Tag Archives: baking

The road to Macaron

Necessity is the mother of invention.

True. Contrary to most people believe, majority of things was invented accidentally. No it wasn’t.

It was discovered, not invented.

In the case of meringue, who the hell thought about whisking egg whites until it foams up? I just don’t know how our ancestors comes up with this shit. Maybe he’s the same guy who first saw crab and instantly knew it was delish.

Hmmm. Extended eyeballs, very hard and spiky exterior, claws that can cut my finger... YUMMY!!

What was he trying to do or prove? Whatever that was, I wont dig it up anymore. What’s important is he made one of the most elegant and versatile (and tiring) confections in the kitchen.

Meringue is basically whipped egg whites with sugar. It tastes like… Well… If clouds have a taste, it would be this. Soft, airy and dense at the same time. I can’t explain it.

I first made meringue when I made my Baked Alaska. It was pretty easy, just very tiring.

Thinking of a new thing to bake, I searched the internet. I found my self looking at Parisian Macarons.

FUCKING CUTE

I’ve always wanted to make them but found them very intimidating. Well, maybe this is the right time to do it. I did some more research on these cute little bastards before making them.

If you’re hear or read Macarons and immediately thought about coconuts, that’s not it. Those are Pinoy Macaroons (notice the spelling). These are more, you know, up scale a little bit.

I have to admit, I have never really tried real Macaron before so I really have no reference taste wise, but as long as it looks good, it’ll taste good! You can’t really go wrong with sweets right?

There are literally thousands of Macaron recipes. Most of the things I read states that Macaron is a pretty hard dish to make. Most people wont get it the first time the make it and if they do, they probably wont be able to make it the second time around.

Surprisingly enough, I found may uh, how can I say this… Intricate or odd (for the lack of better term) steps on this. Like the one that I read said that the egg whites to be used needs to be ‘aged’ in the ref for a few days before using. The kind of powdered sugar to be used, the process used in the nuts, ‘resting/drying’ before baking and environmental temperature.

Personally, I tend to skip ‘unecessary’ steps. It’s basically meringue with nuts and sugar. How hard can it be?

I browsed a bit more and stumbled to this site, Bravetart which specifically tackles about ‘Macaron Myths.’ I read the whole thing and she’s basically saying that IT’S JUST A FUCKING PASTRY. IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. So yeah, Thank you Bravetart for that confirmation.

Sooner or later... (thanks Nano for the image!)

So… lets start cooking? Ok!

Basically, Macaron is made up of stiff meringue, almond flour and powdered sugar sifted together, flavorings and colors, and that’s it! But as you know, I’m a cheap and lazy guy so I had to tweak somewhere there.

Almond powder. Yeah. Never heard of it. Like the word Lupozaituim, I’m sure you’ve never heard of that before. Many sites say that they grind their own almonds. So I’ll just have to do it myself. But yeah, almonds are not easily accessible in this side of the crater so I’ll have to improvise!

PEANUTS!

Yes, peanuts! Very cheap and very accessible. I’ll just ground them up into a fine powder right?

I was actually VERY hesitant. Mainly because, well, I know I can’t ground peanuts into a fine powder necause they’ll become peanut butter. But what the hell.

I roasted then and ground them using my a simple household blender.

Then mixed it with my SIFTED powdered sugar.

And I didn’t bother sifting them together because the nuts are just too fucking big to go through, get it? Nuts are too big… ehehe…

After which, I started to whip my meringue. And instead of showing you pics, I decided to film it. You know I love you guys!

Then I folded them together. And according to some sites, this is called… the Macaronage…

Macaronage. 90's dance craze.

A quote from bravetart: “Instead of coming to recognize the qualities of a good meringue and the consistency of proper macaronage, you fret over how many days the egg whites aged. This prevents learning from mistakes and subsequently improving technique, causing you to begin each macaron venture from square one.”

