Friday, 17 April 2015

French Food Friday...Tarte Tropézienne


recipe and photo from here

Bonjour mes belles,

I cannot think of anything nicer than a lovely cake perched on a lovely cake stand and this one tastes as good as it looks...


Tarte  Tropézienne

Makes 12 servings
For the cake:
  • 2 1/2teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/3cup (80 mls) warm whole milk (see yeast package for exact temperature)
  • 2cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1/2teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2teaspoons dark rum or kirsch (optional)
  • 1teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 7tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces; 99 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the filling:
  • 1 1/2cups (360 mls) whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3cup (67 grams) sugar
  • 1/4cup (32 grams) cornstarch
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1tablespoon pure vanilla extract or 1 tablespoon orange-flower water, plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons; 3 ounces; 85 grams) unsalted butter, cut into bits, at room temperature
  • 1/4cup (60 mls) very cold heavy cream
  • 1 large egg, for glazing
  • Pearl sugar or crushed sugar cubes, for finishing
  1. To make the cake: Put the yeast in a small bowl and pour over the warm milk. Allow the yeast to stand for a couple of minutes, until it’s fully dissolved; it might or might not bubble.
  2. Put the flour and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix at low speed to blend the dry ingredients, then scrape in the yeast mixture and beat just to distribute it; you’ll have a shaggy mix. Keep the mixer spinning on low and add the eggs in a slow stream, then beat in the salt, rum or kirsch, if you’re using it, and vanilla. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat, scraping down the bowl occasionally, for 5 to 8 minutes. The dough will start off rough and pockmarked, then it will pull into strands as the mixer spins and, finally, it will be smooth and form a ball.
  3. Check the butter -- you want it to be soft but not oily. If it’s not soft, smear it across a work surface with the heel of your hand. Up the mixer speed to medium-high and toss in the pieces of butter a couple at a time. Keep mixing after the last bit of butter goes in until you’ve got a dough that forms a ball around the paddle, another 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Turn the dough out into a large bowl, then cup your fingers under the dough, lifting it and letting it slap down into the bowl again as you work your way around the bowl; when you’ve come full circle, you should have a nice, smooth, somewhat flattened ball of dough. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic film and put it in a warm place (70° to 75° F) until it rises to approximately double its original volume, 2 to 3 hours.
  5. When the dough has risen, deflate it, using that same lift-and-drop method, cover the bowl tightly again and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to arrest the dough’s development. Then transfer it to the refrigerator and chill for another 2 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
  6. About an hour before you’re ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently pat the dough down, lightly flour the top and roll it into a 10-inch circle. Don’t worry about it being exactly 10 inches; concentrate on getting it round and almost that diameter, or smaller. Slide the dough onto the baking sheet, cover with a piece of plastic film -- don’t press down on it -- and let the dough rest in a warm place for 1 hour.
  7. Meanwhile, make the filling: Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  8. Whisk the yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in one quarter of the hot milk. When the yolks are warm, add the rest of the milk in a steadier stream. Pour the mixture into the pan, return the pan to medium heat and, whisking vigorously, bring back to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, making sure to get your whisk into the corners of the pan. Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl, add the vanilla and allow it to sit for 10 minutes at room temperature.
  9. Add the bits of butter to the pastry cream a couple pieces at a time, whisking to incorporate. Press a piece of plastic film against the surface of the cream and chill for at least 2 hours, or, to speed up the chilling, put the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and whisk until cold, then refrigerate until ready to fill the cake. (You can make the pastry cream up to 3 days ahead and keep it well covered in the refrigerator.)
  10. To bake the cake: About 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly beat the egg and add a splash of cold water to it. Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle over the pearl or crushed sugar, patting it down lightly so that it sticks. Be generous with the sugar -- you want to pretty much cover the top.
  11. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 350° F. Bake the cake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the sheet after 10 minutes, or until it is golden brown on both the top and bottom. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it come to room temperature.
  12. When you’re ready to fill the cake, whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks.
  13. Remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator and whisk to loosen it. Stir a little of the whipped cream into the pastry cream, then fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a flexible spatula.
  14. To finish the cake: Using a long serrated knife and a very gentle sawing motion, cut the cake horizontally in half(ish) -- it’s good to have the bottom layer a little thicker than the top. Put the bottom layer on a cake plate. Spread the filling over it, leaving a slim border bare, and replace the top of the cake, jiggling it slightly to settle it into the cream. Chill the cake for at least 1 hour, or for up to 8 hours. The filling needs to set in the refrigerator and the cake should be served cold.
  15. Serving: In Saint-Tropez, the cake is sometimes a dessert, sometimes a pick-me-up and, if it’s bought as a miniature from a pâtisserie in town, sometimes a snack. Since it comes from a town once known for its wild and crazy ways, it’s not surprising that there are no real rules.
  16. Storing: You can make the pastry cream up to 3 days ahead and refrigerate it, and you can keep the brioche dough in the refrigerator for 1 day before you bake it. Once cut and filled, the cake can be kept in the refrigerator, away from foods with strong odours, for about 8 hours, or you can wrap it airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight.
très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Fabulously French...


photo from here
 
The Ritz Hotel in Paris is by all accounts, fabulous and very French. We are looking forward to the reopening scheduled for the end of this year.
 
