November 4, 2008
What's For Dinner?
Jamison is in class tonight. Alexis wants left over chicken noodle soup. I think I may have a chili dog and of course apple pie for dessert while watching election returns since it's election day and all! ;oP
What are you having?
October 29, 2008
Just wanted to let anyone know that is stopping by looking for my Daring Bakers entry for this month that I've taken an indefinite sabbatical from DB for a while. Be sure and stop over at the Daring Baker's blog roll and see what everyone else baked up! Hopefully I'll be back soon, but sometimes life just has to come first. :o)
September 27, 2008
Daring Bakers Challenge September 2008: Lavash Crackers and Vegan Caramelized Onion Blue Cheese Dip
It's that time of the month again...The Daring Bakers reveal! This month's challenge was Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (pp 178 - 180) and was chosen by Sheltie Girl of Gluten A Go Go and Shel of Musings from the Fishbowl.
When I saw this month's Daring Bakers challenge I was excited! I've always wanted to make crackers, but just never got around to it before now! Somehow though I lost track of the month of September and found myself waking up yesterday morning thinking "You know...I really need to make my Daring Bakers challenge! It's got to be due soon!" only to log into the message board and see it was due on Saturday!
Me and time...Not such great friends lately! I need a couple extra days in the week that no one else knows about it seems!
Anyway, so I whipped up the cracker dough yesterday afternoon, which I must say was a breeze, and after we ate dinner, I rolled them out, cut them, spritzed them with water, sprinkled them with sea salt and put them in the oven. A little while later voilà crackers! Alexis even loved them!
The other part of the challenge was to come up with a vegan/gluten free dip to pair with the crackers. I wanted to do something creamy so I set off to My Organic Market to see what I could find. I knew I wanted to get some vegan cream cheese and sour cream, and I knew I wanted to use caramelized onion as an element for the dip too. I saw the Soy Bleu I decided it would be perfect! The mix turned out great, and while at first I thought it was a bit bland, after it sat in the fridge and the flavors had a chance to meld it was fabulous!
We also had the choice to do the crackers gluten free, but I knew this wasn't something Jamison would be interested in, so I decided to just make the standard cracker. I think it would be fun to top them with sesame seeds or something a bit more exotic, but since Alexis was interested I just stuck to sea salt. Next time I might experiment a bit...And I will make these again!
So there you have it...This month's Daring Bakers challenge! Stop by the Daring Bakers blog roll and see what everyone else came up with and I can't wait to see what next month's challenge brings!
What You'll Need For The Vegan Caramelized Onion Blue Cheese Dip:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups of chopped red onion
8 ounces of vegan cream cheese, softened
6 ounces of Tofutti sour cream
3 ounces of Soy Bleu
Freshly ground black pepper
In a skillet over medium heat sauté onions in olive oil until slightly caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of a mixer beat together vegan cream cheese and tofutti until smooth. Stir in Soy Bleu and cooled caramelized onions until completely incorporated. Add a pinch of sea salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and stir to mix.
Serve immediately or chill before use.
Notes: The Soy Bleu really smelled like cow's milk bleu much to my surprise. Taste wise it wasn't quite on tap with blue cheese, but it was close. I've had rice cheeses that tasted similar to their counterparts in the past, but this is the first soy cheese that has passed the taste test even remotely.
What You'll Need For The Lavash Crackers:
1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings
Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers
1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.
2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).
4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.
4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.
5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).
6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.
August 31, 2008
Daring Bakers Challenge August 2008: Éclairs!
It's the end of the month so you know what that means...The Daring Baker's Reveal! This month's challenge was chosen by Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey? and Tony of Tony Tahhan and our challenge was Éclairs!
I must say this challenge both excited me (I mean come on...Éclairs??) and terrified me all at the same time. I've attempted a Pâte à Choux type pastry dough exactly once before and they fell completely flat and who really wants a flat Éclair? Not I! ;oP So I procrastinated...I put it off and put it off and put it off and finally when I made them Thursday afternoon I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome!
Now don't get me wrong...This challenge has a bit of work involved and you aren't going to just whip them up in thirty minutes, but it wasn't that hard in the long run and the results were heavenly! I ended halving the recipe when I realized there was no way I would get up early enough to send these to work with Jamison (and used 3 eggs because let's face it...It's a little hard to halve five eggs! ;oP) and made six oblong Éclairs and four round puffs and I must say they turned out fabulously!
