Flour by Joanne Chang

by Shelby Larsson on September 22, 2011

in All Recipes, Authors, Chefs, Desserts, Events

Shelby shares the love for Joanne Chang, who will be signing her cookbook on Saturday, September 24 from 1-1:45pm, at our first ever Local Market in Boston. We’re delighted that Daily Candy just included the event in their Weekend Guide. We hope you can come! -Maggie

While I have been accused of being obsessive about different meals, restaurants, and chefs before, I can safely say that I’m not alone with my love for Boston’s Joanne Chang. She is a culinary star in our fair city and has now begun to earn the national recognition that she so deserves. I don’t often let myself splurge on bakery treats, but I never seem to mind when I visit Flour Bakery and I knew I would be one of the first in line to get my hands on her new cookbook.  So there I was, buying Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Café the first day it was available at Flour’s Fort Point outpost.

Flipping through the beautiful book last Fall, I had about 30 recipes flagged and made good use of her cookbook straight away. I started with the Roasted Pear and Cranberry Crostada, to the delight of those who also enjoyed eating the dessert. Though a bit complicated, it came together beautifully and taught me a lot about baking.   That may be the best thing about this cookbook: you can learn a hell of a lot from a great baker in very simple and straightforward ways. And, of course, the recipes for some of Flour’s most famous treats – banana bread, sticky buns, cornmeal lime cookies, decadent chocolate cupcakes – don’t hurt either.

As the fall progressed, so did my love for this cookbook (and the Flour Bakeries). I made the big decision to invite Flour Bakery to be involved in my November 2010 wedding. I had searched high and low for a great wedding favor, one that meant something to us as a couple but that would be a nice little (delicious) thank you to our guests, many of whom traveled to Boston to celebrate with us. Finally, I realized that for us, that meant Flour.   The next day, I called up the bakery and ordered 160 of Flour’s homemade Oreo cookies. It was the right choice. I still have friends and family asking me about our tasty favors, and I know because of this, I have given myself the gift of a Flour Oreos for endless anniversaries to come. I can’t wait to make my own version from the cookbook this fall!

For all the reasons listed above, Joanne Chang’s cookbook is still a hot commodity in this town and beyond. Those of you who live in the greater Boston area are already lucky to be close enough to have a Flour habit, but also because you can attend this Saturday’s Eat Boutique Local Market, where Joanne will be signing and selling her wonderful cookbook from 1-1:45pm. So get there early and get yourself a copy of this fantastic baking resource.   As it turns out, Joanne isn’t just an amazing baker, restaurateur and cookbook author; she is also totally charming and sweet. Warning: you will become obsessed too.

Roasted Pear and Cranberry Crostada

By Joanne Chang, from the Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe (For more details and suggestions on the timing and staging of this crostada, see my original post on Lady Gouda.)

Ingredients

  • 9 Bosc Pears, peeled, halved and cored
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut up into 4 pieces
  • Pate Brisee (recipe below)
  • Frangipane (recipe below)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sanding sugar

