Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category

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Orange Tian, er…, I mean Lemon Lime! – March DBC

March 27, 2010

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

Prior to this challenge I had never even heard of “tian”. Prior to reading the challenge post I didn’t have the slightest idea what I needed to do or to make. Once I got through perusing the post, however, I was intrigued. I’ve never made my own marmalade and was excited to give it a try.

Now I am not a huge fan of orange in desserts. Orange with savory? Sure! Orange juice? Sure! Orange by itself? Sure! Orange with pastry? Um, no thanks. So I opted to go with flavors that tempt me more. I love lemon and I love lime. Particularly key lime, but alas they are out of season.

Thus my lemon-lime tian was conceived. I made both a lemon and a lime marmalade and alternated the fruit segments in the pan to make a pretty pattern on the plate. Wow. That’s a lot of p’s. Illiteration, folks! We’re serving it here!

We were given the option of making individual servings or one large tian. Had I been making a single flavor I might have gone with the individual servings, but I didn’t think I’d be able to make it as pretty as I wanted on such a small scale. Thus, I made one large tian so I could play with the segment arrangement.

I waffled back and forth as to whether I wanted to make two different batches of whipped cream and put the individual marmalades into their own batches or make on combo batch. In the end, I decided to make a lemon-lime whipped cream. Just for the sake of ease in assembly. While I know I could have segmented the cream above their respected flavors I did not have that kind of time the day I was assembling this after arranging the citrus segments.

Note: having some camera issues. Pic’s will follow as soon as I can get it worked out!

Update: Alas, no photos 😦 Memory card has died. If I make it again I’ll be sure to add them.

It came out very prettily and tasted divine! I highly recommend this to everyone!  Try making your own! The original recipe is below:

Preparation time:
– Pate Sablee: 20 minutes to make, 30 minutes to rest, 15 minutes to roll out, 20 minutes to bake
– Marmalade: 20 minutes to make, 30 minutes to blanch
– Orange segments: 20 minutes, overnight to sit
– Caramel: 15 minutes, overnight to sit
– Whipped Cream: 15 minutes
– Assembling: 20 minutes
– Freezer to Set: 10 minutes

Equipment required:
• Cookie cutters . Ideally, you should have about 6 cookie cutters to build the desserts in and cut the circles of dough (see photo). The cookie cutters will be the size of your final dessert, so they should be the size of an individually-sized tart mold. If you don’t have round cookie cutters you could use an individually-sized cheesecake mold without its base.
• A food processor (although the dough could be made by hand too)
• A stand-up or hand mixer
• Parchment paper or a silicone sheet
• A baking sheet
• A rolling pin

For the Pate Sablee:

Ingredients U.S. Imperial Metric Instructions for Ingredients
2 medium-sized egg yolks at room temperature
granulated sugar 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon; 2.8 oz; 80 grams
vanilla extract ½ teaspoon
Unsalted butter ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams ice cold, cubed
Salt 1/3 teaspoon; 2 grams
All-purpose flour 1.5 cup + 2 tablespoons; 7 oz; 200 grams
baking powder 1 teaspoon ; 4 grams

Directions:
Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in the food processor.

Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogeneous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degree Celsius.

Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle.

Using your cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the circles of dough are just golden.

For the Marmalade:

Ingredients U.S. Imperial Metric Instructions for Ingredients
Freshly pressed orange juice ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams
1 large orange used to make orange slices
cold water to cook the orange slices
pectin 5 grams
granulated sugar: use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked

Finely slice the orange. Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes.

Blanch the orange slices 3 times. This process removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so it is essential to use a new batch of cold water every time when you blanch the slices.

Once blanched 3 times, drain the slices and let them cool.

Once they are cool enough to handle, finely mince them (using a knife or a food processor).

Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar . If you don’t have a scale, you can place the slices in a cup measure and use the same amount of sugar.

In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice and the pectin. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes).

Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.

For the Orange Segments:

For this step you will need 8 oranges.

Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.

For the Caramel:

Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
granulated sugar 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
orange juice 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons; 14 oz; 400 grams

Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.

Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.

Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.

[Tip: Be very careful when making the caramel — if you have never made caramel before, I would suggest making this step while you don’t have to worry about anything else. Bubbling sugar is extremely, extremely hot, so make sure you have a bowl of ice cold water in the kitchen in case anyone gets burnt!]

For the Whipped Cream:

Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
heavy whipping cream 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
3 tablespoons of hot water
1 tsp Gelatin
1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar
orange marmalade (see recipe above) 1 tablespoon

In a small bowl, add the gelatin and hot water, stirring well until the gelatin dissolves. Let the gelatin cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatin slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.
[Tip: Use an ice cold bowl to make the whipped cream in. You can do this by putting your mixing bowl, cream and beater in the fridge for 20 minutes prior to whipping the cream.]

Assembling the Dessert:

Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.

Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone.

Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.

Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.

Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.

Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer. Leave about 1/4 inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.

Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough.

Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.

Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10 minutes.

Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake

October 17, 2009

pre-iced close up

I love this cake! It is one of my all time favorites. I make it whenever I get the chance.

This particular creation was made for my friend Leslie. She and her hubby were celebrating their 3rd wedding anniversary and this was one of the layers I made for their wedding cake.

The icing is FANTASTIC! It could be a dessert all on it’s own… I highly recommend it for any number of cakes. Anywhere you’d use caramel frosting this one will work too. And on a chocoate cake? Delish.

Now, I’m a pb & j purist. I always use Jif peanut butter and Welch’s grape jelly. Of course you can use any peanut butter you want and any jelly. It just won’t be as good 😉

finished cake

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake

2 c. unsifted all purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter, softened (1 stick)
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1 1/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. grape jelly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 x 1 1/2 inch round layer cake pans; or use Pam. Sift together baking powder, flour, and salt. Beat together butter and peanut butter until well blended; add sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in flour mixture, alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Spread jelly between layer and frost with Peanut Butter Frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons milk, or as needed

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Place the butter and peanut butter into a medium bowl, and beat with an electric mixer. Gradually mix in the sugar, and when it starts to get thick, incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is mixed in and the frosting is thick and spreadable. Beat for at least 3 minutes for it to get good and fluffy

Garnish with peanut butter chips, if desired.

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Dobos Torte – August Daring Bakers’ Challenge

August 27, 2009

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar
and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

"finished" torte

Ok.

This recipe started out pretty well. We (Beth and I) mixed up the sponge batter.  Took a little bit to get the whites whipped due to a 6 qt. Kitchen Aid, but we managed. 

whipped whites

We split them into 6 pans, baked them up and set them to cool.

layers

Cake layers? Check!

We sat around for a little while taking care of my twins, talking, and watching TV. Once we had my girls settled we started to tackle the buttercream and the caramel. Now, I would like to preface this with the information that I have made buttercream dozens of times and caramel almost as many.

The buttercream seemed to be going ok.  We beat the eggs, added the chocolate to melt, and let it cool some before adding the butter. But the butter didn’t seem to want to blend. It was room temperature and soft, but cranky about joining the eggs and chocolate. We got it mixed, but it didn’t set up. We put it in the fridge for a 1/2 hour. Still didn’t set up. We put it back in the fridge for an hour. Still soup. *sigh*

buttercream soup

Buttercream? Check, but only if you like it REALLY soft…

Now the caramel… This was a stunner. I mixed my ingredients. Put it in the same size saucepan I always use. Put it on Beth’s electric stove and whisked.

whisking caramel

Whisking. Whisking. Whisking. Starts to bubble, I stop whisking and turn down the heat. Bubbles form. Lots of bubbles. Bubbles are rising…

bubbling sugar

Bubbles escape! Much hissing insues and the whole kitchen now smells like a burnt marshmallow. I pick up the pot. Swirl it around a bit, put it back on the heat. Bubbles start to rise again. Pick up. Swirl. Repeat.

