Bread, silent word of a gesture of friendship

.

Bread, which fundamentally unites men
and for which they wage war

.

 

Bread 1

 

The history of bread goes back at least 30,000 years. The first bread produced was probably cooked versions of a grain-paste, made from roasted and ground cereal grains and water, and may have been developed by accidental cooking or deliberate experimentation with water and grain flour. Descendants of these early flatbreads are still commonly made from various grains in many parts of the world, including Armenian lavashs and Iranian sangaks, taboons, Mexican tortilla, Indian bread chapati, roti and naan, Scottish oatcake, North American johnnycake, Jewish Matzo, Middle Eastern pita, and Ethiopian injera. Flat bread of these types also formed a staple in the diet of many early civilizations with the Sumerians eating a type of barley flat cake, and the 12th century BC Egyptians being able to purchase a flat bread called ta from stalls in the village streets. The ritual bread in ancient Greek offerings to the chthonic gods, known as psadista was made of fine flour, oil and wine.

Bread 2

 

Image show whole wheat bread with rye sour dough and home-made pork pate

I love my bread. The only thing I like more than actually eating a good piece of bread, is making it. I don’t mean any old bread. No, it has to be a slow fermented sourdough. Best is when the grains are a bit mixed up. Some rye for the flavour, whole wheat for the wholesomeness, sometimes I use some heritage grains, if I can get my hands on some.

Making bread is an exercise of patience. It is not something you throw together, and voila … here it is. NO, making a decent sourdough takes the better part of a week, if you are not one of those people who have some on the ready at all times. And the process of fermenting the dough and waiting for it to turn into something so special, that songs, poems and prayers have been written about it, is a test well rewarded.

Bread 4

Various spreads to go with it are best home-made … naturally. My very own Chicken Liver Pate would do just nicely. If you can get over the cleaning of raw liver … but hey, … it tastes great!!

But it doesn’t have to be savoury, …

Bread 5

… a bit of good butter topped with a jam, like this Rose Jam, made by my friends in Lebanon. It had to travel half way around the world just to be united with some awesome bread, my bread, to be turned into … well … Dessert.

There are recipes floating through the internet, like this “No Knead Bread’ and similar. I came up with my own simple recipe based on the ‘lazy man’s bread’.

.

Thomas’ Rye-Whole Wheat Bread

  • 125 g Dark Rye Flour
  • 175 g Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour
  • 300 g Organic Bread Flour (get the good stuff)
  • 15 g Sea Salt
  • 125 g Sour Dough (100% Hydration)
  • 3 g Instant Yeast (yes, I like a bit help there)
  • 480 ml water (25°C) (80% hydration)
  • Optional: Caraway seeds, Fennel seeds

Bread 7

  • Sift the flour together
  • Add salt and yeast
  • Pour in the Sour dough and add the water
  • Use a rye sour dough or a wheat sour dough, experiment. I like a mixed sourdough for not to get the bread too sour.
  • Mix by hand or in a mixer until fully combined
  • Let rest for two hours in a plastic bowl, and mix again. Sprinkle a little flour on top and cover with a kitchen cloth.
  • Now, here come the variations … If I know for sure I will bake the next day, I let the dough rest at room temperature (25 – 28°C) for about 12 hours (sometimes a little more). Then, on a floured Bread flour and durum wheat semolina) work surface, work the dough a little. It will be quite sticky.
  • Fold it over from the sides, and then repeat from top to bottom and vice versa. You should be getting a decent ball of bread dough.
  • Place into wicker basket. Do not forget to flour it generously, cover with a cloth and let it raise again until it increased by about 50-75%. This can take somewhere from an hour to two and a half.
  • The other option would be to stick the dough into the refrigerator and leave it there for about 48 hours. Work it just the same and let it rise in your wicker basket. This method will give you a little more pronounced flavour.
  • While the bread is rising, heat your oven to at least 260°C. Use a baking stone. Metal baking trays will just not work.
  • I use a cast iron pot preheated to 260°C, including the lid.
  • When the bread dough has risen, and it still has enough ‘spring’ left, turn it onto the baking stone, place a baking tray underneath and pour a cup of water onto it for some steam.
  • Bake for 25 min. Let the steam escape and finish baking for an additional 30 min at 225°C, or until the loaf sound hollow when taped on the bottom.