I also decided to make my pastry cream a vanilla bean version instead of making it chocolate since we had the choice to keep one of the chocolate elements and use something else for the other option. I simply followed the recipe for the pastry cream and added in one scraped vanilla bean and one tablespoon of vanilla flavoring instead of the chocolate and it turned out perfectly! I still have some of the cream in the fridge...Oh the things I can do with that! ;oP
So this recipe is most definitely a winner! Be sure and check out the Daring Baker's Blogroll and see how everyone else's Éclairs turned out!
I can't wait to see what next month's challenge brings! I hope you all are having a fabulous Labor Day Weekend and for all my international readers I hope you're having a fabulous weekend too! :o)
Pierre Hermé's Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.
2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.
3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.
1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.
Assembling the éclairs:
• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)
1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.
2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40 degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.
3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.
1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water, stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.
2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.
Pierre Hermé's Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature
1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.
2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it's supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.
3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.
1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.
Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé
• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.
2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.
4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.
5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.
1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.
3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)
• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature
1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.
1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.
2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.
1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.
July 30, 2008
Daring Bakers July 2008: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream, But Make Mine An Excused Absence Instead
Hello everyone! This month's challenge was Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream and was hosted by Chris of Mele Cotte, but sadly I had to take a pass this month due to too much to do and not enough time! Once we get Alexis' school schedule settled I'll have more leeway with my free time. Planning her schedule has just been in the fore front this month as it should be since we are beginning her Kindergarten lessons next week. Sometimes life just gets in the way, but I'll be back next month!
Be sure to stop over at the Daring Baker's blog roll and see how everyone's challenge came out! I can't wait to see some of the finished products! ;o)
June 29, 2008
Daring Bakers June 2008...Danish Braids!
This month's Daring Bakers challenge was a danish braid from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking and it was chosen by Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’? and let me just tell you this one is a winner, even if my braiding skills leave a lot to be desired, but we'll talk about that in a bit. For now let's talk some Danish!
We had a little leeway with this one to fill it as we saw fit and I chose to use blueberries and cream cheese for the filling. I made a simple blueberry sauce and mixed a little cream cheese and organic cane sugar. If you've read Dianne's Dishes for a while then you know I'm a fan of both blueberries and cheesecake so this was a bit of an homage to both and I must say it turned out quite well. Jamison's mom and I both liked the finished product!
I must be honest though and tell you that my braiding didn't really stick. One one of the Danishes it just popped completely open for the most part and in the one pictured below it popped a bit. But it didn't affect the taste, though it wasn't very pretty to look at. I looked at the diagrams and it just didn't come together and stick. Oh well. This is my second semi-failure in as many months. Part of that is probably because I was also baking Alexis' birthday cake, as well as some easy French bread and doing party prep all at the same time. You could say I was just a little busy! ;oP
As you can see when it went into the oven it looked like it was ok:
I even liked the way the ends came together and they actually held!
The dough for this was also gorgeous, but then again I love dough in general.
It was soft and springy and just perfect! I chose to omit the cardamom and since I was using blueberries I incorporated lemon instead of orange, which was also an allowed change.
Now let's talk flaky! This dough baked up to be so flaky! There was just layer upon layer of beautiful flakiness! I had never made anything like this before and I was very pleased with the result. It was really good the first morning after having cooled overnight, but still good the next day too! I'll definitely be making this again and I'd like to play around with fillings too!
I can't wait to see what next month brings!
What You'll Need for the Danish Dough:
(Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
What You'll Need for the Butter Block (Beurrage):
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.
Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.
(Makes enough for 2 large braids)
1 recipe Danish Dough (see above)
2 cups filling, jam, or preserves
For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.
Proofing and Baking
Spray cooking oil onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.
May 28, 2008
Daring Bakers May 2008 Challenge: Opéra Cake
This month's challenge was the Opéra Cake and was selected by Lis from La Mia Cucina, Ivonne from Cream Puffs in Venice, Fran from Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie and Shea from Whiskful and this challenge was also dedicated to Barbara from winosandfoodies.com. Whew! Now that we've covered all of that information let's see how things went, shall we?
