June Daring Bakers Challenge: Charlotte Royale

It seems that recently this has become daring bakers oriented. This is merely because I’m not finding the time to blog, I’m still baking incessantly. Anyway, this month, I bring to you the june daring bakers challenge:

For the June daring bakers challenge Rebecca from BakeNQuilt.comchallenged us to make Charlotte Royale and Charlotte Russe from scratch. Savory or sweet Charlottes were definitely tasty showstopper.

I chose to do a charlotte royale. A sweet one. Obviously. A caramel and passionfruit swiss roll paired with a caramel bavarian cream. But really, I want to do it all again with more flavours! The possibilities are endless and have definitely got my neurone firing (nerd speak for brainstorming).

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Charlotte Royale

Biscuite Roulade

Ingredients

33g sifted cake flour

23g unsifted cornstarch

4 large eggs (room temperature)

room temperature

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (113g) sugar, divided

¾ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions:

Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8.  Grease the jellyroll/sheet pan and line it with parchment and then grease it again and flour it. You may use baking spray with flour included if desired.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cake flour and cornstarch.

Separate 2 of the eggs, placing the yolks in one large mixing bowl and the whites in another.

To the yolks, add the 2 remaining eggs, and ½ cup of the sugar.

Beat the yolk mixture with the paddle attachment on high speed for 5 minutes or until thick, fluffy and tripled in volume.  Beat in the vanilla.

Sift ½ the flour mixture over the egg mixture and fold it in gently but rapidly with a large balloon whisk (see notes), slotted skimmer spoon or rubber spatula until the flour has disappeared.  Repeat with the remaining flour mixture.

Beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment until foamy, add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised.  Beat in the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly.  Fold the whites into the batter and pour into the prepared pan, using an angled/offset metal spatula to level it.

Bake for 7 minutes or until golden brown, a cake tester comes out clean, and the cake is springy to the touch.

While the cake is still hot, you will need to set aside a piece for the base and roll the remainder in a towel as described below.

Cut off a piece from one of the ends just wide enough to cut the top from later as shown in the photo below.   Set this piece aside to cool.  After this piece has cooled, cut it with shears or a sharp knife into the circle for the Charlotte base.

While the cake is still hot, roll the remaining piece of cake up tightly in the dishtowel.  Roll from the longest side with the darkest side of the cake on the inside.  Cool the rolled cake/towel on a rack.

When ready to fill, gently unroll the cake and leave it on top of the towel.  Spread up to ½ cup of curd in a thin layer on top of the cooled cake and drizzle with caramel sauce, leaving it on the towel.

Roll up the cake as tightly as you can about 1/3 of the way and then use the towel to pull the roll towards you and press on the other side of the roll with a bench scraper or your hands to help make the roll tight as you continue to use the towel to help roll the cake all the way up.  The completed roll should be about 2” (5 cm) in diameter.  It is important to get this roll as tight as possible as you do not want gaps in the spirals.

Wrap the roll tightly in plastic wrap and then foil and freeze until firm enough to slice, at least a couple of hours.

Bavarian Cream:IMG_2681

Ingredients

65g sugar

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon  unflavored gelatin powder

3 large egg yolks

400 ml milk

1 vanilla bean, split (you may also use extract/paste, but add it when the cream is cool

240 ml heavy cream

1½ tablespoon (22 ml) butterscotch baileys

Caramel Sauce (to taste)

Directions:

Refrigerate the mixing bowl for whipping the cream.

Have ready a fine strainer nearby, suspended over a small bowl.

whisk together the sugar, salt, gelatin and yolks until well blended, using a wooden spoon or mixer.

In another small saucepan heat the milk and vanilla bean to just below a simmer (170°F/77°C – 180°F/82°C).  There will be steam rising off the milk and there may be some small bubbles but it will not be at an active simmer yet.  Stir a few tablespoons of hot milk into the yolk mixture to temper it.  Gradually add the remaining hot milk and vanilla bean, stirring constantly.

