The fruits of our Labor Day

One thing leads to another.

A friend’s daughter reads Orangette, where she recently saw a recipe for blueberry-oat scones. She made the scones for my friend. My friend sent me the recipe.

How could I resist?

Blueberry scones

Thinking about the blueberry scones made me think about things I could slather on them before shoving them into my mouth.

The abundance of the beautiful peaches at the farm stand coinciding with the recent publication of a recipe on Smitten Kitchen made my decision obvious: peach butter.

Peach-Vanilla Butter

Meanwhile, I was ruminating on ways to use four perfect, orange, duck egg yolks that were left over after making H an egg-white omelet.

Lemon Curd - Duck egg yolks

Still thinking about spreadable things that go with scones, I came across a recipe for lemon curd, which I’d never made before.

Lemon Curd

Isn’t that a puddle of sunshine for a rainy day?

Peach-Vanilla Butter and Lemon Curd - canned

I was worried that I’d have extra lemons and have to figure out a way to use those, but that didn’t happen.

What we did have, though, was an excess of rain. And rain. And rain.

Enough to finally topple our antique Golden Russet apple tree, laden this year with one of the fullest crops of apples we’ve seen it bear in our 17 years here.

What's left of the Golden Russet tree

In the scheme of things, compared to the farms, barns, houses, roads, and bridges lost and damaged in Vermont in the past week, a tree is not a big thing. Still, we will miss our old friend and the apples it produced, perfect for cider making and unmatchable for pies.

We went out in the drizzle and gathered a bag of apples, nearly ripe and ready.

Golden Russet apples

We’ll make a pie.

Garlic Soup and Walnut Bread

Garlic Soup

There are many — oh so many — benefits to working from home, but one serious drawback is that there’s no one to talk to. Sure, there’s the dog, but he only ever wants to talk about one thing:

Are we going for a walk? When are we going for a walk? Remember that walk yesterday? Yeah, that was a great one. But not as great as today’s walk is gonna be. Speaking of which, are we going for a walk?

He’s a darling dog, but the conversation gets a bit stale.

Then there are the cats:

Who are you, and what are you doing in my house?

And the goats:

Feeeeed us! Looooove us! Scraaaatch us behind the ears.

I enjoy that conversation. To a point.

Sometimes, though, it’s rather nice to communicate with human beings, especially human beings who have a sense of humor, like to read good books, enjoy cooking and baking new things, and have a serious relationship with garlic.

I feel lucky to know — virtually — two such beings: Kelly (at Something Shiny) and Daniel (at Ährelich Gesagt). Kelly and Daniel are fellow Bread Baker’s Apprentice challengers, bloggers, and people I’ve just generally enjoyed getting to know via our mutual friend, the Internet.

I don’t remember how the love-of-garlic conversation started between Kelly and Daniel, but at some point I joined in and mentioned that I had a bit of a garlic problem myself (remember the year I planted our entire garden with garlic? Yeah, that kind of problem…).

Garlic Soup - Star of the show

And then Daniel mentioned this garlic soup that he’d been wanting to make for ages. And the next thing you know, all three of us are signed on to make the soup, plus — because we all love to bake bread — the accompanying walnut bread, and then write about it on our blogs.

So here we are.

And let me tell you, if you love garlic, you must make this soup, because it’s beautiful and mellow and full of garlic goodness. You can eat it warm. You can eat it cold. You can probably ladle it on fish as a delicate sauce. You can add vegetables. You will want to eat it when you have a head cold. If you love garlic, you may even want to bathe in it. (Of course, then maybe no one else will want to get near you for awhile, but I tell you it will be worth the sacrifice.)

Garlic Soup - Garlic and herbs added to water

The process of making the soup is fairly straightforward, as long as you take some real care at the end of the recipe to be patient and work slowly to incorporate the egg/cheese/oil mixture into the broth. You can read the full recipe on the fabulous 101 Cookbooks blog, but here’s a brief overview of what you’ll be doing:

  1. Smash and then chop a dozen cloves of garlic.
  2. Add the garlic, plus a bay leaf, a couple sage leaves, about a teaspoon of fresh thyme, and a little salt to four cups of water.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 40 minutes.
  4. Remove the bay leaf and sage leaves.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together two egg yolks plus one egg, then slowly whisk 1/4 cup olive oil to create an emulsion.
  6. Whisk in 1.5 ounces of grated Parmesan cheese.
  7. SLOWLY whisk about a cup of the garlic broth into the egg mixture.
  8. Then SLOWLY whisk the egg mixture into the rest of the broth, over low heat, until the soup thickens.

