Archive for the 'Daring Bakers' Category

Daring Bakers: Tender potato bread

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Potato buns, decorated with poppy seeds and ready to be baked in the oven

This is my fifth month as a member of the Daring Bakers. The Daring bakers consist of proud women and men that love to bake and are not afraid of baking challenges. The idea of the Daring Bakers is that every month one baking recipe is presented that all members have to follow exactly without any modifications except where specifically allowed. During the month we share our experiences and learn to be better bakers. The recipe, our photos and experiences are then officially posted on a specified day, this time on the 26th of November. This month’s challenge was nothing sweet, but savoury! The challenge was to bake tender potato bread from “Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World” by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid, and the recipe was picked by Tanna from My Kitchen in half cups.

As usual I started with the challenge late, quite late or actually just late. So on Sunday evening I finally peeled and cooked the potatoes for the potato bread. I started making the dough and it was quite sticky all the time despite all flour and me struggling. I didn’t want to add more flour than the maximum in the recipe so the dough was very soft. I left it to rise for 2 hours and it grew beautifully.

Pototo buns, decorated with sesame seeds and ready to bake.

My plan was to make buns, but actually braided or decorated in some way. But my dough was too soft to shape so I just made round buns. After the second rise I decorated half of the buns with poppy seeds and the other half with sesame seeds. Then, when it was time to put the three sheets with buns in the oven I first didn’t react. Then I suddenly realised that the TV was totally quiet and when I turned to the oven I just frooze. POWER FAILURE!!!!

And now you may ask, didn’t I notice the darkness? No, since this was only a partial power failure which took out one third of our appartment: only some of the lights, the TV, the fridge (but not the freezer), the washing machine and THE OVEN!!!! After a lot of effort we came to the conclusion that the error was nothing we could fix, so Fredrik quickly connected the fridge to a working socket. And what about the bread? Well, 6 of the buns was put in the freezer. One whole sheet I put in the fridge with hope that the power would come back and one sheet was left on the counter (those buns looked like tortilla breads this morning). And we, instead of having freshly baked potato buns as evening snack, microwaved some pizza instead. However not any pizza, but homemade pizza with buffallo mozzarella and spicy sausages which I made the evening before. We ate the pizza in the light of three candles and with Yoshi staring. It was almost the “perfect” power failure: a working fridge and a microwave is all you need :-)

This morning we still had the partial power failure, so I couldn’t bake the buns that I put in the fridge. The problem is reported and if the power gets back this evening I’ll bake them tonight otherwise I’ll de-frost the frozen ones and bake them when ever the power comes back.

I hope that all other Daring Bakers enjoyed their bread. I regret not getting to taste it, but I think it’s in the spirit of the Daring Bakers to cook so hard the power blows… :-)

EDIT 26th November:
On Monday evening we got back the one third of the power that was missing. I know that it sounds weird that we only had partial power failure, but we have three incoming power inflows to the appartment and they are independent of each other. Someone asked about heating, but that is done separate so we still had a warm and cosy appartment. Anyway, the buns didn’t look good after being in the fridge for 20 hours, they had collapsed into rather flat buns and it didn’t help to keep them in room temperature for an hour before baking. The baked buns were quite soft but still a bit cheewy and I’m sure that they would have come out much better if baked directly after the second rise. So I don’t really have any verdict, I need to make them from scratch again. And I’ll also try to de-frost the frozen ones and see if they’ll come out better then the ones keept in the fridge.

Daring Bakers: Bostini Cream Pie

Monday, October 29th, 2007

Bostini Cream Pie, mini variant

This is my fourth month as a member of the amazing Daring Bakers. The Daring bakers consist of proud women and men that love to bake and are not afraid of baking challenges. The idea of the Daring Bakers is that every month one baking recipe is presented that all members have to follow exactly without any modifications except where specifically allowed. During the month we share our experiences and learn to be better bakers. The recipe, our photos and experiences are then officially posted on a specified day, this time on the 29th of Otober. This month’s challenge is Bostini Cream Pie which consists of a orange chiffon cake served on vanilla custard and then topped with a chocolate glaze. The recipe is from Donna Scala and Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni (in the Napa Valley) and Scala’s Bistro (in San Francisco) and was picked as this month’s challenge by Mary at Alpineberry.

