Archive for the ‘Beth’ Category

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Easter Cake Pops!

April 26, 2009

Well, my first foray into baking post-babies was to try out the Cake Pops from Bake-rella‘s lovely blog.  You can find the recipe and lots of examples there. She creates the cutest little pops for all kinds of occasions and I (and Beth) thought we’d try out her Easter concoctions!

Strawberry and Chocolate cake balls

We started out rolling all the cake mixture into balls.  Boy was that messy, but tasty!

Cake ball close up

You have to rinse your hands periodically or the cake just sticks to you rather than forming a ball.

We neglected to read the part in the recipe ahead of time that mentioned the need for refrigeration… So we opted for the freezer method… Unfortunately, many of our pops cracked, we figure from the contrast of super cold inside versus warm dipping medium.

Some needed “stiches”…

Stiched chick

We dubbed him “Franken-chick”

We made chicks, bunnies, easter eggs, cup cakes, white sheep, and black sheep.

chicksbunnieseggs and cupcakessheep

Though I must say, I think our black sheep looked more like porcupines.  What do you think?

Black sheep

Well, pretty or not.  Cracked or not.  Black sheep or Porcupines.  They were fun to make and darn tasty too!  I’ve had requests for turkeys at Thanksgiving, so we’ll see how that goes!

Cake Pop gathering

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Danish Bread – June Daring Bakers Challenge

June 29, 2008

OK! Home from Texas and back on my trusty PC instead of a cranky laptop! So, better late than never, our Danish Breads!

berry cream slice nut slice

Beth and I were the only ones who could play this month and we each made two loaves. I made the first one. Followed all the directions. Rolled it out to the spec’s in the recipe, put in my filling (mixed berries and confectionery cream, delish!). And there I hit a snag… How does one move a pliable, gooey, enormous, berry and cream filled danish bread? Aha! I say. I should have rolled and assembled on parchment paper! But, alas, it was too late. The moving was quite comical. It took both of us. And the end result, well, it looked a bit like a danish bread murder scene…

Oh the humanity danish bread

Pools of juice everywhere. So sad. But damn it was good. Didn’t last 24 hours. Total yum!

Beth also made a berry cream bread, but learned from my mistakes. Not only did she roll hers on parchment paper, we also decided to go with a smaller roll. 10×16. Makes a much more manageable size.

No carnage involved with hers!

berries and cream take 2

Only a little berry ooze. But boy, that crunchy sugary ooze is damn good too.

Our 3rd and 4th loaves went off with out a hitch. Both are nut loaves. I went with a mixture of almonds, pecans and hazelnuts with some cinnamon and sugar, while Beth chose to use only pecans with some cinnamon and brown sugar.

The loaves were picture perfect.

Nut loaf 1nut loaf 2

I’m not sure which one is which in the pictures, but they were both quite tasty. The only thing I think I might do differently next time is to add a little butter and make it a streusel-y filling to hold the nuts together a bit. it was a bit loose so nuts tried to make a break for it. Also, I think this particular loaf would have benefited from some icing. The berry one was far to rich, but it would have added a hint of sweetness to the nut ones.

I think the smaller roll size was definitely better. If you compare the two slices, you can see how thin the bottom is on the berry one that was rolled bigger. I decided on this size because it is what I saw Beatice Ojakangas do here http://www.pbs.org/juliachild/meet/ojakangas.html#

This video is also where I got my berry and confectionery cream filling recipes.

Well, that’s our bread! Here’s the original recipe! Try it for yourself!

DANISH DOUGH

Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

Ingredients
For the dough (Detrempe)
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

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

DOUGH
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.

BUTTER BLOCK
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.

APPLE FILLING
Makes enough for two braids

Ingredients
4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 – 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

DANISH BRAID
Makes enough for 2 large braids

Ingredients
1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) 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.
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. 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.

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TWD Marshmallows

April 14, 2008

Yummy Marshmallows

These were made on a chilly evening in the Smokey Mountains and then enjoyed in cocoa and roasted over a fire. Pure bliss…

Marshmallows

Including marshmallows as a spoon dessert may seem like cheating — after all, they’re eaten with fingers (or, by campers, from sticks picked up in the forest) — but making them at home is too much fun to miss. And in fact this dessert is related to others in this chapter: the base is meringue — sweetened and strengthened by a cooked sugar syrup and fortified by gelatin.

