Julia Child

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”
Julia Child

Oven Roasted Plum & Almond CakesThose lines by Julia Child defined my spirit of blogging from day one. To celebrate Julia’s 100th birthday on the 15th of August, 2012, I chose and adapted this beautiful everyday dessert –  Oven Roasted Plum & Almond Cakes from Baking With Julia. There was an energy about her, the chef who changed the way America cooked and baked. Food bloggers worldwide woke up to a new identity after Julie & Julia. People looked at us differently, suddenly recognising the band of foodies who passionately belted out deliciousness online day after day.Oven Roasted Plum & Almond CakesThe ever sweet Suma @ Cakes & More sent me Dorie Greenspans amazing book Baking With Julia as a gift. The book is packed with sweet and savoury recipes from the PBS series that Julia hosted, and doubles up as a baking encyclopedia too. Oven Roasted Plum & Almond Cakes The commentary is warm and friendly, puts you at ease instantly as Dorie talks to you through each recipe. Baking With Julia now shares place of honour on my bookshelf with both volumes of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking!Oven Roasted Plum & Almond CakesBread is what I wanted to bake, a Fougasse, but I didn’t plan well in time as the dough needed to sit for 24 hours to get bubbly and squeaky! I love the way Dorie writes that because even the bread dough has ’emotions’! My next natural choice was a simple everyday dessert. With plums in the fridge, these little Oven Roasted Plum & Almond Cakes were but going to happen!Oven Roasted Plum & Almond CakesI changed the recipe a little bit, and pretty soon realised that I might have togrin and bear it soon. The batter was runnier than required. Into it went some almond meal, and since the eggs were small I went for 3 knowing pretty well that 2 whole + 1 yolk should do the trick! Should have used ramekins, threw caution to the wind and used dessert rings. I knew I was in trouble when the plums on top sank right in; with them my heart!!Oven Roasted Plum & Almond CakesI fixed it though, topped the cakelets with more plum halves {and slices} halfway through baking, safe in the knowledge that maybe an invisible Julia peered over my shoulder. This is the untold joy of baking with a good book. It keeps you company, the characters pop up all over the place giving you tips, hints, telling you all is well, yelling at you when not! My time in the kitchen is always virtually in good company!CocoI am fortunate to have some good company in reality too – a little plum thief that I have raised. Coco, our cocker spaniel took a shine to plums when she came to our home in the summer of 2011! Nothing’s changed! She didn’t notice me looking at her, and soon nicked a ‘plum prop’ and made a meal out of it, the little blighter! It was really tart!! Coco & PlumShe has great taste and will be any Mums delight! Loves her greens {beans, spinach, purslane, peas – raw or cooked}, loves her protein {eggs, cottage cheese, chickpeas} and even loves fruit {banana, mango, kiwi , plums, peaches, cherries, strawberries!}Oven Roasted Plum & Almond CakesThat’s just how well my time in the kitchen is spent! I love it! Creating food is almost an obsession and I love the culinary adventures that great chefs like Julia Child encourage. Oven Roasted Plum & Almond CakesThis is really good you know!” exclaimed the 16 year old aka the dieting diva. {She couldn’t resist my ‘maybe you’d like to try some’ nonchalant reference to a plum cake in the oven !} “YUM! Can I have another?” was the more excited response from the junior teen who was hoping for a yes but got a NO instead!Oven Roasted Plum & Almond Cakes The little cakes were indeed delicious. Well balanced, beautiful light crumb and just right with the sweetness too. The plums gave up their juices and became delectable part of the cake. Topped with vanilla ice cream or even some low fat unsweetened cream … mmm! Dorie suggests a chocolate sauce … that must taste divine!Oven Roasted Plum & Almond Cakes

[print_this]Recipe: Oven Roasted Plum & Almond Cakes your picture

Summary: Tiny little delicious dessert cakes that celebrate summer, stone fruit and plums! They are light and delightful, the almond meal adding beautiful texture to the crumb! Recipe adapted minimally from Marsel Desaulniers, Baking With Julia. {Makes 8 3″ cakes}

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 1/2 cup raw sugar {khand}
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 small eggs
  • 1/2 vanilla bean scraped
  • 1 scant cup flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 4 large ripe plums, halved and pitted
  • Whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or dark chocolate sauce if desired


  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Grease 8 3″ dessert rings or 12 2″ ramekins with melted butter {I used clarified butter} and place on a foiled lined rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Sift the flour, almond meal and baking soda. Reserve in a bowl.
  4. Combine raw sugar and 2 tbsp of brown sugar in a bowl with butter. Cream for 2-3 minutes on medium high speed.
  5. Add the eggs, vanilla bean and cream on high for another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the flour mix and beat in on low speed until just combined, followed with the buttermilk. Mix in on low speed until uniformly mixed, 30 seconds.
  7. Divide batter equally between prepared rings / ramekins, sprinkle over the remaining brown sugar and bake in oven to 15 minutes. Once the top is somewhat set, quickly place half a plum, cut side up into each cup. Continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes until light golden brown and done {toothpick inserted into middle should come out clean.}
  8. Cool the tray on the rack for at least 15-20 minutes, then gently ease out using a blunt bitter knife. Serve warm or at room temperature as is, or with low fat unsweetened cream or vanilla ice cream.