So from what I understand here, having a good macaromage means you have a high chance of getting a good result. What is a good macaronage you ask? Well, the internet says that the consistency is like of a molten lava. Here is a video of my macaronage…

and here is a Molten Lava video.

Ehh… Not exactly lava-like… That’s because i’m scared of over beating the mixture…

fuck off

I separated the batter into two and made one chocolate by adding cocoa powder and the other one strawbrry by adding flavorings and colors.

Polka dots

Lined my pan with wax paper (I’m out of parchment) and piped them in. Does not look too uniform as it should but that can be easily corrected… in the next batch.

Baked them and watched every moment of it.

18 minutes in front of the hot oven gave me…

FAIL

Yes. I failed. It cracked. The Macaron Feet did not show. What feet?

Macaron feet

Those curly, crunchy looking stuff under the shiny dome is called the feet.

So yeah, my first try failed. Mainly because I fucked with the recipe. What did I expect? Nevertheless the result was still delicious!

Crunchy on the outside and perfectly chewy on the inside!

And yes, this is actually my yummiest failure to date. First attempt down, many more to go. The focus of my next attempt will be getting the peanut to be sifted with the powdered sugar and having a good sense of macaronage.

And fuck almonds for being too expensive!

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My Own Cheese, My Own Cake.

In cooking, I believe that the ingredients in a certain dish are there because an element of it is needed. For example, pie crust. A pie crust recipe needs some kind of solid fat. Why? as you cut the fat in the dough it incorporates itself in chunks, and when you bake it, the fat melts away leaving the former space it occupied almost empty. This is what makes pie crusts flaky.

Get rid of flakes in just one wash!

The most common type of fat used in pie crusts are butter and lard. I won’t go into the debate on whether the former or the latter is better, in the end they’re all the same fat that becomes solid in the ref and melts away in the oven.

So I can take any type of solid fat and make it into pie crust like… Margarine for example? Or that white layer of fat that forms at the base of your left over roast in the ref? My point is, as long as you can ‘replicate’ a certain property from a certain ingredient, then you’re as good as having the said ingredient. We’re not talking here about flavor, mainly, I’m talking here about structure and how it stands as the dish.

This idea came to my mind a couple of years ago…

A professor of mine was telling the class while holding a milk carton that “This is not milk, this is white water.’ Or something like that. Maybe throw a couple of fucks and shits there.

I had no Idea what the hell he was talking about. I mean, milk is milk right? What, there is now some kind of milk ranking where in cows from this certain place or breed has a higher check price?

Ohh, hipster cows.

On that same year, I developed a habit of reading the nutritional facts and ingredients of things in the grocery. Amidst all the milk cartons in the dairy section, I saw a very familiar looking box of milk. Yes, it was the ‘white water’ my professor was talking about. Usually, when you buy packaged ‘fresh’ milk, it does not have an ingredient list. Probably because they DID NOT make them. But this particular brand of milk has three ingredients.

O RLY

Ya really. And it was Water, Reconstituted Milk Powder, Milk Fat.

I was actually surprised by that. They were selling us the stuff that we can make on our home all this time! I double backed and thought maybe they were using some kind of special milk powder. You know, with nothing added in it? Cause I always believed that the locally available milk powders has a lot of vitamin-like additives that changes the taste.

I went to the milk powder isle (or something like that) and checked the ingredients. There was only one listed, it was like 100% dried milk or something like that. I don’t really remember the exact words but it was quickly processed in my mind that its just fucking dry milk. Add water and it will be ‘real’ milk again!

From tits to glass!

From this, I started my experiment. From cheese to yogurt. And of course, cream cheese.

Now, why would I want to make my own cream cheese? For cheesecake of course! Everybody here loves cheesecake. The thing is, it’s pretty expensive compared to any cake or pie. Even making them home is quite expensive.

To cut the long story short, I made my own cream cheese using milk powder. How? Well actually, the ‘cream cheese’ I made was sometime called ‘yogurt cheese’ because the process was draining the yogurt with most of the whey it had, thus leaving us with a thick cream cheese-like consistency.

