Daring Bakers make Blueberry Donuts

Well, actually they made donuts, but I decided to make blueberry donuts because Rocker Dude loves blueberries and blueberry flavored things.

I have to admit that I almost forgot to make this month’s recipe, or to be more precise, I forgot that the month was almost over and that I had to get my act together.  I saw lollcakes post her donuts and that reminded me to get my tuchus in gear.  I knew that I was not going to have enough time to make the yeast donuts even though I really wanted to, so I looked up the buttermilk donut recipe and had Rocker Dude buy all the ingredients.

After having my dinner stolen by the Little Rocker (she decided that mine was more interesting than hers, though I think that grilled cheese is better than falafel – but I’m no judge), I got to work.  The dough was really easy to put together, though I had to add a bit more flour to compensate for the addition of the blueberry pie filling.

Adding the blueberry to the dough.

I was wary of deep-frying, 24 years of “Do not fry – oil is bad for you” being ingrained in y head by my mother is not easy to overcome.  But maybe a vestige of my teenage rebelliousness came through and I decided not to bake these donuts but to venture into the world of deep-frying.  I filled up a pot with lots of canola oil (also going against years of being taught to only use olive oil), stuck in the thermometer and waited for it to heat up.  Of course while I was cutting out the donuts, the oil got too hot and then I had to let it cool down a bit, but eventually we got it to the right temperature.  I did have some trouble keeping it at that temperature, but all the donuts cooked really nicely, without tasting greasy (from the oil being too cold) or being undercooked on the inside (from the oil being too hot).  I was also a bit worried about the amount of flour that I was using to keep the donuts from sticking to the counter, but it all fell off once I put the donut in the oil.

One side being cooked
And the other side.

The Little Rocker loved the munchkins that I made as well (donut-holes for anyone who doesn’t know Dunkin’ Donuts).  She was already in pjs but she wanted to see what I was doing.  There was no way that I was going to let her near hot oil, so I gave her a munchkin instead.  Then she came back and had another one.  And another one.  And then I told her that she could have more tomorrow and time for bed.

Waiting to be fried

We finally had Star Trek Night again last night after it being canceled for various social activities, and the donuts were the perfect snack.  We have now seen 12 episodes of Enterprise, only 720-something episodes left to go until we finish all the Star Trek series.  Our kids might be married before we finish.

The finished product - blueberry donuts

I am glad that I took the first step into the world of deep-frying, though I definitely won’t make it a habit, it’s such a waste of oil.  But now, I can make sufganiyot for Hannuka!  And Rocker Dude does so love his sufganiyot (though I still have horrible flashbacks from a sufganiyot contest in seminary where 5 18-year-old girls attempted to make sufganiyot ***shudder***)

The Little Rocker's Breakfast

I may not have time to make the yeast recipe for donuts this month, but they will definitely be tried in the future!

Blog-checking lines: The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Cake Doughnuts:

Preparation time:
Hands on prep time – 25 minutes
Cooking time – 12 minutes

Yield: About 15 doughnuts & 15 doughnut holes, depending on size

Ingredients
Sour Cream ¼ cup / 60 ml / 60 gm / 2 oz
All Purpose Flour 3 ¼ cup / 780 ml / 455 gm / 16 oz + extra for dusting surface (if making blueberry donuts, add about another 1/2 cup)
White Granulated Sugar ¾ cup / 180 ml / 170 gm / 6 oz
Baking Soda ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
Baking Powder 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
Kosher Salt 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz (If using table salt, only use ½ teaspoon)
Nutmeg, grated 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / .3 oz
Active Dry Yeast 1 1/8 teaspoon / 5.6 ml / 3.5 gm / .125 oz
Buttermilk ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoon / 210 ml / 225 gm / 7 ¾ oz
Egg, Large 1
Egg Yolk, Large 2
Pure Vanilla Extract 1 Tablespoon / 15 ml
Blueberry Pie Filling 1/2 cup
Powdered (Icing) Sugar ¼ cup / 120 ml / 65 gm / 2.3 oz (Used for decorating and is optional)