Bread 8

  • If you use a cast iron pot, bake for 25 minutes with the closed lid, remove the lid and finish baking for another 30 min.
  • Let completely cool on wire rack
  • I usually, if I can stand it, let the bread sit in a paper bag (plastic bag will let the bread-crust go soft) until the next day for the flavours to ‘mingle’

Bread 9

.

HAPPY BAKING

.

.

.

Bitter, sharp, packed so neat

 

LEMONS

By Samy Stein
Bitter, sharp, packed so neat
Whose for a lemon treat?
Suck it slow, your mouth contorts
Eat it quick, you might feel sick
But add it little to a drink
or whip it in some cream and sink
your spoon into the lemon-goo
I bet , like me, you like lemons too

.

I bet like me you like lemons too 7

I have been writing about it previously, … and still, … one of my favourites, … the good old lemon. Depending on the region you get it from, it varies from various yellows to shades of green … or both …

As big as an orange, or as small as cherry, thick skinned, like a school-yard-bully, or as delicate as papyrus … just like people … the good old lemon has character too and just as many variations.

I put it into cakes, or I drink it as … you guessed it … liquor … a little Limoncello doesn’t hurt, .. right …

I bet like me you like lemons too 5

In the last couple of weeks I had conducted a few training with some of our customers, and a lemon cake starred in each one of them. Soft, moist, a little tangy, definitely really, really good …

I can not claim this recipe as my own, … but how original is putting a pound of each ingredient together. Chef David has handed it to me a few months ago, and it is only fair to mention him as the originator, … because … it is really, really good … (the cake that is) …

And yesterday again I set out to bake a little Quatre-Quarts Léger Au Citron, and as usual, it disappeared in various bellies of my coworkers.

IMG_0841

 

And if you feel so inclined, below the recipe. it could not be simpler. And with regional variations of the lemon, everybody will have his/her unique and original Lemon Cake.

.

… HAPPY BAKING

.

LEMON POUND CAKE

QUATRE-QUARTS LÉGER AU CITRON

Ingredients: 

  • 375 g Unsalted Butter
  • 375 g Icing Sugar
  • 375 g Eggs
  • 500 g Cake Flour
  • 15 g Baking Powder
  • 3 pc lemon zest

Lemon Syrup:

  • 100 g Lemon Juice
  • 125 ml water
  • 250 g Sugar

Method:

  • Cream Butter and sugar
  • Add lemon zest
  • Add eggs
  • Sift the flour and baking powder
  • Fold into the batter
  • Bake at 160˚C for 40 min
  • Pour over lemon syrup when still hot

.

Well, there you have it. Lemon Pound Cake. You will be the favourite person for quite a while when this little gem comes out of the oven !!!

IMG_0842

 

.

.

.

Down to earth Where we humans are

.allejahrewieder

Alle Jahre wieder
kommt das Christuskind
auf die Erde nieder,
wo wir Menschen sind.

Kehrt mit seinem Segen
ein in jedes Haus,
geht auf allen Wegen
mit uns ein und aus.

Steht auch mir zur Seite
still und unerkannt,
dass es treu mich leite
an der lieben Hand.

Sagt den Menschen allen,
dass ein Vater ist,
dem sie wohlgefallen,
der sie nicht vergisst.

Aus der Himmel ferne,
wo die Englein sind,
schaut doch Gott so gerne
her auf jedes Kind.

Alle Jahre wieder

 Lyrics by Johann Wilhelm Hey (1837) set to music by Friedrich Silcher

photos family (67)

Christmas in Vienna – pre 1972

.

Every year, without fail, I have been crating Christmas cakes and other goodies for the holiday season. What started many decades ago in my grandmothers kitchen, became a profession and then a vocation … and ultimately a lifestyle.

The importance of Christmas as religious fixture in our annual calendar may have been gone. The waiting and anxiety, the fascination of the child may have been diminished.

IMG_0272

But the anticipation of the sweet treats, the fruits and nuts, spices and syrups … the composition of flavours and textures into a loaf of cake … or into the delicate structure of a biscuit. The ever returning ritual of creation, the mixing and baking, icing and decoration …

There is a satisfaction in the creation. A relieve in the familiar and the ritual. We all have our Christmas Cake, our go to cake of this season. I am sharing here a recipe that has been modified and re-formulated a few times. I trust you will find comfort in trying, and maybe make it your own.

