Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Bakers August - 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.

I have to admit I was a little daunted by this recipe but wow, what a result! The Dobos Torte is a layered sponge and chocolate buttercream cake with caramel and hazelnuts. I only made some slight changes to the recipe, using flaked almonds and scorched (chocolate covered) almonds to decorate. I also brushed each layer with Pom Pomegranate and Cherry Juice which added a little burst of freshness to each bite.

I had a brainwave when it came to assembling the torte. Normally my layer cakes are pretty wonky, with each layer slip-sliding all over the place even when I try to hold them in place with skewers etc. This time I assembled the cake inside a springform pan. I used the base of an 8" pan as the template for my sponge layers. As they shrunk a little while baking they fit perfectly inside the pan leaving a slight gap around the edge. I spread the buttercream right to the edge on each layer so that when it came to unmold the sides were essentially iced already and my layers were perfect.

My only hiccup was with the caramel wedges for the top of the cake. The recipe said to use the best looking cake layer for the top but I chose my worst one because all the others were perfectly cooked and even and I wanted them for my layers. I sliced my cake into 12 even wedges and spaced them just a few millimeters apart on a baking sheet. My caramel was very foamy and didn't seem to spread out much as I poured it over the cake wedges so I just kept pouring more and more on. Suddenly there was way to much and it ran off the edges into a big toffee puddle. I decided to leave it exactly as was and break it into pieces including the extra bits.

Seemed like a good idea in theory, but it was really hot that day and my wonderfully majestic caramel fans wilted and sagged in the heat.

The taste test ...

I was worried this would be too rich but it was actually very light. Delicate sponge layered with fluffy, almost mousse-like buttercream. Our least favourite part was the caramel. Even though I adore citrus I didn't like the lemon flavour at all here - it didn't seem to complement the cake. Plus by the time we came to eat, the caramel had completely lost it and was a sticky, pull-your-teeth-out mess. Most of it got left on the plate. Nonetheless I would definitely make this again (minus caramel). It was fabulous!

Thanks to Lorraine and Angela for a great challenge. This is something I would never have attempted on my own! You can find the recipe here.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Creamiest Lime Meringue Pie

or The Pie Which Almost Wasn't Made.

We're having a pig of a week around here. N is home with the flu all week on doctor's orders (could be swine flu, hence the pig remark. Yeah I didn't think it was funny either but my fever made me type it!). I of course got sick as well almost immediately. What made it all really fun was the heatwave we're having in Brisbane at the moment. I hate the heat at the best of times but to be suffering through 35 degree days, in winter, with a high fever and a grizzly baby as well? Not fun.

Nonetheless, I am a baker. So I soldiered on and baked. But I did make a few minor stuffups from not reading packets or the recipe properly.

I decided to go with a crumb crust for this pie and used my standard recipe which is a 250g packet of sweet biscuits with 125g melted butter. I chose rice cookies for the base this time as they are made without wheat but didn't realise the packets are only 200g not 250. No wonder it was swimming with butter! I chucked in some cornflakes to soak up the excess and carried on.

I kinda forgot what I was making and pressed the crust only over the base of my springform pan not up the sides as well. That came back to bite me later as the filling started to ooze when I unmolded it. So I stuck the whole thing in the freezer for a couple of hours and that worked like a charm.

Our griller is separate from the oven and is no where deep enough to put a pie like this under to brown the meringue. So I drew an 8" template using the base of a baking pan and made a disc of meringue. I baked it at 180 degrees C for15 minutes until it was nicely browned and then plopped it on top of the filling. Done!

I only got one semi decent photo because it was quite late by this stage and still about 30 degrees and my pie was starting to soften like icecream and get the wobbles.

The taste test ...

AWESOME. I had my doubts but this really was the creamiest meringue pie ever. Often the fillings for these are gelatinous and a bit sweet. This was smooth and creamy and zingy from the lime and ginger. I would love to switch it up next time and use the cream filling as a topping for pavlova with lots of whipped cream and fruit. Delightful.

This week's recipe was chosen by Linda of Tender Crumb. You can get the recipe on her blog!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Applesauce Spice Bars

This week's TWD was picked by one of my favourite bloggers, Karen of Something Sweet by Karen. She chose Applesauce Spice Bars and I really loved the sound of them - fruity, spicy and with a caramel topping. Luckily I wasn't disappointed in the taste either.

I think I underbaked these slightly but it didn't do any harm other than make them really hard to cut. I think I also under-did the topping as it never really firmed up (which would make it absolutely delicious on vanilla icecream!).

The taste test ...

De-lic-ious. I wasn't expecting it to be so cakey but I guess these are cake bars rather than a slice which would tend to have a crunchier base. Next time I would chop up the raisins and add a bit more spice. I probably would still double the topping (as I did this time) but would only use half on the bars and save the other half for dessert. Definitely a winner!

