Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘buche de noel’

Happy belated Thanksgiving! Hope everyone had a nice turkey day. This week was busy with family and Thanksgiving baking/cooking, therefore my challenges both had to be done yesterday. I will try not to do that again. Bake, wash, repeat. It was a long day.

The preheat was to bake Thanksgiving breakfast desserts taking inspiration from french toast, breakfast crepes, scones, and toaster pastries. I drew toaster pastries.

My first thought was a hand pie filled with a berry compote. We have phyllo dough in the freezer. But I made so many pies recently, I wanted to do something different. With a shorter timer of 90 minutes, I settled on making a big linzer cookie with a mixed berry filling.

I use the linzer cookie recipe off of King Arthur Flour. It’s so tasty! And in the freezer were blueberries, raspberries, and cherries. So I started with the dough and stuck that in the freezer for a quick chill while I got the berries softening in a saucepan with some cornstarch and sugar. I used an immersion blender to get it nice and smooth and then strained it to remove seeds. It didn’t look very thick, but I was hoping it would thicken as it cooled so I stuck that in the freezer and took the dough out.

I rolled the dough and traced a 9″ cake pan for the base cookie. That got baking while I rolled the rest of the dough for the top. I didn’t have a snowflake cutter big enough so I used a knife and free-handed the cut out.

When everything was ready to assemble, I realized the berry jam did not thicken at all. I spread it out pretty thin so it wouldn’t seep over the edges, and carefully transferred the cookie top over it. The top broke in several places. I forgot how delicate these cookies are. In smaller form, it’s not a problem. But a 9″ diameter was just too large. Attempting to hide some cracks, I piped a simple glaze around the snowflake edge and cookie edge, which also ties into the toaster pastry theme. I used to love toaster strudels that came with a bag of glaze.

All-in-all, I made a big cookie in 90 minutes. It tasted good, but probably a little underwhelming for the competition.

“Put me in coach, I’m ready to play.” That’s right, the main heat brought back teams and my mom was ready to jump in and help. You might remember a challenge a couple years ago with four pies baked together on a tray. My mom joined me and we nailed it! But this year’s challenge was a little different. We weren’t really baking together, we were competing against eachother.

The theme was Friendsgiving potluck dishes and the choices were brussel sprouts balsamic, creamed corn, sage and sausage stuffing, and glazed carrots. I had Mom draw and we got glazed carrots. Also had to add the twist of champagne somewhere in our desserts. Back to our respective kitchens, we each set our timers to 2 hours and got to work.

I decided to make a carrot cake layered with cheesecake and a champagne vanilla frosting. Cheesecake in 2 hours is a bit daunting. Generally speaking, you may need 90 minutes to bake, 2 hours to rest, and then more time to rest in the fridge. But I figured if I did them in mini springform pans (thanks Amazon!), I could cut the time down significantly. Even so, the cheesecake was the first thing I made to get those in the oven as quick as possible. I bought Junior’s cookbook recently and used that recipe, cutting it in half and dividing the batter in the 4 pans. Wrapped in foil and bathed in water, off to the oven it went.

The recipe I normally use for carrot cake requires a can of crushed pineapple and I didn’t have any on hand so I used a different recipe. It was simple, but I started worrying about cooling time. The cheesecakes came out after about 40 minutes when the temperature probe read 190F. Overdone, but praying they’d be okay. I put them in an ice bath for 10 minutes and then into the freezer. They deflated since coming out of the oven. Uh oh.

When the carrot cake was done, that needed to go straight into the freezer as well. I’ve decided I need a blast chiller. Trying to find space for 4 mini cheesecakes and an 8″ square carrot cake was nearly impossible. I moved the cheesecakes to the fridge and made the frosting with champagne while everything was cooling.

Then doubt started setting in. Will the cheesecakes be okay? How much time do I have left? Is 30 minutes enough to remake cheesecake? The answer is no, but I tried anyways.

With 8 minutes left and the remade cheesecake still in the oven, I had to go with the original. I used a biscuit cutter the closest in size to the cheesecakes that I could find and cut out 4 round pieces of cake. Topped each one with a cheesecake disc, and piped on the frosting. Using leftover frosting colored orange and green, I piped on a little carrot.

Time was up. It wasn’t as pretty as I envisioned. It didn’t scream holiday. But the cheesecake that stuck to the molds was good so I was optimistic.