Like what I said earlier, you don’t actually need the ingredient, you need the properties it comes with. So What I need to do is make an inexpensive mush of white with a creamy texture.

Not exactly what I have in mind...

So the experiment began.

The first step here is to reconstruct the milk. Gradually sifting the milk in warm water while stirring works best. If you google how to make yogurt, you’ll see a lot of process that sometimes require a thermometer and a whole lot of other equipments. I developed a shorter method.

The real method is heat the milk up to 180ºC to kill the competing bacteria present in the milk and then cool it down to 110ºC. After it cools, add any amount of yogurt you want. Like 3 tbps for a liter of milk? That should do.  Then mix it. Next comes the incubation period where you need the live yogurt germies to multiply, thus turning your milk to yogurt.

It's actually kinda gross if you think about it...

You need to keep them in a warm place to multiply and do their magic.

Kinda complicated? This is what I do: heat the milk until it’s warm enough for you to bathe in. Wait for 10 mins, add the yogurt then ‘incubate’ them inside the oven, turned off. What I do to keep it warmer there is to boil a pot of water and put it in the oven then leave it for 12 hours. Simple enough for you?

Sir, yes sir!

After 8 hours, you now have your yogurt!

Now the obvious got me thinking again. If it’s called cream cheese, should I add cream?

That’s the thought I had while taking the biggest dump ever. I chuckled. But I remembered an article I read about milk powder. It said there that commercial milk powder does not contain fat. It’s even called skim milk powder in some places. Cream is fat and cream is milk so… I went up, washed my hands (of course!) and got started already.

I made 2 batches of yogurt. The normal one, and the one with cream. I made them according to my normal ways on preparing yogurt. I took a very close look at them during the fermentation.

At the 4th hour, the one with no cream shows very little development. The one with cream however is already dense. I incubated them more, strained them for 12 hours and put a weight on them on the final hours. These are the results.

Specimen A. No cream.

Specimen B. With cream.

Looking at them both, we can clearly see their difference. Specimen A gave me a hard time getting it out of the cheesecloth, while specimen B popped out like a pimple. I gave them both a stir then weight them.

Specimen A. 280g

Specimen B. 290g.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that Specimen A has obvious lumps while Specimen B may look lumpy, but it is very smooth when you spread it.

The smell difference of the two is very significant. Specimen A has this very sour yougurty smell, close to keffir, while specimen B has this very creamy smell, the sourness is just a hint.

Taste wise, A is pretty sour and B…

It fucking tastes like cream cheese! FUCK YEA.

It tasted very creamy! Unlike the cheeses I made before, they almost tastes like Greek yogurt.

What, shall the experiment end here? Hell no! We still want to see how they stand as a cheesecake, that’s the point of this experiment after all!

So I got started.

Wait before that, how do you crush your grahams? Before, I do it Mano y mano. With my bare fucking hands. After that, my hands felt like they came through a grinder or something. So I used my brain for a while and came up with a brilliant idea.

The towel is actually for you, wiping your blood after I hit you with this shit.

Yeah, a towel and something to hit it with (in this case, a French Rolling Pin). This combination of modern equipment can turn this

Yes, that's a potato masher. Don't ask.

To this…

In less time that it will take you to blink half way.

Now because I am doing 2 kinds of cheesecake and 290 grams of cream cheese is not enough for 1 I figured I should follow Mrs. Jaworski’s recipe for mini cheesecakes.

Prepped the muffin tin with liners and pressed the crust with the best tool for the job.

Can you guess what that shit is?

If you guessed meat thermometer then you’ve just won your self a kiss on your left butt cheek!

Multi-purpose Meat Thermometer

I made the batter without adding anything that can greatly affecting it’s taste. I usually add limes to my cheesecake but I opted to leave that out for now for me to identify the taste difference between the two (and it just so happened that I’ve ran out of limes at that moment so…).

