Daring Bakers: Cheesecake Pops

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Admin, Daring Bakers, Food Blogging Event

I’m seriously not wanting to flake on this month’s Daring Bakers challenge, so this is acting as a placeholder for the entry, which will be late for two reasons: first, I seriously have no fridge space or freezer space at the moment, and need to use a few things up to make a bit of room, and second, I’m trying to find a way to scale down the recipe as well, so I don’t end up with more than a dozen or so pops – with my surgery and my lactose intolerance, the existing recipe would send me into a sugar coma. Have any of you other Daring Bakers been able to scale it down to like 25% of the original recipe successfully?

Stay tuned…

Daring Bakers: Perfect Party Cake

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Daring Bakers, Food Blogging Event, Holiday, Recipes

Well, I promised you all that I would finish posting about our Easter Dinner. Since I rejoined The Daring Bakers this month, I decided to make this month’s recipe, Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake, as the culmination to our Easter feast. I can assure you it really was much more pretty than this picture makes you think. I took the picture with really low light, unfortunately.

partycake

As for what I thought about the cake? I’m not a big frosting gal (much of the time I find it much too heavy/sweet), but this hot meringue-based frosting was light and fluffy and not overpowering. The lemony smoothness paired perfectly with the raspberry in the filling. The cake itself was light and tender. Some of the Daring Bakers had problems with it rising, but I alleviated that by using less flour (or cake flour) and buttermilk, and beating the crap out of the egg white/buttermilk mix before mixing it with everything else. It truly wasn’t a lot of work to produce a really stunning cake. Be sure to stop by the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see how everyone else made out with the cake.

Perfect Party Cake
Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours(page 250).

Stick a bright-coloured Post-it to this page, so you’ll always know where to turn for a just-right cake for any celebration. The original recipe was given to me by my great dear friend Nick Malgieri, of baking fame, and since getting it, I’ve found endless opportunities to make it – you will too. The cake is snow white, with an elegant tight crumb and an easygoing nature: it always bakes up perfectly; it is delicate on the tongue but sturdy in the kitchen – no fussing when it comes to slicing the layers in half or cutting tall, beautiful wedges for serving; and, it tastes just as you’d want a party cake to taste – special. The base recipe is for a cake flavoured with lemon, layered with a little raspberry jam and filled and frosted with a classic (and so simple) pure white lemony hot-meringue buttercream but, because the elements are so fundamental, they lend themselves to variation, making the cake not just perfect, but also versatile.

For the Cake
2 1/4 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

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.

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, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.

Daring Baker? More Like Procrastinating Baker!

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Daring Bakers, Food Blogging Event, Life

For those of you stopping by to see my Daring Baker self make a beautiful batch of bagels, I’m sorry to disappoint. I just plum forgot.

I didn’t occur to me until I saw Lisa’s DB post today that it was that time of the month! (Or that it was, in fact, this late in the month, LOL) – here I’ve been walking around the past week thinking that it was like June 21st right now, and that I’d have time this upcoming weekend to make the bagels.

Unfortunately, I feel really crappy right now (I have good days and bad days, and I overworked myself this past weekend and am paying for it now), so the earliest I’m going to be able to try this recipe is on Sunday (because I can’t do the kneading on my own, between the arthritis and the carpal tunnel syndrome I’d be in misery by the end of the day), once I’ve sufficiently recovered from last weekend and the first day my darling husband will be off of work and able to help (technically, he’s not working Saturday either, but you all know I spend nearly all day going to the farmers market and running errands).

So consider this a placeholder - I’m not shirking my Daring Baker duties, just gonna be a little bit late, that’s all…

Daring Bakers: Gateau St. Honore

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Daring Bakers, Food Blogging Event

After failing miserably at the crepe cake last month, I knew that I’d have to buckle down and prove myself this month as a Daring Baker rather than a pathetic baker, no matter how many screw-ups and no matter how many retries it took. And believe me, there were screw-ups. Lots of them. Starting with the $10 box of puff pastry that we absolutely ruined beyond repair when we first attempted this recipe on Thursday. And then the fact we had the wrong tips (decorators instead of pastry) and had to make a very expensive trip to Sur La Table (because I had to get the mechanical gun instead of more bags, and lots of other things as I always do when I go to Sur La Table – other women buy shoes, I buy cookware and kitchen gadgets), ending with gross looking pate a choux (clumpy) that we had to do over again. Excuse the crappy picture, by the time I got done it was night time and had to settle for the crappy indoor light and flash in my kitchen rather than outside, where I WANTED to photograph it.

gateau

Our Daring Bakers project this month was a Gateau St. Honore, a cake in honor of the patron saint of bakers. It’s one that is often used in pastry school finals because it encompasses many of the basic methods – pate a choux, puff pastry, diplomat creme, caramel, etc. And because of the complexity of the recipe (I get nervous with multi-step recipes, it’s one reason I’d never be a professional chef of any kind), I was feeling out of my league before I even began. But I definitely was determined to make a go of it, no matter how it ended up turning out. So how did it turn out? Let’s just say I’m happy with the results. I didn’t even screw up the caramel this time. It took 2 tries with the pate a choux, but it all came out in the end. And thank God that she let us used store-bought puff pastry, because I’m definitely not ready for that yet (my poor arthritis couldn’t handle it). And I even got to incorporate some of the nummy strawberries I bought at the farmer’s market yesterday.

