Friday, May 28, 2010
Can you believe it’s the end of May already? This year has been crazy busy so far, and due to a lack of time and a lack of inspiration for the last few challenges, I’ve missed a few months of Daring Bakers. But when I saw May’s challenge, I knew I had to clear my schedule for a day and give it a try. You see, ever since last year’s Masterchef Pressure Test, when the contestants made towers of choux puffs with swirling strands of spun sugar to Adriano Zumbo’s recipe, I’ve wanted to make a Croquembouche. And today, I did.
Today is also my Dad’s birthday, and one of his favourite desserts ever is the pecan pie I made from the Tartine Bakery cookbook last year. I was quite surprised he liked it so much, because usually he prefers a bag of salty chips than a sweet dessert. So I wanted to incorporate the flavours of a pecan pie into the croquembouche, namely caramel, bourbon, vanilla and of course pecans.
I used the required challenge recipe for the choux pastry, which is similar to my usual favourite recipe and I had no problem making the gorgeous hollow puffs. I adapted Adriano Zumbo’s crème patissiere recipe from the Masterchef cookbook, to be a vanilla and bourbon pastry cream. I’m not sure why it turned out a little runnier than my usual recipe, which made filling the profiteroles a little bit difficult. For the caramel pecan flavour, I made the Pecan Bourbon pralines from the Tartine cookbook to add a beautiful nuttiness. I had a little trouble with this recipe as it didn’t set properly the first time around but the second attempt was more successful.
Assembling the croquembouche was a little bit crazy. Trying to avoid burning myself with the hot caramel, and keeping it neat, presentable and somewhat resembling a tower was really hard. My first attempt at spun sugar was a little bit fail, and it’s not as pretty as I would have hoped. I mean, it certainly wouldn’t have won any Masterchef competitions! But it was delicious nonetheless and I really liked the flavour combinations and the texture from the caramel and the pecans. I just wish I'd had some candied kumquats to add a bit of tang and colour like in the original pecan pie recipe! I'm not going to include the recipes here, so check out some of the other fabulous Daring Bakers blogs if you'd like to give it a try!
The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was possibly the most memorable of all the challenges I’ve done since joining in August last year. I was slightly terrified that we would be given something like the six-part, twelve-page Buche De Noel from last December’s, but I was pretty excited to find that we would be making Gingerbread Houses, just in time for Christmas. It is something I have always wanted to do, but my engineering and construction skills leave much to be desired. They always seemed far too difficult and time consuming. And while they were both of those things, I learned that patience and planning pay off and this was a fantastic and totally rewarding challenge.
I ended up making two houses, because originally I was planning a traditional looking snow-covered house, and an Australian themed outback house, but I was discouraged when I couldn’t find a kangaroo shaped cookie cutter. But I still kept the front verandah, as I'd planned. I decorated the first house with the help of my Dad (it’s definitely a two-person project). For the second house, I helped my Mum with putting it together, but she got creative with the lolly jar and decorated it mostly by herself, complete with garden balcony and stained-glass window. It was nice to get everyone involved, and these would be especially fun to make with young kids.
I used Anna’s recipe for gingerbread, which was a little dry at first but I added a little more water and rested it for quite a long time so I didn’t have many problems with pieces shrinking. It was delicious, and a great base to work from. My sister and I made our own templates, although the second one was based on this one from BBC Good Food. The Royal Icing recipe called for too much icing sugar, in my opinion so I added it slowly until I felt it was the right consistency – a little under 2 cups of icing sugar, not the 3 cups the recipe stated. I’m not going to post the recipes here, but you can find them on the Daring Kitchen site.
I used various sweets for decoration – different flavoured candy canes, sugared jubes, M&M’s, and TeeVee Snacks to create a log cabin look. The chimney on the first house was a Milky Way chocolate bar, and the doors on the second were Tim Tam biscuits. I have to admit though, demolishing the house was a little hard to do. I was pretty proud of my first gingerbread house attempts and I didn’t want to eat them. But that’s half the fun, isn’t it!
