Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Baking’

I am beat! My parents and I got into France 2 days ago. And last night, jet lag got the best of me and I was wide awake at 3:00 am. Powered through the day and decided to complete the weekly baking tasks from the Holiday Baking Championship.

A trip to the grocery and $400 later, I was ready to go. We are staying in a house that belongs to my sister’s coworker, which is incredibly nice of her and her husband. However, she does not have many baking ingredients or tools.  The grocery wasn’t easy since some American ingredients don’t exist here. I had to keep it simple this week because of that fact and also wishing not to spend any more money.  Due to timing and coordinating with dinner, I made the main heat first and whipped up the preheat after.

The main heat was a Croqembouche, or stacked cream puffs to resemble a Christmas tree.  How very French!  I went with a classic profiterole recipe with lightened pastry cream.

The first challenge was not having any measuring cups. I found a disposible mini tart pan that looked close to a cup measure and used that.  I weighed the butter and used google to convert tablespoons to grams.  The dough turned out great, to my surprise.  Measurements successful!  I dropped spoonfuls on the only cookie sheet I could find and got it baking.

image

image

image

Then I made pastry cream.  It turned out quite light in color, I suspect I didn’t use enough egg yolks. In the freezer it went for a quick cool down.  I didn’t think the cream would be enough to fill all the puffs so I made some whipped cream and folded it in.

Got the  pâte à choux out of the oven and stuck that in the freezer to cool.  Meanwhile, I melted a bar of chocolate on the stove which would be my base for putting it all together. Also found a star cookie cutter and used that as a mold for chocolate since the twist was to add a star topper.  Good thing there is a lot of freezer space here so that had time to set up as well.

With 15 minutes to go on the 2 hour challenge, I started filling puffs and stacking.  This is where I got most frustrated. There were no bags to be found.  I’ve never made a piping bag out of parchment paper and one YouTube video was unsuccessful in teaching me.  I didn’t have time to try again, so I split the puffs and spooned cream in the center.  Drizzled the chocolate around the puffs to get them to stick to each other while stacking.

I made a mad dash to the other room to retrieve the pièce de résistance, the star, unmolded it, and practically threw it on the tree at the buzzer.

My tree was a bit rough.  But given the circumstances, it was a miracle I produced what I did.  Tasted pretty good too.

image

image

After dinner, I got started on the preheat; 1 hour to make a dessert in the shape of a stocking.  Once again using pretty basic ingredients, I settled upon making Millionaire Shortbread Bars.

Unable to find a pastry cutter or masher, I used my fingers to cut the butter into flour and sugar for the base.  Found a ceramic pan and got that baking.  Back to the stove to make a luscious caramel and also melt more chocolate.  Once the base was done, I spread the caramel on top and stuck in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Then I spread the chocolate over the caramel and back in the freezer it went.  It didn’t take long to realize that I wouldn’t finish in an hour.  I feel relatively confident that if I had a metal baking dish, it would have worked.  But the ceramic wouldn’t cool down in time making it impossible to cut the stockings out.  I lightly scored the stocking pattern on the chocolate and added the decorations that I could find.  After leaving them in the freezer for another hour, they were impossible to cut.  I got one out for a picture but will cut the others tomorrow.

image

image

I am about 90% sure that next weeks final challenge will have to wait until I’m back home and in my own kitchen.  It’s crazy that I’ve completed half of these in other people’s kitchens.  But I would like the last one to be well executed and I’ll need all the equipment I can get.  Hopefully when I get back in 10-12 days our house will be done with all the repairs.

Read Full Post »

Well I’m desperately grasping onto whatever holiday cheer I can grab at this point.  It has been 3 weeks since we’ve been displaced to hotels and Airbnb’s.  The roof rats have been taken care of (I hope), the plumbing has been fixed, but there are still holes throughout the entire house, no insulation, and no hope of moving forward with repairs until our landlord hears from his insurance.  It is beyond frustrating.  But I managed to keep the baking challenges going from my parents house, once again.

