them in half for rectangular pastries, if you prefer). Use a fork to crimp the edges.
Once you’ve completed half the pastries, transfer the sheet of filled pastries to the freezer while you finish filling the rest.
Once the first sheet of pastries is chilled (the pastry should be firm), remove from the freezer. Brush the tops with egg wash and prick with a fork to create steam holes. Transfer the second sheet of pastries to the freezer.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking, until pastries are golden brown and puffed. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes before consuming. Repeat with second sheet of pastries.
This is one of those cookies that ticks all the boxes for me: it’s intensely chocolatey, fairly simple to make (with minimal chilling time), and bakes up with the most beautiful shiny, crackly tops. The original recipe comes from Tartine No 3. I make just a few changes — mixing light and dark brown sugars as muscovado is hard for me to source, and adding a little cocoa and espresso powder for even more chocolate punch. The finishing salt really is essential on these guys — it tempers the sweetness and intensity of the chocolate and adds a touch of crunchy texture.
A few notes:
I find the best way to get those coveted shiny, crackly tops is to bake the cookies as soon as the dough is firm enough to scoop. If you wait too long the dough dries out a bit and the tops aren’t quite as shiny.
I like to scoop the dough using an OXO 1.5 Tbsp cookie scoop. Once all the dough is portioned, I go back and roll the each until they’re perfectly round. This helps the cookie bake into nice, uniform circles. If any are a little wonky after baking, you can nudge them into shape right when they come out of the oven using a small offset spatula. Or not. They’ll still be delicious.
When eaten warm, the cookies will be very soft and molten inside. Let them cool and they’ll be a bit more chewy and brownie-like (which is what I prefer). Cookies keep well for a few days in an airtight container.
227 good quality dark (70%) chocolate, chopped (I use Callebaut 70%)
30g unsalted butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature
60g light brown sugar
60g dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp espresso powder
43g whole rye flour
6g (1 Tbsp) dutch processed cocoa powder
Flaky or smoked salt, to finish
Bring a saucepan with an inch of water to a simmer. Combine the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl on top of the simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water) and melt, stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from water and set aside.
Whisk together rye flour and cocoa powder in a small bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs, sugars, baking powder, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Turn the mixer on low to combine, then turn the speed up to medium-high and whip until the mixture is thick, foamy, and roughly tripled in volume (about 6 minutes).
Turn the mixer speed to low and slowly drizzle in the chocolate-butter mixture, mixing just to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the flour mixture and mix just to combine. Use a spatula to scrape up and over a couple times from the bottom to make sure the batter is well-mixed.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes, until the dough is firm enough to scoop but not hard.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Once the dough is sufficiently chilled, use a 1 1/2 Tbsp cookie scoop or spoon to portion the batter into about 15 even balls. Roll each one between your hands to make perfectly round — this will help them bake into lovely, perfect circles. Place the balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and sprinkle with a generous pinch of flaky or smoked salt.
Bake one sheet at a time for about 9-11 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and beginning to crack. Cool on the sheets for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
These little confections have been five years in the making. Pretzel salted caramels were part of the dessert menu at our wedding reception. We didn’t manage to eat them during the actual party, but some kind soul tucked some in a to-go box for us.
And and enjoy we did. And by “we” I mean “I.” Somehow within the next 12 hours I polished all of them off without giving poor David even a sniff of them. (One might say it was a sign of things to come — the running joke is that David has to take chocolate to work if he wants to have some, because I will gradually take care of at anything left at home.)
Anyways, ever since that first day of marriage I have been intending to reverse-engineer pretzel salted caramels so I could make David his own batch. It took me half a decade, but finally — just in time for our 5th anniversary — I did it!
Part of what kept me from making these sooner was, honestly, the fear of candy-making. It’s not something I do too often, so I’m always a little worried that my caramel will be the wrong consistency or my chocolate won’t temper correctly. I really shouldn’t have worked it up so much in my mind because honestly, it’s not that scary. Sure, there are things I could do better but overall, I am thrilled with how these pretzel salted caramels turned out! The caramel has the perfect amount of chew, and the buttery pretzel layer helps balance out the sweetness. A dip in dark chocolate and an extra sprinkle of flaky salt help pull everything together. Make a batch for your Valentine — or for yourself, I won’t tell.