Specimen A. Thin and runny.

Specimen B. Thick and dense.

As expected, they kept their original properties. A is still runny and B is still thick.

Poured them in my prepared pan and placed a toothpick on B for easy reference.

Those are unused toothpicks of course...

I still got some leftover batter so I just combined them and bake them some other time. I don’t like to waste food you know.

Yes it's an ice cream scoop. Again, don't ask.

Baked them according to the recipe and they came out looking like…

Again, those toothpicks are clean.

As I look at the two, I can clearly see holes in specimen A that kinda looks like a creme brulee or some sort of egg based dish. I theorized that since Specimen A was runny to start with, the eggs were the one that stabilized the cake. While in specimen B, the cake has no holes and looks pretty heavy. Maybe because the cheese has its own body to start with.

Cooled it a bit and sliced them like a full-sized cake and took the first bite.

I WANNA OMNOMNOM U

As expected, the light looking tastes light and the dense looking tastes dense. So yeah, I guess we can declare B as the winner here. But really, if there’s anyone who’d won, it’s probably me. The cost of this is very partial compared to the price of real cream cheese. If my calculations were right, I can probably save 70%!

Not just that, but I was able to put real effort what I cook and I think that’s what is most important (well, money is still…).

This strongly proves my point on this blog. Don’t get me wrong. This may be seen as an excuse for not spending too much cash but really, who wanna spend more than less?

This has quenched a large part of my thirst for making things from scratch. Maybe next time… water from scratch?

Mhm...

Oh and by the way, even losers taste good. Look.

You might wanna lick those crumbs too...

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Redeemed Apple Pie

Brought by the sadness of my previous failure (I had to throw the pie 😦 ), I was hyped to get started on the new apple pie.

I sliced the apples and mixed it with brown sugar and just let it sit in the pan. After 10 mins, look at what happened.

Just 10 minutes! Look how much liquid it gave off

I let it sit in the pan for another 10 mins and cooked it with some more brown sugar and a little cornstarch.

Ooey and gooey, just the way we like it! 🙂

I purposely cooked the apples a little longer since they don’t want crunchy apples in their pie. Preference, preference.

Very very thick and sticky...

By just looking at that pic, you can tell how gooey that is.

I cooled it off and placed it in my crust. Baked it and just when I was about to take it out of the oven, a friend called to tell me that they’re coming over. I was happy since there will be someone who can judge the pie for me.

We ate the pie and forgot everything… I even forgot to take pictures since I was very excited to cut in the pie. The pectin, the sugar and the starch didn’t have enough time to set the pie. I didn’t care. It was another of my ‘I DON’T CARE, SLICE THE PIE/CAKE/BREAD/CHICKEN/PORK/<insertfooditemhere> moments.

The house was filled with apply-cinnamony scent. This is the only picture I took of the pie.

I meant the pie plate...

So what’s the verdict? Am I never gonna make apple pie any other way? Well, just for Fuji apples. If I get my hands on some granny smiths, then I’ll definitely try the other method.

PS:

This is like turning into a pie blog of some sort… And tomorrow, I’m gonna do another pie. A friend and I talked a while ago about the onion pie and he said that I should do something like ‘Onion Family’ pie made of white onion, red onion, garlic, leeks and chives. I thought it was a great idea! Though for a change I would like to try to bake them into a mini pie version since there are new muffin pans in the house. Gah, I should  have kept that as a surprise!

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A long post about a simple Apple Pie

I got some left over pie crust dough from last night’s Onion Pie experiment. I could say that I had some ready made buerre manie but it would be considered injustice to the dough. He was made to hold heavy and thick fillings, and heavy and thick fillings he shall hold!

left over pate brisee

Still hung over about that Onion Pie last night, I decided to do something similar… And that would be Apple Pie.

Yes, apple pie. Probably the most baked pie in the US and the most popular pie here in the Philippines (blame it on Jolibee and Mcdo). Apples are quite cheap too. They sell for the minimum of php10 each. I got mine at 12 each.

