Simple, Subtle Beauty – Rustic Fig Galette

I mentioned earlier that my aunt has a fig tree that has been very prolific this year. So prolific that one day, she gave me a whole box full of fresh figs! It was just like Christmas! With all of the fresh figs, I knew I wanted to bake something delicious. And I’ve been itching to make a galette, so it wasn’t hard to decide to bake a fig galette!

In my mind, a galette is a lazy person’s version of pie. So this recipe was really easy, especially because I took the easy way out by using store-bought pie crust. (I promise I’ll make pie crust from scratch one day!) All I did really was roll out the pie dough, spread it with jam, cut up the figs, sprinkle them with sugar, fold up the edges of the pie dough, and bake it.

The fig galette came out beautifully, despite not being precise or perfect. There’s a certain type of beauty that comes from rustic items. Maybe it’s the homemade feel that warms my heart.¬†The imperfections and blemishes of rustic things remind me that they were made by human hands and are labors of love. Although store-bought baked goods often taste pretty darn delicious and look absolutely gorgeous, there’s something about homemade baked goods that always makes them win over the store-bought ones (for me personally). Homemade cakes or cupcakes that look professionally made, though beautiful, are not as appealing to me as the homemade items that are more rustic looking.

This fig galette is the perfect example of the beauty of rustic, homemade baked goods. Although it has many imperfections, it’s all of those imperfections that make it even more gorgeous. (Kinda like that One Direction song, right? Haha jk). Each bump and crack in the crust is evidence of the effort and love put into making it. Knowing that little fact makes the galette just a bit more beautiful because it shows the care that the person who baked it has for you. Aww how sweet! (Sorry for this bit of cheesiness, I guess I’m feeling a bit sentimental right now :P).

The natural sweetness of the figs and the buttery crust pair well with a cup of hot tea whether you’re eating the galette in the morning or at night. It’s the perfect way to finish off a nice dinner with family or friends – I can imagine just munching on it in between sips of tea or coffee and conversations with loved ones. Or it’s the perfect indulgent breakfast to eat while standing in the kitchen, soaking in the morning sunlight and reading the paper. It’s subtle, simple actions like this that warm my heart and make me feel content with life. ūüôā

Fig Galette
Adapted from Simply Recipes

1¬†butter pie crust recipe¬†(I used store-bought pie crust from Trader Joe’s)
1 1/2 pounds mission figs, tips cut off and discarded, quartered
1/4 cup jam (I used plum amaretto jam since it was in the fridge, but use any jam you have on hand)
2 Tbsp sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Roll out dough to a 14-inch diameter round of even thickness. Place on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet.
2. Spread jam on the rolled out dough, leaving a 2-inch border along the edges. Arrange the quartered figs in a circular pattern, again leaving a 2-inch border. Sprinkle sugar over the figs.
3. Fold the 2-inch bordered edge of the crust over the figs, pleating the crust.
4. Place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake at 375F for 45-50 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned and the fruit is bubbly.
5. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes.

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Homesick for Texas – Peach and Cream Cheese Kolaches

Despite not having grown up in Texas, I still consider myself to be somewhat Texan and associate with Texas all the time. I suppose living in Texas for four years brainwashed me. ūüėõ The funny thing is that when I first arrived in Texas, I wasn’t its biggest fan. I felt like I had been transported to another planet (ok, maybe that was a little exaggerated, but Texas does feel like a foreign country sometimes).

Living in Texas also introduced me to new foods, from real southern BBQ (before moving to Texas, I thought BBQ was hamburgers and hot dogs) to Tex-Mex.¬†One of my favorite foods I discovered in Texas was the kolache – a breakfast pastry similar to to the danish, but made with bread dough instead of danish/croissant dough. Even though it was originally brought over by Czech immigrants, Texans have made the kolache their own by putting their own twist on the fillings and even the¬†pronunciation. Texans say “kol-ah-chee” while the Czech¬†pronunciation¬†is “kolach” (with a silent “e”).

