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  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on July 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , swiss roll   

    Daring Bakers 31st Challenge: Swiss swirl ice cream cake 

    The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home. With Summer finally underway in the BC Westcoast, this was a good recipe to do at this time. I split the parts over a few nights, doing the swiss roll on the first, lining the bowl and freezing the roll slices on the second, making the ice creams and and fudge on the third, and finalizing the layers on the fourth night. I only made half a recipe, but I could have easily fed eight people with it. The chocolate ice cream didn’t freeze as firmly as the vanilla one, but in the end, provided a nice sauce to go with the dessert. It’s a beautiful dessert. Great challenge. Thanks Sunita!

    Swiss roll ice cream cake

    Preparation time-

    For the 2 Swiss rolls

    30 mins each + cooling time (at least 30 minutes) before filling and rolling. The filling can be made while the cakes cool.

    -For the ice creams– 5+10 minutes + freezing time

    For the fudge topping– 5 minutes + cooling time

    Assembly– At least an hour of freezing time between each layer (I took much more)

    Equipment required

    • A large mixing bowl
    • Spatula/mixing spoon
    • Sieve
    • A small saucepan
    • Containers for ice creams
    • Cling film/plastic wrap
    • Greaseproof baking paper
    • Food processor/grinder
    • Electric/hand held beaters
    • Whisk
    • 2 Baking pans, 11 inches by 9 inches each
    • Kitchen towels
    • Cooling rack
    • A pudding bowl / any other bowl, pan in which you are going to set the dessert. I used a 2 litre capacity, 9 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep.
    • Freezer
    • Oven
    • Serving plate
    • Knife

    The Swiss rolls-

    Preparation time– 10 minutes

    Baking time– 10-12 minutes

    Rolling and cooling time– at least 30 minutes

    Filling-5-8 minutes

    Filling and rolling– 5-10 minutes


    6 medium sized eggs

    1 C / 225 gms caster sugar /8 oz+ extra for rolling

    6 tblsp / 45gms/ a pinch over 1.5 oz of all purpose (plain) flour + 5 tblsp/40gm /a pinch under 1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together

    2 tblsp /30ml / 1 fl oz of boiling water

    a little oil for brushing the pans

    For the filling-

    2C / 500 mls/ 16 fl oz of whipping cream

    1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about ½ cm (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

    5 tblsp / 70gms/2.5oz of caster sugar


    1. Pre heat the oven at 200 deg C /400 deg F approximately. Brush the baking pans ( 11 inches by 9 inches ) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.
    3. Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water.
    4. Divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pans.
    5. Place a pan in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the centre is springy to the touch.
    6. Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it.
    7. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.
    8. Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down.
    9. Repeat the same for the next cake as well.

      Whipping Cream

      1. Grind together the vanilla pieces and sugar in a food processer till nicely mixed together. If you are using vanilla extract, just grind the sugar on its own and then add the sugar and extract to the cream.
      2. In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick.
      3. Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes.
      4. Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of ½ an inch should be fine).
      5. Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.

        The vanilla ice cream-

        Preparation time-5 minutes+freezing

        I have made the ice cream without an ice cream maker.


        2 and ½ C / 625 ml / 20 fl oz of whipping cream

        1 vanilla bean, minced or 1 tsp/ 5 ml/ .15 fl oz vanilla extract

        ½ C / 115gms/ 4 oz of granulated sugar


        Grind together the sugar and vanilla in a food processor. In a mixing bowl, add the cream and vanilla –sugar mixture and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together. If you are using the vanilla extract, grind the sugar on its own and then and the sugar along with the vanilla extract to the cream.

        Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

        The Hot fudge sauce- I made this just after adding the layer of vanilla ice cream to the cake.

        Preparation time-2 minutes

        Cooking time-2 minutes


        1 C / 230gms/ 8 oz of caster sugar

        3 tblsp / 24gms/1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder

        2 tblsp /15gms/ 1 oz of cornflour/cornstarch

        1 and ½ C /355ml /12 fl oz of water

        1 tblsp /14gms/ 1 oz butter

        1 tsp/5 ml / .15 fl oz vanilla extract


        1. In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornflour and water.
        2. Place the pan over heat, and stir constantly, till it begins to thicken and is smooth (for about 2 minutes).
        3. Remove from heat and mix in the butter and vanilla. Keep aside to cool.