Directions:

  1. In a small stainless-steel bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, heat the sour cream until just warm.
  2. Heat the oil to 375°F/190°C.
  3. Over a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg; make a large well in the center. Place the yeast in the well; pour the sour cream over it. Allow it to soften (if using packed fresh yeast), about 1 minute.
  4. Pour the buttermilk, whole egg, egg yolks, and vanilla extract into the well. Using one hand, gradually draw in the dry ingredients. The mixture should be fairly smooth before you draw in more flour. Add the blueberry pie filling.  Mix until it is completely incorporated. The dough will be very sticky. Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour.
  5. Sift an even layer of flour onto a work surface. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of flour. You don’t want the doughnuts sticking to your counter. Scrape dough out of bowl onto the surface; sift another layer of flour over dough. Working quickly, pat dough into an even 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness. Dip cutter in flour and, cutting as closely together as possible, cut out the doughnuts and holes. Place holes and doughnuts on a floured surface. Working quickly, gather scraps of dough together, pat into 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness, and cut out remaining doughnuts and holes.
  6. Drop three to four doughnuts at a time into the hot oil. Once they turn golden brown, turn them and cook the other side. Cooking times may vary, but with my oil at 375 °F/190°C, I found they only took about 20 to 30 seconds per side.
  7. Once cooked, place on a baking sheet covered with paper towels to drain.

Sift powdered sugar over doughnuts and serve.

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Daring Bakers do Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies!  I haven’t made these in a long time, not since this post in March.  I have a recipe that I like a lot, but I have never iced them.  Icing and frosting or whatever you want to call it, is just not my forte – it’s a bit intimidating.  So I decided that I had to do this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge so that I would force myself to learn how to use it.

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

In preparation for this big feat, I emailed my friend S. of The Cookie Cutters fame as she is an expert in the cookie decorating field.  I know that the challenge was to use royal icing, but I wanted to try using fondant, something that I have never used before.

Fondant
The necessary tools - 100 cookie cutters!

Conveniently the Little Rocker’s birthday was on September 15th, sheturned two years old!  So I decided to make these cookies for the birthday party that we were hosting over the Sukkoth holiday.  As we were at the grandparents’ we are doing the party in their Sukkah.  Check it out:

Sukkah entrance
Inside the Sukkah - the Little Rocker helped me make some of the chains that are hanging from the roof.

So I spent a three nights making these cookies – one night to bake, one night to cover in fondant and one night to add the details.  My darling daughter is obsessed with Elmo and Sesame Street, so I made Elmo and Big Bird cookies (if you use your imagination a little – but isn’t that what Sesame Street is all about – oh wait, that’s Barney).

The Little Rocker helps roll out the dough.

I got the Elmo one more or less down, until I realized that I didn’t have anything to make his fur look fluffy.  It was already 11:30 at night, and I just did not have the energy to make another batch of royal icing to make little tufts of “fur”, so Elmo has lost someof his hair.  The Big Birds were okay until I remembered that Big Bird has a yellow beak and not an orange one…

Rolling out the fondant

I ended up using fondant for the eyes, noses and Big Bird’s mouth, because I thought it would be easier, and I only used the royal icing for Elmo’s mouth and the pupils in the eyes – it definitely added.

Eyes on the cookies

Oh well,  the Little Rocker knew right away that they were supposed to be and as soon as she saw them she said “Elmo!” Okay that was after she said “Cookie!!”

Royal Icing
Don't they look just like Elmo and Big Bird? 😉

We are having a bunch of people over this afternoon to celebrate – pizza, Elmo cake, the whole kit and kaboodle.  Hope she enjoys!

Elmo! (Sorry the picture is a bit blurry, bad lighting!)

