Tuesday, June 30, 2009

And I say to myself: "What a wonderful world..."

Well, good friends, the adjustment period is winding down, and I'm getting closer to feeling like I'm not on vacation any more. We've made a few great contacts for the business, and this weekend I'm taking my goods to a local salon for the clientele to much on between shampoos and pedicures. This place supplies wine and snacks all the time, and I thought: what better way to get the word out about Joey Biscotti!

I'm considering making a few different things - Joeltz hazelnut brownies (never met a brownie I didn't like) mini bite-sized lemon cupcakes filled with lemon curd, and either some type of cookie or our famous Heart shaped double chocolate brownies with raspberry chips, chocolate ganache, and a drizzle of red chocolate on top - a REAL crowd-pleaser.

Florida has offered us a few challenges, as far as baking goes. For instance, we've had to go back to the drawing board in regards to our biscotti. The humidity causes them to come out completely differently than they did in New York City, so I've got some recipe tinkering to do and in the meantime I've taken them off our menu - no sense teasing people with something they can't order from us at the moment. (Call me a stickler, but I just won't sell someone something that I wouldn't eat, myself, and I believe that's the sign of a good business man.)

Otherwise, the weather is beautiful - the sunsets on the west coast of florida are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. Talk about raspberry...thats the color of the sky just before the last rays of the sun sink into the horizon. Amazing!

Stay well, stay hungry - and keep on checking back for additions to our menu - who knows what this climate might inspire us to create next!

Ciao for now -

'Da boys

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Loose Woman or Delicious Pastry???

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Wanna know more about the history of the Bakewell Tart??? Read here... Very interesting, especially the tasty-sounding Cherry Bakewell Shot!!!

It seems every month, we intend to take care of the challenge earlier rather than later, and yet we never seem to until the very last minute... This month was no exception... But we completed it on time!!! And without any major problems...

The shortcrust pastry came together quite well, as did the frangipane... We decided on our own world famous Joey Biscotti Lemon Curd as the fruit layer... We already had some made so we figured, why not? I only really had a small issue, as I always do, with the ground almonds... I never seem to be able to get them ground fine enough and end up with larger chunks in the mix...

All in all, it was a great, tasty challenge... I would love to experiment with other fruits at some point... And now, the photos!!! (the recipe follows)...

Bakewell Tart

Bakewell Tart

Bakewell Tart

Bakewell Tart…er…pudding
Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Jasmine’s notes:
• If you cannot have nuts, you can try substituting Victoria sponge for the frangipane. It's a pretty popular popular cake, so you shouldn't have any troubles finding one in one of your cookbooks or through a Google search. That said, our dear Natalie at Gluten a Go Go has sourced some recipes and linked to them in the related alt.db thread.
• You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.
• The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (1/4 cup) to 250ml (1cup), depending upon how “damp” and strongly flavoured your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference and spread 150ml (2/3cup) on the crust.
Annemarie’s notes:
• The excess shortcrust can be rolled out and cut into cookie-shapes (heck, it’s pretty darned close to a shortbread dough).

Sweet shortcrust pastry
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Jasmine’s notes:
• I make this using vanilla salt and vanilla sugar.
• If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, one teaspoon of vanilla paste or one teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Annemarie’s notes:
• Add another five minutes or more if you're grinding your own almonds or if you're mixing by hand (Heaven help you).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Can you say Vide-Greniers ??

...thats french for Community Yard Sale (or so I'm told). This saturday morning, the 6th, from 8 - 1, our neighborhood is holding just such a sale - and what better way to introduce Joey Biscotti to the unsuspecting hordes? Joe has been doing the preparations for Snickerdoodles today, while I've been baking up many a mini cheesecake, making lemon curd, and designing signs to post that will entice people into our fragrant front yard. Tomorrow will be about producing Joeltz (our caffiene-infused hazelnut brownie bites that are topped with coffee frosting and a dark chocolate covered espresso bean), sour cream chocolate cupcakes, and possibly another batch of mini cheesecakes (today was mandarin orange, tomorrow may be double chocolate).

Dontcha wish you could be there? (any Brandon/Tampa locals wanting to stop on by are welcome - just email me for directions).

Ok - back to work...

Ciao for now

'Da boys