Thursday, 27 August 2009

Daring Bakers August Challenge: Dobos Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

This cake was a deceptive challenge. I think the biggest hurdle for me was mental, the cake looks so intimidating. But when broken down into steps, it's laborious but not overwhelming. The cake is delicious. But as much as I like caramel, I was not a fan of the little caramel cake wedges on top -- partly because they did no favors to my braces! And I am not quite sure what texture they were supposed to have turned out... chewy or crackly? Mine were a bit of both, and I felt that they made the cake hard to eat.

The recipe itself is broken into three parts... the cake, the icing and the caramel. I made the icing first, a day ahead... chocolate buttercream. It's very rich, but delicious. The cake wasn't hard, again laborious, baking six layers. Instead of a offset spatula, I used a method I've seen dosa makers use -- I used the base of a rounded cup measure I have to smooth out the batter on the rounds of parchment paper. Hooray for precut papers!
I refrigerated the layers to help with the layering and slathering of buttercream. It's pretty hot out here and the buttercream did not do well outside. the cake layers were sliding here and there. And the wedges kept sliding off. I didn't use any nuts, in the hopes that my daughters might have some.


Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Daring Bakers May 2009 Challenge: Raspberry strudel

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

I have to say that I was initially quite hesitant about attempting this challenge. Stretching dough paper thin, in fact even thinner, given my misfortunes with rolling out dough in general, seemed impossible. But my friend and fellow Daring Baker Shirley of What About Second Breakfast? tried the challenge early on. And then she made it again, and again and again. She raved about it and claimed it wasn't so hard. So I had to give it a shot. And she was right!
I would never have imagined it, but once I rolled it out about 15 inches square and began stretching the rest came easily. It practically stretched itself. I do recommend trimming any thick edges, as they tend to turn out a little tough or chewy.
I went with a simple filling of 12 oz raspberries tossed with 1/2 cup sugar. I sprinkled the dough with about 1/3 cup of almond meal, in line with the apple version, which has breadcrumbs.
And you know what, I ended up making the apple version, and a cherry cheese filling from Martha's Baking Handbook. I was planning to take them to work, but my husband pouted, so I left it home. That means I will probably make this again soon to take to work, using all those wonderful cherries California is getting now.
I think this may be in my regular repertoire now. The effort compared to the wow factor is well worth it!

My creation

Type rest of the post here

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Don't forget to check out the other Daring Bakers' wonderful creations.


Sunday, 1 March 2009

Daring Bakers February Challenge: Chocolate Valentino!

What's challenging about chocolate cake, you say? Well this isn't any old chocolate cake, it's a flour-less chocolate cake... rich and decadent. And part of the challenge is to make your own ice cream to pair with it (believe me, as rich as this cake is, you need ice cream to help it go down!)
So, I've been off the blogging wagon for a while, but I'm hoping with this post I can get back on!
The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. They've chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.
Do check out other Daring Bakers amazing takes on this challenge!

Since I was determined to get back on the wagon, I made the cake, though I had no time (or equipment) for the ice cream.
I made the cake in a 6-inch round spring form and saved some of the batter and baked it in these heart-shaped foil cups (ostensibly for jello) that I had found on sale.

The recipe is super easy:

Chocolate Valentino

Preparation Time: 20 minutes 16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped ½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter 5 large eggs separated 1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often. 2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment. 3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls. 4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry). 5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together. 6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate. 7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration} 8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C 9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C. Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet. 10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

If you are so inclined, here is one of the ice cream recipes:

Dharm's Classic Vanilla Ice Cream

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis (tested modifications and notes in parentheses by Dharm)

1 Vanilla Pod (or substitute with vanilla extract)
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk – in the U.S. this is 2% fat (or use fresh full fat milk that is pasteurised and homogenised {as opposed to canned or powdered}). Dharm used whole milk.
4 large egg yolks
75g / 3oz / 6 tbsp caster sugar {superfine sugar can be achieved in a food processor or use regular granulated sugar}
5ml / 1 tsp corn flour {cornstarch}
300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Double Cream (48% butter fat) {in the U.S. heavy cream is 37% fat)

1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthways. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse
Lift the vanilla pod up. Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife so that they fall back into the milk. SET the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to the boil.
2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn-flour in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy. 3. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time
4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill.
5. By Hand: Whip the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon. Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process – to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse)
By Using and Ice Cream Maker: Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker)


Sunday, 4 January 2009

Dubbu's Paneer

I'm back! And I seem to have forgotten the b of blogging so I will be glad when am through with this post! This rich gravy with paneer pieces floating (also tomatoe pieces because we don't have mixer-grinder) is one of few things which I can still make coz it doesn't need a Kitchenaid, oven, beaters, etc etc, none of which I have in my new place :(. Anyway I 'm learning to live. 

People have often asked what this paneer is 'Butter Paneer?, Shahi PAneer?, etc' and our answer is Dubbu's Paneer, coz we got this recipe from a close family friend (more family than friend) Dubbu, which is what my now three-year-old nephew calls her! 

