Yellow on Yellow: Peach Brioche Tart

peach brioche tart before baking

Last Sunday’s baking was some brioche-crusted peach tarts. Just as the first one was ready to go into the oven, the early morning sun came streaming in through my dining room window.

I thought the streaks of light falling across the yellow fruit on yellow dough evoked the hopeful theme of Click! Yellow for Bri. This month, the photo event hosted by Jugalbandi supports a fundraiser for Brianna Brownlow (Figs With Bri). Please go read about it and donate now if you haven’t already. The tart will be here when you get back.

This is what the baked tart looked like:

peach brioche tart

The tart is very simple in construction: a disc of brioche dough spread with a thin layer of crème fraîche and topped with sliced fresh peaches. This is a great way to eat brioche because, as a crust, a little goes a long way. Although the butter content of the dough is quite high, the tart overall is not what I would call very rich, nor is it terribly sweet.

[Read more...]

Edamame “Hummus” and Soy-Whole Wheat Pitas

Remember when you were twelve and you broke your arm skateboarding? You had a cool cast that everyone signed, and you got to have your mom write out your homework, and within a month you were back out there on the skateboard, good as new. No big deal.

Osteoporosis isn’t like that. It’s a huge deal. It doesn’t take a major trauma to break osteoporotic bones, and fractures related to this devastating disease are a leading cause of hospitalization, disability, and even death. Did you know that an adult over age 50 who fractures a hip has a one in four chance of dying within one year?

While those most likely to suffer the effects of osteoporosis are women over age 50, the time to think about preventing it is now, no matter what your age and gender. Bone mass is largely acquired before the age of 20, but good health habits at any age will help. Don’t smoke. Do regular weight-bearing exercise. Get enough Vitamin D. And three words at the top of the list: Calcium, Calcium, Calcium! Many people just don’t get enough of this critical bone-forming mineral.

In recognition of National Osteoporosis Prevention Month and to promote awareness of the disease, Susan of Food Blogga is hosting Beautiful Bones. The task is to make a dish with one or more calcium-rich ingredients. I chose to give hummus and pita bread, a favorite around here, a calcium boost by making a few adaptations to my everyday recipes.

[Read more...]

Fresh Fruit Danish

fresh fruit danish

Like desserts, pastries are not something I bake often. We eat crusty hearth breads around the clock, including for breakfast. But for some reason, the BreadBakingDay #10 theme of Breakfast Breads, hosted this month by talented baker Melissa (Baking a Sweet Life), put me in mind of Danish pastry. The flakier the better.

I intended to make a traditional laminated dough (many discrete layers of dough and butter). I don’t have a lot of experience with this, and definitely need to practice. Keeping the dough cold so the butter does not melt into it during the rolling and folding process is critical, and it takes the better part of a day because the dough has to be thoroughly re-chilled between roll-and-folds. So I set aside a day to work on this.

As it turned out, the weather on the designated day was uncooperative. A heat wave plus an un-air-conditioned kitchen do not create ideal conditions for laminating dough, and I chickened out wisely decided not to set myself up for failure. However, just as I convinced myself that I didn’t really want Danish after all, I serendipitously tuned in to the latest episode of the wonderful 1990′s series “Baking With Julia” [Child], which my PBS station has been airing lately.

[Read more...]

Granola for BreadBakingDay

I made granola for BreadBakingDay. You may be thinking: Ahem, this is BBD, not BCD (BreakfastCerealDay). To which I would reply: True, but this granola is so much more than a breakfast cereal. Bear with me.

Ten days ago, I had never made granola. I hadn’t eaten granola in years. Granola was merely a faint shadow lurking at the periphery of my long-term memory. Then I read about Molly’s favorite granola on Orangette, and I thought, this looks good. In fact, this looks great! Not to mention ever-so-easy. And, modulo a substitution or two, I had all the ingredients on hand.

A couple of hours, a batch of homemade applesauce, and nearly three pounds of oats, nuts, and seeds later, I could confirm that Molly does not exaggerate: the stuff was amazing. My family thought so too. We ate it with milk. We ate it with the rest of the applesauce. We ate it with yogurt, with almond milk, and right from our hands. We ate it in the morning, yes, but in the afternoon and evening, too. We showed no restraint whatsoever. Within two days, it was gone.

[Read more...]

Hot Cross Buns: Not Just for Easter

Hot Cross Buns

One of the first nursery rhymes I remember learning was Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One-a-penny, Two-a-penny, Hot cross buns!

When my mother was ticked off about something, she always said she was “cross.” So when I sang the rhyme, an image of grouchy buns languishing in summer heat would paint itself across my mind’s little eye. I suppose I imagined they were cross because wasn’t being hot (in those days when that wasn’t a good thing) enough to make anybody cross?

I’ve understood for quite some time that “cross” refers to the buns’ decoration and not their state of mind, but it was only recently that I learned that hot cross buns are a traditional spring celebration bread.

Although hot cross buns have been associated with Easter for several centuries, they probably predated Christianity. Small cakes or loaves adorned with an equilateral cross were offered to deities in ancient cultures such as early Egypt and Greece. The feast of Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring (from whom Easter derived its name), was celebrated at the vernal equinox. The cross on the sacramental cakes eaten during the feast may have symbolized the balance (between light and darkness) of the equinox, the four quarters of the moon, or the symmetry of the seasons.

[Read more...]

Spicy Polenta-Pistachio Flowers

Spicy Polenta-Pistachio Flowers

These blossom-shaped rolls are my entry for this month’s Paper Chef. The challenge presented by Ilva (Lucullian Delights) was to create a “flower”-themed dish using polenta, pistachios, and chili peppers.

Although Ilva helpfully suggested several culinary flowers one might incorporate, I chose to fulfill the theme through shape rather than ingredient. I hope this is considered an acceptable interpretation. Also, although the bin from which I scooped the coarsely ground cornmeal in the store was clearly labeled “Polenta,” I wonder if maybe it’s not technically polenta until it’s boiled. I didn’t boil it because I wanted to retain some bite to contribute to the bread’s texture.

But even if I’m disqualified on one or both of those counts, these are some tasty rolls that were fun to conceive and bake.

[Read more...]