Here is the recipe from the Daring Baker’s site:

Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4″ Cookies

200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Directions
• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture.
Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during
baking, losing their shape.

• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid
flour flying everywhere.

• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an
hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and
then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.

• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in
some cookies being baked before others are done.

Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
• Leave to cool on cooling racks.
• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated
cookies can last up to a month.

Royal Icing:

315g – 375g / 11oz – 13oz / 2½ – 3 cups Icing / Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
10ml / 2 tsp Lemon Juice
5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional

Directions

• Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
Tip: It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and
grease free.

• Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
Tip: I’ve listed 2 amounts of icing sugar, the lesser amount is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add even more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need.
• Beat on low until combined and smooth.
• Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.
Tip: Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.

Daring Bakers make Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cakes

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

I was really excited about making this recipe.  It is July in Israel and perfect ice cream weather.  Hot and sunny and humid everyday.  I also recently learned how to make ice cream myself so I love opportunities to make more ice cream.  When I saw the challenge I had in mind to make it earlier on in the month because we are flying today to America and I didn’t want it lying around the house while we are gone.  Of course it came to the 15th and I realized that I completely forgot to make the cake – ahhhh!

I knew that this recipe would be a bit time-consuming and if I tried to make it bit by bit at nights, then I would need a few days to put it together.  Then I had an idea.  On August 20th, we had a fast day (Tisha B’Av – mourning the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem – about 3,500 years ago).  I was taking off from work because the Little Rocker’s daycare was closed as well.  Here, I would have an entire day that I could devote to making this recipe.  Granted I would be fasting so I couldn’t try any of it, but I find that I fast better when I am busy and can’t think about eating.  I also had to make a quiche for the Little Rocker’s graduation party at the end of the week, as well as food to break the fast on and a blintz souffle for my friend S. (or E., depending what you call her)’s bridal shower the next day.  Rocker Dude was not happy.   He fasts best in bed, asleep or watching TV and not thinking or smelling food.  Oh well.  Poor him.

I decided that I should make the ice creams first and then make the cake itself.  The ice creams were different from what I was used to, no custard, and the vanilla ice cream I didn’t even heat at all.  The chocolate ice cream used cornstarch as a thickener.  I wasn’t sure how that was going to turn out, but it turned out okay.  When Rocker Dude asked what kind of ice creams I would be making I said, “Vanilla and chocolate.”  His response, “Oh, so finally you will be making something normal and plain and not burnt monkey ice cream with weird whatever swirl.”  You can see how he likes my experimentation.

Creams waiting to be flavored and frozen.

Because the vanilla ice cream did not have to be heated, it froze relatively quickly.  Not so the chocolate which was heated.  The cakes came out perfectly the first time and rolled nicely with no cracking – Yay!!!  Of course the Little Rocker was awfully curious about what I was doing and while the two cakes were rolled in the towels to cool, she decided that she had to see what was inside and she started to unroll the cakes.  I sort of freaked out, not proud about it, but what can you do?  I told her that she couldn’t touch the cakes, they were mine.  So her compromise was she would pat them softly and say, “Nice, nice” and then when I wasn’t looking she would try to open them again.  Curiosity is a challenge.  Actually this is her solution to everything these days.  Every time I tell her not to touch something she just pats is softly and says, “Nice, nice”.  Okay baby, the point is that you don’t touch (keep in mind she does this when I am drinking coffee, except then she adds, “Hot, nice nice.”  Oy!

The Little Rocker, "Gimme gimme gimme!"
Cake, filled and rolled almost all the way

I wanted to be able to serve this for dessert after breaking the fast.  I realize that this was rather ambitious considering that in the end I only had about two hours to get the whole thing set up.  Either way, I sliced up the cake rolls and lined the bowl, then I put in the vanilla ice cream which had softened up just a bit, and put the whole thing back in the freezer.

Sliced cake rolls.

