Tuesday, June 19, 2012


If you want to know the secret to why French Women Don’t Get Fat the answer is “Genoise.”  Genoise is similar to a sponge cake and this weeks building block for “French Strawberry Cake,” today’s recipe for the Tuesdays With Dorie /Baking With Julia baking group.  Dorie describes genoise as a basic French cake used for a variety of French desserts such as petites fours.   She cautions American bakers that the cake is dryer than American cakes, therefore, may not be to their liking. As far as this American baker goes, Dorie is dead on, since, I believe most Americans aren’t lined up outside bakeries longing to gobble up the pettis fours.

Like many Americans, sadly, I am prone to excess. I like my desserts decadent; I like butter and am not afraid to use it. The recipe for Genoise, however, calls for a scant two tablespoons of butter, the equivalent used on the average American’s morning toast. In all fairness, I will say that the genoise is slathered with whipped cream (the other fat) and lightly sweetened strawberries between the layers.  More whipped cream is applied to the sides of the cake and the top, but I still found it dry. Perhaps readers, due to my American palette I lack the sophistication to truly appreciate a good dry wine or a dry cake.  The good news, however, is that given Dori’s description of the cake, how it tends to be dry, I’d say mine came close to perfection.

As for the layers:  The recipe calls for splitting an eight-inch round cake with a height of one and three fourth inches into three separate layers.  I believe it would take a skilled surgeon with a scalpel to get three layers out of this cake.  I didn’t attempt it; I settled for two layers.   Although, I suspect some of the super-skilled, knife-wielding Dorie Bakers will dissect three layers with exact precision.  

As for appearances, like French women, this cake is a looker, a showstopper.  Here’s the money shot:  

Thankfully, French women have the croissant.   Where they to rely solely on pastries made from genoise with its paucity of butter they would be thin as gossamer lace and blow like tumbleweeds past the Eiffel Tower, along the Seine only finally coming to rest when the bumped into Notre Dame Cathedral.      

While I don’t think I will make this recipe again, unless I can borrow a stick or two of butter from last month’s “Pecan Sticky Bun” recipe, I tried some new baking techniques that I may not have tried had I ventured through the cookbook on my own.    The cake was fun to make, and you too can give it a whirl if you go to Tuesdays With Dorie/ Baking With Julia for the recipe or better yet buy the book Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan and bake along with the group.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Water, Yeast, Flour and Salt

Water, Yeast, Flour and Salt

The process for making Persian Naan, this weeks TWD recipe, is as simple to make as the four basic ingredients, water, yeast, flour, and salt, used to make the dough.  This simple flat bread doesn’t require proofing the yeast or multiple risings.  You can even mix it up, set it in the fridge overnight, and shape and bake it the next day. Its rustic shape is so forgiving even - and this actually took place in my house - a four-year old can stretch it into a (somewhat ) oblong shape.  This rustic flatbread is a great vehicle for sopping up sauce or salad dressing.  It would be a perfect accompaniment for a lentil salad. The bread has a slightly chewy texture on the thicker outer edges while, as a nice contrast,  some of the thinner interior sections have a cracker like texture.  On a scale of one to ten, this recipe is an eight.  Persian Naan  is tasty, fun, easy, and great recipe to make with kids of all ages.  For the recipe go to Tuesdays With Dorie/ Baking With Julia or better yet buy Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.