Heat the egg and milk mixture, stirring constantly, to just below a simmer again (170°F/77°C – 180°F/82°C).  Steam will begin to appear and the mixture will be slightly thicker than heavy cream.  It will leave a well-defined track when a finger is run across the back of a spoon.   If the mixture gets too hot (above 180°F/82°C), the cream can curdle.  If this happens, immediately pour it into a blender and (with the vent open or a towel over the top) blend it to try to bring it back together smoothly.

Immediately remove from the heat and pour the mixture through the strainer (unless making the orange or lemon variations), scraping up the thickened cream that settles on the bottom of the pan.  Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the sauce.  Stir until the seeds separate.

If time allows, chill the pastry cream in the refrigerator for about 1½ hours (checking frequently and stirring occasionally) until whisk marks barely begin to appear when stirred.   For faster results, cool the sauce over an ice-water bath, stirring with a whisk, until whisk marks barely begin to appear.  The mixture will start to set around the edges but will still be very liquid.

In the chilled bowl, whip the cream until it mounds softly when dropped from a spoon.

Whisk the Baileys and caramel into the pastry cream and then fold in the whipped cream just until incorporated.  The mixture will be soupy, like melted ice cream.

Directions for assembly:

Lightly oil a 6-cup (1½ litre) round bowl or mold (the smaller the diameter at the top the better) and line it as smoothly as possible with plastic wrap, leaving a small overhang.  Measure the diameter of the bowl and make note of it.  You will need a round cake base of this size for the bottom of the Charlotte.   Note:  If the diameter of the top of your 6 cup bowl is very wide, you may want to make an additional 1/2 recipe of the cake in a smaller pan to make sure there is enough for the roll as well as the base.  Alternately, you can use a smaller bowl.

When the roll is firm, cut it into ¼ inch (5 mm) slices with a small, serrated knife.  You want to get as many spirals as possible, so be careful to evenly cut the slices as close to ¼ inch (5 mm) as you can.  Work quickly so the cake roll doesn’t thaw and soften too much.

To line the bowl, place 1 slice in the center and place other slices around it as tightly as possible to try to avoid gaps.

Cover the lined bowl tightly and place it in the refrigerator until the filling is ready.

Make the Bavarian cream and spoon it into the lined bowl until it comes up to the top of the bowl or just to the place the top spirals last touch each other.  Trim the top spirals even above the cream if necessary.

Place the cake round on top of the cream and touching the edge of the spirals.   Press down gently on the edges of the cake circle so it makes contact with the edge of the spirals.

Cover tightly and refrigerate until set, at least 8 hours.

To unmold, invert onto a plate and lift away the bowl, tugging gently on the plastic wrap to release it.

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April Daring Baker’s Challenge: Foccacia

IMG_1894“For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch”

So foccacia…. damn, more yeast. Not my favourite stuff in the world as I’m always scared it’s not going to workout alright; cakes are so much more reliable. However, they say practice makes perfect and what better way to practice than with a foccacia dough. It’s simple, versatile and makes a lovely addition to a lunch table, like mine did. In the future I’d like to try wholemeal or a sourdough version, but let’s learn to walk before trying to run. I topped mine with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil and parmesan, but the possibilities are endless. Even a dessert foccacia is possible!

Ingredients

385g all-purpose (plain) flour

1/2 teaspoon  salt

1 teaspoon  white sugar

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon garlic paste

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 pinch ground black pepper

1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil

1¼ cups (300 ml) milk

15g grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Toppings: sun-dried tomatoes, basil, parmesan, garlic

Directions

In a bowl mix the milk, yeast and sugar and wait until it becomes foamy and bubbly (This indicates that your yeast is active, if the yeast doesn’t bubble and foam it has gone bad and you can’t use it)

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, , garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) parmesan cheese and black pepper.

Mix in the vegetable oil, then add the milk-yeast mixture.

Stir with a wooden spoon till the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (around 10 minutes)

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil.

Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. (If you are tight on time you could heat your oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 then turn it off and place the bowl with the dough in it)

Center your oven rack, preheat oven to hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8.

Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a ½ -inch (15 mm) thick rectangle or any shape you desire.

