Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

Kristen's Food July 2008 140

It's the end of the month and time for another Daring Baker's challenge. I have really loved being a part of the Daring Bakers and trying new recipes each month. It is fun to see how all of the other Daring Bakers interpret the same recipe.

This months recipe was a hazelnut cake which was brushed with a simple syrup and layered with praline buttercream and whipped cream. The whole cake was then glazed with a dark chocolate ganache and decorated with more of the praline buttercream. Nothing in this recipe was really difficult, there were just many steps so you had to plan it out and do a few of the steps ahead. The only difficulty I had was in shelling the hazelnuts. I tried everything, toasting, blanching, steaming, toasting again. I ended up enlisting my husbands help and peeling the remaining stubborn hazelnuts one by one. Next time I would shell out the extra money for the pre-shelled hazelnuts. Apart from that little set back, everything went pretty smoothly. I didn't have a 10 inch cake pan so I went for two 9 inch cake pans. The layers turned out pretty thin but all in all it worked out perfectly. I also left out all of the alcohol and replaced it in many places with almond extract.

All in all, this was a fun challenge with delicious results. I loved the cake with it's slightly chewy nutty texture and the praline buttercream was light and smooth with a nutty caramely tang. The bittersweet chocolate just brought the whole thing together with it's velvety rich flavor. I would love to make this again with almonds or pistachios for a change in flavor and texture. Give this a try but don't forget to pace yourself. This isn't something that you can finish in a matter of hours. If you do your prep it comes together as simple as can be.

Check out what all of the other amazing Daring Bakers made. There are so many amazing cakes out there. Thanks to Chris from Mele Cotte for this fun challenge. I can't wait to see what we'll be doing next month!

***If you live near me (you know who you are) and are reading this, leave me a comment and I'll bring you a slice of this cake. ( I just don't want to eat the whole thing myself!)***

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter
Kristen's Food July 2008 099

1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Genoise
Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.
1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

1. Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.
Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

2. Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.
Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute.

3. Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.
Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

4. With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon.

**If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.
Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

1. In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream

1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)
Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.

2. Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

3. Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*

4. On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.
Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Wait! My buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.

Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar

1. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.
Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Apricot Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake
2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water
In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.
Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake
**Ganache can take on many forms. While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.
6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

1. Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.
Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.
Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake
Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.
Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Buttermilk Sugar Cookies

Kristen's Food July 2008 072 #2


I bet you all have been wondering where I've been.  I don't have any really great answers I have just been so busy.  We had a huge family reunion all weekend and there was so much to do before it to get ready.  Feeding 40 people all weekend takes a lot of food and a lot of Costco shopping :).  Overall it was a great time.  We ate way too much and swam all weekend.  My mother-in-law even rented one of those huge blow-up water slides which turned out to be taller than her house.  I think the adults had as much fun, if not more, than the kids.  After all of that fun I was exhausted so I spent this first part of the week resting and the rest trying to recover my neglected house.  So needless to say, here I am back with an amazing cookie recipe.

As a kid, one of the local gas stations had a bakery inside.  They used to make these giant soft sugar cookies that were almost more like cake.  I loved them and for me it was more about the cookie than the huge glob of pink frosting that they used to put on top.  I would always scrape off all of the frosting and sprinkles and go right for the cookie.  When I first tasted one of these cookies it brought me back to those days of eating those soft sugar cookies.  Wether you like your cookies covered in frosting or sprinkled with turbinado sugar (like me), they are easy and delicious.

Buttermilk Sugar Cookies

 Kristen's Food July 2008 084 #2

1/2 cup (1 stick ) butter softened

1/4 cup shortening

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

6 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp almond extract

1.  In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the butter, shortening and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  While the mixture is creaming, in a separate bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients and set aside.

2.  To the bowl with the sugar and butter, add the eggs one at a time with the mixer running, mixing well after each addition.  Add the extracts and mix until combined.

3.  Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk in 3 additions, starting and ending with the flour and mixing until combined after each addition.   Separate dough into thirds and transfer to plastic wrap to chill for at least and hour.