There were some absolutely incredible gingerbread houses made by other Daring Bakers this month, it’s amazing what you can do with a few simple ingredients and some imagination! 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.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I am very late with my Daring Bakers post this month, and not because I left the cooking part until the last minute as I usually do! I had planned a whirlwind weekend away, not realizing that the reveal date this month fell smack in the middle of it. So this is just a short post now that I'm home, slipping in just before the end of November. My coffee guy makes a great cannoli. Earth-shatteringly crispy with an amazing tiramisu flavoured custard, or if you ask real nicely, he'll do half tiramisu and half ricotta. I was kind of excited about this challenge because it was a new technique that I had never tried before and there are infinite possibilities as to flavour combinations.
It took a few attempts at frying before I actually got cannoli I was happy with. I tried to make some in the traditional shape using a pasta cannelloni tube to shape them, but the only cannelloni I found had ridges in the sides and were therefore almost impossible to remove. The photo above is the only one that actually turned out. The rest I made into cone shapes using some small metal cones that my parents brought back with them from the restaurant they owned twenty years ago. These were much more successful, once I got the hang of it. Regulating the oil temperature was a little difficult, but very important to getting beautiful cannoli.
I filled some with a white chocolate and orange blossom cream, with a sprinkling of pistachio nuts, which was delicious and delicately flavoured, and really worked well. I made a gingerbread ice cream for the cannoli cones, which was pretty amazing. I flavoured it with golden syrup, ginger and black pepper, but I would like to go back and really get the recipe perfect before I share it here, hopefully just in time for Christmas. And in hindsight, a 43°C day was probably not the best time to try and photograph ice cream. Although this month didn't involve any baking at all, I quite enjoyed this new challenge.
The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
• 2 cups plain flour
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
• 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
• ½ cup white or red wine
• 1 egg white
• Vegetable oil, for deep frying
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon and salt. Sir in the oil, vinegar and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball, cover with plastic and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.
2. Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large work surface and roll the dough until super thin. I used a pasta maker to roll the dough. Cut out circles of dough (your choice of size) and roll the cut circle into an oval.
3. Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes. Roll a dough oval from the long side around each tube and dab a little egg white where the edges overlap. Press well to seal and set aside to let the egg white dry a little.
4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches. Heat the oil to 190°C (375°F) on a deep fry thermometer. Have a tray lined with paper towels ready.
5. Carefully lower a few of the canola tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.
6. Lift the cannoli out of the oil with slotted spoon. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel.
7. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.
8. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.
White Chocolate and Orange Blossom Cream
• 180g white chocolate, chopped
• 300g pouring cream
• 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
• Chopped Pistachios, to garnish
1. Place white chocolate, 100ml of cream and orange blossom water into a small saucepan and heat, stirring until chocolate has melted. Allow to cool completely.
2. Whip the remaining cream to soft peaks. Fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream with a spatula and refrigerate if not firm enough to pipe.
3. Pipe mixture into cannoli and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Dust with icing sugar, if desired and serve immediately.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Wow. I can honestly say that this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was a challenge indeed, the most difficult one I’ve ever done – yes, even more than last December’s Yule Log! I always knew it would come up at some point, but I was hoping it would be later rather than sooner. This month’s challenge was Macarons. The delightful French sandwich cookies that are notoriously difficult to make, and something that I had never attempted before. I can’t say that the journey was easy, but it was definitely a learning curve, and I’m really glad I persevered and finally managed to make macarons.
From the beginning, I had serious problems with the challenge’s given recipe, and from the sounds of things on the forum I wasn’t the only one. After three complete failures following the recipe to the letter (and a lot of wasted eggwhites!) I decided to try Syrup & Tang’s recipe that used the Italian meringue method. This worked for me first time, and it was the best feeling to finally see that my macarons had feet!
Thinking up flavour combinations was the most fun part of this challenge, after seeing so many interesting ones posted on other blogs over the last few years. I decided to try my luck with the classic combination of Peanut Butter and Jelly flavour. I swapped out half the almond meal for ground peanuts when making the shell with a sprinkling of crushed peanuts on top, because I like my peanut butter crunchy. In between, I made a strawberry jelly disc. I really liked the combination of flavours and textures.