In case you’re not following along to the Holiday Baking Championship on Food Network, week 5 was a fun one.  The preheat: ugly holiday sweater inspired desserts.  I LOVE holiday sweaters!  I now own 7 of them, some of which light up.  For this challenge, I decided to make my mom’s favorite Christmas cookie, chocolate chip shortbread, and decorate them as ugly holiday ties, because those are just as fun as ugly holiday sweaters!

The bakers were given 1 hour to complete their desserts.  The cookies take approximately 9 minutes to bake.  Add in the time it takes to make the dough, roll it out, and cut out shapes with a knife (I don’t own a tie cookie cutter), I figured I would have about 25-30 minutes to decorate.

The dough is simple.  These are a variation of shortbread cookies, so you basically just combine lots of butter, sugar, and flour together, mix in mini chocolate chips, and you’re good to go.  This dough rolls out perfectly between wax paper.  I was even able to cut my ties pretty uniformly considering I was doing it by hand.  While they were baking, I got all of my decorating tools ready.  I was using melted chocolate to coat the ties and an easy icing of powdered sugar, milk, and corn syrup that could be colored and put in ziplock bags to pipe out designs.

Once the cookies were out of the oven, I gave them very little time to cool.  Afterall, the first step was to spread on warm chocolate so I didn’t think it would matter much.  The icing didn’t contain butter, so wouldn’t be too affected by heat either.  I piped on some snowmen and pandas (inspired by one of my sweaters but looked more like polar bears or dogs), and dotted green and red icing all over.  No problem completing on time.  I would say the ties turned out more cute than ugly, just like my sweaters!

image

image

image

Onto the main heat: 2 hours to make an edible box filled with baked treats.  The twist this time was to incorporate popcorn.  I thought a lot about this one.  I didn’t want to make a gingerbread box since I’ve made gingerbread already.  I settled on good ol’ white chocolate.  Some may find it boring, but it hardens fast.  With that settled, the rest just seemed to come together.

I love decorating Christmas trees.  We bought one for our house (always real because they smell and look so good), but it’s still sitting in the wrapping since we’re not there.  Determined to not let it get me down, I went out and bought another little 4 foot tree which is now decorated in the Airbnb.  My tree topper is a star.  Lightbulb!  I would make a star box to look like a tree topper and fill it with cake ball ornaments.

With the timer set, the first thing I made was a white cake batter and divided the dough so I could color half red and half green.  Those were in the oven in 20 minutes.  During the bake time, I made a vanilla American buttercream to mix into the cake crumbles.  The cake would need to cool so I had some time before I could make the cake balls.

image

The popcorn twist kind of threw me.  The contestants were given already popped popcorn.  I had to spend extra time popping it with my mom’s hot air popper.  Then I wanted to make caramel corn and treat the pieces as the little golden tops on glass ornaments.  I made the caramel sauce but it smelled a little burnt.  It would still be okay, I’ll just toss it around with the popcorn and get that in the oven on low heat while I started making the white chocolate star.

My mom has an aluminum star pan that I traced out on wax paper.  I wanted sharper lines so I got a ruler out and fixed the design.  Then I started piping the chocolate out.  I wanted this box to be see through so you could see the ornaments inside.  I achieved that by cross-hatching.  The piped chocolate was already starting to firm up but I still put it in the freezer to set up.

image

The cake was cooled by now so I mixed in the frosting and formed the balls.  In my original idea, I was going to make half of each ball red and the other half green, but I was running out of time.  I didn’t even have time to make a nice poured fondant like I wanted and had to settle on a powdered sugar/milk mixture to pour over.  I attached the popcorn tops, but the taste test proved that the caramel was indeed burnt.

image

Running out of time, I frantically started assembling the star box.  Melted extra white chocolate to hold it all together, but I realized the 3 inch sides were too long and I had to try and offset them so it didn’t fall apart.  The alarm went off and I still had to throw the cake ball ornaments in and close up the top.  That only took a couple of minutes.  I was frustrated that I didn’t finish this challenge on time.  But also reminded myself that I had to take time to wash mixing bowls and pop popcorn which isn’t something the contestants have to do.

image

image

image

Now to eat the creation.  I love sweet desserts but I thought the cake was too sweet.  The white chocolate complemented the flavor, but wasn’t super inventive.  The overall look to the dessert was quite impressive though so it wasn’t a complete failure.

