Tags: baking, cake
I know that I’m a week off with this one, but it took some extra time for me to get motivated to make Alice Medrich’s Chocolate Ruffle Cake from Baking with Julia. Maybe I’ll get to that Hot Chocolate Panna Cotta from Baking Chez Moi for a rewind week. I had my hands full with this one, what with making a genoise, a cake filling and all kinds of chocolate deco work. It is impressive, though, with its beautiful ruffly top and sharp chocolate band. This cake could easily be spread out as a weekend project, although once I did get off my duff, I just charged through it.
I was only making this cake for the two of us so I downsized the recipe by half to fit into a 6-inch pan. Since the cake was smaller, I figured I could get away with slicing it into just two layers instead of three. I like when one bit of simplification leads to another, and with only two layers to sandwich, I skipped the chocolate cream filling layer in favor of just plain cream. Oh, and instead of using whipped creme fraiche as my filling and topping, I used whipped cream stabilized with a nice blob of mascarpone (so tasty!). I only did this because wanted it to hold up for a few days…even a 6-inch cake takes us a while to eat up. Also rather than fresh (winter) raspberries in the filling, I used some booze-preserved cherries that I jarred over the summer, and the cherry booze liquid became my soaking syrup for the cake. Sounds like I made a lot of changes, but really, they were pretty minor tweaks. Dorie says in to recipe intro that we can think of this cake as a variable format rather than a precise formula, so I felt free to do so. Anyway, it’s delicious– I basically turned it into a Black Forest cake.
The chocolate work can seem intimidating, and I can hardly describe the process myself, so if the book’s instructions aren’t clear, these videos of the TV episode are really helpful. No tempering is involved, so it’s really not that bad, even if it does take a few practice swipes get get nice ruffles. Mine weren’t perfect– and I’m the “chocolatier” (it is embarrassing for me to say that!) at the restaurant I work for– but they were good enough to make a lovely, swirly-twirly arrangement on top of the cake.
If you’re up for a weekend challenge, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan for the recipe. There are also a couple of videos of Alice and Julia making the cake together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of this week’s TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, cake, chocolate
These Soft-Centered Chocolate Teacup Cakes are rich, delicious and easy to make. Kind of a dangerous combination! They are a take on molten chocolate cake…an almost flourless and uber-chocolatey cake with more gooey, melting chocolate bits hiding in the middle.
They’re hardly more difficult to make than brownies, although you have to whip eggs and sugar until ribbony, so using a stand mixer is a good idea. The batter is divided among teacups or ramekins, which are half-filled, sprinkled with chopped chocolate and then topped off. I have quite a collection of teacups for some reason (reason actually being that they are cute!). I can see these making an adorable dinner party dessert served in mismatched cups. I didn’t get a photo of the insides for you, but you can see here that they’re schlumping a bit in the middle…that’s how you can tell they have soft centers. That dip also makes a perfect landing spot for a bit of whipped cream or ice cream.
Tags: baking, bread, cake
I’ve never made rum babas before. I’ve eaten my fair share, though, mostly at Italian bakeries. David Blom’s Babas recipe brought these pastries into my own kitchen.
Babas are little sweet yeast bread pastries, kind of like brioche and often with currants, that are soaked in rum syrup until they are practically oozing it, and then filled with something creamy. In my opinion, what’s not to like? The group made Blom’s Savarin recipe, which is similar but in made in a large cake form, a couple of years ago. For some reason, I skipped it so I am glad to have done this one.
I don’t have baba molds but I still wanted them to have the nice tall shape of the ones in the shops so I used my popover tin. I got half as many babas as the recipe said so I guess that means my tin is bigger than the molds I should have used. Whatevs– R and I split them in half. Once they were cool I gave them a good dunking in simple syrup, adding rum directly to the syrup. And then I brushed more rum all over the outside! Didn’t make the pastry cream filling the recipe called for…too lazy. Instead I whipped some cream and mascarpone together with which to stuff my babas and added a homemade candied cherry on top.