For some reason, kolaches are rather difficult to find outside of Texas. I’m sure they’re available in the Mid-West, but in California, no one has heard of them. So, feeling homesick for both the delicious pastry and Texas, I decided to make my own kolaches. I looked up a few recipes and found these from Homesick Texan and Confections of a Foodie Bride.

Kolaches consist of a basic sweet dough that are shaped into rounds or squares and filled with whatever fruit topping you like. Some people even stuff them with sausage. Common fruit fillings include apricot and blueberry. However, since I only had peaches in the house, I made peach kolaches instead. I also had an expiring block of cream cheese, so I made cream cheese kolaches as well.

This recipe was really easy to follow and straightforward. The only little problem (if you can call it that) was that I made the kolaches a tad too big. I thought I had shaped them into fairly small balls of dough, but boy was I wrong. They ended up rising quite a bit in the oven and became gigantic kolaches. Another difficulty I encountered was filling the wells. I suppose I just tried to put in too much filling because for every kolache, the filling spilled out of the well and down the sides. So make sure you put parchment paper underneath, which makes cleaning up extremely easy.

One of my fondest memories of eating kolaches was right before finals. Each semester, the Women in Engineering program hosted a pre-finals feast, consisting of Texas’ finest foods: breakfast tacos, chips and queso, and of course, kolaches. The fluffiness of the bread and the sweet filling of the kolache comforted me as I grew nervous about my imminent exams. After only four years, I’ve fallen in love with many traditions and cultural¬†idiosyncrasies of Texas, with kolaches being near the top. Making these kolaches brought back good memories and brought a bit of Texas to California.

Peach and Cream Cheese Kolaches
Adapted from Homesick Texan and Confections of a Foodie Bride

For dough:
1 package of active dry yeast
1 cup of warm water
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup of melted butter
1 teaspoon of salt

For cream cheese filling:
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon

For peach filling:
2 peaches
peach jam (I used apricot jam)

For posypka:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar in warm water, then sprinkle yeast on top. Set aside for 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, 1/2 cup of melted butter (reserve 1/4 cup for brushing on the pastry) and salt.
3. Add 1 cup of flour and yeast to the egg mixture and mix.
4. Stir in about two more cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time. The dough should be soft and moist.
5. Knead dough for about 10 minutes on floured surface.
6.¬†Put dough in a greased bowl and let rise covered until doubled in size‚ÄĒabout an hour. (I left in the refrigerator overnight and let the dough warm up the next day before using it.)
7. After dough has risen, punch it down. Pull off egg-sized pieces (maybe even smaller!), roll into balls, and then flatten to about three inches in diameter.
8. Place flattened pieces on a greased cookie sheet, brush with melted butter, cover and let rise again for another half-hour.
9. While waiting for the dough to rise, make the fillings and posypka. To make the cream cheese filling by beating the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon zest. To make the peach filling, cut up the two peaches into small pieces and mix with peach/apricot jam. (I microwaved the jam to make it more liquidy.) To make the posypka, crumble the butter, sugar, flour, and cinnamon together with your hands.
10. After second rising, gently make an indention in the center of the dough with two or three fingers. Fill each well with peach filling or cream cheese filling (about 1 tablespoon) and sprinkle with posypka.
11. Bake at 375F for 12 to 15 minutes and serve warm. Kolaches are best eaten warm and fresh from the oven, but they also taste good the day after.

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

Trying new things – Strawberry and Cream Cheese Biscuits and Scones

Ever since eating my Southern friend’s biscuits, I’ve always wanted to try to make them. However, I like to put twists on traditional dishes/recipes, so I decided to add strawberries and cream cheese to spice up the traditional biscuit.

I mainly followed Deb’s recipe for strawberry and cream biscuits, but wanting to live up to the name more, I added chunks of cream cheese into the batter.