To give the dough the dimples effect, use your fingertips , pushing gently all over the surface of the dough

Place your selected topping

Brush top generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, rosemary and salt.

Allow the dough to rest for 10-15 minutes

Bake in preheated hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8 oven for 15 minutes, or until the sidesbegin to brown then place under the broiler (grill) till the top becomes golden brown.

Serve warmIMG_1896

Cherry Cake

IMG_2486It’s been a while since we’ve had cake, just for us in the house. By a while I mean like three weeks. Over Easter, hot cross buns were made and chocolate was consumed, but the desire for a nice cake was fulfilled this weekend. I gave Sweetapolitia’s Cherry Cake a try, with a few adaptations of my own, and created a cute pink 6″ maraschino cherry and almond cake that was moist and ‘practically perfect in every way’ (yes I may have been watching Mary Poppins too).

I also found a use for my little cupcake stand, which I always forget about when photographing actual cupcakes. So it was temporarily converted into a maraschino cherry stand for these photos. Also our roses are in bloom constantly, so why not take advantage of it?

3 steps:

Make this cake

Eat this cake

Repeat. Because you’ll want to.

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Cherry Cake: makes 3 six inch layers

Ingredients

  • 180g flour
  • 225g sugarIMG_2499
  • 13g baking powder
  • 85g cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 150ml milk, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons Maraschino cherry juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra large egg whites, room temperature (or 3 large ones)
  • pink food colouring
  • About 15 Maraschino cherries, halved or quartered

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Grease and line the bottoms of three 6″ tins.
  2. In the bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder on low speed.
  3. Add in the butter one piece at a time. Beat on low speed until all the butter has been incorporated, about 3 minutes. The mixture should have a fine crumbly texture.
  4. Combine half the milk, the cherry juice, lemon juice, and vanilla.
  5. In a separate measuring cup, gently whisk the egg whites and remaining milk.
  6. With stand mixer on low speed, gradually add the cherry juice mixture, followed by colour and beat until combined and smooth.
  7. Put the mixer back on low speed and add the egg white mixture in three parts, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat for 1 minute.
  8. Toss the cherry bits in a little flour and gently fold them into the batter by hand.
  9. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center is removed with few crumbs.

Icing

  • 100g butterIMG_2487
  • 70g cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp maraschino cherry juice
  • 250g icing sugar
  1. Beat butter until pale and fluffy
  2. Add the cream cheese, vanilla, cherry juice and half the icing sugar and beat on low until a smooth paste forms.
  3. Add the rest of the icing sugar and beat on high until fluffy.
  4. Ice as desired.

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The Daring Bakers March Challenge: Tarte Tatin

“For the March Daring bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchentaught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She  challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.”

Well this intrigued me! I’ve liked the idea of Tarte Tatin for a while and was already to jump to the stove immediately. Then I read further and saw that making puff pastry was required…. yikes. Not so keen anymore. I was certain it would fail. So I put this challenge off for a bit (also, I’ve been really busy with life in general). Anyway I tackled it last weekend. The rough puff was really easy to make, and amazingly delicious, and caramel and apple; need I say any more? This dessert is going to be a new favourite in our house, and with winter approaching I’m sure it will make a reappearance before long.

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Anyway here’s the recipe and instructions. No variations from me at all this time so just enjoy! Also… my photos suck, because… uh… wanted to eat it, not take photos… sorry (not sorry!).

Recipe 1: Rough Puff Pastry

Ingredients

125 g all-purpose (plain) flour

140g unsalted butter, cold

¼ tsp fine salt

¼ cup (60 ml) ice cold water

Directions:

  1.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. With a pastry blender (or two table knives) cut in the butter until the mixture in crumbly but even, with pea-sized pieces of butter. Make a well in the middle and pour in the ice cold water. Toss the flour/butter and water together with a fork until the dough starts to clump together.
  2. Turn the dough out onto your work surface – don’t worry if there are still pockets of dry flour. Gently knead and squeeze the mixture a few times just enough to bring it together into a square. Be careful not to overwork the dough: there should be visible bits of butter and it should still look very rough.
  3. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10” (25 cm) long. Fold the bottom third of the dough up into the middle, and fold the top third down, like you are folding a letter. This is one fold. Turn the dough a one quarter turn so that one of the open edges is facing you, and roll out again into a 10” (25 cm) rectangle. Fold again – this is the second fold. Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times, for 5 folds total. Your dough will get smoother and neater looking with each fold
  4. If your kitchen is very warm and the dough gets too soft/sticky to do all the folds at once, chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes between folds. After the fifth fold, use your rolling pin to tap the dough into a neat square. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for a least 1 hour, or overnight.