There’s nothing difficult about making the marshmallows, but the meringue does need a long beating. While you can use a hand mixer, a stand mixer makes the job easier.

I’m giving you the recipe for a basic vanilla marshmallow. See Playing Around (below) for raspberry, chocolate, cappuccino and pumpkin marshmallows.

Makes about 1 pound marshmallows

About 1 cup potato starch (found in the kosher foods section of supermarkets) or cornstarch

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

3/4 cup cold water

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

GETTING READY: Line a rimmed baking sheet — choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high — with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.

Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup — without stirring — until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)

Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy — don’t overbeat them and have them go dull.

As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.

Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won’t fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups).

Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They’ll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.

Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you’ll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you’d like — into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they’re cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you’ve got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.

SERVING: Put the marshmallows out and let everyone nibble as they wish. Sometimes I fill a tall glass vase with the marshmallows and put it in the center of the table — it never fails to make friends smile. You can also top hot chocolate or cold sundaes with the marshmallows.

STORING: Keep the marshmallows in a cool, dry place; don’t cover them closely. Stored in this way, they will keep for about 1 week — they might develop a little crust on the outside or they might get a little firmer on the inside, but they’ll still be very good.

Playing Around

RASPBERRY MARSHMALLOWS: Fruit purees are excellent for flavoring these candies.

For raspberry marshmallows, you’ll need a generous 1/3 cup of puree; reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon. After the batter is mixed, gently fold in the puree with a rubber spatula. You can use the same measurements and technique for other purees, such as strawberry, mango and passion fruit.

CAPPUCCINO MARSHMALLOWS: Sift 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon together into a small bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water and mix until smooth. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/2 teaspoon, and add it to the espresso mix. After you add the sugar syrup and gelatin to the meringue, beat in the espresso mixture and continue.

LIGHT CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOWS: Melt 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon, and after the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the chocolate mixture with a large rubber spatula.

PUMPKIN SPICE MARSHMALLOWS: Whisk together 1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of ground allspice. After the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the spiced pumpkin with a large rubber spatula.

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TWD The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

April 9, 2008

I had a very Dorie vacation.  I rented a cabin in the Smokey Mountains with another couple and we baked for a large portion of the weekend and all from Dorie’s Book!  I would share them all with you, but I just saw that one of our adventures is next week’s recipe!  Hah!  So you’ll just have to wait for the others… muwahahaa!

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart from Dorie Greenspan

“Extraordinary” is just not a strong enough word for this tart.  It was… *smacks lips*… words cannot describe!  One bite and you’re transported to a lemon flavored wonderland from which you hope never to escape!  Wow… am I loopy this morning…

The tart was a snap to make!  I do think my crust was too thick.  Was a wonderful crumbly texture, but hard to cut through.  When I make this again (and I will, my hubby flipped over it) I’ll definitely press the dough out more.  Get a thinner bottom, and thicker sides.  Or I might use a larger tart pan to thin it out a bit.  I used a 9.5 inch pan so I may try it with my 11 inch pan next time and see how the crust comes out.  I don’t want it so thin that it can’t hold the weight of the tart, but it was a bit like eating a cookie with a lot of icing on it…

We shall see!

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

1 cup sugar

Grated zest of 3 lemons

4 large eggs

¾ cup fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)

2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (10 ½ ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature

1 9-inch tart shell made with Sweet Tart Dough (p.444), Sweet Tart Dough with Nuts (p.444) or Spiced Tart Dough (p.447), fully baked and cooled

Getting Ready: Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.

Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. as you whisk – you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling – you’ll see that the cream will start out light an foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point – the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience – depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.

As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going – to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.

Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.)

When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.


Sweet Tart Dough

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon ( 9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients an pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in – you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses – about 10 seconds each – until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change – heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that may have escaped mixing.

To Press the Dough into the Pan: butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy-handed – press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To Partially or Fully Bake the Crust: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).

To Fully Bake the Crust: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. (I dislike lightly baked crusts, so I often keep the crust in the over just a little longer, if you do that, just make sure to keep a close eye on the crust’s progress – it can go from golden to way too dark in a flash.) Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

To Patch a Partially or Fully Baked Crust, If Necessary: If there are any cracks in the baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the bake crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just the take the rawness off the patch.

