Monday, July 20, 2015

Pat a Cake, Pat a Cake, Baker's Mom?

Well, I am not a man, but I am a baker. I've been using the gift I gave myself a couple of weeks ago: a KitchenAid stand mixer, the stationary kind. It was half off and I had waited long enough (about 30 years). I was due. New house. First stand mixer.

Although I would have been happy to have Mom's older mixer. It wasn't fancy, didn't have a lot of attachments (whisk, dough hook, wide blade beater, etc.), but was a good solid mixer that I could have used. Getting my masks here was difficult enough. Getting my siblings to send the mixer just was not going to happen, so KitchenAid. I've been using it a lot since it arrived a week or so ago.

The first thing I made was focaccia, the no need kind. Dump all the ingredients in the KitchenAid and mix on high for about 60 seconds. Scoop out into 9 x 13 baking pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom, cover, let rise for 60 minutes, bake for 35 minutes, and take it out of the oven. The real hard part is waiting for it to cool sufficiently to eat.

No, I didn't burn my tongue.

The first time, I left it in for 25 minutes, which is not enough time in my oven, so 35 minutes the next time, and it probably could have used another 5 minutes or so. I'm still learning how to deal with the oven when it comes to baking. Still, the focaccia was even better the second time, especially since I cut it into bigger pieces for sandwiches, and I added olives and rosemary to the batter. Next time I think I'll try roasted peppers and sun-dried tomatoes with dill and basil. I'm feeling adventurous.

The bread is great for grilling, toasting, frying in olive oil or butter (not margarine), and slathering with butter and garlic for garlic bread. I used it for sandwiches, after it's fried, grilled, or toasted. Makes a great sandwich bread and since it is so easy to make, quick too.

From quick focaccia to cherry clafouti. It's an eggy, custardy, pancakey kind of dessert rather like the sweet version of Yorkshire pudding, but French. I used very little sugar -- about 1/2 cup -- and it turned out smelling of almonds and vanilla and subtly sweet and eggy. I used the 1-1/2 pounds of bing cherries I got the other day and it was delicious, especially with a drift of confectioners sugar dusting the top. The picture above is from my first attempt at clafouti.

Clafouti can be used as a base for any kind of fruit, especially berries, but it works with bite-size apples, peaches, nectarines, or whatever fruit you have on hand. It's another quick recipe. Dump all the ingredients into a bowl, whisk like mad, pour over fresh fruit arranged in the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan (preferably with 2-inch sides) or (as I did) a 9- or 10-inch springform pan and bake for 45 minutes.

Now comes the hard part. After taking it out of the oven, let rest for 10 minutes, and serve. Goes great with ice cream (except I hadn't made any yet), dusted with confectioners sugar or fine dusting sugar (go wild with colored sugars), or simply serve as is. It is pretty enough without all the embellishments. Increase the sugar if you want a sweeter dessert. I was fine with the 1/4 cup of sugar. I like the eggy, pancakey taste scented with almond and vanilla. If you prefer another flavor, try vanilla and any kind of flavor that appeals to you and complements the fruit. I imagine you could even adapt the recipe by adding cocoa powder to the batter. You might have to increase the liquid a tad, but play with it. Be adventurous. After all, you can eat the mistakes.

Both recipes can be found at in the recipe section. Look for Blitz bread/No-Fuss Focaccia and clafouti. There's even a receipt for strawberry and rhubarb clafouti. It's a very versatile recipe.

That is all. Disperse.