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Baking

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Written by foodie pam   
Monday, 12 April 2010
List of viewable recipes from "Baking" by James Peterson

Baking by James Peterson (Ten Speed Press, 2009) is a 2010 James Beard book awards finalist in the Baking and Dessert Baking category. For a list of all the finalists check out the Project Foodie James Beard Finalists' Guide.

Win a copy of Baking! - details

Image
Photo by James Peterson © 2009
Baking intimidates people, not only must you be precise in the ingredients used but the techniques needed for creating wonderful cakes, pastries and more appear complex when written out in vast spans of text.  James Peterson has cleverly overcome that aspect of baking's intimidation by providing 1,500 photos to go with the 350 recipes in his aptly titled book "Baking".

Starting with cakes and proceeding through pies, cookies, breads and custards, Peterson provides detailed recipes with step-by-step photos on how to create and assemble the results.  The recipes span the classics with details to ensure you can master each. The Alsatian Apple Tart (recipe below) reflects the detail that Peterson has put into each recipe and technique in this guide to baking.

Win a copy of Baking! - details

Alsatian Apple Tart

Reprinted with permission from Baking by James Peterson, copyright © 2009. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

This is a traditional Alsatian apple tart. You can adapt the recipe to use virtually any fruit. Just cook the fruit on the stove or in the oven before you bake it in a tart surrounded with this simple vanilla custard. The vanilla bean is optional, but it elevates this tart's flavor into higher realms.

Makes one 9 1/2-inch tart

  • 1 recipe sweetened basic pie and tart pastry dough (see below)
  • 3 large apples (1 pound 8 ounces), such as Golden Delicious or Rome
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Use a 9 1/2-inch tart ring or fluted tart pan. Roll the dough 2 inches larger than the ring or pan and line the tart ring or pan with it. Prebake the tart shell. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Peel the apples and rub them with the lemon. Halve and core them, and cut each half into 3 or 4 wedges, depending on their size. Put the apples in a nonstick sauté pan with the butter over medium heat. Add the vanilla bean, if using, and gently toss or stir the apples for about 12 minutes, or until they're a golden brown. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup granulated sugar over the apples. Continue to toss or stir for about 5 minutes longer, or until the apple wedges are deep brown on both sides. Be careful not to break them. Remove from the heat.

To make the custard, whisk together the eggs and the 1/3 cup granulated sugar for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture gets a little pale. Stir in the milk. If you used the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds in each of the halves and add these to the egg mixture; otherwise, add the vanilla extract.

Arrange the apples in the prebaked tart shell and pour the custard mixture over them. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the custard sets-when it no longer moves in the middle when you jiggle the sheet pan slightly (don't move the tart). Dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Sauté the apples in butter with a split vanilla bean (optional). When the apples start to brown, sprinkle over 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar.

Continue sautéing until the apples are deep, dark brown on both sides.

Arrange the apples in a prebaked tart shell placed on a sheet pan.

Whisk together the eggs and 1/3 cup granulated sugar until smooth and add the milk. Pour the mixture into the tart shell.

Bake until the custard no longer jiggles when you move the sheet pan  gently back and forth.

Allow to cool, and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Basic Pie and Tart Pastry Dough (Pâte Brisée)

Reprinted with permission from Baking by James Peterson, copyright © 2009. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Many recipes for savory tarts, such as quiches, or for dessert tarts or pies with very sweet fillings call for unsweetened pastry. And if the filling is rich you may want to use a minimum amount of butter in your crust. Traditional recipes for this basic pastry, called pâte brisée in French, call for half as much butter by weight as flour. The pastry dough is moistened with water and includes no sugar. In this recipe, you have a choice of liquids, because water activates gluten and using eggs or a bit of heavy cream instead helps to keep the pastry from becoming tough. Water makes dough crispy and light, while cream and eggs make it softer and richer. A sweetened version, what professionals call pâte brisée sucrée, is included as a variation.

Take care not to overwork the pastry dough; keep it cold and resist the temptation to make the finished pastry dough perfectly smooth and homogeneous-when you roll it out it should look a little ragged, with pieces of butter suspended throughout.

This recipe gives full instructions for a variety of mixing methods-by hand, in a stand mixer, and with a food processor. The photographs on pages 132 and 133 show the steps of making the dough by hand on a work surface, but the stages look similar whether you mix by hand in a bowl or on a surface, or use a stand mixer or food processor.

