Showing posts with label Daring Bakers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daring Bakers. Show all posts

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daring Bakers - Povitica

On a recent Friday at work, we had ourselves a party.  It was a party that is probably right up your alley.  It was called Bake-toberfest and it was for charity.

For Bake-toberfest, the kitchen-saavy members of my company took to their ovens (and a couple to their cars and the grocery store) and produced some seriously delicious treats.  I wish I had pictures of the tables.  There were pies, cookies, cakes, bars, cupcakes, tarts and even a jell-o dish, lining over fifteen feet of table.  The bakers had really outdone themselves.

You might be asking what we did with all of these treats?  Were we baking and sharing just to pig out and drink all of the milk in the lunchroom fridge?  No, it was all for charity.  For a mere $5, you were allowed to come in the room and enjoy the buffet of sugar.  For a scant $10, you could not only enjoy the treats at work, but you could bring as much home and you could carry.  It was a brilliant idea, because once someone glanced over the table of treats, there was no way that $10 wasn't making its way into the till.

The Daring Baker's October 2011 challenge was Pivitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered-Whisk.  Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!  I decided that it was the perfect item to bring in for Bake-toberfest.  It was totally different from anything else on the table and quickly disappeared.  Even a coworker who tried to stay away from the buffet, couldn't help herself from trying a piece.  When I asked her why, she responded "We have this at home, it's a treat we eat during the holidays!"  My coworker is originally from Romania, and was very happy with this recipe.  She suggests you eat the end pieces, because they are the best!

In the end, Bake-toberfest was able to raise almost $800!  Quite the feat for a table full of goodies.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daring Bakers : FRESH, FLUFFY, FRENCH!

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

I don't know why these little beauties weren't on my Culinary Goals list.  I love croissants!  While in France last year I ate them every morning for breakfast with my chocolate chaud!  Perhaps I realized that if I knew how to make them, or was successful at making them, that I would be in trouble. 

The problem being, if twelve light and fluffy croissants come out of the oven and there are only two people around to eat them, how many croissants does each person eat?  The inevitable answer is, too many!  While the croissants are cooking in the oven, the house begins to smell warm and delicious.  A sweet, yeasty fragrance starts to tempt you into the kitchen.  You peek into the oven and see those crispy, golden layers and can't wait until the timer rings.

This is exactly how it played out the morning that I made these little darlings.  I woke up at 6:00 to give the dough the final few turns and went back to bed for another two hours.  Around 8:00, I got out of bed to cut and shape the croissants.  They spent a little time rising and warming up, starting to fill the kitchen with their sweet smell.  After a quick egg wash and short time in the oven I was ready to scarf down a few of these French treats.  I held myself back and only ate two, then took the rest to work the next day to avoid any temptation!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Maple Mousse

I have been such a procrastinator this month! Well, mostly when it comes to cooking. Although in life I tend to be an inadvertent procrastinator.

I would always begin my projects, assignments and homework with the best of intentions. I loved the first week of classes in college because it held such promise. The professors would hand out their syllabus and I would look it over with the precision of a ketchup bottle. Hmm, that’s not right, but for some reason that is the first thing that popped into my head. So yes, like a precise ketchup bottle I scanned the calendar. I would transfer the dates of exams, papers and other assignments into my assignment notebook. Purple for English papers, green for inorganic chemistry, blue for calculus, it was very colorful and organized.

As the weeks of the semester wore on my assignment notebook would become more and more cluttered. I would start the year with very specific to do lists, I’ve always been a list maker, and I would try to get everything done each night. If something wasn’t accomplished it would get moved to the next day, some things floated along for a few days. Example – “Read chapter two of Inorganic Chemistry textbook – Molecular orbital theory.” Snore… In a worst case scenario it would get pushed back until the note read – “Read chapters two AND three of Inorganic Chemistry textbook.” Uh oh…

I always wanted to be one of those people that would write a paper ahead of time. Finish it early with enough time to look it over and make corrections. That almost never happened. In fact, I usually write my posts as a running thought process (hence the ketchup bottle) and usually don’t proofread (hence the occasional text message from my mom to inform me of a typo, thanks mom!).

My procrastination takes center stage today as I post my Daring Baker’s challenge! I have several excellent reasons for procrastinating this month. First, I only shop twice a month for groceries. It is because of this that I did not even have the ingredients until April 14th. Second, I’ve been spending weekends at boyfriends house. Boyfriend lacks all of the fancy cooking tools that I own, examples? Boyfriend does not own mixing bowls. As I write this, my maple/gelatin mixture is cooling on the stovetop. I am getting ready to whip the heavy cream and my chocolate shells are chilling in the fridge. In twenty minutes I will have completed this challenge, a mere hour before the deadline! I’m such a slacker.