Bostini Cream Pie, mini variant. You can only see the top half of the chiffon cake, as the rest of the cake is in the lovely custard.

I must admit that this month’s challenge has been the most delicious so far, but oh so rich. I already feel much heavier due to the delicous vanilla custard! I halfed the recipe and still got 4 generous servings and 3 mini servings. I’m always nervous when cooking custard but it turned out perfect. The orange chiffon cakes were easy too make. I had some troubles getting them out from the ramekins though, I probably greased the ramekins too little. For the mini variants I cut out hearts with a cookie cutter and for the normal servings I just used the whole cake from each ramekin. The chiffon cakes were very light and fluffy even though they sank quite a lot after they were taken out from the oven. I used a little too bitter chocolate for the chocolate glaze, but actually I think that was good as the dessert might have been too sweet otherwise.

Bostini Cream Pie, mini variant

The verdict is very positive! This is a simple yet delicious dessert, it’s perfect for parties as you can prepare all parts in advance and then just assemble them as the guests are waiting for the dessert. Thanks Mary for this month’s challenge! To see how the other Daring Bakers managed this month’s challenge, go to the Daring Bakers blog roll.

Bostini Cream Pie, regular size. The size of the red casserole is 250 ml.

    Bostini Cream Pie
    (from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni and Scala’s Bistro)
    (makes 8 generous servings)

    Custard (Pastry Cream)
    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 (or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
    1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

    Chiffon Cake
    1 1/2 cups cake flour
    3/4 cup superfine sugar
    1 1/3 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 pure vanilla extract
    1 cup egg whites (about 8 large)
    1 teaspoon cream of tartar

    Chocolate Glaze
    8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate
    8 ounces unsalted butter


    To prepare the custard (pastry cream):
    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 chiffon cakes:
    Preheat the oven to 325°F. 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.

Bostini Cream Pie, regular size

Daring Bakers: Cinnamon sticky buns

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Sticky buns with pecans.

This is my third month as a member of the amazing Daring Bakers. The Daring bakers consist of proud women and men that love to bake and are not afraid of baking challenges. The idea of the Daring Bakers is that every month one baking recipe is presented that all members have to follow exactly without any modifications except where specifically allowed. During the month we share our experiences and learn to be better bakers. The recipe, our photos and experiences are then officially posted on a specified day, this time on the 30th of September. This month’s challenge was Cinnamon buns and sticky buns. The recipe was picked by Marce at Pip in the City.

Marce let us choose between baking cinnamon buns or sticky buns, or both. I chose to bake sticky buns as that’s something we don’t have in Sweden contrary to cinnamon buns that are pretty much the first thing children learn to bake here. Cinnamon buns are very popular in Sweden and we even have a cinnamon bun day (4th of October), but we don’t have any fondant glaze on top, just nib sugar. And another thing that differs (at least compared with the Daring Baker’s challenge) is that we use butter in the cinnamon and sugar filling. Anyway, it was fun to try a new cinnamon bun recipe as I’ve been using the same one as long as I can remember.

My changes – within the DB rules:
-I used fresh yeast (20 gram) instead of instant yest.
-For the filling I used cinnamon sugar but I also added an additional teaspoon of cinnamon and one teaspoon of cardamon.
-I used chopped pecan nuts on top of the caramel glaze.
-I made the smaller variants, so I had to use two baking pans.
-I substituted the corn syrup for the caramel glaze with a Swedish syrup (ljus sirap) instead.
-I only baked my buns for 25 minutes instead of 30-40 minutes as the recipe says.

-The dough was very easy to make, but I didn’t like the amount of time these buns needed to rise; first 2 hours and then 90 minutes. That is just too long when you have an instant craving for cinnamon buns.

-I missed the cardamon that I normally always add to my cinnamon bun dough. But the lemon zest was refreshing and added a nice touch.

-I really liked the buns, they were delicious, probably because of the caramel glaze and pecans. They are soft and the fantastic caramel glaze goes so well with the buns. I will definintly bake them more times. I’m very glad that I did the sticky bun variant though and not the ones with the fondant glaze as I frankly wouldn’t call them cinnamon buns as I know them; without the caramel glaze they would have been too dry and there wasn’t enough cinnamon in them. I guess that I’m just old fashioned and prefer my classic cinnamon buns in the Swedish way :-) But the sticky buns were great.