          The chocolate ice cream-

          Preparation time– 5 minutes + freezing


          2C/ 500 ml whipping cream

          1 C/230gms/8 oz caster sugar

          3 tblsp/ 24 gms/1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder


          1. Grind together the sugar and the cocoa powder in a food processor .
          2. In a saucepan, add all the ingredients and whisk lightly.
          3. Place thepan over heat and keep stirring till it begins to bubble around the edges.
          4. Remove from heat and cool completely before transferring to a freezer friendly container till firm around the edges. If you are using an ice cream maker, churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instruction, after the mixture has cooled completely.
          5. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.


            1. Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices ( approximately 2 cms each ).
            2. Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap.
            3. Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).
            4. Soften the vanilla ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm ( at least 1 hour)
            5. Add the fudge sauce over the vanilla ice cream, cover and freeze till firm. ( at least an hour)
            6. often the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the fudge sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set.
            7. Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.
            8. Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing, depending on how hot your region is. Slice with a sharp knife, dipped in hot water.
              • Shirley 12:54 pm on August 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply

                WOW! That’s incredible! Thanks for sharing!

            1. pixeltheatre 12:01 am on June 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
              Tags: , , pavlovas   

              Daring Bakers 30th Challenge: Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse 

              The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard. I nearly missed this one. I totally forgot to check the new challenge after it went live on June 1st. I clued in mid-month and got busy. I’m glad I got to make the mascarpone cheese from scratch, since I missed the Tiramisu challenge. A tub goes for $8 in the store. Quite the markup for curdled cream…:)  It took a little longer than expected, and I may have over cooked it a bit, but it all came together fine in the end. I spread this challenge over a couple of nights. I did not have any Grand Marnier or Sambucca, so used Limoncello and Crème de cacao instead. Despite the copious amounts of cream present in each component, the taste was quite light and not too rich. Time consuming dessert, for sure, but I can see the mousse in crepes down the road, and the mascarpone cream as a nice dressing for many types of desserts, from fresh fruit, to tarts and tortes. Very nice challenge.

              Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

              Mandatory items: The recipe is comprised of three parts, four if you include the crème anglaise. You must make the chocolate pavlovas, the mascarpone mousse and the mascarpone cream using the recipes provided.

              Variations allowed:

              • You can use orange juice for the Grand Marnier in the mousse if you don’t use alcohol
              • You can omit the sambuca from the mascarpone cream.
              • You may substitute any crème anglaise recipe you might already have in your arsenal.

              Preparation time: The recipe can be made in one day although there are several steps involved.

              • While the pavlovas are baking, the crème anglaise should be made which will take about 15 minutes.
              • While it is cooling, the chocolate mascarpone mousse can be made which will take about 15 minutes.
              • There will be a bit of a wait time for the mascarpone cream because of the cooling time for the Crème Anglaise.
              • If you make the Crème Anglaise the day before, the dessert should take about 2 hours including cooking time for the pavlovas.

              Equipment required:
              • Baking sheet(s) with parchment or silpat
              • Several bowls
              • Piping bag with pastry tip
              • Hand or stand mixer

              Recipe 1: Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova):

              3 large egg whites
              ½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
              ¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
              1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder


              1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.
              2. Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)
              3. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)
              4. Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon. (Class made rounds, hearts, diamonds and an attempt at a clover was made!)
              5. Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

              Recipe 2: Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (for the top of the Pavlova base):

              1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
              grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
              9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate, chopped
              1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone
              pinch of nutmeg
              2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)


              1. Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.
              2. Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)
              3. Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.

              Recipe 3: Mascarpone Cream (for drizzling):

              1 recipe crème anglaise
              ½ cup (120 mls) mascarpone
              2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional)
              ½ cup (120 mls) heavy cream


              1. Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

              Recipe 4: Crème Anglaise (a component of the Mascarpone Cream above):

              1 cup (235 mls) whole milk
              1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream
              1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
              6 large egg yolks
              6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar


              1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
              2. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.
              3. Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
              4. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.

              Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired.

            2. pixeltheatre 12:02 am on June 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

              Daring Cooks 14th Challenge: Three Spice Liver Pâté 

              Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

              A nice recipe, if a little gory in its uncooked state. Prepared this one in time for a family BBQ. Nice consistency and balance of spices. I realized too late I also had to bake a baguette from scratch for this challenge. Having baked quite a few of these in the past, I submit a picture of one baked three Christmases ago. So, either I’ve only completed  half of this challenge, or was partly way ahead of it, you be the judge. 🙂

              Three Spice Liver Pâté

              Yields one 25 by 12,5 cm (10 by 5 inch) terrine or loaf pan

              1 lb / 454 grams pork liver (or beef or combination)
              1/2 lb / 227 grams ground pork
              1/2 lb / 227 grams pork fat (or pork belly)
              2 cloves garlic
              2 shallots
              1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
              1/2 tsp / 2 ml cinnamon
              1/2 tsp / 2 ml coriander (ground or crushed)
              1/2 tsp / 2 ml cumin
              3/4 tsp / 3 ml salt
              1 tbps / 15 ml coarse freshly cracked peppercorns
              2 tbps / 30 ml cognac
              2 bay leaves
              1 package of bacon

              Preheat oven to to 350ºF (180ºC).

              Cut liver and pork fat into small pieces and add to food processor. Add ground pork, garlic, shallots, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Grind until smooth.

              In mixing bowl, incorporate the meat and liver mixture with the cognac and eggs.

              Line bottom of baking or ceramic pan with overlapping pieces of bacon. Place a bay leaf on the bottom and then fill with meat/liver mixture. Cover top with another bay leaf and then overlapping pieces of bacon.

              Place in oven in the larger baking pan and add enough water to cover 2/3rds of the pan containing the meat/liver mixture. Bake for about 1-1.5 hrs.

              The pâté will contract and the juices will be on the bottom. Allow to cool and soak up the juices. Remove any excess bacon and discard the bay leaves.

              French Baguette
              yield: Three 16″ baguettes

              1/2 cup / 120 ml cool water
              1/16 teaspoon active dry yeast
              1 cup / 240 ml flour

              1 tsp / 5 ml active dry yeast
              1 cup to 1 1/4 cups / 240 ml to 300 ml lukewarm water*
              all of the starter
              3 1/2 cups / 840 ml flour
              1 1/2 tsp / 7 ml salt

              *Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.

              Make the starter by mixing the yeast with the water, then mixing in the flour to make a soft dough. Cover and let rest at room temperature for about 14 hours; overnight works well. The starter should have risen and become bubbly.

              Mix active dry yeast with the water and then combine with the starter, flour, and salt. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you’ve made a soft, somewhat smooth dough; it should be cohesive, but the surface may still be a bit rough. Knead for about 5 minutes on speed 2 of a stand mixer.

              Place the dough in a lightly greased medium-size bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 3 hours, gently deflating it and turning it over after 1 hour, and then again after 2 hours.

              Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a rough, slightly flattened oval, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 minutes.

              Working with one piece of dough at a time, fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel of your hand. Flatten it slightly, and fold and seal again. With the seam-side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into a 15″ log. Place the logs seam-side down onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined sheet pan or pans.

              Cover them with a cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaves to rise till they’ve become very puffy, about 1 1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450ºF (240ºC).

              Using a very sharp knife held at about a 45° angle, make three 8″ vertical slashes in each baguette. Spritz the baguettes heavily with warm water; this will help them develop a crackly-crisp crust.

              Bake the baguettes until they’re a very deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack. Or, for the very crispiest baguettes, turn off the oven, crack it open about 2″, and allow the baguettes to cool in the oven.

            3. pixeltheatre 12:01 am on May 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
              Tags: , croquenbouche,   

              Daring Bakers’ 29th Challenge: Pièce montée (Croquenbouche) 

              The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri. A nice dessert, components I had done before. Still, I always welcome a chance to get a technique, in this case choux paste, perfected. I think I can do that now. My piping still needs work, but I was happy with the results. I used a vanilla/peppermint pastry cream.