4.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Roll out dough on a floured surface and cut to desired shape.  If the dough becomes sticky add a little more flour and re-roll.  If desired, sprinkle with turbinado sugar before baking.  Bake for about 8 minutes or until puffed and cooked but not browned.  Let cool and frost with your favorite frosting.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mango Gelato

 Kristen's Food July 2008 021

It was my mother-in-law's birthday last week and we had a great time.  All of the girls got together and took her out to dinner and then we wandered around down town and picked up some delicious gelato.  Since then it has been my obsession.  I went to the grocery store to pick up some fresh fruit and saw the sweet ripened mangos and then and there it was decided that mango would be my first attempt.

It turned out delicious, like a creamy sorbet and it is so simple.  It also was fairly cheap, costing me only about $4 for an entire batch which is what I paid for my little cup of gelato downtown.  I am sure that this won't be the last of my gelato recipes so don't be surprised if you see a few more soon.

Mango Gelato

(adapted from a cooking light recipe)

Kristen's Food July 2008 018

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

2 ripe mangos peeled and cut into pieces

2 cups mango nectar (look in the Mexican food aisle)

1 1/2 cups half and half

1.  Make a simple syrup:  In a medium saucepan combine the water and the sugar and heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.

2.  Combine the sugar syrup and the mango pieces in a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour through a sieve to remove and pieces of pulp that remain.  Add the nectar and the half and half and chill for a few hours.  Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to your manufacturers instructions.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Caramel Honey Twists

Kristen's Food July 2008 034

This last weekend, my family and I went down to the farmer's market.  I love the atmosphere and all of the booths there.  My husband always jokes and calls me a hippy because I am a vegetarian and love all things home grown.  He can call me what he wants but I still love the farmers market.  I would be there every Saturday if gas were cheaper.  Sometimes I find lots of things that I want to buy and sometimes I just meander through the market sampling all of the wares.  This weekend I made only one purchase, honey.  Now let me tell you that this honey is no ordinary honey.  It is delicious flavored honey.  I bought a two pack that had a bottle of cinnamon honey and my favorite, caramel cream honey.

My kids and I have been using this honey all weekend thinking of different uses.  We ate it on pancakes like syrup Sunday, on some frozen yogurt, my kids even put it on their breakfast cereal, yes, it's that good.  So this morning I used the caramel honey to make some delicious honey-nut twists.  They are so easy, you could use some leftover pizza or bread dough or if your in a hurry use the refrigerated breadstick dough and you have delicious twists in about 20 minutes.

Honey-Nut Twists

Kristen's Food July 2008 035 #2

1/4 cup honey

1 tbs. butter

1/2 cup chopped nuts

bread dough or pkg of refrigerated breadstick dough

1 cup powdered sugar

1/8 tsp. almond extract

2-3 Tbs. milk

1.  Preheat the oven to 350° and lightly spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.  In a small saucepan melt the butter and honey together and then pour into a shallow dish.  Place the chopped nuts into another shallow dish.

2.  If using homemade dough, roll out into a thin rectangle and cut into strips using a pizza cutter.  Dip the breadsticks into the butter and honey mixture and then into the nuts.  Fold in half and twist together and place on baking sheet.

3.  Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove to a cooling rack.  While the breadsticks are baking, make the glaze by mixing together the powdered sugar, almond extract and a few tablespoons of milk.  Add milk until the glaze is thin enough to drizzle.  Drizzle the glaze over the breadsticks and eat while warm.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hot Cross Buns

Kristen's Food July 2008 013

Nearly every Sunday I make a big batch of bread dough.  I use part of it on Sunday for our big meal and the rest gets turned into pizza dough, breadsticks or cheese rolls throughout the week.  The recipe is so versatile that it covers all my bases for the week.  I just store the leftover dough in the refrigerator and pull it out when I need it.

I received this recipe from a friend years ago when she taught me how to make rolls.  It has been such a wonderful recipe that it is still the one I turn to most.  It makes a large amount of dough and can be halved.  The full recipe makes 36 large rolls (one cookie sheet full) or 4 freeform loaves of french bread.  Most often I will use half of the dough on Sunday to make 2 loaves of French bread or 1 1/2 dozen rolls.  The rest of the dough is split into 2 and makes a large pizza one night and breadsticks or cheesy bread the other.

