Monday, January 27, 2014

Daring Bakers, January: Bamkuchen (tree cake)



The January 2014 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Francijn of "Koken in de Brouwerij". She challenged us all to bake layered cakes in the tradition of Baumkuchen (tree cake) and Schichttorte (layered cake).


*doink!* Oops, lost a piece! The first slice often refuses to cooperate. I used toffee- and chocolate-coated almonds to decorate the cake.


So the beauty in bamkuchen is in the striations that form as you bake one thin layer of batter at a time on to the cake. I needed to brown my layers a bit more so you could actually see the beautiful striations that are part of the point. I guess my cake went through a single long epoch.


I might have overbeaten my egg whites. In fact, I know I did--it's why they're more foamy than smooth and shiny. I got way too excited when I saw the instructions to whip the egg whites until they were really stiff. That might account for why I didn't get much rise out of each layer, but it could be because every layer was super thin and spread over hot layers.


The first layer is the hardest because you're trying to spread the batter onto the greased parchment. Be firm. Be demanding! Show it who's boss. Use the finishing trowel that cement layers use to smooth out concrete. Or be like me--I used my fondant smoother.


It worked out! Don't worry about ridges or wrinkles--they bake out.


Here's the baked layer! It flattened out completely, but I should've browned it more.


So when you make your own bamkuchen, make sure the baked layer you're spreading your raw batter onto is a bit browner than that raw batter. Just plain ol' brown would be better. At this point, I was confused because the foam you so carefully beat into the eggs completely melts away in the heat.


OH NO!!! I really should've put parchment around the sides of the pan, but I'm cheap and lazy. Unfortunately, slicing the outsides of the cake off took much more time than just putting parchment around the sides.


*sigh* The bottom is a wee bit dark. Okay, it's also black. It could've been worse, but I at least put parchment on the bottom of the spring form.


So it took less than 2 hours to bake the cake and about 3 hours to fix it. HA!


When you pour your glaze on, just go with gusto--pour it on quickly, gently push it over the side so you have some luxurious drips you can spread around the cake's sides, and move quickly, but carefully.


*doink*! Ha--that still makes me chuckle.

Check out my fellow DBers' results through our blogroll.
Read more!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Daring Bakers, December: Whoopie Pies

This post is dedicated to Lis of La Mia Cucina, co-founder of the Daring Bakers, who passed away in November. She was a lovely and loving person, and I wish I'd gotten to know her better since I met her online in 2007 after I joined the Daring Bakers.



The December Daring Bakers' Challenge had us all cheering - the lovely and talented Bourbonnatrix of Bourbonnatrix Bakes was our hostess and challenged us to make fun, delicious and creative whoopie pies! Delicious little cake-like cookies sandwiching luscious filling in any flavors we chose... What else is there to say but "Whoopie!"

Mmmm. For the longest time, whoopie pies were one of those desserts I coveted. There were plenty of recipes out there, but I wanted to know what I was aiming for before attempting them. Over the years, I tried dry, hump-shaped whoopie pies that were too big to fit in my mouth; Crisco-fllled, oversweet whoopie pies; cookie-crisp, warm-cream-cheese filled whoopie pies--all sorts of things I didn't want in my mouth. Then, I found more and more bakeries turning out delicious pies with moist, thinner cakes and creamy, delicious filling of all flavors. This DB challenge came along just as I knew what kind of whoopie pie was my personal favorite.


I made chocolate whoopie pies with white chocolate peanut butter filling and with regular vanilla filling to give to my friend for his birthday.


The batter--I wanted flatter cakes, so I reduced the flour, using the chocolate whoopie pie recipe that Bourbonnatrix posted and using only 2 cups of flour.


I didn't worry about the ridges with my altered recipe because I was sure they would melt away.


I was right! They came out exactly how I wanted, and they were deliciously moist and tender.


Go, my little soldiers! My minions!!


And they were delicious! This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Notes:
For the white chocolate peanut butter filling, I used White Chocolate Wonderful from my favorite peanut butter company, Peanut Butter & Co. I just replaced half the shortening with peanut butter and used half the powdered sugar, then omitted the vanilla and salt.

Check out my fellow DBers' projects by clicking through our blogroll.
Read more!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Daring Bakers October: Savory Pot Pie--Mushroom and Veggie



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.

I decided to make a mushroom and veggie pot pie.
Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
Although I had other names I called this pie while making and cutting it to serve.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
I hated the dough.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
It wasn't so liquid that I could just pour it in and swish it into place.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
But I took comfort in the totally tasty filling.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
The filling filled the scary bottom crust.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
I used as much flour as I could to roll out the top crust without making it look like a sticky, tacky mess, but it still came out looking like Freddy Kreuger pie.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
I was afraid the crust would totally deteriorate and drip off the top and over the sides, but it set up and stayed right where it was supposed to.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
My puddle pie did set up after I let it cool a bit more, but even after cooling awhile, its filling still flooded out a bit when I started taking out slices.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
When all was said and done, deflated pie wasn't bad at all. The filling was tasty, but the crust was a pleasant surprise. I was afraid ti would be tough, but it was flaky and tender.