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Perfect Party Cake – March Daring Bakers Challenge

March 30, 2008

Perfect Party Cake from Baking from my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Cut cake

Well, those of us at KBK BAkery just didn’t think one cake was enough, soo… we made 3!  Since Easter was this month we opted to make cakes to take to Easter, and since we are just friends, and not related (pity that it is) that meant multiple cakes.  Luckily, as will all Dorie recipes (goddess that she is), the cake came together flawlessly so making 3 was not a chore.  We all went for the classic white with lemon zest for the cake, but the fillings and icings are all a little different.

The first cake was for Beth’s family.  She chose strawberry preserves for her cake.  To add a little extra Easter feel, she also added a touch of pink food coloring to her buttercream.

Pink Dorie Cake

Very cute!  The pink is a little hard to see in the photo, but it was a very Easter appropriate baby pink!

The second cake was for my husband’s side of the family.  For their cake, I went with raspberry seedless (i love that it exists!) jam  and I went with a marshmallow frosting.   Marshmallow just seems to go with Easter… maybe it’s all those Russell Stover marshmallow eggs I ate growing up?

Marshmallow Cake

The last cake I made for my parents’ house.  Both my mother and father are diabetic, so I wanted to try my hand at a sugar free version.

Sugar Free Cake

And with the exception of the fact that the cake didn’t rise at all the cake came out very well.  My parents enjoyed it very much and my dad had fun taunting his coworkers with the leftovers at work on Monday, heh.  The filling was sugar free raspberry, and the icing was buttercream made with Splenda, so the only sugar in the cake was the lemon juice and the coconut on the outside.  It was, by no means, fat free, heh, but pretty darn close to sugar free!

I used the bunnies to tell the cakes apart.  The sugar version had a red ribbon and the sugar free had a brown ribbon!  Thank goodness for color coded rabbits!

For the Cake
2 ½ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
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

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)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting Ready
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°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.
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, and 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.
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.

Serving

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.Storing
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, and then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.

*MARSHMALLOW FROSTING

1 pound unsalted butter (at room temperature)

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

1 (16 ounce) tub marshmallow cream (such as Marshmallow Fluff brand)

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy.

Beat in one-fourth of the sugar until fluffy, and then repeat with the remaining sugar.

Beat in the vanilla, and then stir in the marshmallow cream until well blended.

Yield: 24 servings

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S’mores Cupcakes

March 22, 2008

S’mores Cupcakes

S’mores Cupcakes

Ok. You say “marshmallow” and the first thing I think of is “S’mores”, so it’s only fitting that I make a S’mores cupcake. I’m sure it’s not a terribly new idea, but boy is it tasty! Nothing brings of memories of Girl Scout camping trips like the smell of a perfectly toasted marshmallow. And I like mine a golden brown color, here, folks. None of this “set it on fire, blow it out and call its charred remains toasted” nonsense. If I wanted to eat charcoal, I’d lick one of the logs.

Roasting the perfect marshmallow takes time. Patience. The willingness to be a human rotisserie… but thankfully, little culinary torches are readily available and your local hardware or cooking store. So, my cupcakes are nicely toasted and I didn’t even have to build a bonfire in my backyard. A fact that I’m sure would please my neighbors and the fire department very much if they knew of their good fortune. Especially since my hubby is a bit of a pyro. Burnt off all his arm hair once because he put gasoline on a fire before he lit it *to get it going faster*. The ensuing fireball was quite spectacular. Luckily only his arm hair was affected. Untold amounts of mocking pleasure for all those present, however. To which he replies, “yeah, but it got it started, didn’t it?” He’s so special.

I wanted my cupcakes to have all the components of a true S’more, so I have 3 distinct layers. I have a layer of graham cracker crust pressed into the bottom of each cupcake (I made this by combining graham cracker crumbs and butter in a food processor), topped with a milk chocolate cake, then the marshmallow fluff (lightly toasted with a torch) and finally some graham cracker crumbs for garnish. For the marshmallow topping, I just put a tub of marshmallow fluff in a pot of boiling water until it got gooey and then spread it on the cupcakes.  And I have to say, using the torch was so fun!  I guess my hubby isn’t the only pyro in the house!  I strongly recommend consuming these while the marshmallow is still warm… makes them that much better! Yum! If you can’t eat them right away, pop them in the microwave for about 10 seconds and it’s back to being heaven…

S’mores Cupcakes

Graham Cracker Crust

6 tbs. butter

1 ½ c. graham cracker crumbs (or about 24 crushed graham crackers)

¼ c. sugar

In a small saucepan or the microwave, melt 6 tablespoons of butter.

