French

Bready or Not: Homemade Cheese Crackers

Posted by on Sep 16, 2020 in Blog, Bready or Not, cheese galore, cracker, French | 0 comments

Cheese is divine to eat straight-up, but it can also be baked into delicious things such as these Homemade Cheese Crackers.

Bready or Not: Homemade Cheese Crackers

These crackers can be as fancy as you want. Use an import cheese like Gruyere or Comte, or stick with a basic American cheddar.

Bready or Not: Homemade Cheese Crackers

Whatever cheese you choose, be sure you have a food processor to, well, process the dough. The cheese needs to be at one with the flour and spices.

Bready or Not: Homemade Cheese Crackers

The dough can be frozen, but do be aware that the finished crackers have a definite shelf life.

Bready or Not: Homemade Cheese Crackers

After about 3 days, the crackers become softer and crumblier. They still taste okay, but the structural integrity won’t be very good if you want to carry them in a baggy.

Bready or Not: Homemade Cheese Crackers

But then, these crackers are so good, you might have them inhaled so quickly that this is not a problem at all.

Modified from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.

Bready or Not: Homemade Cheese Crackers

These homemade crackers use few ingredients to make delicious crackers. Pair with white wine or Champagne, or serve to kids or company! These crackers are as fancy as you want them to be, based on the cheese used. Makes about 55 1-inch crackers.
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: French
Keyword: cheese, cracker
Servings: 55 crackers
Author: Beth Cato

Equipment

  • food processor
  • baking sheet
  • parchment paper
  • 1-inch cookie cutter

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces Comte grated, or Gruyere or Emmenthal or good old cheddar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper optional
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Maldon sea salt or other flaky gourmet salt, optional

Instructions

  • Place the butter, cheese, salt, white pepper, and cayenne (if using) in the food processor. Pulse until the butter is broken into uneven pieces and the mixture begins to form small curds. Add the flour and mix until it looks like larger curds. If the dough is stubborn, pulse a bit more to distribute ingredients.
  • Dump dough onto a flat surface and gently knead with hands to make cohesive. Divvy dough in half, forming each piece into a flat disk, and wrap in plastic. Tuck into fridge to chill for at least an hour or a couple days; it can also be frozen at this stage.
  • When time to bake, preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or nonstick mats.
  • Pull out a dough disk. Use two sheets of parchment to roll dough to about 1/4 inch thickness; if the dough is too hard to roll, let it rest at room temperature for a few minutes before trying again. Use a small cookie cutter (about 1-inch) to cut dough into crackers. Place them spaced out on parchment on pan. Gather the scraps to form more crackers, using a touch of water, if needed, to make it cohesive again.
  • If desired, sprinkle some Maldon sea salt atop crackers; only a few flakes are needed to add extra flavor.
  • Bake for about 10 minutes. Rotate pan. Bake for another 4 to 7 minutes, until crackers are lightly golden and firm to the touch. Let cool on pan or on a rack.
  • Crackers are great warm or at room temperature. They are best eaten within 3 days. After that, they soften and become more crumbly, but they are still tasty.

OM NOM NOM!

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    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    Posted by on Aug 26, 2020 in Blog, Bready or Not, breakfast, cheese galore, French, yeast bread | 0 comments

    This Jam and Cream Brioche Tart is probably among the most extraordinary things I’ve ever baked, and that is saying something.

    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    First of all, the end result is gorgeous. Golden, thick crust freckled by pearl sugar. Marbled cream cheese and contrasting jam, with flecks of vanilla bean throughout.

    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    The tart is as delicious as it looks, too. The enriched dough is sweet and soft, providing a luscious base for the different kind of sweet-and-soft offered by the filling.

    This is a showstopper of a dessert or breakfast.

    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    The only unusual ingredient involved is the Swedish pearl sugar. I bought it on Amazon. I consider it a worthwhile investment, as there are a number of other pastry recipes I want to try that also use it. Plus, heck, you could even throw them on waffles or fruit or whatever.

    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    Another not-quite-so-obscure ingredients I suggest you use is vanilla bean paste. This is VERY useful if you’re making fancy desserts because you get the flecks of vanilla beans without the high cost of using actual vanilla beans.

