Wednesday, September 30, 2009



I am just taking a small break, but don't worry, my next recipe will be posted in two weeks...

Je fais une petite pause bloguesque, mais pas de panique, ma prochaine recette sera publiée dans deux semaines...

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Damn, time passes so/too fast! In case you are like me, you might not have realized that September is coming to an end and that The Daring Bakers have once again geared up in order to flood the internet with their latest creations...

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge is hosted by Steph of "a Whisk And A Spoon" (USA) who chose the French treat, "Vols-Au-Vent" based on the "Puff Pastry" recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook "Baking With Julia" By Dorie Greenspan.

Although the idea o
f making "Puff Pastry" in my kitchen and rolling it on my oven totally freaked me out, I greeted this new baking joust with much excitement and great anticipation. I had always wanted to make my own "Pâte Feuilletée", yet never managed to make any until now. I guess that the reason why I never got to baking that delicacy has more to do with my subconscious cowardness (which was the real blocker) than with not my lack of space (a lame excuse).

As I was not going to let myself get destabilized by my chicken ways , so I made the promise to honor the saying "When there's a will, there's a w ay " and gathered all my courage as well as inner strength to face the time-consuming task that lay ahead.

To my biggest surprise, it all went very smoothely and at the end, my sanity remained. Nobody was murdered, no pastry was thrown across t he kitchen and no profanities were uttered! Once my "Vols-Au-Vent" came out of the oven looking all golden and perfect, I was really relieved. I had another reason to be proud of myself. My ego an d confidence got magnificently boosted...

Since we are only two at home, I divided the dough in half. I used one half to create sweet "Vols-Au-Vent" and froze the other half in order to make savory "Vols-Au-Vent" later on.

I wanted a fresh and fruity dessert that would not be too sugary, so I opted for a simple yet divine "Pastry Cream" filling (Dorie Greenspan's recipe) and decided to decorate my pastries with slices of Italian prune that I glazed runny jelly. I served my "Vols-au-vent" with cinnamon and red wine poaches figs. All that resulted in a tantalizingly delicate and ambrosial treat that delighted us to the highest point.

The pastry was incredibly flaky, light, crispy and had well-defined layers. It tasted of butter and was far from being bland or vinegary like most industrial "Puff Pastries" tend to be. It was perfect texture- and flavor-wise; worthy of any good bakery. Together with the lusciously creamy, vanillaed "Pastry Cream" and, the crunchy and extremely fragrant prunes, each bite brought you a step closer to heaven!!!

I really wish to thank Steph for having choosen that fantastic recipe and for having helped me surpass myself and my fears.

~ Michel Richard's Puff Pastry Dough ~
Recipe taken fron "Baking With Julia" by Dorie Greenspan.

Yields 1.2 kg (2 1/2 pounds) dough.

Food processor (will make mixing easy, but this can be done by hand as well)
Rolling pin
Pastry brush
Metal bench scraper (optional, but recommended)
Plastic wrap
Baking sheet
Parchment paper
Silicone baking mat (optional, but recommended)
Set of round cutters (optional, but recommended)
Sharp knife
Cooling rack

Preparation Times:
. About 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule).
About 1 1/2 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete.

This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity o f vols-au-vent stated above. While I encourage you to make the full recipe of puff pastry, as extra dough freezes well, you can halve it successfully if you’d rather not have much leftover.



2-1/2 Cups (354g) Unbleached all-purpose flour + extra for dusting the work surface

1-1/4 Cups (142g) Cake flour
1 Tbs Sea salt (you can cut this by half for a
l ess salty dough or f or sweet preparations)
1-1/4 Cups (300ml) Ice water
1 Pound (454g)
Very cold unsalted butter

Mixing The Dough:
1. Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it
canno t hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.
2. Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at o nce, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough wi ll b e ve ry moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.).
3. Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and re frigerate for about 5 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plasti c wrap an d beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 2.54cm (1 inch) thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm (If it has softened or become oily, chill it before co ntinuing.).