I will mention at this point that I am holding my 6 month old daughter while doing this. She woke up unexpectedly so was joining us in our baking. In the midst of my swirling and lifting, I turn my head to kiss her on the cheek. Now mind you, this takes less than 2 seconds. As I turn my head back, I hear the hissing. Yup, boiled over again. As I lift the pot, something unexpected happens…

THE STOVE CATCHES FIRE!

view the aftermath…

burning stove

I have been baking a long time and I must say this was a first. After a few seconds of panic and a little fanning, I simply lean over and blow it out. Goes out just like a marshmallow. I guess sugar fires are one of the easier household fires to extinguish.

Now if I thought it smelled like a burnt marshmallow before.. WOO! It’s like girl scout camp all over again now! The entire house is full of smoke, the fire alarms are going off and we’re opening every window in the house.

Caramel? Umm… no.

So, for the very first time I have been roundly defeated by a DBC. You win Dobos Torte! You win! But I’ll get you next time! Muwahahaha! And your little dog Toto, too…

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Peanut Butter Silk Cake

May 31, 2009

PB Cake close up

I am a peanut butter junkie.  No doubt about it.  There can be no questions regarding this fact.  The most difficult part of being pregnant was having to limit my peanut butter intake… I think I went through an entire jar in just a couple days after I delivered.

That being said, I am always on the look out for a good peanut butter cake recipe.  I’ve found that it is hard to get a good PB flavor once it’s spread through out a cake.  I’ve always used Jif before.  I’m a bit of a peanut butter snob when it comes to that.  It’s Jif or nothing for me.

Until I met P.B.Loco’s.  My first exposure to this nirvana was through a jar a friend brought back for me from NYC.  It was PB mixed with dark chocolate.  Pure. Heaven. I ate it out of the jar with a spoon… so did my hubby.

Needless to say the jar did not last long, so, being the internet junkie that I am, I promptly hit the net looking for a website, and naturally, they have one. I browsed around and signed up for their mailing list.  When I first went to their site, the chocolate variety was not available so I left empty handed.  A few weeks later, however, I got an email from them offering a free jar of their Dreamy Creamy when you I bought 3 other jars and this time they had the chocolate! Woohoo!

So, contrary to my usual snobbery, I’m going to try a cake I’ve made before with Jif (which had the previously mentioned small flavor) with P.B. Loco’s Dreamy Creamy!

Now before I go in to the differences between the cakes, I want to point out that when they are fresh out of the oven they both taste like a giant peanut butter cookie.  It’s when they’ve cooled that the Jif looses most of it’s flavor…

The P.B.Loco PB cake was divine.  I was, frankly, shocked at how much more PB you could taste.  I took this cake to a friend’s cookout on Saturday and stupidly forgot to take a picture before we left the house.

This is all that remained by the time we got home…

PB Cake aftermath Oh, the humanity! Such carnage!

It was a truly scrumptious cake, though, if I do say so myself.  I think I’m going to try a PB&J cake to take to work on Monday….

**note** the recipe calls for a box yellow cake mix, but I used the recipe here, instead.

Peanut Butter Silk Cake

Prep: 15 min       Bake: 38 min      Cool: 1 hr 10 min               Chill: 10 min        12 to 16 servings

1 pkg. Betty Crocker SuperMoist yellow cake mix

1 ¼ c. water

½ c creamy peanut butter

1/3 c vegetable oil

3 eggs

¼ c butter or margarine

¼ c packed brown sugar

1 c heavy whipping cream

½ c creamy peanut butter

1 recipe Creamy Chocolate Frosting (see below)

1 c chopped peanuts, if desired

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Generously grease bottoms only of 2 round pans, 8 or 9 x 1 ½ inches, with shortening.
  2. Make cake mix as directed on package, using water, ½ cup peanut butter, the oil and eggs. Pour into pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 38 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Run knife around side of pans to loosen cakes; remove from pans to wire rack.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  4. Melt butter in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat; stir in brown sugar. Heat to boiling; boil and stir 1 minute.  Remove from heat. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
  5. Beat whipping cream in chilled medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form; set aside. Beat ½ cup peanut butter and the brown sugar mixture in another medium bowl on medium speed until smooth and creamy.  Add whipped cream to peanut butter mixture; beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  6. Split each cake layer horizontally to make 2 layers. Fill each layer with about 2/3 cup peanut butter mixture to within ½ inch of edge. Frost side and top of cake with frosting. Press chopped peanuts into frosting on side of cake. Store covered in refrigerator.