              Equipment required:
              • several baking sheets
              • parchment paper
              • a whisk
              • a pastry brush (for the egg wash)
              • a pastry bag and tip (a plain tip or no tip is best for piping the puff pastry; you can use a plain or star tip to fill the puff pastry with the cream)
              • a flat surface such as a baking sheet or cake board/stand on which to assemble your piece montée
              • some of the items you may want to use to decorate your piece montée include ribbons, Jordan almonds, fresh flowers, sugar cookie cut-outs, chocolates, etc.


              Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
              ¾ cup (175 ml.) water
              6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
              ¼ Tsp. salt
              1 Tbsp. sugar
              1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
              4 large eggs

              For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

              Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

              Preparing batter:
              Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

              Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

              Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

              Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

              As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.

              It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

              Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

              Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

              Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

              Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.

              Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

              Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

              For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)

              1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
              2 Tbsp. cornstarch
              6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
              1 large egg
              2 large egg yolks
              2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
              1 Tsp. Vanilla

              Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

              Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

              Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

              Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.

              Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.


              When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

              Use one of these to top your choux and assemble your piece montée.

              Chocolate Glaze:
              8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)

              Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.

              Hard Caramel Glaze:
              1 cup (225 g.) sugar
              ½ teaspoon lemon juice

              Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

              Assembly of your Piece Montée:
              You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

              Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place – see video #4 below).

              When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!

            4. pixeltheatre 8:05 pm on January 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
              Tags: , cocounut, nanaimo bars   

              Daring Bakers 26th Challenge: Nanaimo bars 

              The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and http://www.nanaimo.ca. Nanaimo bars are one of the nicest indulges when you need a quick pickmeupper. They are very popular with caterers here, in Canada, as a mid-afternoon snack for conference and meeting participants: a quick dose of sugar, topped with chocolate. What more would you want?

              I had made some of these once before, but using a packaged mix. The gluten-free version was an interesting twist. Though we had a choice of going the normal wheat-way, I decided to try the gluten-free recipe. Finding the ingredients was a one-stop shop affair at my favourite baking store, Famous Foods. The recipe was straight-forward and I completed this challenge in the first week of January. Which is why I nearly forgot to post about it  today! All in all, a very nice recipe, not as sweet as the bars I’ve had in the past, which is a definite bonus. Thanks for the challenge, Lauren!

              Nanaimo Bars

              Preparation time:
              • Graham Wafers: 30 to 45 minutes total active prep, 2 ½ hours to overnight and 45 minutes inactive prep.
              • Nanaimo Bars: 30 minutes.

              Equipment required:
              • Food Processor
              • Bowls
              • Parchment paper or silpats
              • Cookie sheets
              • Double boiler or pot and heatproof bowl
              • 8 by 8 inch square pan
              • Hand mixer or stand mixer (You may use a wooden spoon, but this makes it much easier!)
              • Saucepan

              For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
              1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
              3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
              1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
              1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
              1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
              3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
              7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
              1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
              5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
              2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

              1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
              2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
              3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
              4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
              5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
              6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
              7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
              8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
              9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

              Nanaimo Bars

              For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
              1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
              1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
              5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
              1 Large Egg, Beaten
              1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
              1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
              1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

              For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
              1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
              2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
              2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
              2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

              For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
              4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
              2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

              1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
              2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
              3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

              Additional Information:

              These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer.

              The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

              If making the graham crackers with wheat, replace the gluten-free flours (tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, and sorghum flour) with 2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat flour, or wheat pastry flour. Watch the wheat-based graham wafers very closely in the oven, as they bake faster than the gluten-free ones, sometimes only 12 minutes.

              For the Nanaimo Bars, if making with wheat, replace the gluten-free graham wafer crumbs with equal parts wheat graham wafer crumbs!

              • Lauren 9:24 am on January 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply

                I’m so glad you enjoyed my challenge! Your bars look phenomenal =D. Also, I’m thrilled you tried it gluten-free!

              • Ivonne 5:30 pm on February 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

                Glad you liked the challenge! Well done!