    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    In a cream cheese filling or frosting, those flecks really stand out, and they add a lot to the WOW factor. Which this tart already has, many times over.

    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    Recipe modified from Bake from Scratch, Sep/Oct 2019.

     

    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    Don't be intimidated by the lengthy instructions! The actual process is fairly straightforward, and the result is gorgeous. Use vanilla bean paste for the filling, if possible, as the flecks of bean add a lot to the prettiness of the finished tart. Modified from Bake from Scratch, Sep/Oct 2019.
    Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
    Cuisine: French
    Keyword: cream cheese, french, yeast bread
    Author: Beth Cato

    Equipment

    • 9x9-inch pan
    • parchment paper

    Ingredients

    For Brioche

    • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk or half & half
    • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3 Tablespoons white sugar
    • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 3 large eggs room temperature and divided
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter softened

    For Cream Cheese Filling

    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
    • 1/3 cup white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or substitute vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
    • 1 large egg room temperature
    • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

    To Finish

    • 2 Tablespoons fruit preserves use good quality stuff with nice chunks
    • 1 Tablespoon water
    • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Swedish pearl sugar

    Instructions

    • Using the microwave and a safe dish, heat the milk to between 120 and 130 degrees. Set aside.
    • In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the flour, white sugar, yeast, and salt at very low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.
    • Slowly add the warm milk to incorporate. Add 2 of the eggs along with the vanilla, and beat for about 1 minute. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
    • Add butter, about 1 tablespoon at a time, letting each piece incorporate before adding the next, about 8 minutes total. (If it refuses to incorporate, switch back to the paddle for this stage.) Beat until a smooth and elastic dough forms, about 6 minutes.
    • Lightly flour a stretch of counter or tabletop and dump the dough there. Knead it for a minute or so and form it into a smooth round.
    • Apply cooking spray inside a large bowl. Place the dough inside and give it a spray, too, to prevent sticking. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap in a warm spot to rise until doubled, 30 to 45 minutes.
    • Cut parchment paper to line pan going up all four sides. Apply nonstick spray to pan, then lay both strips inside the pan and spray the top-most sides.
    • On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11-inch square. Score a 9-inch square in center of dough (using the pan as a reference, if needed). Fold outside 2 inches over score mark, creating a crust around edges.
    • Place dough in the prepared pan, making sure it is even and fills corners of pan. Cover and let rise until puffed, 20 to 30 minutes.
    • Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese filling. Beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla bean paste (or extract), and salt until well combined. Gradually add cream cheese, beating until smooth. Add egg to incorporate, followed by the flour.
    • Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Using your fingertips to dimple the center of dough back down, leaving outside crust as is. Pour the cream cheese mix into the center of dough. Make small indentations in the cream cheese then add dollops of the preserves. Use a knife to swirl the fruit in a bit more.
    • In a small bowl, whisk together the 1 tablespoon water and remaining egg. Brush the crust with the egg wash, then finish by sprinkling the pearl sugar all over the edge.
    • Bake until the crust is golden brown with the filling set around outside edges, about 35 to 40 minutes. (If desired, check the temp: an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of filling should register 175°F.)
    • Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then use the parchment sling to lift up the tart onto a serving plate or rack. Eat fresh, or let cool.
    • Tart keeps for days well-wrapped in fridge. Eat slices cold, or make pieces even more delicious with a short zap in the microwave.

    OM NOM NOM!

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      Bready or Not: Gougeres (French Cheese Puffs)

      Posted by on Jul 22, 2020 in Blog, Bready or Not, cheese galore, French, quick bread, side dish | 0 comments

      Eat your cheese in delicious, airy form in Gougeres, aka French cheese puffs!

      Bready or Not: Gougeres (French Cheese Puffs)

      This is a savory version of pate a choux, the dough used for cream puffs and eclairs. In this case, though, you fold in a generous amount of grated cheese.

      Bready or Not: Gougeres (French Cheese Puffs)

      What kind of cheese? Go for ones that grate and melt. Traditional choices would include Gruyere or Comte, or be a rebel like me and use English cheddar. (Scandalous, I know.)

      Bready or Not: Gougeres (French Cheese Puffs)

      I modified this recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s version in her lovely tome Around My French Table. I felt like I learned something new every time I baked up a serving of these puffs, and I wanted to include all that info to prevent people from repeating my mistakes.

      Bready or Not: Gougeres (French Cheese Puffs)

      Such as, see the aluminum foil in these pictures? Don’t use that. Do parchment instead. I didn’t take pictures of how I mangled these gougeres, which were hopelessly stuck to the foil despite a spray of Pam.

      Bready or Not: Gougeres (French Cheese Puffs)

      The recipe results in about 30 puffs. These things keep well, unbaked and frozen, but only for about a month. After that, the puff declines and an eggy taste is more pronounced.

      Bready or Not: Gougeres (French Cheese Puffs)

      This recipe, modified from Dorie Greenspan's version in Around My French Table, combines grated cheese and pate a choux dough. The puffs bake up light, airy, and delightfully cheesy! Do the full recipe at once (it makes 30, using a tablespoon scoop) or freeze unbaked choux for later.
      Course: Appetizer, Bread, Side Dish
      Cuisine: French
      Keyword: cheese, quick bread
      Servings: 30 puffs
      Author: Beth Cato

      Equipment

      • baking sheets
      • parchment paper
      • tablespoon scoop
      • mixer

      Ingredients

      • 1/2 cup whole milk or half & half
      • 1/2 cup water
      • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick) cut into 4 pieces
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1 cup all-purpose four
      • 5 large eggs room temperature
      • 1 1/2 cups coarsely-grated cheese (6 ounces) such as Gruyere, Comte, Emmenthal, or cheddar

      Instructions

      • If baking now, position racks in oven to be at the top and bottom. Preheat oven at 425-degrees. Line two large baking sheets with baking mats or parchment paper; do not use aluminum foil.
      • If preparing the gougeres now, with plans to freeze and bake later, line a pan with waxed paper and clear some space in the freezer so the puffs can set.
      • Place milk, water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a fast boil. Add flour all at once, then lower heat. Promptly start stirring batter with a wooden spoon or sturdy whisk. The dough will come together, but keep stirring with vigor for another couple minutes until the dough is very smooth and looks dryer.
      • Drop the dough into the big bowl of a stand-mixer or a bowl where a hand mixer can be used. (Or, if mixing by hand, be ready for an arm work-out.) Let the dough set for a couple minutes, then add the eggs one by one. Beat, beat, beat that batter, fully incorporating each egg before adding the next. If it separates, that's okay--keep beating it! It needs to reach a stage where it is thick and shiny. Beat in the grated cheese.
      • The batter must be immediately doled out onto pans to either bake or freeze. Use a tablespoon or tablespoon-sized scoop to measure out the batter; if baking, space out about two inches apart.
      • Slide baking sheets into oven. Immediately lower temperature to 375-degrees. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate pans from front to back, top to bottom. Continue baking another 12 to 15 minutes, until gougeres are golden and firm. Note that they will not puff until the end of the bake. Serve promptly.
      • If freezing some or all of the gougeres, freeze on waxed paper, then place in a freezer bag or lidded container. Bake straight from the freezer--do not thaw them! Place on parchment or a greased surface to cook, with gougeres in a central location in the oven. Eat frozen gougeres within a month, as they will otherwise taste increasingly eggy and have less rise.

      OM NOM NOM!

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        Bready or Not: Cat Tongue Cookies (Langues de Chat)

        Posted by on Mar 4, 2020 in Blog, Bready or Not, cookies, French | Comments Off on Bready or Not: Cat Tongue Cookies (Langues de Chat)

        Cat Tongue Cookies! NO CATS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THESE COOKIES.

        Bready or Not: Cat Tongue Cookies (Langues de Chat)

        I first heard about these cookies on the Great British Bake Off, where they were used as part of another recipe. My curiosity was piqued.

        Bready or Not: Cat Tongue Cookies (Langues de Chat)

        I am trying out a lot more French recipes. This seemed like a good, basic one to try… even though I HATE piping things. Did I say hate? I meant LOATHE.

        Bready or Not: Cat Tongue Cookies (Langues de Chat)

        That said, this recipe wasn’t too awful in that regard. The dough wasn’t a big sticky mess. I used a gallon Ziploc bag and cut the corner off, the old basic method, and that worked just fine.

        Bready or Not: Cat Tongue Cookies (Langues de Chat)

        The end result reminded me a lot of the old American stand-by, Nilla Wafers. Nothing fancy by themselves, but crisp and refreshing. They would be easy to dress up by dipping them in chocolate, Nutella, jam, whatever–if you want.

        Bready or Not: Cat Tongue Cookies (Langues de Chat)

        I thought they were just fine by themselves, with my cats lurking close by–tongues intact.

        Bready or Not: Cat Tongue Cookies (Langues de Chat)

        Consisting of just 5 ingredients, these are very straightforward and deliciously crisp vanilla cookies. Make the piping process easier by penciling guidelines onto parchment paper.
        Course: Dessert, Snack
        Cuisine: French
        Keyword: cookies, french
        Servings: 32 cookies
        Author: Beth Cato

        Equipment

        • parchment paper
        • piping bag or gallon Ziploc

        Ingredients

        • 9 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened
        • 1/2 cup white sugar plus 2 Tablespoons
        • 3 egg whites
        • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
        • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

        Instructions

        • Preheat oven at 400 degrees. Line a large baking pan with parchment. Use pencil to draw 3-inch lines spaced several inches apart in rows upon the paper, then flip over so the pencil lines still show through as guides.
        • In a medium bowl, cream together butter and white sugar (1/2 cup and 2 Tablespoons) until smooth. Beat in egg whites one at a time until batter is light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla followed by flour. Dough might be stiff.
        • Put about half of dough into a Ziploc bag (then cut off corner) or a piping bag with a medium star tip. Squeeze out dough onto the lines on parchment.
        • Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, until edges are starting to brown. Move to cooling rack. Pipe and bake remaining dough, reusing parchment.
        • Store in a sealed container. Good dipped into chocolate or spread with Nutella--or all by itself.

        OM NOM NOM!

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          Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

          Posted by on Feb 5, 2020 in Blog, Bready or Not, cookies, French | Comments Off on Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

          Last month I shared my recipe for Almond Sable. This time I present another French (from Brittany, to be specific) take on shortbread: Sable Breton!

          Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

          These cookies are much more straightforward than the previous recipe. The ingredients are shortbread basics: butter, sugar, flour.

          Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

          What sets this apart is, foremost, that it is not as sweet as its counterparts across the channel.

          Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

          I also recommend that you use a kitchen scale to get that European-style precision–along with actual French butter. President-brand is expensive but widely available, even where I am in Arizona.

          Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

          These cookies are downright pretty, too, with a crosshatched pattern and an egg yolk wash. They are perfect alongside a cup of coffee or tea!

          Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

          Modified from the original at Mon Petit Four.

          Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

          Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

          This French version of shortbread cookies is gorgeous to behold, and delicious to eat. Measurements are provided in grams as well as standard American measurements; a food scale is helpful here for precise measurements. Use salted French-import President butter, if possible; one stick is 198 grams, meaning a smidgen more of another butter will provide the perfect amount--plus, the end taste will be more like the French original! If making with unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon salt to compensate. Recipe makes about 22 cookies.
          Course: Dessert, Snack
          Cuisine: French
          Keyword: cookies, french
          Author: Beth Cato

          Equipment

          • parchment paper
          • small cookie cutter
          • food scale

          Ingredients

          • 200 grams salted butter 1/2 cup plus 5 Tablespoons, President butter recommended
          • 120 grams white sugar 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon
          • 3 egg yolks divided
          • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
          • 280 grams all-purpose flour 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons, plus more if needed to dust work surface

          Instructions

          • Preheat oven at 375-degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone mat.
          • Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add two egg yolks and vanilla extract. Add flour until just incorporated.
          • Lightly flour work surface and hands. Using rolling pin or hands, press dough to about 1/4-inch thickness.
          • Use a small round cookie cutter on dough. Transfer rounds to cookie sheet, spaced out a bit. Use a fork to scratch a crosshatch pattern in the top, like a hashtag with more lines.
          • Beat remaining egg yolk in a small bowl. Brush tops of cookies with yolk.
          • Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until cookies are a consistent golden color. Transfer to a rack to completely cool.
          • Store in a sealed container.
          • OM NOM NOM!
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          Bready or Not: Fougasse

          Posted by on Jan 15, 2020 in Blog, Bready or Not, French, yeast bread | Comments Off on Bready or Not: Fougasse

          Bready or Not goes full-on bready with this week’s feature: Fougasse, a French style of bread fragrant with herbs and formed into two leaf-shaped loaves.

          Bready or Not: Fougasse

          I first encountered this bread on the Great British Bake Off, where it was presented as a technical challenge with minimal instructions. (I highly recommend watching season 4 episode 6 prior to baking, if you can, as it provides great tips and visuals of the bread).

          Bready or Not: Fougasse

          I found this bread dough surprisingly easy to work with. I opted to make it in my Kitchen Aid, which is in line with the original recipe, but it could certainly be mixed in a bread machine or by hand.

          Bready or Not: Fougasse

          The end result reminded me of focaccia with the herby, salty flavor, but I found the leaf shape of the fougasse to be incredibly fun. It really makes for a great presentation.

          To use Bake Off terminology, this bread is a technical challenge that also works as a showstopper.

          Bready or Not: Fougasse

          Modified from Paul Hollywood’s recipe as published on the BBC’s site.

          Bready or Not: Fougasse

          This herby bread is of French origin and designed to make two large loaves that resembled big, flat leaves. Recipe is modified from Paul Hollywood, as featured on the Great British Bake Off. Amounts are provided below in cups and in weight, with a recommendation to follow the weight for more accuracy.
          Course: Bread, Side Dish
          Cuisine: French
          Keyword: french, yeast bread
          Author: Beth Cato

          Equipment

          • 2 large baking sheets
          • parchment paper
          • pizza cutter
          • pastry brush

          Ingredients

          • 2 Tablespoons olive oil plus more for greasing and drizzling
          • 500 grams bread flour plus more for dusting (1 lb, 2 ounces)
          • 10 grams fine sea salt (1/4 teaspoon)
          • 7 grams instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
          • 350 ml warm water (12 ounces)
          • 4 teaspoons chopped rosemary plus more to finish
          • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
          • fine cornmeal for dusting, or substitute semolina flour
          • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
          • sea salt flakes to finish

          Instructions

          • Grease a large container with some olive oil. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
          • In a mixer with a dough hook (or with a dough whisk and arm muscle), combine the bread flour and sea salt. Add yeast, followed by the measured olive oil and most of the warm water. Mix on low speed. As the dough comes together, slowly add the rest of the water. Continue to mix on medium speed for about 7 or 8 minutes. Add the herbs and make sure they are evenly distributed. Dough should be quite elastic and easy to work with.
          • Dump the dough into the oiled container. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until at least doubled, about an hour. Dough should be bouncy and shiny.
          • Dust a work surface with extra flour and cornmeal (or semolina). Tip the dough onto the surface. It should be loose and flowing. Divide dough in half.
          • Place each piece of dough on the prepared parchment. Spread into a flat oval, then use a pizza cutter to slice twice down the middle (to make a stem) with six cuts on the side of each leaf (see photograph for example). Gently stretch out the dough to emphasize the holes.
          • Cover both loaves with plastic wrap and allow to set for 20 minutes as the oven preheats to 430-degrees.
          • Brush or spray additional olive oil atop each leaf, then sprinkle on the dried oregano.
          • Bake for about 7 minutes, then switch positions of bread on the oven racks. Continue baking another 8 minutes or so (15 to 20 minutes total) until each fougasse is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from oven. Immediately brush more olive oil on top, followed by a sprinkling of sea salt.
          • Bread is delicious fresh or at room temperature. Loaves can be well-wrapped and frozen for later enjoyment.

          OM NOM NOM!

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