Baking Chez Moi and Vous with Dorie Greenspan

Details

Posted
No Comments

It’s really quite impossible not to adore Dorie Greenspan. With several incredible cookbooks under her belt–Baking: From My Home to Yours, Around My French Table, and Baking With Julia (yes, the Julia Child)–a lovely blog, and a very popular baking club, Tuesdays With Dorie, as well as the sweetest smile and an ever-so-friendly disposition, she is the woman you want to be, the friend you hope to grow old with, and the baker you try so hard to emulate. I have loved her books for years, and was beyond excited for the release of her newest, Baking Chez Moi, because it combines two of my greatest loves, France and baking. This, however, is not your typical classic confection cookbook. Its pages are filled with recipes from real French homes, and are the baked goods one creates for family and loved ones. These are the recipes you want to make and can do with some ease. To learn more about her new book and what makes her tick, we asked Dorie to share some of her secrets. Of course, she agreed. Merci, Dorie! -Kate

dorie4

Tell us about Baking Chez Moi and what inspired you to write this particular cookbook.

I continue to be inspired, as I have been for decades, by France, its food, its traditions, its people and my Parisian friends and neighbors. For Baking Chez Moi, I collected recipes that reveal what I think of as a parallel universe of pastry, a world of sweets that are the exact opposite of the perfect, polished pastries found in French pâtisseries. The recipes in Baking Chez Moi are the very personal, often private recipes that French people pull out when they’re baking for their families and the people they care for like family. I call these kinds of sweets “French comfort baking” and I love them for their simplicity, their generosity and their deliciousness.

What has writing cookbooks taught you about yourself and/or your cooking style?

It’s not so much that writing cookbooks teaches me about myself as that it reminds me – over and over – why I love what Julia Child used to call “cookbookery”: I write because I love home cooking and baking and because I want to share what I discover.

What makes you do what you do in the kitchen?

Curiosity and passion.

What’s your favorite thing to bake at home?

I don’t know that I have a favorite-favorite thing to bake at home – I’m pretty much an indiscriminate lover of home baking and think that each thing we bake at home delivers its own kind of pleasure. That said, my regular taste-testers – that would be my family and friends – are happiest when I bake cookies. I think the love of cookies is universal.

What’s the recipe every baker should know?

If a baker knows how to make a tart crust – an easy recipe (I make my dough in a food processor and roll it out/or press it into the pan as soon as it’s made, making the whole process quick and just about foolproof) – then I think that she or he will be able to make something new and wonderfully delicious every day of the year. When I began baking, crusts frightened me. I was so sure that they were fussy and that there was some magic involved in getting them right. Now, hundreds of crusts later, I see that I was wrong: A perfect crust takes only a good recipe and a dash of enthusiasm.

dorieart

What’s the first recipe you’d like us to tackle in the cookbook – something that will hook us in?

The first recipe from Baking Chez Moi that I tell people to try (it’s so simple that the word ‘tackle’ doesn’t apply) is the Custardy Apple Squares on page 20. Making this plain and luscious cake requires no exotic ingredients, no elaborate gear and no more than 10 minutes of prep time, yet the results are so appealing that you’ll want to keep these squares on hand always. Aside from the simplicity and goodness of this recipe, I also like that it lends itself to variation. I love when homebakers can play around with a recipe and make it their own and this one is easy to tweak: you can add spice, citrus zest, a little rum or some dried fruit to the recipe. Or you can swap the apples for pears or quince or even mango. The squares can easily be customized to become your own house special.

What do you eat when no one is looking?

My two little private pleasures are M&Ms (the dark chocolate ones) and ice cream. Usually separately … but not always.

If you absolutely had to choose, what is your very favorite French baked good?

You ask such hard questions! I am so crazy about French pastry and desserts that this question borders on impossible to answer. I love the simplest French pastries, the ones that straddle the line between cake and cookie, like Madeleines, or Financiers made with nut flour and lots of butter. And, of course, I adore tarts. And I’ve never met a mousse I didn’t love. And then there are the plain cakes, the loaf cakes and the single rounds. This question is too tough to answer.