Opéra Cake...Oh where to start? When the challenge was first announced and I saw the pictures given of various examples, I was a bit sad that chocolate was ruled out because the chocolate examples looked heavenly! After I got over my initial bumming about the chocolate my mind immediately started envisioning layers of coconut and key lime, because well we know how I am about key lime. The rules said we had to keep it light colored in honor of spring and what's lighter than coconut and key lime? My cake however turned out to be a disaster. We'll talk more about that in a minute.
Normally when I have a kitchen disaster I don't post about it, because well we all have them, but who wants to talk about them? I didn't blog about the time I made soup with simple syrup instead of broth because I got the two containers confused or the time I baked bread and when I cut into it was still doughy? Or the numerous times something gets a little burned or singed or even when things just turn out a little off. Kitchen misadventures are part of the process, but I'd rather talk about what went right instead, because in the grand scheme of things more things go right than wrong an who wants to dwell on the wrong? In this case though we'll have to discuss the wrong, even though I thought about just calling it a wash and skipping the recount this month. In the end, even though I didn't like the results I did attempt the challenge so it's only right to talk about what happened, even if the results were far from impressive.
My first problem was the pans. I didn't have the pan sized recommended and I didn't want to buy new ones since jelly rolls pan aren't a big thing that I use often. In fact my pans that I already have are larger than the ones suggested, though it was mentioned that you could use smaller pans, but I didn't have those either. I ended up getting three whole sections from each pan, instead of two from each sheet. This made the layers thinner, but that was ok. They cooked up nicely and the texture was nice, so that was a plus.
Now let's talk flavors. I chose to add 2 tablespoons of key lime juice to the simple syrup and there simply just was not enough of it to let you really taste key lime. The coconut just over powered it, though my sister said she did get a slight taste of key lime in one bite, but I never tasted it in my slice. I added coconut flavoring to the white chocolate mousse and then obviously added some shredded coconut to the top. So basically instead of a key lime coconut combo, I ended up with coconut on coconut. That was the first disappointment.
On the buttercream front I just couldn't get it to work and I finally abandoned it all together. It's the whole egg thing in the buttercream that a) freaks me out and b) I just couldn't get it to come together. I'm not a fan of buttercream either, which may have been part of the problem. Perhaps it's the whole perception of reality thing. I had a negative view of it, so I couldn't get it to work. I will say that I don't think the butercream would have salvaged this overall, but it would have been nice to see if it had.
So basically my cake ended up with layers with the coconut white chocolate mousse in between each layer which had the key lime simple syrup soaked in. Then it was topped with the white chocolate glaze and sprinkled with coconut. In the end it was ok. I have to be honest here and say it was something I could take or leave. My sister, Ben and Nelson liked it though so I sent it home with them to enjoy, since I wasn't too keen on the whole thing. The glaze also ran a lot because it just wasn't stiff enough, but it tasted ok, so that's good in the grand scheme of things.
Well you can't win them all, but it's all about learning as we go so in the end it's all good. I can't wait to see what next month's challenge brings. Hopefully I'll do better on that one! ;o)
For the joconde:
(Note: The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperate)
What you’ll need:
•2 12½ x 15½-inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans (Note: If you do not have jelly-roll pans this size, do not fear! You can use different-sized jelly-roll pans like 10 x 15-inches.)
•a few tablespoons of melted butter (in addition to what’s called for in the ingredients’ list) and a brush (to grease the pans)
•a whisk and a paddle attachment for a stand mixer or for a handheld mixer
•two mixing bowls (you can make do with one but it’s preferable to have two)
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds (Note: If you do not want to use almond meal, you can use another nut meal like hazelnut. You can buy almond meal in bulk food stores or health food stores, or you can make it at home by grinding almonds in the food processor with a tablespoon or two of the flour that you would use in the cake. The reason you need the flour is to prevent the almonds from turning oily or pasty in the processor. You will need about 2 cups of blanched almonds to create enough almond meal for this cake.)
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1.Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.
2.Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).
3.Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.
5.If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.
6.Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).
7.Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.
8.Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.
9.Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.
10.Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.
For the syrup
(Note: The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.)
What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan
½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. of the flavouring of your choice (i.e., vanilla extract, almond extract, cognac, limoncello, coconut cream, honey etc.)
1.Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.
2.Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
For the buttercream
(Note: The buttercream can be made up to 1 month in advance and packed in an airtight container. If made way in advance, you can freeze the buttercream. Alternatively you can refrigerate it for up to 4 days after making it. To use the buttercream simply bring it to room temperature and then beat it briefly to restore its consistency.)