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Filled Meringue Coffee Cake

The March 2011 Daring Baker's challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria's Collection and Jamie of Life's a Feast.  Ria and Jamie challenged the Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted meringue coffee cake.  I love breakfast and when I learned that this months Daring Baker's challenge would be a coffee cake, I was jazzed.  I've never made a yeasted coffee cake before and this was something new to try out. 

To just look at the pictures doesn't do this recipe service.  The dough was so smooth and springy, it was a treat to work with.  Many people called this dough "sexy" and after making it, I have to agree.  It was so easy to roll out and fill, it rose and baked up like a dream. 

When it came down to deciding what to fill this sexy dough with I thought to keep it simple.  When I was little, we would get an Entenmann's walnut danish ring for breakfast every weekend.  When picking out the ring, my dad would go with the ring with the most frosting on the top.  As a kid, I couldn't help but agree with this method of choosing breakfast.  More frosting = more sugar!  I decided to fill my coffee cake with something similar to the Entenmann's version.  Cinnamon sugar with dried cranberries and walnuts, coated in a delicious layer of orange icing.

How did this coffee cake compare to the Entenmann's version of my youth?  Listen up dad, THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER!  The meringue melts into the coffee cake making it unbelievably moist and the cranberries and walnuts give it great sweetness and crunch.  Give up your storebought danish ring and head to the kitchen with mom, you won't be sorry.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Coconut Panna Cotta & Key Lime Gelee

This month’s Daring Bakers consisted of two recipes that I had never made before. In fact, these recipes had never dawned on me before. I’m not a huge fan of chilled desserts. I like my desserts warm from the oven, topped with ice cream. You will rarely find puddings, gelatins or flans in my fridge. Two factors of this particular challenge seemed serendipitous. First, I’ve been working with a lot of gelatin in the past few weeks. I had just stocked up on Knox gelatin before our February challenge arrived. Second, I actually had panna cotta, for the first time in my life, on January 28th.

Boyfriend and I were in New York City four weeks ago apartment hunting. After a long and fruitless day of looking at either mediocre apartments or overpriced ones, we headed to the Meatpacking district for dinner. It was the beginning of restaurant week and we decided to try Ajna Bar on Little 12th Street. The most recent snowfall had made crossing intersections (in cute shoes nonetheless) very, very difficult. Also, if you are familiar with this particular section of Manhattan, you know the streets are cobbled. Cobbled streets, covered in several inches of slush, are a cute shoe-wearing girls nightmare. Boyfriend also refused to carry me across the street. Bad boyfriend.

We made it to Anja bar and were greeted with a burst of warm air and dark corridor. Once we were seated we had to take a minute to absorb all of the things going on around us. The restaurant is huge, with an equally large wait staff. There are huge columns, carved into dragons, candles galore and what I’m pretty sure was an aquarium filled with jellyfish. All the crazy décor aside, the meal was actually pretty delicious. (I’d highly recommend their shrimp curry.) The perfect ending to the meal was their Thai tea panna cotta. Smooth and creamy panna cotta buried beneath a layer of cool whipped cream and chocolate crunch.  Perfect.

For my panna cotta, I decided to go a little more south, and less east, for my influence. Key lime is one of my favorite flavors and with this being the season of citrus I was able to get some good ones! Just don’t skimp on the fat in this panna cotta recipe. If you go with lite coconut milk you will likely wind up with a panna cotta that won’t set. Give this a try and enjoy a little summer on a plate.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestlé Florentine Cookies.  Since Giadas recipe called for honey, and I hate honey, I went in another direction.  The florentine cookies weren't anything to write home about, so I omitted the recipe.  You can find it on the Nestle website.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chocolate and Peanut butter Mousse Entremet

Welcome to a special Thursday in the kitchen! Why am I posting today? Because today is Daring Bakers reveal day! I have to say, when I originally read the challenge for this month, I was concerned. When I looked up ‘entremets’ on google, I found some pretty daunting looking pastries. Go ahead, Google entremets. You’ll find gorgeous looking French pastries with intricate designs and tempting fillings. Would I be able to complete this challenge successfully? Yes, I would.

Delicious layers, mmmm.  Read on, control your drooling.
The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog Accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an entremets dessert.

My life has been a little crazy over the past month and I had to spread out preparation of this dessert. It took me an entire week, a few hours here and there, to complete this challenge. I can say that I am completely satisfied with my final result. Sure, there are imperfections, but I am amazed what can be done with the right directions. You too can perform like a pastry chef, without all that training.

