Thursday, July 31, 2008

Under Cover Of Darkness

Crazy week... but I got it done! Daring Bakers challenge number three! Whoo!

And whats on the menu you might ask? (That is if you really hadn't seen everyone else's yet...)

Charol Walters Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
This is where things get difficult. Do I post the recipe, which is huge, or leave it up to you to blog sleuth it, or buy Charols Great Cakes book? Seeing as the latter is definitely easier for me, your on your own for that. I'll give you the basics though, just because I'm so nice.

There were several elements to this cake.

Filbert Genoise (or hazelnut)
Basically a egg leavened cake with hazelnut meal used more than flour. Pretty dry on its own... though if you have the time and the guts to try it out (failure is a definite possibility with these) kind of a fun challenge. My wonderful mother helped me sift and sprinkle in all of the dry ingredients while I delicately folded them into the pillowy eggs, praying for them not to fall flat… and what do you know? They didn’t!

sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum – Sadly dark rum, or liqueur, spirit, or what have you, isn’t something I have on hand. That whole being a minor thing… So to make up for lost flavor, I tried caramelizing the sugar before adding all the water. I burnt it a bit though so it wasn’t as tasty as I was hoping.

Praline Buttercream – Two steps on this one. Making the praline was difficult. I got distracted and cremated the dry sugar twice before I achieved success. And the success was hard won. Tossing in the hazelnuts cools down the sugar which results in hardening… which results in them all being stuck together in one massive hard clump of hazelnut sugar glass! Luckily I did flatten it out, but it could have been bad.

After grinding this up (a scary thing in my oh so delicate Hamilton Beach pocessor) you mix it into a sort of meringue butter cream. I strayed from the exact Swiss butter cream recipe on technique. Instead of whipping first then heating and whipping… (which I did try and had trouble with) I mixed the sugar with the unwhipped eggs, and then warmed them, gently wisking, to 160. Its amazing to think you can heat egg whites that hot and have them not cook! So THEN I whipped them and added butter. And then into its pillowy whiteness I folded some praline paste.

This would have been wonderful with the cake… but… I added an extra ¼ C sugar, cuz I like my butter cream sweet. Sadly EVERYTHING was pretty sweet in the cake assembled… so it was a bit much.


½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks – I… excluded this bit, but did add some cream to my syrup.

Apricot Glaze – to smooth up the cake for the ganashe
Ganache Glaze – Which I got wonderfully thin, and the only thing that wasn’t WAY to sweet.

The over all? This cake was an insane amount of steps. Heck, even the butter had to be clarified, and the flower sifted and the… it goes on. It was pretty fine, but I’ll stick to something a lil less touchy for my go to.

So… bake on!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lets Bake It And Say We Didn't

Yes, as I'm approaching the reveal of the July Daring Bakers challenge, I feel it the appropriate time to post last month's challenge. I did it. Finished it up the day after the reveal, and never got around to posting it. It really was a shame too because it was hands down the best danish filling I have ever conceived. The best fillings I've ever concieved being... vanilla pastry creme and chocolate smear. I'm stumped when it comes to good fillings, so the chocolate smear was a huge jump at the time! Well the challenge inspired me. "Use something in season!" they say. Alright. Nothing is in season in this lil sweltering frost pocket (at the time of the challenge) but the valley next over sent us some smashing black sweet cherries. And almond extract needs no season and so...


Black Cherry and Almond Creme Danish

The ultimate tasty delisiousness. And it was georgous too. Neither did I record nor remember what magic I worked to achieve this, into measurements anyway, so I'll approximate.

Cherry Filling

Wonderful Sweet Black Cherries
Lil bit of water
Pectin? or geletin to get it to thicken some. Fine tapioca may work from what I hear...

Pitted the cherries, boiled them some to get em all soft and cook some of the extra water out. Thicken it to. Sweeten if it needs any... and then, because I despise deformed flavorless globs of cooked cherries, I blended it all together in my... blender. Go figure.
Almond Pastry Creme
I made a egg/starch pastry cream and added a tsp or so of almond extract and some vanilla bean paste. (If any one knows of a pastry cream that doesnt tast or mouth feel starchy, clue me in. All the egg/starch ones AND the egg ones dont have the texture I'm looking for... slick and smooth.)

I prepped the danish dough, spread on the pastry cream(coulda been thicker) and topped it with some cherry goo, (also coulda been thicker). Baked it with some turbinado sugar sprinkled on top. Only complaint? The braid held not nearly enough of the "coulda been thicker" filling.The remedy to that? Make the left over dough into tart-bowls. Best danish ever. Safeway bakery... its over. Forever. Beyond forgiveness.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Everythings Better With Cream

Tis the season for crazy produce sales. Over a pound of Oregon grown blueberries for 5$. And even more strawberries to match. Theres only one thing to do with the natures fruity bounty - first batch anyway - set it swimming in sweet sweet cream. The perfect breakfast.

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