Makes 1 pound 8 ounces dough, enough to line one 11-inch pie or tart pan

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold butter, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 7 tablespoons water or heavy cream, or 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons additional liquid, or 1 egg white, if dough is too dry

By hand in a bowl: Stir both flours with the salt in a bowl. Add the butter, toss lightly into the flour with your fingers, and cut in the flour with a pastry cutter or a bench scraper for about 2 minutes, or until the pieces of butter are no larger than hazelnuts and no smaller than baby peas. Don't worry if the pieces of butter aren't all the same size. Scrape off the dough that clings to the pastry cutter or bench scraper.

Add the liquid and cut it in for 2 to 3 minutes, or until there is no loose flour in the bottom of the bowl and the dough looks like gravel. If the dough is still powdery, like grated Parmesan cheese, pinch a piece. If it doesn't come together, sprinkle in 2 more tablespoons of liquid and continue to cut in until the dough looks like gravel.

Dump the dough onto a work surface. Use your fingertips to pinch it together until it starts to come together into a ragged mass; or smear the pastry dough with the heel of your hand, or, for flakier pastry, knead the dough just long enough to get it to hold together. Scrape up the pastry dough with a bench scraper.

Flatten the dough into a disk if you're using it for a pie or tart; roll it into a cylinder if you're making cookies or tartlets. If you are not using the pastry dough right away, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

By hand on a work surface: Stir both flours with the salt in a pile on a work surface. Add the butter, toss lightly into the flour with your fingers, and cut into the flour with a pastry cutter or a bench scraper for about 2 minutes, or until the pieces are no larger than hazelnuts and no smaller than baby peas. Don't worry if the pieces are different sizes. Scrape off the dough that clings to the pastry cutter or bench scraper.

Make a well in the center of the pile with your fingers. Pour the liquid into the well. Combine the liquid and flour by gradually pulling the flour into the well with your fingertips. Cut the liquid into the pastry dough for about 3 minutes, or until it looks like gravel with no loose flour on the work surface. If the pastry remains powdery, like grated Parmesan cheese, pinch a piece. If it doesn't come together, sprinkle in 2 more tablespoons of liquid and continue cutting in until the pastry looks like gravel.

Use your fingertips to pinch the dough together until it starts to come together into a ragged mass; or smear the pastry dough with the heel of your hand, or, for flakier pastry, knead the dough just long enough to get it to hold together. Scrape up the pastry dough with a bench scraper.
Flatten the dough into a disk if you're using it for a pie or tart; roll it into a cylinder if you're making cookies or tartlets.

If you're not using it right away, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
In a stand mixer: A stand mixer has the advantage of not overheating the pastry dough, and unlike a food processor it leaves the butter in pieces so the pastry is flakier. But don't start off at too high a speed or flour will fly around your kitchen!

With the paddle attachment, mix both flours and the salt on slow speed for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and combine it with the flour on low to medium speed, for about 1 minute. Add the liquid and mix the dough on low to medium speed for 40 seconds to 2 minutes, or until it looks like gravel, depending on the temperature of the ingredients. If it is still powdery and looks like grated Parmesan cheese after 2 minutes, pinch a piece to see if it comes together. If it falls apart, add 2 more tablespoons of liquid; if it holds together in a clump, continue mixing. If at any point the dough no longer feels cold, put the mixer bowl in the refrigerator or freezer for 15 minutes. Mix the dough on low to medium speed for 1 to 4 minutes, until it clumps together into a cohesive mass-you'll hear the motor straining.

Flatten the dough into a disk if you're using it for a pie or tart; roll it into a cylinder if you're making cookies or tartlets. If you're not using the pastry dough right away, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

In a food processor: Making pastry dough in a food processor is by far the easiest method. The only disadvantage is that it mixes in the butter so completely that the dough is less flaky and more crumbly. Much is made about overworking dough in the food processor, but overheating it is more of a problem, because the food processor warms it very quickly. The secret is to chill all of the ingredients thoroughly before starting and, if need be, to chill the dough in the food processor bowl if it gets too warm while you're making it.

Combine both flours and the salt in a food processor and process for 15 seconds. With the processor off, add the butter and liquid, and process for 30 seconds. If the dough still looks powdery, like grated Parmesan cheese, pinch a piece. If it falls apart in your fingers, add 2 more tablespoons of liquid. Process for 15 seconds more. Feel the dough with the back of a finger. If it's no longer cold, put the entire work bowl in the freezer or refrigerator for 15 minutes. Dislodge any pastry dough sticking to the sides or bottom of the work bowl with a rubber spatula. Process for 10 to 30 seconds more, until the dough clumps together or clings to the sides of the food processor.

