Archive for the 'Other baking' Category

une religieuse, un éclair

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

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August’s Daring Bakers challenge was the humble yet heavenly éclair, which consists of a pâte à choux or cream puff, pastry cream and chocolate glaze. The éclair (which is French for lightning) is traditionally piped into a long form, such as the one pictured below. The same dough can be used for profiteroles, or the French pastry la religieuse, such as the one pictured above, among other varieties.

I thought I would attempt to make the beautiful religieuses I have admired in Laduree’s windows in Paris. I was pleased with the results. The religieuse is one large pastry cream-filled profiterole topped by a smaller one, both glazed with fondant/glaze. It supposedly resembles a nun, hence the name. I used the chocolate glaze, firmed in the refrigerator, to pipe the chocolate spikes around the sides. The éclair below is filled with vanilla pastry cream and fresh raspberries, topped with chocolate glaze and chocolate decorations.
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These éclairs were absolutely delicious and relatively easy to make, especially the dough. The multi-step chocolate glaze was perhaps the most tedious element, and the second time, I made a simple chocolate ganache which worked well. I made the éclairs twice this month, though I only photographed my first batch. I have a feeling I will be making these often.

To see what other Daring Bakers have done, click here.

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.

mini mini black pearl cupcakes

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

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I recently posted a black pearl cake with ginger, wasabi, black sesame seeds here. It was so delicious I made it again, this time in a miniature cupcake version. I’m talking *mini*, as in I baked them in wrappers generally used to hold chocolates (though the package did say they were baking cups). These were absolutely delicious, moist bitefuls of chocolate cake filled with ganache, complemented beautifully by airy whipped cream frosting.

In the cake version, found in my previous post or the original here, you bake three 8″ layers, soak each layer with ginger syrup, and fill the cake with black sesame seed/ginger/wasabi ganache between layers. In this cupcake version, I did brush syrup on the tops of each cupcake and piped the ganache right into the heart of these mini chocolate bites. I topped each cupcake with the ginger whipped cream, black sesame seeds and chopped crystallized ginger.

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I also adjusted the baking time, of course, so they baked for about 10-12 minutes or so. Adjust the cooking time depending on the size of your liners, of course. If you’re making mini-mini cupcakes as I have, you may want to half the recipe, as these would make a LOT.

April Daring Bakers Challenge – Cheesecake Pops!

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

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April’s Daring Bakers challenge was cheesecake lollipops dipped in chocolate. I had first seen and eaten these cheesecake pops at Davidburke and Donatella restaurant in New York (their pops come with bubble gum whipped cream) and thought the concept was really quite inventive and playful. In an episode of Road Tasted on FoodNetwork, it was revealed that David Burke’s children were the actual inspiration for these pops and now they’re a huge seller. A chef from the restaurant demonstrated how their pops are created. After baking the cheesecake, it is whipped, put into a pastry bag, piped onto a sheet, then dipped into chocolates, tuxedo style. In our challenge recipe, the cheesecake was baked, frozen, scooped into balls, then dipped in chocolate.
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We were given free reign in our choice of toppings and in the shapes of the pops, so I eventually settled on five toppings: cocoa nibs, chopped dried cherries, crystallized ginger chips, crushed chocolate chip cookies, and crushed chocolate cookies. I think my pops turned out resembling meteoritic space balls, but I was not unhappy with the look.

At first, I dipped a single topping onto each pop, but I starting mixing it up a bit to accommodate eaters who might like to sample several of the toppings at once.

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I also experimented with the shape a bit and used round cutter to create a drum-like shape with sides. This allowed me to alternate toppings a bit easier.

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Thanks to Deborah from Taste and Tell and Elle from Feeding my Enthusiasms, who were this month’s hostesses. Deborah has the recipe posted on her site if you’re interested. The recipe calls for adding shortening in the chocolate to create a snap, but I used cocoa butter instead, which worked well. I also flavored my pops with seeds from a vanilla bean. To be frank, if I made these again, I would try another cheesecake recipe. I think at the very least, the cheesecake itself could have used a kick with more citrus flavors. I would also try the piping method to avoid the mess created from rolling the cheesecake balls by hand. To check out what other Daring Bakers have done for this challenge, click here.