Measure 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs into a medium bowl.

Add 1/4 cup of sugar to the graham crackers.

Add the melted butter.

Stir or blend together with your hands.

Press into the bottom of the baking cups.

Old Fashioned Milk Chocolate Cake

3 ½ c. cake flour, sifted

½ tbs. baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

½ tbs. salt

6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 c. water

1 c. butter, softened

2 c. granulated sugar

½ c. brown sugar, lightly packed

1 ½ tbs. vanilla extract

6 XL eggs, warm in shells

1 c. buttermilk

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.

In medum heat-proof bowl over simmering water, melt chocolate in water, stirring occasionally until smooth and remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium until creamy. Continue beating while sprinkling in granulated and brown sugars, 1 tbs. at a time.

Add vanilla and beat until very light.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until thoroughly blended after each, then beat until very light and creamy.

Blend in chocolate.

Add flour in 3 parts alternating with 2 parts of buttermilk. Beat on lowest speed until each addition disappears.

Fill each cupcake cup ½ way and bake at 350°F until a toothpick comes out clean or the cake springs back when pressed lightly. Approximately 20 minutes.

Additional equipment needed: culinary torch

Top each cupcake with the marshmallow frosting and roast to the desired toasty-ness. Sprinkle toasted cupcake with a pinch of graham cracker crumbs.

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Marshmallow Mermaid Cupcakes

March 22, 2008

Marshmallow Mermaid Cupcakes

Marshmallow Mermaid Cupcakes

This cupcake creation was inspired by the movie Waitress. I love pies and was so terribly disappointed that they did not include recipes on the DVD for that movie! They have such wonderful sounding pies! Just a little section under “Special features”. Would that be so hard?!? But I digress. I don’t know much about making pies, but cakes? That’s another story!

I’m a sucker for lime. You offer me lime-flavored anything and I’m there. And for me, when I think of limes, I think of Key limes. And when I think of Key limes I think of Florida and the ocean, so it was a natural progression for me to use key lime for my Marshmallow Mermaid cupcakes! For this cupcake, I’m combining Key Lime Blondies, marshmallow frosting, mini multi-colored marshmallows and edible glitter.

This is a new creation for me! I’ve never made any of the components before! Boldly into the fire I went! The first hurdle I ran into is the unavailability of key lime extract in my neck of the woods. But I persevered! I found a lovely recipe on Recipezaar for Key Lime Extract. The straining process was rather long, but the end result was worth it.

Key Lime Extract Shot

It came out such a gorgeous green!

My next challenge was the Blondie base. Blondies/Brownies don’t rise as much as cake batter, so I had to decide how much batter to put in each cut to achieve “cupcake” height… I experimented with different levels (some were very sad little cupcakes. I had to put them out of their misery *yum*). I found ¾ of the way full was the way to go. The Blondie batter makes for a very flat cupcake. If I were topping these with just regular icing, it would have been disappointing, but since I’m covering it with mini mallows, it makes for a lovely, flat decorating surface. I decorated some with whole mallows and others I cut the mallows into 4 pieces. Which one do you like better?

big and little mallows

All in all I think this cupcake was a great success and a great learning experience. I always prefer to make things I’ve never made before. Keeps my kitchen interesting! Plus, if I actually ever get to open my bakery *sighs dreamily* I’ll have lots of inventions stored up!

Marshmallow Mermaid Cupcakes

Key Lime Coconut Blondies

1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 c. (packed) golden brown sugar
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
3 tbs. key lime juice
3/4 c. shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a few muffin pans with aluminum foil liners. Butter and flour foil. Whisk 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer beat the brown sugar and the butter, in large bowl, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then key lime juice. Add flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in shredded coconut. Fill each baking cup ¾ full.
Bake dessert until top is golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack.

Makes 24 cupcakes. For the traditional Blondie, bake in a 9×9 pan, lined with foil that has been buttered and floured, and it will yield 16 Blondies.

Marshmallow Frosting

1 lb. unsalted butter (at room temperature)

2 c. confectioners’ sugar

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional) *I used key lime extract

1 (16 ounce) tub marshmallow cream (such as Marshmallow Fluff brand)

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy.

Beat in one-fourth of the sugar until fluffy, and then repeat with the remaining sugar.

Beat in the vanilla, and then stir in the marshmallow cream until well blended.

