March 27, 2008

Party Cake

Here goes another fun Daring Baker Challenge. I enjoyed the flexibility of this recipe and decided to make a chocolate frosting, I also substituted unsweetened coconut milk for the milk/buttermilk in the recipe. The result was a very moist cake. I made a simple frosting out of 1 part Melted dark chocolate slightly cooled to 2 parts mascarpone cheese, just those two ingredients whipped on medium with a hand mixer.
thanks to Morven for the challenge:

Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours

For the Cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour (updated 25 March)
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 degrees 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, 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.

January 29, 2008

Lemon Meringue Pie

My second Daring Bakers challenge completed. I love lemon meringue, who knew. My pie worked out great and was a big hit at my dinner party. I would probably use a different crust recipe next time or at least add about 1/4 cup more flour to this one since it was a little to runny. I thought this dough was too good to be true when it was so easy to work with. I used meyer lemon for the filling. To look at more Daring bakers pie pics clink on there link in my -stuff to check out-and go through the blogroll.

Lemon Meringue Pie
(from "Wanda's Pie in the Sky" by Wanda Beaver)

For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make 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 1/8 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 1/2 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.

To Make 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.

To Make 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.

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

January 6, 2008

banana (or apple) fritters

I came across this recipe for fritters in an old book my mom had gotten as a wedding shower gift, it's called "Cook Like a Peasant, Eat Like a King" by Maria Luisa Scott and Jack Scott. I made them using bananas sliced on a diagonal about 3/4 of an inch thick. I used 3 bananas and just mixed them into the batter and then dropped each slice along with extra batter using a large tablespoon into the oil. Then drained them for a second and rolled them in caster sugar and cinnamon. They were really delicious! This dough recipe is really yummy, kind of like a zeppole or funnel cake. The yeast in the beer transforms the dough into a raised donut like consistency.

December 27, 2007

apple fritters

I love apple fritters. And have been wanting to try my hand at a donut recipe. I found one for plain dumpling shaped fritters in a Donna Hay magazine and decided to convert it to an apple fritter recipe. I was happy with the results. Instead of most of the apple fritter recipes I found that dipped the apples in a light batter these were about equal parts dough to apple. Resulting in sort of a caramelized apple stuffed donut.

Here is the recipe adapted from a Donna Hay sugar and cinnamon fritter recipe:

3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 tbsp light brown sugar
3 tbsp butter

1 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
safflower or vegetable oil for frying

Combine first 3 ingredients in a saucepan and sauteed on med high until the apples start to brown but are still crisp. Pour into a bowl lined with a paper towel to drain and set aside.

Combine next 2 ingredients in a bowl and set aside to use for dipping.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan until hot. While your waiting for the oil to heat up, whisk the eggs, milk and 1/2 cup of caster sugar until sugar dissolves. Then whisk the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and whisk just until lumps disappear. Fold in the apples. Drop batter by 1/3 cup size scoops into hot oil and fry turning once until golden all over. Drain on a rack over paper towel and immediately toss in sugar cinnamon mixture. Makes about 12.

December 22, 2007

Yule Log-Daring Baker Challenge

Well, I suspect this was not the most photogenic daring baker challenge. It did taste really great though. I loved the coffee buttercream frosting and I decided to fill mine with chocolate pudding. I made and assembled it the day before and the pudding really moistened the cake. I also made the genoise into a chocolate cake. I ended up with a mocha flavored Yule Log which I brought to a birthday party. I'm sure it was the most unusual birthday cake my friend Greg has ever had. I would definitely recommend the chocolate pudding recipe I used as a filling. I'm sure I'll use it again as a cake filling, it has a nice creamy consistency. Here is a link to the recipe: Chocolate Pudding Recipe
Check out the Daring Bakers blog list for other yule log photos and stories.

November 30, 2007

italian pearl pasta with cauliflower and mushrooms

This is a yummy side dish I came up with the other night to accompany grilled lamb chops.

1/8 pound pearl shaped pasta
1 shallot, chopped
1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
10 small brown mushrooms, sliced
olive oil, for sauteing
1 tbsp butter
sea salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp grated parmesan

Boil a small saucepan of water and add pasta and 1 tsp of salt, cook until soft (this pasta is not good al dente), drain and set aside. While pasta cooks saute shallots and mushrooms in olive oil until browned, salt mushrooms and set aside. In a pan large enough to fit cauliflower so all the florets are touching the bottom of the pan, add butter and 1 tbsp olive oil. When butter begins to sizzle add cauliflower and cook until it browns on one side. Then add about 1/4 inch of water and put a lid on the pan. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, uncover and cook until water evaporates. Add pasta, mushrooms and parmesan cheese to the cauliflower and toss to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 2-4 people as a side dish.

November 28, 2007

chocolate chip cookies

This is a great crispy chocolate chip cookie recipe. It's really simple and has few ingredients. I adapted it from a recipe for candied ginger cookies in Food and Wine magazine. Sometimes crispy chocolate chip cookies are also really greasy, not so with these.

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 stick (1/4 pound) butter, softened
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
4.5 ounces chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla and blend to combine. Beat in the dry ingredients. Fold in the chocolate. Transfer dough to a sheet of parchment and shape into a log. Wrap in the parchment and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Slice into 1/2 inch rounds and bake on cookie sheet with silpat or parchment liner. Bake for 10-20 minutes or until golden.