Nothing like a bit of bling to get the week off to a good start...
 
très bonne semaine à tous, Leeann x
 


Friday, 10 April 2015

French Food Friday...Crème Bachique


recipe and photo from here


Bonjour mes belles,

A nice dessert for the weekend and this makes a nice change from crème caramel....

Crème Bachique


FOR THE CARAMEL: 
  • 115g granulated sugar
  • 115ml water

FOR THE CUSTARD: 
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, plus 6 eggs yolks
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 475ml double cream
  • 250ml sweet white wine
  • Unsalted butter, for greasing
 

Method

  1. For the caramel, put the sugar and 3 tablespoons of the water into a saucepan. Heat gently so that the sugar dissolves but don't let it boil and don't stir (although you can swirl the pan). When the sugar has completely melted turn up the heat and boil until the mixture turns to caramel - you can tell when it does by the dark gold colour and smell. As soon as it reaches the caramel stage, carefully add the rest of the water - it will hiss and splutter. Stir until any lumps have dissolved, then leave to cool completely and thicken. 
  2. To make the creams, in a bowl beat the sugar with the eggs and egg yolks. Add the vanilla. Heat the cream and wine gently in 2 separate saucepans until they are at simmering point. Remove from the heat and add them to the eggs, the wine first, then the cream, stirring as you do so. Strain through a sieve into a jug. 
  3. Heat the oven to 150°C/fan oven 130°C/mark 2. Put 6 buttered, metal, 125ml dariole-type moulds into a roasting tin, keeping them separate from each other. Pour the custard into the moulds, then pour boiling water into the tin to come halfway up the moulds. Cook in the oven for 35 minutes. Allow the creams to cool in the roasting tin, then remove. Cover each one and chill for 4-5 hours. If you have to chill them for longer, bring them out of the fridge about an hour before serving or the texture will be too firm. 
  4. To serve, run a knife round each pudding, dip the moulds briefly into boiling water, then turn them on to plates and pour the caramel over them. 
To drink: A very sweet, rich white, especially Sauternes.

très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Only the French...


photo from here


Bonjour from a very sunny SW France,

Only the French could produce a fabulous bottle of wine and then design a bottle to batch complete with a bottom that is shaped like a rose and it comes complete with glass cork....I am in love with this bottle and can understand just why our guests from Hong Kong wanted to take the bottle back with them.



A fabulous bottle of wine, perfect for taking to a dinner party or it would make a fabulous gift....

à demain, Leeann x

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Joyeuses Pâques...

 
Bonjour mes belles,
 
Just wanted to wish you all a Joyeuses Pâques.
 
amicalement, Leeann x

Friday, 3 April 2015

French Food Friday...Chocolate Fondant With Piment D'Espelette

recipe and photo from here


Bonjour mes belles,

As it is Easter, I am in the mood for some chocolate and this is the recipe that I have chosen as part of our lunch menu on Sunday.

The city of Bayonne has been famous for its chocolate since the seventeenth century, when the Jews, driven out of Spain and Portugal by the Inquisition, settled in the area and founded the chocolate industry that still remains today. Bayonne is a 3 hour drive from where we live, so perfect for a weekend break.
  • 200g dark chocolate, 70 per cent cocoa solids, broken up
  • 150g unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 teaspoons piment d'Espelette (a chilli pepper grown in the Basque region of France)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 25g plain flour

TO SERVE: 
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • Whipped cream
 

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/mark 4. Grease and base-line a 22cm spring-form cake tin. Melt the chocolate and butter in a mixing bowl placed over a saucepan of barely simmering water. You can melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave for about 1½ minutes but do it in stages, stirring 2-3 times, so as not to overheat the chocolate. 
  2. Cool a little, then stir in the sugar, piment d'Espelette, salt and eggs. Finally, stir in the flour. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes. The centre should feel a little soft but there should not be a wobble. Take out of the oven and cool in the tin on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes. Release the sides but keep the cake on the base as it is fragile at this temperature. For a slightly more solid cake you can leave it for a couple of hours at room temperature before serving. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
A glass of port goes nicely with this dessert.
 
très bon vendredi à tous, Leeann x
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Bon Poisson d'avril...


Bonjour mes belles,

Wishing you all a bon poisson d'avril. Poisson d’avril is French for April Fools Day.

A bit of background of what happens and how the tradition was started...

Poisson d’Avril is a very popular tradition in France that is celebrated today on April 1st, when all jokes, hoaxes and silly things are allowed and welcome!

Journalists read fake news (which they deny of course by the end of the program if not earlier).

Children clip a paper fish in the back of their parents who lovingly ignore it and roam all day with the fish hanging on their back…they are great April Fools!
Friends make funny jokes with each other; everyone is having a good-humoured day.
April Fools Day is believed to have originated in 1564 when King Charles IX decided to move the start of the year from April 1st to January 1st!
The traditional New Year “Boxing” Day, when gifts were exchanged, had therefore to be moved with it but habits are hard to disappear.
Habits die hard and it took ages for people to adjust and decades later many still kept presenting their family and friends with gifts on April 1st.
The tradition never really disappeared but evolved as eventually people started to exchange fake gifts – in general food – and made fun of it!
And if you wonder why children use a fish on April Fools Day… the answer is simple!
April 1st was encompassed in Lent, the 40-day period during which the consumption of meat was forbidden… but not fish … so people gave fish to their friends!
Eventually “real” fish was replaced with fish-shaped cakes then paper fish, and associated with jokes and hoaxes.

à demain, Leeann x