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Monday, August 31, 2009

Expresso Cheesecake Brownies - Tuesdays with Dorie

Coming together nicely. Thirty-five minutes later - great, they are "lightly browned around the edges and puffed all over." I hope I can stay up until 11:00pm to pour on the sour cream frosting.

Well, I did - thank goodness for television and coffee. I like this brownie - it's like a brownie slice really, with quite a thin crust and the rest cheesecake. Melissa of Life in a Peanut Shell picked this weeks recipe - thank you Melissa; it's a lovely choice. The recipe is on Melissa's blog.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Daring Bakers' 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.

I'm posting a day late - just didn't manage my schedule too well. It's a really nice cake to make, albeit the six sponge circles are a bit finicky. I alternately used two 9-inch cake rings to shape the rounds. If I make this torte again I would use just under 1-1/4 cups of batter, maybe 1-1/8, for each round as I was really running out of batter by the time nos. 5 and 6 were ready for baking.

I have learned a lot with this recipe and gained more confidence. My caramel turned out quite nicely - to date I have had problems with getting the amber color. This time I watched it like a hawk and the color turned in an instant - time for me to take it off the stove. (It looks like around hardball on the candy thermometer but I didn't risk the time to test it in case the caramel turned bitter.)

My chocolate buttercream looks really creamy so I am very satisfied with it. I have often had problems with making "scrambled eggs" when making a custard type recipe, but I bought a Nordic Ware Universal Double Boiler recently. It has a thicker base than my old boiler so the heat didn't curdle the eggs. It's fairly deep so it's necessary to use a tallish pot for the base to prevent it touching the water.

The caramel wedges? Not so good - I let the caramel get too hard so there were some casualties and I had a really hard time trying to separate the slices. However, I'm putting the slightly better ones on the cake, but they still look very wonky. I really like the lemon tang in the caramel though, so I've eaten the broken ones!

Assembly was a mixed experience - the layers came together quite evenly but the end product looks like the caramel wedges, but even more wonky. I like that I have learned this layer method; it would be nice to try it with teeny bit thicker layers.

Whew, it's done! Quite a difficult challenge I think.

Here's the recipe from our Daring Baker Hosts, Angela and Lorraine:


•2 baking sheets
•9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” cake tin, for templates
•mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)
•a sieve
•a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
•a small saucepan
•a whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or stand mixer will make life much easier)
•metal offset spatula
•sharp knife
•a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a sprinfrom tin.
•piping bag and tip, optional
Prep times

•Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.
•Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
•Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
•Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes
Sponge cake layers

•6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
•1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
•1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
•1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
•pinch of salt
Chocolate Buttercream

•4 large eggs, at room temperature
•1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
•4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
•2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.
Caramel topping

•1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
•12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
•8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
•1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)
Finishing touches

•a 7” cardboard round
•12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
•½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts
Directions for the sponge layers:

NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).

2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)

3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)

4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.

5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

Lorraine's note: If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!

Directions for the caramel topping:

1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.
3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

Angela's note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.

Assembling the Dobos

1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.

Thank you to the DB hosts, Angela and Lorraine. It has been an exciting challenge.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Creamiest Lime-Lemon Cream Meringue Pie - Tuesdays with Dorie

I've just been licking the spoon - what a lovely, thick lemon curd and very lemony-limey too! I used both lemons and limes as I ran out of lemons, and I left out the ginger because my boss does not like ginger!

It's going to be late. I will have to post tomorrow, Wednesday and take it to work on Thursday. The curd is in the fridge but still has to do the overnight thing, and then there's the meringue, of course. I just didn't start early enough (nothing unusual for me).

I read the P&Q and noted there were many comments about the length of time it took for the curd to get to 180 degrees - yes, indeed, mine took almost 25 minutes. I started with a double boiler; after about 20 minutes it just wasn't going over 170 degrees, so I put the saucepan on direct heat and it took a few minutes after that to reach the right temperature. Maybe I should have changed to direct heat earlier but then I might have got scrambled eggs.