Here you’ll find links to all Daring Bakers if you want to see their cinnamon and sticky buns.

Before fermentation.

After fermentation.

After baking. Beware of that what you see here are the bottoms,
you flip the sticky buns over to the other side when serving.

Sticky buns cut loose and then flipped over to the “right” side.
Ready to be served!

    Cinnamon buns and sticky buns
    (from Peter Reinhart´s The Break Baker´s Apprentice)


    15 minutes mixing; 3 1/2 hours fermentation, shaping and proofing; 20 to 40 minutes baking.

    Yield: Makes 8 to 12 large or 12 to 16 smaller cinnamon or sticky buns


    6 1/2 tablespoons (3.25 ounces) granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    5 1/2 tablespoons (2.75 ounces) shortening or unsalted butter or margarine
    1 large egg, slightly beaten
    1 teaspoon lemon extract OR 1 teaspoon grated zest of 1 lemon
    3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) unbleached bread or all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons instant yeast*
    1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature OR 3 tablespoons powdered milk (DMS) and 1 cup water
    1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (6 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar plus 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, or any other spices you want to use, cardamom, ginger, allspice, etc.)
    White fondant glaze for cinnamon buns or caramel glaze for sticky buns (at the end of the recipe.)
    Walnuts, pecans, or other nuts (for sticky buns.)
    Raisins or other dried fruit, such as dried cranberries or dried cherries (for sticky buns, optional.)

    *Instant yeast contains about 25% more living cells per spoonful than active dry yeast, regardless of the brand. Instant yeast is also called rapid-rise or fast-rising.

    1. Cream together the sugar, salt, and shortening or butter on medium-high speed in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a large metal spoon and mixing bowl and do it by hand); if you are using powdered milk, cream the milk with the sugar, and add the water with the flour and yeast. Whip in the egg and lemon extract/zest until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast, and milk. Mix on low speed (or stir by hand) until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium, mixing for approximately 10 minutes (or knead by hand for 12 to 15 minutes), or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

    2. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

    3. Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Proceed as shown in the photo on the left for shaping the buns.

    (Transcription: (A) Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top with flour to keep it from sticking to the pin. Roll it into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Don´t roll out the dough too thin, or the finished buns will be tough and chewy rather than soft and plump. (B)Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and (C) roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 pieces each about 1 3/4 inches thick for larger buns, or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 1/4 inch thick for smaller buns.)

    4. For cinnamon buns, line 1 or more sheet pans with baking parchment. Place the buns approximately 1/2 inch apart so that they aren´t touching but are close to one another.

    For sticky buns, coat the bottom of 1 or more baking dishes or baking pans with sides at least 1 1/2 inches high with a 1/4 inch layer of the caramel glaze. Sprinkle on the nuts and raisins (if you are using raisins or dried fruit.) You do not need a lot of nuts and raisins, only a sprinkling. Lay the pieces of dough on top of the caramel glaze, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag.

    5. Proof at room temperature for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size. You may also retard the shaped buns in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, pulling the pans out of the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before baking to allow the dough to proof.

    6. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with the oven rack in the middle shelf for cinnamon buns but on the lowest shelf for sticky buns.

    7. Bake the cinnamon buns for 20 to 30 minutes or the sticky buns 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. If you are baking sticky buns, remember that they are really upside down (regular cinnamon buns are baked right side up), so the heat has to penetrate through the pan and into the glaze to caramelize it. The tops will become the bottoms, so they may appear dark and done, but the real key is whether the underside is fully baked. It takes practice to know just when to pull the buns out of the oven.

    8. For cinnamon buns, cool the buns in the pan for about 10 minutes and then streak white fondant glaze across the tops, while the buns are warm but not too hot. Remove the buns from the pans and place them on a cooling rack. Wait for at least 20 minutes before serving. For the sticky buns, cool the buns in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove them by flipping them over into another pan. Carefully scoop any run-off glaze back over the buns with a spatula. Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.

    White fondant glaze for cinnamon buns

    Cinnamon buns are usually topped with a thick white glaze called fondant. There are many ways to make fondant glaze, but here is a delicious and simple version, enlivened by the addition of citrus flavor, either lemon or orange. You can also substitute vanilla extract or rum extract, or simply make the glaze without any flavorings.

    Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon or orange extract and 6 tablespoons to 1/2 cup of warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the milk slowly and only as much as is needed to make a thick, smooth paste.

    When the buns have cooled but are still warm, streak the glaze over them by dipping the tines of a fork or a whisk into the glaze and waving the fork or whisk over the tops. Or, form the streaks by dipping your fingers in the glaze and letting it drip off as you wave them over the tops of the buns. (Remember to wear latex gloves.)

    Caramel glaze for sticky buns

    Caramel glaze is essentially some combination of sugar and fat, cooked until it caramelizes. The trick is catching it just when the sugar melts and lightly caramelizes to a golden amber. Then it will cool to a soft, creamy caramel. If you wait too long and the glaze turns dark brown, it will cool to a hard, crack-your-teeth consistency. Most sticky bun glazes contain other ingredients to influence flavor and texture, such as corn syrup to keep the sugar from crystallizing and flavor extracts or oils, such as vanilla or lemon. This version makes the best sticky bun glaze of any I´ve tried. It was developed by my wife, Susan, for Brother Juniper´s Cafe in Forestville, California.
    NOTE: you can substitute the corn syrup for any neutral flavor syrup, like cane syrup or gold syrup.

    1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature.

    2. Cream together for 2 minutes on high speed with the paddle attachment. Add 1/2 cup corn syrup and 1 teaspoon lemon, orange or vanilla extract. Continue to cream for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

    3. Use as much of this as you need to cover the bottom of the pan with a 1/4-inch layer. Refrigerate and save any excess for future use; it will keep for months in a sealed container.

Daring Bakers: Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Milk chocolate and caramel tart decorated with caramel containing ground hazelnuts

This is my second month as a member of the amazing Daring Bakers. The Daring bakers consist of proud women and men that love to bake and are not afraid of baking challenges. The idea of the Daring Bakers is that every month one baking recipe is presented that all members have to follow exactly without any modifications. During the month we share our experiences and learn to be better bakers. The recipe, our photos and experiences are then officially posted on a specified day, this time on the 29th of August. This month’s challenge was a Milk Chocolate Caramel Tart consisting of a pastry with hazelnuts, cocoa and cinnamon which was filled with caramel mixture and then milk chocolate mousse topped with pieces of caramel. The recipe was picked by Veronica and Patricia.

How it all went:
I love the beginning of every month as that is when the new Daring Bakers challenge is presented. I always get enthusiastic, thinking a lot about the recipe. This time I was looking forward to bake the tart, as always, but the days passed by and I baked all sorts of cakes and cookies instead of the challenge. Eventually the month end was getting closer and last Sunday evening I finally made the dough. On Monday evening after work I made the caramel filling, which started really fine using the dry method when melting the caster sugar. I was pretty scared though, as I got a really nasty burn when making sugar candies many years ago. When I added the room temperatured cream to the melted sugar I instantly got a hard sugar layer on top of the cream. I was sure that everything would just explode in my face as the cream beneath the sugar started to simmer. I tried to calm down and started stirring the hard sugar and cream on a low temperature until I finally managed the sugar to melt again. After baking the filling in the oven I noticed that the filling was way too loose, so I had it in the oven for an additional 8 or even 10 minutes. It was still very wobbly when I took it out but I thought that it would set fine after being refrigerated (but it didn’t set completely. I still don’t know if it’s the fan ovens fault or what I did wrong). As the caramel filling was cooling, I made the caramel for the decoration. Anne had mentioned that hazelnuts made the creation less sweet so I added some ground hazelnuts and the sugar came out very well and I managed not to burn myself. Then I started on the chocolate mousse. I melted my chocolate in the micro wave and let it cool a bit. I stirred it every now and then when I suddenly noticed that it was starting to stiffen even though it was still quite warm. So I took the stupid decision to combine it with the whipped cream, which of course kind of separated from the heat. Maybe separated it the wrong word, but it looked a bit weird. I had no problems with putting the mousse on top of the caramel filling and left the cake in the fridge until Tuesday evening when I decorated the cake with the burnt sugar and finally served it to Fredrik and a friend. And today Wednesday I’m writing the post :-)

The tart is absolutely too sweet. Although my “jury” agreed on that the tart would be pretty good if cut in really small pieces and served with strong coffee.The milk chocolate mousse set very nicely but was way too sweet even if I tried hard with finding a not too sweet and yet not over priced milk chocolate. And also as I wrote earlier it kind of separated. I thought that the caramel filling would get firmer after spending almost 24 hours in the fridge, but it was quite loose and you definetly can’t hold up a piece of the cake with a fork in the caramel filling, like on the original photo which was provided when the Daring Bakers received the recipe.