Recipe 2: Tarte Tatin

 Ingredients

6 large or 7-8 medium-sized apples

Juice of half a lemon

85 g unsalted butter (or use salted and skip the salt)

265 g granulated sugar, divided

pinch salt

Rough Puff Pastry, above

 

Directions:

  1. Peel the apples and cut them into quarters. Remove the cores in such a way that each apple quarter has a flat inner side: when placed rounded-side-up, it should sit on a flat base. Place the apples in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice and 65 g sugar. This will help draw out some of the moisture from the apples and prevent an overly runny caramel. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Melt the butter in a very heavy, 9” or 10” (23 cm or 24 cm) oven-proof saucepan over medium heat, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup 200g sugar. Stir with a whisk until the sugar melts and becomes a pale, smooth caramel. The sugar will seem dry and chunky at first, then will start to melt and smooth out. If the butter appears to separate out from the caramel, just keep whisking until it is a cohesive sauce. Remove from the heat.
  3. Discard the liquid that has come out of the apples, then add the apple quarters to the caramel, round side down. They won’t all fit in a single layer at first, but as they cook they will shrink a bit.
  4. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, pressing down gently on the apples with a spoon to cover them in the caramel liquid. Move the apples around the pan gently so that they all cook evenly, trying to keep them round side down. When the apples have shrunk enough to mostly fit in a single layer and are starting to soften but still keep their shape, remove the pan from the heat.
  5. With a wooden spoon, arrange the apples, round side down, in a single layer of concentric circles covering the bottom of the pan. Set aside until the filling stops steaming before covering with pastry.
  6. Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, and trim it into a circle about 1” (25 mm) in diameter larger than your saucepan. Lay it over the filling, tucking in the edges between the apples and the sides of the pan, and cut a few steam vents in the pastry. Place the saucepan on a rimmed baking sheet (just in case the filling decides to bubble over the sides) and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and let sit just until the caramel stops bubbling. Immediately place a serving platter (slightly larger in diameter than the saucepan) over the pastry. Wearing oven mitts, grab hold of the saucepan and platter and quickly invert everything to unmold the Tatin onto the platter. If any of the apples stick to the pan or come out of place, rearrange them with a spatula. The tarte Tatin can be served warm from the oven or at room temperature.

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Fondant Creations

So I don’t know about you but when I see those beautiful cakes made smooth and perfect with rolled fondant, I am both impressed and disappointed. Yeah they look good, but the majority of people peel the fondant off, because it tastes less than fantastic. When needing to do a novelty cake, I wanted to avoid using it but still achieve the neat finish. Enter marshmallow fondant! I’ve come across recipes for it often on Pinterest but I’ve been skeptical. After some experimentation, I found it easy to make, easy to roll, easy to colour and it doesn’t go sticky or fall apart. And it tastes like marshmallows! I haven’t tried flavouring it, but I’m sure its possible too.  From now on this will be my go to fondant.

The ratio of marshmallow to icing sugar is 1:1 so its easy to scale the recipe up and down. It probably makes life easier to sift your icing sugar before adding it to the marshmallow but I’ve done it without as well (it just takes a bit more kneading). If you want to colour the fondant its easiest to just use the white marshmallows.

Recipe

240g marshmallows

240g icing sugar (plus extra for dusting)

Melt the marshmallows in the microwave for 1 minute or until puffed up and soft. If they’re still solid then do 10 second bursts.

Gradually add the icing sugar while stirring.

Once all the icing sugar is added (not fully combined) scrap the mix onto a surface dusted with icing sugar. Dust your hands as well.