My biscuits didn’t turn out that fluffy, possibly because of my biscuit cutting technique and the lack of shortening. I didn’t have a biscuit cutter, so I used a glass instead. People advise only pressing down into the dough; however, my glass wasn’t sharp enough to actually cut the dough, so I ended up twisting the glass a little. I know, I know, I committed a biscuit sin! I’m not exactly sure how to get really soft and fluffy biscuits, so if you have any tips, please let me know!

I may also have not kneaded the dough enough. Deb cautioned against mixing the dough too much; however, I may have taken that advice a little too far. My dough was very soft and didn’t hold its shape as well as bread dough does.

The biscuits seemed to puff up a little in the over, but deflated a bit after I took them out. Now, the biscuits weren’t hard, but they definitely were not very flaky and fluffy. I’d say they were more of a cross between biscuits and cookies.

               

Cute little biscuits with chunks of the cream cheese and strawberries!

Getting a little tired of tediously cutting out circles of dough, I decided to make the rest into scones. I just rolled the remaining dough into a circle, patted it down slightly, and cut it into eight triangles. I think the texture of the dough fit the scones a little better; however, these scones were not as crumbly as store-bought scones. The problem may have been that I cut the butter too much into the flour since I had smaller than the advised “pea sized” balls of butter.

Although my first attempt at biscuits and scones wasn’t as successful as I had hoped, the products were still delicious. I will (rather unwillingly) admit that I ate all of the scones throughout the week. The small size of the scone made it the perfect snack or sweet addition to breakfast.

I took the biscuits to a barbecue, where they quickly vanished within 30 minutes of opening the container. Either they were extremely delicious or people were so ravenous that no one noticed their failures as biscuits. These biscuits are the perfect example of my theory that as long as you don’t burn whatever you’re baking, it’ll taste good. After all, baked goods are just mixtures of butter, sugar, and flour. Since that combination is so delicious, even if you mess up the recipe, you’ll still end up with a pretty tasty result. Messing up really only changes the texture of the baked good anyways. So, on that note, don’t be afraid to try baking. It’s pretty forgiving and usually, you’ll end up with a yummy product (assuming you didn’t burn it :P).

This post has been Yeastspotted.

Easier than braiding hair – Braided Lemon Bread

The second I saw this recipe for braided lemon bread from Smitten Kitchen, I knew I had to make it someday. I filed it away in my brain and waited for the opportune moment. So when I made too much lemon curd for the brioche crescent rolls, I secretly did this:

What I love about this recipe is that it’s so straightforward and easy yet yields a final product that is so intricately beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that everyone will believe that this braid was store-bought instead of homemade. For example, when I delivered the bread to my friends, they were all so impressed by it and were convinced that I had bought it rather than made it. I felt a little bad accepting their praises since it really was super easy to make.

Despite looking complicated to make, this bread is actually extremely simple. So much easier than french braiding hair, which I still can’t do. ūüėõ All you have to do is cut the sides into strips and alternately lay them over each other. Easy, right? Following Deb’s step-by-step photos doesn’t hurt either.

What’s also great about this recipe is that you can make the braid ahead of time, and then bake it right before you’re ready to serve it. I made the dough and braid the night before, then baked it the next morning, so it was nice and fresh for breakfast.

This bread is really delicious – my friends gobbled it up within 30 minutes. The soft, fluffiness of the bread is complemented with the tartness of the lemon curd. Since I didn’t have pearl sugar (I really need to invest in it, so I can make Liege waffles!), I sifted powder sugar on top. However, the cream cheese is rather unnoticeable. In fact, my brother couldn’t even taste it when he ate it. So I’d either increase the cream cheese filling or leave it out completely. The latter is probably better since the flavor of the lemon curd overpowers the cream cheese anyways. You could also exchange the lemon curd with any kind of curd or jam. I think raspberry jam would be a delicious alternative.