Creamy Chocolate Frosting

Prep: 15 min       12 to 16 servings, about 2 cups

3 c powdered sugar

1/3 c butter or margarine, softened

2 tsp vanilla

3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled

3 to 4 tablespoons milk

  1. Mix powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl with spoon or with electric mixer on low speed. Stir in vanilla and chocolate.
  2. Gradually beat in just enough milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too thick, beat in more milk, a few drops at a time. If frosting becomes too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar.

* Generously frosts a 13×9-inch cake, or fills and frosts an 8- or 9-inch two-layer cake.

Recipe from Betty Crocker’s Ultimate Cake Mix Cookbook

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Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake – Daring Baker’s April 2009

April 28, 2009

This month’s Daring Baker’s challenge was care of the lovely Jenny of Jenny Bakes chose Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake!

I have never made a cheesecake before, so I was really looking forward to giving this a go.  The rules were very lenient this month, so we could be as creative as we wanted..

Now I love me some lime, especially Key lime, so I couldn’t help myself.  It had to be a Key lime cheesecake. But did I stop at one Key lime cheesecake?  Heck no!  I tried two.  The first is a Key lime-coconut and the second is a Key lime pomegranate.

Key Lime Coconut Cheesecake

crust:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ cup shredded sweetened coconut

cheesecake:
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lime zest, grated
2/3 c key lime juice
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

topping:

1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan (8 or 9 inch. I used a Springform). You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, zest, key lime juice, and alcohol (if using) and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Next, make the coconut cream.

6. Put the cream and 1 cup of the coconut in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly.  Continue to cook and stir until the cream is reduced by half and the mixture is slightly thickened. Allow to cool then spread onto the top of the cheese cake, and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Key Lime Pomegranate Cheesecake

crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp.
1 tsp. vanilla extract

cheesecake:
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lime zest, grated

1/3 c key lime juice
1 tbsp pomegranate-flavored Pama liqueur

Pomegranate seeds for garnish

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan (8 or 9 inch. I used a Springform). You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, zest, key lime juice, Pama and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, garnish with pomegranate seeds and it is ready to serve.

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L ‘Opéra Cake – May Daring Baker’s Challenge

May 28, 2008

Caramel Vanilla Hazelnut Opera 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. You know you wanted to know all that 😉

The Opera cake was amazing!  And so easy to make!  The only problem I had was, as always, with the mousse.  I seem to be incapable of getting a smooth mousse.  They are always lumpy, no matter what the recipe.  But it was delicious anyway!  The caramel, vanilla and hazelnut were a beautiful combination.

One note, I made my Opera Cake half the size because I did not have two pans that were large enough, and at half size the mousse and buttercream were just enough.  So either half the recipe for the cake or double the recipes for the mousse and buttercream!

A Taste of Light: Opéra Cake

This recipe is based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion.

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)
•parchment paper
•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)

Ingredients:
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 cups ground blanched hazelnuts (Note: you can make it at home by grinding hazelnuts 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 nuts from turning oily or pasty in the processor. You will need about 2 cups to create enough almond meal for this cake.)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp 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 425F. (220C).
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.I f 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.)

Ingredients:
½ cup water
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. of Frangelico

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.)

Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
seeds of one vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

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 225F 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 flavoring 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 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.)
Caramel sauce and mousse
3 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin

2 3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 3/4 cups whipping cream, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream


Make caramel sauce and mousse:

1. Pour 3 tablespoons water into ramekin or custard cup. Sprinkle with gelatin; let soften while preparing caramel sauce.