Incorporating The Butter:
Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry.) with your rolling pin (Preferably a French rolling pin without handles.), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 25cm (10 inches) square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floure d to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the cen ter of the square, r oll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or fl aps.
Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold th e e ars ov er the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't j ust pull the ends.). You should now have a package that is 20cm (8 inches) square.
Making The Turns:
7. Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom
edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface an d the top of the d ough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a recta ngle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 61cm/24 inches (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 61cm/24 inches, everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the len gth and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along w ell, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).
8. With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the d ough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in t hirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.
9. Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, lik e the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 61cm (24 inches) and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Notes On Chilling the Dough:
If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now.
If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and re
frigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of tu rns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the d ough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

Notes On The Turns:
The total number of turns needed is six.
If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day.
Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour bef
or e cutting or shaping it.

Extra tips:
. While this is not included in the original recipe we are using (and I did not do this in my own trials), many puff pastry recipes use a teaspoon or two of white vinegar or lemon juice, added to the ice water, in the détrempe dough. This a dds acidity, which relaxes the gluten in the dough by breaking down the proteins, making rolling easier. You ar e welcome to try this if you wish.
. Keep things cool by using the refrigerator as your friend! If you see any b utte r starting to leak through the dough during the turning process, rub a little flour on the exposed dough and chill straight away. Although you should certainly chill the doug h for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns, if you feel the dough getting to soft or hard to work with at any point, pop in the fridge for a rest.

. Not to sound contradictory, but if you chill your paton longer than the recommended time between turns, the butter can firm up too much. If this seems to be the case, I advise letting it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to give it a chance to soften before proceeding to roll. You don't want the hard butter to separate into chuncks or break t hrough the want it to roll evenly, in a continuous layer.
. Roll the puff pastry gently but firmly, and don’t roll your pin o ver the edges, which will prevent them from rising properly. Don't roll your puff thinner t han about about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick, or you will not get the rise you are looking for. Try to keep “neat” edges and corners during the rolling and turning process, so the lay ers are properly aligned. Give the edges of the paton a scooch with your rolling pin or a bench scraper to keep straight edges and 90-degree corners.
. Brush off excess flour before turning dough and after rolling. . Make clean cuts. Don’t drag your knife through the puff or twist your cutters too much, which can inhibit rise.
. When egg washing puff pastry, try not to let extra e gg wash d rip down the cut edges, which can also inhibit rise.
. Extra puff pastry dough freezes beautifully. It’s best to ro ll it into a sheet about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick (similar to store-bought puff) and freeze firm on a lined b aking sheet. Then you can easily wrap the sheet in plastic, then foil (and if you have a se alable plastic bag big enough, place the wrapped dough inside) and return to th e freezer for up to a few months.
. Defrost in the refrigerator when ready to use.

. You can also freeze well-wrapped, unbaked cut and shaped pu ff pastry (i.e., unbaked vols-au-vent shells). Bake from frozen, without thawing first.
. Homemade puff pastry is precious stuff, so save any clean scraps. Stack or overlap them, rather than balling them up, to help keep the integrity of the layers. T hen give them a singe “turn” and gently re-roll. Scrap puff can be used for applications where a super-high rise is not necessary (such as palmiers, cheese straws, napoleons , or even the bottom bases for your vols-au-vent).



Yields 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe above will make about 8x-10 x 3.8cm (1.5 inches/diameter) vols-au-vent or 4x 10.2cm (4 inches/diameter) vols-au-vent.

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
Well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe above)
Egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
Your filling of choice

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the d ou gh, and leave th e rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to t he baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting (This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut squa re vols-au-ven ts usin g a sharp chef’s knife.).
4. For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 3.8cm (1.5 inch) round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 10cm (4 inches) cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to t
wist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wa dding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shape d sides.)
5. Using a 1.9cm (3/4-inch) cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 5-6.4cm (2 to 2.5-inch) round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

6. Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them l ightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rin gs directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to a dhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to d rip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.
7. Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 200º C/400 º F (You cou ld also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)
8. Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (Preferred b ecause of its weight.) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until t hey have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 180º C (350º F), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minut es more (If you are baking the cen ter “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.).
9. Remove to a ra
ck to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.
10. Fill and serve.

For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to "glue"). Thi s will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight. Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day. Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first). There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the bo ok. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry doug:


Etant donné la longueur du texte original, je n'ai malheureusement pas pu f
aire une traduction française de ce billet et je m'en excuse auprès de tous mes amis lecteur
s et blogueurs francophones!
C'est pourquoi je vous suggère de vous rendre sur les blogs mentionnés ci-dessous. Vous y trouverez cette recette en version française.

