Gateau de Savoie: another French classic!

May 2, 2016 § Leave a comment

Growing up in France, this cake was part of every household’s repertoire. Easy, simple, yet surprisingly satisfying, it belongs to the standards and you will certainly enjoy its minimal ingredient list as well as its ease of preparation. Dorie Greenspan certainly did when she included the following recipe in her “Baking Chez Moi”!!

IMG_0033Give it a try too!

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You’ll need:

1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar, plus extra for dusting

6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 1/4 cups (170 g) all-purpose flour

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter a Bundt or large cake pan (at least 12-cup capacity). Dust with sugar and tap out excess.

Put egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Put yolks in a large bowl.

Add sugar to the yolks and immediately start beating with a whisk or hand mixer (you do not want the yolks and sugar to stand, because the sugar will “burn” the yolks and cause them to form a “skin”). Beat until mixture is pale and so thick that when you lift the whisk (or beaters), it falls back on itself in a slowly dissolving ribbon. Beat in the vanilla.IMG_0001IMG_0002

Add the salt to the egg whites and whip until they hold firm, glossy peaks.IMG_0003  IMG_0004 IMG_0005 IMG_0006

Scoop out about 2 tablespoons of the whites, put them on top of the yolks and, using a flexible  spatula, stir them in to thin the yolks a little.IMG_0007

Pour the flour over the yolks and fold it in. The mixture  which will be very thick, should be well blended. Add another 2 TBsp or so of the whites and, once again, stir them in to lighten the mixture.IMG_0010IMG_0011

Finally, scrape all the remaining whites into the bowl and gently fold them in with the spatula. IMG_0009It’s better to have a few streaks of whites in the batter than to work the mixture so long that the whites deflate. Turn the batter out into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a bamboo stick inserted deep into the center comes out dry. IMG_0012Transfer pan to a rack and let the cake  sit for 5 minutes, then use a knife to pry the cake away from the sides of the pan if necessary. Turn the cake over onto a cutting board and let it rest for 3 minutes, just to create some steam, then remove the pan. Transfer cake to a rack to cool right side up.

Just before serving, dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar.

This cake is extremely simple and even basic but still delicious on its own or dunked into a cup of coffee. However, it is often served with some jam, or a fruit salad (to absorb its juices) or even better, some lemon curd. Its sponge cake qualities really allow many pairings. We actually cut the cake in half and spread its center with a rich chocolate buttercream!! Just pick your own garnish and enjoy!!IMG_0014

 

 

Creative Blogger Award

April 28, 2016 § 4 Comments

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Big thanks are in order for Nell at “I need a feed” for including me in her list of nominees. I always feel a bit like an imposter amongst the incredibly talented and uber-creative bloggers out there and I am completely surprised. But let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth and let’s get to business:

So the rules are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  2.  Share 5 things about yourself.
  3.  Nominate up to 15 bloggers.
  4. Keep the rules in your post.

THANK YOU again Nell, truly appreciate your ongoing support all the way from down under, mind you!!!!

Five things about myself:

  1. Moved to the USA more than 25 years ago from my native France.
  2. Started cooking and baking very late in life. Always thought my mom was the queen of the kitchen and that there was nothing there for me..It turns out that there is and with baking especially. It works quite well when you have bit of OCD: following the recipe and measuring ingredients being essential in baking, it suits me just fine.
  3. I am a movie buff and since acquiring a movie pass card, I usually see 2 to 3 movies a week.
  4. I used to work on a cruise ship! (Remember Julie McCoy, anyone?)
  5. One of my favorite authors is Stephen King.

My nominations are:

Enjoy checking those out: the recipes AND the photography are absolutely brilliant!!

Strawberry Peach Crumble

April 24, 2016 § Leave a comment

Fresh fruit will soon be the main event at your dessert table and this Strawberry Peach Crumble should be a very nice way to conclude a Spring lunch.

This recipe was actually published in the Martha Stewart May 2013 issue, as the ending of a Mother’s Day lunch!! Enjoy it on any occasion!!

