18 November 2018

Paris Brest + Betty Hung's New Book!

Going to Beaucoup Bakery to start my morning has always been one of my favourite things to do on a Sunday. Beaucoup is the home to one of my favourite pastries, in Vancouver and every where else, the kouign amann. To me, the kouign amann is an extremely underrated pastry.  It is made of viennoiserie dough, containing layers of butter and sugar folded in, similar in fashion to puff pastry. The sugar in between the layers and at both ends of the pastry caramelized beautifully and provides an extra crunch and flavour. At Beaucoup, they sprinkle on a generous amount of flakey salt which I think completes the pastry. Many other kouign amanns I have had lacked the salt element I always search for (which is a simple fix because I carry a small container of Maldon sea salt in my purse in most days, just in case I need to salt a KA or a chocolate brownie) or they are overbaked, rendering the pastry of caramelized sugar too hard to bite into. If i had to choose a spirit animal pastry, it would be a KA.

Through the years I have visited Beaucoup Bakery, I have met and developed friendships with people who work there. When I was having trouble finding Valrhona's Blond Dulcey 32% Chocolate, one of the owners generously packed me a little bag of those caramelized white chocolate féves. When I heard that one of the owners of Beaucoup Bakery (it is owned by a brother and sister duo, Jacky and Betty!) was releasing a cookbook, I was thrilled that I can finally recreate some of their signature and new pastries in my own kitchen. Betty's new book, French Pastry 101, as its name suggests, covers all the basics of French Pastry. There is a chapter focusing on French custards, one one choux pastry, another on pâte feuilletée, among many others. My favourite chapter so far has been choux because of my new found love of making choux pastry, but I cannot wait to dig into the yeasted pastry section. The yeasted pastry chapter shares the recipe for the KA that I love (evident via my butter-sugar monologue above).

Due to my recent choux obsession, I choux (ha!) to make the Paris Brest. Beaucoup offers a beautiful Paris Brest in the fall season and I am so happy that I get to make it myself. The Paris Brest is pastry of two airy choux rings sandwiching a dreamy praliné mousseline. The recipe was labour-intensive, because there were may components to make, but Betty explains each step so clearly that it was extremely manageable. For this recipe I had to make: choux pastry, crème pâtissière, and hazelnut praliné (caramelized hazelnut paste). The hazelnut praliné get folded into the crème pâtissière to create the praliné mousseline filling which is then piped into between the choux. It was first time making a Paris Brest and it turned out perfectly.

Congratulations Betty on your new book and I cannot to wait to bake my way through it!
You can find French Pastry 101 wherever books are sold.

Paris Brest
From French Pastry 101 by Betty Hung
Yields 10 - 12 pastries

Choux Pastry
1/4 cup (60g) water
1/4 cup (60g) whole milk
1 tablespoon (15g) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoon (60g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (70g) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 (125g) large eggs, well whisked

Hazelnut Praline
3/4 cup skinned hazelnuts
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 vanilla bean

Pastry Cream
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoon + 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoon cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

For assembly
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (for mousseline)
2 tablespoons crushed hazelnuts, for garnish
Powdered sugar, to dust

Choux Pastry
Preheat oven to 400F

In a saucepan, combine the water, milk, sugar, salt, and butter. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and immediately add in all the flour. Quickly stir in the flour, using a rubber spatula, and return saucepan back over medium-high heat.

Continue to stir the mixture, without stopping, until the paste is smooth, about 1-2 minutes. It will pull away from the sides of the pan and leave a thin coating of cooked paste on the bottom when ready. The texture should resemble dry mashed potatoes.

Transfer the paste to a stand mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low for the choux to cool down.

While the mixer is running on medium, gradually stream in the lightly beaten eggs. Mix until well combined. The choux should be shiny at this point.

Transfer the pâte à choux to the prepared piping bag with a round tip. Pipe out ten 2 1/2-inch choux rings onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving roughly 2 inches between each ring.

Bake the choux at 400F for five minutes, then lower the temperature to 350F and bake for 35 - 40 more minutes. They are ready when golden brown, and their insides are no longer wet. Let pastries cool before filling them.

Hazelnut Praline
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water. Heat the sugar on medium heat until it boils, for about 3 minutes. Add the nuts and stir to coat them wit the syrup. Do not stop mixing the nuts. The sugar will start to crystallize, covering the nights after 5 - 7 minutes. Continue stirring.

