Archive for the ‘Karoline’ Category

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Macarons – October 2009 Daring Baker’s Challenge

October 27, 2009

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

The recipe for this challenge calls for almond flour. Now I’m not a huge fan of almond flavor in anything but an actual almond so I was ecstatic to read that we could substitute any other nut we wanted! I immediately searched the internet for hazelnut flour and pecan flour. My two favorite nut baking flavors. While I found both I ultimately decided to go with pecan flour/meal that I found here.

I grew up eating fantastic pecan pie. My grandfather was from Alabama and he told stories about getting sent to the neighbor’s house, with a brown paper bag, to collect pecans then having to shell them for his momma’s pecan pie. He always used her recipe and no pecan pie has ever come close to the ones he used to make. Believe me, we’ve all tried.

Since no one can get it as good, I started making chocolate pecan pies. Very tasty and still sparks the memories without the ultimate disappointment of a lesser pie. And since chocolate pecan pie is my very favorite kind of pie now and when I think of fall I think of that pie I decided to do a chocolate pecan pie macaroon. Yum!

To make these I substituted pecan flour for the almond flour in the recipe below.

macaron half

Then I put a layer of dark chocolate on the bottom of each cookie. Everything’s better with dark chocolate, in my opinion!

chocolate

Last I made this recipe for pecan pie filling, added about a 1/2 a cup of chopped pecans and sandwiched it between two macaroons.

filling shot

Presto!

macaron close up

Chocolate Pecan Pie Macaroon! Yummo!

You gotta try one!

Original challenge recipe below!

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups Confectioners’ sugar
2 cups almond flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 egg whites, at room temperature

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F. Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Yield: 10 dozen.

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S’mores Bars

September 6, 2009

S'mores Brownie top

I found this recipe on Peabody‘s blog the other day and thought it would be perfect to make on Saturday. You see on Saturday, some of my girlfriends and I got together for my friend Beth’s bachelorette. She wasn’t really interested in going out and wooping it up, so we had a Baking Bachelorette. Everyone came over, brought their pj’s, their favorite alcohol, and a recipe with fixings to bake. Whenever I think of a sleepover I think of Girl Scout camp at Bear Creek and S’mores, so this was the perfect recipe to stumble upon.

The bars are FANTASTIC!! They are sticky and gooey and just… mmm! Scrumdidiliumptious! Thanks Peabody for hooking me up with such a winning recipe!

S'mores Brownie side

S’mores Bars

Graham Cracker Crust

2 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs (15-17 crackers)…I used 18
1/3  cup granulated sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
Fudge Brownie Filling:

6 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup plus 2 TBSP unsalted butter, chopped into TBSP sized pieces
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups pecan halves, chopped
4 cups (packed) miniature marshmallows

Line a 10 x 15x 2 inch glass baking dish with foil, leaving a 1-inch over hang around the top edge of the pan. Smooth out any big wrinkles in the foils and then lightly coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a small bowl. Gradually add the melted butter until the crumbs just hold together when squeezed in your palm. Press the mixture into an even ¼ inch layer on the bottom of th prepared pan. Run a smooth bottomed measuring cup over the crust to pack and level it.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a large bowl that fists a double boiler. Place the bowl over barely simmering water and stir as needed until the chocolate and butter are melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, followed by the beaten eggs and vanilla extract. Stir in the flour, mixing until smooth. Pour the batter on top of the graham cracker crust and level with a small offset spatula.

Scatter chopped nuts evenly over the batter. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in brownie center comes out with dark, damp crumbs on it. Do not overbake. Set on a wire rack and cool completely in the pan.

Distribute the marshmallows evenly over the brownie top. Place the pan under the broiler in the top third of the oven for about 1 minute, or until he marshmallows are puffy and golden brown. Watch carefully and rotate the pan regularly, as the marshmallow can easily burn. Cool until the topping is firm and easily cut without sticking.

Remove the brownies from the pan in one block by gently pulling up on the foil overhang. Place directly on a cutting board. Remove all foil and cut into 2-inch squares. For the neatest cuts, use a sharp knife, wiped clean with a warm, damp cloth between slices.

Adapted from Cookie Swap by Julie M. Usher

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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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TWD – Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte

August 26, 2008

This week’s recipe was chosen by Amy of Food, Family and Fun. And she chose the Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte on pages 288-289.

This recipe was simple to make, but time consuming, if you followed the time guidelines in the recipe.  I cheated a little on the “set up” times but had to let it freeze for a long time for the final freeze (probably b/c of the previous cheating, heh)

For the ganache, I used Ghiradelli’s Bittersweet 60% chocolate chips and regualar eggs.  If you are concerned with the fact that the eggs do not get cooked, you can either get pasturized eggs, heat the mixture to 140 degrees for 3 1/2 minutes, or leave the eggs out.  The eggs are there to help the texture of the ganache at the cold temperture of the freezer.

For the ice cream filling, I used Edy’s Double Vanilla and frozen strawberries in syrup.  I would have preferred to use raspberry (which is my favorite) as the recipe calls for, but frozen raspberries in syrup, apparantly, don’t exist around me.

The ganache came together very well.  By the end it was getting very thick and hard to whisk!  I need to work on my whisk muscles!  The ice cream and berries was very tempting in the food processor… looked like one huge strawberry milk shake, but I managed to only eat a little >.>

When putting the layers together, I left the ganache to chill for the full 30 minutes, but the ice cream was stiff enough after about 5-10, so I was able to shave a little time there.

The end result is very pretty but VERY rich.  Small pieces dear readers!  Small pieces! Phew!

So, in closing, very worth it!  It is very rich so you can get several pieces out of it, so very good for dinner parties or family gatherings!

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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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