            5. pixeltheatre 12:01 am on October 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply
              Tags: , , macaron   

              Daring Bakers 24th Challenge: Macarons 

              The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe. I found this to be a very fitting challenge, marking my second year anniversary with Daring Bakers. Macarons is something I’ve wanted to try for a while. They seem to be popping everywhere in local bakeries, but prices are so steep ($3.50 for a bite of a cookie! I don’t think so…), I had yet to try one. Then came the Gastown Farmers Market last summer. A vendor (can’t find her name now) was selling macarons, 3 for $5. Now, that was a price I could deal with. So I tried the caramel and the lemon flavoured ones. And fell in love. A couple of weekends later, I tried the recipe from Cooks’ Illustrated, but ended up with a pan-full of almond-flavored hockey pucks. Not bad dunked in coffee, but nowhere near what a macaron should be.

              This recipe proved more successful. Reading through posts on the forum, I decided to follow Audax’ suggestion of aging the egg whites at least 5 days. Not being able to find “almond flour” but almond powder, I also decided to dry it out a bit by leaving it in the oven overnight with the light on. Don’t know if that made a difference in the end, but I was thrilled to see feet on my cookies. The domes weren’t quite as smooth as they should have been, but the consistency was bang on. I settled on a simple butterscotch ganache for the filling. Now that I’ve managed to complete a successful batch, I’m already thinking about the next one. Next challenge, getting that smooth dome. Thanks for this, Ami


              Preparation time: Not taking into account the amount of time it takes for you to bring your egg whites to room temperature, the whole baking process, including making the batter, piping and baking will probably take you about an hour to an hour and a half. How long it takes to make your filling is dependent on what you choose to make.

              Actual baking time: 12 minutes total, plus a few minutes to get your oven from 200°F to 375°F.

              Equipment required:
              • Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment
              • Rubber spatula
              • Baking sheets
              • Parchment paper or nonstick liners
              • Pastry bag (can be disposable)
              • Plain half-inch pastry bag tip
              • Sifter or sieve
              • If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off
              • Oven
              • Cooling rack
              • Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets
              • Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts (ouch!)

              Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
              Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
              Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
              Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)


              1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
              2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
              3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
              4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
              5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
              6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
              7. Cool on a rack before filling.

              Yield: 10 dozen. Ami’s note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.

              Additional Information:

              David Lebovitz breaks it down:http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2008/09/making_french_macarons.htm…
              More macaroon 411: http://www.seriouseats.com/2007/10/introduction-to-french-macarons.html
              Get inspired by our own Tartlette!: http://www.mytartelette.com/search/label/macarons
              Go behind the scenes of Paulette: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXIvX0-CEu0
              Watch a pro pipe macaroons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_RfiFoWZKQ&feature=related
              Beating egg whites: http://www.glutenfreecookingschool.com/archives/egg-series-no-1-how-to-b…

              • nutmegnanny 6:21 am on October 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Your macarons look great! This was my first attempt too. I was relieved to learn it was not as difficult as I had always thought.

              • Lauren 5:49 pm on October 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Your macs look awesome! I think it was a first for many (me too!). Love the sound of the butterscotch filling =D.

            6. pixeltheatre 12:01 am on September 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply
              Tags: , puff pastry, vols-au-vent   

              Daring Bakers 23rd Challenge: Vols-au-Vent 

              The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  I was grateful for this particular challenge, as it only involved four basic ingredients. Well, five, if you include the water. 🙂  This was also a nice chance to revisit puff pastry, which we did for the strudel challenge last May. (Nice video with Michel Richard and Julia Child showing the technique) It’s a pretty straightforward process, involving letting the dough chill out more than anything else. Again, a nice reprieve from the usual labour-intensive challenge. We had a choice of savoury or sweet filling. I went with my usual for this pastry, chicken à la king — cooked chicken in a white sauce, spiced with a nice dose of smoked paprika, served with green peas. Hum… hum… Nice Fall challenge. Thanks Steph!

              • Nicole 2:39 am on September 30, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Mmm… comfort food. That sounds delicious. I’ll have to use some of my leftover dough for something like this!

