European Style Baking for a Healthier Lifestyle

Author: chrissy

5 Tools Every Baker Should Own

5 Tools Every Baker Should Own

Whether you are new to baking or a seasoned professional there are several key tools you should own.  For a novice baker especially it can be daunting to assume that you must purchase a mixer, pastry blender, seasoned pot, or any number of specific tools. […]

Wise Words from Julia Child

Wise Words from Julia Child

“With enough butter, anything is good. ” -Julia Child

A Healthy Snack! – Fruit and Nut Granola

A Healthy Snack! – Fruit and Nut Granola

I started working out recently which is very new for me.  My entire life I have virtually depended on my extremely fast metabolism to shed extra fat.  As I age I realize that this is a temporary fix.  So now, I go to the gym four to five times a wee, run, do the elliptical machine and lift weights.  I feel great but am constantly looking for a great source of protein to pump me up after a hard workout.  I don’t always feel like downing a piece of meat in the morning and sometimes I just need a little bite.  I find myself continuously turning to store bought granola or handfuls of crunchy walnuts to get my protein fix.  However, store bought granola is not only expensive but laden with excessive amounts of chemicals, fats, and sugars that are unnecessary-not to mention the chemicals that are added as preservatives.  I thought, “Hey, im a baker! I will just make my own!”  The recipe that follows is a result of me trying to incorporate proteins and grains into my diet in a healthy, natural way.  I’m not going to claim that this is fat or sugar free because no granola truly is.  But I will tell you that it it is much healthier than most products you will find on the market today.  And as with all my recipes, it contains, just a bit of butter. 🙂

Fruit and Nut Granola

2 cups oatmeal

1 cup almonds

1/2 cup wheat germ

2 tblsp butter

2/3 cup organic honey

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 tsp vanilla paste

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

Bake the oatmeal and almonds on a foil lined cookie sheet at 350 F for about 10 minutes until golden brown.  Stir the nuts and almonds halfway through toasting.

granola

Combine sugar, honey, salt, vanilla paste in pot and bring to a simmer.  Pour the butter mixture over oatmeal and almond mixture.  Stir to combine and add chopped fruit.  Spread the mixture into a sprayed or parchment lined baking pan and spread the mixture flat with the back side of a spoon.

Bake the mixture for about 20 minutes until lightly browned.  Break the granola into pieces when cool and store in plastic bags or an airtight container.

granola

granola

Back to Basics- Making Flaky, Tender Bites

Back to Basics- Making Flaky, Tender Bites

Many people spend time debating the nuances of baked products- what makes one cookie better than another, one pie tastier?  In general, people can describe small things about what makes a crust or cookie delicious although, decidedly, they cannot always put a finger on what […]

Flaky Goodness – Povidla Kolace (Plum Jam Cakes)

Flaky Goodness – Povidla Kolace (Plum Jam Cakes)

I can’t think of a cookie recipe more simple and more delicious than the recipe for Czech plum cakes.  These cookies only contain three ingredients and no added sugar and yet their flaky, light deliciousness knows no bounds.  These cookies almost remind me of a […]

Walnut Meringue Cookies : Czech Cookies at Their Finest

Walnut Meringue Cookies : Czech Cookies at Their Finest

Remember when you wanted to be just like mom? Do your hair like mom and dress like mom and bake like mom?  Well, I definitely do.  My mother used to bake European delicacies professionally so as kids we usually had to step aside and let her do her thing.  When we got to actually participate in making these delicate cookies it was such a treat. I remember the first time I watched my mom pipe the pillowy meringue on top of the Czech walnut cookies and thinking, I wish I could bake just like her!!!! Now, I’m a little older and hey, I still want to bake just like mom! Because Czech cookies are light and delicate and airy and you can eat them by the handfuls.  And believe me when I say you will be able to put away quite a few of these cookies before you even blink! These cookies are also naturally gluten free so if you are keeping to a strict diet they will be your new best friend.  They are beautiful but simple as the recipe below indicates. Enjoy!!!!

Walnut Cookie Base

210 g walnuts, hand ground

210 g confectionary sugar

1 egg

1 tsp lemon rind

Preheat oven to 225 F. Grease cookie sheet. Grind walnuts by hand using hand grinder.

ground walnutswalnuts with hand grinder

Combine on the counter with the confectionary sugar, egg, and lemon.  Use a bench scraper or knife to combine ingredients and then form the ingredients into a dough with your hands.  Chill the dough about 10-15 minutes.  Dust counter with confectionary sugar and roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness.  Use a round cookie cutter to cut rounds out of the dough and place rounds on cookie sheet.

Meringue

4 oz egg white

8 oz sugar (superfine if you can find it)

Once cookie base has been prepared whip the meringue.  Place egg whites in a kitchen aid mixer and mix for 20-30 seconds on high before gradually adding the sugar to the whites.  It should take about 5-10 minutes to incorporate the sugar and the whites should be glossy and have a stiff peak.  Use a piping bag to pipe the meringue on top of the cookie rounds.  Bake cookies about 1 hour to 1.5 hours in a very slow oven.  Cookies are done when the base is cooked and the meringue is crisp but not brown.

walnut circles walnut rounds with piped meringue

 

 

Kouign Amann: A Yeast Pastry Fit for Queens!

Kouign Amann: A Yeast Pastry Fit for Queens!

I first sighted the Kouign Amann when I was working in Apple Pie Bakery at the Culinary Institute of America.  When I was a baking and pastry student at school we were required to work 3 weeks front of house and 3 weeks back of […]

Pecan Sticky Buns

Pecan Sticky Buns

Wow, the first entry of my blog! This blog is dedicated to my exploration of food and pastry and most importantly, butter.  You see, I just love butter.  Real, unadulterated butter.  I put butter on everything and I bake butter in everything.  Yes, I am […]