March 30, 2008

Perfect Party Cake

I love baking cakes and adding new cake recipes to my files and our challenge this months Daring Baker challenge was Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake chosen by Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts.

I was pretty excited when this months challenge turned out to be a layered lemon cake for two reasons (1) it would give me a chance to decorate (2) I had been wanting to test some lemon cake recipes.

I wound up making this cake for Easter dessert. My initial reaction was wow what a moist cake. The buttercream was so delicious and light. I always have raspberry preserves on hand but I wasn’t up to straining the seeds out so I bought a different brand which ultimately I was not happy with. But I did love the raspberry/lemon combo. I skipped the coconut since I am not a fan and some family members have allergies.

The next day the cake seemed to be dry to me, not sure why. I didn’t get to decorate it but no one expected it to be decorated so I wasn’t really bummed out. I may try this cake again, i'm not 100% sure, but I am definitely keeping the buttercream recipe.

For a printable version of the recipe click here.

Be sure to check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see more cakes!

March 25, 2008

Caramel-Topped Flan

This week’s TWD recipe is Caramel-Topped Flan, and was chosen by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon

I have to admit I have never eaten Flan. It is one of those things where I see a recipe and bookmark it and it never happens. I have been saying that I was going to make a flan since I saw a recipe for cream cheese flan on a Foodnetwork competition in 2004. So needless to say I was really excited to make this.

After reading the recipe I couldn’t believe how simple it was. There are only two components: the caramel and the flan.

§ The caramel came together really easily, but it really didn’t seem as there was any way that this would be enough caramel to mimic the picture in the book.

§ The filling was easy as well. I have to admit when I was stirring the hot milk into the eggs I had a flashback of last week’s “pastry cream scrambled eggs”. But everything went well this week.

I had to bake mine a little longer than the 35 minutes. More like 42 minutes. My top never did puff up or get brown but my knife did come out clean. I had no problems depanning the flan. It slid right out. But my caramel sauce seemed very loose. In the picture the caramel looks thicker like a glaze.

Things I would change if I made this recipe again:

  • Caramel: I would definitely work on making the caramel thicker (don’t ask me how) and/or increase the amount of caramel.
  • Filling: I would make this in a 6” pan so that the flan was higher.

Will this recipe be added to rotation: Yes! I have no doubt that I will be tackling the many different flan recipes that I have accumulated over the years and also playing with my own versions.

For a printable version of the recipe click here.

Click here to check out other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.

Last week: Brioche Raisin Snails,

Next week: Gooey Chocolate Cakes

March 18, 2008

Brioche Raisin Snails

This week’s TWD recipe is Brioche Raisin Snails, was chosen by Peabody of Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Since this recipe had three components – my initial plan was to make each component separately and then assemble and bake on Sunday morning. Well that didn’t happen. I would up making the dough around 11pm on Sat night and making the cream and raisins Sunday morning and baking them Sunday afternoon.

As ususal regardless of how simple a recipe is, whenever I have timeline and I don’t follow it – things go wrong, for example:

  • Dough: I had some trouble with the dough. Mainly the part where the dough has to go into the refrigerator. The thermostat on my fridge was broken so anything I put in there freezes – even though it is on level “1”. Every time I took it out to slap it down – it was semi frozen. But I went thru with all the steps anyway. When it was time for the 2nd rising – they didn’t rise much.
  • Custard: Wow. I had a lot of trouble with this. I could tell that there were some “pieces and that I would have to pass it thru a sieve, but I was shocked at the amount of “scrambled eggs” that were left over when I was done. Even then my mixture was not completely silky, it was kind of grainy. Not sure why as I have made custards/puddings etc before. I think next time I will use my hand held mixer in one had to get the constant whisking while I am pouring in other liquids. To me it was kind of like patting my head while rubbing my stomach. Hard.
  • Raisins: I didn’t have a problem with the raisins. I just ignited the raisins with a lit skewer to keep my hands from being scorched. It was kinda cool.