.IMG_0267


An Orangie Christmas Fruit Cake


Ingredients:

  • 225 g dried Turkish Figs
  • 550 g dried currants
  • 200 g prunes
  • 200 g raisins
  • 150 g dried apricots
  • 250 g candied orange peel
  • 200 ml Grand Marnier
  • 275 g salted butter
  • ½ tsp. fleur de sel
  • 275 g dark brown sugar
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 pc whole eggs
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. cloves powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp. ginger powder
  • 125 g all-purpose flour
  • 150 g cake flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 100 g almond powder
  • 200 g chopped walnuts
  • 100 g shelled and peeled pistachios
  • 1 tbsp. black honey (the good kind (!))
 

Instructions:

  • Quarter the figs and dried apricots, half the prunes and mix with the rest of the dried fruits in a large bowl
  • Pour over the Grand Marnier and mix well, cover with plastic film, and let soak over night
  • Next day, pre-heat the oven to 140 ºC
  • In a mixing bowl combine the dark brown sugar, salted butter, fleur de sel, orange- and lemon zest
  • Mix with your favorite kitchen mixer until creamy
  • Add the eggs one by one, scrape down the sides after each egg
  • In a separate bowl sift the flour, the spices and baking powder
  • Once the butter mixture is creamy add on top of the fruit mixture.
  • Add the remaining ingredients
  • Mix with a wooden spoon until incorporated
  • Line the bottom of a 20 cm cake pan with baking paper, and brush lightly with butter
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins
  • Put in the oven and pour a glass of water onto the baking tray holding your cakes to generate a little steam
  • Bake for about 2½ hours at 140 ºC, until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean
  • Let the cake cool completely
  • Wrap the cake in plastic foil and store over night in a cool place
  • Sprinkle the cake with 3 tbsp. of your favourite Brandy
  • Re-wrap the cake and store for a week, and sprinkle again with 3 tbsp. of Brandy
  • Brush with hot orange marmalade
  • Decorate the cake with nuts and dried fruit and brush with orange marmalade again
.IMG_0280
.

HAPPY BAKING

.
.
chef thomas logo

… zwei Gulden und sechsunddreißig Kreuzer …

.

… Da nimm einen leeren Sack, denn du wirst was heimtragen. Da nimm meinen Stecken, denn es ist viel Schnee, und da nimm eine Laterne, denn der Pfad ist schlecht und die Stege sind vereist. Du mußt hinabgehen nach Langenwang …

… Überall in den Häusern wurde gemetzgert, gebacken, gebraten, gekellert; ich beneidete die Leute nicht; ich bedauerte sie vielmehr, daß sie nicht ich waren, der mit so großem Segen beladen gen Alpel zog. Das wird morgen ein Christtag werden! Denn die Mutter kann’s, wenn sie die Sachen hat. Ein Schwein ist ja auch geschlachtet worden daheim, das gibt Fleischbrühe mit Semmelbrocken, Speckfleck, Würste, Nierenlümperln, Knödelfleisch mit Kren, dann erst die Krapfen, die Zuckernudeln, das Schmalzkoch mit Weinbeerln und Safran! – Die Herrenleut’ da in Langenwang haben so was alle Tag, das ist nichts, aber wir haben es im Jahr einmal und kommen mit unverdorbenem Magen dazu, das ist was! – Und doch dachte ich auf diesem belasteten Freudenmarsch weniger noch aus Essen, als an das liebe Christkind und sein hochheiliges Fest. Am Abende, wenn ich nach Hause komme, werde ich aus der Bibel davon vorlesen, die Mutter und die Magd Mirzel werden Weihnachtslieder singen; dann, wenn es zehn Uhr wird, werden wir uns ausmachen nach Sankt Kathrein, und in der Kirche die feierliche Christmette begehen bei Glocken, Musik und unzähligen Lichtern. Und am Seitenaltar ist das Krippel ausgerichtet mit Ochs und Esel und den Hirten, und auf dem Berg die Stadt Bethlehem und darüber die Engel, …