As the sugar caramelizes, keep an eye on it; you want to cook it to a deep amber colour. When the sugar has reached a deep amber colour, 7 - 8 minutes, take the pot off the heat and spread the nuts onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Do this quickly as the caramel will harden as it cools.

After cooling, process the nuts with salt and vanilla in a food processor. It will take about 5 minutes for the nuts to become powdery and then turn into a paste.

Pastry Cream
In a small saucepan, heat milk on medium heat with 2 tablespoons of sugar and vanilla bean until it starts to simmer. Turn off heat, cover pot, and let mixture steep while preparing eggs.

In a medium bowl, whisk together yolks, the remaining sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Slowly pour in the hot milk while whisking the egg mixture, this will prevent the eggs from cooking. 

Return mixture to the pot, while turning back the heat to medium-low. Keep whisking the mixture as it thickens, 3 - 4 minutes. The pastry cream is ready when it starts to boil.

Take the pot off the heat and whisk in the softened butter. Strain the pastry cream into a clean bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Let pastry cream cool before using.

Praliné Mousseline
Beat pastry cream in a medium bowl with a whisk until it is soft and creamy. Whisk in the praline paste until well combined. Whisk in 7 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter until mixture is creamy and blended. Fill a piping bag with star or plain tip with the mousseline and set aside until you are ready to fill the pastries.

Slice choux pastries in half as you would for a sandwich. Pipe the mousseline on the bottom half and place the top half back on. Decorate the sides with the crushed hazelnuts. Dust the tops lightly with powdered sugar before serving.

Happy baking!

6 November 2018

Zucchini Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

I am not opposed to vegetables in pastries, not at all. Some of the most unforgettable desserts I have had include a piece of spring pea cake from Rose's Luxury (which inspired this one here), a corn cookie from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, and a sweet but almost savoury zucchini tea cake from a local coffee shop. I am a fan of vegetable-forward desserts and do not mind when the vegetables actually contribute in flavour, not just moisture.

Chocolate and zucchini has always been a classic combination. When it is peak zucchini season, I always see many variations of chocolate zucchini cake or bread in magazines, blogs, and wherever recipes are shared. The addition of zucchini adds an insane amount of moisture to a cake and I wanted to create the same kind of lushness to a non-chocolate spiced cake. I made this zucchini cake in peak zucchini season but got distracted by trying to master choux pastry, arranging apple roses, and making flamingo doughnuts that are even more out of season. This cake is one of those cakes that are great, no matter what season it is. I never have trouble finding zucchini throughout the year so this recipe is something I will be making again and again. Besides the flavour of the cake, one of my favourite things about this zucchini cake is that you can see little flecks of green dotted throughout layers. The recipe calls for two cups of grated zucchini — that might seem like a lot but I promise you that it does not impart any vegetal flavours to the cake. The grated zucchini simply adds a softness and lushness unlike any other. The cake is frosted with a lemon cream cheese frosting to add brightness to every bite.

This zucchini cake would taste just as good un-iced, but I decided to have some fun with the frosting and pipe a pair of swans on the sides. I coloured the majority of my frosting a light purple and left the remainder white for the swans. I fitted a piping bag with a leaf tip and piped at the base and pulled away to create the feathers. A little bit of frosting coloured orange and black adds the facial details to the swan. This recipe would be great as a sheet cake as well (bake time will have to be adjusted, of course).

Zucchini Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields three layer 6-inch cake

Zucchini Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
3/4 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare three 6-inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk in the shredded zucchini. 

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with rubber spatula until just combined.

Gently fold in the milk with the spatula.

Divide the batter into the three prepared pans.

Bake for 33-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out mostly clean with no wet batter.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 - 
5 cups confectioners' sugar

In the bowl of a mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter until creamy on medium until smooth and uniform. 

Add lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract and mix well.

With the mixer low, slowly add in the confectioners' sugar.  Once incorporated, beat the buttercream on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 - 5 minutes.

Happy baking!

29 October 2018

Matcha Swirl Bread + Two Red Bowls' New Book!

