Fresh as a Daisy Doughnuts

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Finished photoDoughnuts have always seemed to be an ethereal food – out of reach of most of us.  But nothing could be further from the truth!  In reality they take about 20 minutes to mix up, after which they rise, unattended and then sit contentedly in the refrigerator overnight. After a quick roll out the next day they are on their way to the last rise before being fried to a golden brown.  Between the two days you have 45 minutes invested for the treat of a lifetime because if you have never had a homemade doughnut, you have not had a real doughnut.

Yeast doughs have an undeserved reputation of being difficult.  I know people who will tackle the most complicated recipe but won’t go near a yeast dough. I’m not sure where that comes from.  Yeast doughs are extremely forgiving.  This recipe is tailored to making yeast dough easy.  The mashed potato flakes give the yeast something to eat for a light, high rise and a longer shelf life.  The honey adds color and flavor to the finished item also adding to their shelf life.

The dough can be shaped after it’s first rise but it is easier to do after chilling overnight or up to 2 or 3 days.  Just make sure it is tightly covered.  It may rise again when refrigerated, just punch it down, cover well and forget about it. These would make an ideal treat on a weekend.  Start them on Friday or Saturday and have them for breakfast on Sunday.

There are several types of yeast.  Little cakes of fresh yeast are very difficult to come by these days and have a short shelf life.  Instant yeast and rapid rise both come in envelopes, three to a pack.  I call for instant yeast in this recipe.  The flour used is bread flour that has the strength to support a high rise.  All purpose flour will do in a pinch although bread flour is readily available in most areas and is best for yeast breads.  The dough will rise the first time in about 1 1/2 to 2 hours depending upon the temperature of the room. Continue reading

Tiramasu Parfaits

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Finished photoWhile Tiramasu was all the rage a few years ago, it has since been relegated to the “not hot” list of desserts for many restaurants and you don’t see it on menus as much.

However, Tiramasu is a classic Italian dessert and one that is really easily executed once you have made the sponge – which can be done a month ahead if desired and stored in the freezer well wrapped.  Simply thaw it for use.  This amount of sponge is more than you will need  but it can’t be cut down any further and have a quality product.

While  many recipes for Tiramasu use the premade Italian ladyfinger sponge cookies, Savoiardi, we made our own sponge and it worked perfectly for us.  This was a version I made for Tony’s, the restaurant at which I preform my pastry chef duties.  I made it in wine glasses for a beautiful presentation. Continue reading

Espresso Fudge Cake

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Espresso Fudge CakeThis Espresso Fudge Cake consists of four layers of moist chocolate cake filled with a coffee buttercream highlighted with brandy. I am not one to drink coffee and when I do it has lots of cream and sweetener.   But I could easily eat this buttercream all day long – so if you hesitate because of the coffee, I encourage you to try this anyway,  The combination of a chocolate fudge cake and a coffee buttercream makes this Espresso Fudge Cake a stand out.

Both the cake and the buttercream are very easy to make.  This cake uses an American Buttercream which essentially is a matter of adding all the ingredients to a mixer bowl and beating until light and fluffy. Continue reading

Chocolate Cake

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Finished photoA chocolate cake to die for is the only thing you can say about these deep, dark, delicious layers waiting for myriad fillings and finishes. These chocolate cake layers start moist and stay moist for days making them ideal whether you are producing one cake or 20 cakes.

I can’t remember how long ago I found the original recipe in a Good Housekeeping magazine.  Rose Levy Beranbaum was commissioned to make a celebration cake for the magazine and it was all chocolate (what else do you celebrate with?).   It was around the time I was first starting my bakery, Truffes.  When I first started I thought that every cake had to be made with butter  because I was upscale.  Big mistake!  What I actually found was that cakes made with butter have a shorter life span and stale quicker than cakes made with oil.  Since I was selling to restaurants and hotels which need a longer shelf life than caterers (to whom I also sold) a longer shelf life was necessary.  As much as you want to believe all of your hard work and deliciousness is selling out immediately, it generally isn’t – unless it’s a catered event.  So of ultimate importance is shelf life. Continue reading

Oatmeal Cookies

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2013. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY T. MIKE FLETCHER, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Oatmeal CookiesOatmeal cookies have always been my favorite.  It’s something about the spices and texture of this oatmeal cookie.  It’s particularly  difficult to describe.  It’s crispy on the outside with a center that is loaded with the add ins of your choice.  It almost has a lacey quality to it.  I wish I had a nickel for every time someone told me how much they loved this oatmeal cookie.  It is not your usual oatmeal cookie which probably explains the response.  This is a chocolate chip version that is not shy on spices.

I have not included how to pics with this as it is a really basic cookie and I don’t think anyone will have a problem with it.

One thing you will notice is the enormous amount of add ins.  You can use chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts – whatever you want to make these yours.  I think the large amount of add ins gives this oatmeal cookie its lacy quality since there is just enough dough to hold the add ins together. Continue reading