Posts Tagged ‘internet baking club’

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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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!


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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!

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Tis the season to be a baker.  December always yields delicious cookies (300 this Christmas) and high electric bills because my oven never stops.  This year was no different, except that I added yeast to my grocery list.

The Daring Bakers challenge was to make stollen, which is a german fruitcake of sorts.  I’ve never made stollen, but I did make a lot of fruitcake last year.  I’d say the two are quite different.  Stollen uses yeast which definitely makes it more of a fruit bread rather than a cake.  And it doesn’t require a routine alcohol bath for 1-2 months prior to serving like fruitcake typically does.

The version of stollen that was suggested used candied fruit peel along with raisins and almonds.  I bought a couple oranges, lemons, and limes and got to work.  Candied fruit peel is super easy, but you definitely need to allow time to do it.  I made stollen twice this month (one in the early part of the month and the other for Christmas breakfast) and learned that lesson.  The first time, I followed the instructions and ended up with wonderful peel, though I didn’t have as much as I would have liked.  And the lime peel was too hard so I ended up picking those out.  The second time, I had only about an hour before I had to leave for work and thought that would be enough.  I had already forgotten the process, but bringing water to a boil three times, and allowing the peel to boil for 10 minutes each time, then making a sugar/water syrup for the peel to soak up takes way longer than an hour.  So when I ended up with soggy peel that could not be coated in sugar, I wasn’t sure what to do.  I returned from work and stuck the still soggy peel in the oven on low for over an hour to dry it up.  It actually worked pretty well, at least good enough to use in my 2nd stollen.

Working with yeast is pretty easy.  It basically just needs to grow in warm water for 10 minutes before being put to work.  Earlier in the month, I had played with yeast trying to recreate an authentic belgian waffle.  I ended up with bread-like waffles which weren’t terrible, but they weren’t authentic.  I’ll be tweaking that recipe and giving it another go probably next month, but because of that experiment, I had the yeast on hand, ready to go.

Making the dough was simplified by my kitchenaid mixer, which was more than happy to do the 6 minutes of kneading that was required.  The only thing about stollen is that it’s not something that can be quickly made, which is true of most breads.  The yeast needs time to relax and grow, then relax some more before being baked.  I had all the time in the world the first time I made it.  But the second stollen I made was delayed by last minute Christmas shopping so I didn’t actually start making it until Christmas Eve night.  That meant leaving the dough on the counter to rise (as opposed to the fridge) and waking up at 5:30 am on Christmas Day to shape it, then getting up 2 hours after that to stick it in the oven.  Alas, after waking up at 5:30 am to shape the dough, I was unable to fall back asleep, and I felt it around 5 pm when I was struggling to keep my eyes open.

I’d have to say that I really enjoy stollen.  I tried one last year that I bought at Cost Plus World Market and was totally turned off by it.  It was not very good.  But the homemade version is definitely one that I’ll keep in my recipe book.

This should be my last post of the year.  Thanks for reading and I’ll return in 2011 with more adventures in the kitchen.  Best wishes to you for the new year!

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

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Crostata is the name of the game for this months Daring Bakers Challenge.  It’s basically just a fruit tart, which I made 4 months ago in a baking party with my friend Alicia.  We hand made the dough, blind baked the shell, then filled it with pastry cream and fresh fruit.  It was pretty and delicious.  So for the crostata, I chose to do the more traditional version with fruit preserves baked in the oven.  Didn’t want to redo what I’d already done.

The pasta frolla (dough) was very easy to make and work with.  Once rolled out, I filled it with blueberry and cherry fruit preserves that were low in additives.  I also alternated the preserves with pastry cream since that was the other version of a crostata.  Baked pastry cream gets the consistency of cheesecake and is quite tasty.  The whole process didn’t take long at all.  The challenge would probably have been more interesting if we had to make the preserves ourselves.  Overall, I was surprised how good a jam tart tasted.  I thought it’d be weird, but it tasted basically like a fruit pie.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

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I haven’t done a Daring Bakers Challenge in a couple months because of several reasons.  Not going to elaborate, but I decided to get back on the horse this month with the Donut Challenge.

