Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TWD: Genoise -- the French can have it!

Put me in the failure column for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie. My French strawberry cake would turn anyone off genoise. I have successfully made sponge cake and jelly roll cakes in the past, but genoise was a new experience. Unfortunately, my cake bottom was tough enough to use as paving material. Notice the lighter bottom half in the picture at right. That was the tough and doughy portion.

Rather than cut the 8-inch cake in thirds, put strawberries and whipped cream between the layers, then frost the cake with whipped cream, I elected to cut my cake into rounds using a 3-inch biscuit cutter hoping to salvage at least part of the cake.

I followed the instructions to a T, whipping the mixture until I got the prescribed ribbon of batter. I believe I folded the flour in adequately. Although the bump in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid mixture did hide pockets of flour, I folded and folded until I felt I got all the flour incorporated. I then carefully folded in the butter and a portion of the batter mixture, but to no avail. The cake, particularly the shoe-leather bottom layer, looked inedible.

Soldiering on, I divided my rounds in half, layered each half with strawberries and whipped cream, and tried to soak enough juice into the intractable bottom layer to make it edible. It didn't work. The bottom layer was so rubbery, the strawberry syrup rolled off like water off a duck's back. My husband and I ate the top half of the cakes and put the bottom half down the disposal. I will be very interested to see how others fared with this recipe. Although I was only able to eat the top portion of the cake, I learned that I much prefer the southern version of strawberry shortcake, using warm biscuit-like rounds made with White Lily self-rising flour, lard, buttermilk and sugar. I will concede the genoise version to the French and stick to my tried-and-true shortcake.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

TWD--Oasis Naan

The Oasis Naan, the latest Tuesdays with Dorie assignment, was not at all what I expected. I have tasted naan once at an Indian restaurant, and I remembered it as being much like an Arabic flatbread; not puffy but relatively flat.

When I read through the ingredients I realized this was basically the formula for French bread. And mine ended up tasting like French bread and looking like French bread once it was cut.

I decided early on to cut the recipe in half, make one naan round and use the rest of the dough for focaccia. The dough was somewhat slack, so I folded it after one hour to help give it structure.

 I portioned the half recipe into fourths, patted one fourth into the five- to six-inch round, then poked away at the dough with the round end of my wire whisk. I wet the dough, added chopped scallion and cumin.

After baking the round for about five to six minutes at 500 degrees, I was surprised to see a puffy end product. After letting it cool, I sliced it, and the crumb was holey, much as a French baguette would be studded with holes. I tried some hummus on one slice, some pimento cheese on another. Both were yummy.

I patted the other three-fourths of the dough into a 9-inch pan, let it rise once, dimpled it with my fingers and poured some olive oil in the holes. I then sprinkled kocher salt and rosemary over the entire surface and baked the foccacia at 500 degrees for 13 minutes. I did not get the oven spring I got with the naan, and I reasoned that was because I let it rise before dimpling it. If I had it to do again, I would bake it after shaping as I did the naan. I am now going to research other recipes for naan and see if they differ from the one in Baking with Julia.