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 “It’s only 30p more for an Ottolenghi croissant than 1 at Euphorium. I’d scoop the 30p from Trafalgar Sq fountain with my shoe if I had to!”
Daniel @ Young and Foodish on twitter

CroissantsIf this hadn’t been a Daring Bakers challenge, I wouldn’t have baked croissants during the monsoons in India! Don’t get me wrong. Croissants are something I have long waited to bake, the shove in the right direction very much needed … but ‘Hot & humid at 35C‘ is obviously not croissant happy weather!CroissantsYes, it was time to go retro this month with Julia Child and Simone Beck tempting us to try these French delights … Fresh, Fluffy, French! My croissants were Fresh and French alright, though not as Fluffy as they characteristically should be.

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

Croissants The minute I popped the croissants into the oven, it poured like there was going to be no tomorrow! Pardon the bland pictures, but luck wasn’t on my side that day! Nevertheless, these tasted as good as they could given the pathetic weather consideration, and were gone really quick. I thought I’d do some with chocolate and others with roasted peppers and cheddar … in my dreams I guess, as I could barely get them to roll.CroissantsIn true Schwarzenegger style I’m going to say, “I’ll be back“. This is quite a ‘well-behaved’ recipe when the weather is hot and humid, so I can just imagine how good it’ll be in the winter. The kids LOVED the croissants with chunks of cheddar. I chose to bake from an amended recipe on the DB forum with reduced water and oil. It worked well for me.

Thank you Sarah for a wonderful challenge that I hope to revisit soon. Thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!! Do stop by here to see the Fresh, Fluffy & French Croissants the other daring bakers have risen to this month!


Prep Time: 12 hours

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 12 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 12 small croissants


A recipe adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two. Julia Child and Simone Beck, make this in cool/cold weather for croissants that are perfect, flaky, buttery, and delicious!


1 tsp dry-active yeast

13g warm water

14g sugar

225 gm plain flour

14g sugar

5g salt

120ml milk {2%}

15g vegetable oil

115g chilled, unsalted butter, beaten into a scant 8"X8", chilled between parchment

1 egg, for egg wash


    Mix the yeast, warm water, and first teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for the yeast and sugar to dissolve and the yeast to foam up a little.

    Measure out the other ingredients

    Heat the milk until tepid (either in the microwave or a saucepan), and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar

    Place the flour in a large bowl.

    Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour

    Mix all the ingredients together using the rubber spatula, just until all the flour is incorporated

    Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and let it rest a minute while you wash out the bowl

    Knead the dough eight to ten times only.

    Thermomix: Place all ingrdeints in TM bowl and run on speed 6 for 7 seconds, then knead for 1 minute}

    Place the dough back in the bowl, and place the bowl in the plastic bag

    Leave the bowl until the dough has tripled in size.

    After the dough has tripled in size, remove it gently from the bowl, pulling it away from the sides of the bowl with your fingertips.

    Place the dough on a lightly floured board or countertop, and use your hands to press it out into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches. Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the top third down, and then the bottom third up)

    Place the dough letter back in the bowl, and the bowl back in the plastic bag.

    Leave the dough to rise for another 1.5 hours, or until it has doubled in size. This second rise can be done overnight in the fridge

    Place the double-risen dough onto a plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place the plate in the fridge while you prepare the butter.

    Once the dough has doubled, it’s time to incorporate the butter

    Use the heel of your hand to continue to spread the butter until it is smooth. You want the butter to stay cool, but spread easily.

    Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured board or counter. Let it rest for a minute or two.

    Spread the dough using your hands into a rectangle about 14 by 8 inches.

    Place the butter on the top half of the dough rectangle, and fold the top third of the dough down, and the bottom third of the dough up.

    Turn the dough package 90 degrees, so that the top flap is to your right. {If the weather is warm, CHILL}

    Roll out the dough package (gently, so you don’t push the butter out of the dough) until it is again about 14 by 8 inches, and again, fold the top third down and the bottom third up.

    Wrap the dough package in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for 2 hours.

    After two hours have passed, take the dough out of the fridge and place it again on the lightly floured board or counter.

    Tap the dough with the rolling pin, to deflate it a little

    Let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes {Not a good idea if it is hot weather}

    Roll the dough package out till it is 14 by 8 inches, fold in three, as before. Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 14 by 8 inches. Fold in three for the last time, wrap in plastic, and return the dough package to the fridge for two more hours {or overnight, with something heavy on top to stop it from rising}

    It’s now time to cut the dough and shape the croissants

    First, lightly butter your baking sheet so that it is ready.Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for ten minutes on the lightly floured board or counter.

    Roll the dough out into a 20 by 5 inch rectangle

    Cut the dough into two rectangles

    Place one of the rectangles in the fridge, to keep the butter cold

    Roll the second rectangle out until it is 15 by 5 inches and cut into 3 squares

    Place two of the squares in the fridge

    The remaining square may have shrunk up a little bit in the meantime. Roll it out again till it is nearly square, and cut diagonally into two triangles.

    Stretch the triangle out a little, so it is not a right-angle triangle, but more of an isosceles.

    Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle up towards the point, and curve into a crescent shape. Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining squares of dough, creating 12 croissants in total.

    Leave the tray of croissants, covered lightly with plastic wrap, to rise for 1 hour.

    Preheat the oven to very hot 240°C.

    Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water.

    Spread the egg wash across the tops of the croissants.

    Put the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned nicely

    Take the croissants out of the oven, and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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