The first step is to bake to Biscuit Joconde Imprime. When you say it, you must do it with a really bad French accent, it will make your day. Haw, haw, haw (French laughing). The imprime is where you can get fancy and creative. I decided I would get ready for Valentine’s Day and piped pink hearts into my imprime. (Check out some of the other amazing creations in the Daring Kitchen) You’ll see my step-by-step process of creating the shell of the entremets. Now you’re seeing where those fancy patterns come from, right? It’s so simple!

The next step is to get even more creative. What do you want to put in it? I had a massive number of ideas floating around in my head. A key lime mousse with a dark chocolate glaze, an entremets filled with ice cream and topped with meringue, a blackberry cream topped with lemon whip. Oh boy, the possibilities are endless! I decided to go with a personal favorite, Chocolate and peanut butter. Delicious. My entremets is filled with a solid chocolate mousse and topped with a lighter peanut butter mousse and finished with a bittersweet chocolate hat. From the mousse that I’ve licked from the bowls, spatulas and my hands, this is one amazing dessert. I don’t want to share… So here are the directions to make your own!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blackberry Crostata

I really enjoyed this months Daring Baker's Challenge.  So much so that I decided to make it the theme for this week.  I've also been really busy, and crostatas are super easy to make!  For todays installment of the crostata, I decided to bring back summer.  How am I going to do this you ask? 

I'm going to pull out some of my freezer jam.  Blackberry-lemon jam that I canned and put in the freezer back at the peak of blackberry season.  The weather around here is starting to turn cold and I needed a little warming up.  The best part about making summertime jam is enjoying it in these darks days of the fall and winter.  After tasting this crostata, a friend remarked on how bright it was.  A strange, yet appropriate, description of this dessert.

If you didn't preserve any berries this summer don't worry.  Store-bought jam will still fill this crostata perfectly.  I only made minor modifications to the first pasta frolla recipe, omitting the lemon zest.  The blackberry-lemon jam was lemony enough and didn't need back-up in the crust.  If you use plain blackberry jam then you should definitely include the tsp of lemon zest, you'll get a great tang.

So no recipe for today, just refer yourself back to the Pasta Frolla and the Blackberry-lemon jam!  Instead of a lattice top I decided to decorate with cut-out stars, because it was fun!  This one only took 30 minutes in the oven until it was golden.  You can see how it pulled away from the pan, this is what you want.  Eat up and don't forget to vote for your favorite holiday cookie!

Monday, November 29, 2010

White Chocolate Pastry Cream Crostata

I’m back on the coast! Who knew that not baking or cooking for five days could be so hard? Luckily I have come back with some delicious recipes for you! First we’ll get started with this months Daring Baker’s challenge! I actually tried a couple variations of the challenge, so get set for a week of crostatas!

What is a crostata you ask? Why it is an Italian dessert with a sweet pastry crust, filled with any number of fantastic mixtures. The crust is a pasta frolla, made from flour, sugar, butter and eggs. So simple the dough can be made in five minutes and you can have a crostata an hour later! A little information about our Daring Bakers challenger…

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of Briciole. She chose to challenge the Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating well.

The first crostata that I will tantalize your taste buds with is a traditional crust with a dash of lemon zest, filled with a white chocolate pastry cream. I have to say, of the three that I made, it was my favorite. Although they were all pretty amazing. This would make a perfect dessert for the holidays, so get yourself some white chocolate and get ready to be Italian.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Get Creative!

Recently I decided to step outside of my baking comfort zone and joined the Daring Bakers. A group of passionate bakers testing their skills on a series of unusual and tempting desserts. Past challenges have included crafting baked Alaskas, making their own puff pastry and taking on the French macaron. Personally I am very comfortable making cookies, quick breads and muffins. Anything that requires little thought and is tough to screw up. What can I say? I’m busy and muffins are easy!

My first challenge really pushed my skills, not as a baker, but as a decorator. I’ve made sugar cookies for years and years. I remember Christmas break with my mom and brother rolling out dough, stamping out trees, camels and Santas. After a quick trip to the oven our cookies would be ready to decorate. This would usually consist of royal icing, in varying shades of red, blue, yellow and green. Pink candy canes, blue trees and yellow penguins, all very true to reality. What can you expect? I was twelve.

I was hoping that my icing skills had improved over the past fifteen years and that my cookies wouldn’t turn out looking like something a kid had done. With the directions provided by Mandy (from What the Fruitcake?!), I think I came out with a success! The key to these cookies is patience. Set aside the time to allow for good chilling. You don’t want to roll out room temperature dough, it just won’t work. If the cookies are too warm, then they will puff up in the oven and lose their shapes!

So dust off your cookie cutters, buy a few zip-top bags and get baking! Push your comfort level and you might just surprise yourself.

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