Sunday, March 2, 2008

Cinnamon: Master Baker Group

Although I'm a trained, practicing cook and had the fortune of learning the ins and outs of baking with very fine pastry chefs while in culinary school, baking is not my thang. In other words, yeast and everything that the different genres of yeast involve, give me butterflies in my stomach. I feel like I'm about to take a final exam at UC Berkeley for a class that I never signed up for when I tear upon a package of dry active yest. In addition, when it comes to the step in a baking recipe when something needs to be measured, I develop a slight case of hives. Truly. I have an itchy feeling on my leg right now and I clearly attribute it to the fact that I've been measuring flour and sugar a lot recently, and it scares me. Unlke baking and pastry, once one is accustomed to certain cooking techniques- searing, sauteeing, blanching, braising- they don't have to measure much, and I've always appreciated this.

Truth be said, if a baking recipe requires me to weigh from four to five ingredients, put them in a bowl, stir, and lick the spoon, I'm good to go. If I can add chocolate chips to the recipe, man, I rock.

But I need practice, and I'd like to be better.

It is for these reasons and because I'd like to become a bigger part of a blogging community that I joined the Master Baker group. Master Baker blogging is a group that bakes whatever a pretty lady tells them. Basically, a glorious baker at Master Baker picks an ingredient. Anyone interested in joing the blog group cooks a dessert with that ingredient. Any dessert, any time before the event ends. Sounded awesome to me. And then, I thought, I'd pick a wine to pair with the dessert. Delicous.

This post is my first entry for Master Bakers. Ingredient: Cinnamon. Rules: Few (i.e, I don't know them yet).


Note to readers-
*The Gelato Recipe is based off a Saveur Silician Recipe featured in "Saveur Cooks Italian".
*The recipe for the cookies comes from the "Farmhouse Cookbook," by Susan Herrmann Loomis. This is one of my favorites, simple and straightforward cookbooks. However, I would suggest using the original recipe and not my adaption if interested it having an excellent cookie without sweet gelato sandwiched between. My adaption used less sugar, brown sugar instead of white, and pistachios instead of walnuts. They were meant to mellow out the sweet, decadent gelato.
All altered ingredients are marked with a *.

Farmhouse Pillow Cookies:

20 cookies, 350 preheat

2 1/4 cup AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly (really) grated nutmeg
1 stick unsalted butter- room temp.
1 cup brown sugar *
1 lg egg
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, mixed with water for a glaze
1/2 cup or so shelled, chopped pistachios *

1. Sift dry ingredients on wax paper, set aside.

2. Cream butter and sugar in large bowl. Add egg, beat well. Add sour cream, vanilla, and mix. Stir in flour mixture - but just until incorporated. If over beat, the cookies will be tough.

3. Sprinkle flour onto a work surface and over dough. Divide dough into half and roll out dough until 3/8 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter (3-inch) or a glass to cut cookies. Place on Silopat.

4. Brush cookies with glaze, then top with nuts. Bake no more than 15 minutes, cookies are ready with they spring back when touched. They'll be cake like when finished.

Cinnamon, Orange Zest and Cardamon Gelato

4 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp cinnamon *
2 sticks cinnamon *
the zest of one orange*
5 cardamon seeds *
2 star anise seeds *

1. Heat 3 cups of milk and all ingredients marked with a * in medium, heavy bottom sauce pan until milk starts to bubble around pan's edges.

2. While milk is heating, mix cornstarch with two tablespoons of milk in a small bowl. Once completely blended so there are no remaining lumps of cornstarch, add sugar and remaining cup of milk.

3. After milk has bubbled, take milk off heat and combine with the cornstarch mixture.

4. After mixed off heat, return to low heat so gelato base only bubbles occasionally around edges and heat for 8-10 minutes., stirring frequently. Mixture will thicken slightly.

5. Let cool, pour gelato base into a bowl and cover with plastic. Chill overnight to fully incorporate flavors

6. After chilled overnight, pour mix into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's directions

Although full-flavored, this is a light dessert. Absolutely no cream, few eggs, and fluffy in composition and texture. Due to the airy light nature of the cinnamon creation, I decided to keep the dessert wine also light so it wouldn't compete with the bright and airy flavors in the dish.

After some thought, I chose the Raymond-Laffont Sauternes. A Semillion-based wine, the Raymond-Laffont has apple, apricot, orange zest and even slight mint flavors. I knew that this wouldn't drag the fluffy dessert down like a Madeira or Port would. And it didn't. The flavors in the wine and dessert highlighted each other harmoniously. Orange zest to orange zest, and apricot to star anise. Sigh... Who said ice-cream sandwiches don't like dessert wine? Oh, ..... no one?

This is what I chose, but I'd like to know what YOU would bake with cinnamon as the star....

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redman said...

great job with the recipes- very easy to understand!

how are things with the soul food restaurant wine list?

Kirstin said...

Thanks Paul- but I can't take much credit for the recipes... I merely re-worded the orignals here and there and stuck in some extra ingredients. Thanks for the gnocchi complement earlier though. That took a loooooong time!

The Soul Food Place is doing well- wine is slow during lunch though, and its not open for dinner yet. We'll be starting Wine Supper Clubs soon, so we'll inspire those people to imbibe soon enough