Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New Craftsy Class - Macarons, Madeleines and More debuts today on Craftsy!








Hello Bakers,

My latest Craftsy class is live today.
Macarons, Madeleines and More...is live on Craftsy.
Never struggle with your macarons again.
Please check out the class.


Happy Baking!
Colette

Monday, November 3, 2014

Really Great Granola








Hello Bakers,

Today's blog post is about granola. How to make really delicious granola.
I never buy granola. I make granola. I am a granola snob.
My granola roots run very deep. This is a truly delicious recipe and holds a place deep in my heart.

Years ago, I worked as a private chef for a group of residential Americorps volunteers,
stationed in Hawley, Massachusetts.
The kitchen was in the main building, it was huge, had two commercial ranges and a solid oak walk in. It was a great kitchen.
The buildings were built in the 1930s - the kitchen window looked out onto the pond.

I cooked mostly vegetarian fare on budget that was beyond meager.
But in summer there was the garden - which the volunteers tended and the local coop full of bulk items. Somehow it all worked out - we always had enough.

I baked and cooked everything from scratch and this granola was a mainstay. I made it twice a week.

The volunteers took on trail with them - their summer months were spent rebuilding YCC (Youth Conservation Corps) trails throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 
In winter, they ate it on top of oatmeal for breakfast or took it for lunch when they went off to teach environmental education in the local schools.
The inspiration for this recipe came from the Curtis and Schwartz cookbook. 
Sadly, this wonderful cafe closed in 1997 - I am sure there are people in Northampton that miss it to this day.
Cooking for the Americorps  volunteers was a unique experience as far as private chef life goes - but I truly loved it - although I didn't make much money - I was able to make a difference.
Happy Baking!
Colette

Granola Recipe

2 cups (7 ounces) of whole oats (preferably organic)
½ cup (2 ounces) of walnuts
1/2 cup (2 ounces) of sliced natural almonds
2 Tablespoons (1 ounce) sunflower seeds
3 Tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) pumpkin seeds
1 Tablespoon (½ ounce) sesame seeds
½ cup (2 ounces) cashews
3 Tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) shredded coconut (preferably unsweetened)

1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon of peanut butter

Extras to be added after baking:
Any dried fruit, raisins, cranberries, blueberries and diced dried apricots

Equipment:
Baking sheet lined with Parchment Paper
Small saucepan
Large bowl for mixing
Whisk
Heatproof spatula

1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.   Arrange all the dry ingredients in separate flat piles on the baking tray.
3.   Toast them for 10 minutes – the coconut will begin to turn a light golden brown.
4.   Once toasted, pour the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

5.   Place all the wet ingredients in a small saucepan and bring them to a low simmer – whisk until smooth.

6.   Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until the dry ingredients are lightly coated.
7.   Spread the mixture onto the parchment lined sheet.
8.   Bake for 8 minutes, remove the pan from the oven, place on a heatproof surface and stir evenly. Place back in the oven and bake for another 8 minutes, remove and stir.
Repeat this process until the mixture is golden brown.

9.   Add any dried fruits to the granola while it is still cooling.
10.                Granola keeps for several weeks, stored in an airtight container.

Garnish with yogurt, fresh fruit or stir it into your oatmeal.
Yum!





Thursday, July 17, 2014

Homemade Bagels - all of the deliciousness - none of the junk



Hello Bakers,

How many of you have been disappointed by supermarket bagels or even chain bagels?
I know I have been - driven by desperation to grab a fluffy processed bagel or a bag of them.
I used to try to convince myself that these things would be ok once they were toasted but
they aren't. Nothing is as delicious as a well made bagel.
Bagels are easy for us to make at home. Bagels rise (or ferment) only one time. Then they are poached, shaped and baked.
They can be topped with anything or nothing. The choice is yours.
Bagels are also a fun project to make with kids. They especially enjoy the shaping and the eating.
My culinary students turn into kids on bagel day - the only thing that makes them happier then
making bagels is making cinnamon rolls.
Another plus for bagels is that the baking time is short compared to other yeasted breads making a bagels a natural choice for summer baking.
Homemade bagels freeze for up to one month.