I have made the dough with all purpose flour, bread flour and whole wheat flour.  Most often I will mix white bread flour and whole wheat bread flour.  Sometimes I substitute milk or buttermilk for the water or I'll throw an egg or two in for extra richness.  I also sometimes will use honey in place of the sugar.  Basically anything goes as long as you follow the basic recipe, like I said, it's very versatile.  If your looking for an easy all-purpose recipe than this is a great start.

Rolls, Bread, Etc...

Kristen's Food July 2008 001

4 cups warm water

1/2 cup sugar

4 TBS. SAF instant yeast

1/4 cup oil

4 tsp. salt

8-10 cups flour

1 egg white, lightly beaten, optional

sea salt or other course salt, optional

1.  In the bowl of a mixer combine the water, sugar and yeast.  Let sit for 10 minutes to allow to foam up.

2.  With the mixer running, add the oil and a cup or two of flour.  Then add the salt and another cup of flour.  Keep adding the flour until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Let knead in the mixer for 10 minutes.

3.  Remove from the bowl onto a floured surface and knead into a smooth ball.  At this point you can divide the dough up, place the portions that you aren't going to use right away into lightly oiled bowls and refrigerate.  Shape the remaining dough into desired shape and place on an oiled cookie sheet and cover with a towel. (If desired you can brush the dough with a lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with sea salt before rising)

4.  Preheat the oven to 350°.   Let the rolls/bread/etc. rise for 15-20 minutes or until doubled in size and puffy.  Bake rolls for about 18-22 minutes, bread for about 26-30 minutes or until golden and cooked through. (If making a full cookie sheet of rolls (36), bake for about 24 minutes)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Dark Chocolate Pound Cake

Kristen's Food June 2008 131

I hope that everyone had a wonderful 4th of July.  We had a great time eating, swimming lighting off fireworks and of course eating some more.  By the time I got home last night I was literally sick from eating so much delicious food.  In fact, we had so much food left over we are having another BBQ today to finish it all up.  The fireworks were a lot of fun.  The husbands I think enjoy it more than the kids.  Every year they gather all of the cheap McDonalds happy meal toys and attach fireworks to them with duct tape.   I have to say, happy meal toys are extremely flammable.  The guys are like kids they are almost giddy when a toy catches fire and melts into a plastic puddle.  All in all it was a great night.

I decided to make a delicious dark chocolate pound cake with a sour cream glaze for our potluck BBQ last night.  It turned out so delicious despite the smoke filled house that it created.  The recipe I used was made for a 12 cup bundt pan, which mine is, but for some reason it spilled over the edges and dripped all over the oven floor.  The drippings became burnt puddles of sugar and chocolate.  There was so much smoke that I can't believe my fire alarms weren't going off.  So, I pulled the cake from the oven, turned the oven off and cleaned it all out.  then I put the cake back into the oven, crossed my fingers and hoped that at least it would be edible.  The cake of course sunk while it was sitting out and I knew that it wouldn't rise again so imagine my surprise when the cake turned out beautifully and delicious despite the fact that it was a little sunken on the underside.  The cake turned out richly chocolately with a chewy exterior and a brownie like texture inside.  The glaze was sweet and a little tangy and was a great contrast to the sweet chewy cake on the inside.  This was a great recipe despite all of the mishaps that took place while making it.  I might just make it again the same way, letting it spill out onto a pan and letting it sink down a little before baking it the rest of the way.

Kristen's Food June 2008 134

Dark Chocolate Pound Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3 cups sugar

3 eggs

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1 cup dark dutch processed cocoa powder

1 Tbs. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 3/4 cup milk or half-and-half

1. Preheat the oven to 325° and grease a 12 cup bundt pan.   Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix to combine.

2.  Add the eggs, one at a time, to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing well after each addition.  Add both of the extracts and mix to combine.

3.  Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk, starting and ending with flour.  Mix until just combined.  Pour the mixture into prepared bundt pan filling only 3/4 of the way full.  (You may have a little extra batter.)  Bake for 90-95 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for 10 minutes in pan then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Sour Cream Glaze

1 lb (16 oz) powdered sugar

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 tsp almond extract

about 2 Tbs. milk or half-and-half

1.  Mix all of the ingredients together with a whisk until smooth.  Add additional milk to thin to desired consistency.  Pour glaze over cake.