Peter  Rosegger – Waldheimat
Erzählungen aus der Jugendzeit – Als ich Christtagsfreude holen ging

.

kletzenbrot 1

Naturally it all starts with going shopping. Miss en place, as a chef would call it. Dried fruits from all corners of this world, fruit peels and nuts, and spices. This is when you realise, … it is Christmas soon. A bit of cutting, a bit of chopping and soaking and marinating ….

kletzenbrot 2

Image: Kletzen and dried figs marinating in red wine reduction

Die Kletze (bairisch-österreichisch, meist im Plural Kletzen), Hutze (alemannisch), hochdeutsch Dörrbirne, ist die getrocknete Birne als Dörrobst. Das Darren dient speziell der Haltbarmachung (Konservierung).

The “Kletze” is a dried pear, unique to the alpine region. It is not an ‘eating-pear’, but is dried for cake and used in cider.

Every self-respecting Grandmother, Mother, and some not-so-contemporary wife, sister, daughter will have a recipe of KLETZENBROT that has been handed down through generations. As a Pastry Chef I have come across my fair share of recipes. And without fail, every year, I will pull one out and produce this little treat.

kletzenbrot 4

This treat is not so little. It takes a fair bit of work. And living in Saigon, Vietnam, some of the ingredients are not so easy to come by. In particular the Kletzen, … otherwise it would be no Kletzenbrot … no? Hand carried from the Austrian Waldviertel, all the way to Saigon.  … this is how you know who your friends are …

Here is a recipe that is not any less labor intensive, but really easy to make. And best of all … it is really yummy ….

kletzenbrot 6


KLETZENBROT


INGREDIENTS:

For the fruits mixture:

250 g Dried Figs
250 g Dried Apricots
500 g Kletzen (Dried Pears from the Austrian Wadviertel)
450 ml Red Wine
100 ml Port Wine or Marsala
125 g Sugar
12 whole Cloves
1 Medium Cinnamon Stick
1 small Star Anise
 
100 g Whole walnuts
100 g Whole hazelnuts
50 g Shelled (green) pistachios
100 g Pine seeds lightly roasted
100 g Whole brown Almonds
200 g Raisins (the big plump kind)
200 g Candied Orange peel (diced)
100 ml Dark rum

The Bread Dough:

250 g Dark rye flour
100 g Whole wheat flour
150 g Bread flour
12 g Dry instant yeast
2 g Sea salt
5 g Granulated Sugar
Pinch Cinnamon powder
Pinch Ginger Powder

Glaze:

90 ml Strong Coffee
110 g Granulated sugar
 

kletzenbrot 3

METHOD:

  • On the day prior to your baking adventure, bring the red wine, port, sugar and spices to a boil. Take of the heat and let sit for a couple of minutes.
  • Cut the figs and Kletzen in half and pour the the hot wine mixture through a strainer over the fruits. Let sit over night.
  • With the bread-dough ingredients mix a firm bread dough. …. I have taken some of the flour on the previous day and started a starter-dough.
  • Let the dough rest for 45 minutes.
  • in the meantime cut the figs and Kletzen into stripes. Mix in the fruit mixture and nuts and add to the bread dough.
  • With wet hands shape 10 – 12 small loaves. Decorate with fruits and almonds
  • Bake at 150 – 160 C for about 45-50 minutes
  • In the meantime cook the coffee and sugar to a syrup
  • Brush the finished, still hot Kletzenbrot ,at least twice
  • Let cool completely, wrap in plastic foil and store in a cool place.
  • Slice, and serve with vanilla butter

.

kletzenbrot 5

I like my Kletzenbrot, lightly toasted, with some vanilla butter … salted butter, of course … and a little digestive on the side ….

Now Christmas can come ….

.

.

.

cropped-chef-thomas-logo2.jpg

 

 

 

 

He’s the little boy that Santa Claus forgot

.

.

This is a re-blog of a previous rant of mine. I just thought it appropriate since I was making Weihnachtsstollen just a couple of days ago. For me this is the beginning of the end of the year, and beginning of the festive season.

.

 

He’s the little boy that Santa Claus forgot,
And goodness knows, he didn’t want a lot.

