Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'm Late, For A Very Important Date!

All day yesterday I kept thinking "Oh, I really need to write up my Daring Bakers post", which was quickly followed by "I have all day; I'll do it tonight"... Woops! As you can see, it didn't happen. In my defense, I'm right in the middle of a horrible cold and yesterday was jam packed full of things to do (which I really didn't feel up to). I didn't even end up getting home until 10:30pm, by which time I just wanted to curl up in bed with a bowl of Mi Goreng and watch The F Word finale. So I did. But now I'm feeling really guilty that I didn't just bite the bullet and write a really quick post!

This is my second challenge as a Daring Baker, so I was quite excited that we were making a layer cake. I don't get to make them often, but they are one of my favourite things to bake. Chris of Mele Cotte chose a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. Now (again) I wasn't completely sure what a Filbert even was (yes I know... cobbler, galette... honestly I'm not as daft as it seems!). Apparently they are just cousins to the hazelnut, which is what I decided to use.

The whole recipe was quite the process, but I enjoyed it nonetheless (even if I was in a major rush to complete the cake in about half the time recommended). Personally, I would not use a 10 inch pan for this recipe as I was lucky enough to be able to slice it in half, let alone 3 layers! My cake seemed to rise enough, and it was light and fluffy- I just think it would work much better with a smaller pan. The second mistake was using 70% valrhona chocolate for the ganache. It overpowered the cake too much. I should have used around 60%. I'm sure there are a few other mistakes, but the third I thought was not reading around to find out the best way to pour ganache over a cake. I wish I had made my cake after reading the tutorial posted on Daisy Lane Cakes. Instead I ended up with some not so smooth ganache. Forgive the decorations- like I said, I was in a major rush to get somewhere!

Unfortunately I didn't get any photo's of the sliced cake, as we took it to S's sisters house and forgot the camera.

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Genoise

Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.

1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.

Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers

1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Wait! My buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.

Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Apricot Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.

Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake

**Ganache can take on many forms. While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.

Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.

Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake. As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting. Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.

Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center. The leaves should overlap. Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie 3: Not So Summer Fruit Galette

I'm really enjoying making fruit desserts since I usually lean more toward chocolate or creamy ones. This week's Tuesdays With Dorie challenge (Summer Fruit Galette) was chosen by Michelle from Michelle in Colorado Springs; and it was a great choice at that. Again, like the cobbler, I wasn't too sure what a galette was! I have to say that I am really loving working with pastry recipes so often. Not only do I love pastry of all kinds, but it's really interesting to see how many variations there are; even small changes in quantities or ingredients yield such different results. Now my only concern with the challenge was that it's not Summer in Australia at the moment! What to do... Well I have to say that rhubarb has really grown on me, so why not make the most of it during the season (didn't I just use it last week for the cobbler??) Highly unusual for me to be using fruits so often in desserts let alone rhubarb. Just like the cobbler, the galette was full of wonderful surprises- delicious! I've actually made it three times in the past week (with another serve of dough in the fridge right now...) I'm really looking forward to experimenting with other fruits, especially when Summer hits.

I used homemade strawberry jam (thanks mum!) and rhubarb in all three galettes. The first two contained the custard, but since I couldn't resist serving it with ice cream all three times, I decided to omit the custard the third time and it was still delicious. The custard would really make a difference if you were eating it sans ice cream though (even if it does look a little... green).

Unfortunately, due to my huge scoop of ice cream, you can't really see much of the galette!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie 2: Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

Well I don't know about you, but when I heard that this week's Tuesdays With Dorie challenge was a cobbler, my initial reaction was "and that is..."? I've never really heard of a cobbler before (I don't think it's very common in Australia). My next thoughts were "Cherry and Rhubarb"? Rhubarb and me don't really get along- I don't really appreciate its flavour and in return it leaves me with a horrible squeaking feeling in my mouth afterwards. Cooked properly though, I have come to enjoy it... slightly.

So it came as a big surprise to me that I actually loved this dessert! I cut the rhubarb smaller than Dorie recommended which resulted in it dissolving, creating a subtle flavour. In my cobbler, the cherry's were definitely the main attraction. This is what I love about Tuesdays With Dorie; I'm cooking things I would never usually choose to cook myself, and it's been a revelation for me! Thanks to Amanda from Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake for choosing this weeks recipe.

I didn't peel the rhubarb and it turned out fine- not stringy at all. I also didn't have any ground ginger on hand, so I used a little bit of ground cinnamon instead. Oh and I also used dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar.

Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler
(makes 8 servings)

For the filling

1 pound sweet red cherries, pitted and halved

12 ounces (about 4 long fat stalks) rhubarb, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground ginger

For the topping

3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into about 18 pieces

1/2 cup whole milk

Getting ready...

Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8 inch square baking pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

To make the filling...

Mix the cherries and rhubarb together in a medium bowl and stir in the sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Stir the fruit from time to time while you make the topping.

To make the topping...

Put both flours, the brown sugar, baking powder, salt and ginger in the food processor. Pulse a couple of times just to blend. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and, using 1 to 2 second long pulses, mix in the butter until the dough looks like very coarse meal with a bunch of pea size pieces tossed in. Continuing to pulse the machine, add the milk, then pulse until the dough forms moist clumps and curds. Try not to process the dough so long that it firms a ball on the blade. Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface.

