Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daring Bakers—Opéra Cake

Opéra CakeI decided to join the Daring Bakers, started by Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice, who in November 2006 decided to try baking the same recipe and writing about it. Gradually, it grew into a sizeable baking group that currently has more than 700 members dedicated to baking something daring each month. This month was truly daring‑Opéra Cake. A multi-layered cake of delicious cake, syrup, mousse, and ganache that requires perfection and patience (both of which I need to work on!). Its undecorated sides show all the layers, and all the imperfections that I usually rely on icing to hide!

Thanks to the hosts for this month’s Daring Bakers event: Lis of La Mia Cucina, Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice, Fran of Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie, and Shea of the blog Whiskful.

History (and a dedication)
According to Food Timeline, Opéra Cake is a modern, 20th century cake with ancient roots. A typical Opéra Cake consists of an almond sponge cake with a coffee and chocolate filling and icing.

In this version, the Daring Bakers put a “light” (color not calories) twist on it for Spring and dedicated it to all the hard work that Barbara of has done for the food blog event called A Taste of Yellow. This event supports the LiveSTRONG foundation started by Lance Armstrong. You can check out all the entries for this amazing event at her blog. Here’s the link to LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow Round Up 2008 Part 1 (180 bloggers contributed posts for this event!). Check out Part 2 as well when you're there.

This is a long recipe with 5 parts, but each component is not hard. And, the good thing is you can do 4 of the 5 parts ahead of time.

To see the different Opéra Cakes cropping up all over the food blog world, check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll.

This recipe is based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion.

Ingredients for Opéra Cake
Click to enlarge image

The cake part of Opéra Cake is made up of a sponge cake called a joconde, named for the Mona Lisa (La Joconde in French). Some spell joconde as “jaconde”, but joconde is the proper way to spell it. The married name of Lisa Gherardini, who is believed to be the subject of da Vinci's portrait, is Giocondo, which means cheerful and full of good humor in Italian, as does “jocund” in English. Perhaps it's the lightness of the sponge cake that gives joconde its name.

Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.

Preheat the oven to 425˚F (220˚C).

Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.

In another bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the almond flour (or chestnut flour), icing sugar, and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.

To make almond flour, you mix 50% ground almonds with 50% icing sugar. This is called "Tant pour Tant" ("that much for that much"). You can do this with chestnuts too, but I was able to find both almond and chestnut flour at a specialty grocery store. I tried joconde twice: once with almond flour and once with chestnut flour. Although both sponge cakes were delicious, the almond played a better supporting role for the other layers.Almond and Chestnut FlourAdd the all-purpose flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!).

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan. A tip I read was to run your thumb against all sides of the pan to prevent over-baking at the edges.

Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven. Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Do not over-bake. It should only take a little color.

Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.

Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

Note: The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperature.

Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Note: The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.

Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.

Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225˚F (107˚C) on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.

According to Joe Pastry, the baking guru I like to consult, “eggs must be warm before you begin. Why? The answer is that a cake batter is an emulsion, which is to say, a matrix of tiny fat blobs dispersed in a watery medium. That emulsion plays a critical role in leavening the cake, and in maintaining its soft, creamy texture.” So, warm those eggs before starting this buttercream.

While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.

When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!

Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).

While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.

With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.

At this point add in your flavoring and beat for an additional minute or so.

Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).

Note: The buttercream can be made up to 1 month in advance and packed in an airtight container. If made way in advance, you can freeze the buttercream. Alternatively you can refrigerate it for up to 4 days after making it. To use the buttercream, simply bring it to room temperature and then beat it briefly to restore its consistency, if needed.

Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tablespoons of heavy cream in a small saucepan. Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.

If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable. If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.

Note: The mousse can be made ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it.

Glaze (ganache)
Note: Make the glaze when you’re ready to finish the cake.

Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes and then spread over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.

Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day (but I stored it for more than a week, and we still enjoyed every crumb!).

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.

Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavored syrup.

Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer.

Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavored syrup.

Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

Prepare the mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the mousse the opportunity to firm up.

Make the glaze and after it has cooled, spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.

Serve the cake slightly chilled.

Makes approximately 20 servings.