Tags: baking, cake
If I think of carrot cake, of course what comes to mind is a layer cake with swirls of cream cheese frosting. Plenty of cream cheese frosting…you know, something like Dorie’s amazeballs Bill’s Big Carrot Cake. Seems that’s not the only carrot cake game in town, though. This Fluted Carrot-Tangerine Cake is another, more subtle take on the most delicious way to get your beta-carotene. Instead of being spicy and earthy and tall, this one is bright and zippy and slim. Ginger, carrot and tangerine (or tangelo in my case) make it the color of sunshine. Okay, so there isn’t any cream cheese frosting, but a quick powdered sugar and juice glaze gives it a nice sweet crust on top. The flavor of the glazed cake reminds me of Fruity Pebbles, but I mean that in a good way!!
This cake does not need to be fluted…I made it in my quiche pan (the removable bottom was no problem), but it can certainly be baked in a regular cake pan. The cute ruffles do give it a bit of pizazz, though, since it’s only a single layer.
Tags: baking, cake
Happy New Year, friends! I want to start 2016 fresh, so it’s time for me to take care of a few pesky things that I’ve left in limbo over the last couple of months. One is Flo Braker’s Raspberry Swirls recipe, which I actually made along with the group in the fall and then never posted. This uses a sheet of genoise that’s been cut and coated with raspberry jam and then rolled up jelly-roll style, the jam forming a little red curlicue in the middle. Like Braker’s Miniature Florentine Squares or Glazed Mini-Rounds her Raspberry Swirls are meant to be cut into one or two bite petits fours, but after I rolled them, I decided to leave them more the size of HoHos (or Yodels or Swiss Rolls, depending on your childhood treat preference). Indeed, these were good…once I glazed them in chocolate and dipped them in coconut and pistachios, they actually reminded me of a rolled up Lamington, an idea I would like to explore further (possibly for Australia Day??).
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll to see if anyone else did a rewind this week, and see the links page from the Raspberry Swirls week a few months ago!
Tags: baking, chocolate, tarts
I’ve unfortunately (or maybe not, since I was on vacation) missed the last two TWD postings but I’m hoping to come back strong with this Chocolate-Chestnut Tart. Don’t let my terrible photo (boo to winter afternoon lighting!) fool you, this tart is darn delicious. If I were in charge of cooking Christmas dinner, I’d be making it a second time this week.
We’ve used Dorie’s Sweet Tart Dough many times by now, and here it’s filled with candied chestnuts and a rich, truffle-like baked chocolate filling. The chestnuts are candied during a long, slow poach in vanilla simple syrup. I was able to easily find vacuum packed chestnuts in a neighborhood gourmet store (I think I’ve even seen them at Trader Joe’s recently). I candied my entire package, which was more than the recipe called for. In addition to the sliced chestnuts hiding under the chocolate filling, I decorated the top of the tart with some of the extras, brushed with gold dust for a little holiday bling. Served with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of the awesome reduced chestnut poaching syrup, this was a fine way to end a meal.
Tags: baking, fruit, holiday, tart
I’ve had my Thanksgiving dessert plotted out for weeks now (predictably, it will be a pumpkin pie), but if I didn’t, I think that this Pear-Cranberry Roll-Up Tart would be making another appearance on Thursday. Yes, a “roll-up tart”…intriguing, right? I’ve never made a roll-up tart before. I imagined forming it would be like making a strudel with pie dough, but actually it was more like rolling up a burrito.
The filling here is made from seasonally appropriate pears– I used Bosc– and cranberries. I think baked pear desserts are pretty awesome, and the orange and ginger flavorings in this filling really compliment the pears (and the cranberries, too).
The fruit is rolled inside the very same galette dough we used for our Apple Pielettes last month. I’m big on this dough. It couldn’t be easier to handle and it bakes up really flaky (the sanding sugar on top here is a nice sparkly, crispy touch). Also, it slices cleanly, so you get a good presentation instead of a crumbly mess. I’ll certainly be trying it out on a regular pie at some point.
Tags: biscuits, cobbler
I’ve found that a lot of people shy away from making one type of dough or another. Some people claim, “Oh, I don’t do pie dough,” while others say, “I stay away from yeast.” When my friends at Quirk Books asked me if I wanted to help celebrate the release of their new book, Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries by Russell van Kraayenburg, of course I jumped at the chance. Russell writes the gorgeous blog Chasing Delicious, and that guy can bake. His new book is full of tips and information to make a rainbow of doughs including: scone, biscuit, pie, shortcrust, sweetcrust, choux, brioche, puff, croissant, Danish and phyllo. Whatever your personal dough demon is, you can work through it with this book. Russell gives a master dough recipe for each type (which he explains by using easy ratios) and then several recipes using the various doughs.
