Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Bakers' August Challenge - Dobos Tarte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

Here is my version...





I used pecans instead of hazelnuts, and I a boiled fudge frosting for the filling (instead of the listed butter cream). I also had a "slight" problem with the caramel wedges that were supposed to adorn the top of the cake, so I threw on some Pepperidge Farm Geneva cookies just to give it the finished look.

I also took some liberties with the baking directions and just used pans instead of the complicated process of spreading the batter free form into a circular shape and then trimming the edges once it was bake. Say What?? I took convenience to another level and used disposal pans....

And pre-cut 8" parchment rounds. The rounds were just a little too big for my 8" pans, but it didn't seem to cause any problems.



My lazy short-cutting came into play again during the batter mixing. I just dumped the whole eggs into batter and didn't bother with whipping the egg whites separate. I'm such a lazy slug. May be I should change the name of my blog. "The Lazy Baker," I wonder if that name is taken?


Here are the pans waiting to go into the oven...

And the cakes just out of the oven...


Next variation (have you noticed a pattern here) was the frosting. I'm not a big fan of butter cream, so I whipped up a boil fudge icing to use as the filling. You can scrape the butter cream off the sides and top of a cake, but it is kinda hard getting it out from between those little layers.

Here is the fudge at the rapid boil stage...

And the first layer of cake getting a coating of warm fudge filling. Just pour it on and let it do its thing. Yummm...


Here are a few layers in place with some of the filling oozing out. Oh la la.



I put a layer of butter cream over the whole cake and then pressed the chopped pecans into the sides.

Next came the fiasco with the caramel wedges. I had a little stove top fire, so instead of nice wedges of amber caramel, my guests got crispy, chocolaty Geneva cookies.





update: I checked and both "LazyBaker" and "TheLazyBaker" blog names are taken. Bummer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Heart Faces - Week 33 - Nostalgia

The theme for this week’s photo challenge at I Heart Faces is “Nostalgia”.



Amanda was always fascinated with our back door and the wild and glorious world she could see through the glass. She loved the flowers, the birds and especially the squirrels that came to eat peanuts I had left on the sill.

This photo's exposure is not the best, but I still love how the afternoon sun bathes her face in a warm glow. And if you look close you can see two different reflections of her face. The obvious one is on the back door, but look above her head and to the right you can see another reflection in the glass door of the curio cabinet.

The picture is nostalgic because on August 29, 2005 the door, garden, animals and even the house were all casualties of Hurricane Katrina. I get a little sentimental every time I look at these old pictures and wistfully wish I could turn back time.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ginger Blueberry Scones

I had a grueling baking schedule planned for this past weekend but the glorious weather lured me away from my kitchen. Early Sunday morning the temperature was 61 degrees and 50% humidity. In New Orleans! In the middle of August! Crazy, freaky weather.

I did manage to keep myself inside long enough to bake one item: Ginger Blueberry Scones. They just took a few minutes to mix and bake, and then I sat on my patio (with a blanket) and had breakfast Tea & Scones.



Ingredients

* 2 cups all-purpose sifted flour
* 1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling tops
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
* 1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries
* 1 teaspoon lemon zest
* 1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing tops
* 2 large eggs

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, ginger, and salt. Note: if you like a sweeter scone (like me), use 1/3 cup of sugar instead of the listed 1/4 cup, if you like really sweet scones, use 1/2 cup of sugar. If you want coffee cake instead of scones, use 3/4 cups of sugar. If you want... well you get the idea.

3) Add the cold butter to the flour mixture and using a fork, your fingers or a pastry blender, cut the butter until the largest pieces are the size of small peas.

4) Stir in blueberries and zest.



5) In a small bowl, whisk together the cream and eggs.

6) Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the cream/egg mixture.



7) Stir lightly with a fork just until the dough comes together.



8) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3 or 4 times. Don't over mix or the scones will be tough.

9) Place the mound of dough on a baking stone and pat into an 8" round about 1-1/4 inch thick.

10) Brush the top with cream and sprinkle with sugar.

11) Using a floured knife, score the top of the dough into 8 wedges. Only cut half way through the thickness of the dough, don't cut all the way through.



12) Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. I like mine extra golden brown so I baked it another 5 minutes.



13) Remove baking stone from oven and using the score lines previously made in dough, cut the scones apart.

14) Transfer the scones to a wire rake to cool. Or just eat them hot like me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TWD - Applesauce Spice Bars

This week's TDW (Tuesday with Dorie) challenge was Applesauce Spice Bars on pages 117 and 118 from Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan.