Opéra CakeTasting Notes
We enjoyed both the almond and chestnut Opéra Cakes, but preferred the almond one just slightly. One of my daughters even wanted this for her birthday cake! Each part was delicious: the syrup, the sponge cake, the buttercream, the mousse, and the ganache. So together, how could it go wrong? I kept stealing tastes as I was assembling it. I think one of the tricks to making a perfect layer cake is to put a ton of buttercream in-between each layer, which might level it out better. I’m going to have to make this over and over again to improve my layering skills, but I don’t think anyone will mind!

Someday, maybe mine will look more like these:

• A perfect Opéra Cake from Bonbini
• A hexagonal one
Dalloyau's (pronounced doll-why-oh) in Paris, considered by pastry chefs in the know to be the best according to Paris Breakfasts
• Green Tea Opéra Cake from Nordljus

I’m looking forward to seeing the variety of Opéra Cakes from the Daring Bakers this month!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie—Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

Pecan Honey Sticky BunsPecan Honey Sticky Buns are a delicious brioche version of cinnamon buns. I made brioche for the first time earlier this year and wrapped it around sausage. But I think this cross between a pastry and a bread is much better suited to cinnamon buns and breakfast treats!

A good cinnamon bun is hard to come by in these parts. They're often covered in a too-sweet icing, have an artificial, almost tinny taste, usually don't have any raisins, and taste more like biscuits with cinnamon sprinkled here and there.

I used to love coming home after school, opening the door, and smelling the sweet scent of homemade cinnamon buns. My mom's (and my aunt's) cinnamon buns are still one of my favorite treats. For awhile, there were cinnamon bun cafés popping up everywhere (Cinnamon Inn and DJ Cinnamon are two places I remember going to on Sundays after church) where the cinnamon buns tasted almost as good as homemade. Now, they’ve been replaced with Starbucks or other trendy coffee shops.

I followed Dorie's instructions and made a full batch of brioche dough using my stand mixer. And, even though Dorie recommends not cutting the brioche dough in half, I did and threw it in my bread maker on the sweet dough setting to see what would happen. I also wanted to compare this version of cinnamon buns to the ones I usually make using my family's cinnamon bun recipe.

The results?

• Brioche with the stand mixer: This sticky bun turned out perfectly. The crumb was tender and rich. They were tall and bursting with sticky goodness. These were one taster's favorite, and commented how they melt in your mouth. It must be all the butter!

• Brioche with the bread maker: These buns didn't rise as much, and the dough was more chewy, but I liked them a little better than the ones with the stand mixer. They were closer in texture to the cinnamon buns I'm more familiar with. One taster couldn't tell the difference between this bun and the one made with the stand mixer. And how easy it is to just throw it in the bread maker on the dough setting!

• My family's cinnamon bun recipe: Guess what. This was my favorite. I think this is because it's what I grew up with. Brioche wasn't on the menu at my house in my formative years.

More Playing Around
I also tried smearing Dulce de Leche instead of butter on some of the sticky buns. And on another batch I spread both Dulce de Leche and melted chocolate for a real decadent treat. Both turned out to be a nice variation, although the Dulce de Leche didn't taste significantly different from regular cinnamon buns.

You can find the recipe for Pecan Honey Sticky Buns at this blog Madam Chow’s Kitchen or in the book Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. To see how the rest of the TWD group fared with this week's recipe, click here and then click on each blogger!

Aunt Joyce's Recipe for Buns, Bread, or Cinnamon Buns

Makes 4 loaves or 80 small buns

1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons sugar
2 packages or 2 tablespoons yeast
3 cups warm water
1 cup warm milk
6 tablespoons butter, melted
6 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons salt
1 egg, slightly beaten (optional)
16 cups flour, plus more if needed

Mix water, sugar, and yeast and let stand for 10 minutes.

Heat water and milk, and melt butter. Mix the water, milk, and butter. Ensure that this mixture is not too hot to kill the yeast before mixing it with the yeast mixture. Stir in the sugar, salt, and egg. Stir in the flour. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic.

Put dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover. Let rise in warm place until doubled in volume (about 1½ hours). Punch down, turn out onto lightly floured board. Cover and let rise 20 minutes. Form into loaves, buns, or cinnamon buns. (If making cinnamon buns, follow Dorie's recipe for the glaze and filling, adding raisins if you like.) Let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Bake at 375˚F for 25-30 minutes for loaves.

