Macs and Ovens

My oven is giving me grief. I set it 75º lower than the temperature I want and it’s 25º higher than I want! How on earth am I supposed to have any success making macarons with an oven that’s even more finicky than the macarons I’m trying to bake??

Oven aside, I decided to give macarons another try this weekend. This time, I’m making Pistachio Macarons with Pistachio Cream Filling, another recipe I found through Pinterest. For the first time since starting on this adventure, I’m not using the basic recipe I’ve been using so far. This time, I’m following the recipe for the Pistachio Macarons exactly as written. As of right now, as I’m writing, they’ve been in the oven for a few minutes (5 or so) and already have feet! I mentioned in my last post that I was going to follow the advice of numerous bloggers and place another baking sheet on the lower rack of my oven because, in addition to not being able to control the heat, this oven also bakes unevenly.

dscn0498

Two sheets, ready to bake… for a total of 26 completed macarons

dscn0499

You can see that they’ve dried somewhat and are ready for baking.

dscn0500

Feet… we have feet! (I tried to adjust the colour… unsuccessfully. In reality, they’re a lovely pale shade of green.

All that’s left to do now is to make the Pistachio Cream filling. Silly me, I thought about taking butter out of the freezer last night but totally forgot by the time bedtime came around. I now have to wait for the butter to soften enough that I can cut off what I need. They may not be filled until later today (I don’t think that’s an issue). Early this afternoon, we’ll be going to my daughter’s to help supervise my grandson’s eighth birthday party. The filling likely won’t be made until after we’re back… possibly even tomorrow.

… and a couple of hours later, the Pistachio Macarons are cooling their heels in the fridge.

dscn0502

I decided to roll them in crushed pistachios for that little extra pop of pistachio flavour (colour’s still off).

I did make the filling; I found a way of hurrying the butter along. That is a seriously delicious filling! It isn’t overly sweet, which makes me happy. I’m really not excited about tooth achingly sweet things.

From what I’ve seen so far (haven’t tasted a completed macaron yet), they look amazing but I think I have a bit of hollowness again. As John said, though, considering the oven I’m working with, they are what they are. With a better oven, I know I’d have better results. Incidentally, placing the extra baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven did seem to make a difference. The feet throughout the entire batch are pretty much the same, a first.

Will I make these again? Oh yeah! Having tasted each of the components, I can’t wait to try the whole.

pistachio

Advertisements

And Then, There’s Cake

Last weekend, we celebrated my daughter’s birthday. When I asked her what she’d like (food-wise), she requested two things: nachos and chocolate mousse. Wow! Easy, peasy!

She always has been easy to cook for; we used to let the kids decide what their birthday meal would be. One year, her choice was soup. When asked whether she wanted green soup (vegetable soup) or red soup (vegetable soup with a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup thrown in for good measure), she asked for both. As I said, easy peasy!

John looked after the nachos, with Trinity’s help. They were amazing!

I looked after the cake. The first step was to find a recipe. Have I mentioned how much I love Pinterest? The only thing I had to keep in mind was that it had to be gluten free. When I came across this recipe from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, I knew it was “the one”.

It’s a simple recipe, really. The cake came out beautifully and, it was really good. Both the cake and the mousse were simple to make and delicious! Yeah, I licked out the bowl. Can’t let good chocolate mousse go to waste, you know… or should that be “to waist”? Never mind, it’s already there.

dscn0485

Even though neither John or I eat gluten free, I would make this cake again in a heartbeat. The cake layer was fudgy, tasty, with a great texture. The mousse? Well, what else is there to say about chocolate mousse but… YUM!

The recipe is definitely a keeper and one I will definitely make again and again!

Gluten Free French Bread

According to the write up of this recipe, “This french bread is amazing!! It tastes so similar to the wheat containing french bread. Plus it freezes wonderfully !!! It’s crusty on the outside, and soft and tender within…. You can make it from start to finish in about one hour!!”

Wow, apart from grammatical errors, that’s quite the endorsement. Is it true, though? Let’s find out, shall we?

The recipe is a Food.com recipe and can be found here: Gluten Free French Bread by Gluten Free Girl. I’ve been pretty impressed with her recipes and have used her recipe for making pie pastry (see here).

The gluten free blend of flours used in the recipe is a mix of white rice flour, tapioca flour and xanthan gum. The recipe also calls for egg substitute as an optional ingredient, which I don’t have. I’m not interested in making this bread vegan, so I’ll opt for not using it. The recipe calls for egg whites anyway.

And away we go…

gf-french-bread-1

All of the ingredients assembled and ready to go. From the left to the right… Flour mix, sugar, yeast, vinegar, and egg whites. Butter, ready to be melted, is at the front. The empty bowl is there for the warm water for the yeast and sugar.

gf-french-bread-2

This is really quite simple. All of the ingredients are added to the mixing bowl and then you beat it. Seriously, that’s it. If this is any good at all, it’s the simplest bread I’ve ever made.

gf-french-bread-3

This is not your mother’s bread dough. No kneading involved. This looks more like buttercream frosting than bread dough! At this point, after 3 minutes of beating (yes, 3 minutes!), it’s ready to spoon onto the baking sheet.

gf-french-bread-4

The loaves, now ready for rising. I used wet hands to shape them into the shape of French bread loaves; without doing that, they were just a little too rustic and ragged looking for my sense of aesthetic. Both have been brushed with melted butter and slashed to give them that classic French bread look. Now, we wash the dishes and wait for the dough to rise.

gf-french-bread-5

After about 20-25 minutes, the dough has pretty much doubled, now ready for baking.

gf-french-bread-6

Out of the oven, this definitely isn’t the prettiest bread in the world but, oh does it smell good. That lovely yeasty bread smell is certainly there, enough to make my mouth water. But what about taste? And what about texture?

gf-french-bread-7

I don’t know about you but this doesn’t look bad at all. The crust is definitely crispy, as a good French loaf crust should be. The texture is a little different than a classic French loaf, a little moister…. not sure if that’s the right word… but it’s just out of the oven. It’s a little different than wheat based bread but not objectionable.

As for flavour…. well, I think this speaks for itself.

gf-french-bread-8

It hasn’t yet passed the “John” test but I’ve left the loaves out on the kitchen counter and I’m about to head out the door for a little while. It will be interesting to see how much of the cut loaf is left when I get home (he’s out at the moment but I expect him home before I get home). I’ll let you know.

Well, it didn’t pass the John test. He had one slice, declared it bland (it’s white bread.. it’s usually bland) and that he didn’t like the texture and “it’s gluten free, isn’t it?”. He was disappointed.  I’m not. For anyone who can’t tolerate gluten and still wants French bread, I think it’s a great option.

It did, however, pass the Kristen test. She and the kids came to pick up the loaves late in the afternoon and her eyes lit up at the first bite. I’d call that a success!