(Update Note: The recipe for the buttercream that is listed below was originally based on the original but we had some typos. It's all very confusing (we're good at confusing ourselves) but here is the short of it: When testing the buttercream, we tested a modified version (we're crazy like that!!!) that had 2 cups sugar, ½ cup water and 1¾ cups butter. Yes. That's right. 1¾ cups of butter. The eggs remained the same. We ended up with a very creamy buttercream. VERY. CREAMY. But we don’t want anyone to be afraid of our modified version so you have the option of using the original version listed below or the quantities we’ve listed here in this note. If you are still confused and want to cry, then please e-mail us and we will comfort you!!! We promise!!!)
What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan
•a candy or instant-read thermometer
•a stand mixer or handheld mixer
•a bowl and a whisk attachment
1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 grams) water
seeds of one vanilla bean (split a vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds) or 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract (Note: If you are flavouring your buttercream and do not want to use the vanilla, you do not have to. Vanilla will often enhance other flavours but if you want an intense, one-flavoured buttercream, then by all means leave it out!)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature flavouring of your choice (a tablespoon of an extract, a few tablespoons of melted white chocolate, citrus zest, etc.)
1.Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.
2.Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.
3.While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.
4.When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!
5.Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).
6.While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.
7.With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.
8.At this point add in your flavouring and beat for an additional minute or so.
9.Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).
For the white chocolate ganache/mousse (this step is optional – please see Elements of an Opéra Cake below)
(Note: The mousse can be made ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it.)
What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan
•a mixer or handheld mixer
7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
1 tbsp. liquer of your choice (Bailey’s, Amaretto, etc.)
1.Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.
2.Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.
3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.
4.Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
5.If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.
6.If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.
For the glaze
(Note: It’s best to make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake.)
What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan or double boiler
14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)
1.Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth.
2.Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.
3.Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.
Assembling the Opéra Cake
(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.
Step A (if using buttercream only and not making the ganache/mousse):
Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.
Spread about one-third of the buttercream over this layer.
Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.
Spread another third of the buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde. Spread the remaining buttercream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).
Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.
Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.
Step B (if making the ganache/mousse):
Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.
Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer.
Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.
Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).
Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up.
Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.
Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.
April 27, 2008
Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Pops
It's that time of month again...Time for the Daring Bakers April Reveal! And this month's recipe was Cheesecake Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor and was chosen by Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah from Taste and Tell.
So cheesecake...As many of you know I'm all about cheesecake! In fact I think cheesecake should be an additional food group! ;o) When I saw that this month's recipe was cheesecake pops I was thrilled. I mean chocolate and cheesecake how much better can life get? And taste wise this recipe did not disappoint, but I, like several others that I saw in the Daring Baker's forums, had a bit of a problem getting the cheesecake to set. The edges set, but the center just refused. I baked it for close to an hour and it felt firm on top and I though I had averted a mushy middle, but not so much.
I mean seriously doesn't that look like a perfectly baked cheesecake? I sure thought so!
But in reality the center looked more like this:
I tried freezing it, but couldn't get that to work either. I ended up making a few pops with what I could salvage and then using the unset portion to make some Blueberry Cheesecake Parfaits, because seriously did I mention how good this cheesecake tasted?
I mean look at that...Even the failed middle looks fabulous! Let's get a little closer look shall we?
Sometimes when something doesn't work that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing! ;o)
I did end up with about 14 Cheesecake Pops though and oh my goodness...To die for! I used milk chocolate as a covering and it just melded so well with the cheesecake! Alexis really liked them too, but hey my child liking cheesecake...What are the odds? ;o)
We left them all lined up on the tray in the fridge until we finished them. I had intended to send these with Jamison to work as a treat, but 14 wasn't quite enough to share with everyone. The pops themselves really were just to die for. I think it might be nice to bake the cheesecake and simply pour the chocolate mixture on top as a top layer and just serve it that way.
Overall my pops might not have been perfect, but hey I made the best out of what I could and I have to say it tasted good anyway! This recipe most definitely was sticky, messy and gooey, but it also tasted absolutely delicious! And that my friends is always a very good thing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dessert that gets a little messy! ;oP
Be sure and stop over at the Daring Baker's Blogroll and see how everyone else's Cheesecake Pops turned out! I can't wait to see what May brings!
What You'll Need:
5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionery coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional
Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.
Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.
When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it's shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.
Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionery chocolate pieces) as needed.
Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.
Makes 30 – 40 Pops
March 30, 2008
March 2008 Daring Bakers Challenge: Dorie's Perfect Party Cake
It's that time again...Time for the Daring Bakers monthly reveal! This month's recipe was chosen by Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts and when I saw this month's Daring Bakers Challenge was Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake I was excited! Alexis had been flipping through Baking From My Home Yours and when she saw the cake she told me "I want that for my Tinkerbell birthday party!" So this was the perfect opportunity to try this cake before the big day to see if it would work for what we had in mind. Sadly I'd have to say no on that, but we'll get to that in the minute.
The overall issue many of the Daring Bakers had with this cake was that it did not rise as they had expected. I had the exact opposite problem...It rose too much! In fact it rose so much that the batter spilled over the sides of my cake pans! Luckily I had placed the cake pans on a baking sheet, so it didn't make a mess on the bottom of the oven. But needless to say I didn't have a rising issue, I had a bit too much rise!
I actually made this cake twice. The cake turned out very tender, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but when I removed the cakes from the pan the first go around the second one crumbled as it came out. Not good! I ranted a bit in my head and then decided to put off the next try for a couple of days.
The second try was the one that spilled out over the tops of the pans. This time however they came out of the pans quite easily. The edges had to be trimmed in order to decorate the cake, but that was no big deal. The splitting of each cake into two layers however was not a good adventure. I ended up having to paste some of the pieces back together with icing and that is never a good thing.
Despite the issues I had the cake itself, once decorated and such, looked amazing and it tasted amazing when all put together. I had never made buttercream with the method in this recipe before so that was fun to try, though as I mentioned with my Saint Patrick's Day cupcakes I'm not a fan of butter in icing because I think it's overpowering to the overall flavor, but this was ok for the most part. I wouldn't make it for myself again, but my sister likes buttercream icing with the butter so I might employ it on a cake for her in the future.
Another issue that popped up was that I thought the icing could have been a bit sweeter. The butterflavor was also a bit overwhelming as I mentioned above. This may have been because I ran out of lemon juice as well so I was not able to add that element to the icing and perhaps that would have made a difference. I ended up making two batches of icing because one was not enough to cover and decorate the cake.
Another issue that turned out to be not that big of a deal was that I was not able to find lemon flavoring so I just used lemon juice and I have to say that substitution turned out great! I chose to use blueberry jam in the middle of the layers and as always the lemon and blueberry flavors melded so well together! We had a little leeway to do what we wanted to with this cake and this is the path I chose.
Overall I'd give this cake a B -. I happen to like my standard yellow or white cake recipes much more than this, but it was ok. I could see making it for a fru fru baby or wedding shower or maybe a tea, but for me I think I'll just stick to my tried and true cakes that always get raves and are a bit sturdier in terms of decorating.
Thanks to Morven for hosting this month's challenge. I most definitely learned some new tricks and that is what these challenges are is all about! I can't wait to see what next month's recipe holds!
Update: I forgot to mention that on the first round I used cake flour and buttermilk and while the cakes rose ok, they were too tender and as I mentioned they fell apart. On the second go around I used all purpose flour and whole milk and they ended up over rising. Oh well.
Check out the other Daring Bakers and see their many wonderful creations!
What You'll Need for the Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (Note: I used whole milk. I had some left over from one of the Tuesdays with Dorie recipes and since I drink skin or soy milk this was a good way to use some of that up.)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract (Note: As I mentioned above I used lemon juice because I couldn't find lemon extract.)
What You'll Need for the Buttercream:
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons) (Note: I ran out of lemon juice so I omitted this.)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
What You'll Need for Finishing:
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable (Note: I used blueberry jam instead. I'm not a fan of raspberries, though I keep trying them, but I haven't liked them yet. I let the jam come to room temperature and it spread fine.)
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut (Note: I didn't think the coconut was a good combination with the blueberries and lemon so I just decorated the cake with icing instead.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
To Make the Cake:
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. (Note: I just mixed the sugar and lemon zest with my mixer and it worked perfectly.)
Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean.
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners. (Note: I think they needed to cool more than 5 minutes in the pan. I think this is why they were so fragile overall.) Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).
To Make the Buttercream:
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.
You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
To Assemble the Cake:
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.
The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.
The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator. (Note: I actually thought the cake was better then next day and beyond. The flavors seemed to deepen and meld more completely as the cake sat.)