My go to bagel formula comes from Michael Kalanty's excellent book "How to Bake Bread",
published by Red Seal Books.
If you enjoy making bread and you do not have this book order it immediately.
This is the book.


I use this book as a textbook in my Artisan Bread Class at the Art Institute of Hollywood. All of the breads in the book are delicious and more importantly, they all work perfectly.
Chef Kalanty is a friend and colleague of mine and it is with his permission that I can pass the formula
on to you.
My only change is that I add a little more honey to the liquid the bagels are simmered. Years ago, I took a field trip to Montreal to study bagel making and noted that the bagels were boiled in a honey and water mixture.
When I asked the bakers how much honey was added to the water, they told me enough to make it look like weak tea.
There are two great cities for bagels in North America, one is New York and the other is Montreal
If you do not live in New York or Montreal you only option is to master the recipe that follows and make your own.

Bagels -
(Formula reprinted with permission from the author and publisher)

This recipe yields 12 - 4 ounce bagels
It is best scaled in grams.

Equipment:
A stand mixer with a dough hook attachment
or a a dough whisk and a good sized mixing bowl.
A baking sheet lined with parchment brushed with vegetable oil
A large pot filled 1/3 of the way with water. Add enough honey to the water so that it looks like
weak tea.
Skimmer or Spider for fishing your bagels out of the boiling water
XL Ziploc bag for proofing, cup for hot water
Oven Temperature: 375 degrees

Ingredients
505g water (cool body temperature)
5g Instant yeast
10g sugar
15g canola oil or non-olive vegetable oil
450g Bread Flour (I use King Arthur Bread Flour or Gold Medal Better for Bread)
15g salt

Optional toppings: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion flakes, kosher salt.
You can also make an everything mix with equal parts sesame seeds, poppy seeds, fennel seeds, garlic flakes, onion flakes and kosher salt.

1. In a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, combine the water, yeast, sugar, oil, flour and salt.
2. Mix on speed one for about 4 minutes until the dough reaches "clean up" stage.
3. Increase to speed two and mix for 3 more minutes. You may here the dough slap against the side of the mixer bowl. In bagel speak this is referred to as the dough being "bucky".
4. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and knead it briefly by hand.
5. Place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl and place in a warm spot to rise.
If you are a devotee of my Ziploc bag technique - place the bowl in the bag with a large cup filled 3/4s of the way with steaming water. Zip the bag shut and let the bagels ferment for 1 hour.
The ideal proofing temperature is 80 degrees.
6. After an hour, gently degas the dough and divide it into 4 ounce (114g) pieces.
7. Shape the pieces into rough torpedo shapes and let rest on your work surface, covered, for 15 minutes.

8. Turn the heat on under your pot of honey water - bring it up to a simmer.
9. Roll the bagels into a strand about 12-14" long. Join the ends by overlapping them. Roll over the join with the palm of your hand.
10. Once all the bagels are shaped poach the bagels in the simmering water for 20 seconds on each side. Place them on the oiled baking sheet about 2" apart.
11. Sprinkle with desired toppings. If the tops of the bagels become dry, spray them with a little water so your toppings will stick.
12. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.
13. When the bagels are done they are an overall golden brown. They should not feel heavy or look pale. If they do bake for an additional 5-7 minutes.
Happy Baking!
Colette








Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cinnamon Apple Loaf...how two tired apples were transformed