Flatten the dough into a disk if you're using it for a pie or tart; roll it into a cylinder if you're making cookies or tartlets. If you're not using it right away, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Variation
Sweetened Basic Pie and Tart Pastry Dough: To make a sweetened version of basic pie and tart pastry dough-what professionals call pâte brisée sucrée-mix 1/2 cup granulated sugar with both flours in the first step.

Win a copy of Baking

The registered Project Foodie user that leaves the most memorable or creative comment below will win a copy of Baking.  Keep the comments clean and relevant - tell us what attracts you to Baking and/or what you feel makes this book award-worthy and we'll select one to be the winner of Baking.

Please note that you must be registered to enter this giveaway and upon winning provide a US postal address for us to ship Baking to.  We'll announce the winner on May 2nd.

If you have not yet registered with Project Foodie, please take a moment to do so right now--it's absolutely free; and we promise never to share your email address with spammers or other unsavory types.

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 08 April 2010 )
Baking - by James Peterson
angelicabeads (Registered) 2010-04-12 08:28:21

I would absolutely love to win this book in the contest. I own several of Peterson's cookbooks, and you just can't go wrong with him. The recipes are excellent, well-written, and accurate, and everything I've cooked has turned out wonderfully. I hope I can be considered to win it in this contest. Thanks!
Baking - James Peterson
Dawn (Unregistered) 2010-04-13 06:30:48

Unlike my ability to cook, which has evolved and grown over the years, my ability to bake totally eludes me. Each attempt at cake baking has been more dismal than the last. One was so heavy it could have been a brick, one was so lopsided it gave the leaning Tower of Piza a run for its money and the last attempt was so dry it was inedible. I believe this book may be the salvation of my pride in baking. Thanks for considering me.
Comment from Dawn
chef711 (Registered) 2010-04-13 06:35:25

I am a registered user, but was not logged in at the time I made my comment. Please consider me. Thank you!
Baking - by James Peterson
goodcook526 (Registered) 2010-04-13 11:54:13

Please enter my name. I would love to win.
The Art of Baking
macaronqueen (Registered) 2010-04-13 20:02:41

I thinking baking is a lost art form, and I am oh so happy to see any book that is dedicated to preserving it.
Pure Chemistry
jettrash23 (Registered) 2010-04-13 20:33:45

As I slowly waddle my way through the world of delicious baking delights, I'm reminded more and more of chemistry. While cooking can sometimes be a haphazard work of genius, baking requires careful measurement and attention. The slightest misstep, like mixing up the soda and powder proportions can be a devastating disaster. Adding a clearly well written and artful book to my collection would be most wonderful. Thank you.
Aparna (Registered) 2010-04-14 11:15:56

I really would love a chance at winning this book. Why? Because I know that the aroma of anything baking in my oven is almost next to none.

And not being an expert at baking, would love this book by my side in the kitchen.
Ode to Baking
JulieRuble (Registered) 2010-04-14 13:40:01

It started with the name: James Beard,
The award's an imprimatur revered
Of any book on which it's bestowed
By the namesake foundation with gusto.

But I want that book for so much more
than its nod for a fancy schmancy award.
I want it for the Alsatian Apple Tart,
I want it for its photographic art,

I want it to review on my blog,
To provide fun times for me and my dog,
My tiny cooking buddy who loyally waits
For any crumbs tumbling from my plate.

Mostly, I want it to try new recipes,
To build my skills and methodologies,
To learn and grow, to taste and devour,
To warm my kitchen for hours and hours.

With thanks I send you this comment,
Hoping my victory to cement,
And bid you happy cooking and of course
happy eating, to you and yours!
cnuland (Registered) 2010-04-22 10:57:14

My favorite baking moment is actually from my sister. She was just old enough to stay home alone but not much more. She got the idea in her head to make brownies. Mom scolded her when she found out she left the house (briefly) while they were baking. But the best part was when my sister described what a messy process making brownies was. Because when it say "stir by hand" ... she did (stirred with her hands!)
And the winner is...
pam (Publisher) 2010-05-01 14:53:00

Congratulations cnuland you're the winner of Baking!
Wow.
JulieRuble (Registered) 2010-05-17 11:38:34

Wish I hadn't spent so long writing that poem.
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