Where I wrote “SLOWLY” above, I mean it. The recipe is very simple to make, but the one tricky part is making sure that you don’t curdle the eggs by cooking them too quickly with the hot broth. If you add the broth to the egg mixture in a very slow stream, whisking continuously, and then do the same when you add the egg mixture to the rest of the broth, you’ll be fine. Also, be conservative in the final cooking stage. It only takes a few minutes, so there’s no need to hurry it along. Start with a very low flame and then gradually raise it to medium-low and keep on whisking. It will thicken, and when it gets to a smooth, silky, non-watery consistency, take it off the heat, immediately.

Did I mention that I love this soup? Because I do. And that sort of surprised me because I really don’t like eggs. I mean, I love eggs as objects and what they do in baking, but I can’t stand the taste of egg, and I was a bit worried that this soup would taste like egg soup. It doesn’t. It tastes like full-flavored, smooth garlic, without a single bitter edge.

Walnut Bread - Walnut halves

I see I’ve rambled on quite a bit about the soup without discussing the bread very much. Although the three of us agreed on using the same soup recipe, we were left to our own devices to find a walnut bread recipe. I had a hankering for a garlic ficelle that our local bakery makes, but I couldn’t find a recipe, so I went in search of a walnut baguette instead. I didn’t really find one of those either, but I did land on this Apple Walnut Fondue Bread recipe at the King Arthur Flour web site (which, coincidentally, Kelly did, too!). I omitted the apples, added a few more walnuts than the recipe called for, and used some whole wheat flour in the poolish to give the bread a bit of extra heartiness.

Walnut Bread - Poolish

During kneading, I also added about a 1/4 cup more water than the recipe called for because the dough seemed drier than I wanted. I think I could have added even more water, but the resulting loaf turned out moist and full of nutty flavor. It’s a simple bread to make, requiring you to mix a simple poolish of yeast, water, and flour the night before baking; the next day, all you have to do is chop and toast the walnuts, add the rest of the ingredients to the poolish (flour, salt, yeast), knead it all together, let rise for 90 minutes, shape, proof for an hour, then bake. I followed Mr. Reinhart’s hearth baking method because I’m used to doing bread that way, but the recipe doesn’t require it.

Walnut Bread

The soup recipe calls for tearing up some of the walnut bread and putting it in the bottom of the bowl before pouring in the soup (which Michael did). Anyone who knows me knows that one of the things I truly loathe is wet bread, so I skipped that. I did, however, dunk a piece of bread in the soup just to see. They tasted mighty fine together.

Daniel and Kelly, thank you so much for being out there, for being amazing cooks, and for being garlic fiends. I’m so glad to know you!

We’ve a storm brewing here and the lights just blinked off and on a few times, so I’ll wrap things up here in hopes of posting before we lose power.

When you have a chance, hop on over to Kelly and Daniel’s blogs to see their renditions of garlic soup and walnut bread. I’m positive you won’t be disappointed.

Family Recipe ~ Pearl’s Waffles

Today, blogger, writer, and fellow Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge baker Cheryl Tan is celebrating the launch of her new book, A Tiger in the Kitchen, by inviting fellow bloggers and cooks to write about a favorite family recipe.

As those who love to cook know, it’s hard to beat the excitement and challenge of mastering a new, exotic recipe. We scour shops and websites for special ingredients and hard-to-find equipment, get variations on recipes from books and blogs, lurk on forums to see what others have already learned. We test and tweak a recipe, subjecting our families to endless variations on the same theme, trying to get it “right” (some of you may remember my year of trying to make the canelés I craved).

