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Nn, M.D.

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  1. I know what you mean. I recently grilled some delicata squash and although there was some caramelized sweetness going on, there was a lot of savory overtone that I think would not work in dessert applications. But pumpkin is a little sweeter naturally, and the addition of spices, particularly nutmeg and cloves, help to bring out the natural sweetness. Brown sugar and orange are both slightly acidic as well, and that sharpness when paired with the earthiness of the pumpkin makes it taste balanced.
  2. I love seasonal baking because I feel very connected to the world around me, commemorating our shared experiences through my food. And so, this October, I challenged myself to encapsulate the feeling on Spooky Season with a series of applications featuring the main attraction: pumpkin. To be honest, I am not a fan of pumpkin, as it is a worse sweet potato in my opinion. However, making it into something I would like was part of the fun of this challenge, and I think it went quite well. To get the most mileage out of my gourd, I opted to make it into a jam. This is a fairly common route for me to take when it comes to fruits/vegetables. Since it's difficult to incorporate the fruit flesh into a baked good without altering the texture, a jam gets around that by having a much smoother texture and some added sweetness, so at the very least you can add less sweetener. You'll notice the complete absence of spice here. Although I did spice everything else I added to the pumpkin jam, I wanted the pumpkin to speak for itself here. So all I added was some brown sugar, orange juice, and salt to complement the natural sweetness, freshness, and umami of the pumpkin flesh. Nn, M.D.'s Pumpkin Jam - 2 pie pumpkins, halved with flesh/seeds scooped - brown sugar - juice of one orange - pinch of sea salt 1. Place pumpkin halves face down on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in a 450 degree oven for 45 minutes until fork tender. Remove and leave to cool on pan for 1-2 hours until completely cool. 2. Scoop out flesh and pass through a metal strainer to remove fibers. I got about 450-500g of pumpkin puree from 2 pie pumpkins. 3. Add pumpkin and an equal weight of brown sugar to a medium saucepan. Squeeze in the juice of one orange and add a pinch of sea salt. 4. Turn on stove to medium-high until you reach a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and keep boiling until thickened to your desired thickness. I boiled mine for about 15 minutes and got a nice pliable texture. From here, the possibilities are endless. Below I have a few examples of how I styled my jam, but this is by no means comprehensive. Really, the jam is the starting point and what you do with it is up to you! 1. Pumpkin-spiced angel food cake with pumpkin buttercream-cheese frosting "Pumpkin spice" is no more than cinnamon : nutmeg : ginger : clove in a 4:2:2:1 ratio. So that is how I flavored my cake, along with some vanilla bean paste. The cake was airy and light and beautifully tender, a perfect compliment to the frosting. It's based on a French buttercream, where I used the pumpkin jam to provide all the sweetness as well as the remaining egg yolks left over from the cake. For fat, I used half butter and half cream cheese, as I wanted the tang along with the richness that cream cheese provides. A beautiful cake with beautiful contrasting flavors. 2. Pumpkin bread cookies Using the remainder of the frosting and an additional dose of the pumpkin spice blend, I added some flour, baking powder and baking soda to the mix and rolled each ball of dough in sugar. The resulting cookies where wonderfully spiced with the earthiness of the pumpkin in the background. And because of the cream cheese and egg yolks in the frosting, the cookies remained beautifully tender with an interior closer to pumpkin bread than cookie. 3. Pumpkin & peanut butter blondies The blondie base was fairly basic, just adding about the same amount of peanut butter as I did regular butter to the batter. I also shaved in some fresh nutmeg and added some vanilla extract. The pumpkin jam was swirled into the batter and left to bake for about 45 minutes. The result was a rich, decadent morsel that drew you in for seconds and thirds and fourths. 4. Pumpkin buns with cream cheese frosting Trust me, there is pumpkin jam in there. I added the famed pumpkin spice blend to the dough base and then rolled it up with the pumpkin jam in the middle. While warm, I covered the buns in a simple cream cheese glaze and devoured almost the entire lot. *5. Vegan pumpkin-spiced tacos Ok hear me out, I know this isn't baking but I'm still quite proud of how delicious this was. To use the last of my jam, I made some basic seitan (mock meat made with wheat gluten) that I ground up using my food processor. It has a strikingly similar texture and taste to ground meat and can fool most meat eaters. I sautéed this on medium heat with some onion, jalapeño, garlic, some fresh ground nutmeg, cumin, coriander, paprika, and my pumpkin jam, as well as a little unsweetened soy milk to deglaze everything (soy milk contains glutamic acid and can amplify the umami of whatever dish it's added to). The onions were pickled in a brine of vinegar, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and whole clove to give a sweet but unctuous depth to them. The greens are actually a simple slaw of baby kale, cilantro, powdered crystalized ginger, lime juice, and salt (which I recommend making ahead of time and tossing every so often to let the juices come out). As you can see, the pumpkin spice blend is reiterated, this time deconstructed [cinnamon & clove + nutmeg + ginger]. I made a chipotle mayo using silken tofu as the base in place of egg yolks. I added 3 chipotles and some of the sauce for some extra kick. Served on some warm tortillas with some avocado slices, this is both comforting and satisfying vegan eating. So that is it, my treatise on pumpkin jam and it's many uses. I hope that I have inspired you to take a theme and beat it to death. All jokes aside, this type of baking helps push my skills to the next level, so I relish in the opportunity to do things like this. I hope you will find a similar joy.
