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Posts Tagged ‘Daring Kitchen’

Oh my! Has it really been 8 months since I last blogged?  My apologies.  The holiday season is coming up, I’ll try to keep you better updated.

Decided it was about time to get back into the Daring Baker’s Challenges at the Daring Kitchen.  And this month, it was Sachertorte.

I have to say from the start… not my favorite.  But I’m not a big fan of chocolate and fruit.  This chocolate cake was drenched in apricot jam and topped with a chocolate/water mixture.  I was disappointed I didn’t like it better.

The cake was quite simple to make, and I had all the ingredients on hand.  The chocolate sauce on top stumped me though.  It looked shiny like a ganache, but used a sugar/water mixture rather than heavy cream.  Water and chocolate?  I thought for sure the chocolate would seize up, and it did!  It looked like dry brown sugar initially.  Had to keep adding water to get it to thin back out.  But nothing I did could completely save it.  So I spread it on as best as I could and attempted to cover it up with a white chocolate spider web.

Overall, it didn’t look terrible with the decorations.  But I had one small piece and took the rest to work because it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

The October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Korena of Korena in the Kitchen. She took us to Austria and introduced us to the wonders of the Sachertorte.

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I’ve come to realize I make empty promises.  Not intentionally!  I would like to blog more, but time doesn’t seem to slow down enough for it.  With the holiday season approaching, my time will be stretched even thinner, but I’ll certainly try to update along the way.

So it’s been 3 months since I did a Daring Kitchen baking challenge.  I must admit, I wasn’t thrilled about this month’s which was Pot Pie.  And we could NOT make a sweet version, which in my opinion, doesn’t count as a baking challenge.  But alas, I was craving a Cornish pasty so I decided to give that a go.  Not exactly a pot pie, but it has all the same components:  savory filling in a closed pastry crust.

I looked up a couple of recipes and found Jamie Oliver’s version on a blog.  Not really wanting to make six pasty’s, I cut the recipe in half.  And the meat was marinated in Guinness over night.  I also left out the carrot in one pasty, as I’m not a huge fan of carrots in anything other than carrot cake.

Some baked potato slices and brown gravy accompanied the pasties.  My boyfriend highly approved the meal.  I’m just hoping we bring back the sweet for November’s challenge.

Hannah of Rise and Shine was our October 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to bake our own double crusted savory pot pies. Using any from-scratch crust and filling we choose, we were allowed to get completely creative with our recipe, showing off the savory flavors and fillings from our own home or region.

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Hey guys.  I am back from my grand adventure.  Spent two amazing weeks in Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Cape Town.  Logged lots of hours on planes, but it was worth it.  Was finally able to do the one and only thing on my bucket list:  see a great white shark in person.  And boy, did they put on a show for me!  Flying out of the water, chasing seals, and showing off around the shark cage.  Beautiful animals!  The trip only deepened my love for them and filled me with a desire to see more.

Settled back in at home, but didn’t quite complete this months baking challenge, which was pie.  I decided I’d still make a pie, but was missing one or more ingredients from the three different recipes that was to be made.  Therefore I thawed out some leftover pie dough I made a month ago and whipped up a delicious butterscotch and meringue pie, which I had all the ingredients for.

Even recipes I’ve made before can turn out differently each time.  Butterscotch seems to be a hit or miss for me.  I added an extra tablespoon of cornstarch and an extra egg yolk to try and get a more solid pudding since I had 1% milk, not whole milk.  But it turned out a bit runny still.  The meringue didn’t help when it weeped all over the pudding.  Damn meringue!  Just goes to show that sometimes you should take the extra step and make a tried and true recipe than the quick and simple one.  Meringue is so easy yet so finicky!

The pie dough gave me more trouble.  I didn’t have pie weights or dry beans so I just put a mixing bowl on top of the crust when blind baking.  It didn’t work.  I had to take it off and then the crust bubbled up and the edges shrunk.  It was unusable.  Thankfully I had a graham cracker crust in my pantry and used that instead.  But I didn’t completely scrap my homemade crust.  I cut out a couple small circles, put them in the bottom of espresso cups, then filled those with pudding and meringue for mini desserts.  Worked well.

In conclusion, pie is not my friend.  I’ve known it for some time now.  But we get along as best as we can.

In other news, I’m sad to report that Paddy (my sour dough starter) has left this world.  I was a bad mom and let him become overrun by mold.  I tried to resuscitate him, but it was too late.  He was a year and a half.

Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie!