Yield: 24 servings

Additional Supplies: mini multi-colored marshmallows and edible glitter in a green/aqua/turquoise color (whatever floats your boat.)

Top cooled cupcakes with marshmallow frosting, mini marshmallows (cut into 4ths or whole) and edible glitter. Enjoy! …makes me want to go on vacation somewhere sunny and warm.

 

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Julia Child’s Fabulous French Bread – February Daring Bakers Challenge

March 2, 2008

French Bread Close Up

Julia Child’s French Bread

Well, this month’s DBC looked intimidating when we first saw it; we have to be honest. But once we read through it a few times and really had a chance to process the information, it’s really quite simple! It’s a lot of time, but not terribly difficult. We started around 2 pm and finished around 11 pm! And that’s with cutting our last rise short! Phew! When we make it again (and we will because it was SCRUMPTIOUS!) we’ll have to start in the morning to give it a proper 3rd rise. With the exception of the last rise, the only hiccup we had was that we forgot to brush the batards with water (we were bleary eyed by that time) so our bread was not particularly browned.

Pale Batards

It did have a lovely “thump” and the taste was just perfect. We chose to make 3 batards so we each took one home. That one loaf per house didn’t make it more that 24 hours anywhere!

Though making the bread did take quite a while it was very worth it. It gave us all time to sit back and talk and catch up on each other’s lives (that’s a polite way of saying we spent the day gossiping about our husbands/boyfriends and anything else that came to mind while drinking coffee and eating chocolate 😉 )

To our hosts for this month: we salute you for a spectactular choice!

To our readers: it’s worth the time and happy baking!

This is a long recipe, but persevere to the end!

Recipe Time: 7 – 9 hours

Step 1: The Dough Mixture

1 cake (0.6 ounce) (20grams) fresh yeast or 1 package dry active yeast
1/3 cup (75ml) warm water, not over 100
°F in a glass measure
3 1/2 cup (about 1 lb) (490 gr) all purpose flour, measured by scooping
dry measure cups into flour and sweeping off excess
2 1/4 tsp (12 gr) salt
1 1/4 cups (280 – 300ml) tepid water @ 70 – 74
°

(Mary and Sara Note: if you are using instant yeast, you may reduce the amount to 1 3/4 tsp or 7 g but you will still want to “proof” it because that is important for taste development in this bread)

Stir the yeast in the 1/3 cup warm water and let liquefy completely while measuring flour into mixing bowl. When yeast has liquefied, pour it into the flour along with the salt and the rest of the water.

Using the dough hook attachment on the speed the mixer manufacturer recommends for dough hook use or the lowest setting if there is no recommendation, slowly work all the ingredients together until a dough ball is formed, stopping the mixer and scrapping the bits of flour and chunks of dough off the bottom of the bowl and pressing them into the dough ball. Continue to mix the dough on a low speed until all the bits of flour and loose chunks of dough have formed a solid dough ball.

Turn dough out onto kneading surface, scraping bowl clean. Dough will be soft and sticky. Let the dough rest for 2 – 3 minutes while you wash and dry the bowl (and the dough hook if using a stand mixer).

Step 2: Kneading

Place dough back into the bowl and using the dough hook attachment at the recommended speed (low), knead the dough for about 5 – 7 minutes. At about the 5 minute mark, stop the mixer and push at the dough with your fingertips. If it springs back quickly, you have kneaded the dough enough. If it doesn’t spring back continue to knead, stopping the mixer and retesting every 2 minutes. If the dough sticks to your fingers, toss a sprinkling of flour onto the dough and continue to knead. The dough should be light and springy when it is ready. Mary also recommends always finishing with about 1 – 2 minutes of hand kneading just to get a good feel for how the gluten is formed.

Let dough rest for 3 – 4 minutes. Knead by hand for a minute. The surface should now look smooth; the dough will be less sticky but will still remain soft. It is now ready for its first rise.

Step 3: First Rising – (3-5 hours at around 70°)
You now have approximately 3 cups of dough that is to rise to 3 1/2 times its original volume, or to about 10 1/2 cups. Wash and fill the mixing bowl with 10 1/2 cups of tepid water (70 – 80 degrees) and make a mark to indicate that level on the outside of the bowl. Note, that the bowl should have fairly upright sides; if they are too outward slanting, the dough will have difficulty in rising. Pour out the water, dry the bowl, and place the dough in it (Mary and Sara Note: Very lightly grease the bowl with butter or kitchen spray as well to prevent the risen dough from sticking to the bowl).

