Friday, December 25, 2009

YAY! for Gingerbread Houses!!!

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.
I cut and baked 6 houses and my sisters and brothers and I put them together using both the caramelized sugar and royal icing methods. The dough shrank and bubbled as it baked which made for difficult assembly.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

YAY! for Cannoli!!

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

We made three fillings: Orange, Lemon, and Spice, all with our own homemade ricotta cheese. Yum!
The cheese fillings we'll probably make again, the cannoli shells, probably not.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

DB October 09- Parisian 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. Unfortunately, it seems nearly everyone found this recipe to be quite problematic, and as a result the recipe I'll be posting will not be the challenge recipe.
I didn't really succeed the way I would have liked to, but at least a few came out looking kinda okay. They're pretty flat, but they have feet, not tutus, and are mostly round. My batter ended up runnier than I had thought and the first tray ran all together to make one big blob (still with feet, YAY! feet!!). The second tray had far fewer macarons piped onto it, but due to uneven heat in the oven (and despite a stack of half-sheet-pans) they rose a bit unevenly and some are much taller on one side than the other.
The recipe I used comes from Helen of Tartelette ( )

Basic French Meringue Macarons
100g weighed egg whites- I used the whites in a carton from Trader Joe's- room temperature
2 tsp of powdered egg whites- I used Wilton Meringue Powder
50 g sugar
200 g powdered sugar
110 g Almond meal- this also came from Trader Joe's and wasn't blanched, but I like the speckle-y look
Paste food color- I used orange gel color by Wilton

1. In a clean bowl with clean beaters whip the egg whites and meringue powder to a foam, then gradually add the sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form
2. In a food processor, grind together the almond meal and paste color. I added the powdered sugar after the color and almond meal were evenly combined to aerate and eliminate lumps.
3. Pour the almond meal and sugar onto the meringue and quickly mix, using as few strokes as needed. It should look glossy and be pipeable.
4. Fill a pastry bag or zipper bag fitted with a half inch round tip with the batter and pipe small rounds onto parchment paper on upside-down baking sheets. Bang the pan of shells down onto the countertop to release bubbles.
5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150C). Let the macarons sit out for an hour and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let them cool before removing from the parchment. Let cool completely before filling.
6. Pipe filling onto half the shells and top with remaining shells.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Home-made Candy Corn

I came across this recipe on Serious Eats ( ) and just had to try it. I made a bunch of candy corn and then with the rest of the candy decided to make pumpkins. I think I undercooked the sugar mixture even though I used a thermometer, so next time I'll cook it longer. The candy was so soft the pumpkins, which I originally made as tall and narrow flattened themselves out to what you see here within 15 minutes. They were so soft I couldn't even take them off the baking liner without freezing them first.

1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup salted butter
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
red and yellow food coloring

Sift powdered sugar, milk powder and salt and reserve in a medium mixing bowl.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan (wide and shallow is preferable, as is nonstick or enamel coated), bring granulated sugar, corn syrup, fat and vanilla up to a boil over high heat. When you begin to see bubbles, reduce heat to medium-high and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently with a heat-proof silicon or rubber spatula. A candy thermometer will read 225-230 degrees, just before thread stage. You want to set a timer or use the thermometer - this is very important.

Remove pan from heat, and gradually add powdered sugar mixture to pan, incorporating with spatula. Make sure that mixture is completely integrated. Let mixture cool until slighty warm to the touch, about 20 minutes (again, a timer is helpful here).

With a knife or pastry cutter, cut dough into three equal pieces, placing each in a small bowl. Now here's where it gets interesting (and messy): Put on an apron or shirt that you don't mind getting stained.

Add three drops of yellow food coloring to one piece of dough and begin kneading until smooth and color is evenly distributed. You can this a few different ways: Wearing rubber gloves (however, latex was a disaster), covering your hands with plastic wrap or placing dough and coloring in a Ziploc-style bag and knead the bag. Set on parchment or wax paper or on a silicone baking mat.

For the second piece, use a combination of red and yellow coloring to make orange, using the same procedure. Knead the third piece until smooth but keep uncolored.

Clear a large work space to roll out each piece of dough, which, when rolled into a thin rope, can get quite long. If rope gets too long, trim with a paring knife or pastry cutter.

Push three ropes together to form a long rectangle. Use sharp knife to trim ends and sides to make a straight angle. Starting at one end of the rope rectangle, cut small triangle shapes. Place each candy on parchment or wax paper to keep from sticking to your work surface.