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Another baking challenge completely just under the wire!  Phew!  Really wanted to do this one but it’s been a busy month.  And I put off vacation planning (leave for Germany, Amsterdam, and South Africa in one week with nothing but flights set up) to get it done.  Swedish Prinsesstårta: Challenge accepted.

The cake to make is elegant and light.  Just a simple sponge (with a rather odd ingredient: potato starch), pastry cream, whipped cream, and raspberry jam which I substituted with chocolate ganache, covered with marzipan though I forgot to buy some so I made white modeling chocolate instead.

The only problem I ran into while making the cake was the pastry cream.  Different recipe than I’m used to and it separated twice while over the heat.  My guess is that I cooked it too long, but it said to bring it to a boil and it never seemed to quite get there.  I had to stick with the results from the 2nd attempt because I ran out of eggs, so I put it in my kitchen aid mixer and beat the liquid back into the custard as well as I could.

When assembling the cake, I also chose to brush the sponge with a simple syrup because the recipe just didn’t sound sweet enough.  And I added mini chocolate chips in the top layer for a bit of crunch (and duh!  Because chocolate makes everything better). It all came together well and made for quite a pretty cake.  Didn’t have time to go all out on the decorations so I piped a couple of chocolate butterflies and made a single flower out of modeling chocolate.

Hate to rush, but I must get back to planning my trip.  So much to do!!!

Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta!

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Hello hello!  It’s been some crazy busy few months, but I’m back, baby!  No more half-assed, thrown together, just to say I made it, baking challenges.  If you don’t know already, I love the Daring Baker’s Challenges at the Daring Kitchen.  I’ve learned so many great recipes (and some that I have no desire to make again, honestly) of desserts I had never even heard of.  This month’s challenge was no different.

Savarin.  Say what?  Yeah, well it’s a rich yeast cake that’s soaked in a liquid and served with lightened pastry cream and fruit.

So I’ve been traveling a lot lately.  I had to carefully plan out the day I would make this cake.  However, days off where I am home and not jet-setting are becoming few and far between so by the time I finished all my needed errands, it was 4 pm.  FYI . . . it is impossible to start making a yeasted cake at 4 pm unless you intend to stay up until 4 am.

The cake really isn’t hard to make, thanks to the good ol’ Kitchen Aid.  But with all the rising time involved, I only had time to bake the cake itself.  Then it went into the freezer while I went off to New York for the weekend.

Picked it back up the next week, making the pastry cream and the syrup to soak it in.  Now the syrup . . . I probably should have looked up a different recipe.  But I went with the one provided in the challenge.  It tastes a lot like tea.  I think a spiced rum would have been better.  But nonetheless, that cake was thirsty.  Crazy how much liquid it soaked up.  And I don’t think I had enough time to let the excess drip off because the piece I tried tasted more like a sweet tea sponge.  But maybe a day in the fridge will help.

I think all this cake really needed was a cup of simple syrup.  It kind of reminded me of a spongy angel food cake with the cream and berries, but the peach syrup was just too much liquid.  If I make it again (which is a big “if” since the cake takes so long to make), I will make a different syrup and use much less of it.

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This will be a quick post because I left this month’s challenge at the Daring Kitchen up until the very last minute.  I haven’t been able to make the last 2 or 3 challenges so I really wanted to jump back in.  I’ve been extremely busy as of late, especially this month.  I spent 5 days in Ireland, 7 days on a cruise, and turned 30 years old (ugh!).

My head has been on vacation as well.  We found out that my parent’s dog Luke (who I pretty much consider my dog too) has cancer and it’s been a rough week.  My dad noticed a red spot inside his nose which despite various medications was not getting better.  After several tests, they found it was cancerous.  We took him to a surgeon today for a nosectomy.  It’s like it sounds, they had to remove his nose for his best chance of beating the cancer.  Still haven’t seen him yet because he’s staying overnight, but it’s really all I can think about today so I’m sorry my post is more about him than my challenge.  But the staff at the clinic inform us that he’s doing well, awake and alert but on morphine to manage the pain.  He’s the best dog in the world, I really could go on and on about him, but I’ll refrain.  Please keep him in your thoughts.

So this month’s challenge was to incorporate vegetables into baked goodies.  The obvious dish would be to make carrot cake.  But I’ve been wanting some zucchini bread for awhile so picked up zucchini on my way home from work tonight.