Now for next week . . . I’m really hoping to get it done but I leave for France on Thursday, have to go through the rubble of my house (everything is sealed under plastic tarps) and somehow pack, and am not so sure my mom wants me frantically baking in her kitchen again.  I will try, but I might have to take a raincheck on the next 2 challenges until I get back in early January.  If that is the case, I’d like to wish you all a wonderful holiday and a happy new year!

Read Full Post »

I am determined to see this challenge through.  Even when my kitchen is completely enclosed in plastic from the restoration company, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  There’s also a mother who lives 20 minutes away.

Yes, that’s right.  The water is still turned off at my house and now the kitchen looks like a scene from the movie Outbreak.  Sounds like it could be a couple more weeks until our house is habitable again.  What else can be thrown at me during this baking challenge I’ve taken on?  Well, in less than 2 weeks, I leave to celebrate the holidays with my sister and her family in France.  There will be no baking in their kitchen since it’s a complete disaster.  But I may see what I can do in the house we’ll be staying in.  It’s an adventure, that’s for sure.

This weeks challenge was made in the kitchen of my parents.  My mom used to bake a lot when we were kids.  That’s probably where my love of it came from.  But she only bakes a handful of times a year now, so her equipment and pantry are very limited.  She’s got the basics: flour, sugar, eggs, butter.  As for assembly; cookie sheet, stand mixer, and holiday sprinkles are about the extent of it.

The preheat this week was to make a treat showcasing toasted marshmallows in 45 minutes.  I managed to snatch some marshmallows from under a tarp on our kitchen table and headed to my parents house.  After some digging there, I found a jar of molasses and we were in business.

I whipped up a batch of my favorite spicy gingerbread cookies.  Rolled out the dough and used a knife to cut out squares.  About 8-9 minutes in the oven is all it took and while they were baking, I melted some chocolate and spooned it into a plastic ziplock bag.  I located a small torch in a drawer which was a much better option than cooking marshmallows on the stove.

image

Assembly time.  Torch the marshmallow, sandwich between two gingerbread cookies, and drizzle chocolate on the top, sprinkling colored sugar for holiday flair.  Simple enough, but I realized that the marshmallows would need to be cooked more to get gooey all the way through and smash down.  I didn’t have much time left so I stuck a plate of marshmallows in the microwave and heated for 20 seconds.  Spooned them on the cookies and toasted from there.  Voila!  Gingerbread s’mores.  They were good, but I thought the gingerbread overpowered the marshmallow slightly.

image

image

Onto the main heat: 2 hours to make a blinged out yule log.  Didn’t have much in the means of bling in this kitchen, but I had an idea.

The torch I used earlier would be great to toast meringue to look like a log.  And meringue goes really good with lemon.  The first thing I did was grab a saucepan and make lemon curd.  It needed time to cool and the jelly roll cake would only take 14 minutes to bake, which was the 2nd thing I whipped up.  After the cake had a few minutes to cool, I turned it out onto a tea towel dusted with powdered sugar (which also dusted me and the floor in the process) and rolled it up.

image

image

Assembly would be relatively quick, so I started on the decorations.  Pulled sugar!  It was the first thing I ever wrote about on this blog.  While being somewhat successful that time, it also resulted in slightly burnt fingers and a broken mercury thermometer.  So you can see my hesitation pulling out the replacement thermometer I bought that was exactly the same, mercury.