Tarte aux Fruits

Monday, April 21st, 2008

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It’s been a while since my last post, I know. I actually have been quite busy baking for a recent dessert party, so you’ll be seeing some non-cake posts for a while. First up is a classic fruit tart. Despite my recent propensities to tinker with recipes, there is little I would want to mess with when it comes to this dessert.

My sister likes to remind me of a sad little story about me and fruit tarts. In my first trip to Paris during my college days, I salivated over these glistening tarts in the patisserie windows. Though I was backpacking throughout Europe and my budget was limited, I had passed by too many shops before I finally purchased one, which was carefully packaged in a cardboard box. I placed it in my bag to savor that evening. I had been wandering by myself that day and had gotten lost trying to meet up with my sister that evening, so it was a pretty miserable day for me. All I looked forward to was my precious tart. Well, as you’ve probably guess my now, by the time I opened the box, the perfect tart form was completely destroyed, its custard innards scrambled with fruit and broken shells. It was pretty sad. I learned a lesson that day about how the ephemerality and fragility of beauty.

I’ve made apple tarts before using the recipe here, but I’ve never actually attempted a fruit tart with tart dough and pastry cream. Despite my overbaking the tart shell, it was so simple, I wondered why on earth I haven’t made this before. The tart was extremely well-received.

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Fresh Fruit Tart

Pastry Cream (recipe based on one from a class by chef Chad Pagano)
2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
3 tblsp cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 stick (2 tblsp) butter

In a saucepan, dissolve first portion of sugar in milk, bringing to boil. Whisk egg and yolks in a bowl. Sift cornstarch and second portion of sugar into eggs and beat until smooth. Slowly pour hot milk into eggs in a steady stream (to avoid cooking eggs). Transfer mixture back to saucepan and reheat until boiling. Stir constantly. When mixture comes to a boil – it will be thick – remove from heat. Stir in butter and mix until melted. Transfer to a clean bowl and chill for at least three hours. I added a tablespoon of Cointreau to my pastry cream after the butter. Pastry cream can be flavored with other liqueurs, vanilla bean, chocolate, etc.

Sweet Tart Dough (from Desserts by Pierre Herme, by Doree Greenspan)
This recipe makes enough for three batches of tart dough. This larger quantity is recommended because it is easier to prepare a larger batch at once. It can be frozen for later use.

2.5 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup lightly packed ground blanched almonds
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
3.5 cups all purpose flour

Beat butter on low speed in the bowl of a mixer with paddle attachment. Add rest of ingredients, except flour, and blend on low speed, scraping down sides occasionally. Add flour in 3-4 additions, still on low speed, just until mixture comes together.
Divide dough into three discs (for 10″ tart pans) and wrap each in plastic. Chill/rest in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or freeze up to a month.

Roll out dough a floured surface until it is large enough to come up the sides of the tart pan (about 1/8″ thick). To prevent sticking, keep rotating the dough. Trim edges by rolling the pin across the top edges of the pan, patching any holes as necessary. Chill dough in pan for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blind bake tart dough. Place parchment paper or foil onto dough and fill with dry beans or rice for 18-20 minutes. Remove paper and beans/rice and bake 5 more minutes or until golden. Transfer to wire rack and cool.

To assemble tart, spread pastry cream over shell. Arrange sliced fruits in decorative manner. Glaze with apricot jam, that has been heated and thinned with a little water. Strain jam and brush over fruits.

scones!

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

Scones photo from prettytastycakes.com

Here’s a photo of some scones I made recently using this orange glazed blueberry scones recipe as a base. Instead of blueberries, I folded in some jam at the end. I happened to use raspberry and apricot jams. I prefer wedge-shaped scones, which is achieved by forming a round and cutting it into slices, pizza-style.

Welcome!

Thursday, June 1st, 2006

Thanks for visiting! This is a blog that will chronicle my cake creations. I believe cakes should look AND taste great, hence the title. Hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy baking!