                                                                   
Hi Everyone,
This morning I discovered that I completely missed the two organic Honeycrisp apples in the bottom of the
big Ikea fruit bowl. Poor things - the had been covered over by the bananas, pears and cara cara oranges.
Well, they were two wrinkled to eat and they would not have made enough sauce to feed a baby if I had one.
The only thing to do was to turn them into this delectable bread. There is something so old fashioned and comforting about this loaf cake. It reminds me of my step grandmother's apple cake - it was baked in a 9x13" pan and iced with a boiled cider icing.
The loaf version is a little lighter on oil and sugar - the cinnamon sugar stands in for the icing.
Enjoy a thick slice with a mug of steaming coffee or tea. It is also perfect to brighten up a packed lunch
Happy Baking!
Colette

Cinnamon Apple Loaf
Yield: one loaf

Oven: 350 degrees
Pan Prep: Grease or spray an 8 ½”x 4” loaf pan and line the long side with parchment paper.
The paper should extend over the edge of the pan by 1”.

1 ½ cups +1 tablespoon (6.75 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
¾ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¾ cups (5 ¼ ounces) sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) melted butter
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs

2 apples, peeled and cut into small dice or grated
Optional: ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Topping: Cinnamon sugar (1/2 cup sugar + 2 teaspoons cinnamon)

1.       Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into a bowl.
2.       In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, oil, melted butter, vanilla and eggs until smooth and light in color – about 2 minutes.
3.       Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix only until they are combined.
4.       Add apples and optional nuts.
5.       Pour into prepared pan.
6.       Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar

7.       Bake for one hour – check the center with a skewer or cake tester.
8.       If the cake tester does not come out clean – then bake for an additional 7 minutes and check again.
9.       Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before moving to a rack
This loaf freezes beautifully - up to one month.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Craftsy Class Givaway - French Pastry Shop Classics

Hi Everyone,

I am so excited to announce that my next Craftsy class is debuting this week.
Click on the following link to register to win the class for free.
Good Luck and Happy Baking!
Colette
 http://www.craftsy.com/ext/ColetteChristian_Giveaway
Inline image 6

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Croissants

Hi Everyone,

The Thanksgiving Croissant post is live on the Craftsy Blog.
Please check it out - leftovers and croissant dough = magic!
Happy Baking!
Colette
http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2013/11/thanksgiving-leftover-croissants/

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Beauty and the Baguette - Baking with a fifty year old starter.




Hi Everyone,

Recently, one of my students, Tyler gave me some fifty year old sourdough starter. 
Yes, fifty years old and rocking strong.  We had about 12 ounces and we promptly named him "50 cent" after the rapper.
Tyler had been working at Chef Phillip Lee's restaurant "Scratch" on La Cienaga in Los Angeles. "50 cent" had been brought to the kitchen by one of the sous-chefs, Ryan.
50 cent had been in Ryan's family for fifty years. He looked and smelled great. He is the George Clooney of starters.

 When he arrived 50 cent was more bubbly and strong then my beloved starter, Sofia. Great care had been taken of him over the years. I was very impressed and delighted. A new family member - Sofia's long lost grandfather.

I began feeding him 50% filtered water and 50% Harvest King Bread flours I was instructed. At home, I use Gold Medal, Better for Bread to feed my starters and for my bread baking.
The other important thing I did was to bring a portion of 50 cent home - just in case something would happen to the refrigeration at work and I would lose him. 
I have some Sofia at home as well. I keep them both strong and healthy - it's important to always have a back up when you are working with sourdough at work.

Yesterday I made my first baguettes with 50 cent. They turned out great. The recipe is inspired by the River Cottage Bread Book.
The dough is very sticky but it needs to be for a good open crumb.
It can also be overnight fermented in the refrigerator to develop more flavor.

yield: 2 baguettes
330 grams water
3-5g instant yeast (use less if the starter is very active) (optional if your starter is very strong)
4 ounces starter 
500g bread flour
10g salt
1. Combine water, yeast and starter in the mixer bowl.
2. Add flour and salt.
3. With the dough hook on speed 2 mix the dough for 4 minutes until it clears the side of the bowl.
It may stick to the sides and the bottom of the bowl - resist the urge to add extra flour.
4. Remove the dough from the bowl and stretch and fold a few times to smooth the dough.