I have to admit I was skeptical when I first read the recipe. But then something happened. While I was cutting the log into 1” pieces, some of the pastry cream+cinnamon sugar+raisins oozed out of the end. So I decided to taste it. SOOOO DELICIOUS!! I could have eaten a cup of it by itself. I immediately made an extra batch of raisins and made another log and put it in the freezer to bake another time.

I baked the first batch for 25 minutes, but I felt they were too brown, so the 2nd batch I baked for 20 minutes. Perfect. Once they came out of the oven, i couldn’t wait i had to eat one (two) right away. They were so good. So good that I didn’t realize until later that i totally forgot to put the glaze on.

I took these to my Moms house for Palm Sunday dinner and they were a hit. Everyone loved them.

I tried one this morning and they still tasted good but the dough was a little dry – probably because of the issues with my dough. I got a new fridge yesterday – so I am going to try this dough again. I will also add a little more pastry cream as it seemed like it soaked into the dough and the flavor really got lost in the background. I would also add more cinnamon sugar.

Problems aside these are a delicious treat and the recipe (all three components) are keepers!

For printable version of the recipe click here

Click here to check out other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.

Last week: Russian Grandmothers Apple Pie-Cake

Next week: Caramel Topped Flan

March 11, 2008

Russian Grandmothers Apple Pie-Cake

This week’s recipe is Russian Grandmother’s Apple Pie Cake, chosen by Natalie of Burned Bits.

The name Russian Grandmother’s Apple Pie-Cake. Pie-Cake? In reading the recipe you will notice that this is not a traditional cake that has a batter which is poured into a pan and baked. The components are of a pie recipe; a dough and a filling. This confused me, especially since the book did not have any pictures.

Preparing the recipe was simple. The dough was easy put together, I didn’t have any problems with stickiness. It took about 15 minutes total. It had a lemony taste to it which I found weird, but after refrigeration the lemony taste was still there but not that strong. It rolled out pretty easy once I let it come back to room temperature.

The filling was exactly that – apple pie filling. Apples, golden raisins, sugar and cinnamon. I used a combo of granny smiths and golden delicious since that is what I had on hand. I didn’t have any non-colored sanding sugar so I just sprinkled it with cinnamon-sugar instead.

After baking for 80 minutes, I checked on it. The top was brown and juices were bubbling so I removed it from the oven and set it on a rack to cool. Once it cooled down (still slightly warm) I tasted it. Some of apples were a little too soft, almost mushy. Also even though I tasted the apples before they were cooked, they were a little too tart, but that may be attributed to the type of apples I used. The next day I tried another piece (at room temperature) – this time the flavors seemed a little more settled together and, any apples that were too soft complimented the apples which were still chunky. I could have skipped the raisins. By day three I had “grown to like it”.

Even though I was not completely sold on this recipe my family really enjoyed it.

Is it a pie or a cake? Not sure, to me it was more like a cobbler.

I will definitely keep the dough recipe to use again and play around with different fillings.

For printable version of the recipe click here

Click here to check out other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.

Last week: Snickery Squares

Next week: Brioche Raisin Snails

March 4, 2008

Snickery Squares

First off I just want to thank everyone at Tuesdays with Dorie for their warm welcome last week. I had so much fun with last weeks entry.

This week’s recipe is Snickery Squares was chosen by Erin of Dinner and Dessert . Initially I googled the recipe and found that quite a few other bloggers have made this recipe with much success so I was equally excited again.

After my two mishaps this weekend I was ready to make these. I got started. I grated my butter and made the dough by hand as I did not want to pull out my food processor; it was quite simple just like making a pie dough. And then it happened, things stared to go wrong.. I had to redo two components of this recipe today

The coating for the nuts: I looked and the sugar was just starting to dissolve. I went to my pc to pull up my blog. Came back. BURNT. So I had to start over. When I made the 2nd batch I didn’t think that there was enough coating for the peanuts, so I made a little extra. Otherwise everything else went smooth.