Since lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.
Fresh Berry Cake:
If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.
February 29, 2008
Daring Bakers February 2008 Challenge: Julia Child's French Bread
This month's challenge was hosted by Mary from The Sour Dough and Sara from I Like To Cook and they chose Julia Child's French Bread and let me tell you the finished product is to die for! I ended up baking one batard and two round loaves and I was very pleased with the result.
Up front I have to admit I've never really been a huge fan of Julia Child. I saw her as a child on television here and there and I knew she cooked, but she never really made that much of an impression on me. I know there are a lot of food bloggers out there that were big fans however and when this challenge was announced they were thrilled. The Julia factor didn't mean that much to me personally, but when I found out we were making French Bread however I was ecstatic! I mean homemade French Bread...What's not to love??
I've always wanted to try to make homemade French Bread, but just never got around to making any. I took one look at the recipe and its length and then coupled with some of the chatter from some of the other Daring Bakers I began to feel a bit of apprehension, but that apprehension was completely unfounded. The recipe, while in-depth, was actually quite uncomplicated and straight forward, though honestly it was time consuming, but in the end the effort was well worth the results.
The recipe said to let the bread rest for several hours before cutting into it, but we ended up enjoying one of the round loaves right out of the oven and it was heavenly! The bread was very good the next day reheated as well, but there is just something about bread right out of the oven and I actually liked it best freshly baked, but again it was really good the next day too, so you wouldn't really be cheating yourself by waiting.
I baked my loaves on my Silpats and I also placed a dish of water in the oven before preheating it to make a nice, moist baking environment. Another trick I used was spritzing the loaves with water with a spray bottle a couple of times both before baking and during the first ten minutes of the baking cycle. I also spritzed them once after removing them from the oven. I do this when I bake sour dough bread (minus the last spritz once out of the oven) and it just creates an unbeatable crust and helps the bread itself as it's baking.
The round loaves would be just perfect to hollow out and use a bread bowl for soup, chili or stew. They could also be used to serve dips or something of that nature at a party or pot luck for a little extra pizazz and flare. Most of all they could just be eaten as is, because after all we are talking homemade French Bread here and what's better than homemade bread! ;o)
The batard, the long loaf, turned out just how you would expect a loaf of French bread to turn out. Jamison actually enjoyed some of this the next night with a little butter to accompany his spaghetti. The round loaves were impressive, but the long loaf was really just beautiful. The way it baked, the slits just split perfectly, the crumb was gorgeous and I had no complaints whatsoever.
As I mentioned above the recipe is quite detailed. Instead of putting it here I'll just let you visit Mary and/or Sara and see the details there. Thanks ladies for a great challenge! Also don't forget to stop by the Daring Baker's Blog Roll and see how the other ladies and gentleman's loaves turned out.
I can't wait to see what next month's challenge brings! :o)
January 28, 2008
Daring Bakers Challenge January 2008: Lemon Meringue Pie
I have to admit when I saw that January's challenge was Lemon Meringue pie I was not all that thrilled. I've never cared for Lemon Meringue pie, but having missed December's challenge due to oven issues I didn't want to sit this one out! My sister happens to loves Lemon Meringue, so my first thought was that my sister was about to get herself a pie! (Or several as the case may be since I wanted to do the tarts and use my baby tart pans my best friend Darlene gave me for my birthday!) But I must say I was very pleasantly surprised by this version of Lemon Meringue Pie!! This pie was good! No scratch that it wasn't just good...It was in fact beyond good...It was delicious! I would even go as far as to say I'd make this pie again for myself! I ended up sending all but one of the tartlettes home with Katherine when I made them a few weeks ago anyway since she's a big fan of lemon meringue and it was a bit of a temptation to have them sitting around, but I was most definitely pleasantly surprised!
January challenge was hosted by Jen at The Canadian Baker. The challenge was for making a lemon meringue pie or free form tartlettes. I somehow missed the "free-form" tidbit and ended up making small tarts with pans! But regardless they turned out great! The dough and filling made enough for 8 tartlettes, with a little dough left over. The recipe is from Wanda's Pie In The Sky by Wanda Beaver.
I loved the crust. I tasted slightly like sugar cookies. The filling was also extremely delicious! It was creamy and oh so lemony! I think my issue with lemon meringue pies in the past has been that they didn't really have much lemon to them. They tasted more artificial and sort of bland, instead of lemony and zingy. This pie however is most definitely a lemon lover's dream!