Chez Jasmine de "Jasmine Cuisine" (Canada)
Chez Isa de "Les Gourmandises d'Isa" (Canada)

Friday, September 25, 2009


The English nobleman Charles II d’Este-Guelph, also known as Duke of Brunswick (1804-1873), was a distinguished linguist, outstanding horseman, musician and talented investor. At the same time, he was also an eccentric and paranoiac man.

He was troubled but also troubling. Paranoid, with an acute persecution complex, he reinforced his bedroom and equipped his palace in Paris with secret passageways. It seems that Brunswick once said that, «were not for his enormous wealth, he would already be in an insane asylum».

Due to his escapades he was dethroned and chased from his country in 1830 and lived for a while in Paris.

Three years before his death he came to live in Geneva and stayed in one of the hotels. When he died, he gave all his money to the city of Geneva in exchange for the construction of this mausoleum, built in 1879 (on Quai du Mont-Blanc) by architect Franel on the model of one in Verona, Italy. The city used the money to build the golden gates of Parc des Bastions and the city's opera, the Grand Theatre.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


As this year, both the Eid Ul-Fitr festival (marking the end of the Ramadan) and Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) coincide (20th and 19th of September), I thought that it'd be a good idea if I offered a recipe that brings us back to the time when both Muslim and Jewish people cohabited in harmony and were close...

So after a lot of thinking and some researching, I came to the conclusion that the cookie which would be the best symbol of peace, friendship, respect and tolerance is the Middle Eastern shortbread pastry known under the name of "Ma'amoul" (meaning "filled cookie" in Arabic).

Not only is it adored in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and other Levantine countries, but it also very popular amid Arab Christians as well as amid the Lebanese and Egyptian (Sepharadic) Jewish communities.

I am organizing an event called "Pastries For Peace" (thanks Kiriel for the idea). Anybody can participate. The roundup will take place on the 7th of December 2009 and the deadline is the 1st of December 2009. Just send your links to grandchampatgmxdotch.

J'organise un jeu qui s'appel "Pastries For Peace (Pâtisseries Pour La Paix)" et qui est ouvert à tous. Toutes vos participations seront visible dès le 7 décembre 2009 et le délai de participation est fixé au 1er décembre 2009. Envoyez tous vos lien à grandchampatgmxdotch.

Choosing this recipe also meant that the baker I am was going to get challenged as I had never made "Ma'amouls" before and had always been intimidated by Middle Eastern pastries, although I had been dying to experiment with those delicacies since a very long time. I always chickened out because they seemed so complicated to produce. I know, stupid me, as usual...

Anyway, with my pristine tabi (woo
den mould) desperately waiting to get used, I could not skip the opportunity to finally jump in the cold water and test my baking skills on a sweet treat which is so different from what we know in the Western world!

Fortunately for me, this incursion into the art of making pastries the Arabic way turned out extremely well. My creations looked not too bad and were mouthwateringly good!

Those "Ma'amouls" are very unusual, refined and unique in aesthetics, flavor and composition. Not only are they very pretty, but they also taste like heaven. With their crisp flaky pastry and soft filling, those nutty, not overly sweet and delightfully fragrant cookies will conquer you instantly.

Eid Moubarak!
Shana Tova!

~ Walnut Ma'amoul ~
Recipe by Camille at "Cakes In The City" (France) and adapted by Rosa @ Rosa's Yummy Yums.

Makes about 50 small ma'amouls.

