Sweet Tooth: Holiday Recipes From Cookbook ‘Earth to Table Bakes’
Baked doughnuts (above) are a super quick alternative to fried ones. This is a perfect recipe if you are trying to find a way to use that ripe banana in your freezer and are sick of making banana bread or muffins. Photo: Maya Visnyei Photography
Once again, for the festive season, we turn to Earth to Table Bakes from Canadian pastry chefs Bettina Schormann and Erin Schiestel.
The book, two years in the making and featuring a collection of 100 recipes, is geared toward approachable, everyday baking at home. If you find yourself with overripe bananas, for instance, there’s a recipe for that — super easy banana walnut crunch doughnuts that are baked, not deep fried.
And if you prefer to mix sweet with savoury, there are plenty of recipes for that, too. “We gravitate toward different kinds of baking,” Schiestel says. “Bettina likes savoury pies and tarts, and I tend to like the sweet stuff.”
Both Schiestel and Schormann work for Earth to Table Bread Bar’s three Ont.-based restaurants. Schormann, who is the restaurant’s co-owner, is also known for her previous cookbooks Earth to Table: Seasonal Recipes From an Organic Farm and Earth to Table Every Day: Cooking with Good Ingredients.
Here, we dish up some recipes from their new book — including such palate-pleasers as the aforementioned banana doughnuts, as well as a potato and onion tart, goat cheese and spinach biscuits and iced brownies — but first some pro baking and entertaining tips from Schormann and Schiestel.
Q&A With Bettina Schormann and Erin Schiestel
Can you share your baking trade secrets — and any other secret weapons?
BS: A stand mixer and silicone spatula are my secret weapons. I don’t usually like the silicone options for baking tools, but I will die on the hill of a silicone spatula. Another tip is to make lots of lists. When I am planning a holiday dinner, I make lists of what can be made the week before, a couple days before and then on the day of. I even list what is going in the oven and what is going on the stove top. I find great satisfaction in crossing things off the list!
ES: Reading the whole recipe before you begin is an essential part of baking. This way you can make sure you have all tools and ingredients at the ready, and ensures no surprises when you’re in the middle of execution.
What is your go-to dish for entertaining, particularly during the holidays?
BS: I take great pride in my turkey. I brine it three to four days out and time it to come out of the oven 45 minutes before it is devoured. I also love the afternoon snacks and grazing that happens before dinner. I will usually bake a brie wheel and poach shrimp. It’s truly amazing how much grazing happens before a huge meal!
ES: I like a dish that serves a crowd like a pie or a tart. I have a big family and I must come armed with enough food to feed 20-plus hungry relatives.
What items/ingredients do you keep stocked in your pantry/fridge?
ES: It’s easy to always have unsalted butter on hand because it stores well in the freezer. I also like to keep frozen berries that can be folded or baked into many things. They can also be made into a sauce to serve over angel food cake.
BS: I also have lots of dairy on hand — cream, butter, and sour cream. The dry pantry must have all- purpose flour, white and brown sugar, pure vanilla extract, baking powder and soda.
Your tips for getting the kids (or grandkids) interested in cooking? Favourite dishes to cook?
ES: I get my daughter involved in the cooking and baking. She is nine now, so getting better. For a while there she would throw handfuls of either salt or sugar in a recipe and then we would have to start again from scratch, but she is now learning volume, weight and fractions through cooking and baking! And if she’s involved in the process, she is more likely to eat it! I have a picky eater — which is tough for me, but getting her involved has really helped.
This Q&A has been edited and condensed
Potato and Onion Tarte Tatin
A classic tarte Tatin usually features apples or pears baked in a sweet upside-down tart. This savoury version of the classic is surprisingly simple to make and just as visually stunning as its sweet counterpart. With the addition of a hint of sweetness from the balsamic glaze, nothing gets lost in this take on the original.
Makes 6 tarts
3 tablespoons (45 ml) unsalted butter, cut into 18 cubes
1 pound (450 g) Blitz Puff Pastry (page 272) or store-bought puff pastry
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch (5 mm) thick rings
1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 tablespoon (15 ml) kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon (5 ml) fresh ground black pepper, divided
6 small new potatoes, sliced into ¼-inch (5 mm) thick rounds
¼ cup (60 ml) balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter, chilled
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dot six 5-inch (12 cm) pie plates with the butter cubes (3 cubes per plate).
2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16- × 11-inch (40 × 28 cm) rectangle. Using a cutter or a small plate as a guide, cut the pastry into six 6-inch (15 cm) rounds. Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheet and prick them all over with a fork. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, until firm.
3. Lay 2 or 3 onion rings in the bottom of each pie plate and sprinkle with half of the thyme, salt, and pepper. Arrange the potato slices in 2 layers on top so that they’re slightly overlapping. They should completely cover the onion. Sprinkle with the remaining thyme, salt, and pepper. Place a puff pastry round on top of the potatoes in each pie plate. Bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.
4. While the tarts are baking, make the balsamic glaze. In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the vinegar and sugar to a simmer. Cook until the mixture reduces to a syrup, about 4 minutes.
5. Whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) at a time, until melted and combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
6. Invert the tarts onto serving plates and drizzle each with a spoonful of the balsamic glaze. Serve immediately. These tarts are best enjoyed warm.
7. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Before serving, reheat in a 350 F (180lC) oven for 10 minutes.
Kitchen Tip: If the balsamic glaze becomes too thick to pour over the tarts, a couple of seconds on the stovetop or in a microwave oven will warm it up and thin it out.
