Autumn baking and an afternoon tea medley

Once again it's been a long time since I've posted here - moving, unpacking, getting settled, painting rooms, figuring out our flow in the kitchen - it all takes awhile.  But now it's officially autumn and yes - it's baking season!!!

The weather here in western Michigan has been pristinely fall of late - cool, breezy, bright and sunny with leaves starting to turn those beautiful reds and oranges that make this time of year so gorgeous.

My last post in early August focused on a rustic peach crostata, and, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I've continued on in a rustic galette vein (in Italy it's crostata and in France galette) since there have still been late season peaches and berries available at the Fulton Farmers Market.

A few weeks ago I made two galettes for a friend for her Sunday family dinner, and then recently taught my first "guest chef" class at the GR Downtown Market.  And guess what we made - individual galettes - yeah!  So easy and soooooo delicious.

On a different note I continue to contemplate how I'd like to pursue my pastry metier here in Grand Rapids. Aside from teaching classes, afternoon tea is still on my brain - where might I be able to offer such a calming, delicious experience - time will tell, right?  I'm making some connections and working at it "slow by slow" as brother-in-law Jim is fond of saying.

Speaking of afternoon tea, I was invited to share that experience with a former surgical mentor and colleague just the other day.  Of course I HAD to make an assortment of goodies to bring to the occasion.  And, to make that adventure even more enjoyable, our new Kitchenaid range is delivering perfect baked goods!

So it was moelleux chocolat, matcha financier, pear almond tartlets, sablés au miel et herbes de provence, sablés Earl Grey thé and cherry scones with lemon curd that accompanied me to my teatime with Dr. T.

pear almond tartlet, shortbread and scones

It was an enjoyable hour spent chatting about what the years have brought, hopes and aspirations and even how important it is in the medical world today to treat patients as people, not statistics.  I'm on board with that!

So now my head is swimming with ideas for upcoming blog posts, getting back to baking croissants, tarts and shortbread and putting aside (at least temporarily) the unpacking, sorting, organizing, arranging and painting that has been taking up so much of my attention in recent weeks.

It's fall after all!

A trio of treats for Sunday lunch at Mom's

Steve and I are currently in Grand Rapids spending time with my mom through the Mother's Day weekend.  She had planned a Sunday luncheon for a group of 12 lady friends so, of course, I had to make something for dessert!

The plan - blueberry financier,  moelleux chocolat and Breton shortbread with orange mascarpone and fresh citrus garnish.

lovely colors for the plate

working on the plating

All in all pretty straightforward - chocolate, moist almond cake, buttery Breton, a bit of fruit and some orange zested cream.  What's not to like?

the final medley

It's always fun to put a trio together!

Sportskage finale and then some!

I've been off the blog schedule for a bit, so today is the day for catching up.  This past weekend Steve and I had an uneventful drive across the eastern US and Canada from Providence, Rhode Island to Grand Rapids, Michigan to spend the Christmas holiday with my mom.  We enjoyed a night's stay at a B&B in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a lovely town on Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Niagara River.

Prior to our departure I had a busy week preparing goodies for a 50th birthday bash, including the final rendition of the Danish specialty sportskage (you can read about the trial preparation and assembly in my 12/7/14 post.)  Early in the week I had prepared the various components (choux puffs, nougatine and dacquoise), and since I was making two of these creations, I opted to make one almond and one hazelnut.

choux waiting to be dipped in caramel

cooking sugar for caramel

two nougatines waiting for assembly

The whipped cream is the one component that has to be done just before assembly, so I made sure I had everything at the ready, including my well chilled cream.

here goes!

The nougatine is folded into the whipped cream and then formed as a domed mound on top of the dacquoise base.

Voila!  Pretty straight forward, right?
Next up is the part that was making me apprehensive - piping more whipped cream decoratively over the mound.  I started with a small star tip and piped vertical lines around the base of the mound (reminded me of piping the collars of buttercream on the religiueses at Pascal Pinaud's à Paris!)

Then, using a petal tip, I finished it off . . . .

the petals

Hey, that actually went better than expected - hooray!!

Next I place caramel-dipped choux puffs over the surface, pressing them in ever so slightly . . .

the almond version

and the deed was done - whew!!  I will say this is one of the most interesting things I've made over the years.  Never let it be said that I won't accept a challenge, yessir, you betcha.

In addition to the Danish "cakes" and seven different flavors of shortbread (salted caramel, espresso, pistachio, orange hazelnut, honey herbes de provence, toasted coconut and lime ginger) I made three versions of moelleux chocolat . . . 


orange rosemary


and several tarts:  chocolate ganache, caramel nut, pear almond and Breton pistachio-raspberry.

tarts awaiting garnishes

It was a busy, but organized and enjoyable week of planning and preparation - a lot of what the pastry world is all about!

Now it's time for some Christmas relaxation, being with family and friends and scheming about new projects for 2015!  Joyeux Noel, Buon Natale and Merry Christmas to all!