            7. pixeltheatre 12:01 am on August 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply
              Tags: , ,   

              Daring Bakers 22nd Challenge: Dobos Torte 

              The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus:  Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

              The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners’ and Gingerbread Makers’ Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

              I’m now used to multi-step recipes, thanks to nearly two years of monthly Daring Bakers challenges. Not much fazes me anymore. No matter how complex and long a recipe seems, it’s just a question of reading through a few times and tackling each component one at a time. I did have an additional challenge, however, with this recipe. The heat! We had been going through a two-week heat wave in Vancouver, and the thought of spending a day in a hot kitchen did not thrill me. But it was also a long weekend and what better time than a quiet Monday at home to bake? So, on with the show I went. My favorite part of this recipe was the technique used to make the layers of cake. Each was created separately, by spreading the batter on stenciled parchment paper. I was used to baking one cake and slicing the layers from that one cake. This technique brought back memories of working on Thomas Keller’s tuiles for the canapé competition for the Chef’s’ Table Society of BC a couple of years ago. The offset spatula remains one of my favorite all-purpose tool in the kitchen.

              It all came together alright, though it took longer as I had to put parts to cool down in the fridge at various stages due to the heat. The only problem, I think,  was my caramel. I don’t think I cooked it long enough. It was quite sticky and not brittle in the end. But, it was still a very nice and rich cake. I used a simple syrup flavoured with Frangelico to seal each cake layer. If you love hazelnuts, this is the cake for you. Thanks for the challenge, ladies!

              Dobos Torte


              • 2 baking sheets
              • 9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” cake tin, for templates
              • mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)
              • a sieve
              • a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
              • a small saucepan
              • a whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or stand mixer will make life much easier)
              • metal offset spatula
              • sharp knife
              • a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a sprinfrom tin.
              • piping bag and tip, optional

              Prep times

              • Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.
              • Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
              • Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
              • Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes

              Sponge cake layers

              • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
              • 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner’s (icing) sugar, divided
              • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
              • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
              • pinch of salt

              Chocolate Buttercream

              • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
              • 1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
              • 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
              • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

              Caramel topping

              • 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
              • 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
              • 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
              • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

              Finishing touches

              • a 7” cardboard round
              • 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
              • ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

              Directions for the sponge layers:

              NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

              1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
              2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9″ (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn’t touch the cake batter.)

              3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner’s (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don’t have a mixer.)

              4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner’s (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.

              5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8″ springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

              Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

              NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

              1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
              2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
              3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
              4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
              5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

              Lorraine’s note: If you’re in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you’ll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!

              Directions for the caramel topping:

              1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
              2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.
              3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn’t just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

              Angela’s note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.

              Assembling the Dobos

              1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
              2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
              3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
              4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.

              • lauren 2:55 am on August 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                great job! your torte looks great 🙂

              • Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar 4:00 am on August 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Ah yes, the heat!! When I first trialled this cake it was a freakish 32C in my kitchen so I thought that if it worked in that temperature, it would work just about anywhere! Still, despite the heatwave your Dobos looks fantastic! Well done!

              • maybelles mom (feeding maybelle) 5:04 am on August 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                the caramel was a bit of a pain, but it looks great. good job.

            8. pixeltheatre 7:20 pm on July 12, 2009 Permalink | Reply
              Tags: cherries. cake, cherry, ,   

              Rouxbe’s Cherry and Wine Cake 

              I like to be guided by serendipity. My honey told me last Wednesday night, when we met for dinner, that his neighbor had given him a fresh bag of cherries from her tree, adjacent to his garden. He wasn’t sure what to do with them all. On Thursday I received one of the latest Rouxbe posts in my in-box. Sure enough, there was a recipe for a nice cherry torte. On Saturday, while he was working on a side job, I went to work on this recipe. It turned out to be a perfect grown-up dessert on a hot summer Vancouver night: not too sweet, with a healthy dose of white wine. Served with a bit of ice cream, it was a perfect ending, enjoyed on a cool evening  garden patio. I’ll be keeping this recipe close by to try with other fruit this season.