Store at room temperature in airtight container, separating layers with parchment or waxed paper.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

DB August 09- Dobostorte!

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've made a Dobostorte before and didn't like this one better, so I'm going to stick to the other recipe if I ever make it again. I did use the chocolate buttercream from my recipe because I already had it in the fridge. It's a whole-egg buttercream made with a boiled sugar syrup, and made even better with the addition of melted dark chocolate. I really like it and use it for other things as well. I'm using it for a wedding cupcake tower in just a couple of weeks.

I made mine rectangular because it's faster. I lined two sheets with parchment, divided the batter between them, and baked them for 10 minutes, switching racks halfway. I cut each sheet of sponge into four and stacked it with the buttercream. I cut it into six pieces and arranged them on a cake plate for serving. I covered long, thin triangles of sponge with the caramel and put them on top to decorate. I think they looked pretty fantastic, and tasted fine, although I wasn't a fan of this sponge recipe.

Monday, August 3, 2009

July DB

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

This month's challenge was great. The cookies turned out beautiful, unfortunately my camera hasn't been working. I needed cookies for a church event, so I made the Milans. They were really easy and I will definitely make them again. I made mine round, as it was easier to make them all the same.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

June DB- Bakewell Tart Bars

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.

I decided to make mine with seedless raspberry jam (from the supermarket) and to make mine in a rectangular pan. I cut them into bars to serve at a lunch buffet tomorrow and plan to dip them in chocolate. I topped mine with a florentine cookie batter and re-baked for a caramel-y crunch.

Shortdough Crust
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 (I used one whole egg)
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional) (I used vanilla extract)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water
Blitz flour, sugar, and salt in food processor. Add butter and pulse until it become fine crumbs. Lightly beat the egg with the extract. Add to processor, pulse to combine. Keep processor running while slowly pouring in water until just combined (I didn't need all the water)
Wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes before rolling out and fitting in the bottom of an 11x7" cake pan coated with pan spray and lined with baking paper.
Spread with jam. Chill while making frangipane.

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

In a standing mixer beat butter and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add almond extract. If your eggs aren't cold it will form a smooth paste. Add almonds and flour and mix until well blended. Pour into jam covered pastry shell.
Bake at 400F for about 30 minutes. While it's baking make the florentine batter.

Florentine batter:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 T honey
3 T heavy cream
2 cups sliced almonds

In a heavy sauce pan combine all but the almonds, bring to a boil and boil until thickened. Quickly stir in almonds, spread over baked frangipane filling and bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes or until browned.

I let mine cool and then froze it to make it easier to cut into perfect bars.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

May DB- Strudel

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

This is the first of my DB challenges that disappointed me. I did not like the dough. I've made strudel dough before but this recipe was definitely not a keeper. First, the smell. I don't know why but it smelled like playdough, even after if was baked. Second, it was a pain to work with. I should have used bread flour and knew it, but the recipe said all purpose. Third, ingredients for the filling I'd planned on got eaten by someone, probably little brother, so I was left scrambling on the last day to come up with a filling and decided on sweetened cream cheese with lemon zest and juice, bound with an egg, as I had all four ingredients in the fridge. It did not get eaten and I felt bad for wasting food. Here's a picture of the horrid thing.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. I added melted dark chocolate since we were having it for my dad's birthday and he loves chocolate. It turned out fine, but with a huge crack in it! I've never had a cheesecake crack like that before. The crack was 3/4" deep and several inches long, so I made ganache and poured it over the top. The edges were higher than the middle so the ganache didn't go over the sides but stayed in a nice round pool.
I'll post pictures soon, but they aren't on my computer yet.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

YAY! for Lasagne!!

This month's challenge was a little out of the ordinary, but still delicious!
The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.
I've been baking for ages and this is one of the few times I've felt like I failed at something.
I don't have a pasta machine, so I rolled it by hand and it was taking far too long, so I gave up and used boxed no-boil noodles for half. I added a ton of mozzarella to the bechamel and added a ricotta layer because that's what my family wanted.
Mostly I made it up as I went, as I tend to when cooking. To make the meat sauce I first cooked a chopped onion and a few cloves of garlic, added a pound of bulk sausage, cooked it up, added a can of tomato sauce, a can of tomato paste, and a cup of water. For the bechamel I cooked a roux, added hot milk and cooked until thick, then added a lot of grated mozzarella cheese (I don't know how much, but I'd guess about a pound). I also mixed a couple of eggs into a pint of ricotta, then stirred in a couple of handfuls of grated parmesan. I layered it all in a pan, topped it with more mozz and parm, and baked. I've only made lasagne one other time, and it was several years ago and I don't remember how it turned out, but this one was good. I'd make it again, but never again will I make my own noodles without a pasta roller, even if it's just one from the craft/hobby store.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