He sent a note to Santa
For some soldiers and a drum,
It broke his little heart 
When he found Santa hadn’t come.

In the street he envies all those lucky boys,
Then wanders home to last year’s broken toys.
I’m so sorry for that laddie,
He hasn’t got a daddy,
The little boy that Santa Claus forgot.

(You know, Christmas comes but once a year for every girl and boy,
The laughter and the joy they find in each brand new toy.
I’ll tell you of a little boy that lives across the way…
This little fella’s Christmas is just another day.
He’s the little boy that Santa Claus forgot,
And goodness knows, he didn’t want a lot.)

In the street he envies all those lucky boys,
Then wanders home to last year’s broken toys.
I’m so sorry for that laddie,
He hasn’t got a daddy,
The little boy that Santa Claus forgot.

Nat King Cole,
The little boy that Santa Claus forgot.
.

Santa did not forget me. And yes, this little boy is me. It is my sister and me, a few decades ago (dare I say many decades ago?).

Christmas baking has always been a central part of our lives when we grew up. My grand mother was a wizard in the kitchen. I still can smell the Schokoladekeks, Vanuillekipferl, Linzeraugen, Windbäckerei, Lebkuchen and all the other goodies she would hide in her bedroom, which would be shared only little plate by little plate.

My mother would make, without fail, every year a gingerbread house which would be demolished and devoured at christmas, as above image so clearly shows.

To this very day it is a central pre-christmas ritual. It would not be christmas without a few evenings, …. and night in the kitchen, weighing, mixing, stirring, melting and baking and …. licking. Do not forget licking of the many spoons with sweet and buttery yummieness.

And this year, without fail, I got into my kitchen to prepare my Weihnachtsstollen. The beginning always make the fruits marinated in the best brandy I can find. This year it was a Calvados we brought back from our trip to the Normandy just a couple of weeks ago.

And after some mixing and fermenting, resting and some more mixing, I ended up with these four beautiful pieces of dough, studded with Calvados-marinated fruits and peels, emanating this mix of spices and fruity scent, that can mean only one thing. Christmas is coming.

And since one goodness in seldom enough, I stuffed my Weihnachtsstollen with some marzipan. …. all the way from Lübeck … naturally.

Now, baked and dipped (not brushed !!) in plenty hot butter and rolled in vanilla laced powdered sugar, this beauty is awaiting christmas.

The following morning one could still smell the fruits and spices and vanilla and the smell only a fresh christmas cake can give, in the whole house.

Hopefully we will have some left when Santa does not forget THIS LITTLE BOY ….

.

.

.

honeycomb, flakiness and ‘au beurre’

.

.

Fresh and flakey on the outside, a slightly chewy honeycomb texture on the inside … it tastes of toasted buttery caramelisation, tangy undertones of Normandy milk, the sweet richness of cultivated yeasts and long fermentation. Buttery streaks on your fingers, tiny, and sometimes not-so-tiny shards of golden-brown flakes of crust on your shirt … more often than not an almost messy exercise at breakfast … an emotional exercise first thing in the morning … yes indeed, the croissant … Croissant au Beurre … bien sûr …
.
French Croissant 3
.
A Damascene moment every time at my first breakfast in Paris. It may be my favorite chocolatier I visit, first thing when I arrive, or Gérard Mulot for a Kuglof. But really looking forward … I am to my first petit déjeuner … café, jus d’orange frais et croissant au beurre … Same ritual every time.
.
Gugelhupf
Kuglof from Gérard Mulot, 76 Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris
.
I am a baker. I have learned the art of fermentation and lamination from some very good and passionate people, … artist at yeasts, flour and butter …
.
Delmas
Petit déjeuner’ at Café Delmas at Place de la Contrescarpe
.
Many probably not quite liberté, égalité, but if you belong to the few, … the masters of flakey butteriness, … then definitely … fraternité.
… so, yeah, it is emotional … !!
.
10440261_4418645841682_51053717618796934_n
.
•The Kipferl, ancestor of the croissant, has been documented in Austria going back at least as far as the 13th century, in various shapes.
•The French version of the Kipferl was named for its crescent (croissant) shape and has become an identifiable shape across the world.
•Lamination is term for the process of alternating layers of dough and butter when making pastry.
•The best tasting and best looking laminated dough use butter. When heated, the water in butter turns to steam. The thin layers of butter in laminated dough cause the dough to puff up and rise during baking, giving croissants and puff pastry their layered and crispy look, and the milk solids in the butter cause the pastry to brown – and, of course, tastes delicious.
DSC_0060
There are plenty of recipes for Croissant au Beurre out there, so I don’t have to bore you with one more. But if you feel adventurous, here is a whole-wheat croissant recipe from David Lebovitz you may wan a give a try.
.