I forgot to make the fudge sauce so when I did remember to make it, it didn’t have a chance to cool completely before putting it on the vanilla (okay, I get it, I should have been more patient and then it would have cooled, but in my defense, I was hungry!)  The fudge sauce kind of mixed in with the vanilla – not too much, but a bit, but it also leaked between the cake rolls, so my cake was not as beautiful as it could have been.  I froze that and added the chocolate layer as well.

The finished product - you can see that the fudge leaked through, oh well, yum!

As you can imagine, it was not really ready to be eaten that night.  So I decided to take it to my friend’s shower.  There would be plenty of girls there who would appreciate it.

The inside of the frozen cake!

I brought it over and when I took it out, there were many ooohhhs and ahhhhs.  And then I got comments like, “Only give me half a piece, I need to fit into my wedding dress.”  or “That things just looks too darn good to be low-calorie.”  And yet, everyone who took half a piece, took another.  And soon there was not much left!  Success.

Congratulations S.! (The shower was Audrey Hepburn themed - she's a total fan)

Oh yeah, and the best part – I didn’t take it back home so I didn’t eat the leftovers – so I could fit into the dress I have to wear at my brother’s wedding next week!!

What was left.

Remember when Rocker Dude said that he was excited that I was finally making normal ice cream flavors – he never actually got to taste it – he won’t let me live that down.

P.S. I showed my Swiss friend M. the cake and she says that they just call the cakes roulades in Switzerland – not Swiss rolls.  I guess that makes sense, I mean do the French call them French fries?

Recipe:

The Swiss rolls-

Ingredients-

6 medium sized eggs

1 C / 225 gms caster sugar /8 oz+ extra for rolling

6 tblsp / 45gms/ a pinch over 1.5 oz of all purpose (plain) flour + 5 tblsp/40gm /a pinch under 1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together

2 tblsp /30ml / 1 fl oz of boiling water

a little oil for brushing the pans

For the filling-

2C / 500 mls/ 16 fl oz of whipping cream

1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about ½ cm (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

5 tblsp / 70gms/2.5oz of caster sugar

Method-

  1. Pre heat the oven at 200 deg C /400 deg F approximately. Brush the baking pans ( 11 inches by 9 inches ) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.
  3. Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water.
  4. Divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pans.
  5. Place a pan in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the centre is springy to the touch.
  6. Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it.
  7. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.
  8. Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down.
  9. Repeat the same for the next cake as well.
  10. Grind together the vanilla pieces and sugar in a food processer till nicely mixed together. If you are using vanilla extract, just grind the sugar on its own and then add the sugar and extract to the cream.

Filling:

  1. In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick.
  2. Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes.
  3. Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of ½ an inch should be fine).
  4. Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.

The vanilla ice cream-

Ingredients-

2 and ½ C / 625 ml / 20 fl oz of whipping cream

1 vanilla bean, minced or 1 tsp/ 5 ml/ .15 fl oz vanilla extract

½ C / 115gms/ 4 oz of granulated sugar

Method-

Grind together the sugar and vanilla in a food processor. In a mixing bowl, add the cream and vanilla –sugar mixture and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together. If you are using the vanilla extract, grind the sugar on its own and then and the sugar along with the vanilla extract to the cream.

Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

The Hot fudge sauce-

Ingredients-

1 C / 230gms/ 8 oz of caster sugar

3 tblsp / 24gms/1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tblsp /15gms/ 1 oz of cornflour/cornstarch

1 and ½ C /355ml /12 fl oz of water

1 tblsp /14gms/ 1 oz butter

1 tsp/5 ml / .15 fl oz vanilla extract

Method-

  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornflour and water.
  2. Place the pan over heat, and stir constantly, till it begins to thicken and is smooth (for about 2 minutes).
  3. Remove from heat and mix in the butter and vanilla. Keep aside to cool .