Over at my mom’s kitchen, she made a festive buche de noel with a carrot cake sponge, champagne cream cheese frosting for filling, and brown sugar meringue to cover. She candied some carrots to go in the cake. She finished with 18 minutes to spare. Basically, she came to play.

My mom brought over her beautifully festive dessert for the “judges” to taste. After some deliberation on how judging would work and neither one of us able to decide, I took a large piece of her cake and one of my rounds over to a neighborhood family of four for impartial judging. They didn’t know who made which, and I sent them pics of each completed dessert.

Appearance – 4 votes for Yule log.

Icing – 2 for Yule log, 2 for cheesecake round.

Carrot cake – 3 for cheesecake round, 1 for Yule log

Overall best in show – cheesecake round just edging out the Yule log.

I know it was a tough call. Mom is a strong competitor. I’m hoping there is one more team challenge this season where we get to bake together.

Read Full Post »

I am determined to see this challenge through.  Even when my kitchen is completely enclosed in plastic from the restoration company, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  There’s also a mother who lives 20 minutes away.

Yes, that’s right.  The water is still turned off at my house and now the kitchen looks like a scene from the movie Outbreak.  Sounds like it could be a couple more weeks until our house is habitable again.  What else can be thrown at me during this baking challenge I’ve taken on?  Well, in less than 2 weeks, I leave to celebrate the holidays with my sister and her family in France.  There will be no baking in their kitchen since it’s a complete disaster.  But I may see what I can do in the house we’ll be staying in.  It’s an adventure, that’s for sure.

This weeks challenge was made in the kitchen of my parents.  My mom used to bake a lot when we were kids.  That’s probably where my love of it came from.  But she only bakes a handful of times a year now, so her equipment and pantry are very limited.  She’s got the basics: flour, sugar, eggs, butter.  As for assembly; cookie sheet, stand mixer, and holiday sprinkles are about the extent of it.

The preheat this week was to make a treat showcasing toasted marshmallows in 45 minutes.  I managed to snatch some marshmallows from under a tarp on our kitchen table and headed to my parents house.  After some digging there, I found a jar of molasses and we were in business.

I whipped up a batch of my favorite spicy gingerbread cookies.  Rolled out the dough and used a knife to cut out squares.  About 8-9 minutes in the oven is all it took and while they were baking, I melted some chocolate and spooned it into a plastic ziplock bag.  I located a small torch in a drawer which was a much better option than cooking marshmallows on the stove.

image

Assembly time.  Torch the marshmallow, sandwich between two gingerbread cookies, and drizzle chocolate on the top, sprinkling colored sugar for holiday flair.  Simple enough, but I realized that the marshmallows would need to be cooked more to get gooey all the way through and smash down.  I didn’t have much time left so I stuck a plate of marshmallows in the microwave and heated for 20 seconds.  Spooned them on the cookies and toasted from there.  Voila!  Gingerbread s’mores.  They were good, but I thought the gingerbread overpowered the marshmallow slightly.

image

image

Onto the main heat: 2 hours to make a blinged out yule log.  Didn’t have much in the means of bling in this kitchen, but I had an idea.

The torch I used earlier would be great to toast meringue to look like a log.  And meringue goes really good with lemon.  The first thing I did was grab a saucepan and make lemon curd.  It needed time to cool and the jelly roll cake would only take 14 minutes to bake, which was the 2nd thing I whipped up.  After the cake had a few minutes to cool, I turned it out onto a tea towel dusted with powdered sugar (which also dusted me and the floor in the process) and rolled it up.

image

image

Assembly would be relatively quick, so I started on the decorations.  Pulled sugar!  It was the first thing I ever wrote about on this blog.  While being somewhat successful that time, it also resulted in slightly burnt fingers and a broken mercury thermometer.  So you can see my hesitation pulling out the replacement thermometer I bought that was exactly the same, mercury.

Carefully started heating the sugar and water in a saucepan with thermometer holding on to the side.  Used a pastry brush to brush water on the sides so as not to have sugar crystals.  Walked to the other side of the kitchen to figure out what I could use as gloves since my mom didn’t have any, and came back to find my sugar caramelized.  Great!  But rather than dump it and start over, I used a fork to make little droplets on a silpat which I would call “tree sap.”  The twist in the challenge was also to add a crunch so that solved that problem.  I was originally thinking of rolling the log in crushed shortbread and then topping with meringue, but I was worried the meringue would make it soggy.  And now I didn’t have to go that route.

image

image

Got another saucepan out and started on the sugar again.  Watched it like a hawk and took it off the heat as soon as it hit 298F.  Then I poured it on a clean silpat and prayed I wouldn’t burn myself.  Sugar gets hard pretty fast.  Once it was cool enough to handle, I added gel color and started pulling it.  Holly leaves would be super easy to pull.  I just pulled a piece about 5 inches long, and then grabbed it by the sides and pulled outwards in 3 sections.  Then I took a knife and slightly scored veins.

image

I poured a little more sugar on the silpat, colored it red, and tried to blow sugar berries.  One sort of worked, but it was more translucent than I wanted.  So I just took some sugar and rolled them into balls.