I don't think I have ever bookmarked so many recipes in a cookbook before, but I am not at all surprised by how much I love all the recipes in Cynthia's new book, A Common Table. Before I started blogging, Two Red Bowls was one of the first blogs I subscribed to. Two Red Bowls was one of those 'If-I-had-a-blog-I-would-want-it-to-look-like-this' kind of blogs to me. I remember making her butter mochi recipe circa 2013 and her mochi recipe on Food52 again in 2014. After my big mochi phase I also tried my hand at Cynthia's chamomile lemon poppyseed loaf cake and her london fog cupcakes among many other sweet treats. Just because I gravitated towards following her sweet recipes, it doesn't mean her savoury recipes are any less stellar — and her book really showcases that. Not only is Cynthia's book filled with approachable, homey recipes that remind of things I ate growing up (hello, she has a recipe for Hong Kong style condensed milk toast and an ode to spam!), it is also a beautiful collection of photos and stories of shared cultures and how food can bring all of us together at the table. The matcha swirl bread on page 232 was the first thing I decide to make from Cynthia's book, but it definitely will not be the last pages I unintentionally soil with flour from making a basic dumpling dough or Korean vegetable fritters.

Congratulations, Cynthia on your new book! A Common Table feels like the book I have been waiting for and it was definitely worth the wait.

Matcha Swirl Bread
From A Common Table by Two Red Bowls
Yields one 9 x 5-inch loaf

For the sweet dough
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 cup full fat greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the matcha glaze
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon matcha powder
2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus 1 teaspoon for thinning
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

The night before or two hours before baking:
Bring milk to a boil over medium heat. Add butter and stir until melted. Let the mixture cool slightly until warm to the touch.

Sprinkle yeast on top and let it sit until foamy (5 - 10 minutes). If the milk and yeast mixture does not foam, you may want to start over to make sure yeast is active.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, and salt. 

When the yeast is foamy, add the egg, egg yolk, yogurt, and vanilla to the yeast-milk mixture and whisk to combine. Mix the wet ingredients to the dry, until all the flour is incorporated and a wet, sticky dough forms.

Knead in the bowl until dough it smooth and elastic (8 - 10 minutes). The dough will start out very sticky; sprinkle up to 2 more tablespoons of flour to knead. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel and place in the refrigerator overnight. Alternatively, leave the dough covered and at room temperature to rise until dough has well doubled in size. 

The next day or one hour before baking:
Line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Sift match powder into a medium bowl. Vigorously whisk 2 tablespoons of heavy cream into matcha until smooth. Whisk in remaining cream, then sift in the confectioners' sugar 1/4 cup at a time, whisking after each addition, until mixture forms a very thick glaze.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Roll the dough out very thin, to about an 18 x 24 inch rectangle.

When the dough is evenly rolled out, reserve 1/4 cup of the matcha glaze and spread the rest in a very thin layer across the dough. Using a pizza cutter, sharp knife, or scissors, slice the dough in half lengthwise to form 2 long 9 x 24 inch strips. Carefully lift one strip and place it on top of the other. If desired, trim the edges into a neater rectangle, then, starting at the 9-inch end, roll the stack into a short, thick log.

Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the log widthwise into 4 equal pieces. Place the rolls, cut-side down, into the loaf pan.

Let rolls rise in a warm place until the dough is puffy and fills the pan (1 - 1 1/2 hours). 

During the last half hour of the rise, preheat oven to 350F. Bake, uncovered, for 35 - 40 minutes, until golden-brown on the top. eLet cool, then drizzle with remaining glaze and enjoy.

Congratulations on your new book, Cynthia!

22 October 2018

A Hot Minute in LA

‘I’m surprised my pants still fit’ was exactly what I said at the end of my LA trip and to be honest, that is probably one of the best feelings to have at the end of any trip. I was in LA for a hot minute (read: six days) with my boyfriend for what I would consider my first time. I have been to California a few times before to visit family before but never ventured out of see what LA had to offer. By no means is this a guide to LA because there are still so many things I need to cross off on my LA list. This is simply a list of things/carbs that we did/ate/saw that are worthy of sharing.

In-N-Out. Because it is a classic and Rich made it pretty clear that it had to be our first stop. So we did it animal-style, of course. We got a cheeseburger, a double-double, fries, and animal-style fries. We perhaps got animal-style fries more than once on this trip...but that's between you and me.

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. While In-N-Out was at the top of Rich's list, Mr. Holmes was at the top of mine so we made it our first stop on our first full day in LA. We went to both locations on the trip but the Highland Park location was our favourite. The Highland Park location is the home to the instagram-famous neon sign that says 'I got baked in Los Angeles.' We couldn't decide which pastries to get so we ordered everything: matcha dipped croissant, rest in peach croissant (the name!!), elote danish, black forest brioche donut, strawberry shortcake brioche donut, a cruffin, and a cornflake cookie. Did it all add to over 5000 calories? Probably. How did we eat it all? I don't know. Would I do it again? Yes, especially for the donuts and the cornflake cookie.