If you’re looking for a recipe to impress friends with, this is it. This lemon braid is perfect to bring to a brunch, like Deb did, or as a dessert to a dinner party. When your friends and family see this bread, they’ll praise you for your master baking skills and you’ll smile and say thanks, knowing that it was actually incredibly easy to make.

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

Lazy Sunday – Brioche Crescent Rolls with Lemon Curd

A few weeks ago, I had a few lemons that I wanted to use up quickly, so I decided to make lemon curd. It’s surprisingly very easy! Just lemon juice, eggs, butter, and sugar. I couldn’t believe it. Knowing that I’d get very bored just eating lemon curd on toast, I searched for some recipes to use it up. Once I saw this one for brioche crescent rolls filled with lemon curd, I knew I had the perfect recipe.

I used homemade lemon curd, but you can always use store bought if you don’t have enough time or enough lemons. If you do have those two things, I definitely recommend making your own lemon curd. It really is very simple. The first time I made it, I noticed some of the egg whites had cooked in my curd. So I spent a good 30 minutes trying to fish out those egg white pieces.

Can you spot the egg whites?

Not wanting to go through that process again, I found this awesome tip from Fine Cooking.¬†Cream the butter and sugar first until fluffy, then beat in the eggs, and finally add in the lemon juice. You’ll end up with a lumpy yellow mess that looks pretty disgusting. But don’t worry, once you put in on the stove, it’ll become smooth and creamy lemon curd. I tried a second time, following the tip, and got beautiful, delicious lemon curd with absolutely no cooked egg white pieces!

As I’ve said before, I’m a little hesitant when it comes to baking with lots of butter. So I cut down on the butter in this recipe and used only 1/2 cup of butter. As I was mixing in the butter, I already thought that it was too much. But despite decreasing the butter, the crescent rolls¬†were still pretty rich.

I made half of the recipe and got about 18 crescent rolls. As you’re making them, be careful not to put in too much lemon curd on the dough. I did that several times and lemon curd was peeking out of the crescent rolls, and then spilled out as the rolls baked.

These crescent rolls puffed up and browned beautifully. The dough was so soft and fluffy while the lemon curd was tart and sweet. It’s a great combination because the tart lemon curd cuts the richness of the buttery brioche.

I baked these on a Sunday morning for my family for breakfast. They’re a nice sweet treat to enjoy with your morning cup of coffee as you read the headlines of the newspaper and bask in the sunshine on a lazy Sunday.

Brioche Crescent Rolls with Lemon Curd
Adapted from girlichef

Brioche Crescent Rolls
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 warm water
1/8 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temp.
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 cup lemon curd (or any type of citrus curd)
1 large egg, beaten w/ 1 tsp. water (egg wash)
powdered sugar, for sifting

Lemon Curd
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

Brioche Crescent Rolls
1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar in warm water, then sprinkle in yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, place the milk, sugar, and 1 cup of the flour. Add the eggs and mix until well combined. Add the yeast mixture and another cup of flour and mix until well combined. Add salt and remaining flour about a ¬Ĺ cup or so at a time, until the dough comes together but is still fairly sticky.
3. Pull the dough out of the bowl and place onto a well floured surface. Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes.
4. Add a quarter of the butter at a time, waiting until well blended before adding more.
5. Clean the large bowl you used earlier, transfer the dough to the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
6. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let sit for 30 minutes to warm up.
7. Divide the dough in half. Roll out one half of dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle that is about 10 inches wide. Cut into 12 equal wedges/triangles.
8. Add two teaspoons of lemon curd to the base of each triangle. Starting from that base, roll each triangle of dough and form into a crescent shape. Pinch ends to seal.
9. Place each crescent roll on a parchment lined sheet tray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
10. Preheat oven to 350F during last 15 minutes of rise time. Brush each crescent with egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Lemon Curd
1. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
2. Beat in the eggs.
3. Add in the lemon juice. (Mixture will look very lumpy and chunky).
4. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. The mixture will thicken as you cook it.
5. Cook for 15 minutes until the mixture is thick enough to leave a path on the back of the spoon.
6. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest.
7. Pour lemon curd into jar or bowl and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
8. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.
9. Spread on bread, toast, english muffin, etc… and enjoy!
You can keep fresh lemon curd in the refrigerator for a week or two.

