L’Alliance Française de Maurice in collaboration with the bakery Pains et Moulins de Grand Baie are organizing a baking competition on Wednesday 3rd of June 2015. Open to amateur bakers residing in Port Louis, the challenge is to bake a classic French pastry, the Tarte au Citron Meringuée/Lemon Meringue Pie. The winner will be chosen by a panel of professional pastry chefs based on presentation, taste and originality of the final product and will be awarded an apprenticeship by Pains et Moulins to master the art of making macarons. The deadline for submission of entries is on Friday 29th May and should be made through the form available on the Alliance Française website.

Though not participating in the competition, I went ahead and made some homemade mini Lemon Meringue pies for the weekend inspired by Jen of The Canadian Baker from the Daring Bakers January 2008 Challenge. The recipe makes more lemon curd than I needed to fill my tartlets but I guess it gives me a rather good excuse to make Lemon Meringue pies once more. Wishing everyone good luck with the competition et que le meilleur gagne!

LEMON MERINGUE PIE

For the Crust

3/4 cup (180 ml) cold butter

2 cups (475 ml) all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (60 ml) granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon (1.2 ml) salt

1/3 cup (80 ml) ice water

For the Filling

2 cups (475 ml) water

1 cup (240 ml) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (120 ml) cornstarch

5 egg yolks, beaten

1/4 cup (60 ml) butter

3/4 cup (180 ml) fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon zest

1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract

For the Meringue

5 egg whites, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon (1.2 ml) salt

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) vanilla extract

3/4 cup (180 ml) granulated sugar

Method:

  • For the crust make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Use either a food processor or pastry cutter.
  • In a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  • It should begin to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then process it very briefly.
  • The dough will start to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a work surface.
  • Press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes. Remove from refrigerator.
  • Allow dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. Lightly flour the work surface.
  • Roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch(0.3cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate.
  • Transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling onto the rolling pin. Turn pastry under.
  • Leave an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes till golden.
  • Cool completely before filling. For the filling, bring water to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Remove from heat.
  • Let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water.
  • Whisk until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly.
  • Cook until mixture comes to a boil and is very thick; add about 1 cup of hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks.
  • Whisk until smooth and vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stir constantly.
  • Cook until mixture comes to a boil. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated.
  • Stir in lemon juice, zest and vanilla. Pour into crust. Cover with plastic wrap and cool to room temperature.
  • For the meringue topping, preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites.
  • Add cream of tartar, salt and vanilla until soft peaks form. Add sugar, beat until it forms stiff, glossy peaks.
  • Pile the meringue onto the cooled pie bringing it all the way over to the edges to seal the filling completely.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack and serve within 6 hours. Makes one 10-inch pie.

Hosted every year by Les Moulins de la Concorde, in honour of St Honoré, the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs, La Fête du Pain/Bread Festival is being celebrated this week under the theme “Le pain, tout un art”.  The results of the annual bread baking competition are on display at the Caudan Waterfront since Friday 15th May, bringing together a total of 17 participants from prestigious hotels and pastry schools, including bakers who will be competing for the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie. In keeping with the spirit of this international festival, I made my all-time favorite Cinnamon Rolls along with Coconut & Chocolate chip rolls from Creations by Kara.

La Fete du Pain 2015

With the winter season closing in, these warm love-filled buns are going to help me cope with the cold winter mornings as I unwillingly drag myself from bed to go to work. For lazy bums like me, the rolls can be made ahead and frozen individually after the second rise so that I do not have to wake up early for the rest of the week to bake them from scratch. Simply pop them in a preheated oven as you get ready and the aroma of freshly baked bread should be enough to keep you buoyant and smiling as you leave for work every morning.

COCONUT & CHOCOLATE CHIP ROLLS

Ingredients:

For the Sweet Roll Dough

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup warm water

3/4 cup warm milk

1 egg, room temperature

1/4 cup caster sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon kitchen salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 – 3 cups all purpose flour

For the Coconut Chocolate Filling

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup coconut, toasted

1/2 cup chocolate chips

For the Chocolate Drizzle

2 tablespoons chocolate chips

Method:

  • Mix yeast, sugar, and water. Let sit for five minutes. Add milk, eggs, sugar, oil, salt, and vanilla.
  • Add flour a cup at a time to get a soft dough. Knead till smooth. Place dough in a greased bowl.

  • Rest for about 60 minutes. Roll the dough out on an oiled counter to a rectangle about 13×28″.
  • Spread melted butter over dough. Sprinkle sugar, coconut, and chocolate chips evenly on top.

  • Roll dough up and seal the edge by pinching. Cut into slices 1″ to 1 1/2″ thick with dental floss.
  • Place on a greased cookie sheet with sides. Cover with waxed paper and let it rise till doubled.

  • After rising for about 45-60 minutes, bake at 350° for about 30 minutes or till lightly browned.
  • Melt chocolate chips in the microwave at 50% power, squishing every 30 seconds till smooth.

  • Cut a small hold in the corner of the bag and drizzle the melted chocolate over the warm rolls.
  • Serve warm from the oven with a glass of cold milk. Makes about a dozen amazing sweet rolls.

Home cooking is my therapy to long hours in surgery, sleepless nights during hectic calls and irritating dead drunk patients. There is no better way to forget the everyday stress of hospital life than comfort food made from scratch. This delightfully easy/lazy recipe combines chicken and mushroom together in a thick creamy sauce. Served warm with French fries and fresh salad or boiled whole wheat pasta, I find this simple homemade dish so much more satisfying [and definitely cheaper] than any 5-star restaurant buffet I may be invited to.

CHICKEN IN CREAMY MUSHROOM SAUCE

Ingredients:

500g chicken breasts, deboned

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 red onions, sliced

2 tbs Knorr cream of mushroom

1 cup cooking cream

1 cup cold water

1 bunch parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  • Select good quality boneless, skinless chicken breasts and chop the flesh into 1.5 inch pieces.

  • Season chicken with salt and pepper. Sauté the chicken in 1 tablespoon oil for 15-20 minutes.

  • Set the cooked chicken aside while preparing the creamy mushroom sauce. Heat oil in a pan.

  • Stir fry onions for 1-2 minutes till golden. Add the mushrooms and sauté until evenly cooked.

  • Dissolve cream of mushroom in cold water and add to the mushrooms. Simmer over low heat.

  • Add cooking cream and bring to a boil until sauce thickens. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

Creamy Chicken & Mushroom

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