The chocolate ice cream-

Ingredients-

2C/ 500 ml whipping cream

1 C/230gms/8 oz caster sugar

3 tblsp/ 24 gms/1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder

Method-

  1. Grind together the sugar and the cocoa powder in a food processor .
  2. In a saucepan, add all the ingredients and whisk lightly.
  3. Place the pan over heat and keep stirring till it begins to bubble around the edges.
  1. Remove from heat and cool completely before transferring to a freezer friendly container till firm around the edges. If you are using an ice cream maker, churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instruction, after the mixture has cooled completely.
  2. 5. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

Assembly-

1. Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices ( approximately 2 cms each ).

2. Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap.

3. Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).

4. Soften the vanilla ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm ( at least 1 hour)

5. Add the fudge sauce over the vanilla ice cream, cover and freeze till firm . ( at least an hour)

6. Soften the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the fudge sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set .

7. Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.

Daring Bakers: Piece Montee – Croquembouche

I know it has been a while.  After Shavuoth, work really picked up – think 10-11 hour days of total chaos.  But thank God, the season for the Q1 2010 results reporting is over and we can look forward to a little quiet, and best of all, I can get back to baking!  The end of the month also means Daring Bakers challenges.  This month’s challenge was a croquembouche (literally a crunch in the mouth).  It is basically a stack of pastry cream filled eclairs dipped in chocolate or caramel to hold it together.  I have always wanted to make eclairs and this was the perfect time to do it.

I decided to make the croquembouche for Shavuoth when we would be having 10 people anyway.  Also, J., an avid Top Chef watcher,  was coming and he appreciates what I do.

On Shavuot there is a widespread custom to eat only dairy foods (for many reasons, but one is because they taste so good – there should be at least one holiday when we eat dairy instead of meat!).  So as this was probably my one and only chance for the whole year to make fancy dairy desserts, the croquembouche was not the centerpiece it should have been, but it was delicious anyway.

Melting the butter with the water.

I made the eclairs over the span of a few days.  First making the eclair shells, and the pastry cream.  And then the next day putting everything together.  I’m pretty sure that it was too warm to make this, as my pate a choux kind of spread when I piped it onto the pan.

Eclairs ready for baking.

Either way, they puffed up and got crispy.  I put them in a Ziploc bag overnight because the recipe said that you could store them in an airtight container until you were ready to use them.  This made them soft and I had to recrisp them afterward.

Pastry Cream Filling

I wasn’t sure how to stack the eclairs to make the croquembouche.  Some recommended to use toothpicks to hold the eclairs together.  I didn’t want the toothpicks to show when people started taking off each eclair, so I decided to just let the chocolate that I was using to coat the tops of the eclairs to harden a bit before putting on the next layer.  This way the eclairs would stick to each other.  This worked perfectly and made for great presentation.

The final product - the Piece Montee

I decided to use melted chocolate instead of caramel to dip the eclairs because it would be easier to clean off the pot (sometimes these are important considerations.)

Everyone loved them and they went wonderfully with the mint ice cream that I made – yum!

Recipe:

For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.

Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.

It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Piping:
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Baking:
Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.

Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Can be stored in an airtight box overnight.

Filling:
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Use one of these to top your choux and assemble your piece montée.

Chocolate Glaze:
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)

Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.

Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place).

When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!

Daring Bakers: Cumberland Pudding

This month’s Daring Baker’s challenge was to make a British style pudding.  The “special ingredient” was suet.  This was a bit of a problem for me as suet is not kosher (it is taken form a non-kosher section of the animal).  Conveniently there were vegetarian substitutes, and I used palm margarine instead.  The next challenge was how to cook this pudding.  I don’t have a pudding basin, and I didn’t have an earthenware bowl that I could substitute.  I thought about this problem all month.  I finally came to the conclusion that I would have to use a foil disposable deep round dish and steam it in my 10 liter soup pot.

I spent a few days looking at various different recipes for puddings, both savory and sweet.  I planned on making a sponge style Cumberland Pudding (which is basically an apple cake) and a steak and onion pudding with a suet crust and a meat filling.  My plan was to practice on the Cumberland pudding and then if it works, I was going to try the steak and onion pudding.

