Archive for the ‘daring bakers’ Category

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Sweet and Savory Strudel – May 2009 Daring Baker’s Challenge

May 27, 2009

1st berries and cream strudel Savory meat strudel Second berries and cream strudel

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

I have to admit, coming into this challenge, I was not entirely sure what a strudel really was.  I mean, I’d heard of them.  They’re in the song from The Sound of Music and all, but I don’t think I’ve every actually seen one in person.  Well the joys of Google enlightened me as to what it was supposed to look like (plus all the finished products at the daring baker’s forum).

We, my friend Beth and I, opted to do a berries and cream strudel. You can find the recipes in this video. The berries makes a wonderful topping for toast or an English muffin, or heck, a spoon.  It’s super tasty without being super sweet.  The confectioner’s cream is a mild flavor but very creamy.  I think the next time I make it I’ll put a little more vanilla in.

The dough rolled out beautifully.  We used cheesecloth to roll it on and we were able to roll it out to the specified size.

1st strudel dough

Now, at the time, we thought this was great luck as we were both a bit nervous about the whole stretching process.

1st strudel dough close up

However, the end result was much too thick once it baked and broke off in chunks when you tried to eat it.  Looked like baked potato chips.

buttered dough confectioner's cream berries 1st flip rolling still rolling all done ready to bake1st strudel

Tasted lovely, but the texture was wrong.  We also forgot to put the breadcrumbs on it before we rolled it up, so there was no space between the layers to allow them to bake up and get flaky.

We’re going to try it again tonight!  I’ll let you know how it goes… we’re also going to try a savory one and put some potatoes in it too!

**EDIT** We made the second berries and cream strudel and the savory meat strudel last night.

Second berries and cream strudel Savory meat strudel

Wow!  What a difference a bit more filling, a little stretching and some breadcrumbs will do!  The second berries and cream strudel was sooo much better than the first.  It was full, flaky and just scrumptious!

Savory strudel fillingsavory strudel one side in Savory strudel 1st roll savory strudel almost rolled Savory strudel ready for the oven Savory strudel in the oven Savory strudel ready to come out Savory meat strudel

The savory meat strudel was so good.  Granted the fact that it was 10 pm before we got to eat it and we were all starving didn’t hurt, but it was still very good.  It was a little liquidy, so I think we’ll cook it a bit longer to let some of the juices evaporate next time.  It smells heavenly when it is cooking.  It nearly drove us crazy waiting for it to come out then letting it sit and cool off.  It was so worth the wait. This was my first adventure with savory as well.  I had no idea it was an herb; I just thought it was an adjective 🙂

Here’s the full DB recipe if you’d like to try your own!

Preparation time
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes

15-20 min to make dough
30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough
10 min to fill and roll dough
30 min to bake
30 min to cool

Apple strudel
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)

1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it’s about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

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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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Phew… Pregnancy is kicking my butt…

August 22, 2008

Ok, folks.  Pregnancy is kicking my butt.  When I’m not at work, I tend to be sleeping.  I love the groups I’m in and want to stay in them, but the timelines may not always be followed.  I’ve been a bit truent lately.  I’ll catch up when I can.  Hope everyone understands, if not, I understand that too.

Doing my best! I’ll bake when I’m home AND awake…

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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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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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Cheesecake Pops – April Daring Bakers Challenge

April 26, 2008

Pops Pic

Ok. Cheesecake pops. Sounded a little sketchy to me at the beginning. I’m used to “French-style” (not that, I’m sure, it’s even remotely French) cheesecake which is rather soft. I couldn’t quite grasp how in the $%^# it was going to stay on a stick… But the freezer did help, heh. It took me a while to make these. Not because it was difficult, mind you. The cheesecake did just what it was supposed to and assembly went fine. It took a while, because, in a word, I’m lazy. I made the cheesecake on Saturday. Was gonna make the pops on Sunday. Didn’t happen. Ordered Chinese and watched a movie instead. Monday? nope. Tuesday? nope. Finally, on Wednesday I decided I’d rather have cheesecake pops than the cheesecake jerky I was going to end up with if I kept letting it dry out in the fridge. So rolling I went. Messy business. Decided to get a bowl of water and wet my hands before I shaped the pops. Massive improvement and end product had a much smoother look as a result. Now you ask yourself, did I freeze them for just an hour and then coat them? Hell no. A-#1 procrastinator here. That day? nope. Friday? nope. Saturday? yup, but only because we’re supposed to post on Sunday. If not, who knows when my lazy behind would have bothered.