Carefully started heating the sugar and water in a saucepan with thermometer holding on to the side.  Used a pastry brush to brush water on the sides so as not to have sugar crystals.  Walked to the other side of the kitchen to figure out what I could use as gloves since my mom didn’t have any, and came back to find my sugar caramelized.  Great!  But rather than dump it and start over, I used a fork to make little droplets on a silpat which I would call “tree sap.”  The twist in the challenge was also to add a crunch so that solved that problem.  I was originally thinking of rolling the log in crushed shortbread and then topping with meringue, but I was worried the meringue would make it soggy.  And now I didn’t have to go that route.

image

image

Got another saucepan out and started on the sugar again.  Watched it like a hawk and took it off the heat as soon as it hit 298F.  Then I poured it on a clean silpat and prayed I wouldn’t burn myself.  Sugar gets hard pretty fast.  Once it was cool enough to handle, I added gel color and started pulling it.  Holly leaves would be super easy to pull.  I just pulled a piece about 5 inches long, and then grabbed it by the sides and pulled outwards in 3 sections.  Then I took a knife and slightly scored veins.

image

I poured a little more sugar on the silpat, colored it red, and tried to blow sugar berries.  One sort of worked, but it was more translucent than I wanted.  So I just took some sugar and rolled them into balls.

With the decorations done and 20 minutes left on the clock, I went into panic mode, dropping spatulas and such as I went.  Unrolled the jelly roll and spread on the lemon curd.  Rolled it back up and put it on a plate.  Whipped some egg whites and made a meringue, spread it on the cake, and got the torch going with 4 minutes to go.  That’s when I figured that my cake would be adorned with uncooked meringue, but it really didn’t take that long to brown.  Grabbed some “sap” and literally threw it on the cake.  Then I carefully picked up the holly and berries, placed it, and threw my hands up with the ringing of the timer.  Made it!

image

image

image

image

image

And I must say, I think my blinged out yule log rocks!  This is the challenge I’m most proud of so far.  The cake had a great crumb and was really freaking good.  So good I had 2 pieces.  Also, no mercury spillage.  Success!

 

Recipes:

Gingerbread Cookies:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth. Stir in molasses and egg yolk. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; blend into the molasses mixture until smooth. Cover, and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Frost or decorate when cool.

Lemon Jelly Roll Cake:

The Cake

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs cold water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon zest

The filling

1 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice

Preheat over to 375°F.  Line a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with parchment paper. Grease the paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs for 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar; beat for 2 minutes or until mixture becomes thick and lemon-colored. Stir in lemon juice and water. Combine dry ingredients and zest; fold into egg mixture. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Invert onto a kitchen towel dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Gently peel off waxed paper. Roll up cake in the towel jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For filling, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, egg, water and lemon juice. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from the heat; cool to room temperature.

Unroll cake; spread filling evenly over cake to within 1 in. of edges. Roll up again. Place seam side down on a serving platter.

Pulled sugar:

Heat 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 100 ml water in saucepan over medium/high heat.  Bring to a boil and add 1 tsp lemon juice.  Continue to heat until mixture reaches 298°F and remove from heat.  Pour on silpat and use a scraper to fold over liquid until it becomes thicker and cool enough to handle.  Pull sugar and shape.

Read Full Post »

Wow!  I don’t know where to start.  I don’t know if this is even the right font.  It has been two years since I last blogged, which is completely unacceptable.  I feel sometimes like my creativity is evaporating out of my pores.  Don’t get me wrong, when I have an imaginative spark, I can still bring it to life.  It just seems fewer and far between these days.

That’s one reason why I have challenged myself this holiday season.  Since I no longer participate in Daring Baker’s Challenges (miss them!), I’ve decided to take on the Holiday Baking Championship, airing on Food Network, from home.

Each week, I am going to put myself through the challenges that the competitors face in the same amount of time that they’re given.  Obviously, I cannot be eliminated.  But I’m hoping to gain some skills, and if nothing else, eat some good food.

Week 1:

If you don’t watch the series, the preheat was to make a sweet treat inspired by a holiday drink.  The bakers did not get to choose what they were to make, but rather had to pick a cup and hope for the best.  In the spirit of things, I wrote each option on a slip of paper and randomly drew my flavor.

img_7020

img_7023

Believe me, this was random because never would I have chosen Peppermint Mocha!  I don’t like mint.  In fact, I almost had to jump in the car and buy peppermints or peppermint extract.  But I found something that I considered to be close enough; Ghirardelli dark chocolate mint squares.

