Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Baker Challenge - Danish Braid

This month's challenge was making a danish braid. I was very excited to make it because I have never worked with yeast before. I'm sorry for the short post put I was up until 2am proofing the dough because I waited until the last minute to make the danish braid. Now for the recipe and pictures.

Danish Braid
Makes 2/12 pounds of dough

For the dough (Detrempe)

1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated (I omitted)
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (I omitted)
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Dough Directions

1. Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed.
2. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well.
3. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated.
4. Place dough on floured surface and knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky.
5. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

For the butter block (Beurrage)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Butter Block Directions

1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.

1. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
2. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough.
3. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter.
4. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third.
5. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle.
7. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
8. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. 9. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight.

The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Cream Cheese Filling

3 8oz packages cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean

1. Place the cream cheese and sugar in a food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Add the vanilla, egg and vanilla bean seeds and blend until completely incorporated.

Sweet Potato Filling

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup milk
4 1/4 tbsp sugar

1. Individually wrap the sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 40 to 45 minutes.
2. Remove potatoes from oven and let cool for 15 minutes or until they are cool enough to handle.
3. Remove the pulp from the potatoes and smash slightly.
4. Add the cinnamon, milk and sugar.
5. Blend until smooth.

Dough kneaded and ready to go into the refrigerator

Butter Block Process

Filled with cream cheese filling

Ready for last proof

Cooked and ready to be devoured.

Sorry for the sucky pics. Here are the sweet potato filled danishes

Topped with a simple cinnamon glaze and chopped walnuts. Freaky Yum!!!

END VERDICT - 4 1/2 stars

The danish dough is soooooo yummy. The cream cheese filling was little more runny than I wanted but it was still extremely delicious. I haven't tried the danishes with the sweet potato filling yet. I will post a pic and tell you how it tastes later tonight.
The sweet potato filled ones are off the chains!!! Do people still say that?

Until next time,

Happy Smacking

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

My father requested a cake for father's day. A chocolate cake with white (that's what he said) icing. The chocolate cupcake recipe I use is from Chockylit. I have tried to make it into a cake and it didn't turn out that well so I had to find another recipe. I took to my fellow daring bakers and Amn8rchick suggested this recipe. I used it with some changes and it turned out yummy.

Chocolate Cake
makes two 9 inch cake and 12 cupcakes

2 cups hot water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee granules
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 1/4 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Pour 2 cup of milk in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Do not bring to a boil, just bring it until you see small bubbles around the outside of the pan.
3. Grease two 9 inch round cake pans.
4. In medium bowl, pour hot milk over cocoa and coffee granules, and whisk until smooth. Let mixture cool.
5. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
6. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
7. Beat in eggs one at time, then stir in vanilla.
8. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture.
9. Spread batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool.

I know my lettering can be better but I'm working on it! The dots are made out of candy melt.

Vanilla Buttercream

6 large egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperture
1 tbsp vanilla extract
seeds from 1 vanilla bean

1. In the heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees).
2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes.
3. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 2 to 4 minutes more.)
4. Beat in vanilla and vanilla seeds. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes.

END VERDICT - 4 and 1/2 stars

While I didn't have any of the cake, I did cupcakes. The cupcakes are yummy and have a good chocolate flavor. I just wish they were a little sweeter. The next time I make these I will probably add an extra 1/4 cup of sugar.

Until next time,

Happy Smacking!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I bake more than I post!

I really do.

I actually bake each weekend, execpt of late....It has been hotter than a mug in Philly. I am going to post some pics of my yummy treats. Hopefully I will get to posting the recipes sometime soon.

Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate, chocolate-vanilla swirl and vanilla buttercream

Vanilla Cupcakes with Sunflower design from Hello, Cupcake!

Apple Cake from Williams-Sonoma Cake

Until next time,

Happy Smacking!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

May's Daring Bakers Challenge - Opera Cake

I am sooooooo sorry for posting this late. I made the cake about two weeks ago!

This month challenge was OPERA CAKE. It is a multi layer almond cake that is usually flavored with the flavors chocolate and coffee in the form of buttercream, mousse and syrup. Our hosts Lis, Ivonne, Fran & Shea changed the flavors to something more light in honor of the spring season. We were allowed to use any flavors we wanted as long as they stayed within that light flavor, light color category. That means NO dark chocolate or coffee. I chose to make two cakes. One flavor combination was Honey Apricot and the other flavor combination was Blueberry Lemon. I will give you the recipe for the Honey Apricot Opera Cake. I will note where to change flavors to make the Blueberry Lemon Opera Cake. I will not include the recipe of the mousse I made. I will explain in the verdict section.
Honey Apricot Opera Cake
Yields about 20 servings
For the Joconde
(Note: The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperate)
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds (Note: If you do not want to use almond meal, you can use another nut meal like hazelnut. You can buy almond meal in bulk food stores or health food stores, or you can make it at home by grinding almonds in the food processor with a tablespoon or two of the flour that you would use in the cake. The reason you need the flour is to prevent the almonds from turning oily or pasty in the processor. You will need about 2 cups of blanched almonds to create enough almond meal for this cake.)
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1.Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.
2. Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).
3. Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.
5. If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.
6. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to over mix here!!!).
7. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.
8. Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.
9. Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.
10. Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.
For the syrup
(Note: The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.)
½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. apricot jam (1 to 2 tbsp. blueberry juice)
1. Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
For the Honey buttercream
(Note: The buttercream can be made up to 1 month in advance and packed in an airtight container. If made way in advance, you can freeze the buttercream. Alternatively you can refrigerate it for up to 4 days after making it. To use the buttercream simply bring it to room temperature and then beat it briefly to restore its consistency.)
1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 grams) water
seeds of one vanilla bean or 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams)
unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-2 tbsp honey (1 to 2 tbsp of lemon juice)
1. Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.
2. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.
3. While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.
4.When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!
5. Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).
6. While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.
7. With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.
8. At this point add in your honey and beat for an additional minute or so.
9. Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).

Assembling the Opéra Cake
(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day)
Line your serving platter with parchment or wax paper.
Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.
Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.
Spread 1/3 of the buttercream over this layer.
Top with another piece of cake. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.
Spread 1/3 of the buttercream over this layer.
Place the last piece of cake top and moisten it with syrup.
Spread the remaining buttercream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).
Serve the cake slightly chilled.
END VERDICT - 3 stars
This cake gets only 3 stars as an assembled cake. Separately this components yield a 4 1/2 stars. I did not like the flavors together. I had to make the almond meal because I could not find it. I was able to grind the blanched almonds into a pretty fine meal but the cake still had a nice bite to it. The cake was awesome but it definitely needed the strong flavors of the coffee and chocolate it is usually made with.
The mousse recipe I used consist of putting gelatin in a fruit base then mixing it with light billowy whipped cream. After putting it into the refrigerator it turned into whipped cream with fruity rocks floating in it. BUT I didn't notice it until I spread the blueberry mousse on my cake, completely ruining it. I will test out a few mousse recipes then post the best one.
Until next time
Happy Smacking!