Go Get 'Em Tiger. We ordered the Full Nelson so we could try a bit of every drink. The coffee was really good but their chai latte was what I couldn't stop sipping.

Sqirl. Have always been obsessed with the idea of Sqirl and their cookbook when it hit shelves two years back. Got their pesto rice bowl, breakfast sandwich, and famous ricotta toast with three types of jam. The ricotta toast was a complete dream.

Fairfax. We took a brief break from all the eating to explore Fairfax. We lined up to get into Supreme, I squealed over all the RIP N DIP cat things, and I stared at Rich staring at walls and walls of sneakers. Oh, we also  parked illegally somewhere and ventured to the OVO store.

LACMA. We went to listen to some free jazz because it was a Friday and it was so lovely. Go early to save a seat. We would bring picnic snacks and a blanket next time.

Republique. Perhaps my favourite meal on the trip. The place looked like a dream but the malfadine with maine lobster and santa barbara uni was the real dream. It was a rich pasta dish that I wish never ended. We also got a duck dish with savory oats and a few cocktails, which were all great.

Proof Bakery. Because 8am calls for a slice of quiche, cheesecake, olive oil cake, croissant, canele, and a cookie. It was all so lovely, especially the olive oil cake and canele.

Taco's Villa Corona. We didn't plan this burrito. We saw a huge line and decided we had to be in it too. Anthony Bourdain featured it on The Layover so we decided why not?

Somisomi. Matcha taiyaki ice cream!

Verve Coffee Roasters. Verve never disappoints.

Eggslut at Grand Central Market. We were really full. We still ordered two egg sandwiches because it's Eggslut. Would do it again. The Fairfax sammie was my favourite.

Smorgasburg. We were beyond full at this point but Smorgasburg only happens once a week and we wouldn't be here the next week. We gave ourselves a limit - we were allowed to get one thing and one thing only. We decided to order the garlic prawn situation from Shrimp Daddy and dannnnnng it was so tasty.

Little Tokyo. Such a cute little area to walk off the food coma induced by Smorgasburg and all the other forms of carbs eaten on the trip. We explored many cute Japanese stores selling things I wanted but didn't need. Settled for a whale shark enamel pin and a matcha watermelon drink. Will be back to try Bae ice cream next time.

Hangari Kalguksu. I have been dreaming of Korean clam noodles for a long time. They are almost impossible to find in Vancouver but this place in Koreatown serves big bowls of these knife-cut wheat flour noodles topped with manila clams. The noodles had such a great bounce and the broth...the broth! I could eat these noodles everyday.

Intelligentsia Coffee (Venice Beach). Super busy but worth the wait for a good cup of coffee. They also serve Mr. Holmes baked goods so it was a two bird one stone situation.

Gjusta. I had both Gjelina and Gjusta on my list but ran out of time and stomach space for Gjelina. Gjusta was great. I ordered a simple bagel and lox situation and it was some of the best lox. We also got a slice of breakfast pizza (why not) and a baklava croissant for the road.

Disneyland. It was Halloween at Disneyland! We took photos in front of the castle! We got to steer a boat! We shared a giant turkey leg! I've been to Disneyland before but not when it is decked out with Mickey-shaped jack-o-lanterns and ghost shaped balloons. We got the FastPass on our Disneyland app and were able to strategically plan out our day. Some of the rides got a Halloween makeover and the ride that was the most worth the wait was the Haunted Mansion (Nightmare before Christmas theme!).

Howlin' Rays. HOT CHICKEN SANDOS. Try and get a fast pass for this (somehow) if you want to avoid the two-hour wait time. Got one of everything on the menu and the hot wings made me cry uncontrollable tears. Would eat again.

Afters Ice Cream. This was our last stop before the airport and I am so glad we made time for it. Afters is like an Instagram legend. Both Rich and I have been obsessing over their ice cream and cool merch for the longest time so when we got there, we bought everything. Milky bun with cookie monster ice cream? Check. Over $100 of Afters merch? Check. I will never take off my Anti Diet Diet Club shirt. Never.

Until next time, LA.


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