Individually I like all the ingredients in this recipe, but I wasn't wowed by the finished product. I found it too moist and wet, especially after the second day. I loved the glaze (it tasted just like pralines), but I think a maple cream cheese frosting (pictured above) would have been a better match with the spices.

Do I sound negative?

I don't mean to be discouraging, a lot of people love these bars, but I just like 'cakier' baked goods. If I tried it again, I would add more flour to the batter, include a crisp shortbread crust, and pair it with a maple cream cheese frosting. I guess I would also have to come up with a new name, because if I made all those changes they wouldn't be Dorie's Applesauce Spice Bars anymore. :)


Here are the apples, raisins and pecans waiting patiently for their dip in the batter.


The dry stuff...


Everything all mixed together...



Just out of the oven. I cut the recipe in half, and baked it in a 8" x 8" pan.



Cooking the glaze.

On the TWD website a lot of people mentioned that there was not enough glaze so I cooked twice as much (yum). They also mentioned that the glaze was thin and runny, so I cooked the syrup an extra 2 minutes. I may have gone overboard the cooking, because my glaze was a little brittle after it cooled.

The finished Applesauce Spice Bars with Brown Sugar Glzae.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TWD - Brownie Bites

This is my first Tuesday's with Dorie baking challenge, and what a yummy challenge it was. Brownies are my favorite food, and little brownie bites are my favorite form of brownie. No mess, no crumbs, just pop the whole thing in your mouth and enjoy. Pure chocolate bliss, want one?



The Brownie Bites were also a breeze to prepare. Melt the chocolate, butter and sugar over a low fire.


After the chocolate mixture cools, add the egg and vanilla.



Blend the chocolate-egg mixture with the flour. I added nuts too.



Bake in a mini muffin pan for 14 minutes, carefully remove the BB's from pan and allow to cool on wire rack.



Dip the tops of the BBs in melted white chocolate. This was the only part of the recipe that I had problems with. I used white chocolate chips and they would never melt to a "dipping" consistency. I finally just spread the white chocolate on top. Not perfect looking, but still very tasty.



Side note: While roaming around my backyard snapping pictures of my BB's, I noticed something in my viewfinder…


Did you see him? Upper right corner of the picture. A beautifully butterfly sipping nectar from a bougainvillea. I think it is a Swallowtail, but I'm not positive. Here is a close-up. Isn't he/she beautiful?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

I'm a big fan of Alton Brown and the Food Network's "Good Eats" show. I love Alton's quirky skits and how he uses cheap, everyday props to explain the chemistry behind the cooking/baking process. The episode on Overnight Cinnamon Rolls was one of my favorites, but I have to be honest I was too intimated by the whole yeast/proofing/rising thing to give them a try. Until this past weekend that is.

Ta Da. Behold my Overnight Cinnamon Rolls. Not too shabby, Eh?



The process WAS time consuming, but not too difficult.

First mix the eggs, sugar, butter, and buttermilk .


Add half the flour along with the yeast and salt.


Mix the dough until still soft, but not sticky.


Turn the dough out of the mixer and kneed by hand for 30 seconds. Place in a bowl for the first rising. I had a moment of panic at this stage. I was already cooking something in the oven and the microwave, so I couldn't put the dough in there to rise. It was a rainy, humid day and the AC had the house downright cold.

Where to put the dough?

I was stumped.

I don't bake bread often (meaning never) so I don't have any tricks to fall back on. In my panic I put the bowl inside the dryer. I sorry, sorry, sorry, but it was the only warm place in the house! Is that unsanitary? Is that totally gross? I had the bowl tightly covered and the dryer is brand new (about a month old), but I still whisper to myself, "How could you DO THAT?"


Once I was finished with the microwave, I transferred the (still tightly covered) bowl from the dryer to microwave for the rest of the rising cycle. I'm so embarrassed.

Next I rolled out the dough and sprinkled it with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Then rolled the dough into a tube and sliced it into twelve parts.


Into the buttered pan the rolls went and then into the refrigerator for an overnight stay.

The next morning, the rolls along with a pan of boiling water went into the cold oven for 30 more minutes of proofing.

And then the baking. Here they are just out of the oven. Warm and amazingly fragrant.


And the final product.




In the final analysis AB's Overnight Cinnamon Rolls were good but not great. I found them a little bready and they didn't have enough ooey, gooey, sticky filling for my taste. I read almost all of the 225+ reviews this recipe received on the Food Network page and found a few reasons why my cinnamon rolls weren't "to-die-for" [#1 The first rising needs to be longer than 2 1/2 hours (some suggest up to 8 hours). #2 Roll the dough really thin (too thick and the roll will taste bready), #3 more filling WITH pecans].

Next, and there will be a next time, time they will taste awesome.