5. Place the dough in a bowl, cover, and let rest for 45 minutes.
6. After 45 minutes, stretch and fold again. Repeat this process 3 more times.
7. Let the dough rest 10 minutes after the final fold and divide in half.
8. Shape into logs and let rest for 10 minutes, covered. **They were covered right after I took the photo.

9. Shape into baguettes, place on a parchment lined floured sheetpan or in an oiled baguette tray.
10. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
11. Place the baguettes in the proofing bag with a mug of steaming water.

12. Let proof until the baguettes have risen about 1/3 and have a marshmallow texture. The baguettes are proofed when you gently squeeze the sides of the baguette and you finger indentation does not spring back.
13. Dust the baguettes with flour, slash the baguettes (5 slashes are typical) and lightly spray the surface with water.
14. Place the baguettes in the hot oven and spray the oven door with a light mist of water.
15. Check at 25 minutes. The baguettes should be golden brown and feel light when you pick them up.
Use a towel or a oven mitt as they are hot. They will probably need a 5-7 minutes more baking time.
If the baguettes are getting too dark, turn the oven temperature down 25 degrees.
Let them cool and enjoy.
Happy Baking!
Colette

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sugarwork for Revlon is now in print

Hi Everyone,

I am so thrilled that the sugarwork I did for Revlon last year is now in print.
So exciting. It is in major fashion magazines and on billboards.
I found it on this one at National and Overland Boulevards in Los Angeles.
Happy Baking!
Colette

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pita at Home

Hello Bakers,

Pita is the second installment in our flatbread series. This recipe is easy to make.
Recently, I invested in a large baking stone from Sur La Table. it covers the entire rack which means there is lots of room to bake. I can bake 3 pitas at once. A pizza peel is a good investment for getting them out of the oven.
If you don't have a pizza peel and I did not have one for a very long time then the back of a baking sheet will also work. Make sure you have your oven mits on as the bread will be hot!
This recipe makes 6 pitas. Any leftovers freeze beautifully.


Pita
18g
Instant Yeast (SAF brand works best)
10 ounces
water
1 ½ ounces
vegetable oil
500g
Bread flour
10g
salt
PREP: You will need a full sheet pans – turned upside down – lined with parchment
SCALING/MIXING:
  • Dissolve the yeast into the water – whisk briefly to combine
  • Once yeast is fully dissolved, add the flour and salt
  •  Knead until smooth and resilient. This should take 6-8 min. by hand.
  • If using a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, mix for 3 min. on speed 1 until “clean up” stage and the finish on speed dough for an additional 2 min..
  • Knead briefly by hand to smooth the dough.
PROOFING:
  • Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let sit until it has doubled. This takes about 1 hour depending on the temperature of the kitchen.
BAKING:
  • Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Line the back of 2 baking sheets with parchment - the trays are upside down (it looks strange but it is correct)
  • Divide dough into 6 portions. Roll into loose balls and let rest on the counter, covered, for about 10 min.
  • Roll the dough into a 5-6” circle on a lightly floured counter ¼” thick too thick and the pita doesn’t puff – too thin and they will not puff
  • Place on the back of parchment lined trays – let sit at room temperature, uncovered until the dough forms a skin (about 15 minutes)
  •  Using the pan like a pizza peel jerk the pita into the oven (the paper will go with it)
  • Bake for 3-5 minutes – remove carefully with pizza peel – remove all the parchment paper from the oven as well. The breads should be puffy and have very little color.
Happy Baking!
Colette




Thursday, July 18, 2013

Craftsy Summer Sale - 4 days only

Hi Everyone,

Craftsy is having a great summer sale - sign up now for all those classes you have been wanting to take.
http://www.craftsy.com/ext/ColetteChristian_holiday



Happy Baking!
Colette