  3. Not to fault any of the replies so far, as I have also done these methods and got great results. I am asking more of a question of principle, simply if you think a slow low oven method would work. I've tried each of the methods linked in the original post (except for the pressure cooker), so I'm just seeing how far this can be extended.
  4. I don't know if you all have seen the many shortcuts to making dulce de leche from canned sweetened condensed milk, but if not, there's a microwave method, a stovetop method, a pressure cooker method, and a slow cooker method. These are each great, but require either constant attention or special equipment. I've seen a few techniques for an oven method, which would be an ideal compromise for a low-maintenance recipe. The issue is that of the methods I have seen, all require the transfer of the milk into a separate container, which invites the possibility of product loss. In an effort to save every last drop, I was wondering if there was some way to re-create the slow cooker method, which is essentially just a long low simmer in a water bath, in the oven. In theory it seems reasonable, but I haven't seen anyone try it. My proposed method: Submerge can(s) of milk in enough water to cover + additional 1-2 inches in a dutch oven. Cover with lid and place in the center of the oven. Set oven temperature to 190˚ F and let bake for 10 hours. Turn off oven, remove pot and allow to cool completely on the counter. It seems reasonable, but if anyone has any reason why it wouldn't work, let me know!
  5. This is a recipe that I came up with when I was making choux au craquelin and wanted to fill them with a pastry cream. I had made the pastry cream using the egg yolks but didn’t want to let the egg whites go to waste. I decided to make the egg whites into an Italian meringue, which I thought would be fairly stable. But rather than folding it in to preserve that stability, I was impatient and whipped the pastry cream into the meringue. The result was this loose, soupy mixture that I couldn’t get to stay in a cream puff if I tried. So I gave up and, rather than throw it away, stuck it in the freezer to save it for another recipe. One day I got curious and decided to give it a taste. That was the single best bowl of ice cream I had ever had. I knew I had stumbled onto something, so I’ve tried it with many other flavors and it works almost every time. The texture is kind of somewhere between a gelato and a semifreddo, and for some reason it takes forever to melt. Just remember to abide by this formula and you will always have success: Pastry cream: - 8 oz (1 cup) whole milk (or you can use 6 oz milk + 2 oz heavy cream, 6 oz half/half + 2 oz milk...anything but skim) - 3 extra large egg yolks - 2 tbsp cornstarch - 2-4 tbsp butter, sliced 1. Place butter slices in bowl and set a wire strainer over top. Set aside 2. In a medium saucepan, place your milk (+/- cream) and bring to just below a simmer 3. Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl set over a towel, whisk egg yolks and cornstarch together until smooth 4. When milk has heated, temper into egg mixture, whisking constantly 5. On medium-low heat, add the custard to the pan and whisk constantly for 3-4 minutes. Custard will go from loose -> shiny and thick -> matte and set. Do not stop whisking as long as mixture is on the heat 6. Once custard is set, scrape out of pan into bowl with strainer. Push mixture through and scrape remaining custard off the bottom of the strainer. Stir the custard into the butter constantly until butter disappears. Set aside. Meringue (apologies in advance for switching from standard to metric): - 300 granulated sugar - 75g water - 100-115g egg whites (from 3 extra large/jumbo eggs) 1. Place egg whites in bowl of a clean stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Set aside. 2. Over medium-high heat, place water and sugar in saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. 3. Turn heat down to medium-low. When mixture hits 115˚C, turn on mixer to medium-high to make egg whites frothy. 4. When syrup reaches 118˚C, remove from the heat and pour into egg whites between the edge of the bowl and the whisk. Do so in a steady stream to avoid splashing. 5. Once syrup has been added, turn mixer to high and whisk until you reach stiff peaks, about 6 minutes Bringing it together: 1. Once meringue is stiff, pour in custard over the top. Turn on the mixer with the whisk attachment to high speed and whisk for 1-2 minutes 2. You’ll know you’ve finished when you pull the whisk out of the mixture and a string of the cream follows it. If you still see peaks when you pull of the whisk, keep beating until flattened and loose. 