60 minutes on the clock and I got to work.  I made a very simple cocoa cookie, slightly adjusting the recipe by adding an egg white, because it seemed like it needed a binder.  Also omitted coffee/espresso powder because I had to consider my “audience.” A couple of friendly neighborhood taste testers aren’t big coffee fans.

After dropping the dough on a cookie sheet, I pressed half a Ghirardelli square into each cookie and covered with a little more dough.  Then I sprinkled a little holiday cheer on top (red, green, and white nonpareils) and popped them into the oven for about ten minutes.

img_7027

At this time, I had a landscaping matter to attend to and was to and fro for about half an hour.  The cookies were out of the oven and cooling but didn’t look all that appetizing, and seemed rather boring.  They needed something . . .

fullsizerender

I whipped up some sweetened whipped cream.  But the cream wasn’t getting very thick.  It had been opened for just over a week, so I had to scrap it and started over with a fresh bottle of whipping cream.  That did the trick.  I sandwiched the cookies together with some cream and time was up.

img_7036

On to the main event: Filled bundt cake wreath which had to include decorative cookie leaves.

Speaking to my mom after she watched the episode, she was surprised that no one made a Tunnel of Fudge cake.  I had never heard of it, so after doing a quick Google search, I decided to make that my bundt.  Kills two birds with one stone by making a batter that is essentially a lava cake and fills itself.

img_7041

It took me 30 minutes of the allotted 2 hours to get the batter made.  No problem, cake takes about 45 minutes to bake.  Had to make a minor adjustment to the recipe because I was 1/4 cup short on cocoa powder.  Melted chocolate chips and mixed that into the batter.

img_7046

While the cake was baking, I decided against a chocolate ganache glaze as dark brown holiday wreaths are scarce, unless it’s due to them hanging on the front door for 3 months.  But my favorite accompaniment to a nice chocolate cake is vanilla ice cream.

I don’t have a high end ice cream maker that can take hot custard to frozen deliciousness in a matter of minutes.  My cream takes several hours in the fridge before it can go in my Cuisinart ice cream maker and I didn’t have that kind of time.  So I got a vanilla bean out of the pantry and made a creme anglaise.

fullsizerender-2

In the fridge that went and onto the cookie leaves.  Lost some time washing dishes as I only have one Kitchenaid mixing bowl.  At this point, the quickest and easiest thing to do was make a vanilla spritz cookie, color the dough green and red, and make leaves and berries.  Well, there aren’t really tips for those.  I picked the closest looking one to a leaf and added a little stem to each cookie.  Then I made round cookies for the berries that, yes, were pretty disproportionate to the leaves.  But oh well, it was getting to be crunch time.  The cake was just coming out of the oven (about 35 minutes to go) and I needed to get all components ready to assemble.

img_7055

img_7054

The cake takes (gasp!) 3 1/2 hours to cool.  Where’s a blast chiller when you need one?  I cleared some space and stuck it in the freezer along with the creme anglaise that was still warm.

Do do do!  Just waiting for things to cool.  Washed some dishes, wiped the counter down, watched the clock.  At the 8 minute mark, I had no choice but to start assembling.

img_7058

The cake came out of the pan with ease (bundts are the only pans I will use cooking spray on).  I drizzled the cream anglaise over the whole thing and could immediately see it starting to absorb into the cake.  Gave the cake a winter wonderland feel with a dusting of powdered sugar, then placed the leaf and berry cookies on top.  More powdered sugar.

img_7059

img_7060

Time’s up!

img_7064

img_7065

I was very happy that I finished it in time.  I don’t know how different it would have been had it had 3 1/2 hours to cool, but my neighbors were impressed, nonetheless.

The peppermint mocha cookie was a challenge to eat as the whipped cream oozed out on first bite.  But it had a slight hint of mint and the dark chocolate gave it a smooth richness.

