The Cousin (aka the Writographer) is my one and only loyal blog reader. As she lives across the country from me, she often doesn’t often get the chance to actually try my bakes but I always love hearing her impressions on the recipes. I went through our texts to collect some thoughts she had sent about the past year’s worth of recipes, for a bit of a blog year in review from her perspective. (Shared with my cousin’s permission!)
the cousin reviews…2021
Chocolate prune and whiskey ice cream: Why would you add prunes and whiskey to chocolate ice cream? Interesting though, just not my taste.
Mango fennel mousse cake: The mango fennel mousse cake looks incredible!
Do I like mango? No…
Do I despise fennel? Yes…
But it looks really good. I am almost tempted.
Orange, fennel & almond biscotti: I almost like the flavours, but I hate fennel.
Grapefruit cream tart: I think I would eat that grapefruit tart! Yay, you’ve now made two things I’ll eat.
Burnt miso and star anise banana tarte tatin: Interesting. I am not a fan of bananas and I really dislike star anise. So…
Cardamom-poached rhubarb & browned butter almond tart: I hate cardamom, not sure about rhubarb and sometimes I like almond. But I love butter.
Beet morning glory muffins: Your photos for the muffins look so good! But I don’t think I’d enjoy them… (beets, coconut, raisins, and pecans…)
Caramelized banana houjicha cream puffs: Apart from the banana, the cream puffs look delicious!
(While this might make my cousin sound picky, she does seem to eat just about anything I give her (including many of the ingredients she professes to dislike) so either she is far too trusting or far less picky than she thinks, or both.)
I made this rosemary focaccia with the addition of yuzu kosho, a fermented yuzu and chili condiment (for more on yuzu kosho and ways to use it, look at this article from Just One Cookbook!). The yuzu kosho provides spice and a bit of citrus, a combination I love along with the rosemary, and acts to really brighten up the focaccia. I’m also a big fan of this dough, adapted from a Rose Levy Beranbaum recipe: high hydration, springy and rises with a great craggy crumb.
I am on the fence about how edible my cousin thinks this focaccia would be. While I think she would like the yuzu kosho, I’m not sure how she feels about rosemary… (Edit: the cousin has spoken – rosemary is fine but she is not sure about the spice from the yuzu kosho… until next time she visits, I suppose!)
rosemary & yuzu kosho focaccia
Dough adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible.
- 300g all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 240g water
- 1 tbsp olive oil + more for the pan
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 1/2 tsp green yuzu kosho
- 1 heaping packed tbsp rosemary leaves
- coarse salt
To make the dough, combine all the ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Once a rough dough is formed, cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 20 minutes.
To knead in a mixer, use the dough hook (about 10-15 minutes on medium speed; probably quicker on a higher speed) and work the dough until very stretchy and elastic and at least close to passing the windowpane test. It will become less sticky as you go on.
To knead by hand, as it’s a very well hydrated and sticky dough, this is a perfect time to use the slap and fold method à la Richard Bertinet (Beranbaum describes a method to do with pinching the dough to elongate it but I expect it accomplishes the same thing). Pick up the dough in both hands and slap it down on the countertop. Pull the part of the dough you’re holding towards you to stretch the dough, then fold it in half. Pick up the dough again, but this time from a 90 degree angle so that when you slap it back down the dough is rotated 90 degrees. Repeat. Throughout the process the dough will be very sticky, but that’s okay! Relax, tell yourself it’s okay that my hands are coated in sticky dough, and try not to use any additional flour. I find the best way to keep myself motivated about kneading is to listen to music – this dough is a three-song knead (about 10 minutes). By the end, the dough should be supple and stretchy, and perhaps less sticky than it began.
Place the dough in a bowl, cover with the damp cloth, and let rest twenty minutes. After twenty minutes, scrape it out onto a lightly floured surface. Stretch out the dough into a square and fold into thirds like a letter in one direction, and fold into thirds again in the other direction. Return to the bowl, rest another 20 minutes and repeat the folding.
Let the dough rise until it appears about doubled, 1-2 hours.
Pour a bit of olive oil into a 9×13″ metal baking tin and spread it around to grease the tin. Pull the dough out of the bowl and stretch it out in your hands first into a rectangular shape. Place the dough in the pan and turn it over so both sides are coated in oil. Use your fingers to stretch out the dough to fit the pan. It will probably spring back on your a bit so cover the pan, let the dough relax 15 minutes, and then stretch the dough again. (Repeat another time if needed – try not to overdo it on the olive oil and this process will be easier).
Allow to rise until bubbly and it appears somewhat doubled in height, approximately another 1 1/2 hours.
While the dough rises, whisk together the olive oil and yuzu kosho – it won’t become smooth, but the yuzu kosho will separate into smaller bits and become more distributed throughout the oil. Add the rosemary leaves and mix.
Preheat the oven to 450F near the end of the rise.
Once the dough is risen, dip your hands in water and use your fingers to deeply dimple the dough all over, pressing down to the bottom of the pan. Use a spoon to scatter the oil mixture evenly, being sure to get some yuzu kosho clumps in each spoonful, over the focaccia (you may need to use your fingers to separate the rosemary leaves to prevent them from clumping). Sprinkle generously!! with salt.
Place the focaccia in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until browned on top.