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    Entries in kitchen tools (3)

    Tuesday
    Jun112013

    Sweet Madeleine

    A different kind of cookie.

    Very soft and cake-like. Cakies!

    These are one of those fancy seeming french food things that people are scared to try making. But there's no reason to be afraid of these plain little things.

    And they are quite plain. I have no idea how they got their reputation. Gossip is a crazy thing. Someone somewhere probably heard something out of context and misinterpreted the statement and then of course went running off to tell everyone they know. Who all of course did the same thing.

    I once made a joke about gossip that turned into a rumour: some editor had left a publisher and I commented about the gossip flying and jokingly made a ridiculous speculation; a few hours later someone started a thread on the forum where I'd made the joke about the editor going off to do the very thing I'd joked about. She's see my speculation repeated on some other forum, but not as a joke! I think it even made it to a blog or two.

    I laughed my ass off. I'm still proud of that one.

    Also proud that I managed to make nearly 7 dozen madeleines in about 2 hours. And that includes dishes.

    Madeleines

    **these are the quantities for about 2 dozen**

    **I tripled the recipe!!**

    • 2 eggs
    • 2/3 c sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • 1 c flour
    • 1/2 c butter

    There is absolutely nothing fancy or difficult about this ingredient list.

    You also don't need fancy tools or mixers or anything to make them.

    First thing you should do is melt the butter.

    Next, sift the flour.

    I'm usually not an advocate of the sifting step, but in this case, I think it's a good idea. Old school baking recipes were done by mass (weight) not by volume, and when you sift the flour, you lighten it. A cup of packed flour weights a lot more than a cup of sifted.

    There, that's the toughest part of this recipe. Sifting flour. OMG AN EXTRA STEP!!!

    I sifted mine into a bowl and let it hang out there until I needed it.

    Measure a tablespoon or so of butter out of the half cup that you melted, and add it to a bit of flour in a small bowl.

    Rather than butter and flour your pans, you're going to use this mixture to flour-butter them. I am loving this idea. I covered the leftovers and put them in the fridge; I'll let you know how it works out on the next cake I bake!

    Crack the eggs into a big bowl, add the sugar and stir with a wooden spoon. You don't even have to beat them. No whisking. Just stir. So unfancy.

    Once the eggs and sugar have been stirred to a bright yellow, add the lemon zest and vanilla.

    You can leave the zest out, or replace it with orange, if you'd prefer. I'm contemplating replacing it with lavender flowers.

    Spoon the sifted flour into the measuring cup, and level the top. Trust me, this way, it will weigh a lot less than if you'd just spooned it from the bag.

    Again, a plain old stir is all you need to do to get the flour mixed into the batter.

    Pour the remaining butter around the edges of the bowl and once again, stir it in.

    You should end up with a sticky feeling batter that makes a wide ribbon when you lift the spoon from the bowl.

    When you let the batter rest for a minute, it will thicken, but as you stir it, it will start to feel thinner.

    So, we've used all the same basic ingredients that are in pretty much every other cookie, but we've put them together in a very different way. That's what appealed to me about this recipe. Cream-butter-and-sugar-add-eggs-and-vanilla can get a bit mindlessly repetitive when you bake cookies almost every weekend.

    Plus, the pans. I'm not fond of single use implements, and the shape is a very distinctive part of madeleines. I borrowed these ones from a coworker, but I'm pretty sure I'll be buying a set of my own. These things are way too easy, fun, and tasty to never make again.

    Rub the flour-butter mixture into the molds while the oven preheats to 375. A little hotter than usual.

    Drop a tablespoon or so of batter into each spot. Underfilling these things is better than overfilling them.

    If your molds are completely full, bake them for 15 minutes. If partially like these ones, only 12 or 13 minutes is enough.

    The edges will be crispy, the shell side golden, and the strange bump that forms on the top (which is apparently some kind of madeleine requirement) will be soft and buttery.

    And then you dust them with powdered sugar.

    I don't seem to have a light enough touch to "dust" anything.

    They are tasty without the sugar too!

    I can't help but wonder if the first ones were baked in the shells they resemble.

     

     

    Tuesday
    Apr162013

    Soft and Sweet

    It's like Medusa lives in my baking cupboard.

    Brown sugar goes in and a solid lump comes out.

    No more! I've finally figured out the perfect way to keep even the darkest brown sugar from turning into a doorstop.

    So, we've all tried the zip bag, the "air tight" container, the freezer, putting a chunk of apple in with it, microwaving it, one of those weird round things you soak in water first...

    None of them work.

    I've been baking without brown sugar for years because I was tired of buying a bag, using a cup, and then chucking a solid block of sugar and buying a new bag a month later.

    But last month, I wanted to make pudding cake and I wasn't willing to risk the recipe with the wrong kind of sugar so I caved and bought a bag.

    And then stood in the kitchen staring at the open bag wondering how long it would be before I had to throw it out. I admit, I came close to tossing it right then and there. But I'm stubborn. I went to the bags-and-wraps drawer to get a zip bag, and saw the foil.

    Shiney.

    Well, it worked for guacamole...

    What the hell. It's worth a shot.

    So, I just twisted the top of the bag and creatively folded the foil until the whole thing was covered.

    Kinda shaped like a football, which is handy when you're so short that the best way to get stuff onto the top shelf of the cupboard is to chuck it.

    5'1" and I have a wicked free throw.

    Two weeks later I made brown sugar cookies with it.

    Today, I made muffins with it. (Lost track of time and burned them... now you know why you're getting just the tip)

    And I'm pretty sure that in two weeks when I get back from Recipe Guy's place, I'll be making muffins.

    Someone else really needs to try this so I know it wasn't some kind of weird fluke...

    Please?