Wednesday, 30 July 2008

July Daring Bakers Challenge - Hazelnut gateau with praline butttercream

Its that time of the month for us to share our July Daring Bakers challenge with you! Yay. I love it when we get to share it, as it means the hard work is over and we get to find out soon what our next challenge is… Something without buttercream I hope!

July’s challenge, a hazelnut gateau with praline buttercream, was set by Melecotte and was awesome! Everyone loved it. I think this and the Danish Braid we did last month are my favorites so far.

I struggled with this challenge though. I think I went in too confident (as we as Daring Bakers have completed the genoise and buttercream a few times now). The cake part went fine, the glaze went fine, but the buttercream, (the blooming buttercream) wouldn’t work for me! The first attempt was lumpy as I tried to cut corners by not creaming the butter before adding it to the egg mix, so I started again. This time I followed the instructions to the letter and it just wouldn’t come together, it looked like it was curdled. But, I just kept on beating and it came together perfectly in the end. Sometimes you just gotta keep on beating. Thank goodness, as it was the best part. How could you go wrong with praline though, I ask you!

I made this cake for my youngest sister, Sals birthday and she loved it, which is the only person I really cared about. I packed ¾ of the cake up for her and she took it to work and she tells me everyone there loved it too and thought she’d bought it! That’s a compliment in my books. Or maybe not! Haha. Anyway, the recipe is to follow and if you want to look at what my fellow DB members got up to have a look here.

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Gateau
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Gateau

Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.

1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 180C. Grease and flour a 25.5cm X 6cm round cake pan.

Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers

1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a electric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. (160C) Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Apricot Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.

Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake

**Ganache can take on many forms. While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.

Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.

Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake. As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting. Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.

Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center. The leaves should overlap. Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Sathya-rating ****

Friday, 25 July 2008

Vegetarian Shepards Pie

Its cold in my part of the world at the moment. Not as cold as its gets in many other parts of the world, but cold enough that you hate getting into bed at night ‘cos its like ice, hate getting out of bed in the morning ‘cos its just so cosy, shiver while you wait for the bus and time to eat nice comforting food like Shepards Pie.

I made this one recently for my dear friends Ehren, Kate, Tony and my sister Surya. Surya and I weren’t too excited about it and thought it could have used some tomato paste and more seasoning and more herbs but everyone else really liked it. I would like to make again soon and tweak the taste a little.

This recipe came from Delia, who is one of my favourite celebrity chefs, and I think was maybe one of the first whom I fell in love with many years ago. She’s got quite a reputation in the UK, but not so much here, but her books are like bibles of the kitchen to me. The recipe and amounts are very specific, I’m not that type of cook, so feel free to work with this one as you like. I didn’t note amounts of veges etc which is annoying, sorry. I also didn’t add goats cheese to the mash as Delia states, just some grated cheese and paprika on top.

110 g dried black-eyed beans, pre-soaked and drained
75 g green split peas (no need to soak), rinsed
75 g green lentils (no need to soak), rinsed
50 g peeled carrots
50 g peeled swede
50 g peeled celeriac
1 large onion, peeled
1 small green pepper, deseeded
50 g butter, plus a little extra for greasing
225 g tomatoes
2 heaped tbs chopped rosemary
2 heaped tbs chopped parsley
¼ level teaspoon ground mace
¼ level teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

For the topping:
700 g potatoes, peeled
50 g butter
2 tbs milk
25 g Pecorino cheese, grated
1 cup grated cheddar
Sprinkling of paprika
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Soak and drain the black-eyed beans overnight if you have time and think of it in 2 pints (1.2 litres) cold water. If you need them now, bring them up to the boil (using the same amount of water), boil for 10 minutes and leave them to soak for two hours before draining.

Next, put the drained beans into a saucepan with the split peas and lentils. Add 1¼ pints (725 ml) boiling water and some salt, cover and simmer gently for about an hour, or until the pulses have absorbed the water and are soft. Remove them from the heat and mash a little with a large fork.