A little history. The first time I baked Apple pie for my friends and family, they did not really went gaga over it. I heard comments like “It’s not very… creamy.” Or “Needs more of that sticky stuff.” Then it hit me. I must imitate the pie served at those fast food joints to satisfy my target market. After all, food is all about preference.

I googled Jolibee apple pie and Mcdonalds came up.

That’s the Mc Donald’s apple pie looks like.

A little side note though, it’s rumored that there are very little actual apples in that apple pie. The general public believes that Chayote is used as an extender.

No, they're not ugly granny smith apples.

Chayote is a very common vegetable here. It has a very neutral flavor so it is often eaten with shrimp and pork (this was actually our lunch this afternoon). It tends to absorb any liquid it’s simmered and take it’s taste too. That’s why they’re perfect as an ‘apple pie extender’ and when I think about it… it does have the same texture of a cooked apple… I have not tried cooking apple pies with this veggie yet (maybe I’ll try soon) and I have nothing against it. I think it’s a sneaky way to make your child eat veggies!

With that said, people still buy the fast food pies mainly because they taste good. It wouldn’t bee a good apple pie it it didn’t have sticky and gooey stuff in it. It kinda brainwashed a whole nation thinking that that’s the ‘real’ apple pie.

Or is it?

Fail lattice is fail. Not to mention the color...

I did the ‘sweet and gooey’ apple pie before and they were epic. Until now, my friend keeps telling me that he loved that pie more than any other pie I baked.

I did not have a chance to take a pic just after slicing it simply because it got devoured as soon as the filling oozed out. The pie plate was licked clean so I guess this recipe’s a keeper.  You’d think I’ll never make apple pie any other way again. I guess so but the thing is… I get too cocky sometimes and try to do too much. I wanted to do those apple pies you see when you search ‘apple pie’ on google images. That’s actually what I did on the first time but I wanted to do a version that my friends and family would love.

Now back to the present!

I made extra pate brisee cause my left over was not enough.

After cutting the fat in the dough. I used Pork Lard by way.

If you didn't know by now, adding vodka works great on pie crusts.

Vodka is used in Pie Crust as 50% of the total liquid. Since vodka is alcohol and alcohol evaporates in high temp it will result to a more flaky crust.

The less the water, the better.

Add ice cold water, little by little just to get the dough to hold together. It’s still gonna be pretty loose so you have to knead it in a lightly floured surface. Not too much though, just until the dough binds together.

The apples I used are Fuji apples. They are less tart than granny smith and less sweeter than Washington. They’re somewhere in the middle of the two. The flesh however is spongier compared to the two and obviously has more moisture content.

HARVESTED FROM THE PEAK OF MOUNT FUJI. loljk

As I said I wanted to make the granny smith method of the apple pie so I just mixed them with brown sugar and cinnamon and placed it on the crust.

Too much?

I’m aware that adding sugar will macerate the apples. I didn’t care since I proceeded on baking them immediately.

Baked the pie until the apples were fork tender.

Feels like warm apple pie...

Venting holes

This slice looks like it was made from pure win!

Not really 😦

I thought I got was I was looking for but as soon as I tasted it, I did not dare take another bite. The apples were like flavorless and very dry… Yeah, it macerated in the pan while cooking and here’s the proof.

Take note of the leaking juices and the hollow dome.

You can see how much moisture the apples lost. All the juices that leaked out resulted to the great shrinkage of the apples. Look how much space was left on the top 😦

And the apples…

As dry as a dandruff...

The apple pie is still half untouched. No one wants to eat it. I feel pity for the apples and to me also.

Granny smith apples are hard to come by here so I guess I’ll stick to these.

The sugar, water and cornstarch mixture kinda seals in the moisture of these darned apples. Well after this long and sad blog, I still have a few apples here and I’m gonna make them tomorrow. I’ll turn them into locally appreciated apple pies… gooey and sweet 🙂

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