Unfortunately, after dropping the “pudding tin” into the soup pot, I couldn’t get the tin to sit straight, and my pudding came out lopsided, a little damp because some water came in.   So I decided to give up on making the steak and onion pie until after I get better pudding making equipment.

Here is my pudding batter resting for an hour (I didn’t put in currants and added extra apples):

This is still a very exciting technique, as it never occurred to me that you  could steam a cake.  I told my mom about it and she too, thought it was interesting.  I guess we are too American to even think that such a thing could exist.  Thank you Esther from The Lilac Kitchen for introducing this to us!

Look at that moisture:

This recipe is from All British Food. They have a whole bunch of pudding recipes – try them all!

Recipe:

Fat for greasing

2 cups (8 oz.) cooking apples

4 oz. shredded suet (or margarine)

2 cups (200 g) all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

pinch of salt

150 g currants

3/8 cup (75 g) light brown sugar

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

2 eggs, beaten

5 tbsp. milk

light brown sugar for dredging

Peel, core and roughly chop the apples.  Put them in a large bowl with the suet, baking powder, salt, currants, sugar and nutmeg.  Mix well.  Add the beaten eggs with enough milk to make a soft, dropping consistency.  Let stand for 1 hour.  Grease a 750 mL pudding basin.  Prepare a steamer or half-fill a large saucepan with water and boil.

Stir the pudding mixture, adding a little more milk if it is stiff.  Pour the mixture into the basin, cover with greased greaseproof paper or foil and secure with string.  Put the pudding in the perforated part of the steamer, or stand it on a plate in the saucepan of boiling water.  The water should come halfway up the sides of the basin.  Cover the saucepan tightly and steam the pudding over gently simmering water for 1 3/4 to 2 hours.

Leave the pudding for 5-10 minutes at room temperature to firm up, then turn out to a serving plate.  Dredge with brown sugar before serving.

Recipes from the Daring Bakers’ site:

Type 1 Puddings — suet crusts.

Pudding Crust for both Savoury Pudding or Sweet Pudding (using suet or a suet substitute):

Ingredients

(250 grams/12 ounces) Self-raising flour (Note* If you cannot find self-raising flour, use a combination of all-purpose flour and baking powder.)
(175 grams/6 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
(a pinch) Salt and pepper (Note* If making a savory dish, can be replaced with spices for sweet if wished.)
(210 millilitres/a little less than a cup) Water (Note* You can use a milk or a water and milk mix for a richer pastry.)

1. Mix the flour and suet together.
2. Season the flour and suet mixture with salt and pepper if savory and just a bit of salt and/or spices if sweet.
3. Add the water, a tablespoonful at a time, as you mix the ingredients together. Make up the pastry to firm an elastic dough that leaves the bowl clean. The liquid amounts are only an estimate and most recipes just say water to mix.

4. Don’t over handle the pastry or it will be too hard.
5. Reserve a quarter for the lid and roll out the rest and line a well-greased bowl.
6. At this point add your filling.. a couple of options are given below but have fun and go wild!
7. Roll the final piece of pastry out into a circle big enough to cover the top of the basin, dampen the edges and put in position on the pudding, pinching the edges together to seal.
8. Seal well and cover with a double sheet of foil – pleated in the centre to allow room for expansion while cooking. Secure with string, and place it in a steamer over boiling water.
9. Steam for up to 5 hours, you may need to add more boiling water halfway through or possibly more often. There is a lot of leeway in this steaming time and different recipes give different steaming times. Delia Smith says 5 hours for Steak and kidney where as Mrs Beeton says 2.5 for a similar dish! One way to tell that it is cooked is when the pastry changes colour and goes from white to a sort of light golden brown. It is also hard to over steam a pudding so you can leave it bubbling away until you are ready.

Savoury Pudding Filling options: steak and kidney pudding.

