Sunday, October 18, 2009


My kitchen smells heavenly because I just baked a heavenly cake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. The cake I baked is the Apple Upside Down Cake on page 9 of the book. I am a member of the Heavenly Cake Bakers and we are baking our way through Rose's book.

I decided to use Golden Delicious Apples which was one of the choices Rose gave. We were to peel, core and slice the apples and put them in a bowl with lemon juice and some brown sugar. They were to sit for at least 1/2 hour so they had time to release their juices. I let them sit for about an hour and only a few juices were at the bottom of the bowl, so I decided to cook them a little so more juices would come out. It worked so I drained the apples and added the juice to the pan with the butter and more brown sugar to make a caramel. Then I put the caramelized juices in the prepared pan and layered the apples over the caramel.

I then put my baking stone into the oven and heated it up to 350 degrees while I made the cake batter. The batter was easy to make, using Rose's technique of adding the butter to the flour mixture, instead of creaming the butter first. I love cake batter, so in the name of research I took a spoonful of it. Yum!! The rest of the batter was plopped on the top of the apples and spread to even it out. I baked the cake right on top of the stone in a regular oven for 45 minutes. As soon as I took it out of the oven I inverted it onto the platter. I lifted off the cake pan and was left with a perfect cake. I then put on the toasted walnuts, cut into it and ate the most heavenly piece of warm Apple Upside Down Cake.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Below is the recipe for making the puff pastry that we were given
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butterplus extra flour for dusting work surface
Mixing the Dough:Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.
INCORPORATING THE BUTTER:Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.
MAKING THE TURNS:Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.
CHILLING THE DOUGH:If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.
Above is the finished puff pastry and you can see the layering.