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Pete Fred

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    Dordogne, France

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  1. More French toast... This one was from a Jun Tanaka recipe. The brioche gets fried in butter, warmed through in the oven, then sugared and bruléed. At his restaurant the brioche is sliced into crustless rectangular bars and all sides get flashed with the torch for a nice caramelisation I preferred this to yesterday's. The flavour of browned butter from the pan was more familiarly French toasty, and the custard used whole eggs which lent more egginess (pain perdu is also known as eggy bread in the UK). The bruléed top added a nice caramel note and a delicate crunch. And looking at the pictures just now, the custardy inside and crunchy caramel exterior had a hint of cannelé about it, too.
  2. I decided to repurpose the disappointing Donauwellen cake into Romkugler. After scraping off the buttercream and chocolate, the cake got blitzed with oats, jam, kirsch and cocoa powder, then shaped into balls and tossed in coconut... When making the pink brioche thing at the weekend I made extra dough try out a pain perdu/French toast that caught my eye recently. I let it stale for a few days then soaked it in a vanilla crème brûlée mix for a couple of hours. After a sprinkling of cassonade and a few minutes each side in the pan... It had a light, creamy interior and a thin, delicate crust. Trés bon. I quickly fried-off another to wolf down with salted caramel and whipped cream... For anyone who's interested, you can see how it's done here. And for those who like nothing more than to see a man squeeze his buns...
  3. Lidl France continue to push customers out of their comfort zone when it comes to the food of Latin America...
  4. I took another run at La Praluline (brioche with sugared almonds)... I avoided overproofing it this time, thankfully. After picking up a German baking book on Kindle for a buck (Bake Off contestant Jurgen Krauss), a German friend suggested I try the Donauwellen cake... It consists of a plain and a chocolate sponge, sour cherries, buttercream and a chocolate glaze. The cherries sink and create the wavy profile, hence Donauwellen (Danube waves), along with the waves swooshed into the chocolate glaze. I found it a bit dry, as is often the case with these marble cake types. I'm also generally not a fan of buttercreams, and the one here did not change my mind. Overall, a bit of a bust, then. I will approach the rest of the book with caution.
  5. It's this one-bowl affair from Honey & Co. I've only ever made it with Amerena (sour) cherries, and use 50g plain/AP flour with 3g/½ tsp baking powder.
  6. I thought I was done with lardy cakes for the time being but then I got curious about shaping one as a loaf... I overproofed it, resulting in a fly-away crust... It was more babka-esque this way, but I'll probably stick with the previous shape. I picked up some nice gariguette strawberries and made an Eton Mess. Just a pity the sun refused to play ball that day... Another outing for my favourite cherry, pistachio, coconut cake. Never gets old... This was the first time I made it with mahleb after finally finding some at a reasonable price online. It was a nice addition. And after my recent discovery of egg white creams, I figured somewhere for the yolks to go would be useful in the future. The all egg yolk lemon cake by Pierre-Jean Quinonero caught my eye, and a dozen yolks later... It's quite a looker from this angle, not so much this one... It's always a battle with my little toaster oven to get an even rise. Just when I think I've cracked the code, this happens. Back in the day with my regular oven I was able to get the nice crowning seen in the linked video. Oh well. Anyway, it was a very good cake. All those yolks meant it was extra yellow, which made it seem even more lemony...
  7. I've recently been poking around Anna Higham's The Last Bite. It's a good book. (I picked it up for a couple of bucks on Kindle, so keep an eye out.) Rather than being a collection of recipes, it's more a pastry chef's guide to building modern desserts that are seasonal and fruit-forward. She says of her brown butter cakes, "If you make nothing else in this book, make these". So I did what I was told... It's basically a financier made with dark sugar (I only had unrefined coconut sugar to hand). A larger version can serve as the cake part of a dessert... Great flavour, but I wasn't wholly convinced by the texture. She uses all cornflour/cornstarch (the recipe above swaps in half buckwheat flour) but next time I'll go with regular flour. Often the creamy element in her desserts is 'baked cream', which is a scoop of an egg white set-custard. I'm always on the lookout for ways to use up egg whites so this was music to my ears. I made a dish of the stuff... I pulled it a touch early, so the centre was a fraction under. I thought it might taste a bit eggy (no flavouring for this test), but it was 'clean', just the flavour of the cream. Very nice. Another pastry chef has taken a deep-dive on these egg-white custards, so I made hers, too, as a crème brûlée... This one had significantly more egg whites so set firmer. I preferred Higham's for mouthfeel. This was tonka, but flavourings can be anything that suits the dish you're building... The texture is very smooth; the bubbles you can see are imperceptible on the tongue. It's also lighter than a regular egg yolk custard. Interesting stuff, although I'll still be going classic crème brûlée in the future. But as a light, creamy element to a dessert, I'm on board. I picked up some early-season apricots at the market today and, following Higham's approach, roasted them with a splash of brandy and cobbled something together from the leftovers... It was good. I'll stash a few of those cakes in the freezer as a quick way to make a simple, seasonal dessert when various fruits are at their best.
  8. Can't wait to take "A tasty trip to the USA" in Aldi next week. Everything your heart desires, from hot dogs to burgers to nuggets to mac 'n' cheese.
  9. This pavlova turned out a little bigger than I anticipated... Not exactly dainty. It was mango and passion fruit, with a tonka mascarpone chantilly... The leftovers went into an Eton Mess... I mixed some Korean red pepper flakes with the fruit, and sprinkled over a pinch of sumac. (I was looking for inspiration and saw a Mary Berry Eton Mess where she uses her own-brand mango, chilli, lime dressing, and Ottolenghi sometimes does the sumac thing on desserts.) I didn't add enough of either to make much difference, unfortunately. I'm unlikely to make another one, so should've gone all-in this time. (Although mango, passion fruit, tonka, lime, chilli, sumac is probably a bit much!)
  10. Pete Fred