You’ll need:

Crumble

  • 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for baking dish
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 ounces pine nuts, toasted (1/3 cup)

Filling

  • 4 apricots, pitted and cut into sixths (about 2 cups) We used peaches instead
  • 12 ounces strawberries (about 15), hulled and halved, or quartered if large (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all crumble ingredients in a medium bowl and massage together with your fingers until butter is incorporated and mixture forms small clumps. Refrigerate until mixture is cold, at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.IMG_2947

  2. IMG_2948Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 1/2-inch shallow round baking dish or pie plate. Combine all filling ingredients in another medium bowl.IMG_2949 Transfer to baking dish and top with crumble. IMG_2950IMG_2951Bake until bubbling in center and crumble is browned, about 40 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.IMG_2952

Yogurt Cake with Apples and Raisins

April 18, 2016 § 1 Comment

Back to one of our favorite “easy” cakes: the French “gateau au yaourt” or yogurt cake! SWEETTABLESCAPES has made so many of those..and yet we never tire of the ease and simplicity of this French classic. It is truly the ultimate “everyday” cake that you can whip up for your kids at a moment’s notice, especially here, when all you need are staples in every kitchen: yogurt, apples and raisins. This recipe comes from “Simple comme un gateau au yaourt” (As simple as a yogurt cake) of course! We’ve made several others, here and here

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Remember that the magic trick for these “yogurt cake” recipes is that you use the yogurt container to measure most of the ingredients, making for a quick process with minimal cleaning! If you don’t have a similar yogurt cup, just measure 1/2 cup. It works too!

You’ll need:

1 jar yogurt

4 eggs

2 jars sugar

1 jar vegetable oil

3 jars flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 golden apples

70g raisins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F

In a large bowl, stir 1 jar yogurt with 4 eggs until thoroughly blended.IMG_0025 IMG_0026

Add 2 jars sugar and mixIMG_0027

Add 1 jar oil and blend well.IMG_0028

Add 3 jars flour and 1 tsp baking powder. Mix thoroughly.IMG_0029

Wash the apples, peel them and cut them into small cubes. Add them to the mixture with the raisins. Mix.IMG_0030

Butter a loaf pan or several smaller pans or paper pans. Fill with the batter IMG_0031and bake:

45 minutes for a large loaf, 30 for smaller pans, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle, comes out clean.IMG_0032

 

 

Seed Cookies: for the little bird in you!

April 11, 2016 § Leave a comment

SWEETTABLESCAPES is all about crunch these days and lately, we’ve tried some new cookie recipes that deliver that delightful “snap at first bite” (see here and here). Because we all know that texture is as important as taste when you enjoy your sweets!! So these super crunchy Seed Cookies deliver exactly that, for a noisy and delicious snack! We also love the hint of anise provided by the fennel seeds. Enjoy!!

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The recipe comes from “Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy, Melt-in-your-mouth Cookies” by Alice Meldrich (that title says it all….what did we say about texture, huh?).

You’ll need:

2 tsp black sesame seeds or poppy seeds

2 tsp white sesame seeds

2 tsp flaxseeds

2 tsp fennel seeds

1/4 cup coarse raw sugar, such as Sugar in the Raw or Demerara sugar

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

8 TBsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 TBsp bourbon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375F. Position racks in upper and lower thirds.

Combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and mix together thoroughly.

With a large spoon in a medium mixing bowl or with an electric mixer, mix the butter with the granulated sugar until smooth and well blended but not fluffy. IMG_0009IMG_0010

Add the egg and bourbon and mix until smooth. IMG_0011IMG_0012Add the flour mixture until completely incorporated.IMG_0013IMG_0014

On a lightly floured surface, shape all of the dough into an 8-inch square patty a generous 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle the dough with half of the seeds and sugar. Roll lightly over the seeds with a rolling pin to press them in. IMG_0017Cut the dough into 8 equal strips in each direction to make 64 equal pieces.

Flip the cookies  2 inches apart onto a baking sheet and sprinkle the bottom side (now up) with the rest of the seed-sugar mixture; press it into the dough.