2. Combine sugar, corn syrup and 3/4 cup water in heavy large saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves, frequently brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Increase heat; boil without stirring until syrup turns deep golden brown, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 10 minutes.

3. Remove from heat. Add 1 3/4 cups cream and butter (caramel will bubble up vigorously). Return to low heat; stir until any bits of caramel dissolve.

4. Pour 1 1/2 cups caramel sauce into glass measuring cup; set aside pan of caramel sauce. Place ramekin with gelatin mixture in small skillet of simmering water. Stir until gelatin dissolves and mixture is clear, about 1 minute.

5. Mix gelatin into measured 1 1/2 cups hot caramel; cool just to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

6. Beat chilled whipping cream in large bowl to medium-firm peaks (do not overbeat). Gradually pour cooled caramel-gelatin mixture over cream, folding constantly but gently.

7. Chill mousse 15 minutes.

For the glaze
(Note: It’s best to make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake.)

Vanilla Bean Glaze

½ cup vanilla bean infused confectioner’s sugar

2 tsp Silk French Vanilla Soy Creamer

¼ teaspoon vanilla paste

1. Combine in a small bowl, adding more creamer to reach desired consistency
2. Pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula smooth the glaze 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).
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

2. 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.

3. Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavored syrup.

4. Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer.

5. Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square.

6. Moisten these pieces with the flavored syrup.

7. Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde.

8. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

9. 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.

10. Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake.

11. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.
Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

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Angel Food Cake

May 24, 2008

Angel Food top shot

This recipe came together very easily and with no problems.  The only thing I had was a large air bubble on the bottom, but that’s my own fault since I didn’t run a knife through the mix to get it out.  Oh well, it baked well and tasted scrumptious!

Angel Food Cake

This classic sponge cake is thought to have originated with German settlers—a thrifty use of the many egg whites left over after making noodles. Apocryphal perhaps … delicious nonetheless.

Active time: 30 min Start to finish: 2 hr

Serves 8

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups large egg whites (10 to 11)
1 tablespoon warm water
1 cup sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
1 1/4 cups superfine granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Special equipment: a 10- by 4-inch tube pan with removable bottom and a standing electric mixer

Accompaniment: sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Put whites and water in a very clean large metal bowl and swirl over simmering water or a gas flame until barely warm. Sift together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and ginger 4 times onto a sheet of wax paper.

Beat whites in standing electric mixer on medium speed until frothy. Add vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt. Increase speed to medium-high and beat just until soft peaks begin to form. Gradually beat in remaining cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, occasionally scraping down side of bowl. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. (Do not overbeat.) Sift one third of flour mixture over whites. Beat on low speed just until blended. Sift and beat in remaining flour in 2 more batches.

Gently pour batter into ungreased tube pan and smooth top.

Run a rubber spatula or long knife through batter to eliminate any large air bubbles.

Bake cake in lower third of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Remove cake from oven and immediately invert pan. (If pan has “legs,” stand it on those. Otherwise, place pan over neck of a bottle.) Cool cake completely, upside down.Turn pan right side up. Run a long, thin knife around outer edge of pan with a smooth (not sawing) motion. Do the same around center tube. Remove outer rim of pan and run knife under bottom of cake to release. Invert to release cake from tube, and invert again onto a serving plate.

Serve cake with whipped cream and berries.

Cooks’ notes:
• Angel food cake was traditionally torn apart using 2 forks or a many-pronged cake breaker to preserve its prized texture; however, gently sawing with a modern serrated knife also works well.
• Cake may be made 1 day ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.

 

Run a rubber spatula or long knife through batter to eliminate any large air bubbles.

Bake cake in lower third of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Remove cake from oven and immediately invert pan. (If pan has “legs,” stand it on those. Otherwise, place pan over neck of a bottle.) Cool cake completely, upside down. Turn pan right side up. Run a long, thin knife around outer edge of pan with a smooth (not sawing) motion. Do the same around center tube. Remove outer rim of pan and run knife under bottom of cake to release. Invert to release cake from tube, and invert again onto a serving plate.

Serve cake with whipped cream and berries.