Ben the Baker

Just a guy trying to get his kids to eat

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Rosemary Caramel Pine Nut Tart

Posted by osakaben41 on March 7, 2010

It’s March, what the hell am I doing baking with Rosemary?  

It’s over 50 degrees outside, the kids played on the monkey bars without their coats, and I’m looking at the sad state of our yard and all the work it’ll need before we can cook outside again.  Spring is coming to Boston and I’m cooking a Christmas dinner?  Anybody with a lick of sense is going citrus crazy right now, if they aren’t scrounging early spring berries that is. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Lemon, Nuts, Sauce, Tarts | Leave a Comment »

Laminated Brioche

Posted by osakaben41 on March 2, 2010

Pardon my French, but these are some Kick Ass rolls!!!  Francisco Migoya strikes again with his recipe for pecorino, roasted garlic, sea-salt and fried sage laminated brioche.  I’ll admit to being intimidated, given my poor history with laminated dough, but anybody claiming to be a true butter-freak just has to try these.  In short, you mix up some butter-heavy brioche dough (on its own a bit of a high-wire act), then fold in a block of butter as you would with croissant dough.  Roll it all out flat, cover with shredded pecorino, roll into a log and cut into 2″ sections.  Proof the rolls for a few hours, top with sea salt and a roasted garlic clove and bake.  Finish with a single deep fried sage leaf.

 Fickle mistress that she is, I’ve been unable to tame laminated dough, and this was no different.  In short, the goal is to enclose a block of butter in dough, then fold it like an envelope, roll it out, repeated at least three times.  The goal is to not work it so hard that the layers tear, or the butter melts.  You can’t just pop it into the freezer or the butter will get harder than the dough, causing it to tear.  Brioche dough presumably has already developed its full gluten, meaning it’s much more elastic than the butter.  Roll it out too quickly and it’ll snap back like so much rubber.  Even if you hit that magic temperature when the dough and butter share the same consistency, if you rush the process and roll too hard, the friction will melt the butter, ruining the dough.

The recipe called for resting the dough for at least 15 minutes between folds, but I gave it a good 30-45 just to be on the safe side.  Even then, I might have pressed too hard when rolling these out, though the dough felt good to the touch.  When they were baked, they puffed up nicely, filling the paper cups, but a decent amount of butter ‘flooded’ out.  What should have been light and airy, was instead weighted down with melted butter and turned partially gummy inside. 

So, though far from a smashing success, it still worked better than the last attempt, so I’m calling it progress.  Regardless of the texture, the roasted garlic, with its hint of sweetness, worked extremely well with the cheese.  Instead of sea salt though, I had some left-over pink Hawaiian salt that really finished it off nicely.  

My wife and I both had one for breakfast this morning (and will probably carry that faint whiff of garlic throughout the day).  Otherwise the rest were intended as a thank you gift for a friend that saved us the other night.  Our babysitter was trapped  in NY after a snowplow crushed her friend’s car, so she couldn’t get back to Boston.  J however stepped in at the last-minute, freeing us up for a much-needed night out.  Garlic-sage brioche is the absolute least we could do for him.

Posted in Bread, dough, Savory | 2 Comments »

Lemon-Chevre Cheescake

Posted by osakaben41 on March 1, 2010

(Updated below)

One of the first ‘high end’ restaurants my wife and I tried in Boston, Rialto, stood out for two reasons.  It was her introduction to how good a well built martini could taste, and I discovered goat-cheese cheesecake.  Many years then pass before Helen at Tartelette casually throws one out there, bringing me right back to that night.  The other night some friends – for us, they happened to be big fans of all things lemon, so really what choice did I actually have?  What a perfect thank you gift. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cake, Fruit, Lemon | Leave a Comment »