This post has been Yeastspotted.

Banana Doughnuts with Peanut Butter Glaze

A few months ago, I went to Michael’s and was handed a 50% coupon. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, so I decided to buy a doughnut pan. It was one of the best purchases I’ve made! Since then, I’ve been baking doughnuts non-stop.

I’ve never really been a big doughnut fan, but for some reason, after I bought my doughnut pan, I was hooked on making them! I even have a board on Pinterest dedicated to just doughnut recipes. One of my favorite recipes is this banana doughnut with peanut butter glaze from Shutterbean.

 

They’re basically a cross between a doughnut and banana bread. The doughnuts were incredibly moist, but it’s the peanut butter glaze that you’ll rave about. Feeling a bit lazy, I didn’t brown the butter. I’m sure if you did that, the frosting would taste even better! Since my doughnut pan only bakes six doughnuts at a time and I was a bit too impatient to wait to use the pan again, I used the rest of the batter to make muffins. So if you don’t have a doughnut pan, you can just turn this recipe into muffins! Also,¬†you might notice from the photo that three are in the shape of Mickey Mouse. When my family went to Disneyland for Christmas, I just had to buy a silicone Mickey Mouse shaped muffin pan. They’re so cute!

The combination of the banana doughnuts and the peanut butter glaze is amazing! It’s just like eating a peanut butter banana sandwich, but a little less messy since bananas aren’t flying out whenever you take a bite. Also, these doughnuts are super easy to make and they come out so beautifully! If you’ve got a doughnut pan at home and want to do a little something different for breakfast, I definitely recommend trying out this recipe. The only thing you’ll probably regret is that you didn’t bake these doughnuts earlier, just like me!

Only the Best for Mom – Brioche French Toast

For Mother’s Day, my brother decided to make my mom french toast. Wait before you dismiss this as just a regular old french toast recipe (like I did). The little details of this recipe really make this french toast better than any you’ve ever had.

My friend Rachel, who spent a year studying in France, once told me that french toast is actually the French dish, pain perdu or “lost bread.” People would soak their undesirable, old, hard bread in the egg/milk mixture to recover the moistness that it had already lost. However, American culture has transformed pain perdu into one of the most desirable breakfast dishes. So attractive that we no longer use old bread, but instead fresh bread, defeating the original purpose of the dish and often times making a soggy french toast. But this recipe helps to remedy that by toasting the bread before soaking it. This made a big difference as did the type of bread used. Challah is suggested, but we used brioche, which resulted in a rich, buttery french toast that was absolutely delicious. However, I had to stop eating after one piece of toast due to its richness.

My brother had the brillant idea of adding macerated mixed berries to the dish, which helped cut some of the rich flavor of the toast. By adding sugar to the fruit, you create a concentration gradient, with a higher concentration of sugar outside of the fruit than inside the fruit. As a result, the fruit release its juices to achieve chemical equilibrium. Being a chemical engineering student, I love it when I can explain real-life phenomena using concepts I’ve learned in school. ūüėÄ Anyways, getting back to the food, the macerated berries were delicious and add a nice touch to the already amazing french toast.

This french toast was a great dish to make for our mom for Mother’s Day. But don’t wait for a special day like that to try it out. It’s a great and easy recipe that will make you feel like you’re eating brunch at a fancy bistro instead of at home.

Note: This recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen. Unfortunately, they don’t post the recipe online unless you have a subscription, but you can watch how to make it¬†here.

This post has been Yeastspotted.