That kind of cooking is great fun. It’s a hobby (and sometimes becomes a career). It takes hours and days and maybe months just to get the one dish figured out. And when you conquer that recipe, you feel a real sense of satisfaction — and probably a little bit tired — and then you wonder:

Okay, well, now, what’s to eat?

Enter the humble family recipe. The one you grew up with. The one you know in your bones. The one you take for granted and take for comfort. The one that, if you do have a printed copy (which is probably hand-written, scribbled quickly on notebook paper while your mother dictated it over the phone), is so splattered and smudged, you can barely read it anyway.

That’s my grandmother Pearl’s waffle recipe.

It’s about as basic as it gets, and yet… Pearl loved to entertain in a high style. A master of gilding the lily, she never did anything simply. As I child, I didn’t much like anything she cooked because she always tinkered with her recipes to add just one more ingredient that would send it over the edge from perfect to overdone and “doilied”. She could ruin a basic, delicious oatmeal cookie by adding dried fruits soaked in brandy. She never seemed to understand why my sister and I, having earlier excitedly announced that we LOVED such-and-such food, would turn our noses up at the kid-unfriendly version she set before us.

But some things she did right, and one of those things was waffles. Her recipe has no exotic ingredients, but, as always, she went the extra mile and made it different by whipping the egg whites and then folding them into the batter. This one extra step makes the crispiest, fluffiest waffles I’ve ever had.


When Cheryl posed the idea of posting a family recipe, I knew right away that this was the recipe to choose because it’s not just the recipe that makes this a family recipe, it’s the tools I use to make it — things owned by my family and my husband’s: the special egg (or cream) whipping tool belonged to my husband’s maternal grandmother; the little frying pan I always use to melt the butter belonged to my maternal grandfather’s mother; and the little electric waffle iron that makes only two waffles at a time is one of those things my husband and I bought together years ago.

Waffle Equipment

When I use the whipper and the frying pan, I always think of the women who held them before, and I wonder what they cooked for their families with them, and I imagine them beside me, making breakfast for my little family on a snowy Sunday morning.

And even though my other grandmother, Martha, doesn’t contribute directly to this recipe, I think of her, too. Because she’s the one who taught me about the glory of a waffle-and-ice-cream sandwich, eaten at dusk on a summer evening, while sitting on blue plastic chairs, on the front veranda of her Toronto home.

Pearl’s Waffles

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups milk
2 eggs, separated
4 Tablespoons butter

  1. Melt butter. Put aside to cool.
  2. Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine milk and egg yolks.
  4. Quickly stir in flour mixture.
  5. Add melted butter.
  6. Beat egg whites into peaks.
  7. Fold egg whites into batter.
  8. Cook on waffle iron (I cook them at the highest setting to get the deep brown color and crisp texture).
  9. Eat straight from the iron, before anyone else has a chance to get their hands on it. If you must be civilized and sit down to eat, drizzle first with real maple syrup.

Note: These waffles freeze and reheat well. After cooking them, allow them to cool fully, then put in freezer bags and put in the freezer. Warm them in a toaster or toaster oven.

To see Cheryl’s family recipe and see links to other family recipe posts, visit her blog. Congratulations, Cheryl!

Now… what is your favorite family recipe? Post a link in the comments here or on Cheryl’s blog. Share the family recipe love!

In the final analysis

Copper molds do matter:


This one isn’t baked as long as some of my earlier attempts, but it has a great, crunchy crust and a silky custardy interior. The caramelized flavor of the crust is just right.

This little guy, along with his two buddies, was the result of my third attempt with the new molds. For my first try, I messed with batter recipe by adding more flour to offset the extra liquid from the duck egg yolks I used. Don’t ask me why I thought it made sense to change both the batter and the molds at the same time; I don’t have an adequate answer. It was obvious during the baking that the new molds made a difference, but the results were wrong wrong wrong. The batter rose up high and beautiful in the oven, but the resulting Canelés were uniformly matte brown (vs. glossy golden or dark brown) and very cakey. The flavor wasn’t bad, but all the specialness of Canelés was absent.

The squirrels and birds in our yard made a feast of those.

