Friday, September 28, 2012

Peachy Apricot Hand Tarts with Brown Butter Crust for #baketogether

Peachy Apricot Hand Tarts in a Brown Butter Pastry

Every time I bake with browned butter, I ask myself, “Why don’t I do this more often?” The kitchen smells warm and enticing for hours, and the resulting baked goods have that pronounced buttery flavor.

I am so excited about this pastry dough that Abby Dodge created for the hand tarts in September's #baketogether. For one, it’s full of flavor, the browned butter and brown sugar lending a butterscotch note that is the perfect match for the jammy peach apricot filling I used.

The texture veers close to cookie domain, tender instead of flaky, but not quite as crumbly as a cookie. If you are a baker for who finds flaky pastry somewhat elusive, you might like to try this recipe.

What makes it easy is that, instead of working with freezer-cold chunks of butter, you start with the melted browned butter and from there add the rest of the ingredients. Again, more like a cookie dough than the usual pie crust techniques. (I like this dough so much that I already have ideas for how to use it in other recipes. Stay tuned.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

TWD: Nectarine Chiffon Upside Down Cake

Nectarine Chiffon Upside Down Cake from Baking with Julia

Upside down cakes have always been a favorite. I love how the fruit slumps and softens under the weight of cake batter, growing sweeter and more luscious as it bakes in butter and sugar.

I was intrigued by this Baking with Julia recipe for Nectarine Chiffon Upside Down  Cake because it involves a pillowy soft chiffon cake as opposed to the sturdier butter cake that is more commonly seen. It also features a ripple of almond streusel, a very tasty one, I might add, because I’m not generally a streusel fan. This streusel recipe might replace all others in future dishes.

While the recipe calls for a lemon scented cake batter, I used orange juice instead, along with a little bit of pure orange extract. The sweet orange flavor complements the cooked nectarines, buttery brown sugar and cinnamon streusel.

Ideally, this cake should not fall in the middle. As you can see in the photo, mine fell. I fear this was from a too-moist batter caused by too many eggs. Somewhere along the way, I lost track of how many eggs I used and may have accidentally used one more than necessary. It would be easier to keep track of how many eggs are used if I didn’t keep stashing the used eggshells back in the carton. True confessions.

Looks aside, the cake tasted very good, if a tad too sweet, but that’s a personal preference. I might cut back on some of the brown sugar in the fruit layer next time. Still, it’s a delicate and dressed up dessert, perfect to bridge late summer fruit on the way to autumn spices.
Every two weeks, a group of bloggers cook from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Today’s Nectarine Chiffon Upside Down Cake recipe is hosted by Marlise at Double Trouble and by Susan of The Little French Bakery. Visit their sites to get the recipes. To find links to all the participating bloggers, visit Tuesdays with Dorie.

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