Ingredients for the "Pastry":

500g Fine semolina (or 400g fine semolina and 100g flour)
30g Powder sugar
1 Pinch Salt
1 Tsp Baking powder
250g Unsalted butter, at room temperature
ml Milk
60ml Orange blossom water
Ingredients for the "Filling":
150g Walnuts
The zest of one organic orange
2-3 Tbs Powder sugar
2-3 Tbs Water
Powder sugar for dusting

Method for the "Pastry":
1. In a big bowl, mix together the semolina (and flour if you use any), sugar, salt and baking powder.
2. Add the butter and
rub between the fingers until the mixture is flaky.
3. Add the milk and orange blossom water and lightly k
nead the dough for 1 minute.
4. Shape the pastry into a ball, wrap in plastic foil and p
ut in the fridge for about 1 hour.
Method for the "Filling":
5. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: put all the ingredients in a mixer and blend until it ressembles a paste.
6. Preheat the oven to 160°C (° F).
7. Take a small portion of dough and shape it into a ball. Make a hole with your thumb.
8. Fill the hole with the walnut paste and close the ball. Process in t
he same way with the remaining pastry and filling.
9. With the help of a floured tabi (decorative mould) shape the balls into ma'amoul cookies by packing each ball into the mould and then tapping the cookies out onto the work area with a sharp firm hit to the top of the mold.
Transfer cookies to baking sheet with a spatula and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes (stop baking as soon as the sides are starting to get golden brown).
11. Let cool on a rack.
12. Cover the cookies with powdered sugar.

I found two videos for you (video 1 & video 2) that might help you. Check them out if in doubt when it comes to shaping those ma'amoul!

Maamoul are very delicate cookies which you have to manipulate wih care. Let them cool completely before manipulating them.
If you don't have a tabi, then just shape the balls as indicated, put them on the baking sheet and flatten them slightly and decorate the cookies with tweezers.

Serving suggestions:
Eat those cookies with mint tea or Arabic coffee.


~ Ma'amouls Aux Noix ~
Recette par Camille de "Cakes In The City" (France) et adaptée par Rosa @ Rosa's Yummy Yums.

Pour environ 50 petits ma'amouls.

Ingrédients pour la "Pâte":

500g de Semoule fine (ou 400g de semoule fine et 100g de farine)
30g de Sucre en poudre
1 Pincée de sel
1 CC de Levure chimique
250g de Beurre, à température ambiante
60ml de Lait
60ml d'Eau de fleur d'oranger
Ingrédients pour la "Farce":
150g de noix de Grenoble
Le zeste râpé d'une orange bio
2-3 CS de Sucre en poudre
2-3 CS d'Eau
Sucre glace, pour la finition

Méthode pour la "Pâte":
1. Dans un grand saladier mélanger la semoule (et la farine si vous en utilisez), le sucre, le sel et la levure.
2. Ajouter le beurre ramolli et travailler du bout des doigts pour obtenir un mélange sablé.
3. Ajouter enfin le lait et l'eau de fleur d'oranger, puis pétrir la pâte pendant une minute.
4. Former une boule de pâte que vous laisserez re
poser pendant 1 heure au frigo, emballée dans un film plastique.
Méthode pour la "Farce":
5. Pendant ce temps, préparer la garniture: mettre tous les ingrédients de la garniture dans un mixer afin d'obtenir une masse collante et homogène.
6. Préchauffer le four à 160°C.
7. Prendre une petite portion de pâte, la rouler en boule et y creuser un trou en y enfonçant le pouce.
8. Remplir la cavité de
farce et refermer la boule. Poursuivre jusqu'à épuisement des ingrédients.
9. Façonner chaque petite boule à l'aide d'un tabi (moule à ma'amouls/voir 3ième image depuis le haut) en l'enfonçant dans le creux du moule, puis en le tapant ensuite très énergiquement sur une planche à découper pour démouler le ma'amoul.
10. Disposer les biscuits sur une plaque à pâtisserie
recouverte de papier sulfurisé et faire cuire pendant 12 à 15 minutes (arrêter la cuisson quand les bords commencent à dorer).
11. Laisser refroidir sur une grille.
12. Saupoudrer de sucre glace avant de les servir.

J'ai trouvé 2 vidéos qui pourraient vous intéresser (video 1 & video 2). Jettez-y un coup d'oeil car elles sont très utiles afin de comprendre comment former un ma'amoul!
Les Maamouls sont des petites choses très friables, il faut donc les laisser refroidir complètement avant de les manipuler.
Si vous n'avez pas de Tabi, disposer simplement les boules de pâte sur une plaque de cuisson recouverte de papier sulfurisé. Les aplatir légèrement avec la paume de la main et les décorer à l'aide d'une pince de décoration.

Idée de présentation:
Servez ces biscuits avec un thé à la menthe ou un café arabe.