Friday, March 27, 2015

Daring Bakers March: Tarte Tatin

For the March Daring bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.

I jumped at the opportunity to bake with one of my favorite fruits, Bosc pears, to make a pear tarte tatin.

The dough is luscious.

I used a melon baller to core the pears so they didn't end up too badly mangled. I didn't need a big tarte tatin, so I used a smaller saucier in which to cook it.

The caramel was pretty stress-free, although I was afraid of burning it while cooking the pears in it--true to the recipe's word, the caramel showed no signs of burning even after 15 minutes on the heat. I needed an extra pear for the center, but since I didn't have one, I just threw in some blueberries so the crust wouldn't sink too much.

After resting the dough in the fridge, I rolled it out and used my pot lid as a template for the dough--easier than using the hot pan where the cooked pears were cooling.

Trimmed with the excess, which I sprinkled with sugar and rolled out a couple of times and then baked along with the tarte tatin for a treat.

If you follow the crust recipe to a t, it's delicous--airy, buttery, tender.

Once the pears had stopped steaming, I put the crust on--I didn't have to wait for the pears to cool completely.

Baked to golden-brown! Now to let the caramel to stop bubbling before the scary trick where I flip it into a plate.

All done!

A modest slice.

This recipe is fairly quick and easy, and the result was one of the yummiest things I've baked in a long while! It's definitely a keeper.

Tarte Tatin Rough Puff Pastry
Makes one 9″ tarte, serves 8-10.
Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini. Makes one single pastry crust.

In a medium bowl, combine:

1 cup (250 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
¼ tsp fine salt

Cut 2/3 cup (160 ml) (5 oz) (140 gm) unsalted butter, cold, into small cubes and add it to the flour. With a pastry blender (or two table knives) cut in the butter until the mixture in crumbly but even, with pea-sized pieces of butter. Make a well in the middle and pour in ¼ cup (60 ml) ice cold water. Toss the flour/butter and water together with a fork until the dough starts to clump together.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface – don’t worry if there are still pockets of dry flour. Gently knead and squeeze the mixture a few times just enough to bring it together into a square (a bench scraper is helpful for this). Be careful not to overwork the dough: there should be visible bits of butter and it should still look very rough.

Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10” (25 cm) long. Fold the bottom third of the dough up into the middle, and fold the top third down, like you are folding a letter. This is one fold. Turn the dough a one quarter turn so that one of the open edges is facing you, and roll out again into a 10” (25 cm) rectangle. Fold again – this is the second fold. Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times, for 5 folds total. Your dough will get smoother and neater looking with each fold (the pictures show the first and fifth folds).

If your kitchen is very warm and the dough gets too soft/sticky to do all the folds at once, chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes between folds. After the fifth fold, use your rolling pin to tap the dough into a neat square. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for a least 1 hour, or overnight.

For Bosc pears

I used 4 pears to make a smaller tarte tatin, although five would've been ideal to have a pear bottom for the flower's center. For a large skillet, you'll need up to 8 pears, and this recipe is for that amount.

Core and peel pears--I used a melon baller to core them. Toss them in 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice so they don't brown.

Place 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cardomom, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in skillet, and heat until it's a caramel-brown color. Then toss pears in to coat, and arrange into the final pattern you want the pears to take after you flip it. They should be cut-side up. Cook for about 15 minutes, and set aside until the pears have stopped steaming. 

To bake the tarte tatin

Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, and trim it into a circle about 1” (25 mm) in diameter larger than your saucepan. Lay it over the filling, tucking in the edges between the apples and the sides of the pan, and cut a few steam vents in the pastry. Place the saucepan on a rimmed baking sheet (just in case the filling decides to bubble over the sides) and place in the preheated moderately hot 375˚F/190°C/gas mark 5 oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, increasing the oven temperature to moderately hot 400˚F/200°C/gas mark 6 during the last 5 – 10 minutes of baking if the pastry isn’t browning properly.

Remove from the oven and let sit just until the caramel stops bubbling. Immediately place a serving platter (slightly larger in diameter than the saucepan) over the pastry. Wearing oven mitts, grab hold of the saucepan and platter and quickly invert everything to unmold the Tatin onto the platter. If any of the apples stick to the pan or come out of place, rearrange them with a spatula.

Remove from the oven and let sit just until the caramel stops bubbling. Immediately place a serving platter (slightly larger in diameter than the saucepan) over the pastry. Wearing oven mitts, grab hold of the saucepan and platter and quickly invert everything to unmold the Tatin onto the platter. If any of the apples stick to the pan or come out of place, rearrange them with a spatula.

Check out my fellow DBers' results through our blogroll.
Read more!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Daring Bakers February: Siopao

The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.

And of course, that's me! I hosted this month's challenge, and I'm going to cut and paste it the way it was presented to my fellow DBers.

Hi, I’m Julie from One-Wall Kitchen, and I’ve been a Daring Baker since October 2007, but this is my first time hosting a challenge. Because we’re all likely to be coming off from baking holiday sweets for the past two months, I thought it would be nice to bake a very easy, simple, savory meal that you could potentially put together on a weekday night with the right prep. This month’s challenge is to bake siopao, a savory, filled bun using a no-knead bread recipe.