Lessons learned (nb that some of these lessons should have been learned already last month):
1. Don’t start baking too late in the evening.
2. Bake the cake on a weekend and not in the evening after work.
3. Make sure to use milk chocolate that isn’t too sweet.
4. Don’t be cocky and think that it’s easy peasy, there are always things that can go wrong when baking a cake with so many parts.
5. Sometimes room temperatured ingredients just are not enough. In the case with the caramel filling I should have heated the cream before pouring it on the melted sugar.
6. You can’t always succeed :-)

Will I do this tart again?
Probably some day in the future, with a few modifications though; at least a less sweet chocolate and less cinnamon.

To see how the other Daring Bakers managed the challenge, check out our blog roll.

    Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart
    (The August challenge for the Daring Bakers. Source: Sweet and Savory tarts by Eric Kayser)

    Preparation time: 40 minutes
    Baking Time: 30 minutes
    Refrigeration time: 1 hour
    One 9-inch(24-cm) square pan; 1 10-inch (26-cm) round baking pan

    ½ lb (250 g) chocolate shortbread pastry (see recipe below)
    1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
    1 cup (250 g) heavy cream (30-40 percent butterfat) or crème fraiche
    ¼ cup (50 g) butter
    2 whole eggs
    1 egg yolk
    2 ½ tablespoons (15 g) flour
    1 ¼ cups (300 g) whipping cream
    ½ lb (250 g) milk chocolate

    1. Preheat oven to 325 °F (160 °C).
    2. Line the baking pan with the chocolate shortbread pastry and bake blind for 15 minutes.
    3. In a saucepan, caramelize 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar using the dry method until it turns a golden caramel color. Incorporate the heavy cream or crème fraiche and then add butter. Mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool.
    4. In a mixing bowl, beat the whole eggs with the extra egg yolk, then incorporate the flour.
    5. Pour this into the cream-caramel mixture and mix thoroughly.
    6. Spread it out in the tart shell and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
    7. Prepare the milk chocolate mousse: beat the whipping cream until stiff. Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave or in a bain-marie, and fold it gently into the whipped cream.
    8. Pour the chocolate mousse over the cooled caramel mixture, smoothing it with a spatula. Chill for one hour in the refrigerator.

    To decorate: melt ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar in a saucepan until it reaches an amber color. Pour it onto waxed paper laid out on a flat surface. Leave to cool. Break it into small fragments and stick them lightly into the top of the tart.

    Chocolate Shortbread Pastry

    Preparation time: 10 minutes
    Refrigeration :overnight
    To make 3 tarts, 9 ½ inches (24 cm) square
    or 10 inches (26 cm round)

    1 cup (250g ) unsalted butter, softened
    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 g) confectioners’ sugar
    ½ cup (50 g) ground hazelnuts
    2 level teaspoons (5 g) ground cinnamon
    2 eggs
    4 ½ cups (400 g) cake flour
    2 ½ teaspoons (10 g) baking powder
    1 ½ tablespoons (10 g) cocoa powder

    A day ahead
    1. In a mixing bowl of a food processor, cream the butter.
    2. Add the confectioners’ sugar, the ground hazelnuts, and the cinnamon, and mix together
    3. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing constantly
    4. Sift in the flour, the baking powder, and the cocoa powder, and mix well.
    5. Form a ball with the dough, cover in plastic wrap, and chill overnight.

Daring Bakers: Strawberry Mirror Cake

Monday, July 30th, 2007

I’m proud to announce that I from this month am a member of the amazing Daring Bakers. Thank you all very much for letting me join. The Daring bakers consist of proud women and men that love to bake and are not afraid of baking challenges. The idea of the Daring Bakers is that every month one baking recipe is presented that all members have to follow exactly. During the month we share our experiences and learn to be better bakers. The recipe, our photos and experiences are then officially posted on a specified day, this time on the 30th of June.

