Sometimes, free-hand baking is best-San Diego Union Tribune

2021-11-12 09:06:12 By : Mr. Mark Ma

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The first time I made my own biscuits (peanut butter, when I was 8 years old), I knew I wanted to continue baking. I just need to figure out how.

Neither my parents bake, so we don’t have mixers, recipes or cake pans. My only guide is one of my favorite aunts—everyone’s favorite aunt—when we go to her house every morning, she seems to have a jar of blueberry muffins in her hands, crunchy and tender. , Steaming.

During a trip, I was sitting on a stool next to her, and when she broke the eggs and poured sugar into the bowl, all of this was not measured. She scooped a handful of flour to mix, maybe a little more. When I asked her how much she added, she said, "Oh, just right." When she slowed down her batting speed, I asked why. She replied: "Because it is almost ready."

My aunt's baking style became my goal, and her ability to feed us effortlessly became my goal. Now, when I cook for my family and friends, or develop recipes professionally, what drives me is the desire to nourish when everything is going well, comfort me when things fall apart, and provide hope and happiness when everything starts to merge.

This means keeping the dishes simple. But simplicity does not mean boring.

Sometimes the most delicious form of a dish comes from removing excess food and fine-tuning the balance. Ease means simplifying the steps that take more time to get along with the person you are feeding (or leaving you with too many dishes to wash). It's also about exchanging discerning technology with flexible fail-safe technology.

Baking is generally considered to be a daunting science: if you do not measure in grams and follow precise steps, then an inedible disaster will occur. Another assumption is that you need a stand mixer. I love mine as much as I imagined I would love James Bond's Aston Martin if I had it. My mixer has powerful motors, sparkles, and can do all the fancy things. But it is not necessarily the best tool for learning the art of baking.

Skipping the mixer and working manually allows you to experience the tactile fun of the process-and understand how easy intuitive baking is. You need a mixer to beat a dozen egg whites into a cloud, and a food processor to grind the nuts into powder, but to crush a high percentage of butter into flour, just like making short dough, you need to use your fingers.

Think of shortbread. Press it into the jar and you have a pie crust. Break it into pieces, add nuts and oats, and you get the ingredients for apple crackers and granola. Squeeze the dry ingredients into the butter, let you experience how flour meets fat, and learn how to stop immediately when you feel everything is forming into a sandy, putty-soft dough.

The same knowledge — perceiving when dough comes together through feeling and adjustments — also applies to oatmeal chocolate cookies. Oatmeal absorbs liquid like a sponge, so adding a little cream to the mixture can prevent the biscuits from drying out. But too much air being blown into the wet ingredients will cause the biscuits to cake. Mixing with a wooden spoon allows you to fuse the butter and sugar to a creamy shape, then add the egg until its golden streaks disappear, feel the resistance of the dough and push harder pockets, then add chocolate and oats to the gentleness of any machine. Unable to copy.

The result of this muscle-based mix? The biscuits are delicate and firm, with crisp edges and the center caramel is chewy and soft.

Making these foolproof candies-alone, quietly, or with other hands, big and small, can be a healing experience. It is a pleasure to scrape sticky shards from your fingers, which is a basis for other work besides the clicky keys and the glass screen. If you are afraid of baking-or just don't want to take out your blender-you will find confidence and happiness in the kitchen with these simple desserts.

This warm dessert can quickly satisfy your cravings for sweets, especially if you don’t peel the apples, which will add a nice chewiness to the crunchy noodles and juicy, spicy apples. Choose a variety of apples, and then adjust the amount of sugar and lemon juice to achieve a rich balance suitable for the filling. Or use your favorite spices and nuts to customize your shortbread. Desserts were very comfortable to eat out of the oven. Caramelized apple juice bubbled around the nuts and biscuit-like clusters, but breakfast was also very cold the next day.

Ingredients: ½ cup all-purpose flour 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar 1 tablespoon sugar ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder, cardamom powder or nutmeg powder, or mixed with ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes 1 cup chopped pecans Or walnuts, or a combination of ¼ cup old-fashioned oatmeal

Apples: 1 to 4 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder, cardamom powder, or nutmeg powder, or mixed with ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt 3 pounds of apples, preferably hard, mixed with sour and sweet and sour (8 to 10 apples) ) 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

Make the topping: In a medium bowl, knead the flour, sugar, spices, and salt together. Add butter and nuts to coat, then sandwich the butter into the dry ingredients until no flour remains. Add the oats and gently rake them into the butter mixture to form peanut-sized crumbs. Freeze when preparing the apples. The breadcrumb mixture can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Prepare the apples: Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Use 1 tablespoon of sugar for all sweet apples; 2 to 3 tablespoons for sweet and sour apples or mixed; and 4 tablespoons for all sour apples. Mix the sugar with flour, spices, and salt in a 10-inch cast iron or other heavy-duty heat-resistant pan.

If you want, peel the apple. Cut into ½ inch pieces and discard the seeds and cores. Add to the frying pan, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of sour apple lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of sweet and sour apples and sweet apples. Stir well, and then apply a layer evenly. Crush the frozen crispy mixture on top. (There will be gaps.)

Bake until the top is golden brown and the apples are tender and bubbling, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before serving hot, warm or at room temperature.

These flavors are obviously homemade: much smaller and more refined than the huge, thick bakery-style discs, and the buttery dough just sticks to the chocolate and oatmeal. Mixing by hand will produce a biscuit with a crispy edge and a soft center. These can be mixed and baked in an hour, but the dough balls can also be packed in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to a month. You can bake them in an ice-cold way, although they will take a few minutes to turn golden brown.

¾ cup all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon fine sea salt 8 tablespoons softened unsalted butter ½ cup packed brown sugar ¼ cup sugar 1 large egg, 2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk at room temperature 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 1 ¼ cup old-fashioned oats Slices 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking pans with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Use a wooden spoon to mix the butter and two sugars in a large bowl until it becomes creamy. Beat in the eggs until combined, then add the cream and vanilla.

Add the flour mixture and stir gently until no flour remains. Add oats, chocolate chips, and nuts (if using), then fold until evenly distributed. Use a measuring spoon or a small cookie scoop to loosely scoop a round dough ball and place it on the prepared sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the balls 2 inches apart.

Bake, one sheet at a time, until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Chill on the slices on the metal rack for 1 minute, then transfer the biscuits to the rack to cool completely. The biscuits will be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Ke writes for The New York Times. Copyright: © 2021 The New York Times Company

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