1 full amount of suet crust (see recipe above)
(450 grams/about 1 pound) Chuck steak
(225 grams/about 1/2 a pound) Ox kidney
1 medium-sized onion
2 teaspoons well-seasoned flour
splash of Worcestershire sauce

1. Chop the steak and kidney into fairly small cubes, toss them in seasoned flour, then add them to the pastry lined basin.
2. Pop the onion slices in here and there.
3. Add enough cold water to reach almost to the top of the meat and sprinkle in a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper.
4. Follow the rest of the instructions in the crust recipe to finish pudding.
5. Cook for at least 2.5 hours (Mrs Beeton) up to 5 hours (Delia Smith).

Sweet Pudding Options: Sussex Pond Pudding

1 amount of suet pastry (see recipe above)
(120 grams/4.2 ounces) Demerara Sugar
(120 grams/4.2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 large lemon

1. Cut the butter into small pieces and put half in the basin with half the sugar.
2. Prick the whole lemon (preferably one with a thin skin) all over, using a thick skewer.
3. Place on top of the butter and sugar in the basin.
4. Cover with the rest of the butter and sugar.
5. Finish building the pudding as per the pastry recipe.
6. Steam for 3 ½ hours, or longer (for a really tender lemon), adding more water if needed.
7. To serve, turn the pudding into a dish with a deep rim, when you slice into it the rich lemon sauce will gush out.
8. Make sure each person is served some of the suet crust, lemon and tangy luscious sauce.

Type 2 puddings – Steamed Suet Pudding, sponge type.

(100 grams/4 ounces) All-purpose flour
(1/4 teaspoon) salt
(1.5 teaspoons) Baking powder
(100 grams/4 ounces) breadcrumbs
(75 grams/3 ounces) Caster sugar
(75 grams/ 3 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
(1) large egg
(6 to 8 tablespoons) Cold milk

1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into bowl.
2. Add breadcrumbs, sugar and suet.
3. Mix to a soft batter with beaten egg and milk
4. Turn into a buttered 1 litre/ 2 pint pudding basin and cover securely with buttered greaseproof paper or aluminum foil.
5. Steam steadily for 2.5 to 3 hours
6. Turn out onto warm plate, Serve with sweet sauce to taste such as custard, caramel or a sweetened fruit sauce.

Daring Bakers: Citrus Tian

Here I am, being organized and getting my Daring Bakers challenge up before the very last day of the month (or even a day late – yay!)

Okay so this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge was a citrus tian.  I had never heard of a tian before now, and when I looked it up on Wikpedia, I got some explanation about a clay vessel and braised vegetables.  Apparently though, a tian has come to mean a freeform casserole like thing.  Still confused.  So I looked at all the instructions and the pictures that people posted, and this is my new definition.  A tian is a free form tart, composed of a layer of pastry crust, stiffened cream and fruit on top.  This is more or less what I made, with a few additions.

The pastry layer was simple – plain pate sablee (a “crumbly” pastry dough).  The recipe was meant to be served in individual portions, but because I did not have 6 individual size round tart forms, I just made it family style.  I used my springform pan as a guide, and as the form to hold the tian together while it was setting.

The next step was to make the carmelized orange segments.  I segmented 7 oranges, and saved the juice because I forgot to buy orange juice for the rest of the recipe.  Then I made the caramel.  I have made caramel before, I know how hot it is, the recipe came with a warning,  and yet, I could not resist touching a tiny bit of caramel stuck to the spatula.  I did wait a few seconds, but the blister on my thumb is proof that I didn’t wait long enough.  I quickly stuck my finger under cold water and took a chocolate bar out of the freezer to hold (not sure why I took that, maybe it was a Freudian slip).  Either way, I successfully got the caramel onto the orange segments and let them sit until I was ready.