Its a foolproof damn easy recipe. And what set its apart from the usual indian dishes is that it doesn't have the usual tumeric and red chilli powder and still when you eat it you don't miss anything.

Dubbu's Paneer (enough to feed ten tummies)

400gms Paneer (Indian Cheese)
8-9 Juicy Tomatoes
1 medium Onion (finely chopped)
1tsp Zeera (Cumin seeds)
0.5tsp Kalaunji(Black Caraway/Nigella)
1tsp Oil
2tsp Ground Kali Mirch (Black Pepper)
1tsp Adrak-Lehsan (Ginger-Garlic) paste
1 Tez Patta (Bay leaf)
1tbsp Kasuri Methi (a kind of dried fenugreek leaves)
4tbsp Butter
1.5 cup Cream

1. Skin the tomotoes (I do it by dipping them for a few seconds in boiling water) and make puree, or chop them up fine.

2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the Zeera and the Kalauji, immediately add the onion. Fry the onions the best you can in that little oil.

3. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5-10 minutes till the tomatoes look cooked and are simmering gently.

4. Add the Paneer, and all the remaining spices. Keep an eye on the salt if you intend to use salted butter.

5. Add the butter and the cream. Cook till the whole thing starts simmering.

6. Its done!

Note: I mentioned juicy tomatoes. I usually use the ones my mother calls the desi ones. These are usually round rather than oblong, and have more juice than flesh. These have a more tangy taste.

You can easily increase decrease the ingredients according to your taste without affecting the recipe much. Specially the tomatoes depending how much gravy you want.

I like it best with rice.


Thursday, 18 December 2008

Daring Bakers October Challenge: Basic Pizza dough

Better late than never, as they say! The October challenge was hosted by the lovely Rosa, who gave us a recipe from Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice." I used roasted veggies, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions. And I swear I did toss the dough, though not with great results!

Some more pics and the recipe after the jump.

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar - FOR GF use agave syrup
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).
2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.
3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.
4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).
NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.
5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.
NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.
6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.
7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.
9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).
NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.
10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.
11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.
12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.
NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.
13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.
NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.
If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.
14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.


Saturday, 6 December 2008

Catching up

It's been a long time since either Aamena or I posted. She has a good excuse... no oven in her new digs. I don't, since I have been baking and cooking, and even taking photos... but have just been too *busy* to post. Now I hope to make up that shortfall.
Let's begin with my first try at red velvet cake, inspired by Shirley's luscious cupcakes. I should have known better than to try a different recipe, but I didn't, and went with this one from Bon Apetit, sans the berries. It tasted great, but the red velvet cake was more a ruddy brown.

Red Velvet Cake
For the cake
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon red food coloring (i used 1 tsp gel coloring, which is more concentrated)
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. I used a 9x15 cake pan, but the recipe calls for 2 9-inch round pans. Butter and flour pan(s). Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Beat buttermilk, coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating until well blended. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.

Divide batter between prepared pans, or pour into single sheet pan. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 27 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

For frosting:
Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake. Top with second layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. (Can be made a day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for an hour before serving.)


Sunday, 31 August 2008

Daring Bakers August Challenge: Chocolate Eclairs

I've sat out the last few challenges, but this month's -- Chocolate Eclairs -- was absolutely irresistable. Thank you Meeta and Tony for the great selection, and the delectable recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé.
The challenge was perfect because I love eclairs, but my one attempt to make them was a bit of a flop and I'd shied away from pate choux since. Well now was time to conquer my fears. After reading through other Daring Bakers' experiences and plenty of tips, I finally hit the kitchen this past week. I decided to go the whole chocolate hog, making the chocolate pastry cream and the chocolate glaze.
And I'm proud to say the results were great, even if I do say so myself. Well actually, a bunch of my colleagues said so too! Truthfully I could have eaten all those eclairs by myself but I thought the better of it and took more than a dozen to work. (I made the eclairs just before I headed to work -- I start in the afternoon. So while I was able to bring in the eclairs while they were still fresh, I did have to rush to get to work on time. Hence I didn't get a chance to review my photos, otherwise I would have caught those awful fingerprints in the glaze. Oh well.)
Oh, and my super picky 4-year-old ate two. That's a success in my book!
The leftover pastry cream, glaze, not to mention sauce, means I'll be making the eclairs again sometime very soon.
Do check out other Daring Bakers' creations!

The only real issues I had were while making the pastry cream, even after straining the yolk mixture, I found some scrambled yolks at the bottom, and I ended up straining it again. And it seemed a little runny, but a few hours in the refrigerator helped it firm up. I did feel like I could taste the egg in the final cream, but I think I'm a bit oversensitive. Nobody else complained.
The other was with the actual baking. I didn't have the common deflation problem. But the eclairs seemed a bit soft, so I stuck them in the oven again for a while.
And I know lots of people commented on the number of pots and bowls needed. I was able to cut back on that slightly by using one pot to make the sauce, emptying it and making the glaze in it, and you guessed it, emptying it and making the cream in it (thought at this point I did have to rope in one more pot).