The challenge for the month of July was a Strawberry mirror cake and was picked by Peabody. When I first read the recipe I thought that it sounded rather easy as I’ve baked quite many cakes with mirrors. But I would soon realise that it wasn’t that easy, especially when I noticed that the bavarian cream was custard based… I’ve lost track of how many times during the baking of the cake I said to my husband: “You better not like this cake because I’ll never ever bake it again. It’s just not worth the effort!”. Apart from the mild strawberry taste, the Strawberry bavarian cream was creamy and light; very yummy. The best part of the cake was the mirror, as I wrote earlier I’ve done a lot of cakes with mirrors but thanks to the homemade strawberry juice this one was outstanding. I will definitly use this mirror recipe for other cakes.

Thanks Peabody for choosing this month’s recipe for the Daring Bakers! I had great fun even though I was very frustated when the clock passed midnight with no hope of getting a whole edible cake for the fika I was planning the day after. But I made it and can’t wait to get the info for next month’s challenge!

Lessons learned:
1. Don’t start baking an advanced recipe too late in the evening or you’ll get very tired. Especially if you’ll encouter any problems.
2. Make sure to make the conversions from cups to milliliters and grams correctly.
3. Learn to make custard. Obviously using room temperatured products and stiring constantly on a low heat isn’t enough. I’ve failed several times, including other recipes and I never seem to learn.
4. READ the recipe carefully. Once, twice, three times and even up to ten times.
5. Make sure to have all ingredients at home. Especially if you start baking in the evening. Or just make sure to have a husband that will go shopping for you in the middle of the night (assumable that you have a grocery or 7-eleven store that’s open).

Number of times I had to make the Strawberry Bavarian Cream:
3, yes THREE.
First attempt: I used the wrong amount of sugar (please refer to point 2 under “lessons learned”) but still decided to go on and then the custard curdled.
Second attempt: I ran out of milk (please refer to point 5 under “lessons learned”) so I had to ask my husband to go shopping milk (and eggs just in case I would’t make it on the second attempt either). And of course my custard curdled again, even though all ingredients were at a room temperature.
Third attempt: At this point I was really glad that I’ve had asked my husband to buy extra eggs. With the new eggs I also realised that the earlier egg yolks were really small compared to the new ones. I googled and read everything about making custard and asked my husband to do so as well. I think that I made it correctly, but I can’t be sure. I didn’t really understand how thick the cream should be, but I guess that it’s was OK as the cake turned out really well. But as I was very stressed and tired (it was past midnight) I forgot to strain the strawberry puree which I didn’t realise until the cake was eaten and gone… Oh well.

What I didn’t like about the recipe:
1. Very time consuming, but most of it was my fault due to the problems with the Strawberry bavarian cream.
2. Food colouring. Why use it when this cake is naturally beautiful?
3. Baking the cake in a jelly roll pan and then cutting out circles. To my husbands delight there were a lot of left overs, but I would have prefered to bake the cake in two spring forms.

What I forgot:
1. To strain the strawberries for the puree.

What I didn’t have at home:
1. Cardboard.
2. Food colouring (and I refused to buy it as the strawberries were so pretty and naturally coloured. Sorry daring bakers!)
3. Kirsch (I substituted with transparent raspberry vodka)
4. Aluminium foil for the bottom.

Eggs used for this recipe (including the extra ten eggs due to me failing with the bavarian cream):

To see all Strawberry Mirror Cakes made by the other Daring Bakers, just go to the Daring Bakers Blog Roll site.

    Strawberry Mirror Cake
    (A Daring Bakers challenge. Adapted from Cakes and Pastries At The Academy by the California Culinary Academy 1993)

    3 eggs
    3 egg yolks
    ¾ cup sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    3 egg whites
    1/8 tsp cream of tartar (I bought my jar at “The English Shop” in Söderhallarna)
    2 TBSP sugar
    2/3 cup sifted cake flour (not to be found anywhere so I used 60 gram normal flour and 5 gram maizena/cornstarch)
    ½ cup water
    1/3 cups sugar
    2 TBSP kirsch or strawberry liqueur

    Strawberry Bavarian Cream:
    2 ½ TBSP unflavored gelatin
    1 ½ cups strained strawberry puree(1 ½ baskets)
    5 egg yolks
    2/3 cup sugar
    1 ½ cups milk
    1 TBSP lemon juice
    several drops of red food coloring
    1 ¾ cups whipping cream