Notes:
A cup of water to a pie crust recipe using 3 1/2 cups of flour is way too much! I should've used just over half a cup, but I wanted to follow the recipe to the letter. Normally, I add the minimum amount of water called for and add more only if the dough doesn't come together. This recipe just called for a full cup of water.

Because the dough was so sticky, I kept it cold, and because it was so soft, it rolled out even though it was cold. I rolled it out between plastic, which made it easier to transfer to the pie plate. With typical pie dough, I don't have to flour the dough before laying plastic on it, but with this sticky stuff, I floured it because it stuck to the plastic. Awesome. *sigh*

For my filling, I used the pot pie recipe, but replaced 2 of the 3 cups of chicken with mushrooms and added an additional cup of vegetables.

Check out my fellow DBers' projects by clicking through our blogroll.
Read more!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches



Inma of la Galletika was our Sept. 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and WOW did she bring us something decadent and delicious! Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk Cake, creamy yet airy, super moist but not soggy.. just plain delish!

I've made different tres leches cake recipes before, but I think this is my favorite. The warm milk mixture soaked in really well, and cooking it allowed me to bring a caramelized flavor to the milk. I usually see tres leches cake layered and/or decorated with strawberries, but while blueberries are in season, they're my berry of choice. Plus, blueberries and cream cake just sounded awesome.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
I overwhipped the whipped cream, not quite into butter, but it looks like ricotta. Which still doesn't sound bad, since sweetened ricotta is still fantastic in its own right--cannoli cake, anyone??

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
Mmm, looks like moist.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
I don't have a tall cake pan, so I just baked two short cakes in the two pans I have.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
The tres leches mixture. I didn't keep stirring, so some of the milk solids caramelized a little, but they tasted really good. If they'd tasted burnt, I wouldn't tossed the whole mixture out.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
Soaking the cakes.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
I layered the whipped cream and blueberries onto the top layer.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
Then slipped the soaked bottom layer out of the cake pan, took a deep breath, and ...

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
Flipped it onto the top layer. I removed the plastic wrap from the bottom layer.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
Put my cake plate onto the bottom layer.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
And carefully did another flip-dee-doo.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
And that's how I went about the daunting and seemingly intimidating task of building a layered tres leches cake. It worked with this recipe, but I wouldn't try it with a recipe where you soak the cake totally in milk mixture until it's just a soggy lump. Then you'd have like a trifle mush or something.

Check out my fellow DBers' posts by clicking through our blogroll.
Read more!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Daring Bakers August: Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco



Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

I chose to make the mawa cake and bolinhas de coco--they were both tasty!

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
Bolinhas de coco dough. I photographed it in a glass bowl--it's not actually floating 4 feet over my kitchen floor. Not that miracles don't happen in my kitchen! HA!

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
The bolinhas de coco dough after resting it overnight.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies

Some of the cookies I flattened as directed, and they made crispy, flat cookies.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
Others I formed into balls and left mostly spherical. They baked up moist and fluffy.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies

Making the mawa for the mawa cake took less than an hour.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
Just simmer and scrape, simmer and scrape, to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom and sides of the pan and burn.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
Slow curdle.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
And you end up with what looks like a bowl of oatmeal (to be polite).

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
It's a rustic cake, so you're supposed to just toss the cashews on a bit randomly instead of fussing over decoration.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
Mmm, really quite tasty.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies

You can check out my fellow DBers' results by clicking through our blogroll!
Read more!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Daring Bakers, June: Life of Pie



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!

Rachael provided recipes for Momofuku Milk Bar's famous crack pie, a French chocolate and caramel tart, a double-crust apple pie, and an Italian crostata di marmellata. I'd made each of these before, and I decided to go for the crostata because I wanted only a couple of servings for my boyfriend and myself, and this was the easiest to reduce and we had the ingredients already on hand--namely, some delicious fig jam I needed to use up.



Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
I estimated how much dough I needed for each tin, then rolled out each dough ball between two pieces of cling wrap.

Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
I made sure the dough was rolled out thinly, and wide enough to cover the bottom of the tin.

Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
I took off one sheet of plastic and stuck the dough into the tin, then pressed the dough down into the tin before removing the top sheet of plastic.

Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
I pressed the edges of the dough down against the tin to trim the edges.

Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
I removed the excess dough and set it aside so I could roll it out for the top.

Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
I blind-baked without beans because it was so small (and I was lazy). I docked the dough with a fork and let the dough-lined tins rest in the fridge for half an hour to lessen shrinkage while blind-baking. Also, remember not to spray the tin--that ensures the dough can cling a little to the tin.

Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
A little shrinkage, but not much.

Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
Another reason I wasn't bothered by the shrinkage is because crostata filling is a layer of jam, and I didn't want a whole lot of jam.





Check out my fellow DBers' sweet pies by clicking through our our blogroll.
Read more!