Sunday, January 20, 2013

PineNut DriedTomato Olive Cake

Most of you might think of this as a summer recipe, but I promise you, this cake is just fine in winter as well. I love dried tomatoes and I love olives, so the combination of the two seemed just perfect to me. I tried a few recipes of this combination but only when we had our annual pre-Christmas gathering with some of my friends, I asked my friend Carole to share her recipe with me. The first time I tasted them was when she brought them to the new year's party last year. I baked a few savory cakes, but this one is the very best. So I begged her to share the recipe with me, and here it is!!! Finally. The more

 The more you care picking good products the more the result will be outstanding. This is why I promised myself I would not just take ordinary dried tomatoes and olives from the local supermarket but to go to the market. So I got up early in the morning and went to town. And there they were, the fresh products. I think I already mentionned it several posts before, but the markets are definitely something I miss about Aix-en-Provence.

This savory cake also seems a nice solution for a lighter lunch to bring to the office. I haven't figured out just yet what suits me best during my lunch breaks in order to be replet and not to eat too heavy meals. I already found out that the Luxembourgish Kniddelen don't push your afternoon concentration very far. But I'll let you know how it works with this one. Maybe a nice rocket salad would be perfect as a side dish. Otherwise, as an appetizer when you have guests, the cake already succeeded their first test. I was invited to a dinner yesterday night, and I brought some mini loaves, and they were gone quite quickly.  

For 10 Mini Loaves you need:

200g flour
100g corn flour
2 1/2 ts baking powder
40g grated Parmesan
2 eggs
100 ml olive oil
350g buttermilk
250g dried tomatoes
170g black olives
1/2 basil bundle
 50g pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 170°

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, the corn flour, the Parmesan and the baking powder. In another smaller bowl whisk the eggs, the oil and the buttermilk. Cut the olives and the dried tomatoes into small pieces. Now you can pour the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and mix for 2 minutes. Then add the olives, basil, the pine nuts and the dried tomatoes and mix again. Finally pour the dough into the molds of your choice. Mini loaves, muffins or even a big cake mold. 

Bake for 30 minutes.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Homemade Eclairs

There they are! My first homemade Eclairs! After the entire cookie baking I needed a new challenge and my friend Anne was really motivated when I suggested we should try to make eclairs by ourselves. One of my last acquisitions in Aix-en-Provence was a book that I call the baking bible. It's big and has all the pastry classics in it. From easy pralines to really challenging cakes, which we all know from our favorite pastry shops.

Already as a child I loved eclairs, and once in a while my mom bought me one to eat after a long school day. This is quite a while back, and I almost forgot about the taste of a good eclair. But now, after trying this recipe, I will make them more often especially as my family loved them. The recipe is not too difficult, but if you're not experienced with icing bags, it needs several shots before the eclairs look like the originals. But, don't be afraid, give it a try and I promise you'll get used to the bags quite quickly.   

 For +/- 10 Eclairs you need:

125g water
1/2 ts sugar
1/4 ts salt
55g butter
70g flour
3 small eggs


For the Pastry Cream you need:

50cl milk
1 vanilla pod
6 egg yolks
120g sugar
50g cornmeal (Maïzena)
50g butter

For the icing:
250g white fondant
5cl water

The pastry Cream:
Cook the milk and the split vanilla pod on a middle heat. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes before you take the vanilla pod out. During this time whisk together the egg yolks, the sugar and the cornmeal. Bring the vanilla milk to the boil again and add a third to the egg, sugar, cornmeal mix. (To get a better result pour the milk through a sieve.) Then add the rest of the milk to the mix. After this, put the whole back into the sauce pan and cook on a high heat. Whisk the whole time and as soon as the milk-mix gets thick take the sauce pan off the hotplate. Pour the hot pastry cream on cling-film and wrap it carefully, then put it into the fridge. Voilà the first step is done!

The Eclair Dough:

Preheat the oven to 180°

Put the water, the sugar, the salt and the butter into a saucepan and cook on a middle heat. As soon as it starts boiling take it off the hotplates and add the flour little by little. Don't stop whisking for 30 seconds until the dough has become dry. Now put the saucepan back on the hotplates and mix quickly until you get a smooth paste. Again, take the saucepan off the hotplates and add the eggs one by one. 

Fill the icing bag with the eclair dough. Make sure you have an about 8mm wide indented pastry tube. Place little rolls of about 10-12 cm on the baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes without circulating air. Please let them cool down before you start filling them with the pastry cream

Get the pastry cream out of the fridge. Whisk it again in order to get a smooth and even cream. Cut the eclairs in two and fill them in aid of the icing bag.

 For the icing, heat the fondant and the water to 35°. Take it off the hotplates and start with the icing.


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