Cut the dough into 20 pieces and gently shape each piece into a ball. Don't worry about making the pieces perfectly round- the important thing is to not handle the dough too much or too roughly.

Pour the fruit and its syrupy liquid into the buttered pan and top it with the biscuit puffs, making 4 rows of 5 puffs each. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden and the fruit is bubbling away. Remove the pan from the oven and cool the cobbler on a rack for at least 20 minutes.


The cobbler can be served as soon as it is not mouth-searingly hot, or you can wait until it reaches room temperature. You can even serve it chilled, but the texture of the topping isn't as nice when it's cold. It almost goes without saying that the cobbler is great with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Cherry vanilla would be even better.


This is best eaten the day it is made- in fact, soon after it is made.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Most Extaordinary French Lemon Cream Tart + Italian Meringue = Love

I'm not a huge citrus dessert fan, but this has to be one of my favourite desserts. I first saw this spectacular tart on foodbeam months ago, but never seemed to have a reason to make an entire tart. I'd been telling friends for months to expect a lemon meringue tart on their next visit- sadly always letting them down! Enough was enough and I was determined to make this tart if it was the last thing I ever did. Well... wow! It was delicious- like no other lemon meringue tart I'd ever had before (even at Chouquette). The process is pretty simple; it's the waiting that's an issue really. The lemon cream must sit overnight, and so must the pastry I used too (Fanny's recipe for Pate Sucree) The first time I made this tart, something must have gone wrong (butter didn't emulsify properly?) because after chilling overnight, the next day the lemon cream was rock hard! At the time I didn't know this was an issue, assuming it was what happened, but this second time I made it, the lemon cream was silky soft when I retrieved it from the fridge the next day. I actually didn't use Fanny's recipe for Pate Sucree this time, and thought I would try out Dorie Greenspan's Sweet Tart Dough. Dorie's recipe was quite nice, however I do much prefer Fanny's.

The first lemon meringue tart I made was for S's mum. She has never been a big fan of lemon meringue tart, but in her words, the one I had made was 'divine'. Anyway word had got around to S's sister (who lives an hour away) and she felt she was really missing out! So that's how this lemon meringue tart came about.

I didn't really want to deal with making an Italian Meringue while visiting family, so I took the risk and made it beforehand. Luckily, it was fine, though not as good as it would have been had it not been on an hour long car drive! I took the lemon cream and the pre baked tart shell separately and assembled it when we got there. Well, S's sister's son couldn't keep his little hands away from the lemon cream! I wouldn't think lemon would go down a treat on a toddler's tastebuds but apparently he loves to eat lemons like oranges. We gave him one little spoon of the leftover cream and from then on we couldn't get him to stop saying "more some"! When there was no lemon cream left he started crying! But when the tart was ready to eat, he got his fair share (along with some of mine!)

I can't imagine anyone not loving this lemon meringue tart...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: SnackPack . . .

Well this is technically my first week baking with Tuesday's with Dorie, but I did bake along with them last week for the Deep Dish Blueberry Pie. Unfortunately we ate the pies so quickly I didn't get any photos! Needless to say, they were absolutely delicious!

This weeks recipe was chosen by Melissa from Its Melissas Kitchen; Chocolate Pudding. I love creamy desserts, and I love chocolate so how could I not love this? The recipe was really simple, so it would be great for when friends come for dinner; especially since it needs to be made in advance.

I was really pressed for time sourcing ingredients for this recipe, so I was only able to get my hands on Lindt 70% chocolate. The Lindt was ok, but next time I will definitely be using my favourite, Valrhona. I'll probably even add some Valrhona crunchy chocolate pearls for texture. Here I made a poor attempt at a quenelle of sweetened cream and finished it with a grating of chocolate.

Oh, and S said it reminded him of a better version of those SnackPacks he ate growing up.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Super Mario Kart

My friend ‘Big C’ (as she affectionately wants to be known as) recently celebrated her 6th anniversary with her boyfriend, P. A few month’s ago P got a Nintendo Wii and we have all been addicted ever since- especially to Super Mario Kart (oh the childhood memories). For P’s birthday earlier in the year I really want to make him some Super Mario Kart cupcakes that I had seen on hello_naomi’s flickr account (adorable). Unfortunately I didn’t have the time, but I had been thinking about the next opportunity to make these wonderful cupcakes. Now I would usually leave the anniversary celebrations to those parties actually involved, but this was my chance!

I’m not a huge fan of rolled fondant, so I decided to try out marshmallow fondant as I had heard so many good things about it. It was pretty simple to make and the taste was fine- though nothing beats swiss meringue buttercream in my mind. Since these cupcakes were so cute I thought that was enough to make up for the suboptimal taste. Now is the part where I praise Naomi for her patience and artistic talent! Oh my god… these took me so long to make! All those tiny details really do add up. I was up until 3:30 am (even with the help of S) and even then I didn’t finish them. Sleeping won out and I thought I’d be able to finish them in the morning easily before meeting Big C for lunch. Wrong. I was racing around at the last minute like a maniac, completely stressing out about not finishing them as well as not being able to meet Big C before she left for her weekend away. By some miracle I did finish and I admit they are not perfect and angelic like Naomi’s but hey, they are still pretty cute!