 Notes:  For those needing a gluten-free recipe, I couldn't find a no-knead recipe, but I did find several recipes using rice flour. These siopao are usually steamed. Here's a link to the recipe:

Mandatory Items: You must make and bake filled buns.

Variations allowed: Fill with any sweet or savory filling you'd like. I've included a recipe for a typical Filipino filling, but anything can work as long as it's not too wet. Filipino sweet fillings can include jams such as pandan jam or ube halaya.

Preparation time:  3 hours, including resting time for dough and preparing savory filling.

Equipment needed:

Utensils for filling of choice--mine included: a chef's knife, cutting board, sauté pan, and a spatula for the pork filling and a chef's knife, baking sheet, medium-sized mixing bowl, a sturdy soup spoon, and large, sturdy fork or potato masher for the squash filling

Large mixing bowl
Wooden spoon
Plastic wrap
Knife or bench scraper
Large baking sheet
Parchment paper
Pastry brush

Recipe 1: Siopao Dough and Siopao
Original recipe in volume (cup & spoon) measurements
Servings: 12 large buns


1/4 ounce (7 gm) (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast (1 packet )
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) warm water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) melted butter
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
4 to 5 cups  (20 oz to 25 oz) (560 gm to 700 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 egg for egg-wash for the buns
  1. Mix yeast, water, sugar, melted butter, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  1. Slowly mix in flour until it's fully incorporated and you have a shaggy, very tacky dough, but not wet and sticky.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for up to an hour in warm place until doubled. While dough is rising, you can make your filling if you haven't already pre-made it to let it cool (see recipe below).

  1. Punch down dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Depending on how much flour you added, it will be somewhat tacky to pretty tacky. Fold it over several times and shape it into a smooth ball, then divide into 12 equal pieces.
  2. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it into a disc about 6 inches (15 cm) wide.
  3. Place a heaping tablespoonful of filling into the center of the disc, wrap the dough around the filling, and firmly pinch it closed over the top of the filling.

  1. Place filled buns on a baking sheet and loosely cover them with plastic wrap. Let them rest for 1 hour. On the top sheet, you can see where a lot of my dough was too thin. Those were the first siopao I made, before I worked out the technique.

  1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.

  1. Beat 1 egg in a small bowl for egg wash and brush on top of each bun. In the photo, you can see that I decided not to risk baking the busted siopao as freestanding buns, so I put them in a small oven-safe dish to bake up as a loaf.
  2. Bake buns for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm. In the photo, some of my pandan filling leaked out a small hole, but most stayed inside. That's a reminder to make sure there are no holes in your buns!

For a sweet filling, I used pandan jam from the Asian grocery. Pandan comes from a leaf used throughout Southeast Asia for flavoring.



Recipe 2: Siopao Savory Filling (Pork Asado)

Servings: 12


1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable or olive oil
1 lb (½ kg) ground pork or pork shoulder, cubed
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce
1 tablespoon (15 ml) oyster sauce (or hoisin sauce if that's what you have handy)
1 tablespoon sugar (optional--Filipinos like the sweetness)
1 star anise
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon (15 ml) cornstarch
1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water

  1. Heat oil in skillet.

  1. Sautee yellow onion, then add garlic and cook for a minute.

  1. Add pork and brown it in the skillet.

  1. Add soy sauce, oyster or hoisin sauce, sugar, and star anise and cook filling until pork is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Keep an eye on that star anise because you'll want to remember to remove it or shove it aside before you fill the siopao--it isn't nice to eat.

  1. Place cornstarch and water into a small bowl and stir with fork or small whisk until cornstarch is dissolved.

  1. Stir cornstarch mixture into filling and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Then remove from heat and cool before making the siopao.

Recipe 3: Winter Squash filling


3 to 5 lbs (1-1/3 to 2-1/4 kg winter squash (pumpkin) (I used a turban squash)
Olive oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped nuts of choice
1/4 cup (60 ml) grated hard cheese, such as Romano, cotija, or Parmesan


  1. Preheat oven moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.

  1. Quarter your squash and rub cut edges with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt.

  1. Roast the squash for 40 minutes until very soft, and use a sturdy spoon to scoop the flesh into a bowl. Discard the skins.

  1. Mash the squash with a sturdy fork or potato masher. Allow the squash to cool. Sprinkle as much of the chopped nuts and cheese as you'd like into the mash and stir them in. Use 1 to 1-1/2 rounded tablespoons of filling for each siopao.

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:

Store leftovers in the fridge for no more than 4 days and reheat for 30 seconds in the microwave. You can also store baked siopao in the freezer, individually wrapped airtight, and reheated in the microwave for 60 to 90 seconds. I'm not sure how well frozen, unbaked siopao will thaw because the filling is moist and might ruin the integrity of the dough as it goes through its long thaw and final rise.

Additional Information:

My mom taught me to just pinch the edges of the dough disc together to close the siopao, and then she'd steam it steam-side down, but many Filipinos use a Chinese style of pleating their siopao and steaming it pleat-side up, like this: at minute 12:12. I think seam-side down works well for baking, but you could experiment with baking your siopao pleat-side up. Read more!