    Strawberry Mirror:
    1 tsp lemon juice
    1 TBSP kirsch
    1 TBSP water
    1 TBSP unflavored gelatin
    Few drops of red food coloring

    Strawberry Juice:
    1 ½ pints of strawberries(18 oz)
    ¾ cup sugar
    ¾ cup water

    1.Preheat oven to 450F. Butter and flour the sides of an 11-by-17 inch jelly roll pan(rimmed baking sheet). Line bottom of pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit bottom pan exactly.
    2.Beat eggs, egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar together in a medium bowl until thick and light. Beat in the vanilla.
    3.In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, ad cream of tartar and beat until whites begin to form peaks. Add the 2 TBSP sugar and beat until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks(do not over beat).
    4.Sift flour over the egg yolk mixture and fold in . Stir in one fourth of the whites. Then carefully fold in the remaining whites.
    5.Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake until light brown and springy to touch(7 to 10 minutes). Cool in pan 5 minutes. Run a knife along edge to loosen. Invert cake tin to cut out 8 ¼ inch circles of cake. Wrap the cake layers, separated with waxed paper, and set aside. Cake may be frozen at this point.
    6.To make soaking syrup: Combine water and the 1/3 cup sugar in saucepan; bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Cool to room temperature; flavor with liqueur. Set aside or refrigerate in glass jar until ready to use.
    7.To assemble cake: Brush sides of 10-inch springform pan lightly with flavorless salad oil or almond oil. Cut out a cardboard circle that is exactly the same size as the bottom inside of the pan; cover cardboard with aluminum foil and fit into bottom of pan. Center one layer of the cake bottom of pan. Brush the cake with some of the soaking syrup to just moisten(not drench) the cake; set aside.
    8.Prepare Strawberry Bavarian Cream. Immediately pour about half of the Bavarian Cream over the first layer of cake in the pan. Set the next layer of cake on top of the cream. Pour remaining Bavarian Cream over cake and smooth top of the cream with spatula. Refrigerate until the cream sets(1 to 2 hours).
    9.Prepare the Strawberry Mirror.
    10.To serve: Wrap a hot towel around the outside of springform pan for a few minutes. Run a small sharp knife tip around the edge of the Strawberry Mirror to separate it form the sides of pan. Mirror will tear when sides are unlatched if it is stuck at ANY point. Slowly unlatch the pan and slide it off the cake. Slice cake in wedges and serve in upright slices.

    Prep Work:

    Strawberry Bavarian Cream
    1.Sprinkle the gelatin over the strawberry puree in a small bowl and set aside until spongy.
    2.Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl’ beat until light. Bring milk to a boil in sauce pan. Pour hot milk into yolk mixture ans stir with a wooden spoon(it doesn’t say so but I would temper the egg mixture first to be safe). Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until your finger leaves a clear trail in sauce when drawn across the back of the spoon.(Do not boil or mixture will curdle.) Immediately remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin mixture. Pour into a stainless steel bowl places over a bowl of ice water. Stir in lemon juice and a few drops of red food coloring. Cool over ice water, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens to the consistency of softly whipped cream.
    3.While gelatin mixture is cooling, whip the whipping cream until it holds soft peaks. When the gelatin mixture resembles softly whipped cream, fold the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture.

    Strawberry Mirror
    1.Prepare strawberry juice (see further down).
    2.Place lemon juice, kirsch, and water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over this mixture; set aside until spongy and soft.
    3.Measure 1 ½ cups Strawberry juice into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer; pour over gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve gelatin. Tint to desired color with red food coloring. Place bowl over bowl of ice water and stir occasionally until the mixture is syrupy and just beings to thicken(do not let jell); remove from ice water.
    4.When mixture is syrupy, pour a 1/16-inch layer over the top of cake. Refrigerate until set.

    Strawberry Juice
    Wash and hull strawberries; coarsely chop. Place strawberries in saucepan; crush to start juices flowing. Place over low heat; add sugar and water; simmer slowly 10 minutes. Pour juice and pulp through damp jelly bag or cheesecloth-lined colander and drain into a bowl for 15 minutes(Do not press down on fruit).