              • dawn 3:51 pm on July 13, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                looks great…btw – thanks for the shout-out!

              • Charlotte 9:53 pm on July 26, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                I love everything about cherries, so I had to make the compote and the Cherry & Wine Cake. Both were fabulous! I made two batches of the compote thinking it would last all week….I don’t think so..it’s all gone!!The cake was fast to whip up and very delicious. Bravo Dawn, thanks for the recipes.

            9. pixeltheatre 12:02 am on June 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply
              Tags: almonds, lemon curd, tart   

              Daring Bakers – 20th Challenge: Bakewell Tart 

              The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England. There was quite a bit of history to this dessert. According to the Challenge,

              Flan-like desserts that combine either sweet egg custard over candied fruit or feature spiced ground almonds in a pastry shell have Mediaeval roots. The term “Bakewell pudding” was first penned in 1826 by Meg Dods; 20 years later Eliza Acton published a recipe that featured a baked rich egg custard overtop 2cm of jam…

              By the latter half of the 1800s, the egg custard evolved into a frangipane-like filling; since then the quantity of jam decreased while the almond filling increased.

              This tart, like many of the world’s great foods has its own mythic beginnings…or several mythic beginnings. Legend has it in 1820 (or was it in the 1860s?) Mrs. Greaves, landlady of The White Horse Inn in Bakewell, Derbyshire (England), asked her cook to produce a pudding for her guests. Either her instructions could have been clearer or he should have paid better attention to what she said because what he made was not what she asked for. The cook spread the jam on top of the frangipane mixture rather than the other way around. Or maybe instead of a sweet rich shortcrust pastry case to hold the jam for a strawberry tart, he made a regular pastry and mixed the eggs and sugar separately and poured that over the jam—it depends upon which legend you follow.

              Regardless of what the venerable Mrs. Greaves’ cook did or didn’t do, lore has it that her guests loved it and an ensuing pastry-clad industry was born. The town of Bakewell has since played host to many a sweet tooth in hopes of tasting the tart in its natural setting.

              The recipe was pretty straightforward. I went to my favorite grocery store for all things baking, Famous Foods, and found almond dust, perfect for the sweet pastry crust. I prepared the dough the night before to allow it to rest overnight. I wasn’t quite sure what to use as the fruity filling. After a bit of dithering, I finally opted for a lemon curd. The next day, I made the curd, rolled pastry and placed it in the freezer. The frangipane was next and then the assembly. It turned out to be a very light and not too sweet tart. Quite nice. I love almonds, so this was right up my alley. I served the tart with a a simple whipped cream, flavoured with a bit of limoncello. Another nice addition to my dessert roster. Great challenge, and I loved the historical component to it. Thank you ladies!

              Bakewell Tart

              Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
              Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
              Resting time: 15 minutes
              Baking time: 30 minutes
              Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

              One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
              Bench flour
              250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
              One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
              One handful blanched, flaked almonds

              Assembling the tart
              Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

              Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

              Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

              The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

              When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

              Sweet shortcrust pastry

              Prep time: 15-20 minutes
              Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
              Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

              225g (8oz) all purpose flour
              30g (1oz) sugar
              2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
              110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
              2 (2) egg yolks
              2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
              15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

              Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

              Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

              Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes


              Prep time: 10-15 minutes
              Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

              125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
              125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
              3 (3) eggs
              2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
              125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
              30g (1oz) all purpose flour

              Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

              • Lauren 4:23 pm on June 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Yum!! Your tart looks amazing =D. I love the lemon curd!!

              • lisamichele 4:20 am on June 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Beautiful Bakewell, the lemon curd segues into the frangipane beautifully! Looks smooth, creamy and delicious! Incredible job!

              • asti soehoed 4:22 am on June 29, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Lemon curd paired beautifully with the almond frangipane. Great job.

              • Danielle 5:42 am on July 2, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Looks sooo great!!

              • jasmine 3:55 pm on July 2, 2009 Permalink | Reply

                Glad you liked the challenge.

                Thanks for participating.

              • webpage 8:32 pm on July 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

                I’d like to find out more? I’d care to find out some additional information.

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