Tasting Notes
For variety, I would make this brioche version again, especially since I found out it works in my bread maker as a half recipe! I think chopping up the nuts would be better so that you don't get a whole mouthful of crunch. The amount of cinnamon and sugar and butter rolled up in the bun was perfect (especially with the addition of some raisins). And the delicious, sticky mixture of honey, sugar, and butter poured in the bottom of the pan is definitely worth repeating. Maybe a little less honey next time would be slightly better. Now, what to do with 6 dozen cinnamon buns and a freezer full of stock!

Recipe for Next Week (June 2)
French Chocolate Brownies on pages 92-93 chosen by Di’s Kitchen Notebook.

Cinnamon Buns with Chocolate and Dulce de Leche

My mom's (and my aunt's) cinnamon buns are ...

See Cinnamon Buns with Chocolate and Dulce de Leche on Key Ingredient.

Friday, May 23, 2008

French Onion Soup—Veal or Beef Stock?

French Onion Soup
French onion soup, which dates back to the 17th century, used to be the mark of a good restaurant when I was growing up. If this soup was on the menu, it was a “good” restaurant! Nowadays, it seems that French onion soup is offered at every bar and grill. However, I find it’s usually way too salty. This could be from the sub-par grocery-store-variety sodium-enriched stock they’re using as the base.

I’ve noticed some commenting in blogs about veal stock being better in French onion soup than beef stock. Given that I have a freezer full of both to get rid of this millennium, I thought I would try making a batch of each.

Some recipes for French onion soup call for the sweeter Vidalia onions or even red onions, and others suggest the milder yellow onions. Vidalias, Walla Wallas, and Texas Spring Sweet onions are sweeter and have less bite. Red onions have more bite and a stronger flavor, and are generally used to decorate salads. For this soup, I prefer the yellow onions.

I love the smell of onions carmelizing on the stove (or in the oven). It’s such a homey, delicious smell. Second to making the stock, carmelizing the onions is the next step that takes a lot of time, but well worth the effort.

Carmelizing the onions correctly is key. It takes a long time to draw out the flavor from the onions as they carmelize, so be patient. Some recipes add sugar to help carmelize the onions, but I left this out. I don’t like this soup to be too sweet.

French Onion SoupDeglazing
White wine, beer, sherry, red wine, Cognac, brandy. All have been used in one recipe or another to deglaze the onions. I used what I had in the house, which was beer. Since it’s used to add flavor, I probably should have dug out a nice Cognac, but again I wanted to focus on the flavor of the stock.

Some recipes mix chicken stock with the beef stock. I didn’t want to muddy the waters, so to speak, with chicken stock so I stuck with the beef and veal stocks.

Veal and Beef Stock

Did you know that Julia Child’s last meal was French onion soup (according to Wikipedia)?


There’s a whole website dedicated to French Onion Soup recipes, but I pulled out the recipe I usually go to when I want to make this soup. The original recipe calls for condensed beef consommé. I replaced this with my homemade versions of veal and beef stock. I made two batches that were identical except for the stock.

Slices of good bread, toasted
Gruyère, Swiss, Mozzarella, Parmesan, or a combination, grated
Garlic (optional)

Carmelize the onions slowly with the butter and a large pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan on low heat, stirring frequently until the onions have turned a golden brown. This takes about 30-45 minutes. (Thomas Keller’s recipe suggested doing this for 3-4 hours. I’ll have to try that someday!) Sprinkle the flour on the onion mixture and cook for about 3 minutes.

Next, slowly add the beer, stirring to remove the brown bits (fond) stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the hot stock and the Bouquet Garni. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for up to 1 hour. Remove from the heat. Remove the Bouquet Garni.

When you’re ready to serve, toast a baguette slice for each soup bowl. Pour the soup into a bowl. Top with the toasted baguette slice. Sprinkle cheese on top and broil until golden and bubbly, about 3-4 minutes.

French Onion Soup
Tasting Notes
This is a delicious, rich, comforting soup. Although both soups tasted great, we preferred the one made with beef stock! Uh oh. Have our taste buds gotten so used to the salty restaurant-variety French onion soup? I had used the Thomas Keller veal stock, which has a lot of tomatoes in it. This could be why we preferred the more meaty flavor of the beef stock married with the onions. Both soups were enjoyable, and they tasted even better the next day, when the flavors had blended together.

. . . . . . . . . .

Running total: $431.19 + $3.65 = $434.84

Butter used so far: 5 pounds, 2 tablespoons

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie—Madeleines

Madeleines à la ProustFrom a Florida state pie to a cookie that could be France’s national cookie, we’re globetrotting with Tuesdays with Dorie. A Madeleine is a cake-like cookie that can be flavored with almost anything, shaped like a shell, has a definitive bump, and was made famous by Proust.