Ganach Iced Brownies
Using quality chocolate for this recipe is key to achieving the luscious chocolate flavour of your brownie dreams. Instead of adding an obvious coffee flavour, the addition of instant espresso powder to these brownies makes the chocolate flavour really shine. Feel free to bump it up by adding an additional teaspoon if a more intense coffee flavour suits your taste.
Makes 18 brownies
2 cups (500 ml) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 ml) unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup (250 ml) dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon (5 ml) instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon (5 ml) kosher salt
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
¾ cup (175 ml) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 ml) chopped semisweet chocolate
12 ounces (340 g) chopped semisweet chocolate
4 tablespoon (60 ml) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (500 ml) heavy (35%) cream
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Line the bottom and sides of a 13- × 9-inch (3.5 L) baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch (2.5 cm) overhang on all sides.
2. Make the Brownies. In a double boiler, or a large stainless steel bowl placed over a large saucepan of simmering water, combine the sugar, butter, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Remove the bowl from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
3. Whisk the eggs into the chocolatey mixture one at a time. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Fold in the flour and semisweet chocolate until no pockets of white flour remain. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cool to room temperature in the baking dish.
4. Make the ganache. Place the semisweet chocolate and butter in a large bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream just barely to a simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate and butter. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir with a spatula until combined and smooth. Spoon and swoosh the ganache over the brownies and place in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours to set.
5. Use the parchment paper overhang to lift the brownies out of the baking dish. Place them on a clean cutting board and pull the parchment paper away from the brownies. Run a knife under hot water for about 30 seconds to heat it up. Dry the knife with a clean kitchen towel. While the knife is still hot, cut the brownies into 18 squares, cleaning the knife after each cut. This will help create very clean, crisp cuts.
6. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Goat Cheese and Spinach Biscuits
Chefs often keep notebooks filled with recipes that are barely legible and covered in grease stains from kitchens past. Flipping through one of these notebooks is always a trip down memory lane, and there are some recipes you just keep flipping to over and over again. This recipe is adapted from one found in an old notebook, and it is a keeper. The goat cheese can be switched out for an equal amount of feta, and the fresh spinach can be swapped out for an equal amount of chopped black olives or roasted red peppers for a completely different flavour profile.
Makes 10 biscuits
4 cups (1 l) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons (45 ml) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5 ml) kosher salt
½ teaspoon (2 ml) fresh cracked black pepper
½ cup (125 ml) unsalted butter, frozen
4 large eggs
2/3 cup (150 ml) buttermilk, more for brushing
1 cup (250 ml) crumbled goat cheese
1 cup (250 ml) fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Using a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the dry ingredients and toss with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and buttermilk. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Add the goat cheese and spinach. Using your hands, gently knead the dough until it just starts to hold together, being careful not to over-mix.
3. Tip the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and continue to gently knead just until it forms a shaggy ball. Pat the dough into a disc about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Cut the dough into 10 equal triangles. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with buttermilk. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C).
5. Bake for 20 minutes, turning the baking sheet halfway through, until golden brown. Let the biscuits cool slightly before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
6. Biscuits are best served on the day they are made but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 more day.
Banana Walnut Crunch Doughnuts
Baked doughnuts are a super quick alternative to fried ones. They come together with just a whisk and are ready in a snap. This is a perfect recipe if you are trying to find a way to use that ripe banana in your freezer and are sick of making banana bread or muffins. The walnuts give the doughnuts some added texture, and what’s a doughnut without a glaze? Pure maple syrup ties the banana and walnut flavours together well.
Makes 12 doughnuts
Banana Walnut Crunch Doughnuts
1 cup (250 ml) raw walnuts
1¾ cups (425 ml) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons (7 ml) baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1 ml) kosher salt
¼ teaspoon (1 ml) baking soda
¼ teaspoon (1 ml) freshly ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon (1 ml) ground cinnamon
1 cup (250 ml) mashed ripe bananas
2 large eggs
½ cup (125 ml) lightly packed brown sugar
¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) whole (3.25%) milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
½ cup (125 ml) banana chips, roughly chopped
1 cup (250 ml) icing sugar
3 tablespoons (45 ml) whole (3.25%) milk
1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure maple syrup
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and place a wire rack on one. Grease and flour 2 standard doughnut pans.
2. Make the Banana Walnut Crunch Doughnuts. Spread the walnuts in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet without the wire rack. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Finely chop the nuts.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon until combined. In a medium bowl, whisk the bananas, eggs, brown sugar, oil, milk, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Add the banana mixture and ½ cup (125 ml) of the chopped walnuts to the flour mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine, making sure not to over-mix.
4. Spoon the batter into a large pastry bag and cut off the tip to create a ¾-inch (2 cm) hole. Pipe the batter into the wells of the prepared doughnut pans, filling each well to the top. Bake for 12 minutes, until the doughnuts are just cooked through. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to the wire rack to cool completely.
5. Make the maple glaze. In a small bowl, whisk the icing sugar, milk, and maple syrup until smooth. Dunk the top of each doughnut into the glaze. Let the glaze drip off into the bowl, then return the glazed doughnuts to the wire rack, glazed sides up, allowing the parchment-lined baking sheet to catch additional drips. Immediately sprinkle the doughnuts with the remaining ½ cup (125 ml) of walnuts and the banana chips. Let set for 20 minutes before serving.
6. Doughnuts are best served on the day they are made but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 more day.
Kitchen Tip: The riper the banana, the better! A very ripe banana will keep our doughnuts moist and provide excellent banana flavour.