Ben the Baker

Just a guy trying to get his kids to eat

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Archive for October, 2009

Macaron Mania – October DB Challenge

Posted by osakaben41 on October 27, 2009

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What a great challenge this month.  It have everything that makes the DBs worthwhile.  An excuse to bake something new, a whole world of technique to practice, and with just a cookie shell and filling to do, a fairly easy vehicle for playing with different flavors.  Beyond that though, this month really turned into a chance to think about the nature of creativity.

I’d love to say that the Lemon with Red Lentil/apple confit idea, inspired by this Nordljus post worked out, or that I had time to put together the Black Sesame/Drunken Cherry concept.  I’m going to have to wait a little longer to find somebody that wants to try David Leibovits’s Ketchup Macaron, or Pierre Herme’s Vanilla Olive Oil Mac.  In short, I just couldn’t keep up with all the great ideas out there, but more importantly was just plain unable to put a personal stamp on these.

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cookies, DB Challenge, Recipes | 11 Comments »

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

Posted by osakaben41 on October 26, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Reading begets more reading, and never was this more true than with these addictive food blogs.  I can’t even remember exactly how I came across Desserts Magazine, most likely somehow from Tartelette.  The pictures alone are inspiring, but when asked recently to bring a pie, “something Autumnal” to a harvest pot luck party, the pumpkin Pecan cheesecake from “the Spice Kitchen: Everyday Cooking with Organic Spices” by Sara Engram and Katie Luber, looked like the perfect fit (Recipe Below). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Ice Cream, Nuts, Pie, Recipes | Leave a Comment »

Honey Maple Pecan Tart

Posted by osakaben41 on October 18, 2009

H-M-P Tart

Just a quickie here.  We were invited over to for dinner tonight, so of course I offered to bring dessert.  With just enough tart dough left over, it was a fairly simple thing to throw together a pecan tart, this one from the always inspiring Baking Obsession.

It was very similar to the Walnut-Cranberry I just finished, with a sugary sludge poured over some toasted nuts.  whereas the last recipe relied more on an egg + a yolk for the body, I wasn’t sure what exactly was going to hold this one together.  There’s some butter in the mix which presumably would firm up once the tart is chilled, but for the most part it’s Honey, Maple Syrup and brown sugar.

HMP Tart2

It held up well though and sliced nicely, served it with some left over Cranberry ice cream.  I’ll call this more of a utilitarian exercise though than a pure experiment.  There are times when I’m just dying to try baking something with a nice quince, or infuse a creme brulee with bay leaves, but more often than not our friends want something more familiar.  For slapping something together in under an hour though, this ones a keeper.

Posted in Nuts, Tarts | 1 Comment »

Cranberry-Walnut Tarts

Posted by osakaben41 on October 17, 2009

c-w tart

This month the majority of my baking energies have been poured into the October Daring Baker’s Challenge, the results of which are not to be published until the 27th.  Considering that as well as a general lack of sleep from trying to sleep train my 18-month-old son, I just haven’t had the energy for a serious project in awhile. 

That said, if a week goes by without something sweet and new coming out of our kitchen, my hands start to shake and I get fidgety.  To scratch this persistent itch I’ve resorted to the quick, small experiments, leaving the multilayered entremet cakes for when I’m not quite so drowsy (has anybody else ever fallen asleep standing up in the shower?)   The other night I ripped out some quick Madelines, which felt good just to get back in the groove.  To that end, I came across in our freezer some left over Citrus Tart dough from the Pear-Flan Tart a few weeks back. 

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Posted in dough, Ice Cream, Nuts, Recipes, Tarts | Leave a Comment »

Apple Cider Madelines

Posted by osakaben41 on October 14, 2009

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Something about the fall makes my wife and I crazy for apple cider donuts.  We haven’t gotten around to the annual apple picking family excursion yet, but when we do, while the kids look forward to the hay rides, and general outdoorsy fun, we head right for the donuts.

Knowing that somethings are always going to taste better bought than made, if only because the joy is partially in the apple-picking fun, I still wanted to try making these, if only to see how hard they might be.  Turns out, surprisingly easy.

Perhaps someday we’ll try the fried donut approach, but without a fry-daddy on hand, and not wanting to waste that much oil for a frivolous experiment, I found this baked donut recipe online.  As we were having friends over for dinner, and not wanting to give the kids a donut each, I just filled the Madeline tin instead.  

Oddly enough the one problem with this recipe was that they came out too cake-y and not dense like you’d expect a donut to be.  Accidentally then, it was ideal as a small tea cake.  At least the kids seemed to enjoy them, and sometimes it’s nice to spend no more than half an hour on a project.

Posted in Cake, Cookies, Recipes | Leave a Comment »

Pear-Flan Tart

Posted by osakaben41 on October 5, 2009

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If you want to get better at something I suppose you just need to keep working outside your comfort zone.  There are some wonderfully complicated recipes out there and the list keeps getting bigger, but until recently I had avoided Johnny Izzuni for anything other than inspiring pictures.

His website is actually a great resource, as he posts two recipes each month, an “advanced”, and a “beginner”.  The advanced ones invariably involve some obscure form of molecular gastronomy and ingredients I would probably only find at an MIT lab.  The beginner ones are still more involved than anything you’ll find in a Barefoot Contessa book (seriously, who out there has poached a pear Sou vide?) Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in dough, Fruit, Ice Cream, Pastry, Recipes, Tarts | 4 Comments »