Archive for June, 2008

Daring the Danish Braid

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

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I was fortunate that my first three Daring Bakers challenges were all cake-related and not unfamiliar territory. I knew my luck would eventually run out and that one day I’d come across a dough challenge. Well, that time finally arrived when this month’s challenge of a Danish braid was announced by Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cooking?. I think I’ve attempted cooking with yeast perhaps once before. It may have been in my childhood or teen years, but it was enough of a failed experience to have turned me off from working with yeast.

My initial reaction was to skip this month’s challenge, as after all, this is mostly a site about cakes. But my husband who has a lot of faith in me really wanted me to try this. And after perusing so many scrumptious and successful braid after braid completed by other zealous Daring Bakers, I decided to give this a go.

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Braid, pre-baked

I decided upon a cream cheese/egg filling and fresh blueberries, topped with raw sugar and sliced almonds.

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Nothing novel here, but I’m glad I “rose above” my fear of yeast and ventured out of my cake comfort zone! Thanks to Kelly and Ben for hosting! To see what other Daring Bakers have done, please visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll.

Variations on a Theme: Encore de l’Opéra

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

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You could say I’ve been on an Opéra kick lately. I made the above shortly after the completion of May’s Daring Baker’s challenge and I’m posting this just in case the food blogging world hasn’t seen enough Opéra cakes lately. After having tried a less traditional pistachio-apricot Opéra last time, I was curious to try the classic flavor combination of espresso syrup-soaked almond joconde, mocha buttercream, ganache and chocolate glaze and used the recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets. These flavors did not disappoint. Actually, that’s an understatement. I made these for a party and people’s eyes bulged out after taking a bite.

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My next Opéra variation was for my boss’ 50th birthday. I made a Frangelico-espresso syrup soaked almond joconde, with peanut butter mousse, ganache, and chocolate glaze. My boss loves the designs of the luxury hand woven leather goods manufacturer Bottega Veneta, so I created a chocolate bow inspired by their classic woven patterns. The bow was made from chocolate modeling paste, onto which I imprinted the criss-cross design. I cut out strips, formed them into loops, and arranged the loops into a decorative bow. For the stitching detail, I used a decorative comb used to created ridges on the sides of cakes. The triangular teeth had the perfect spacing to create a repeated indented pattern that resembled stitching. The entire bow was dusted with gold dust.