Please share a little baking/cooking advice to inspire a home cook.

My advice to home cooks and bakers is always the same: Take pleasure in what you’re doing. Enjoy the process and enjoy sharing what you’ve made. Baking, in particular, is made for sharing and there’s little more lovely than sharing what you’ve made by hand.

What’s one of the best homemade food gifts you’ve ever received?

Every time I receive a homemade food gift that’s accompanied by a recipe I’m touched and happy. I think that baking or cooking something and offering it with the recipe is a double display of friendship.

What is the one item you covet for your kitchen?

Space, space and more space. I have three kitchens – one in New York City, one in Westbrook, CT and one in Paris – and they’re each very, very workable, but no matter how much space, particularly counter space, I’ve got, more would be better. And while I’m dreaming … how about a wood-burning bread oven?

dorieapples2

Custardy Apple Squares

I think of this as a “back-pocket recipe,” one I can pull out when I need something quick and wonderful, something I can make on the spur of the moment without trekking to the market. The cake is primarily apples (or pears or mangoes) and the batter, which resembles one you’d use for crepes, has more flavor than you’d imagine the short list of ingredients could deliver and it turns thick and custard-like in the oven. Through some magic of chemistry, the apples, which go into the pan in a mishmash, seem to line themselves up and they come out baked through but retaining just enough structure to give you something to bite into. That it can be served minutes out of the oven makes this the perfect last-minute sweet.

I’ve made this with several kinds of apples and the cake has always been good. In general, I go for juicy apples that are not too soft (Gala and Fujis work well), and if I’ve got a few different kinds on hand, I use them all. I slice the apples on a mandoline or Benriner, tools that make fast work of the job, give you thin slices and allow you to use almost all of the fruit. When you’re finished slicing an apple on one of these, all you’ve got left is a neat rectangle of core. -Dorie

Bonne Idées

You can add a couple of tablespoons of dark rum, Calvados, applejack or Armagnac or a drop (really just a drop) of pure almond extract to the batter. If you have an orange or a lemon handy, you can grate the zest over the sugar and rub the ingredients together until they’re fragrant. You can also change the fruit. Pears are perfect and a combination of apples and pears even better. Or make the cake with 2 firm mangoes—the texture will be different, but still good—or very thinly sliced quinces. Finally, if you want to make this look a little dressier, you can warm some apple jelly in a microwave and spread a thin layer of it over the top with a pastry brush.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium juicy, sweet apples, such as Gala or Fuji, peeled
  • 1⁄2 cup (68grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1⁄3 cup (67grams) sugar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 28 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

Directions:

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
  2. Slice the apples from top to bottom using a mandoline, Benriner or a sharp knife, turning the fruit as you reach the core. The slices should be about 1/16th-inch thick—elegantly thin, but not so thin that they’re transparent and fragile. Discard the cores.
  3. Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl.
  4. Working in a large bowl with a whisk, beat the eggs, sugar and salt together for about 2 minutes, until the sugar just about dissolves and, more important, the eggs are pale. Whisk in the vanilla, followed by the milk and melted butter. Turn the flour into the bowl and stir with the whisk until the batter is smooth. Add the apples to the bowl, switch to a flexible spatula gently fold the apples into the batter, turning everything around until each thin slice is coated in batter. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top as evenly as you can—it will be bumpy; that’s its nature.
  5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown, uniformly puffed— make sure the middle of the cake has risen—and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Using a long chefs knife, cut the cake into 8 squares in the pan (being careful not to damage the pan), or unmold the cake onto a rack, flip it onto a plate and cut into squares. Either way, give the squares a dusting of confectioners’ sugar before serving, if you’d like.
Photos courtesy of Alan Richardson.

Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic StudioFollow Maggie Battista on Instagram.

Comments