Ok. So for the next try I knew I had to use the standard recipe with no fooling around. I even bought the specified extra large eggs (and, you know, those extra large chicken egg yolks are still a lot smaller than your average duck egg yolk!). That batter went into the fridge to chill for 24 hours.

The next evening, we baked a batch. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I had set the oven on “Aero Pastry” – a mode our oven has that I don’t even know what you use for, except I don’t think it’s for Canelés because they were cooking very slowly. Evenly and nicely, but slowly. About 2/3 of the way through the baking, I caught the error and changed the mode to the one I usually use, “Aero Bake”. As I skimmed the oven documentation, I realized I should probably be using the “True Aero” mode to get the best results. All three of these modes are variations on convection modes. Don’t ask me what the differences are, though. I’d have to read the manual.

Anyway…. it took a little longer than normal, but the Canelés darkened nicely and I unmolded them, waited about 20 minutes and tried one. BINGO! They had the right crunch, color, flavor.

I did a dance.

I had enough batter left for about 3 more, so I tried again last night, this time with the oven set correctly, and again the results were grand, though I admit I was too sleepy by the time they were done to enjoy them properly.

Tonight, I’ll attempt to warm them and eat them – they don’t warm very well, but it’s worth a try.

I think I’m just about ready to serve these to other people…

The molds are in the house

For those of you following the Canelé saga, my four shiny new molds arrived on Friday. I haven’t made Canelés with them yet, but I’ve “seasoned” the molds by washing them, greasing them with vegetable oil, baking them in the oven for an hour, and then letting them cool slowly in the turned-off oven. I also picked up some cake flour over the weekend.

Now, all I need to do is buy some milk and I can whip up some batter. And then wait a day while the batter rests until I can bake them. This is not particularly fast food.

The real deal

I certainly meant to post this last weekend, but somehow forgot. Actually, I’ve apparently forgotten more than once to post about this, but that’s another story. Here’s the subject: Canelés (also written as Cannelés), beautiful, humble little French pastries (originating in Bordeaux). describes them this way:

“In essence, it is a vamped-up crepe batter cooked in tiny copper molds until they become brown and crusty outside.”

That’s fairly accurate, though it doesn’t point out that the crusty outside is a deep brown (nearly black) caramelized wonder, while the inside remains moist, chewy, sometimes almost custard-like. They are not particularly sweet or rich (“vamped up crepe batter” is fairly accurate description), but they have a touch of vanilla to them and, as I learned later, a shot of rum. They are small — they fit in the palm of a hand — best eaten warm, and certainly must be eaten the day they are made (they can be rewarmed the next day, but the rewarmed Canelé is a pale, lifeless waste of time, as I imagine are the frozen variety I hear you can buy in France and warm when you like in your own oven).

Nope. These are an ephermeral delight. If you see a fresh one, eat one (realistically, eat 2 or 3) right then and there. You may not see one again for a long time, and the one you save for later will have lost its luster and its crunch.

Back to my story.  One beautiful summer Saturday day last year (and I wish I’d recorded which one so I could celebrate Canelé Day every year), I was shopping at Killdeer Farm Stand and noticed a tray of little pastries. There were maybe 30 of them. The tray was accompanied by a small sign that identified the pastries as Cannelés Bordelais. I’d never seen anything like them before. Dark brown little towers, with fluted edges, golden brown at the top, a shiny crust. They looked interesting, but they were $1.50 a piece. I didn’t really need them. I walked past them. I picked out my lettuce or whatever other vegetables had called me to the farm stand, and went to the check out line, and then I got out of line, circled back around to the tray, and read the sign again. The sign said they had been made by a local baker who was a former pastry chef at Dean & DeLuca (the Washington D.C. branch, I believe).

Something about these little beauties intrigued me. I picked up 3. I bought them.  I went to the car. During the drive from the farmstand to the Norwich Farmer’s Market (that would be less than 1/4 of a mile) I ate my first Canelé. I had to restrain myself from eating the other two immediately. I had to finish my shopping, and then I HAD to get these home to Michael so he could also try one. Why oh why didn’t I go back to the farm stand and buy the lot? Oh, I thought maybe I’d just never heard of these before because I was ignorant – I didn’t dream that I’d never heard of them before because they’re so darn rare!