The bundt didn’t bleed chocolate when cut into, but was moist and tasty.  Not sure it would qualify as filled.  My taste testers didn’t seem to mind.  One saw heaven upon tasting it, or in her words, “When I die, if I see God, I’m going to tell him it doesn’t matter what his little community is like because I’ve already been to heaven.”  Another said it belongs in a 5 star restaurant.

Making food that people enjoy; I would call the challenge a success.

I’m not always a speedy baker.  I like to take my time when decorating.  And I know the race against the clock is only going to get more difficult.  But I’m ready for next week.

So.Much.Fun.

 

 

Recipes:

Chewy Cocoa Mint Cookies:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
Ghirardelli chocolate mint squares

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.  Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer.  Beat in egg and vanilla extract.  Gradually add dry ingredients to form a smooth dough.  Drop dough on cookie sheet, press half a chocolate square in the middle, and cover with more dough.  Bake 12 minutes or until firm to the touch.

 

Tunnel of Fudge Cake, with my modifications.  Derived from Pillsbury:

1 3/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups butter, softened
6 eggs
2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate
2 cups chopped walnuts (lightly toasted)

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube cake pan or 10-inch tube pan. In large bowl, combine sugar and butter; beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar; blend well. By hand, stir in flour and remaining cake ingredients until well blended. Spoon batter into greased and floured pan; spread evenly.

Bake at 350°F. for 45 to 50 minutes or until top is set and edges are beginning to pull away from sides of pan.  Cool upright in pan on wire rack 1 1/2 hours. Invert onto serving plate; cool at least 2 hours.  Or if rushed like me, stick in the freezer for as long as you can.

 

Creme Anglaise:

1 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a small, heavy saucepan, heat cream over medium heat.  Split the vanilla bean and scrape seeds, add to cream along with the bean.  Bring to boil.

Whisk together egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale yellow.  Slowly pour half of the hot cream into egg mixture, whisking constantly.  Slowly return mixture back into the remaining cream and whisk until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.  Do not allow to come to a boil.

Strain into a bowl.  Discard the bean or rinse, dry, and add to a jar of sugar.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  Cover liquid directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

 

Spritz Cookies (I halved for the challenge):

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add egg, milk, and vanilla; beat well.  Add flour and baking powder until dough is smooth.  Place dough in cookie press and press out desired patterns on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Shake sprinkles on top if desired.  Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned around edges.  Remove cookies from sheet and cool on wire rack.

Read Full Post »

No procrastinating on this month’s challenge at the Daring Kitchen.  Battenberg was the name of the game and seeing as how it is a British cake, I wanted to make it in time for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

A battenberg cake is just a light sponge, colored and “glued” together in a checkered pattern with apricot jam, and wrapped in marzipan.  I opted to swap out the jam for lemon curd which gave it a really nice, summery flavor.

I couldn’t find a battenberg pan that would ship from the US, so I did as our challenge host suggested and divided a pan with parchment.  I wanted to achieve a long, narrow cake, so I used a 9×13 inch pan and doubled the recipe so it would also be tall.

Really not a difficult challenge and I wish I had had more time this month to make another with different flavors.  The recipe will be archived along with many others I would not have known about if it weren’t for the Daring Kitchen.  You have not seen the last of battenberg cakes from me.

              


Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.

Traditional Battenberg:

Servings: +- 8

Ingredients
¾ cup (1½ sticks) 175gm / 6 oz Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
¾ cup / 175gm / 6 oz Caster Sugar
1¼ cups / 175gm / 6 oz Self-Raising Flour
3 Large Eggs, room temp
½ cup / 65gm/ 2 1/3 oz Ground Almonds (Can be substituted with ground rice)
3/4 tsp / 3½ gm Baking Powder
½ tsp / 2½ ml Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp (1¼ ml) Almond Extract
Red Food Colouring, paste, liquid or gel

To Finish
1/3 cup (80 ml) 100gm /3 ½ oz Apricot Jam
1 cup / 225gm / 8 oz Marzipan, natural or yellow