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, toss together the pears, ginger, granulated sugar, and butter. Roast, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the pears are soften when pieces with a knife tip and golden. Let cool completely. (The pears can be roasted up to 5 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
  3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a well-flour work surface, roll out the dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. Place the dough circle on the prepared baking sheet (I used a pizza pan here, since the round shape seemed like it would make a good fit).
  4. Using the back of a spoon or a small rubber spatula, spread the frangipane in the middle of the dough round in a circle about 9 inches in diameter, leaving a 3 inch border uncovered.
  5. Place about 8 pear halves, cut side down, in a circle in a single layer on top of the frangipane, lining the up with the edge of the frangipane and with the stem ends pointing towards the middle. Place 1 or 2 pear halves in the center to cover the frangipane circle completely. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the cranberries evenly on top of the pears. Top the first layer of pears with a second layer of pears, using about 7 halves and reserving 1 pear half, arranging them in a smaller concentric circle. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cranberries evenly on top of the second layer of pears.
  6. Place the reserved pear half on a cutting board. Using a paring knife, and starting at the squat bottom end, cut four or five lengthwise slices, stopping just short of the stem end. Fan the slices, and place the pear half in the center of second layer of pear halves. Starting at one side of the crostada, fold the 3-inch border of dough up and over the fruit, forming six to eight loose pleats around the perimeter and pressing the pleats firmly together onto the fruit. The center of the crostada will remain exposed in a 3- to 4- inch circle, showing off the fanned pear. Refrigerate the assembled crostada for at least 1 hour before baking. (At this point, the crostada can be covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before baking.)
  7. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Brush the pleated pastry with the beaten egg, then sprinkle evenly with the sanding sugar. Bake for about 1 hours and 20 minutes, or until the pleats are golden brown. Make sure all of the folds are evenly browned, so there are no chewy underbaked bits of dough in the finished crostada. Let cool on the pan on a wire rack for at least 2 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature. The crostada can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Pate Brisee II

Makes about 10 oz dough, enough for one 9 inch single crust pie or a 10 inch crostada

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (1 stick butter plus 1 tablespoon) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons cold milk

Directions

  1. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Scatter the butter over the top and mix on low speed for about 45 seconds or until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it and pecan-size lumps of butter are visible throughout.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and milk until blended. Add to the flour-butter mixture all at once. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the dough barely comes together. It will look really shaggy and more like a mess than a dough.
  3. Dump the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and gather it into a tight mound. Using your palm and starting on one starting on one side of the mound, smear the dough bit by bit, starting at the top of the mound and then sliding your palm down the side and along the work surface (at Flour we call this “going down the mountain”), until most of the butter chunks are smeared into the dough and the dough comes together. Do this once or twice on each part of the dough, moving through the mound until the whole mess has been smeared into a cohesive dough with streaks of butter. (This was hard for me, I added a tiny bit more milk, which helped things move along here…)
  4. Gather up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and press down to flatten into a dish about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for at least four hours before using. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to one month.

Frangipane (Almond Cream)

Yield: Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup blanched whole almonds, or 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of kosher salt

Directions

  1. If using whole almonds, grind them in a good processor as finely as possibly without turning them into a paste. Set aside. (I couldn’t find whole blanched almonds at the store so I crossed my fingers and used slivered almonds here- worked like a dream. Also just used my mini-cuisinart, which produced a perfect grind.)
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand held mixer as I did- you can also use a wooden spoon), cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until light. Add the ground almonds or almond flour and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, or until thoroughly incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and the sides of the bowl.
  3. On low speed, beat in the egg. Add the all-purpose flour, vanilla and salt and mix until combined.   You should have about one cup. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week, then let site for a few hours at room temperature before using. Or, freeze in an airtight container for up to three weeks, then thaw it in the refrigerator before freezing.

All photos by Shelby Larsson, except for the lead photo of the Oreos (taken by Candice Cruz Dintino).

Eat Boutique is an online magazine + market for food enthusiasts to celebrate the best pure, local + comforting handmade foods. We call it: food that hugs you back. Looking for the perfect gift? Eat Boutique sells gift boxes filled with handmade sweet and savory treats. Send food that hugs you back today.

Did you know we’re hosting our first Local Market on September 24, 2011 in Boston?

Shelby Larsson

Shelby Larsson, writer, editor, resides in Boston, where she wanders across the city, eating and drinking as she goes. She loves New England (with a particular affinity for Maine), architecture, cities, beer, cheese, and adores cooking up a big meal for family and friends. You can read more about Shelby’s eating adventures on her blog, Lady Gouda.

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  • http://www.aplumbyanyothername.blogspot.com A Plum By Any Other Name

    I couldn’t agree more.  Chang’s book is amazing.  She’s also so generous with her time and tips … I’ve definitely become a much better baker because of her!  Yes, I’m obsessed.  :) The crostada looks lovely.

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