Archive for December 14th, 2020

Another turbulent week in the bag. The last couple weeks wore me down and I felt it on these bakes. Note to self: play the Script while baking. Can’t help but get pumped up when listening to Hall of Fame, Superheroes, and many of their other anthemic songs.

This week’s preheat brought back the team challenge, which brought back my teammate; Mom. The challenge was to bake a dessert inspired by sufganiyot (jelly doughnut) in 90 minutes. It must consist of a fried dough component and a jelly component. After some consideration, we decided to make blueberry jelly and cream cheese filled cannolis.

I got to work on the dough while Mom stationed herself at the stove making jelly. We didn’t have too many blueberries, so there was no room for error. She got the berries heating with some sugar and lemon juice, then used the immersion blender to smooth it out. Once thickened with a little cornstarch, in the freezer that went and she started making the cream cheese frosting.

The cannoli dough didn’t take much time to make. I added some lemon zest figuring that would complement the blueberry filling. Rolling it out was a breeze with my heavy marble rolling pin. The frying, on the otherhand, was a pain. I have the metal tubes to wrap the dough around, but even after greasing with oil, the shells kept sticking after frying in my mini fryer. And I burned my fingers trying to pry them off. Mom got to hear a lot of expletives coming out of my mouth.

Meanwhile, Mom was finishing the frosting. She added more powdered sugar to sweeten it up and it became very runny. So she added some meringue powder to help it out and stuck it in the freezer. Then she was able to help me with the cannoli shells. I think she must have put more oil on the tubes because the shells became easier to remove.

Time was looking pretty good. About 18 minutes to dip the ends in white chocolate and cover with blue sprinkles, then fill. I think Mom forgot about some of the urgency in this challenge because she dipped the shells and left them on the counter. When I finally noticed, there was only 5 minutes left and the chocolate was still wet and messy. I threw those in the fridge and then tried to resolve the filling issues. The jelly set pretty nicely though still slightly warm. The cream cheese frosting was too runny. I tried to put the two in a piping bag so I could have a stripe of jelly and a stripe of frosting in each cannoli, but it didn’t work. So I folded the two into eachother and that just made it runnier. What a disaster!

There was no saving it at this point. I grabbed the shells out of the fridge, filled them with the oozing concoction, and put them on the plate for pictures. They were a mess and we didn’t even eat one. The cream cheese overpowered the jelly. It was a failure. Mom and I sat down and had a glass of white wine I had opened for the cannoli shells.

I tried to mentally prepare myself for the main heat the next day. Two hours to make an upside down cake decorated for the holidays. Out of the options: fig and holiday lights, plum and tree ornaments, pear and Christmas star, blood orange and poinsettia, cranberry and holiday presents, and apple and fall leaves, I drew the apple. Well good, no need to run to the store.

The bake started by peeling and coring a couple of gala apples, slicing them into rings, and putting them in a skillet to warm with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

I used a cake recipe I had torn out of a magazine. It was for a pear and maple upside down cake. I thought the maple might be nice with the apples, and I substituted the white sugar for brown. I also added the twist ingredient, rosemary, finely chopped, into the batter. The batter seemed super thick, but I didn’t want to mess with the recipe too much.

I stuck a piece of parchment in a 9″ cake pan, added some melted butter and brown sugar, then arranged the apple slices neatly on the bottom, which would become the top. Then I spread the cake batter over it all and got it baking.

My fall leaves for decoration were going to be colored tuiles. That batter is very easy. Lots of melted butter, sugar, flour. and egg whites. I also added some rosemary and lemon zest to tie it all together. Tuile cookies have to be watched like a hawk. They only take a few minutes to bake and 30 extra seconds will take it from baked to burnt. I had a couple darker ones, but most of them were perfect. Out of the oven, they must be molded immediately. I just pushed them into a cupcake tin for dimension.

Things seemed to be going well. Then I looked at my cake. It domed quite a bit in the center. A toothpick inserted told me it was done much earlier than my timer was set for. Great! It seemed dry. Quick! Make a simple syrup infused with rosemary and pour it on the cake before inverting on a plate.

After allowing the simple syrup to soak in, I inverted it and shoved it in the freezer. My idea was to take some white modeling chocolate and make a rake and apple filled basket for decoration. The modeling chocolate was becoming increasingly oily and I didn’t grab powdered sugar to help. So the decorations were not very refined. With 2 minutes left, I grabbed the cake, piled the tuile leaves on top, and found places to put the basket and rake. The rake was clunky and didn’t hold shape. If I had used something like a thick pretzel stick to mold the chocolate around, that would have been better.

I just felt defeated. It looked okay. I liked the leaves. But I really wasn’t sure about the taste. After dinner, we cut into it. It was a little dry, but not terrible. It needed more caramel and apple goodness on top. The cake almost had a pumpkin bread texture and taste to it. So strange. Does maple and rosemary make pumpkin??

Next week will be better . . . next week will be better . . . I think I can, I think I can . . . “Standing in the hall of fame. And the world’s gonna know your name.”


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