From reading the Daring Baker blog several of the other participants had issues with runny filling, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it set up just perfectly! My sister also told me it didn't get too runny with the ones I sent home with her, other than the normal softness that happens when you store a pie. The filling was thick and creamy and oh so lemony! I really loved it!
What You'll Need for the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.
Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat 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, until golden. Cool completely before filling.
What You'll Need 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 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.
What You'll Need for the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.
Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.
Note: I somehow forgot to add the butter to the filling until after I had the tartlettes completely done, but they turned out great anyway without the butter! I also don't recall adding the vanilla to the meringue, but it's been a few weeks so that little detail may have just slipped with the passing of time.
To Make Free-Form Tarts:
To roll out tartlet dough, slice the dough into 6 pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll each circle of dough into a 5 inch disk. Stack the disks, separated by pieces of plastic wrap, on a plate, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
To bake the dough, position rack in oven to the centre of oven and preheat to 350ºF (180ºC). Place the disks of dough, evenly spaced, on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.
To finish tartlets, first place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and increase heat to 425ºF. Divide the lemon filling equally among the disks, mounding it in the centre and leaving a 1-inch border all the way around. Spoon the meringue decoratively over each tartlet, right to the edges, in dramatic swirling peaks.
Return tartlets to oven and bake for about 5 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown.
Notes: I think this would be great as Key Lime Tartlettes or even Chocolate Meringue Tartlettes as well!
I decided to top my tartlettes with candied lemon peel. I had never made this before, but I liked the end result and ended up using the technique to make candied lime peel for my Key Lime Cheesecake later in the month as you regular readers have already seen!
What You'll Need for the Candied Lemon Peel:
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
Bring water to a boil.
While water is heating cut pieces or scrape lemon peels into curls making sure to remove as much of the white pith as possible. Add lemon peels to boiling water and cook until tender. Remove lemon peels and sit aside. Add sugar to the water and allow to dissolve. Put lemon peels back in the water and bring back to a boil. Cook until lemon peels are translucent.
Notes: You can use the left over sugar water as a lemon simple syrup or you can cook it to hard crack stage for lemon candy.
November 26, 2007
Daring Bakers: Tender Potato Bread
I have joined the Daring Bakers and this months challenge was Tender Potato Bread! The recipe is from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid and was given by this month's host Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups.
Now let's talk about the bread itself! This truly is a delicious bread! You simply have to try it! It can be made into so many different things and nothing is better than a versatile recipe! ;o) Tanna's directions are below and my notes follow.
What You'll Need:
4 medium to large floury (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks. (Tanna Note: For the beginner bread baker I suggest no more than 8 ounces of potato; for the more advanced no more than 16 ounces. The variety of potatoes you might want to use would include Idaho, Russet & Yukon gold, there are others.)
4 cups(950 ml) water, reserve cooking water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 ½ cups to 8 ½ cups (1 kg to 1350g) unbleached all-purpose
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (130g) whole wheat flour
Making the Dough (Directions will be for making by hand):
Put the potatoes and 4 cups water in a sauce pan and bring to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and cook, half covered, until the potatoes are very tender.
Drain the potatoes, SAVE THE POTATO WATER, and mash the potatoes well. (Tanna Note: I have a food mill I will run my potatoes through to mash them.)
Measure out 3 cups(750ml) of the reserved potato water. Add extra water if needed to make 3 cups. Place the water and mashed potatoes in the bowl you plan to mix the bread dough in. Let cool to lukewarm (70-80°F/21 - 29°C) – stir well before testing the temperature – it should feel barely warm to your hand. You should be able to submerge you hand in the mix and not be uncomfortable.
Add yeast to 2 cups all-purpose flour and whisk. Add yeast and flour to the cooled mashed potatoes & water and mix well. Allow to rest/sit 5 minutes.
Note about Adding Yeast: If using Active Dry Yeast or Fresh yeast, mix & stir yeast into cooled water and mashed potatoes & water and let stand 5 minutes. Then add 2 cups of flour to the yeast mix and allow to rest several minutes. If using Instant Dry Yeast, add yeast to 2
cups all-purpose flour and whisk. Add yeast and flour to the cooled mashed potatoes & water and mix well. Allow to rest/sit 5 minutes.