Slip the bowl into a large plastic bag or cover with plastic, and top with a folded bath towel. Set on a wooden surface; marble or stone are too cold. Or on a folded towel or pillow, and let rise free from drafts anyplace where the temperature is around 70°. If the room is too hot, set bowl in water and keep renewing water to maintain around 70°. Dough should take at least 3 – 4 hours to rise to 10 1/2 cups. If temperature is lower than 70°, it will simply take longer.

(Mary and Sara Note: If your oven has an oven light, turn on the oven light when you start making the dough. By the time you are ready for the first rise, the temperature in your oven will be around 70°. You can check with your oven thermometer. If you don’t have an oven light, like Mary, you can turn the oven on to its lowest setting about 5 minutes before you begin your rise. Leave on for 1 – 5 minutes until the temperature is around 75- 80°. Turn off oven, when you open the door to put the dough in to rise, your oven will be around 70°. Another trick is to put your dough on top of your hot water heater. Place a folded towel on top of the hot water heater and let rise. Also a heating pad works well. Mary also has used those give away shower caps from hotels to cover her bowls and the bowl covers for the metal mixing bowls work well too. Always lightly grease the plastic wrap or bowl cover so if the risen dough touches it, the dough won’t stick.)

When fully risen, the dough will be humped into a slight dome, showing that the yeast is still active; it will be light and spongy when pressed. There will usually be some big bubbly blisters on the surface, and if you are using a glass bowl you will see bubbles through the glass.

Step 4: Deflating and Second Rising –temps (1 1/2 to 2 hours at around 70°)
The dough is now ready to be deflated, which will release the yeast engendered gases and redistribute the yeast cells so that the dough will rise again and continue the fermentation process.

With a rubber spatula, dislodge dough from inside of bowl and turn out onto a lightly floured surface, scraping bowl clean. If dough seems damp and sweaty, sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour.

Lightly flour the palms of your hands and flatten the dough firmly but not too roughly into a circle, deflating any gas bubbles by pinching them.

Lift a corner of the near side and flip it down on the far side. Do the same with the left side, then the right side. Finally, lift the near side and tuck it just under the edge of the far side. The mass of dough will look like a rounded cushion.

Slip the sides of your hands under the dough and return it to the bowl. Cover and let rise again, this time to not quite triple, but again until it is dome shaped and light and spongy when touched.

(Mary and Sara Note: You may need to lightly re-grease your bowl and plastic wrap for the second rise to prevent sticking)

Step 5: Cutting and resting dough before forming loaves
Loosen dough all around inside of bowl and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Because of its two long rises, the dough will have much more body. If it seems damp and sweaty, sprinkle lightly with flour.

Making clean, sure cuts with a large knife or a bench scraper, divide the dough into:

  • 3 equal pieces for long loaves or small round loaves
  • 5 – 6 equal pieces for long thin loaves
  • 10 – 12 equal pieces for small oval rolls or small round rolls
  • 2 equal pieces for medium round loaves
  • If you making one large round loaf, you will not cut the dough at all and just need to follow the directions below.


After you have cut each piece, lift one end and flip it over onto the opposite end to fold the dough into two; place dough at far side of kneading surface. Cover loosely with a sheet of plastic and let rest for 5 minutes before forming. This relaxes the gluten enough for shaping but not long enough for dough to begin rising again.

While the dough is resting, prepare the rising surface; smooth the canvas or linen towelling on a large tray or baking sheet, and rub flour thoroughly into the entire surface of the cloth to prevent the dough from sticking

Step 6: Forming the loaves

Because French bread stands free in the oven and is not baked in a pan, it has to be formed in such a way that the tension of the coagulated gluten cloak on the surface will hold the dough in shape.

For Long Loaves – Batard

After the 3 pieces of dough have rested 5 minutes, form one piece at a time, keeping the remaining ones covered.

Working rapidly, turn the dough upside down on a lightly floured kneading surface and pat it firmly but not too roughly into an 8 to 10 inch oval with the lightly floured palms of your hands. Deflate any gas bubbles in the dough by pinching them.

Fold the dough in half lengthwise by bringing the far edge down over the near edge.

Being sure that the working surface is always lightly floured so the dough will not stick and tear, which would break the lightly coagulated gluten cloak that is being formed, seal the edges of the dough together, your hands extended, thumbs out at right angles and touching.