DB Flourless Chocolate Cake

YAY! for flourless chocolate cake
The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge

I made my chocolate cakes in heart shaped pans and served them with spiced ice cream and salted vanilla caramel sauce.
I used David Liebovitz's vanilla ice cream recipe, first flavoring the cream with the zest of one orange, a few whole cloves, two cinnamon sticks, and a few pieces of fresh ginger before making the custard.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tuile Hugs with Raspberry Ice Cream

A new year, a new blog, and a new Daring Baker! YAY! for new!! YAY! for baking!!!
This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux. It was quite good timing for tuiles, as we had just done them in class, so when we had a free day to practice what we'd learned, I was able to make my challenge cookies. It was far less challenging than it had been, having just made them and having my chef instructor there when I did them again. I was also able to use school silpats and school ingredients as well as a professional bakery oven and full sheet pans, which wouldn't have been available to me at home.
Tuile batter is one of the easiest recipes to remember, as they are made from equal parts flour, butter, powdered sugar, and egg whites. This makes it easy to make as much or as little as you would like. I did:

120g unsalted butter, softened
120 g powdered sugar
120 g all-purpose flour
120 g egg whites

Sift together the powdered sugar and flour and mix into the butter until smooth. Gradually add egg whites to make a smooth paste. If you add them all at once it'll be harder to mix all the lumps out. To make the chocolate paste I added cocoa powder to part of the batter until I liked the color, then added a couple of drops of water to make it the proper consistency. I baked them at about 350°

I used an unassembled cake box to make my stencil, although I think thin plastic might have held up better. I piped in chocolate stripes, filled in with plain batter piped between the stripes, and gently scraped it to cover with an offset spatula. Unfortunately, my offset was bent and I didn't know it, so they ended up with a few thin spots in the middles.

I made chocolate cake rounds (recipe) to fit inside the "hugs" and topped each with whipped cream and homemade raspberry ice cream and garnished with edible flowers.
They were tasty, although I probably should have served them the same day they were made or at least stored them with dish of desicate to keep them crispy, as they got a little chewy. Next time I'll make the hugs smaller so the ice cream scoop is closer to the same size, but I'd definitely do them again.

Tiramisu- at least it's pretty

I don't like coffee, not the smell, the taste, nothing, but it was an assignment, so I made it, and I made it pretty. We pretty much destroyed the rest of the pan of dessert to get the couple of pieces out for plating. The pieces were to be topped with croquant and chocolate shavings/fans. I didn't get any good fans, but I thought the wrinkled ribbon of chocolate was pretty cool, so I used it.

Baked Alaskas

We had quite a time making baked Alaska with a freezer that kept creeping up to 30 degrees and higher. The meringue was slipping off the ice cream and the ice cream was leaking out the bottom. It was worse once we started to blowtorch the meringue. They ended up being such a mess. We were supposed to make our own ice cream (really we were supposed to Paco Jet frozen ice cream base) but the freezer didn't work, so they went out and bought us some at Luckys. I took my base home and added frozen mashed raspberries to make a lovely raspberry ice cream.

Chocolate Banana "Tartlet"

When I heard we were making a caramelized banana and chocolate tart made with phyllo dough, I thought it would be an actual tart, not a stacked dessert with blowtorched bananas on top. I might play around with the idea and come up with something more tartlet-like, and maybe something not so heavy on the chocolate. We also got to play around with spun sugar, which is lots of fun but super messy.

Christmas Cupcakes

Here's a gingerbread cupcake with a lemon icing and large crystal sprinkles. They look better than they tasted, unfortunately. Next time I'll do a lemon cream cheese icing or a brown butter icing and put more spice in the cupcakes, maybe even some crystalized ginger for crunch and pizzazz.

Standard First Post

I'm in pastry school and having a lot of fun learning new things. I'd like this blog to be a place where I can show things I'm proud of and maybe share some of what I'm learning at school. I'm 24, just finished college last spring and have moved back to California and back in with my parents while going to pastry school.