Bon Appétit

.

.

 

getting the monk drunk …

.

Besoffener Kapuziner

My version of Besoffener Kapuziner …
Walnut-Apple pudding, soaked in lightly spiced and sweetened Muskadet Wine, served with vanilla ice cream and a brandy sauce

.

Back home in Austria, especially in Vienna, we like to blame, or credit, the Kapuziner Monks for a range of alcoholic delights. Not least the Kapuziner Kaffee, which ultimately became the Cappuccino, and there is the Besoffener Kapuziner. This little cake is a hazelnut sponge or soufflé soaked in spiced wine.

I didn’t sit down to write about the old friar, … naturally … but of course … cake. The French version, or version of it, is the Baba Au Rhum. While the (original) ‘Kapuziner’ is a hazelnut sponge or soufflé soaked in spiced wine, the baba is a yeast cake soaked in, as the name suggests, in rum. 

Baba in Paris

Baba au Rhum – October 29, 2012, Le Bar à Huitres, 33 Rue Saint-Jacques, Paris, France

.

Not one visit to the capital of love and romance goes by without at least a few babas ‘sampled’. It is the sheer simplicity where its complexity lies. It is the brioche like cake, almost like bread that couldn’t decide … to be or not to be …

Junior Chefs of Saigon

The other week I had a group of young Pastry Chefs from around Saigon (that’s Ho Chi Minh City in case you can’t find it on the map) attending my monthly training session, and one of the recipes featured was Baba au Rhum with a ‘tropical twist’.

Baba Au Rhum with Mango Jelly

.

Baba au Rhum ‘Tropicale’

Ingredients:

Baba Dough

  • 300 g Flour
  • 7 g Salt
  • 22 g Sugar
  • 17 g yeast
  • 140 ml Whole Milk
  • 225 g Whole Eggs
  • 70 g Unsalted Butter

Baba Syrup

  • 1 liter Water
  • 300 g Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Vanilla Pod
  • 75 g Passion Fruit Puree
  • 15 g Fresh Ginger
  • 1 Stem Lemongrass

Mango Jelly

  • 300 g Mango Puree
  • 30 g Sugar
  • 7 g Gelatin Powder
  • 1 large ripe Mango

Baba in the making

Method:

Baba Dough

  1. Knead the flour, salt sugar and yeast with eggs.
  2. Add slowly the warm milk and knead until well incorporated, approx. 10 min.
  3. When the dough becomes elastic, add the melted butter
  4. mix well …
  5. And pipe into dariole moles
  6. Prove 45 min or until doubled in size
  7. bake 45 min at 170°.
  8. Cool down and soak  in baba syrup.

Baba Syrup

  1. Bring to a boil all the ingredients,
  2. And soak the dry baba.

Mango Jelly

  1. Warm up the mango puree and the sugar, stir until melds
  2. Add in the melted gelatine and let cool
  3. Cube the mango and add to the jelly

.

An ANCHOR Baba

Now, there you have it. Baba Tropicale. It doesn’t have to be with alcohol all the time. A well balanced and spiced syrup is just as yummy and maybe even a bit more refreshing.

ENJOY

.

.

.

.

 

it had to be …

.