The dulce de leche: I usually make my own by boiling a can of condensed milk. But this time I decided to buy some. When I got home I found that I had inadvertently picked up a can of? Condensed milk. Since I didn’t have time to boil it, I decided to try another method and cook it in a saucepan. I thought this would take a while, so I went back to my pc. Came back into the kitchen to check on it. Edges were BURNT. So off to the store again to buy some.

Today I learned/reinforced two simple rules. No surfing the net, while you things boiling on the stove!!!

These are really rich but sooooo good. So rich, I almost couldn’t finish my little 2x2 square.

The next time I make these I will probably tweak the following two things;

The Dulce De Leche – I think I will add some melted caramel into this mixture to give the gooeyness im used to.

The Chocolate - I might use a ½ semisweet ½ bittersweet chocolate combo, and make my chocolate layer a little thinner

Never the less they were enjoyed by all!

For printable version of the recipe click here

Next week: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake

March 1, 2008

Master Bakers - Cinnamon

So it seems that I have caught the food blogging event bug. This is my fourth within less than a month, and I have a whole laundry list of others that I want to participate in.

Master Baker is a new event created by Nikki of Crazy Delicious. Every month she will pick an ingredient we bake whatever we wish as long as it has that ingredient and it’s a baked good. At the end of the even she will bake off some goods and pick a winner.

This month’s theme is Cinnamon – which is great because I love cinnamon. I decided to make Nick Malgieri’s Cinnamon Shells from his Cookies Unlimited Cookbook. I should have known that these cookies were doomed based on the morning I was having. I added too many egg yolks to the batter. I forgot the butter when creaming the eggs and sugar together, so I just melted it and added it at the end. The dough was kind of thick, not sure if it was supposed to be like that or because of my goof ups. You are supposed to pipe the cookie dough into shells, but the dough was so thick that the tail of the shell never came out correctly. I tried other shapes and they didn’t really work out either. So I decided to do a drop star shape. These came out fine.

I put the cookies into the oven and set the timer for 8 mins. My house starts to smell like cinnamon, I am thinking “wow those cookies smell good; they should be done any minute”. No sooner than I think that, the timer goes off and then I smell something burning. When I open the oven the top rack of cookies are just starting to get a little brown and crisp around the edges. The bottom rack: BURNT!!!. I look at my oven 350’F, I look at the thermometer inside the oven 450”F. WTF!!! So I had to scrap that whole sheet of cookies.

After letting the remaining cookies cool, I tasted one. Pretty good. Tasted another one. Then I tasted a couple more. I have to say with everything that happened to these cookies they came out pretty tasty. They are so simple that I would definitely make them again, and I will probably add them to my cookie basket for the holidays.

For recipe click here:

For other Cinnamonny entries this month - click here

HHDD# 18 - Coconut Chocolate Tarts

This is my first entry for the Hay Hay Its Donna Day events. Even thought I am not familiar with Donna Hay or her recipes, I decided to participate. This month’s challenge was Coconut Chocolate Tarts chosen by Bordeaux of Marita Says.

Initially my intentions were to give them out to family. But given how things turned out i am not sure what i am going to do.

1st – I did not have desiccated coconut, so I used flaked coconut.

2nd – I forgot to spray my tart shells before I pressed the crust into them

3rd – After 20 minutes in the oven, my shells were puffed up, and STILL WHITE. Only the outer tips had browned. Not sure if this is a result of using the wrong coconut or what?

4th – The tarts would not come out of the pan – hence the tart pans in the pictures. (I had to use my X-acto knife to carve them out)

I didn’t really care for the taste. The chocolate was really really rich, too rich for me. I could only eat 1/3 of the tart. Maybe with a different type of chocolate next time?

But besides all that, to me this recipe was super simple and really quick This recipe made 6 individual 4” tarts- with a little chocolate left over.

For recipe click here.

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