    Dinner 2024

    It ain't pretty. The worst kind of ultra-processed junk, mainly. But I guess it makes a nice change from, you know, frogs' legs and snails. 😉 I think Mexico gets lumped in with "America", but mostly amounts to just tacos and guacamole; although Oaxaca rings a bell, so maybe they do have it from time to time (can't think of anywhere else I'd have seen it). I will pay more attention next time. Thanks. Is there a quick explanation how to use it?
  11. Pete Fred

    Dinner 2024

    A recent episode of Kenji's podcast featured the grilled cheese sandwich/cheese toastie (listen or watch him make them). His tips for a good "cheese pull" intrigued me (spoiler: American cheese and its emulsifying salt). As you can imagine, this stuff is not easy to come by in France. In fact I'm expecting to be deported at any moment for this treacherous affront to French cheese. But it was "American week" in Lidl and they actually had some, as well as Monterey Jack. Seeing as I might not get another chance, I took the risk... Not bad. I made another... The internet tells me that this type of American cheese freezes quite well so I'll hide my stash there and hope the gendarmes don't come knocking.
  12. A few more bits and bobs of late. Individual gâteau nantais, which is a French almond rum cake... Meh. I didn't think much of these. The texture was a bit gummy. A waste of good rum. Delia Smith's semolina shortbread (recipe)... I go more golden brown than she does, but the cult of Delia is a broad church. A Victorian-inspired take on Nankaties (or Nankhatai), which is an Indian shortbread... These were made with all semolina and therefore somewhat gritty (in a good way). I didn't have ghee, so subbed in brown butter instead. They were fine, but if I made them again I'd add ground cardamom (and, as ever, IT NEEDS SALT!!!!) I used the remaining beurre noisette in a brown butter and honey crème brûlée... The inspiration was this recipe, although I omitted the cornflour and changed the method. The author is part of the London restaurant scene so I figured maybe a phonecall or two had been made and it would be a reasonable facsimile of the original Marksman Brown Butter and Honey Tart which was the buzzy "It" dessert in London a few years back. But I was underwhelmed: couldn't taste the honey, and the brown butter was quite subtle. (Although, weirdly, 15 minutes later the brown butter aftertaste was quite strong. That's one heck of a long tail!) My beurre noisette was strained, and it's only now that I've started poking around under the bonnet/hood that I see the custard is flecked with the browned milk solids. I guess that imparts more flavour (although this discussion on Reddit suggests possibly not.) And the tart crust looks like it contains some, too. Anyway, I'm not gonna bother trying to figure it out. I'm happy to wait until the proper recipe is published one day.
  13. Today's attempt to disprove that man shall not live by lard alone... The baking paper ensured no welding to the bottom of the tin... The base was nicely chewy/sticky. I was a touch cautious and only gave a light dusting of sugar; in future I'll be more generous to encourage extra caramelisation. No distractions this time, so the layers were decent... It very much reminded me of a kouign-amann, only spiced and fruited. No bad thing.
  14. Another Lardy Cake... Now if this was Instagram, that's all you would see. It'd be Like's all round, ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️'s up the wazoo, and lashings of ginger beer for everyone. Hoorah!! But eGullet ain't Insta-perfect, thankfully. Just as I started laminating the lardy, one of the farmers stopped by for a chat and I got distracted, forgetting to add the sugar between the layers. I only realised after he'd gone, so I dug it out of the tin and took a chance on doing a couple more turns with the missing sugar. Not my finest idea, sadly... Most of the fruit got flattened to the extremeties, and the crumb was more compacted. I also wanted better caramelisation so opted to grease and sugar the tin rather than using baking paper. When the moment of truth arrived... ...the bottom layer was welded to the tin and pulled away. Oh well. The corners where it released were nicely chewy and caramelised, so if I grease and sugar some baking paper, and crank up the bottom heat, hopefully that will do the trick.
  15. I guess a baking equivalent of "first catch your hare" might be first render some lard... With that out of the way, I kept my eyes on the prize... For those unfamiliar, Lardy Cake an English spiced bread made with dried fruit and, yup, pork fat. Mmmmmm.... laaaaarrrrrrrrd. 🤤
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