Now, the coatings I am proud of. I have to say, I am not a cheesecake purist. Hubby is, but not me. Straight cheesecake is ok, but I prefer some chocolate or nuts or fruit involved. So, naturally, had to do lots to my pops. Made 4 different kinds.

Skyview Pop-tini

1) Chocolate Strawberry – dipped in liquified strawberry jam then dipped in bittersweet chocolate

Chocolate Strawberry Pop

2) Double Chocolate – dipped in bittersweet chocolate then rolled in mini chocolate chips

Double Chocolate Pop

3) S’mores – dipped in melted marshmallow fluff, rolled in graham cracker crumbs, then dipped in semi-sweet chocolate

S\'mores Pop

And my personal favorite, cuz everything is better with peanut butter…

4) Peanut Butter and Chocolate – dipped in warmed peanut butter, dipped in bittersweet chocolate, then rolled in a mixture of chopped peanuts and pecans.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pop

I must say, though, my pops are waaaay bigger than they are probably supposed to be. Golf ball size, I would say, at the smallest. The first couple were pop-size, but the super stickiness of my mildly dehydrated cheesecake was irritating so they slowly started to grow until the final pops were close to racketball size or just cut wedges of cheesecake. Supposed to be 30-40 pops. How many did I make? About…20. Was not feeling this challenge.

Had lots of fun dipping the pops though. Gave me some creativity outlet. And then, of course, there was the eating of the left over dipping supplies… spoons full of peanut butter, marshmallow and mini chips? Scrumptious. Yeah, and sooo on the diet.

I’m very proud of the end result. The pops were darn tasty and came out super cute, imho. Thanks to Elle & Deborah for the super challenge from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor!

Check out the other fab DBers!

Pop-tini

Make your own! Just try not to be as lazy as me!

Cheesecake Pops

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature

2 cups sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

5 large eggs

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ cup heavy cream

Boiling water as needed

Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks

1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)

Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) – Optional

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose its shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

P.S. I didn’t post on the 26th (that would be early) the time stamp on my blog is all woogie and it doesn’t matter how many times I fix it it always goes back…

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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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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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January Daring Bakers Challenge – Luscious Lemon Merengue Pie!

February 1, 2008

Lemon Meringue Pie

Mmm… Lemon Meringue… nothing is quite as tasty. This DB Challenge was full of firsts for me. I’ve never made my own pie crust (thanks to Pillsbury), I’ve never made my own filling (thanks to Jell-o), and I’ve never made meringue (because I never liked it when my mother made it growing up). So as far as challenges go, this was a big one!

I had some problems with my pie crust (no weights or beans). It liked to, sort of, slip down into the pie pan. This results in more of a pie crust flavored cookie at the bottom. Still quite tasty, but not the look I was going for!

The filling… Wow, but that was a lot of stirring, and of course I didn’t read ahead through the recipe and my lemon juice and zest were not ready, so as I’m frantically mixing, Karoline is frantically juicing/zesting so everything, hopefully, will be ready. It all worked out in the end, but, boy, we were in fast forward there for a bit!

The meringue… words cannot describe that joyous little mixture. I don’t know what my mother was making, but it definitely wasn’t this. Mmm…

In addition to the Lemon, we made a Key Lime version as well, just substituting the Lime for the Lemon. No other changes. It was super tart the night we made it, but mellowed out by the next morning and was super tasty!

slice close up

All in all, the challenge was a huge success! I aquired a new found love of meringue, and learned some new stuff! Thanks DBers!

And here’s a recipe for you!

Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:

¾ cup cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ tsp salt

cup ice water

For the Filling:

2 cups water

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup cornstarch

5 egg yolks, beaten

¼ cup butter

¾ cup fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp lemon zest

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Meringue:

5 egg whites, room temperature

½ tsp cream of tartar

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp vanilla extract

¾ cup granulated sugar

For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.


For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.

Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.


For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Daring Bakers Extra Challenge
Free-Style Lemon Tartlets


Prepare the recipe as above but complete the following steps:

To roll out tartlet dough, slice the dough into 6 pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll each circle of dough into a 5 inch disk. Stack the disks, separated by pieces of plastic wrap, on a plate, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To bake the dough, position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF (180ºC). Place the disks of dough, evenly spaced, on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.

To finish tartlets, first place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and increase heat to 425ºF.

Divide the lemon filling equally among the disks, mounding it in the centre and leaving a 1-inch border all the way around.

Spoon the meringue decoratively over each tartlet, right to the edges, in dramatic swirling peaks. Return tartlets to oven and bake for about 5 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown.

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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.

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