While looking up recipes on AllRecipes.com, I decided to make zucchini brownies instead.  Got out my mini food processor to basically puree the zucchini and whipped up some brownies, quick and easy.  Only modifications I made to the recipe were to use 6 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil instead of the vegetable oil, reduce the sugar to 1 cup, add an egg, and add 3/4 a cup of chocolate chips to the batter.  I also only made just over half the amount of frosting.

Final result?  Cake.  I tend to think of brownies as fudgey dense deliciousness.  This recipe yielded a light and fluffy chocolate cake.  Really couldn’t tell that zucchini was in it.  It was actually pretty good . . . just not brownies.

I hope to get back to business next month and dive into a good baking challenge.  I think things are calming down a bit so I should be able to find the time.  Until then, I will try to blog again with all the other creations that have come out of my kitchen since January.

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Pardon my french.  Phew!  It’s 1:45am on October 27, the day all Daring Bakers posts go up.  I was really looking forward to this month’s challenge, but I was doing a bit of traveling this month and with a focus on exercise, I couldn’t bring myself to make my favorite pastry in the world and not indulge.  That being said, it’s almost Halloween, so screw the diet!  Mmm . . . millefeuilles.

That’s right, the challenge this month was to make puff pastry dough (which I’ve done before), pastry cream (which I’ve done before), and layer the two in perfect harmony with each other (which I’ve never done).  I’ve wanted to make millefeuilles for quite some time so I’m glad I was able to pull it together so last minute.

For the puff pastry, I used the recipe from two years ago when us Daring Bakers were challenged to make vols-au-vent.  Just a quick YouTube refresher on turning the dough, that part of the process was done.

I also used an old standard for pastry cream that I highly enjoy, doubling the recipe because you can never really have too much pastry cream.  Check.

Two days later and back from a short trip to Austin to see Bob Schneider, it was time to put it all together. There wasn’t too much instruction on rolling out the pastry dough except that it should be about the thickness of cardboard.  Not wanting to waste all my dough, I baked one of the three layers on the first cookie sheet, rather than baking all the layers at the same time.  As noted, I put another cookie sheet on top of the dough to weigh it down and stuck it in the oven to bake at 200F.

Uh oh.  The dough was not doing anything after 15 minutes.  Looking at the instructions again, it said to bake at 200C /400F.  Whoops!  I upped the temp and thought I’d try to keep baking the first layer anyways.  It worked fine, but I found that I needed to use two cookie sheets to weigh the dough down.  Puff pastry just wants to rise and rise and rise.

After baking the next two layers, I started getting all the other components ready to go.  The recipe provided by our host used a royal icing to top off the millefeuilles.  First of all, I’ve been to France about ten times.  And each time, going to a Boulangerie/Patisserie to get a millefeuille tops my list of things to do.  Never have I had one with royal icing on top.  It always has a smooth, shiny glaze that sets up just enough but never hardens completely.  That’s what I wanted to top mine off with.

After some internet searching, I found what I was looking for is poured white fondant.  Only fondant I’m familiar with is that gross dough like mass that you roll out to cover cakes.  Yes, I know fondant is so mainstream now, but it’s really not tasty.  However, there exists a pourable fondant that is made by boiling sugar and water, then adding a little cream of tarter and corn syrup.

Running out of time, I really hoped I would get this white fondant down on the first try.  The boiling process went well, paying close attention to getting it to the right temperature and then back down to about 120F before working with it again.  From my research, I found that you can finish it in a stand mixer rather than hand pull/knead it.  It will change from clear and runny to white and thick.  I think I may have read the instructions wrong because after 7 minutes of mixing, it hadn’t changed color or texture much.  After a reread, I changed my beater to the dough hook and voila!  White and thick.

Now wait a minute!  This fondant is not pourable!

After yet some more research and stumbling upon this very helpful blog, I whipped up a simple syrup and incorporated it into the fondant and all was right in the world.

Assembly went well except that my pastry cream of choice is maybe a little too thin for millefeuilles.  And even though I doubled the recipe, they didn’t bulk up to the height I wanted.  Don’t get me started on cutting them!  I cut them in a few chunks but need to finish cutting them in single servings when I wake up, which hopefully will give the pastry cream a little bit more time to set up.  Plus, I don’t have any super sharp knives which makes cutting them even harder.

Now, today is my grandma’s 80th birthday and we’re going to the Arboretum to celebrate.  Normally, I would make a cake for the occasion.  And for an 80th birthday, I wanted to go big.  But walking around an Arboretum really doesn’t fit as a place to bring a large cake to.  So birthday millefeuilles it is!  And hopefully my grandma will enjoy these pastries as much as I do.

Our October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!

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