Linda of Tender Crumb picked this week's recipe; it's a lovely choice and I'm so pleased I got a chance to see her blog - it is beautiful. Check out the recipe on the link.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Applesauce Spice Bars - Tuesdays with Dorie

Baking at the last minute as usual, to meet the Tuesday morning deadline. I was a bit pooped over the weekend as I made a lot of goodies for our Assumption Day reception so I really needed to chill out.

However, the first thing I had to do today was to clean my refrigerator - I had spilled a can of mango mousse in it and there was orangey looking, liquidy puree all over the fridge; what a clean up job it was! Finally, I got to my baking. The bars are in the oven now - maybe need another 5 - 10 minutes. I am so hoping they are going to be good. The batter was easy peasy to get together. I don't make bar cookies all that often for some reason, although I almost always enjoy eating them.

The taste test will come tomorrow at work. Karen of Something Sweet by Karen picked this week's recipe so check out her blog for the recipe. From reading the P&Q it seems the bars are delicious. Thanks a ton, Karen.

Not the prettiest pic! They are rather crumbly to cut.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Peppermint Cake

This is a lovely, ethereally light angel food cake, known at my Church as, "The Peppermint Cake." I have made it a couple of times for receptions and got a special request for it for the Assumption Day reception we had last night.

It's quite easy to make in an angelfood pan and I should imagine a number of flavoring extracts would go well, if peppermint extract is not liked. The recipe is from a fabulous site, Diana's Desserts.

It's got two excellent ratings (mine and another baker's) and one miserable one, obviously by someone who either didn't like peppermint or who messed up. It really makes me angry when people give a low rating, with no comments or explanations, which brings the average down.

I have in mind another angelfood cake as a co-worker's choice - one of our chaps said he liked angelfood cake - so I'm going to use this recipe and try out another flavoring.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Brownie Buttons - Tuesdays with Dorie

What a lovely pick from Jayna this week! I had a really enjoyable time making these adorable Brownie Buttons. I was so busy today with all sorts of duties - cashing in my coins at Pathmark's "Coin Star;" grocery shopping for the week; clearing out my closet and so on and so on, so no wonder I needed a break.

The small quantities in the recipe are just right for baking at the end of a busy day and the brownies are so easy too. They are out of the oven and I have consumed one - it's a delicious little bite. Just waiting for them to cool and I'll indulge in a bit of decorating.

The decorating inspiration: Green candy melts, a drop of peppermint extract and upside down brownie buttons. I bought some different colored candy melts at New York Cake on W.22nd St. plus some peppermint essence from the wonderful variety of flavorings they have there. I melted some of the green ones in the double boiler and then smothered the brownie buttons in them and arranged them like chocolates on the plate. They taste gorgeous - like a brownie candy. Now I'm planning some more brownie buttons with different colors and flavor extracts - they would look so cute at a party.

Thank you, Jayna. I think you have started a trend here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lemon Bundt Cake - Tonight

Even though the bananas for the banana bundt were unusable, I was determined to put on a show for Tuesday's TWD night, so I found a very promising looking recipe for a Lemon Bundt from Recipezaar. It was easy to make and quite quick - the baking time is an hour but I think mine was done in about 50 minutes - it's a teeny bit dry around the edges even then.

Right now it's cooling but I'll pour some lemon glaze over it before cutting it. I think it will make a nice cake for a hot, humid summer day.

Lemon Bundt Cake Recipe - From Recipezaar

3/4 cup butter, room temperature
8 egg yolks (save the whites for another cake recipe)
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon, rind of, grated
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
Beat egg yolks in separate bowl until light and lemon colored.
Blend into creamed mixture. Sift the dry ingredients well.
Add to creamed mixture alternately with the milk blending well.
Stir and blend in vanilla, lemon rind and lemon extract. Place batter in a well greased and floured Bundt pan.
Bake in a preheated 325F oven about 1 hour or until tested done. Cool in pan 15 minutes and carefully remove. Glaze if desired with a lemon glaze made from powdered sugar and lemon juice.

Banana Bundt Cake Not Tonight - TWD

Oh dear! There won't be a banana bundt for TWD this week - the bananas I was intending to use tonight look suspiciously overripe, so I'm going to coast around looking for another cake. Will have to do this one on a rewind.