I had never tasted Madeleines before, but I definitely ate a lifetime’s worth after they came out of the oven! I even made some tea to dip my famous Madeleine in, and oh, how delicious. My memories of those Madeleines will last a lifetime.

So much has been written about Proust and the history of the Madeleine. I don’t want to repeat it all here, but I’ll send you to some of the best links I found on the subject:
• An article in search of the original Proustian Madeleine recipe
• A bit of history about Madeleines
• A fun comparison of Madeleines and macarons
• A famous food blogger blogs about Madeleines
• An interesting podcast with Jonah Lehrer about his book Proust Was a Neuroscientist

I decided to try making both the Earl Grey Madeleines and the Traditional Madeleines for comparison. Since I’m new to this Madeleine world, I needed the traditional as a baseline of what a true Madeleine is. But the Earl Grey ones sounded too delicious to pass up.

Things didn’t go smoothly for my first batch of Earl Grey Madeleines. At first, things were going along swimmingly. I had steeped the tea leaves in the butter, as the recipe says. I prepared the dry ingredients, mixed up the sugar, zest, and eggs, and vanilla. Then, I carefully added the dry ingredients. Finally, I added the butter steeped with tea leaves, BUT I forgot to strain the tea leaves! I didn’t feel confident that so many tea leaves would be pleasant to eat, so I had to start over.

The second time, I questioned whether I had enough melted butter after straining the tea leaves. I only had about 2 tablespoons of butter and the recipe called for 5, so 3 tablespoons were attached to the tea leaves. I went ahead with the recipe, and they thankfully turned out. I maybe should have left mine in the oven longer to get the beautiful brown hue, but they tasted fine and were cooked through.

Earlier in the week, I’d made some Lemon Cream for the Sugar High Fridays event, and Madeleines dipped in Lemon Cream were delicious.

Also, Nutella or Dulce de Leche sandwiched between two traditional Madeleines is a treat too.

Pound Cake versus Madeleines
In my reading, I found out that pound cake ingredients are a lot like Madeleines. I have a tried and true recipe for lemon pound cake that I love to make. Comparing the two recipes, the pound cake has ¼ cup more sugar, ¾ tablespoons more butter, and 2 tablespoons each of milk and lemon juice. I tried making this pound cake recipe as Madeleines, including chilling the batter for 3 hours.
Lemon pound cake à la madeleinesFor the most part, they worked. They overflowed and exploded a bit in the oven, some had holes in them, but some looked good, and they were tasty. The recipe is more lemony and sweeter than the traditional Madeleines. They had more of a crunch around the edges too. The pound cake also has a lemon glaze which would be nice on the Madeleines. If I were doing this again, I would use lemon zest instead of juice and reduce the amount of milk to eliminate the oven cleaning required (or put the Madeleine pan on a baking sheet-duh!). I can see getting more use out of my newly purchased Madeleine pan by trying different recipes like this with it.

Mini MadeleinesYou can find the recipe for Madeleines at Tara's blog called Smells Like Home or in the book Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. To see how the rest of the TWD group fared with this week's recipe, click here and then click on each blogger!

MadeleinesTasting Notes
These cake-like cookies are going to be a favorite around here, I can tell. I left the bowl of Madeleines out with the icing sugar sprinkler next to it, and in no time, the Madeleines disappeared. I’ve read you can refresh them in the oven, but who has time for that!

I enjoyed the Earl Grey ones more and my daughter enjoyed the traditional ones more, so we were a good team. I hope she has fond memories of Madeleines when she’s older, and I plan on making these often. I’m looking forward to trying the chocolate and marshmallow fluff versions in Dorie’s cookbook someday.

Recipe for Next Week (May 27)
Pecan Honey Sticky Buns on pages 51-53 chosen by Madam Chow of Madam Chow’s Kitchen.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sugar High Friday (SHF) #43 Citrus: Pecan Coconut Pavlova with Lemon Cream

Pecan Coconut Pavlova with Lemon CreamCitrus. Crunch. Coconut. Pecans. Cream. These are some of my favorite flavors combined into one dessert.

For the crunch part of this dessert, I baked a meringue mixture filled with toasted coconut and toasted, ground pecans and baked it like a pavlova. I’m lucky I had enough meringue to bake since I kept sneaking some taste tests. I’d made this coconut meringue another time, but this time added pecans for extra crunch and nuttiness.

