Bastards. Complete bastards. I have had to do some baking. Sounds odd I know – a cook that doesn’t much like to bake. Well, that is me! Baking always seems like a black art, sometimes it goes great, other times I am left swearing at a rock cake that was never meant to be a rock cake.
So. PEPs was at our house this weekend, on Fathers Day none the less. I had to bake on Fathers Day. Evil Bastards. We had managed to not host the meetings for a while, mainly due to the kitchen renovation, but it was now our turn – well and truly our turn.
So what is PEPs you ask? Well, it is a parents get together thing. PEPs is an organization in Seattle that pairs new parents together – all which have a kid of roughly the same age (within a month). To start with you have weekly meetings that are hosted by someone that as been through PEPs before (another parent..). After 6 months or so you are left to your own devices to schedule and host the PEPs meetings for your group.
Well, it has been over a year with our PEPs group now. We meet twice a month, at different group members houses. It is completely and utterly awesome. We are really lucky – all the parents in our group are great, and like minded. The kids are all super cute, especially now since they are all running around, shouting and eating. Bless em.
It is typical that when parents host a meeting, they provide coffee and some stuff to snack on – especially since the meetings are in the morning. Well, old muggins here let slip one day that he loves to cook, and ever since then I feel pressure to present something half decent, and home made.
Sure, in the past I have fobbed them off with pastries and breads bought from from Trader Joes and Essential Baking Company, but than only go on so long; especially since some of the parents really like to bake. The bastards.
So I decided to bake something. Well, two things actually. I can say though, thankfully the baking was done late one night after a few drinks.
Danika bought a desserts book years ago by Francois Payard called “Simply Sensation Deserts”. Since this is the only baking book we own, I didn’t have much choice on what to flick through to look for recipes. I am not a huge fan on searching the web for recipes – I have friends blogs that peruse, but don’t often cook much from online resources. I like books. I love em in fact.
So, I decided to bake two things. The first was these great little Tulies – thin wafer like cookies (biscuits to us Brit’s) that had almonds and pistachios in. I would honestly make these bad boys again. They weren’t a ton of work, were dead simple, and tasted great. They would be sensational with ice-cream. The second was these great little tea cakes (shown above) with almond paste and apricots. Again, really pretty simple to make.
It took an age. When reading the recipes I skimmed over the bit about “letting the batter rest in the fridge for 1 hour”. Bugger. It was gone midnight when these were all finally done. In fact, come to think about it, they weren’t all done. I had to do another batch of the Tulies in the morning, and photograph everything in less than 1 hour.
The tulies were meant to be folded carefully over a rolling pin, whilst still warm – to give them a curved shape. That meant baking them in trio’s. Any more, and they have cooled too much before you can form them. The first 6 were curved. The remaining 50 were not
I obviously cannot take credit for these at all. Francois Payard deserves all the credit. He came up with these things, I just followed his directions.
So, in the Tulies recipe it calls for a mixer with a paddle attachment. Since I have neither a paddle attachment, or a mixer things weren’t looking too hopeful. I managed to use a hand whisk (powered) on a low speed. I ain’t proud, but it worked.
1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons pistachio nuts, chopped
1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
In a mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment (bastards!), combine the flour, sugar, lemon zest, orange zest and beat at a low speed to mix. Bung in the egg whitess, and mix until just smooth. Add the melted butter, and mix until blended. Cover the bowl, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Spoon a small amount of batter onto a non-stick baking sheet, and with your finger spread into a thin oval shape about 4 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. Fill the baking sheet with these ovals (if you listen to Francois, do just 4 at a time so you can form them before they go cold).
Sprinkle the spread out batter with a little pistachio and almonds.
Bake the tuiles for 3 to 5 minutes – until just golden brown. Remove the sheet from the oven, and using a metal spatula, immediately drape the tulies over the rolling pin, pressing down gently so that they set. Cool the tuiles completely. Let the baking sheet completely cool before doing the next batch.
Apricot Tea Cakes
2/3 cup almond paste (not marzipan)
2 large eggs
13 canned apricot halves (about 1 1/4 15oz cans)
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
Combine the almond paste, eggs, and 8 of the apricot halves in a food processor, and process until smooth. Add the flour and salt and process until blended. Add the melted butter and process for 1 minute. Pour the batter into a liquid glass measure with a spout. Chill the batter for 20minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F. Break out a min-muffin pan. He says to use paper cups – I didn’t have any, nor did any local shops stock the tiny ones for the mini-pan, so I just wiped each muffin hole thing with a little sesame oil… it worked fine, nothing stuck!
Slice the remaining apricot halves lengthwise into 1/4″ strips. Pour the batter into the muffin pan holes (what are they called?), filling them to about 1/8″ from the top. Arrange an apricot slice on top of each.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until they are golden and a toothpick inserted into them comes out clean. Let cool on a rack.