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/160°C Fan Assisted/Gas Mark 4
2. Grease an 8”/20cm square baking tin with butter
3. Line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with the parchment (or foil)
– Tip: See photos or watch video above for detailed instructions
4. OR Prepare Battenberg tin by brushing the tin with melted butter and flouring
5. Whisk together the dry ingredients then combine with the wet ingredients in a large bowl and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth
6. Spoon half the mixture into the one side of the prepared baking tin
7. Add a few drops of red food liquid/gel/paste to the remaining batter, stir until the colour is thoroughly distributed, add more colour if needed
8. Spoon the pink batter into the other half of the prepared baking tin
9. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner
10. Bake for 25-30mins until the cake is well risen, springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean (it should shrink away from the sides of the pan)
11. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack
12. Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife
13. Cut each coloured sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge

14. Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible 15. Gently heat the apricot jam and pass through a small sieve

16. Brush warmed jam onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern (one yellow next to one pink. On top of that, one pink next to one yellow)
– Tip: See photos for detailed instructions
17. Dust a large flat surface with icing sugar then roll the marzipan in an oblong shape that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake
18. Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam
19. Place the cake on the marzipan, jam side down
– Tip: Either in the middle or to the one side of the marzipan
20. Brush the remaining three sides with jam
21. Press the marzipan around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over
– Tip: If you put the sponge to the one side of the marzipan, I found it easiest to “roll” the sponge over and over onto the marzipan instead of lifting the marzipan up onto the sponge
22. Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with a knife, you can also crimp the top corners with your fingers to decorate
23. Neaten the ends of the cake and remove excess marzipan by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern

Read Full Post »

Ho! Ho! Ho!  Hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  I think I missed it in the craziness of the past two weeks.  Been a busy baker indeed.

The baking challenge this month over at the Daring Kitchen was to make sourdough using a sourdough starter.  I had never even heard of a starter before.  And I must admit, I was initially disappointed because I was hoping it’d be a more holiday themed challenge.  But nonetheless, turned out to be quite the learning experience.

I got started on my starter pretty early in the month.  I knew I’d be busy and seeing as how the starter takes 4+ days to create, I didn’t have time to waste.  Basically, a sourdough starter is a natural leaven “grown” by mixing a high content wheat flour with an equal weight of water.  It gets its kicks in a bit warmer temperatures and needs to “eat” every day until it matures (about 4 days), after which it needs to eat only once a week if kept at room temperature, less in the fridge.

My starter was three days developed when I decided to spontaneously go to Tampa to see the Script.  My mom was coming over to feed my bird twice a day, so she also looked after my starter.  When I returned three days later, it smelled really sour (my starter, not my bird), like it had gone rancid, and had a layer of liquid on top.  I thought for sure my mom had killed it, or at least that the bacteria had won the war against the yeast.  I looked at other Daring Bakers comments to see if they had the same results.  In the end, I decided to see if I could revive it, since everything I found said that starters are easy to nurse back to health.  Just in case, I started a new starter as well.

Back to wortk for a week, I had to keep discarding part of the starter so I could feed it more flour and water.  I work ten hour days, so I don’t have time during the week to make a yeast bread.  When the next weekend came around, it was time to put my yeastie beasties to work.  I also, after reading other bakers comments, lovingly named my starters.  They are living things, afterall.  Yeastie number one was named Paddy, since he was the one I revived after leaving town to see an IRISH band.  Yeastie number two was named Krusty because he would have a hard crust on top 24 hours after feeding.

The dough for sourdough is extremely sticky.  I had so much trouble with it.  I let my bread machine knead it because it stuck to my hands too much when I tried to.  I used Paddy in one loaf and threw in some chopped cheddar cheese, and Krusty was used in the other loaf and left plain.

Unfortunately, my end results fell flat, literally.  Sourdough Paddy had some holes in it when sliced, but was tough and didn’t rise.  Sourdough Krusty was just flat and seemed kind of wet, not at all like the dryness you expect with sourdough.