For the citrus part of this dessert, I made some lemon curd and folded it into flavored whipping cream. One of my favorite desserts is lemon meringue pie, and instead of the meringue on top, it’s on the bottom in this one.

This is for Sugar High Friday #43 (started by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess), which is being hosted by Helen of Tartlette this month.


1½ cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
6 large egg whites
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vinegar
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup boiling water
4½ ounces (¾ cup) hazelnuts, browned and ground

Lemon Cream
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Pinch of salt
1 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

For Pavlova
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350°F. Spread 1 cup coconut on large baking sheet. Spread hazelnuts on another baking sheet. Toast until golden, stirring twice, about 15 minutes. Cool. Maintain oven temperature. Ground the hazelnuts in a blender or food processor.

Line another large baking sheet with foil. Whisk egg whites, cornstarch, vinegar, vanilla, and salt in large bowl until foamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in boiling water slowly (so the eggs don’t curdle), beating until whites are stiff and glossy. Fold in toasted coconut and hazelnuts. Spoon meringue onto center of prepared baking sheet and spread to 9-inch-diameter circle (or several smaller ones) with slightly raised edges. Sprinkle with ½ cup untoasted coconut.

Bake meringue 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200°F and bake until dry and crisp outside and just cooked through inside, about 1 hour. Turn off oven. Let meringue stand in oven 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool completely.

For Lemon Cream
In a bowl, whisk eggs and egg yolks. Melt butter on the top of a double boiler. Whisk in sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt. Slowly whisk in egg mixture. Whisk until thick and thermometer inserted into mixture registers 178°F to 180°F, about 8 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Press plastic wrap on top and chill 4 hours. You can make this 2 days ahead and keep it chilled.

In a chilled bowl, whip the cream with the icing sugar and vanilla. Fold the chilled lemon mixture into the whipping cream.

To Assemble
Place the meringue on the bottom. Top with lemon cream. Optionally, place another meringue on top. Dust with icing sugar.

Pecan Coconut Pavlova with Lemon Cream
Have a citrus-y sugar high on me!

Pecan Coconut Pavlova with Lemon Cream

Citrus. Crunch. Coconut. Pecans. Cream. These are some of my ...

See Pecan Coconut Pavlova with Lemon Cream on Key Ingredient.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Poulet poché sauce Suprême (Whole poached chicken served with a white creamy sauce)

Poulet poché sauce Suprême (Whole poached chicken served with a white creamy sauce)Sauce suprême. Sounds hard. It’s not. It’s basically a velouté with cream. I already learned about velouté when I made Sole Dieppoise. All I needed now was cream.
Sauce SuprêmeAfter 40+ cups of stock lately, I feel like a pro, and that’s basically how this recipe starts. I put a whole chicken in a pot to poach, along with the regular aromatics (carrots, onion studded with clove, and a Bouquet Garni). The stock from the poaching is used in the sauce.

To start the sauce for the chicken, you make a blond roux, which is a butter and flour mixture cooked just long enough to eliminate the taste of raw flour without coloring the mixture. Then, the stock is added and cooked until smooth and flavorful. Finally, the cream is added and brought to a simmer. A bit of salt and pepper round out the sauce. Some Suprême sauces also have mushrooms, which I think would be a great addition.


from Le Cordon Bleu at Home

Poulet poché sauce Suprême (Whole poached chicken served with a white creamy sauce) mise en placeFor the chicken and stock:
1 4½ pound whole chicken
2 medium onions, each studded with a clove
about 2 carrots, chopped
1 Bouquet Garni
salt and pepper
water to cover

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
2½ cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper

In a large soup pot, put the chicken, onions, carrots, and Bouquet Garni. Cover with water. Bring to a simmer and skim. Simmer for about 1½ hours. Remove the chicken and tent while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly stir in the stock and whisk until smooth. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Then, slowly add the cream, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Tasting Notes
This is a basic dish for supper. I had to add a lot of salt and pepper to make this dish flavorful. Poached chicken, as well, doesn’t have much flavor, but the stock it poaches in does. This makes the sauce critical. Next time, I would like to try it with mushrooms.

. . . . . . . . . .

Running total: $408.23 + $22.96 = $431.19

Butter used so far: 4 pounds, 32 tablespoons