Sprinkle in the remaining 1 tablespoon salt and the softened butter; mix well. Add the 1 cup whole wheat flour, stir briefly.
Add 2 cups of the unbleached all-purpose flour and stir until all the flour has been incorporated.
(Tanna Note: At this point you have used 4 cups of the possible 8 ½ cups suggested by the recipe.)
Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will be very sticky to begin with, but as it takes up more flour from the kneading surface, it will become easier to handle; use
a dough scraper to keep your surface clean. The kneaded dough will still be very soft. Place the dough in a large clean bowl or your rising container of choice, cover with plastic wrap or lid, and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in volume.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently several minutes. It will be moist and a little sticky.
Forming the Bread:
Divide the dough into 2 unequal pieces in a proportion of one-third and two-thirds (one will be twice as large as the other). Place the smaller piece to one side and cover loosely.
To shape the large loaf:
Butter a 9 x 5 x 2.5 inch loaf/bread pan. Flatten the larger piece of dough on the floured surface to an approximate 12 x 8 inch oval, then roll it up from a narrow end to form a loaf. Pinch the seam closed and gently place seam side down in the buttered pan. The dough should come
about three-quarters of the way up the sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 35 to 45 minutes, until puffy and almost
doubled in volume.
To make a small loaf with the remainder:
Butter an 8x4X2 inch bread pan. Shape and proof the loaf the same way as the large loaf.
To make rolls:
Butter a 13 x 9 inch sheet cake pan or a shallow cake pan. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball under the palm of your floured hand and place on the baking sheet, leaving 1/2 inch between the balls. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 35 minutes, until puffy and almost doubled.
To make focaccia:
Flatten out the dough to a rectangle about 10 x 15 inches with your palms and fingertips. Tear off a piece of parchment paper or wax paper a little longer than the dough and dust it generously with flour. Transfer the focaccia to the paper. Brush the top of the dough generously with olive oil, sprinkle on a little coarse sea salt, as well as some rosemary leaves, if you wish and then finally dimple all over with your fingertips. Cover with plastic and let rise for 20 minutes.
Baking the bread(s):
Note about baking order: bake the flat-bread before you bake the loaf; bake the rolls at the same time as the loaf.
Note about cooling times: Let all the breads cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Rolls can be served warm or at room temperature.
For loaves and rolls:
Dust risen loaves and rolls with a little all-purpose flour or lightly brush the tops with a little melted butter or olive oil (the butter will give a golden/browned crust). Slash loaves crosswise two or three times with a razor blade or very sharp knife and immediately place on the stone, tiles or baking sheet in the oven. Place the rolls next to the loaf in the oven.
Bake rolls until golden, about 30 minutes. Bake the small loaf for about 40 minutes. Bake the large loaf for about 50 minutes.
Transfer the rolls to a rack when done to cool. When the loaf or loaves have baked for the specified time, remove from the pans and place back on the stone, tiles or baking sheet for another 5 to 10 minutes. The corners should be firm when pinched and the bread should
sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, if not use a no edged baking/sheet (you want to be able to slide the shaped dough on the parchment paper onto the stone or baking sheet and an edge complicates things). Place the stone or cookie sheet on a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450°F/230°C.
If making foccacia, just before baking, dimple the bread all over again with your fingertips. Leaving it on the paper, transfer to the hot baking stone, tiles or baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack (remove paper) and let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
Dianne's Notes: First off this recipe simply makes a very beautiful dough. It's just perfect!
The recipe said to bake for almost an hour at 400 F. The bread was done after 30 minutes and if I had left it in the oven for an hour it would have been burned to a crisp. If I made this again I would drop the temperature to 350 F and bake for about 45-50 minutes instead of the higher temperature.
On the potato front I ended up with twice what I needed. I think two potatoes would be more apt to the amount needed, but as Tanna mentioned it all is in your perception of what a medium potato might be and I'm sure everyone would look at that differently.
I ended up baking two loaves of bread. A big one and a small one. I braided the bigger one, but it was hard to see in the baked outcome. The smaller loaf was "prettier", but it all tastes the same in the end! ;o)
I would like to try it with one of the more "healthy" potatoes such as sweet potatoes or blue potatoes to see how it would turn out. I would also like to try it with all whole wheat or white whole wheat flour instead of using white flour.
That was fun! I can't wait to see what December's challenge brings! ;o)