With the decorations done and 20 minutes left on the clock, I went into panic mode, dropping spatulas and such as I went.  Unrolled the jelly roll and spread on the lemon curd.  Rolled it back up and put it on a plate.  Whipped some egg whites and made a meringue, spread it on the cake, and got the torch going with 4 minutes to go.  That’s when I figured that my cake would be adorned with uncooked meringue, but it really didn’t take that long to brown.  Grabbed some “sap” and literally threw it on the cake.  Then I carefully picked up the holly and berries, placed it, and threw my hands up with the ringing of the timer.  Made it!

image

image

image

image

image

And I must say, I think my blinged out yule log rocks!  This is the challenge I’m most proud of so far.  The cake had a great crumb and was really freaking good.  So good I had 2 pieces.  Also, no mercury spillage.  Success!

 

Recipes:

Gingerbread Cookies:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth. Stir in molasses and egg yolk. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; blend into the molasses mixture until smooth. Cover, and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Frost or decorate when cool.

Lemon Jelly Roll Cake:

The Cake

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs cold water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon zest

The filling

1 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice

Preheat over to 375°F.  Line a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with parchment paper. Grease the paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs for 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar; beat for 2 minutes or until mixture becomes thick and lemon-colored. Stir in lemon juice and water. Combine dry ingredients and zest; fold into egg mixture. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Invert onto a kitchen towel dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Gently peel off waxed paper. Roll up cake in the towel jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For filling, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, egg, water and lemon juice. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from the heat; cool to room temperature.

Unroll cake; spread filling evenly over cake to within 1 in. of edges. Roll up again. Place seam side down on a serving platter.

Pulled sugar:

Heat 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 100 ml water in saucepan over medium/high heat.  Bring to a boil and add 1 tsp lemon juice.  Continue to heat until mixture reaches 298°F and remove from heat.  Pour on silpat and use a scraper to fold over liquid until it becomes thicker and cool enough to handle.  Pull sugar and shape.

Read Full Post »

December has come and (almost) gone and I feel that I didn’t produce as many baked goods as normal.  In reality, I baked a lot.  There just wasn’t enough days in the month to make everything I wanted to.

Twenty-four mini fruitcakes were produced, and three days before Christmas, four different batches of cookies (spritz, chocolate/coconut bars, pecan pie bars, and snickerdoodles) were whipped up and fedex’d to a lucky few.  Then Christmas came knocking on my door and I still had a long list of items needing to be baked.  Alas, I had to pick and choose.

Top of the list was a traditional french Christmas cake, buche de noel.  I wanted to make this since my brother-in-law is here from France during the holidays, and I thought that a taste of home would be nice.  It’s a pretty simple sponge cake that is rolled up with frosting and then frosted on the outside to resemble a log.  I also had to make meringue mushrooms to decorate it with.  Little Miss Perfectionist had to settle for a good replica of a log, but didn’t have time to really go into a lot of detail.

I also had to make an apple pie since my family felt that one pie and one cake was not enough for 9 adults (which happened to result in a lot of leftover dessert to be consumed over the next few days).  Bless the creator of the apple corer/peeler gadget.  It saved so much time with making the pie.

That left a gingerbread house to be assembled by December 27 for the Daring Bakers Challenge at the Daring Kitchen.  I had to work December 26th and 27th, 10-hour shifts, so I didn’t see any way it was getting done.  The dough was made, but I had no time to bake and assemble.  Or so I thought . . .

I really didn’t want to miss a challenge.  And it was one I was so excited about.  In all honesty, saying that I half-assed it would be an understatement.  It was terrible.  But I got a gingerbread doghouse to stand, so I met the challenge.  Was I happy with it?  No!  But if time permits this week, I might give it another go, a sort of redemption, if you will.

Next year holds the prospect of more baking and kitchen destruction.  Cheers for 2010!  Happy baking!

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.

Read Full Post »