For me, biscuits were my dough nemesis until a few years ago, when I worked at a bakery and had to crank out trays of breakfast pastries every morning at 6 am. After all that practice, now I own those suckers! I was super pleased to give Russell’s biscuit dough a try as part of Quirk’s Biscuit Week Challenge. I spied a plum cobbler recipe in his book and couldn’t get the thought out of my head– sweet, soft fruit under a tender, cakey, slightly savory biscuit crust. When I remembered a few Bartlett pears and a bit of homemade butterscotch sauce in the fridge, a light blub went on in my head and I was inspired to make a Pear and Butterscotch Cobbler using up my odds and ends and Russell’s biscuit dough. He’s even put together a video to show step-by-step how to make perfect biscuits. Because the dough is dropped on the fruit here, instead of rolled and cut, a tender cobbler topping is almost guaranteed, even if you think you’re dough-challenged.
The kind folks at Quirk Books sent me a copy of Making Dough, and now I want to send a copy to one of you! Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Tuesday, November 17 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list. Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you if you’re chosen.
Pear and Butterscotch Cobbler– serves 4 to 6
inspired by (and using) a recipe in Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries by Russell van Kraayenburg
Notes: If you don’t already have butterscotch sauce on hand, you can approximate the flavors here with 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, a pinch of salt and 1 tbsp of butter cut into little bits. Toss with the pears and other filling ingredients.
1 1/2 pounds firm-ripe Bartlett or Bosc pears
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided
1 tbsp rum (optional)
1/4 c plus 2 tbsp homemade butterscotch sauce (I used this one)
1/2 recipe of Russell’s prepared biscuit dough
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp brown sugar
– Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat oven to 400°F.
– Peel and core the pears and cut each into large chunks. In a medium bowl, gently toss the pear chunks with cornstarch and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. Add the rum, if using, and butterscotch sauce and toss just to coat. (Your butterscotch sauce will work best here if it’s room temperature or barley warm.)
– Turn the fruit mixture into a 1-quart baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep oven on.
– Pinch off small handful-size clumps (about 2″ in diameter) of the prepared biscuit dough and scatter them on top of the filling so that the clumps touch. Be careful as your baking dish will be hot!
– Lightly brush the biscuit clumps with melted butter (I dabbed with a pastry brush) and sprinkle with the 1 tbsp brown sugar and remaining 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
– Bake for another 20 minutes, until the biscuits are golden and the filling is bubbly. Cool to warm or room temperature before serving.
Please note that the publisher, Quirk Books, sent me a copy of this book.
***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner. Congratulations to Anne! I’ll be in touch soon.***
Halloween may have come and gone, but that day’s just the kick-off to candy season, if you ask me. Now we’re done with the store-bought candy bars and lollies and can move on to some homemade treats, like these Chocolate-Covered Toffee Breakups. I’ve made caramels and brittles before, but this is the first time I’ve made my own toffee. It was super simple, but I do think you need a good thermometer for candy making. I didn’t bother with the buttered parchment setup and flipping the toffee back and forth on cutting boards. I just lined my baking sheet with a Silpat and I was easily able to lift and flip the cooled toffee. In fact, I did all the work just on that one sheet. I also didn’t bother with stirring my nuts into the toffee base before spreading it out. That was totally a brain fart…I just forgot. The plus side to that was that my toffee was extremely easy to spread nice and thin. Thinking of my upcoming trip to Sydney (which I will actually be in the middle of by the time this posts), I used macadamia nuts and a flaky Aussie finishing salt to top the chocolate-coated toffee. I coated the bottom with dark chocolate as well, but let off the salt and nuts so it would sit flat. It broke easily by hand into nice, clean shards.
There’s something very pleasing about the crunch of toffee. I like it more than brittle. These make a great little after dinner nibble, ice cream sundae topping or homemade gift. For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!