Hazelnut Tiramisu – DB’s September challenge

Posted by osakaben41 on February 27, 2010




Hazelnut Tiramisu with Cardamom-Caramel sauce and Kahlua Jelly


It’s that time again for another Daring Bakers entry.  This one holds a special place for me, as Tiramisu was the first dessert my wife and I made together (we were dating then).  You’re going to think this a made up story, but it was while spending a week in a Tuscan villa just south of Florence.  Lazy mornings reading the Herald Tribune while sipping cappuccinos in town.  spend half the day shopping for dinner, then back to the house to cook with family and friends.  Seems almost unfair to get a taste of retirement before even getting into a career, but I digress…

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.  (recipes as always, listed below)

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Chocolate, DB Challenge, Nuts, Recipes, Sauce | 8 Comments »


Posted by osakaben41 on February 26, 2010

Other than some pizza dough, and the occasional english muffin, it’s been awhile since I’ve baked anything other than cookies and sweets.  It’s arguable that these sweet rolls could count as savory, but it’d be a stretch.  As with most projects, the inspiration came from a picture, this time from Francisco Migoya’s The Modern Cafe.  There’s a savory recipe I wanted to work on this weekend that requires brioche dough, but impatient baker that I am, I cut the dough in half to rip off something a little more straightforward. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bread, Lemon | 1 Comment »

Butterfly Birthday Cupcakes

Posted by osakaben41 on February 21, 2010

My daughter is now 4, how did this happen?  We had a small party this morning, and I got to bake something for a crowd of kids.  She didn’t want a big cake, it had to involve the color pink, and she likes butterflies.  

Knowing she wasn’t up for anything funky like an olive oil buttercream, we went with a simple raspberry swirl with straight pink buttercream.  To make it a bit less ordinary, I piped some butterfly wings in milk chocolate onto parchment paper the other night, let them set, then topped each cupcake with a pair.  For this I get a two second, “wow cool” before it all gets smeared on faces hands and the floor, but that two seconds was certainly worth it.

Worth a smile

Posted in Cake, cupcake, Jam | 3 Comments »

Checkerboard Icebox Cookies

Posted by osakaben41 on February 11, 2010

My daughter turns 4 soon, and while we’re working on a small party for a her friends, her school does something called “the birthday walk”.  Each kid, on or near their birthday, walks in a circle around their class the number of years they are, singing, “the earth goes ’round the sun, the earth goes ’round the sun.  All year long, the earth goes ’round the sun.” 

…and then they give out cookies. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cookies, dough, Lemon | Leave a Comment »

Cherry & Chocolate-Port Macs – MacAttack IV

Posted by osakaben41 on February 6, 2010

Happy to have the MacTweet crowd out there as a monthly reminder to keep sharp and practice practice practice on my macaron technique.  The beauty and joy of this exercise is that after some of the more involved projects, it’s refreshing to come back to a two-note treat. What two flavors go well together in a two-bite cookie?  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Chocolate, Cookies, Macaron | 8 Comments »

Salzburg Nockrel

Posted by osakaben41 on February 3, 2010

Let me state for the record, I’m not German, or Austrian for that matter.  There was a time when, backpacking through Asia and Africa, it was easier to just let people assume I was, but I can only guess it was the wire frame glasses and blonde hair that did it.  Rather, I can claim true mutt status, like any good American, and thereby savage the national desserts of  all countries without bias.  (Don’t worry India, or Croatia, your turn is coming). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Nanaimo Bombe – DB January Challenge

Posted by osakaben41 on January 27, 2010

I missed the last two months of the DB’s for no better reason than just being too busy to catch up.  They put out some great Canolis in November and some stunning gingerbread houses in December.  I couldn’t stand to miss yet another challenge.

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

The general idea was to make gluten free Graham Crackers and then incorporate them into the cookie base of a Canadian Nanaimo Bar.  The bars themselves consist of a chocolate base, in this case with Walnuts, Graham Cracker pieces and Coconut, with a ‘custard’ (though some say it’s more like a buttercream) center, topped with melted chocolate, sliced and served cold, or at least they were in this case. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Chocolate, Cookies, DB Challenge, mousse, Recipes | 4 Comments »