It’s a great challenge except for the fact that I hate frying.  It makes my place smell like oil for a week and it’s not very healthy!  Yes, I’m a baker…. but frying is as unhealthy as you can get.  However, I figured that I would give it a go this time around.  But first, the weather needed to cool down a bit so I could open the doors/windows to rid my place of the horrible smell.

October 23… Phoenix, Arizona… finally cooler in the night and wee hours of the morning.  I grabbed a can of pumpkin and got to work, making the pumpkin donut recipe provided.  Oops, I didn’t have canola oil in stock and I didn’t want to go to the grocery.  Not to mention the fact that the only thermometer I have is an old mercury one.  We all remember my last adventure with frying and using mercury thermometers (https://saylorkel.wordpress.com/2009/11/27/novemberextracredit/)?   Therefore I set the oven to 375F and baked those suckers.  Worked out to be a bit healthier at least.

Well, my friends thought they were cookies initially.  I did glaze them and add sprinkles, so I could see the confusion.  They were pretty flat and I shaped them like pumpkins with no donut holes.  In the end, I don’t think I can really call them donuts.  But, if you thought about it while you ate one, you could kind of taste the resemblance to a pumpkin cake donut.

I definitely half-assed this challenge.  I’d like to try it again sometime when I get some oil and buy a proper thermometer.

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

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And I’m back!  I’ve missed the last two Daring Baker’s Challenges due to moving and lacking time.  Therefore, I figured it was time to get back in the swing of things.  This months challenge comes from one of my favourite (hint) countries:  England.  Let’s boil some pudding, yo!

Well, I guess this would be a good challenge for my blog.  I’ve never boiled a pudding before.  But I opted to NOT use suet, because.. um.. GROSS!  And I opted not to use a steamer, because that would be too easy.  In truth, I don’t own a steamer.  But I do own an imagination.  A stew pot and casserole dish work just the same, right?

The recipe I chose did not come from the Daring Bakers, nor the internet.  I’ve grown accustomed to buying cookbooks in countries that I visit.  You wouldn’t even believe how many french cookbooks I have.   And those are a challenge in themselves seeing as how it takes me half an hour just to translate one recipe.  Thankfully, I’ve been to England, purchased a few cookbooks, and those need no translations.  Well, except for metric conversions, which I think the US needs to get onboard since metric is more accurate.

The recipe, steamed syrup sponge pudding, was quite simple to make.  And it allowed me to use my Golden Syrup for the first time.  The challenge for me was in the baking method.  Not having a steamer, and not wanting to buy one, I had to make due with a casserole dish set in a stew pot of boiling water.  So per the recipe, I poured the golden syrup on the bottom of the casserole dish, spread the batter on top, and covered securely (I half-assed that part) with wax paper and foil.  Oops, I forgot to grease the bottom of the dish.  Crap!

I set the casserole dish in the pot, quite difficultly since the dish was almost as big as the pot in diameter, and covered with the lid to let steam for an hour and a half.  Once done, I had to literally fish the casserole dish out of the pot with a large spoon since any other way would have caused severe burns.  Then I unwrapped the foil/wax paper and turned out on a plate.  A little bit stuck to the bottom, but not as badly as I expected.  The top (now the bottom) wasn’t quite as done as the rest of it, but there was no way I was going to put it back in the pot.  I narrowly avoided burning myself the first go-round.

I served myself a piece with a cup of tea, Brit style with milk and sugar.  It was actually quite pleasant, light and cake-like, but tasted like something I could have just as easily made in the oven.

Would I steam a pudding again?  Hmmm… yes.  But I need to invest in a steamer first!

Grade:  C-

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

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