Category Archives: Baking
It’s hard to contain my excitement. This week, Dorie Greenspan published her newest cookbook, Lucky #13, called Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook. It’s not a baking book this time. It’s an all-round cookbook with enticing pictures. As I browse the pages, so many recipes jump out and say “Make me! Make me!” As always, Dorie’s kind and encouraging voice guides you through the headnotes and instructions.
From October 2010 until May 2015, I cooked each and every recipe from Dorie’s previous all-round cookbook Around My French Table. It was an enjoyable and educational journey. Along the way, I met and bonded with a virtual group of cooks who were doing the same. A subset of us have continued to cook together under a group we call Cook the Book Fridays. Sticking with the French theme, we’re currently working our way through David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. With this week’s new book launch, we’re adding Dorie’s book to the mix. We’ll cook one of Dorie’s recipes each month until we finish up David’s book then continue until we make all the recipes in the new book. Hopefully, more of the original gang will join this new venture.
So, we begin….
The inaugural recipe I made from Everyday Dorie is My Newest Gougères. “My” is Dorie’s voice, not my own. For those not versed in French food words, gougères are best described as savory cheesy cream puffs. They are made with the same pâte à choux dough as cream puffs with the addition of grated cheese, and in this “newest” version, toasted walnuts and some Dijon mustard.
On paper, pâte à choux could seem intimidating, but it’s not that hard. You bring milk, water, butter, and salt to a boil. Then, you add flour, and stir, stir, stir, over low heat to dry out the dough.
Next, you beat in eggs (a stand mixer is best) one at a time, leaving you with a sticky dough. Finally, you add the cheese, mustard, and nuts.
Finally, scoop the dough onto parchment- or silicon-lined baking sheets. I used a small scoop which yielded 6 dozen puffs. We didn’t have any guests, so I baked one dozen to snack on before dinner. The gougères were light and airy. The nuts added a welcome bite.
Dorie suggests keeping frozen unbaked puffs in the freezer, leaving you prepared with appetizers when friends stop by for an impromptu (or planned) visit. That’s where the remainder ended up.
What a fitting start as the first recipe I made from Around My French Table was also gougères. I must admit that I haven’t made them since. I’m not sure why. Hopefully I remember to make these again before Dorie publishes her next book. You should try them too (recipe below or page 8 of Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook). Or give me a call that you’re stopping by and I’ll pull some from the freezer and bake them for us to share over an aperitif.
Also follow my Cook the Book Fridays friends’ links here to see what they thought of Dorie’s Newest Gougères.
And last, but not least, GO RED SOX!!!!!
excerpted from Everyday Dorie © 2018 by Dorie Greenspan. Photography © 2018 by Ellen Silverman. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
MY NEWEST GOUGERES
Makes about 60 gougères
Gougères are French cheese puffs based on a classic dough called pâte à choux (the dough used for cream puffs), and it’s a testament to their goodness that I’m still crazy about them after all these years and after all the thousands that I’ve made. Twenty or so years ago, when my husband and I moved to Paris, I decided that gougères would be the nibble I’d have ready for guests when they visited. Regulars chez moi have come to expect them.
Over the years, I’ve made minor adjustments to the recipe’s ingredients, flirting with different cheeses, different kinds of pepper and different spices.
The recipe is welcoming. This current favorite has a structural tweak: Instead of the usual five eggs in the dough, I use four, plus a white—it makes the puff just a tad sturdier. In addition, I’ve downsized the puffs, shaping them with a small cookie scoop. And I’ve added Dijon mustard to the mix for zip and a surprise—walnuts.
1⁄2 cup (120 grams) whole milk
1⁄2 cup (120 grams) water
1 stick (4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 1⁄4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg white, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (preferably French)
2 cups (170 grams) coarsely grated cheese, such as Comté, Gruyère and/or sharp cheddar
2⁄3 cup (80 grams) walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
My secret to being able to serve guests gougères on short notice is to keep them in the freezer, ready to bake. Scoop the puffs, freeze them on a parchment- lined baking sheet or cutting board and then pack them airtight. You can bake them straight from the oven; just give them a couple more minutes of heat.
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Bring the milk, water, butter and salt to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat and immediately start stirring energetically with a heavy spoon or whisk. The dough will form a ball and there’ll be a light film on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring for another 2 minutes or so to dry the dough. Dry dough will make puffy puffs.
Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or work by hand with a wooden spoon and elbow grease). Let the dough sit for a minute, then add the eggs one by one, followed by the white, beating until each egg is incorporated before adding the next. The dough may look as though it’s separating or falling apart but just keep working; by the time the white goes in, the dough will be beautiful. Beat in the mustard, followed by the cheese and the walnuts. Give the dough a last mix-through by hand.
Scoop or spoon out the dough, using a small cookie scoop (11⁄2 teaspoons). If you’d like larger puffs, shape them with a tablespoon or medium-size cookie scoop. Drop the dough onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each mound. (The dough can be scooped and frozen on baking sheets at this point.)
Slide the baking sheets into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F.
Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the gougères are puffed, golden and firm enough to pick up, another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately—these are best directly from the oven.
STORING : The puffs are best soon after they come out of the oven and nice (if flatter) at room temperature that same day. If you want to keep baked puffs, freeze them and then reheat them in a 350-degree-F oven for a few minutes.
I have mixed feelings about French desserts. Tarts I adore, but I’m indifferent to many of the pastries. Maybe it’s because I’m not a big fan of pastry cream and whipped cream. There are plenty of French sweets I’d never met before. Over the past couple of years, making more French recipes, I’ve started to have a new appreciation for little French cakes.
The past two challenges for Cook the Book Fridays have been for little cakes. Both are rich from butter, but in counterpoint, are not too sweet.
The first one, financiers, are little almond cakes with browned butter. They taste nutty from almond flour and the browned butter. The French have a special mold for baking these, but I used mini-muffin pans. These baby cakes are simple to mix up and are a good way to use up extra egg whites. And they taste good too!
The other little cakes I made were madeleines. The batter is also simple to make, but these require a special pan. I had more trouble with these. In the past, I’ve chilled the batter, but this time, the recipe just said to let it rest (at room temperature, I assumed). The molds are supposed to be filled just three-quarters. The imprints are so shallow, it’s hard to judge. I used my smallest cookie scoop, but it was a bit too much. The cakes rose and touched their neighbors. Not the way it’s supposed to work. There was some extra batter, so I chilled it overnight, and tried again.
Round 2, I was more careful about filling the molds, erring on the side of underfilled. That worked much better, though my pan-buttering technique had some shortcomings. The cakes stayed inside the expected boundaries, but most of them stuck to the pan. When they finally came out, they were NOT pretty. I had brushed the mold with melted butter, but I think I should have smeared it around with a paper towel for better coverage.
Even though their appearance was lacking, these baby cakes tasted lovely. I liked the subtle flavor of honey – just a touch, not cloying at all.
I’d be confident in whipping up some financiers any time, but the madeleines will need more practice.
If you want to try yourself, you’ll find the recipe for financiers on page 268 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen and the recipe for madeleines on page 274. My friends’ reviews for financiers can be found here and for madeleines here.
Boston people: I have something you must check out this month. Last week I went with some friends to check out some of Fujiko Nakaya’s fog sculptures on the Emerald Necklace. At 5 different locations, special misting nozzles create fog that rolls through the landscape. It’s hard to describe, but it’s quite magical. Fog x FLO is a special exhibit in honor of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy’s 20th anniversary. It runs through the end of October. Find all the details here.