Opéra cake is a French type of cake. It is made with layers of almond sponge cake (known as Joconde in French) soaked in coffee syrup, layered with ganache and coffee buttercream, and covered in a chocolate glaze. According to Larousse Gastronomique “Opéra gateau is an elaborate almond sponge cake with a coffee and chocolate filling and icing.” … and the French pâtisserie house Dalloyau popularised this cake.

opera

Simplicity is the state or quality of being simple. It usually relates to the burden which a thing puts on someone trying to explain or understand it. Something which is easy to understand or explain is simple, in contrast to something complicated. Alternatively, as Herbert A. Simon suggested, something is simple or complex depending on the way we choose to describe it … In some uses, simplicity can be used to imply beauty, purity, or clarity. Simplicity may also be used in a negative connotation to denote a deficit or insufficiency of nuance or complexity of a thing, relative to what is supposed to be required.

apple opera 3

So, there you have it. It is SIMPLE and it IMPLIES BEAUTY … the Opera Cake has been since quite a while my absolute favourite what Flavour Texture and Color is concerned. There is hardly any cake or pastry as delicate and satisfying as this particular collection of layers …

The other week I was preparing a training for Junior-Chefs here in Saigon, and of course it had to feature …. but with a twist … or rather … apples … apple opera 1

I imagined layer by layer, flavour by flavour, texture by texture to stay true to the original … Gateaux Opéra … how could I not.

apple opera 4

I concocted this recipe on paper. I had no idea if this would work. Even less of an idea if it would taste the way I imagined …. so we set out to prepare …

POMME À L’OPÉRA

APPLE OPÉRA

 Joconde Biscuit

180 g Fresh Egg Whites
130 g Granulated Sugar
270 g Fresh Whole Eggs
50 g Fresh Egg Yolks
200 g Almond Powder
105 g Icing Sugar
60 g InterFlour Bread Flour T55
40 g ANCHOR Unsalted Butter

Apple Layer

4 pc Apples
50 g Brown sugar
100 g Neutral Glaze

Apple Butter Cream

110 g CAPFRUIT Frozen Puree Pear William
110 g CAPFRUIT Frozen Puree Green Apple
90 g Fresh Egg Yolk
300 g ANCHOR Unsalted Butter
120 g Italian Meringue

Apple Syrup

500 g Sugar Syrup
275 g Apple Juice

Ganache

180 g VALROHNA Dark Chocolate Caraibe 66%
120 g ANCHOR Whole Milk
25 g ANCHOR Whipping Cream
50 g ANCHOR Unsalted Butter

Apple Jelly

200 g CAPFRUIT Frozen Puree Green Apple
200 g CAPFRUIT Frozen Puree Poire William
80 g Invert Sugar Trimoline
14 g Pectine Nappage
50 g Sugar

Method

Joconde Biscuit

Whip egg white and ad in the sugar.
Add in the eggs and just mix.
Fold in the sifted mixture of icing sugar, flour and almond powder slowly.
Add melted butter.
Measure 650 g for one baking tray 60X40 and cook 10 mn 190°
Peel and core the apples
Slice thin and cover ½ tray with apples
After baking sprinkle with brown sugar and caramelise
Brush with neutral glaze

Apple Butter Cream

Defrost frozen puree
Cook custard sauce  with egg yolks and sugar.
Cool down in the mixer and emulsify with softened  butter.
add in the italian meringue.
Spread onto Joconde biscuit (soaked  with 500 g of syrup for 1 60×40 sheet.).

Apple Syrup

Mix warm syrup and Apple Juice and let cool before using

Ganache

bring to a boil the cream and milk. After boiling add the butter.
Pour onto the chocolate and blend.cold down a bit . … Emulsify
Spread 700 g of ganache per 60×40 frame.

Apple Jelly

Warm up the apple and pear puree
add the mixture of sugar and pectin
Cook 5 minutes and cast on top of silpat.

 .

… And Assemble … up-side-down …

 .

apple opera 2

You would end up with something like that. …. and next time Peach-Passion-Fruit perhaps … ?

apple opera 5

Do not let the casual appearance of these ladies fool you, some of them may be “junior” in their position, but they are professionals, they have fun in the kitchen, and the day ended with a large Apple Opera devoured in no-time ….

apple opera 6

… of course, this would not have gone as well as it did without the help of thee three Pastry-Ninjas of CFF … Thanks Ladies … 

.

.

.

punschkrapferl

the crescent for christmas

.

… it is Viennese, and that’s that …. 

.

Demel Shop Window 5

There is nothing that says Christmas more than a this little crescent-shaped cookie called Vanillekipferl. It is the star of any and every household’s cooking repertoire. It is the pride of every self-respecting wife, mother, grandmother, and sometimes even husband, father, and I am not so sure about grandfather …. It belongs in every and all cookbooks.