Roll the dough a quarter turn forward so the seal is on top.

Flatten the dough again into an oval with the palms of your hands.

Press a trench along the central length of the oval with the side of one hand.

Fold in half again lengthwise.

This time seal the edges together with the heel of one hand, and roll the dough a quarter of a turn toward you so the seal is on the bottom.

Now, by rolling the dough back and forth with the palms of your hands, you will lengthen it into a sausage shape. Start in the middle, placing your right palm on the dough, and your left palm on top of your right hand.

Roll the dough forward and backward rapidly, gradually sliding your hands towards the two ends as the dough lengthens.

Deflate any gas blisters on the surface by pinching them. Repeat the rolling movement rapidly several times until the dough is 16 inches long, or whatever length will fit on your baking sheet. During the extension rolls, keep circumference of dough as even as possible and try to start each roll with the sealed side of the dough down, twisting the rope of dough to straighten the line of seal as necessary. If seal disappears, as it sometimes does with all purpose flour, do not worry.

Place the shaped piece of dough, sealed side up, at one end of the flour rubbed canvas, leaving a free end of canvas 3 to 4 inches wide. The top will crust slightly as the dough rises; it is turned over for baking so the soft, smooth underside will be uppermost.

Pinch a ridge 2 1/2 to 3 inches high in the canvas to make a trough, and a place for the next piece. Cover dough with plastic while you are forming the rest of the loaves.

After all the pieces of dough are in place, brace the two sides of the canvas with long rolling pins, baking sheets or books, if the dough seems very soft and wants to spread out. Cover the dough loosely with flour rubbed dish towel or canvas, and a sheet of plastic. Proceed immediately to the final rising, next step.

(Mary and Sara Note: Empty paper towel tubes and/or bottles of spices work well as braces as well)

Step 7: Final Rise – 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours at around 70°

The covered dough is now to rise until almost triple in volume; look carefully at its pre-risen size so that you will be able to judge correctly. It will be light and swollen when risen, but will still feel a little springy when pressed.

It is important that the final rise take place where it is dry; if your kitchen is damp, hot, and steamy, let the bread rise in another room or dough will stick to the canvas and you will have difficulty getting it off and onto another baking sheet. It will turn into bread in the oven whatever happens, but you will have an easier time and a better loaf if you aim for ideal conditions.

Preheat oven to 450° about 30 minutes before estimated baking time.

Step 8: Unmolding risen dough onto baking sheet
(Mary and Sara note: we are only going to describe the unmolding of The Batard but the unmolding process is the same no matter the shape of your loaf or loaves. The key to unmolding without deflating your bread is slow and gentle!)

The 3 pieces of risen dough are now to be unmolded from the canvas and arranged upside down on the baking sheet. The reason for this reversal is that the present top of the dough has crusted over during its rise; the smooth, soft underside should be uppermost in the oven so that the dough can expand and allow the loaf its final puff of volume. For the unmolding you will need a non-sticking intermediate surface such as a stiff piece of cardboard or plywood sprinkled with cornmeal or pulverized pasta.

Remove rolling pins or braces. Place the long side of the board at one side of the dough; pull the edge of the canvas to flatten it; then raise and flip the dough softly upside down onto the board.

Dough is now lying along one edge of the unmolding board: rest this edge on the right side of a lightly buttered baking sheet. Gently dislodge dough onto baking sheet, keeping same side of the dough uppermost: this is the soft smooth side, which was underneath while dough rose on canvas. If necessary, run sides of hands lightly down the length of the dough to straighten it. Unmold the next piece of dough the same way, placing it to the left of the first, leaving a 3 inch space. Unmold the final piece near the left side of the sheet.

Step 9: Slashing top of the dough
(Mary and Sara Note: We will only describe the slashing for the Batard here. All other slashes for the other shapes are described in Step 6: Forming the Loaves)

The top of each piece of dough is now to be slashed in several places. This opens the covering cloak of gluten and allows a bulge of dough underneath to swell up through the cuts during the first 10 minutes of baking, making decorative patterns in the crust. These are done with a blade that cuts almost horizontally into the dough to a depth of less than half an inch. Start the cut at the middle of the blade, drawing toward you in a swift clean sweep. This is not quite as easy as it sounds, and you will probably make ragged cuts at first; never mind, you will improve with practice. Use an ordinary razor blade and slide one side of it into a cork for safety; or buy a barbers straight razor at a cutlery store.