A few notes:
The success of the caramel layer depends on an accurate thermometer (I have this one). Make sure the probe is submerged in the syrup but not touching the bottom of the pot to get an accurate reading.
Before starting the caramel layer, I recommend having all your ingredients measured out and all your tools in place. You don’t want to be rummaging around for your flaky salt or whisk with a hot pot of sugar bubbling on the stove.
The salted caramel recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz. I’ve used it once before and followed it to a T, and the caramel tasted great but was just slightly too chewy for my tastes. So this time I stopped dropped the final temp by 5 degrees and it was just right for me.
When cutting the caramel block into individual candies, I like to use a large chef’s knife. Between cuts I wipe it down with a hot towel and lightly grease it with a neutral vegetable oil.
If you’re pressed for time, you can skip the chocolate dip and just wrap the caramels with wax paper or cellophane. (Or do what I did and go half and half.)
About the chocolate dip: after tempering, I would recommend just working with about 1/3 of the chocolate at a time (keep the remainder in a warmish spot so it doesn’t set). You will inevitably get little pretzel bits in the chocolate as you dip, so it’s nice to switch to a fresh dish every so often so your candies stay nice and neat. Any leftover chocolate you can spread out and dry, then chop and add to your next batch of brownies or chocolate chunk cookies!
About tempering: I am not an expert. At all. I usually avoid it, but because I wanted to store these at room temp I decided to go for it. I used the sous vide method outline on Serious Eats which was fairly straightforward.
Pretzel Salted Caramels
Makes one 8×8 pan, about thirty-six 1 1/4″ candies
For the pretzel base:
200g mini salted pretzels (if using unsalted, add a generous 1/2 tsp kosher salt)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 square pan with foil and lightly grease the foil.
In the bowl of a food processor, grind the pretzels (and the salt, if using) into a fine powder. Add the melted butter and pulse until combined. The mixture should hold together easily when squeezed, but shouldn’t feel overly greasy.
Press the pretzel mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan (I like to use the bottom of a measuring cup or shot glass to really press it down evenly).
Bake until firm and golden, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare the caramel layer.
To make the caramel, heat the cream in a small saucepan with half of the butter (30g), vanilla and fine sea salt until the mixture just comes to the boil. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm while you continue.
In a medium heavy duty saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, combine the corn syrup with the sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently, to make sure the sugar melts smoothly. Once the mixture is melted together and the sugar is evenly moistened, only stir is as necessary to keep it from getting any hot spots. If you notice any sugar granules on the side of the pot, brush them with a pastry brush dipped in water.
Cook until the syrup reaches 310ºF (155ºC).
Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the warm cream mixture until smooth. (The mixture will bubble up furiously, so be very careful!)
Return to the heat and cook the mixture, without stirring, to 255-260F (124-127C — see notes above).
Remove the pan from the heat, lift out the thermometer, and whisk in the remaining 30g butter until it’s melted and the mixture smooth.
Pour the mixture over the pretzel layer. After ~5 minutes, sprinkle the surface with 1/4 tsp flaky salt. Allow to set at room temperature for at least 4 hours, or overnight. (Do not cover while the pan is still warm; once it has come to room temperature you can cover it with a piece of foil.)
Once the caramel is set, use a large, sharp knife to cut the slab into 6 long equal strips. Cut each strip into 6 equal pieces. If not coating with chocolate, wrap each caramel in a piece of wax paper.
To coat caramels with chocolate, temper the chocolate according to your preferred method (I prefer the sous vide method — see notes above). Place a caramel on a fork and submerge in the chocolate. Lift out the caramel and tap the fork several times to remove any excess chocolate, then scrape the bottom of the fork along the rim of the bowl and transfer the coated caramel to a piece of parchment paper. Allow to set for a minute, then sprinkle with flaky salt. Let chocolate cool and set completely at room temperature before transferring to an airtight container.