The principal is easy. You take ….

  • Roasted Hazelnuts (NO almonds, PLEASE !!!!!!!)
  • Plenty of good Butter (and NO, Margarine will NOT do)
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Maybe even an egg … if you have to
  • and of course Vanilla

…. and you go from this ….

vanillekipferl1

… to this …

vanillekipferln

It is the easiest cookie to make …. it is the easiest cookie to get wrong …. but do not despair … if it doesn’t look like a kipferl, if will always taste like a kipferl ….

.

WIENER VANILLEKIPFERL

.

  • 550 g All purpose Flour
  • 600 g Butter
  • 170 g Icing Sugar
  • 300 g Roasted Hazelnuts
  • A pinch of cinnamon powder (the best you can find)
  • One twist of your spice mill loaded with Cloves
  • Icing Sugar with Vanilla-bean immersed in it for at least a couple of weeks (you can of course use Vanillin if you so feel inclined)
  1. Keep the ingredients cool and mix quickly to a smooth dough
  2. Keep in the fridge for an hour to relax and let the spices macerate
  3. form to crescents and bake at 210C until golden
  4. Dust with the “VanilleSugar” while still hot

And now, HURRY … it’s Christmas already ….

vanillekipferl

So, now I can go back to dreaming of Vanillekipferl ….. maybe I should get baking and ….

vanilla

.

Merry Christmas

.

.

.

.

A ‘Kipferl’ … it was …

.

Kipferl1

The Kipferl, ancestor of the croissant, has been documented in Austria going back at least as far as the 13th century, in various shapes. The Kipferl can be made plain or with nut or other fillings (some consider the rugelach a form of Kipferl).

The “birth” of the croissant itself – that is, its adaptation from the plainer form of Kipferl, before the invention of Viennoiserie – can be dated with some precision to at latest 1839 (some say 1838), when an Austrian artillery officer …

French Croissant 3

It’s not THAT of a stretch to these croissants … and YES, … I made those …

A croissant is a buttery flaky viennoiserie bread roll named for its well known crescent shape. Croissants and other viennoiserie are made of a layered yeast-leavened dough. The dough is layered with butter, rolled and folded several times in succession, then rolled into a sheet, in a technique called laminating. The process results in a layered, flaky texture, similar to a puff pastry.

Crescent-shaped food breads have been made since the Middle Ages, and crescent-shaped cakes possibly since old times. Croissants have long been a staple of French bakeries and pâtisseries.

YES, the Viennese bakers started it all. Some say with a little help of the Ottomans (Turks) at the time, but …. semantics …. and French refined it it seems …. good on them ….

BUT we needed the Americans for the ….

Big Chill

30-cronut

The rape of the good old croissant

…. that is ….

It all started with Chef Dominique Ansel of the Chef Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York. He called it the Cronut.

It probably happened when some apprentice dropped carelessly some croissant dough in the deep-fryer. It may even had somebody hurt in the process … all in the name of progress. And then it happened. A few tried to emulate. But as we all very well know, If you copy, you probably will always stay second best …

A few even had their own “original” idea ….

 .

PretzelCroissan

… the version of Arlequin Café

How about New York’s City Bakery’s “Pretzel Croissant”. So don’t throw the good old croissant into hot oil but rather into a sodium solution, and then salt it and bake like a German Pretzel …. Sounds like a French version for the Oktober Fest …

 And here is what happens when you bring the good old OREO into the equation …

Crookie

Toronto’s Mail writes about the “Crookie”. Clafouti Patisserie et Cafe in Toronto, Canada, have “invented” the crookie. The originality is, or the lack thereof, that you stuff an OREO into a croissant. Oh well …

image

Naturally there had to be a savory version of the madness of sorts. The Maple Bacon Jam Cronut Burger …. Got it … Bacon_Jam-Cronut-Burger … quadruple madness …. Und you’ll find it here …. well …. in Toronto ….

There must be something in the air up north that those guys come up with something like that. Or just cold enough …. By now you all have probably reached for your cholesterol tablets, and if not …. Bon Appétit ….

… in the meantime … I’ll have my Punchkrapferl

punschkrapferl

… a small one