At the beginning of every month, a group of blogging bakers of all ability levels called the Daring Bakers are issued a challenge by the month's host. At the end of the month, on the same day, all of the participating Daring Bakers post their results. This month's challenge was my first, and I had an incredibly great time participating!
I was nervous and excited when I finally decided to ask to become a Daring Baker, and the same feelings just intensified when I found out that my first challenge would be the Bostini Cream Pie featured at San Francisco’s Scala’s Bistro, as created by Dana Scala and Kurtis L. Baguley. It's a cold bed of vanilla bean custard under a delicate, fluffy, orange chiffon cake, topped off with a healthy drizzle of warm chocolate sauce. Egads! This month’s host, Mary of Alpineberry, a long-time fan of the dessert, chose a fabulous recipe!
My biggest worry about being a Daring Baker is becoming a Daring Eater, too. I love baked goods, way too much, in fact, and I can’t keep sugary and carby sweets in the house. Thus, I decided to fatten up my friends, instead; to celebrate my first Daring Bakers challenge, I hosted the first monthly Salads and Sweets Party (which may become the Soups and Sweets Party in the winter months). With party plans in mind, I had to be careful about planning and time management.
I was totally enamored with the sticky buns challenge that the DBers had done the previous month, so I decided to serve those at my party, as well. I made the dough for that the day before and retarded the buns in the fridge so all I’d have to do for them the next morning was let them warm and proof. The salads were either too simple to fuss over or also prepared the previous day. That left the entire morning open to work on the Bostini.
The cake came together really well, though my whites didn't want to peak for awhile. I think it would've been worse if they hadn’t been room temperature. In my early morning paranoia, I crept out of bed and brought the eggs I’d need out so they could warm, then went back to bed. I regretted that the eggs were mostly from a new carton. I seem to have better luck whipping older eggs to peaks than fresh ones. I think the cake was the only thing I could've made ahead of time as long as I covered it well, since I was afraid that custard made too early would get too firm. I didn’t think of it until it was too late into the night, though, and I didn’t have the nerve to stay up, bake, cool, then wrap the cake. Although the recipe directed to cook the batter in custard cups or large muffin liners, I’d read that the dessert was large, and I didn’t want to overload my guests. I also knew that there’d be enough for seconds if they wanted them. I cooked most of the batter in cupcake liners, some in the cupcake pan without liners, and the rest in a jelly roll pan. I had a lot of cake leftover, so I cocooned the leftover cupcakes and the jelly roll cake in saran wrap and foil, and froze them for later projects. I’ve since had one of the cupcakes, warmed to room temperature, and it’s just about as good as the day I made it.
I had a hiccup with the custard when I realized I didn't buy enough cream, but I knew I didn't want to top off my custard cups, so that was fine. I was going to try to keep the dessert self-contained, served just in the ramekins, so I wanted some gutter room for the chocolate sauce I’d poor on top to finish the dessert.
Back to the custard, though--I had an anxious moment when I was trying to take a picture of the custard at nape stage and it almost got too thick on me. I don’t know why capturing the nape the moment it stepped in the door was so important. I just remember all the times in cooking school when we’d all sit around the stoves, staring at the backs of spoons, drawing our fingers across them over and over while our crème anglais, then turned to custard, then turned to vanilla bean frittatas. Thank goodness for strainers, then and now! I caught a few sad lumps while straining. I was nervous when I served the dessert to one of my friends who hates custard when it tastes like eggs, which often happens when it's overcooked, but she said it tasted great. Whew! I need to remember to "stare and stir" once I add the egg mixture.
I was afraid that the chocolate would drown out the cake, so I tried to go light on the sauce, but I needn’t have worried. The cake stood out well. Personally, I was happy with my proportions.
Thanks for taking pictures, Chris!
I noticed that it's not a dessert that waits for anyone. I think the temperature ranges help make it fabulous--cold custard, room temp. cake, and warm chocolate. I tried a plated dessert an hour later, and it was an entirely different dessert, and not all that impressive. I was bummed out because I'd plated one for my brother, who’d be hours late. Since it's a custard dessert, I couldn't leave it out. I was sure it would be sad after coming out of the fridge. Then, I had a taste of one from the fridge, and it wasn’t bad at all! It reminded me of the cold Ho-Ho snack cake a friend once gave me as a kid (my mom didn't buy that stuff), only a hundred times better. =) The chocolate glaze hardened up into a nice shell, the cake didn't dry out, I guess because I had the whole dessert covered, and the custard was cold, as it should be. Even my candied orange peel stayed nice and crispy!
Another Chris picture.
While the desserts I served my guests looked just as the recipe directed, once my guests went home, I played with some cutouts from the jelly roll sheet. I didn’t want a huge cylinder full of custard, but something that more resembled a ... well, a tiny pie, I guess.
It’s like a custard pot. =)
Then I gave my custard pot a lid. The chocolate had cooled a bit by then, so it was more spreadable than pourable, which was fine by me—more to lick off the spoon! Just kidding. Okay, not, I’m lying. But I didn’t double dip the spoon, okay?
And then I gave my lid a handle, or a chapeau couture. Something yummy, in any case.
I also tried a more direct approach, which quickly became the Leaning Tower of Bostini.
In the end, everyone enjoyed the Bostinis, especially me! And I enjoyed a cook’s reward the next day. ;) What could it be—a tiny bowl filled with solid chocolate?
*ker-rack!* No! It’s some nice, cold, Ho-Ho-Ding-Dong dessert!
Who’s a lucky Daring Baker? This lady, that’s who. Visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see more, because you know you have room for more!
3/4 cup whole milk
2 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 whole egg, beaten
9 egg yolks, beaten
3 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
The Orange Chiffon
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup extra-fine sugar
11/3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup beaten egg yolks (3 to 4 yolks)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
The Chocolate Glaze
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter
INSTRUCTIONS: To prepare the custard: Combine the milk and cornstarch in a bowl; blend until smooth. Whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. Combine the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a saucepan and carefully bring to a boil. When the mixture just boils, whisk a ladleful into the egg mixture to temper it, then whisk this back into the cream mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard and pour into 8 large custard cups. Refrigerate to chill.
To prepare the chiffons: Preheat the oven to 325°. Spray 8 molds with nonstick cooking spray. You may use 7-ounce custard cups, ovenproof wide mugs or even large foil cups. Whatever you use should be the same size as the custard cups.
Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Stir until smooth, but do not overbeat.
Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten whites into the orange batter. Fill the sprayed molds nearly to the top with the batter.
Bake approximately 25 minutes, until the cakes bounce back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove the cakes from the molds. Cover the cakes to keep them moist.
To prepare the glaze: Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat until it is just about to bubble. Remove from the heat; add the chocolate and stir to melt. Pour through a strainer and keep warm.
To assemble: Cut a thin slice from the top of each cake to create a flat surface. Place a cake flat-side down on top of each custard. Cover the tops with warm chocolate glaze. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 1,170 calories, 15 g protein, 75 g carbohydrate, 93 g fat (50 g saturated), 561 mg cholesterol, 275 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.