3. Pour mixture into a bowl and place in a freezer to set up for at least 6 hours. Then, enjoy! As you can see, it’s a straightforward process that is egg-neutral and has a lot of area for customization. My only recommendation is that whatever add-ins you choose, make them 6 oz. That’s just how I did it the first time and every time and the proportion always works. Here's a few variations on the theme that I've done, as well as stupid names I came up for each of them: - Salted Chocolate: add 6 oz of bittersweet chocolate to the butter and mix into custard base. Also add ½ tsp of salt - White Winter: Add 2 tsp vanilla extra/paste to milk and bring to just below simmer. Add 6 oz good-quality white chocolate and 1 tsp white pepper to butter and stir into custard base - Glacé Guac: Add 6 oz mashed avocado and zest of a lime to the butter and mix into custard base. Substitute fresh-squeezed lime juice for water in meringue - Raspberry Romance: Add 1 oz pulverized freeze-dried raspberry and 5 oz homemade raspberry jam1to the butter and mix into custard base. Add 1 tbsp rosewater to meringue 3 minutes into whipping - Lemon Leisure: Grind 1 tbsp lavender buds with spice grinder/mortar and pestle and steep in milk while bringing to just below a simmer. Add 6 oz homemade lemon curd2to the butter and mix into custard base - Citrus Sunrise: Grind 2 tsp fresh cardamom in mortar and pestle and steep in milk while bringing to just below a simmer. Substitute fresh squeezed grapefruit juice for water in meringue. Once custard and meringue are mixed, fold in 6 oz candied grapefruit peel3, chopped - Country Cornbread: Use 4 tbsp butter for custard base and add ½ tsp of salt. For meringue sugar syrup use: 154g honey, 125g sugar, 34g water. Once custard and meringue are mixed, fold in 6 oz gluten free cornbread4, cubed - The Diplomat: add 6 oz dulce de leche and 1 tbsp of soy sauce to custard base, substitute 3-4 tbsp of brown butter - Waterme-ricana: Add 1 tbsp liquid smoke and ½ tsp cinnamon to custard base. Use watermelon juice for meringue liquid and add 6 oz chopped grilled watermelon after combining custard and meringue - Chocolate Chunk: Substitute 30g cocoa butter for the butter in the custard base and add vanilla bean paste to steep. Use 6 oz coarse chopped bittersweet chocolate - Cocoa-Sesame Swirl (pictured below) is the most complex flavor to date. I take the ice cream base and split it in half, one half being sesame-strong, the other half being chocolate-dominant: To make the sesame half, add 2.85 oz of tahini and 0.15 oz untoasted sesame oil to the custard base, and substitute 35g cocoa butter instead of regular butter. A few grinds of fresh sea salt is optional. Heat the mixture in a double boiler to melt the cocoa butter. You will add one half of your pastry cream base to this. To make the chocolate half, make a black sesame praliné with 1.50 oz of black sesame seeds and 1.50 oz of sugar (praliné refers to the process of taking a caramel-nut bark, praline, and grinding it until a paste forms). You should get about 2.50 oz of paste, to which you will add an additional 0.50 oz of cocoa powder and 35g cocoa butter as well as a few grinds of sea salt, not option. Heat the mixture in a double boiler to melt the cocoa butter. Add the remaining half of the custard base to this mixture. Make two separate meringues (this is more accurate and time consuming than making 1 meringue and dividing it in half. But I have 2 stand mixers so :P) and and mix in your custards to each batch in the usual way. I added a little black gel food coloring to the black sesame half. Add dollops to a bowl and swirl with 2-3 figure-8's. 1. Raspberry jam: Take 12 oz frozen raspberries, 2 ½ cups sugar, juice of ½ lemon, and 2 tbsp cinnamon and place in medium saucepan with high walls. Bring to boil on medium-high and then reduce heat to keep mixture at steady boil, around medium heat. Using instant-read thermometer, heat mixture to 215˚F , which should take about 15 minutes. Check gelling by dropping some jam onto chilled plate and look for jam to set up rather than run. Optional: sieve jam to remove seeds. 2. Foolproof lemon curd recipe can be found here 3. Candied grapefruit peel: This recipe is not exact at all. Take grapefruit peels and clean all grapefruit flesh and membranes away from pith. Chop into strips and place into medium saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a roiling boil and boil for 10 minutes. Empty water and repeat 2 additional times. After 3rdboil, measure water needed to cover peels and add the same amount of sugar (to create a simple syrup). Bring mix to boil over medium-high heat, then back head down to keep consistent boil for 45 minutes. Peels should be opaque and look like gems. Drain syrup and lay peel down on wire rack. Sprinkle granulated sugar on both sides and allow to air-dry overnight, best at 24 hours. Store in an airtight container. 4. Gluten-free corn-cake-bread: Based on a genoise sponge: grind coarse cornmeal in food processor and pass through fine mesh sieve to get 125g of fine cornmeal. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Whip 4 room temperature extra large/jumbo eggs (~230-250g) with 125g granulated sugar and 10g honey on high speed until you reach the ribbon stage. Fold in fine cornmeal and 1tsp salt, then 15g melted and cooled butter. Make sure not to be too aggressive so as not to lose volume. Pour batter into 9-inch cake tin lined on the bottom with parchment. Bake for 25 minutes at center rack, remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Run palette knife around cake edge, invert, and allow to cool completely. 5. Easy dulce de leche: put can of sweetened condensed milk in slow cooker and cover with water; place on high for 8-10 hours
  6. thank you! i still think about this cake haha
  7. Day 3 and still moist. Might be one of the best sponges I’ve ever made.
  8. I thought about trimming each layer down more, but in the end it seemed like more hassle than it was worth. I didn’t want to butcher the cake, and in the end the crusty layer provides a contrast between the yellow cake, yellow jam, and yellow frosting. I’m not sure this cake would look as good without the crust.
  9. Hello all! I am excited present a cake that has taken weeks of mental planning and troubleshooting. What I will say is that making this cake has taught me so much about mastering a technique rather than a recipe, and I think that lies at the heart of what it takes to be a good baker. I wanted to re-create the flavors of ginger ale by making a cake that was very ginger-forward, but that also that was balanced and scrumptious. The start of the recipe is the crystallized ginger. ¾ cup ginger, peeled and sliced to 1/8th in thick 3 cups water ¾ cups sugar Peel about 8 oz fresh ginger root. Slice the ginger on a bias; I used a mandolin to get my slices even thickness. Add to saucepan with high sides, and pour the water over top. Bring to a boil and reduce to a strong simmer for 30-35 min. Take off the heat and drain the broth, reserving 3 tablespoons (I saved the rest of the broth in ice trays, and it will go in teas and shakes). Add sugar and water to drained ginger and place on medium high heat. Stir constantly until water dissolves and sugar recrystallizes on ginger's surface, about 10 minutes. Pour onto sheet pan to cool completely and dry, at least 1 hour. Since I was already peeling ginger, I went ahead and peeled some more for my ginger jelly. Shout out to the eGullet community: I asked*** about how to create some sort of jam or jelly to fill the cake, and you guys provided such great help. I adapted some techniques from a few recipes to come up with one of my own, and I think it came out quite well. ⅔ cup ginger, peeled and grated or chopped in food processor 5 cups water 2 cups sugar 1 medium lemon, zested and juiced seeds from lemon 1 packet liquid pectin Add ginger and water to saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Then add sugar, lemon juice, and zest to pan and increase heat to medium high. Allow to boil for 15 minutes, then add pectin and stir. Cook for another 5 minutes and then remove from heat to cool completely. Consider using a piece of cling-film on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. When cooled, run through a fine mesh strainer to remove ginger chunks. I went with a genoise sponge because it's my favorite sponge to make. It's very simple, very elegant, and very easy to customize. I tried replacing 1 egg with 3 egg yolks and I think this is going to be new baseline genoise recipe. Also sorry for switching to grams from here on, I just always do cakes in metric 7 whole eggs, extra large or "jumbo" 3 egg yolks 250 g sugar 200 g whole wheat pastry flour 50 g corn starch 1 tsp ground ginger ½ tsp ground turmeric 30 g butter, melted and warm but not hot Separate 3 eggs and reserve the whites. Add yolks to additional whole eggs and sugar and whip on medium-high speed for 8 minutes, until you have reached ribbon stage. In the meantime, sift together dry ingredients, pre-heat your oven to 350˚F, and line two 9-inch tins with parchment. Do not grease the tins as the cake needs to climb the sides of the pan. Once eggs and sugar are whipped, add dry mix, one heaping tablespoon at a time, with mixer on lowest possible speed. Once flour is almost completely incorporated, add a few dollops to butter and mix vigorously. Add buttered batter to main batter and fold in with rubber spatula, being careful not to deflate the batter. Once fully mixed in, split between two tins (roughly 500g mix each if using "jumbo" eggs). Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove, allow to cool for 10 minutes, and release by running offset spatula on outside to free from sides. Invert cake, remove parchment, and place back on cooling rack to cool completely. When ready to use, split into 2 layers each, 4 layers total. Brush each exposed side with milk (or simple syrup). This buttercream is special to me because I have been learning about confectionary lately, marshmallows in particular. This was a recipe I developed that was inspired by marshmallow fluff + Italian meringue buttercream. The idea of the barley malt syrup is that it has a strong, malty flavor that feels very ale-y when added to sharp ingredients like ginger. 200 g barley malt syrup 100 g water (I used ginger broth from crystallized ginger!) 210 g sugar 3 egg whites ½ tsp cream of tartar 1 ½ tsp ground ginger ½ tsp ground turmeric ¼ tsp sea salt 350 g butter, at room temperature Heat syrup, water and sugar over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Then, reduce to medium and bring temperature up to 118˚C (I got to about 115˚ and my pan started scorching, so I aborted there. Try swirling the syrup every now and then and use a pan with quite high sides). Once at temperature, remove from heat and whip eggs and cream of tartar until frothy. Pour syrup into egg whites while on medium speed and then increase to medium-high speed to whip until room temperature. While whipping, add ginger, turmeric and salt. Once cool, add butter 2 tbsp at a time on medium-low speed. Stop mixer, scrape down sides, and whip on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth. To assemble, place a small dollop of frosting on the cake stand and place one layer of sponge. Make frosting border and fill with half the jam. Place next sponge on top and using large ice cream scoop, add 3 scoops frosting to the top of the sponge. Even out layer and take remaining frosting out to cake edges. Place next layer on top, repeat border and jelly, and finish with the final cake layer. Add 5 scoops to the top of the sponge and even out to thin layer, taking remaining frosting out to the edges and covering the sides. Once crumb coated, place in fridge for 20 minutes. Then take out and frost with remaining buttercream. Smooth out sides and top of cake and adorn with candied ginger. Such a nice result and such a tasty cake. Using milk as my soak has really improved the texture of the final sponge, which is super supple and moist. I think 3 egg yolks might be the key to the cake being so moist. It's a sturdy sponge with a tender crumb, and the turmeric actually calms the fury of the ground ginger and produces a very mellow fragrance that you smell right before you take a bite.
  10. I like the idea of the pre-made applesauce, certainly cuts down on the work I have to do. Does the flavor of apple come through? I haven’t worked with it much before but I don’t want the jam to taste of apple.
  11. I think that Pomona’s recipe is just what I’m looking for. I assume the calcium water refers to the package that comes in the pectin box? And do you have any experience using natural pectin (e.g. lemon seeds)?
  12. And generally I find that to be the case. It depends, of course, on the context. For a birthday cake, usually cake + frosting is fine. But for something sort of special, I like to have some textural play. I usually go for soft + creamy + crunchy, or crumbly + gooey + crunchy. I find that doing it that way produces something that isn’t monotonous and has 4 potential texture combinations.
  13. As a southerner I adore pound cake! So I will absolutely check it out. And thanks for the warm welcome
  14. I guess I’m more looking for a ginger spread with a lemon accent than the other way around. Marmalade and lemon curd might be too far removed from the ginger flavor.
  15. That tart was my opus magnum, forever trying to outdo that. And thanks, I’m looking forward to the transition.
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