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Cool completely before stacking or storing. May be kept in an airtight container for at least 2 weeks.IMG_0020IMG_0021

 

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Dark Chocolate Semifreddo: a light(er) dessert to enjoy after a heavy meal

April 3, 2016 § Leave a comment

Sweettablescapes recently hosted a casual “raclette” dinner with friends and we needed something light and refreshing to finish off this rich dinner; (for those who are not familiar with “raclette”, it is a traditional winter meal where cheese is melted and “scraped” (in French “racler”) off onto a plate of cold cuts and potatoes. The perfect apres-ski dinner in the Alps, it has become a very casual and convivial way to entertain since everyone sits around the “raclette” while the cheese melts. No cooking is really required for the hostess, except for the potatoes and everyone helps themselves to the cheese and tray of meats.)

What to serve after a hot and hyper-caloric meal? More calories, I ‘m afraid…but in the refreshing and cooling form of a Chocolate Semifreddo.  This airy dessert is a cross between ice-cream and frozen chocolate mousse and  can be prepared up to 3 days in advance (don’t you love “do-ahead” recipes?). Serve it with whipped cream! Now, we wouldn’t be real bakers if we didn’t add a wonderful tray of “petits-fours” to accompany this frozen treat. So we wowed our guests with some miniature desserts: Meringues, Chocolate Moelleux (close cousins to brownies), Raspberry Cream Puffs, Pecan Tartlets with Cranberry Curd, Mini Madeleines, Caneles and Marshmallows. IMG_0037Even if everyone does not eat everything, it makes for a lovely selection of flavors and textures and a beautiful presentation.

Here is the recipe for the Semifreddo (Bon Appetit, April 2016):IMG_0011

You’ll need:

  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
  • cups heavy cream, divided
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • cup sugar
  • A candy thermometer

Directions:

  • Combine chocolate, vanilla, and ¼ tsp. salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Heat 1½ cups cream in a small saucepan over medium until barely simmering. Pour hot cream over chocolate mixture and let sit until chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk chocolate mixture until combined and smooth. Chill, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 1 hour. IMG_0009
  • Beat egg whites and a pinch of salt on high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment until soft peaks form. 
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  • Meanwhile, cook sugar and ⅓ cup water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Clip thermometer to the side of saucepan; increase heat to medium. Bring to a boil without stirring and cook until thermometer registers 250°. 
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  • Working quickly and with motor running, pour syrup into egg whites in a steady stream, avoiding whisk so syrup doesn’t splatter. Beat until glossy, stiff peaks form (be careful not to overbeat).
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  • Using an electric mixer, beat chilled chocolate mixture until soft peaks form. IMG_0010Gently fold in meringue, leaving a few streaks. IMG_0011 IMG_0012Scrape into a large loaf pan and cover. IMG_0013Freeze until solid, at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.
  • Just before serving, let semifreddo sit at room temperature 15 minutes. Beat remaining 1 cup cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Serve scoops of semifreddo in small bowls with whipped cream.

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Gentleman’s Birthday Cookies

March 31, 2016 § Leave a comment

We make a lot of “sweet” cookies here at Sweettablescapes, pardon the pun! They are quite often meant for children or young ladies, baby or bridal showers and weddings, but much less so for gentlemen. And that is certainly not to mean that the men in our lives don’t enjoy their treats…but for some reason, we don’t make as many goodies for men as we do for women; so it was with great excitement and trepidation that Sweettablescapes recently created two cookies for a Frank Sinatra cigar-loving fan, celebrating his birthday!!!

So you guessed it, we made some cigars and a sheet-music cookie of Frank’s famous song “My Way” (which, as every French person will proudly remind you, was originally written and sung by a famous French singer, Claude Francois, under the title “Comme d’habitude” – As usual- and became a hit in France. Yes, yes it is true!!)

Here are these gentlemen’s cookies:

 

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Our musician followers will notice that the notes are indeed the melody for “My Way”.

And here are some nice Cohiba cigars!!!

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And a bonus set just for the birthday boy!!

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