To make the marmalade (yes I made my own marmalade!!!), I had to blanch the oranges with water three times.  Apparently this is supposed to remove the bitterness from the peel.  It worked.  I put the orange slices (not the segments – these are different slices) in a pot with cold water, simmered them for 10 minutes, then, drain and repeat.  When they were done and cool, I minced them up and put them back in the pot with an equal amount of sugar and some orange juice.  To this I added pectin.  I have never worked with a stabilizer before, not even gelatin, so this was a new experience.  I put in the 5 grams that the recipe called for, but the mixture was not thickening, so I added another 5 grams.  In retrospect, I probably should have just waited until the marmalade cooled, and then it would have thickened.  Either way, it tasted good, had the right consistency and worked great.

This recipe also called for gelatin in the whipped cream to thicken it, so I went from no experience in thickeners to a tad of experience in two kinds.  I don’t think the gelatin worked as well because there was a fair amount still in the bowl after I poured it into the whipped cream (I didn’t realize how much until after I assembled the tian.  The resulting tian did hold together nicely, but I had to freeze it for a while.

The recipe said to freeze the tian for 10 minutes after it was assembled.  I made this on Friday afternoon, so I was in a bit of a rush with the rest of my preparations for Sabbath, and I left it in the freezer until dessert.  It was definitely set.  We had to wait a few minutes before we could cut it.  When we all tried the tian for the first time the response was that it tastes just like a creamsicle, just updated and sophisticated.  I took that as a compliment.

On Saturday night, I defrosted the tian in the refrigerator and it was perfect, you couldn’t even tell that it had ever been frozen – oh yeah, and there was nothing left 😉

The recipe is written for individual portions, but you can easily make it family style.

For the Pate Sablee:

Ingredients U.S. Imperial Metric Instructions for Ingredients
2 medium-sized egg yolks at room temperature
granulated sugar 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon; 2.8 oz; 80 grams
vanilla extract ½ teaspoon
Unsalted butter ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams ice cold, cubed
Salt 1/3 teaspoon; 2 grams
All-purpose flour 1.5 cup + 2 tablespoons; 7 oz; 200 grams
baking powder 1 teaspoon ; 4 grams

Directions:
Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in the food processor.

Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.

Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle.

Using your cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the circles of dough are just golden.

For the Marmalade:

Ingredients U.S. Imperial Metric Instructions for Ingredients
Freshly pressed orange juice ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams
1 large orange used to make orange slices
cold water to cook the orange slices
pectin 5 grams
granulated sugar: use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked

Finely slice the orange. Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes.

Blanch the orange slices 3 times. This process removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so it is essential to use a new batch of cold water every time when you blanch the slices.

Once blanched 3 times, drain the slices and let them cool.

Once they are cool enough to handle, finely mince them (using a knife or a food processor).

Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar . If you don’t have a scale, you can place the slices in a cup measurer and use the same amount of sugar.

In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice and the pectin. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes).

Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.

For the Orange Segments:

For this step you will need 8 oranges.

Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.

[See YouTube video in the References section below for additional information on segmenting oranges.]

For the Caramel:

Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
granulated sugar 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
orange juice 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons; 14 oz; 400 grams

Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.

Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.

Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.

[Tip: Be very careful when making the caramel — if you have never made caramel before, I would suggest making this step while you don’t have to worry about anything else. Bubbling sugar is extremely, extremely hot, so make sure you have a bowl of ice cold water in the kitchen in case anyone gets burnt!]

For the Whipped Cream:

Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
heavy whipping cream 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
3 tablespoons of hot water
1 tsp Gelatine
1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar
orange marmalade (see recipe above) 1 tablespoon

In a small bowl, add the gelatine and hot water, stirring well until the gelatine dissolves. Let the gelatine cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.
[Tip: Use an ice cold bowl to make the whipped cream in. You can do this by putting your mixing bowl, cream and beater in the fridge for 20 minutes prior to whipping the cream.]

Assembling the Dessert:

Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.

Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone.

Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.

Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.

Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.

Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer. Leave about 1/4 inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.

Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough.

Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.

Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10 minutes.

Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.