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C, and put the potatoes on to cook. Once they are cooked, roughly chop all the vegetables, pile the whole lot into a food processor and process until chopped small. Next, melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the vegetables and cook gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring now and then until they're softened and tinged gold at the edges.
After that, add the vegetables to the pulses mixture, along with the herbs, spices and salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste.

As soon as the potatoes are cooked, mash them with the butter, pecerino and milk, season well with salt and freshly milled black pepper and spread the potato over the rest of the ingredients in the dish. Finally, sprinkle over the cheddar and paprika and bake the pie on the top shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. If you want to prepare this in advance, it will need about 40 minutes in the oven.

Sathya-rating ***

Monday, 21 July 2008

Easypeasy Coconut Macaroons

Here's something super easy, quick and tasty. Coconut macaroons. I never knew they were so easy. If I did I would probably be 20kgs heavier than I am now! My lovely sister Surya threw these together and we were shocked by how they came out. Perfect. A good last minute go to recipe.

1 can of condensed milk
450g shredded coconut

Mix all ingredients together.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto generously greased baking sheets.

Bake at 180°C for 8 minutes.

Cool coconut macaroons slightly; remove to rack.

Sathya-rating ****

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Lemon Risotto with bacon & almonds

Another busy weekend of unpacking and sorting out our new home. Its coming along nicely and I’ve managed to cook a few nice meals to make it feel more like home. I have also managed to burn to cakes in the oven, so I am yet to work that one out! I made this on the weekend, which was the perfect comfort food while Adelaide is so cold and we’d worked hard around the house. This recipe comes from the gorgeous Heidi Swanson over at 101 Cookbooks which I have adapted to suit out liking. I love lemon, and I love risotto, the creamy, tangy bowl full of rice is perfectly finished with the crunchy almonds and crispy bacon. Try it, its yummy!

3 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 cups arborio rice
Squeeze of half a lemon
4 cups stock (or water), almost at boiling point
Grated zest of 2 lemons
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbs sour cream
3 big handfuls of greens, chopped (I used rocket)
3-4 rashers of bacon, roughly chopped and fried till crispy
Handful of toasted flaked almonds to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, , garlic, and salt and fry lightly, stirring constantly, for a few minutes.

Add the rice and stir until coated by the oil. Next add a squeeze of lemon juice and stir till it evaporates.

Add one ladle of stock at stock at a time to the rice mixture, stirring continually letting the rice slowly absorb the liquid. I have the heat on medium so there’s a little bubbling but doesn’t go to fast. Add all of the stock till the rice is just cooked.

Stir in the lemon zest, parmesan, rocket and sour cream and season. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes .Taste to check the rice is cooked and seasoning is correct and serve in warm bowls topped with the toasted nuts, crispy bacon and more parmesan cheese.

Sathya-rating *****

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Easy week night dinner - Kheema with Peas

We're settling into Adelaide well, but there is just so much to do! The house is coming together and we're getting used to our jobs, slowly. All of this means I don't give this site or my kitchen as much attention as I'd like, sorry. However, the internet was connected yesterday and the kitchen is pretty much done so that will change soon.

Here is a little something I threw together after work that was so easy and so delicious! Its saucy, tasty and comforting. The best part was the leftovers the next day which we put into toasted sandwiches, yum!

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
750g lean minced lamb or beef
2 tbsp tomato paste
250ml water or stock
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
200g podded peas, fresh or frozen
1-2 tsp garam masala
3 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and fry gently for 5 minutes until light golden. Add the ginger and garlic, stirring well, than add mince and fry for 5 mins until browned.

Add the tomato paste, water, coriander, chilli, turmeric, salt and pepper, and stir well. Cover and cook gently for 20 mins. Uncover, add the peas and garam masala and simmer until the peas are cooked and the kheema is thick and saucy.

Sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve with yogurt and breads or rice.

Sathya-rating ****