Anyway, I highly recommend this.
Here's the recipe
Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.
Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.
Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Assembling the éclairs:

• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)

1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40 degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.

1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water, stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.

2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Cream Puff Dough
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.
You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.
3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

Chocolate Glaze
(makes 1 cup or 300g)
• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.

2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.

2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.

2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.

1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.


Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Another chiffon cake

Can you tell I've become a convert to the religion of chiffon! What amazing results and taste with such little heartache. After my first attempt convinced me it wasn't hard, I thought I'd give it another go, for dinner
with friends. I knew the kids for sure would be happy. The only problem was our water being cut off from 10 am to 4 pm... yes six whole hours while the plumbing system is overhauled in our apt complex. This is the third day it happened. What sucks is that you don't know when it might happen. You have a few days of no problems, you're complacent and the next day they hit you. Only another four weeks. *crossing fingers*
So as you might guess, I started at 4 pm. Wrong. Due to various other emergencies (DH+work) I didn't start till 6.
At which point I also got started on a chicken curry I had promised to bring to the dinner. *Sigh*. I was using a bigger, 9x15 pan, so instead of Aamena's adaption, I went with Orangette's version. I managed to get the cake into the oven within 20 minutes... Waiting for it to bake were the longest 35 minutes ever!. And then cool.

I had no patience. Instead of letting cool all the way down, I pried it out of the pan. Then I halved it down the middle since I planned to do one side with cream and strawberries and the other with cream and chocolate sauce. Then I thought if I halve the two pieces horizontally, they'd cool faster. I was right, but a thin layer got stuck to the rack. I was able to cover it with cream, and it tasted great anyway. Phew!
Oh, here's the chicken curry:


Thursday, 21 August 2008

Mango chiffon cake

So I recently made this yummy Mango chiffon cake. For a few weeks now, what with California flooded with mangoes, I'd been day-dreaming about mango cake, one that incorporates mangoes in the batter, not just as garnish or mousse, which I'd already tried. At last I put thought to action and using my Google muscles, found that those clever folks in Southeast Asia had already been there, done that. So I used this apparently tried and tested recipe that I found at Cook Bake Legacy.

I liked the result, though I think my oven was acting up and it didn't rise as well or cook through as much as it should have. But I will be making this again. I also plan to try using mango puree in place of buttermilk in a regular cake. I think the mango should provide enough acidity to replace the buttermilk and should be about the same consistency. Watch this space for updates!

Recipe and more photos after the jump.

Mango Chiffon Cake
4 large eggs
1 tsp Mango essence
1/3 cup (80 ml) vegetable oil
1/3 cup (80 ml) Whole milk
1/2 cup mango puree
1 cup sifted cake flour (110 g)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup (100 gm) sugar
1/2 tsp Cream of tartar
Method: Set oven at 350 degrees F (180 degree C)
Separate egg yolks from whites. In a bowl, beat yolks with the mango essence (I didn't have any and used vanilla)
In another bowl, mix the oil, milk and mango puree. Sift the flour and baking powder together.
In the bowl of a mixer, whip the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar until stiff peak forms. Now add the yolk mixture and beat well, then add in the oil/ puree blend and and also stir well. Fold in the flour mix gently till well blended. Pour batter into a 20 cm. chiffon cake pan. Bang the pan on a hard surface to release the bubbles. ( a step I forgot, which may have contributed to the results)
Bake for 35-40 mins. When the cake is ready, remove from the oven and give it a bang on a hard surface.Then invert the pan and cool the cake.When the cake is completely cool, remove cake from the pan.
Well here are a few pictures of how I cut the mangoes.

The cake after taking it out. It seemed kind of OK to me, then I realized it was underdone and put it back in the oven, but evidently not long enough.


Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Bet it's a record!

So how much time did you take to make your Filbert Gateau?

I made it in a record time of four hours! (Confession: I ignored the sugar syrup and the apricot glaze).

Soon after Chris of Mele Cotte announced the challenge, I, like hundreds of other Daring Bakers took a print out. I had been planning to try the recipe for my sister's birthday, which is in mid-July. But that day we went shopping, came back after 5 p.m. and I was too tired, so I asked my brother to buy a cake. But my sis' long face at this made me change my mind, and I rolled up my sleeves.

So sometime after 6 (after having tea, I have a mental thing about tea) I started. Of course the b'day girl helped me a lot, and we somehow managed this feat!

And you can understand why I skipped the sugar syrup and glaze... I was too tired! Well, what after the praline, swiss buttercream, whipped cream, ganache, and of course the cake!

But the cake was amazing, it was air! And the whole combo, though very rich, was well worth the crazy four hours! One other change I made was that I used almonds; for two reasons: first, that's what I had at home, and second, buying hazelnuts, if available, would have meant a huge hole in my pocket.

And though I love decorating, I was running out of time, so I just spread some of the praline buttercream and sprinkled some nougat on top! I think it looked pretty.

And another thing, I just LOVE swiss meringue buttercream, it was amazing the way it incorporated the praline paste!