My friend Stephane did a rendition that was superb. With coaxing from pal Chef Amy to try my own, and with a slow day at the office, I whipped out my army recipe cards, (#1904) for raised doughnut. I left out the shortening, instead enriching my batch with olive oil, then proceeded to layer butter into the dough like a croissant. End result after the first try; a flaky, crisp airy doughnut. It's delicate dough, needs a patient hand along with a few tweaks. A baked version? Sure, why not!
Whether it's Berliners, cider, or yeasted glazed, doughnuts are one treat I can't pass up. I recently came upon a formula for a yeasted doughnut with potatoes. It's from Italy. Puglia! So in-between prepping for lunch service at work, I threw together this simple and less-than-sweet-and-supple dough scented with lemon zest. The idea of potatoes intrigued me when I found it here on Orgolgio Puliese nel mondo. Still I checked other versions, adjust and veering off course. Easy make and to shape, so far my newest favorite.
Just before Memorial Day, we have a fête at work, sort of a Spring fling you could say. It heralds the summer and the winding down of the winter and spring. It's also a time for me to play baker, making doughnuts and pizza after my primary focus on caviar and other savory canapes.
This year I really had the doughnut production layed out, but the pizzas were what made it fun for me. I didn't fuss with any levain; I just did straight up old yeasted pizza Napoletana! Just to change it up I even made a bit of Bonci inspired taglio pizz. I'm still trying to untangle the artistry and language of that pizza. It takes time.
My cooking career started in the morning as a breakfast man. It was followed by a stint at pastry, only then getting the opportunity to be a full time chef. But today, it's baking that makes me most happy. And baking for breakfast brings me full swing back to early days. Fried cakes, particularily doughnuts are a favorite.
Whether it's jelly filled Berliners or glazed doughnuts, I love them all. Particularly cider donuts, which are cake-like, using baking powder and reduced apple cider. Recently, lacking all the ingredients for my standard Army recipe donuts, I Googled for a recipe, finding something good on smittenkitchens blog. My only adaption was not frying them Crisco. Anyway, here they are - and next time, I'll try blueberry. Enjoy these photos for now.
At their best, gloriously shameless in richness, this basic pastry livens up the worst blahs of a boring day. We call them doughnuts here. In Germany they call them "Berliners." Fllled or glazed, they are a sinful pleasure of absolute gluttony. My friend Stephane, terrific chef and creator of the Zen Can Cook blog, created a version using curd made from Yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit. Inspired by Stephane, I substituted meyer lemon for Yuzu, and then used baker Dan Lepard's wonderful rendition of Berliner dough along with the Zen Chef's curd recipe...a great match of two great personalities.
The fryer was a bit high on the first dip. I know, because I tweeted about it and heard back from others who told me. Thank you my digital friends. Thank you, Twitter! In between multitasking (baking pizza for staff dinner, evening prep, parties, chef's paper work, tweeting) I got it right, making a worthwhile afternoon treat. And after running out of lemon curd, I filled up the rest with lingonberry jam. As they say in Berlin, "fantastich!"
Last week I had a taste for some hot pastrami. It was cold and windy, and me and my wife found ourselves on New York City's Lower Eastside, historically a bastion of the Jewish deli. Some little voice told me that it may not come up to expectations. But a hankering for "old favorites" won out. Safe to say, things have changed. The delis aren't, themselves, specifically the famous Katz's, one of my favorites, had changed. Its free pickles on every table are no longer the same. Even its aging, cranky waiters that somehow inspired fondness (if not love) were noticeably gone.
I felt like a tourist visiting a shell of history in food, tradition lost. My old world neighborhood's goût terroir (a French wine term meaning "taste of the soil") has disappeared. And yet there are new places, like the latest wave of artisanal wood oven pizzerias sprouting everywhere in New York. Their new but old approach to making pizza, gives hope for those tired of the standard parked pies pies sold by the slice behind the counter.
I wolfed down a pastrami sandwich, feeling more full than satisfied. So afterward's, my wife and I meandered over to get some Bialys, another lost ethnic art. Again, it proved different from what I'd remembered. In fact, its basic toppings of onion and poppy seeds were missing! But, then my wife stopped at Doughnut Plant, who had rightfully earned a line of people snaking out the door. They make the most delicious old school - new school (organic) donuts that I love.
There is still promise and hope in these bright lights of the city. I guess it will take good chefs and bakers to re-visit, re-vamp the old into the new...still a good Deli is in need! Can this new generation of chefs, bakers be the guardians of lost traditions of taste, or am I just an old school nostalgic?