I went home, I shared one with Michael, I devoured the other one. I started reading online about how to make them myself. I learned that the batter was a closely guarded secret, but many pastry chefs had figured out how to do it, and it really wasn’t complicated at all – just took a little time and patience (for one thing, to get the right texture, the batter really needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, preferably 48). The real complication is that, for authentic Canelés, you require special little copper molds that give the pastries their shape as well as the perfectly-textured crust. These molds are not easy to find, and are fairly expensive considering you want at least 6 of them to make half a batch a day (enough for one each for a small dinner party, or enough just for me if left alone with them for an hour).

Luckily, it turns out that someone makes a silicone version of the pan, which contains 8 little molds in one pan. And that version is much cheaper. I ordered one fairly immediately. And while I waited for it to arrive, I stalked the farmstand every Saturday, hoping the Canelés would be there. They never were again, at least not any Saturday I visited.

I guess you can tell that I’d now become a little obsessed with the things. I think it’s entirely my fault for just buying 3 that first time – just enough to get a taste without the satisfaction of gorging on them.

The next step was to find a good recipe, so I spent a lot of time searching online and finally found some incredibly detailed discussions about making Canelés on the Egullet forums, so I was pretty confident I had a good recipe in hand.

Next, I had to make the “white oil”, which is a mixture of melted beeswax and vegetable oil that you use to grease the molds. When you’re using the copper molds, this mixture has at least two purposes: it greases the molds so that the Canelés will be released from the molds more easily after baking, and it allows the crust to caramelize at a very high heat without burning (unlike what would happen if you used butter or plain oil). The Canelés bake at a high heat for about 2 hours (less if you use a convection oven) and they’re small (about 2.5 inches tall, maybe), so they’re taking a lot of heat for a long time. In reality, I’m not positive that using the white oil is necessary when you’re baking in silicone molds, but I do believe the wax contributes to the carmelization and flavor, so I use it. Besides, it’s cool.

The pans arrived. I made my first batch. You know what? They turned out really really good. Here’s what mine looked like:


(If you want to see the full set of “making of” pictures, you can find them here.)

They had the right texture. They had the right flavor. I had 8 to eat (and share). I was happy.

I made them again several times. Some came out better than others. I experimented with cooking times, oven modes (our oven has a few different convection settings), batter resting times, and even tried making a batch with duck eggs since one of Hyla’s teachers keeps me in supply of those incredibly rich items in the spring (let me tell you how delicious homemade vanilla ice cream is when made with duck egg yolks!). For the holidays, Michael gave me two tiny, copper Canelé molds (he both understands and enables my obsessions). I used those and I liked the results, though they were smaller than the silicone molds, so it was hard to figure out the timing for baking.

All the while, though, through all the trials and tastings, I had my doubts. Were these as good as those “original” Canelés? It had been nearly a year and I hadn’t tasted another one aside from the ones I’d baked myself. I thought they were close, but maybe I was deluding myself.

Well, this year we signed up as CSA members of Killdeer Farm and one of the big benefits I hadn’t counted on is that we get a friendly email every early Saturday morning that describes what will be on offer at the stand that weekend, including any special baked goods contributed by local bakeries and home bakers who are friends with the farm’s owner. Last Saturday morning I got the announcement I’d been waiting for: Canelés would be at the stand at 10.00 am on Sunday. Did I go? Were they there? You bet.

I bought 6 this time. I wanted more, but experience has taught me that they don’t last, so I didn’t want to buy more than we could reasonably eat in a day or two. I drove them straight home, displaying a degree of restraint I didn’t know I was capable of. We ate one each as soon as I arrived home. And you know what? They were great, but they weren’t many times greater than the ones I’ve learned to make. The one difference is that the crust was thicker and crunchier on these than on mine. I’m attributing this to the molds. Here’s what the four remaining ones looked like:

Canneles by Rosemary

And here’s the interior of one:

Canneles by Rosemary - Interior

I ordered 4 full-size copper molds this week. I figure I’d waited long enough.