For a 16 to 18 inch loaf make 3 slashes. Note that those at the two ends go straight down the loaf but are slightly off centre, while the middle slash is at a slight angle between the two. Make the first cut at the far end, then the middle cut, and finally the third. Remember that the blade should lie almost parallel to the surface of the dough.

Step 10: Baking – about 25 minutes; oven preheated to 450°

As soon as the dough has been slashed, moisten the surface either by painting with a soft brush dipped in cold water, or with a fine spray atomizer, and slide the baking sheet onto rack in upper third of preheated oven. Rapidly paint or spray dough with cold water after 3 minutes, again in 3 minutes, and a final time 3 minutes later. Moistening the dough at this point helps the crust to brown and allows the yeast action to continue in the dough a little longer. The bread should be done in about 25 minutes; the crust will be crisp, and the bread will make a hollow sound when thumped.

If you want the crust to shine, paint lightly with a brush dipped in cold water as soon as you slide the baking sheet out of oven.

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December Daring Bakers’ Challenge – Yule Log

December 24, 2007

Yule Log Close Up

Well another Daring Bakers Challenge has come and gone. This month’s was to make a Yule Log. The log was made out of a genoise (zh-nwz) cake, a scrumptious coffee buttercream icing, and marzipan mushrooms. All of these things were new to us so it was lots of fun! I’ve made “buttercream” before but not with real butter. I’ve always used…well… not butter. And wow! is it tasty! I don’t think I can go back to the other stuff with a clear conscience…

Everything in this challenge went very smoothly.. I kept waiting for catastrophe! I was afraid my genoise would deflate! Or my buttercream would curdle! Or my mushrooms wouldn’t look right! But no… everything worked perfectly… so I figure the next thing I cook will explode just to keep the world on an even keel…

Yule Log

For this challenge I made my genoise a chocolate one by reducing the cornstarch and flour to 1/3 cup and adding 1/4 cup of cocoa. For the buttercream, I used spiced rum as I thought it would complement the coffee flavor. My mushrooms are just as the recipe dictates, however I forgot to put them on the log before taking it to my parents’! By the time I realized I’d forgotten them the log was over half gone!

marzipan mushrooms

So maybe that was the snafu for this challenge… hrm… I’ll have to think about that!

I’ve never made or worked with marzipan before so I used this opportunity to experiment. What do you think?

Grapes

marzipan grapes

Pear

marzipan pear

Apple

marzipan apple

Oh! And here’s the recipe!

Plain Genoise:

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour – spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarch

one (1) 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again

1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

3.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger – it should be warm to the touch).

4.Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.

6.Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.

10.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Coffee Buttercream:

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons rum or brandy
(I used Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum)

1.Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

2.Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.

Meringue Mushrooms:

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup (3-1/2 ounces/105 g.) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1-1/3 ounces/40 g.) icing s
ugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

1.Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip. In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift the icing sugar over the whites and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until well blended.

2.Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa. Reserve the remaining meringue.

3.Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50-55 minutes. Set the pans on the counter and turn the mounds flat side up. With the tip of a knife, carefully make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes and insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool completely on the sheets.

Marzipan Mushrooms:

8 ounces almond paste
2 cups icing sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Cocoa powder

1.To make the marzipan combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until sugar is almost absorbed.

2.Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

3.Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary: the marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly.

4.Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

5.Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.

6.Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms.

7.Smudge with cocoa powder.

Assembling the Yule Log:

1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.

2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.

3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.

4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).

5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.

8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.

9.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

10.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

11.Transfer the log to
a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.

DB logo

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Easy Mini-Turtles

December 4, 2007

Mini Turtles

These little gems are so easy!  And so tasty!  We made these just as something little to do as we waited for dough to rise.  Most of them did not make it through the night.  We kept finding ourselves irresistibly drawn back to the tray full of little tasty tidbits.

All you need is small pretzel twists, chocolate covered caramel candies (we used Rolos), and pecan halves.  Lay out pretzels on a cookie sheet.  As many as you want or will fit.  Put a chocolate covered caramel candy on each pretzel.  (Don’t forget to remove the wrapper!)  Get your oven up to 350F and put your candy topped pretzels in.  Leave them there for about 10 minutes.  Take them out and press a pecan half onto each one.

Tada!  You’re done!

Let ’em cool a little.  Hot caramel hurts!  And enjoy!