Make sure you visit Karen's blog for the recipe and no doubt some gorgeous photos as well.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cappuccino Brownie Bites

Oh brownies, you have completely sucked me in with your dense, fudgy texture and amazing chocolately taste. One bite and I am immediately thinking of other flavour combinations to make you even more mind-blowingly delicious.

Although you are all gone now, we shall be meeting again soon little cappuccino brownie bites. Indeed we shall ...

Cappuccino Brownie Bites
Adapted from Brownie Buttons on p106 of Baking from My Home to Yours

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain flour
Pinch of salt
60g butter
60g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 heaped teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in 1-2ts boiling water

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly butter a miniature muffin pan. Whisk together the flour and salt. Melt the butter, chocolate and brown sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over very low heat, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula and keeping an eye on the pan so nothing overheats or burns. When the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and cool for a minute or two.

Stir in the vanilla, egg and coffee into the chocolate mixture. When the mixture is well blended, add the flour and stir only until it is incorporated. You should have a smooth, glossy batter.

Spoon the batter equally into the muffin cups (they will be almost full). Bake for approx 14 minutes or until the tops of the buttons spring back when touched. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 3 minutes before carefully releasing the buttons. Cool to room temperature on the racks.

Topping - whip 1/2 cup pure cream with 1 tbs icing sugar until peaks form. Use a piping bag to pipe onto the top of each brownie bit. Sprinkle the tops with cocoa.


Daring Cooks August - Rice with Prawns, Mushrooms and Artichokes

It's Daring Cooks time again! Actually it was Daring Cooks time 2 days ago and I am only just getting around to posting.

This month the lovely Olga from Olga's Recipes chose a Spanish dish by José Andrés of rice with cuttlefish, mushrooms and artichokes. I am a little squeamish about some seafood so went with prawns instead of the cuttlefish.

This was an interesting dish to make but unfortunately we didn't love it. We even ended up with a huge dish of leftovers in the fridge that just never got eaten (a rarity in this house).

The flavour was to come mainly from the sofregit, a thick sauce made from simmering tomatoes, onion, garlic, capsicum and spices for an hour or so. The recipe called for just 2 to 3 tablespoons of this sauce to be added to the dish. Well, we did that and our rice was almost completely flavourless. I mean if I had closed my eyes I could have been eating almost anything. So I added in the entire batch of sofregit (a good 2 cups worth) which did help. The $7 of saffron we added was indetectable. Our allioli was also a disaster, turning into garlic flavoured oil rather than the thick greeny-golden sauce it was meant to be. Hmmm.

Maybe I missed something? Maybe there was some vital ingredient or process that I completely overlooked? Otherwise this really was a bit of a dud for us. Sorry Olga!

Make sure you visit Olga's blog for the recipe and to see how this dish should be made!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Brownie Buttons

How is it that some things just taste so much better in miniature form? This week Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen selected Brownie Buttons, and what fabulous little bites of deliciousness they are!

I've had my issues with brownies over the years and quite honestly they would be the last thing I would choose to make and eat. It's not that I dislike them exactly - they just don't excite me. Unlike Megan for example! When Dorie's book arrived, I wondered why there were so many brownie recipes taking up space.

However, I have finally seen the light! These cute as a button brownies were rich, fudgy and subtly flavoured by orange zest. I had zero issues with them. They even came out of the pan perfectly. The only problem was they disappeared too quickly so I need to make some more!

Because I only have 1 mini muffin pan I made just 12 brownies and baked them for 14 minutes.

The taste test ...


Thanks Jayma, I will definitely be making these again.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Banana Bundt Cake

This week Mary of The Food Librarian chose the Classic Banana Bundt Cake. If you've read Mary's blog you'll know this wasn't a huge surprise - she is the queen of the bundt!

After reading the P&Q for this recipe I decided my current bundt pan wouldn't be big enough (and I was right, this cake was huge!) so we went on the hunt for a new one at Kitchenware Plus down at Loganholme. For a kitchen gadget junkie like myself this place is nirvana! I found a Wilton bundt pan within a few minutes. Perfect. Then I checked the price ... $84.95!! For a cake pan?? Granted it's a great brand and clearly great quality too but that is just ridiculous. I ended up going with a 12 cup silicone pan for just $27.95 instead.

This was a breeze to whip up but I was really annoyed with myself for not buying bananas ahead of time and letting them ripen up. All the bananas I found were a little green and even after a night sealed in a paper bag there were still no where near what I would have liked.

I made the recipe exactly as stated except for using half regular and half gluten free flour. I also accidentally added baking powder instead of baking soda but that didn't seem to do any harm!

The taste test ...

This is one moist cake! I was a little worried as it took FOREVER to cook (about 90 minutes instead 65-75). It just didn't have quite the banana hit I was hoping for but that will be easy fixed for next time. The lemon glaze was delicious too.

Thanks Mary, great pick!
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