Knead the fondant until smooth and no longer sticky (adding icing sugar as needed).

Add colour now if needed. It can be rolled out and used immediately or stored in cling wrap in the fridge or freezer.

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Macaron Madness: Pistachio, fig and rose

Making ice cream and creme patissiere means one has a tonne of egg whites left over. Those lonely egg whites, sitting in my fridge were begging to be made into something amazing. I tried to resist the macaron lure, but it was futile. There were pistachios in my cupboard, and over 1 kg of figs so I decided to take a risk and sub half of the almond meal for pistachio meal. I was prepared for failure, and was more than pleasantly surprised with the results. Sure I got a few cracked shells but no more than usual, so the substitution held up well. But more than that, the intensity of the pistachio flavour was incredible. and paired with caramel fig compote ringed with either cream cheese icing or rosewater icing, they have become one of my favourites yet!

IMG_2412Prop find: new cute little cake plates with landmarks from around the world. They match beautifully with my mini teacup set. And teacup= tea. Midmorning tea must be T2’s strawberries and cream. This morning has been quite heavenly so far. Anyway, go make these and brew a cup of your favourite tea. It’s Friday aIMG_2416fter all!

Pistachio Macarons

60g ground pistachios

60g almond meal

120g icing sugar

120g sugar

34g water

100g egg whites

dash of green colouring

Sift the pistachio, almond meal and icing sugar into a large bowl. Put 50g egg white onto of this. Set aside.

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to 118˚C (softball) on a stove.

When the sugar syrup reaches 105˚C start whisking the remaining egg white in a stand mixer, until foaming.

Once the sugar syrup is at 118˚C slowly stream it into the egg whites down the side of the bowl while the mixer is on low/medium. Increase speed and whisk until cool.

Fold the meringue into your dry ingredients in 2 batches, adding the colouring as you do. When combined and the mixtures falls like a ribbon from your spoon, it is ready to be piped.

Pipe circles onto baking sheets lined with baking paper. Bang the sheets down a couple of times to remove air bubbles.

Allow to rest for 45 minutes

Bake for 15-18 minutes at 150˚C.

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Fig Compote

10 figs, chopped into quarters

200g sugar

2 tbs water

1 tbsp butter

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, and bring to a light caramel colour.

Add the butter and the figs and stir until completely combined.

Icing

250g sifted icing sugar

50g butter

75g cream cheese

1 tsp rosewater

pink colouring

Beat butter until pale and fluffy (2 minutes).

Add 125g icing sugar and the cream cheese and beat on low until combined.

Add the remaining icing sugar and beat on high until fluffy

Remove half to icing and place in a piping bag.

Add the rosewater and colouring to the remaining icing and mix until combined. Place in a piping bag.

Pipe on the edge of the macron like the picture below and place a little compote in the centre before sandwiching with another shell

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Vanilla Chiffon Cake with Blackberries

IMG_9173My mum was reading through some old recipes from her grandmother and decided to try a few out. She chose gingerbread and I chose the vanilla chiffon. There’s something lovely and welcoming about a chiffon cake, soft and light and a good match for a strong fruit filling. So i made a blackberry jam type filling and topped it with a vanilla bean icing. A lovely cake passed down through generations, we shall continue to enjoy it.

CakeIMG_9182

Ingredients

1 cup flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

4 eggs (separated)

1/3 cup cold water

1/4 cup oil

Method

Preheat oven to 180˚C

Sift flour, sugar and baking powder

Make a well and add the egg yolks, water and oil. Beat until smooth

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff

Pour the egg/flour mix over the whites and gently fold until just combined

Bake in prepared tine for 30-35 minutes

Jam 

Ingredients

500g blackberries

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 tsp vanilla

Method

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and boil until thick and jam like

Allow to cool before filling the cake

Icing 

Ingredients

50g butter

75g cream cheese

250g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Method

beat butter until pale

Add the cream cheese, half of the icing sugar and the vanilla bean paste and slowly beat until combined

Add the rest of the icing sugar and beat until fluffy

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