Be sure to check the other Daring Bakers on the sidebar for their rendition of this recipe. I’m almost afraid to see what’s in store for us next month, this one was definitely a challenge!

Daring Bakers Chocolate Crepe Cake Challenge

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Daring Bakers, Food Blogging Event, Rant, Recipes

sbdaringbaker

Bringing up the rear as always (I was supposed to post this yesterday, but procrastinator that I am, once again I’m a day late and a dollar short), just let me preface this rant by saying: I officially *hate* Martha Stewart.

Lucky enough to be accepted as one of the lovely and talented Daring Bakers, I was so ready to jump into this month’s challenge and totally rock the results. Nevermind that this would be the most complicated recipe I ever attempted in my life – I can do it!

Or not. Two piles of ruined crepes and a burnt Le Creuset saucepan later, let me just say – I’m not worthy! I will, at this point, readily admit that this recipe kicked my ass. I don’t know if it’s just that it’s a bad recipe, or a lack of skill on my part (most of the women had spectacular results after one or several tries), but I didn’t have the patience and/or funds to give this one another try. So no pics, no pretty yummy cake here at Columbus Foodie. Instead, check out the Daring Bakers links on the sidebar for some more spectacular results. And as gracious as the lot of them are, they’ve allowed me to give next month’s challenge a try. :)

For those of you brave enough to give this one a try, here’s the recipe, from the Martha Stewart website. Use it at your own risk, no refunds will be given if the recipe doesn’t work out for you (laughing):

Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake

3/4 Cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus melted for pan
8 Ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/3 Cup sugar
1/2 Teaspoon salt
2 1/2 Cups whole milk, room temperature
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Directions :
Bring 1/4 cup water to a rolling boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, whisking to combine after each addition. Remove from heat; stir in chocolate until completely melted.

Set aside. Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla in another medium bowl. Gradually add milk mixture to flour mixture, whisking until smooth. Add chocolate-butter mixture, whisking until smooth.

Pour through a fine sieve into an airtight container; discard lumps. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Lightly coat an 8-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet with melted butter. Heat over medium heat until just starting to smoke. Remove pan from heat; pour about 2 tablespoons batter into pan, swirling to cover bottom. Reduce heat to medium-low; return pan to heat. Cook, flipping once, until edges are golden and center is dry, about 30 seconds per side. Slide crepe onto a plate. Repeat process with remaining batter, coating pan with butter as needed. Crepes can be refrigerated, covered, up to 1 day.

Place a crepe on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Spread with about 3 tablespoons hazelnut filling. Top with another crepe. Continue layering with hazelnut filling and crepes, using about 32 crepes and ending with a crepe on top. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Spoon 1/2 cup glaze on top of the cake, spreading to edges. Spread remaining glaze around sides of cake, coating completely. Refrigerate until glaze is firm and set, about 20 minutes. Cake can be refrigerated up to 3 days. Garnish with toasted and candied hazelnuts.

Hazelnut Filling
Makes about 8 cups

2/3 Cup heavy cream
6 large egg whites
1 2/3 Cups sugar
1 3/4 Cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 Cup hazelnut cream, (available from Whole Foods Market, www.wholefoods.com)
1 (tsp?) salt

Put cream into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Whisk egg whites and sugar in the clean bowl of mixer set over a pan of simmering water until sugar has dissolved and mixture registers 160 degrees;, 2 to 3 minutes.

Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the clean whisk attachment; beat on high speed until slightly cooled and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 5 minutes. Fit mixer with paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter, several pieces at a time, mixing well after each addition (meringue will deflate slightly as butter is added). Add vanilla, hazelnut cream, and salt; mix until mixture comes together, 3 to 5 minutes. Fold in whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Use immediately.

Chocolate Glaze
Serving: Makes about 2 cups

1 1/4 Cups heavy cream
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
1 (tsp?) salt
10 Ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Bring cream, corn syrup, and salt to a boil in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium- medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; swirl pan to cover completely with cream. Let stand about 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Let cool completely.

Candied Hazelnuts
Serving: Makes 9

9 hazelnuts, toasted and peeled
1 Cup sugar

Thread each hazelnut onto tip of a long wooden skewer; set aside. Place a cutting board along the edge of a countertop; set a baking sheet on floor next to edge.

Cook sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook, without stirring, until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides with a wet brush to prevent crystals from forming. Let boil until syrup turns light amber, about 5 minutes; remove from heat.

Let stand until slightly cooled, 8 to 10 minutes. Dip 1 skewered hazelnut into syrup, coating completely and letting excess syrup drip back into pan. When dripping syrup becomes a thin string, secure end of skewer under cutting board, letting caramel string drip over edge onto sheet. Repeat with remaining hazelnuts. Let stand until caramel has hardened, about 5 minutes. Break strings to about 4 inches. Carefully remove skewers.