I still have the leftover starters in my fridge, waiting for another feeding and another chance to rise like a star.  I just didn’t have time this month to give it a second try.  But it ended up being an interesting challenge and my initial disappointment was dispelled by the creation of life, the creation of Paddy and Krusty.  They will probably soon be joined, as I don’t need two sourdough starters, to become super Paddy.  And I will try to feed him every two or three weeks since he’s in the fridge so I can attempt sourdough again.

In other yeastie news, I decided to make French pastries for Christmas breakfast.  We had a croissant challenge at the Daring Kitchen a few months ago but I was unable to participate.  So I pulled up that recipe and got to work.  I used good old fashion dry active yeast and cut all of the rising times in about half.  I started it at 5pm on Christmas Eve and when you have a dough that needs to rise 3 hours, fold and rise two more hours, then incorporate butter and rise another two hours between “turns,” it gets to be quite the lengthy project.  And cutting corners didn’t seem to affect the end result.  The croissants were plenty flaky and the pain au chocolat, pain au raisin with pastry cream, and galette suisse with pastry cream were equally delicious.  With my sister living in France, I think my parents appreciated the taste of France on Christmas morning.

So what else did I make this month, you ask?  When I say I was a busy baker, I mean it.  I made seven different types of cookies one weekend to give to friends and coworkers.  I also made my coworkers a gingerbread house in the shape of our office.  Funny enough, the gingerbread house was a previous Daring Bakers Challenge that I half-assed a couple years ago.  So I was glad to be able to finally see that one through.  Though it didn’t get all the details I wanted it to have, it wasn’t bad for the nine hours I put into it.

I am putting away my oven mitts and stepping away from the kitchen for the rest of the year.  That’s not saying much since there’s only four days left in 2011.  And actually, I might have lied.  I bought fruit to candy peel and want to make a stollen next weekend.  But that’s it, seriously.  I need to catch up on sleep.  Did I mention that December was crazy?  See you in 2012!

                                    

Read Full Post »

Mmm…. maple.  This month’s bakers challenge over at the Daring Kitchen was maple mousse in an edible (preferably bacon) container.  Wanting to think outside of the box, or bacon cup, I decided to incorporate bacon into a thumbprint cookie and fill that with maple mousse.  Afterall, I am Cookie Kelly.

I made the maple mousse first since like me, it needed some time to chill, though I do most of my chilling on the couch and the mousse did it’s thing in the refrigerator.  There is one thing that really disgusts me (well, there’s many things) and it’s gelatin.  Powdered animal bones used to thicken food makes me want to vomit.  Nonetheless, I picked up a box of it at the grocery store and got to work.

The mousse was easy to make and I hear it tasted quite nice.  I tried a spoonful of it but left it at that since I’m disgusted by gelatin, but mostly I didn’t eat more because I was getting over a cold and my sense of taste was off.  My other senses were out of whack too.  I swore I smelled chicken salad in my kitchen one morning and thought maybe something had gone bad in the fridge.  Turned out that it was just the cup of coffee that I brewed.  It may have tasted like chicken salad too but I couldn’t tell.

Next order of business was the edible container.  Bacon in baked goods seems to be the trend these days; salty and sweet.  Well, I’m not a huge fan of bacon, particularly because it’s quite unhealthy and apparently kind of expensive (I never bought bacon before!), but I thought making it a bit sweeter by candying it would cut down on the surprise factor of finding it in a cookie.  So I used David Lebovitz’s recipe and chopped the strips into very small pieces, which I added into a slightly modified version of a thumbprint cookie recipe on allrecipes.com.  A few of the thumbprints were filled with blackberry jam before topping with the maple mousse.

Friends, family, and coworkers had a hard time discerning the bacon bits in the cookie.  Most of them would not have known that that was the secret ingredient if I had kept it a secret.  I’m doubtful that I’ll use that recipe again though.  I guess I wouldn’t be completely opposed to trying bacon in a cookie again, but I’ll leave out the gelatin components.

      

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blogCheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »