January 14, 2022

Pineapple Cream Cheese Danish Braid


Sometimes a craving strikes me and I have to make it as soon as possible.  That's what happened the other week when all I could think about was a Cream Cheese Pineapple Danish Braid.  I'm a total sucker for anything pineapple because it's my all-time favorite fruit. 

For the Danish dough I used a recipe that I've made before on this blog.  It's super simple and requires no electric appliance whatsoever, just your hands.  For the cream cheese and pineapple fillings I used these recipes.

The only caveat I would say when it comes to making any kind of laminated dough is to be prepared for quite a bit of non-activity.  There's a lot of down time involved because the dough needs to chill in between all the turns and also proof just before baking.  In total, the process to make this particular braid spanned three days. 


January 8, 2022

Clementine Cake


I'm not one to make any resolutions when a new year is upon us, but this year I decided to make an intention.  Who knows if intentions are that much different to resolutions, but I tell myself they are...hahaha.  My intention for 2022 is to be less wasteful, particularly when it comes to food.  Before the pandemic I was always binning food that had expired or was spoiled.  Often times it was because I'd forgotten about it or was just too lazy to cook or bake.    

Out of necessity, especially in the early part of the pandemic in 2020, I was forced to change this behavior.  When we were essentially in lock down I wasn't frequenting the stores as I normally would.  Plus, certain ingredients were out of stock so I had to make do with what I already had.  Pre-planning and creativity, I think, are key to this strategy.

With that mindset I made this Clementine Cake.  I'd been staring at the same bowl of clementines since the holidays that were close to their last legs.  The fruits were too dry to eat on their own so I had to think of a way to use them up.  Guilt prevented me from tossing them in the compost bin.  Initially I'd considered making marmalade, but upon realizing how much time (and sugar) went into the process I quickly changed my mind.  I vaguely remembered watching an episode of Nigella Lawson where she made a clementine cake using every bit of the fruit, skin and all.  Sounded perfect to me! 

The recipe can be easily found on the internet and I had all the ingredients (clementines, almond flour, sugar, eggs and baking powder) on hand.  The only changes I made to Nigella's recipe were to  microwave the fruit for five minutes, instead of boiling it on the stove for 2 hours!, and also adding kosher salt and sliced almonds.  
There was definitely some skepticism on my part about how good this cake would taste given how simple it was to make, but one bite and I was a convert.  Nigella claimed this cake would be super moist and taste as if it had been soaked in syrup.  She wasn't lying.  You wouldn't believe the texture; not  mushy at all and it had a custard-like texture.  It actually reminded me of the cakes you would find at a breakfast buffet in an Italian hotel or bed & breakfast.   It needs no embellishment other than a light dusting of powdered sugar.  So delicious!

January 5, 2022

Mardi Gras King Cake


 January 6 marks Epiphany (sometimes called Three King's Day) in the Catholic faith.   When I was a student living in Dijon I came to learn that the French celebrate this holiday by enjoying galette des rois throughout the month.   Because I've already made that puff pastry and frangipane treat before I wanted to try my luck at making this Mardi Gras King Cake from Murmurs of Ricotta's blog.  This year Mardi Gras falls on March 1st, but King Cake can be enjoyed starting at Epiphany.


Although I've never visited Louisiana or New Orleans before (it's on my list!) I have actually tasted a traditional NOLA king cake before.  A former co-worker of mine grew up in Louisiana and her mom used to send her a king cake every year.   The "cake" is actually an enriched bread, filled with cinnamon and frosted and decorated with purple, gold and green sprinkles.  I think it tastes similar to a cinnamon roll.   What intrigued me about this recipe in particular was the claim that it was soft and fluffy and inspired by the in-demand cakes sold at Dong Phuong, a popular Vietnamese French bakery in New Orleans East.
The enriched dough couldn't be easier to make, but it does require some patience, as it needs to proof in the fridge at least overnight.  When forming the king cake be sure to roll out the dough evenly, otherwise you'll end up with a plump middle section and skinny ends, like I did.  My King Cake really lived up to the fat moniker of Mardi "Gras".  Still tasted great though!  Just as the blog described, the brioche-bread was soft and fluffy, and quite delicious.   
The hardest part was waiting for the cake to cool completely before frosting it with the brown butter cream cheese frosting.  A final flourish of Mardi Gras colored sprinkles and the King Cake was complete.  NOTE: For some reason my purple non-pareils look more indigo in these pictures, but I can assure you they are purple!
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