I still need a lot of practice with folding, piping and judging the baking times on my crazy oven, but this is a great first step to help me overcome my irrational fear of making macarons. I really look forward to experimenting further with flavour combinations and working on the technique in the future! The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
I won’t publish the recipe I used, but it’s here on Duncan’s blog Syrup and Tang along with many other helpful tips about making macarons.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I was pretty excited when I saw the Daring Bakers challenge for September – vols au vents, including making the puff pastry from scratch. It was something I had thought about but never attempted before and this was a perfect opportunity to try it for the first time. And with complete freedom over the filling for the vol au vents it seemed like the perfect challenge. Until I left it til the last minute, of course. I had so many ideas for fillings but only got a chance to make one this time, though I hope to try out the others in the future because I will definitely be making this recipe again!
The September Daring Bakers Challenge consisted of:
Making puff pastry using Michael Richard’s recipe
Shaping and baking vol au vents
With a filling of our choice, either sweet or savory
Making the puff pastry was quite straightforward, the recipe was very detailed and easy to follow, and we were also given a very helpful video for reference. The whole process took a long time because of the waiting required between turns, but it was very exciting to open the oven and find that my pastry had actually puffed. I think in that moment, the whole process was worthwhile, and I would feel confident now tackling a crossiant or danish recipe.
I decided on a sweet filling – warm stewed rhubarb and strawberry with a crunchy lavender crumble on top, inspired by a dessert from the gorgeous Sunday Suppers blog. That stunning opening photo has been my desktop picture for the last week. I loved the combination of flaky, buttery pastry with sweet and slightly tart filling and the textural change of the crumble on top. I cooked the filling on the stove until the rhubarb was falling apart, and baked the crumble separately on a flat tray in the oven for about 25 minutes, stirring with a fork often to make sure it was evenly cooked. I loved the subtle floral taste that the lavender gave, it’s a winning combination.
The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.
• 2 ½ cups plain flour
• 1 ¼ cups cake flour
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1 ¼ cups ice water
• 450g very cold unsalted butter
• Extra flour for dusting your work surface
1. Mixing the Dough: Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them. Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers.
2. Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.
4. Incorporating the Butter: Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.
5. Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.
To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.
6. Making the Turns: Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich.
7. With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.
Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.
8. Chilling the Dough: If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns. The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.
In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
• Well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
• Egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
• Your filling of choice
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.
3. For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces. They can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)
4. Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.
5. Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.
6. Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)
7. Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down.
8. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.
Friday, August 28, 2009
I was a little bit nervous when I found out that Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella was co-hosting the Daring Bakers Challenge for August with Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar. If you’ve seen Lorraine’s wonderful blog, you would know that it is filled with gorgeous sweets. She is very talented, making gorgeous, yet very tricky dishes on a regular basis, and I wondered what she had in store for us. We tried unsuccessfully to get her to tell us the day before the challenge was formally announced, but she wouldn’t spill. I was quietly biting my nails.
The August challenge was a traditional Hungarian cake called Dobos Torte, consisting of:
• Sponge cake layers
• Chocolate Buttercream
• Caramel Topping
And if there are two things I am destined to fail at baking, it’s sponge cake and layer cakes. But, I am happy to report that with this challenge I finally succeeded on both fronts, and I would say that my mini Dobos Tortes were definitely passable! I halved the recipe and made two larger sheets of sponge cake and used a round cookie-cutter to make the cake layers even in size.
The process of making the buttercream seemed a little complicated for what it is, but was delicious nonetheless. If I were to make this again, I would brush the cake layers with a syrup or liqueur to keep it a little more moist. I skipped the crushed nuts on the side because I didn’t think the cake needed them.
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 Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.
• 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
• 1 1/3 cups icing sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup + 2 tablespoons cake flour, sifted
• Pinch salt
• 4 large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 cup caster sugar
• 110g dark chocolate, finely chopped
• 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature (slightly soft)
• 1 cup caster sugar
• 12 tablespoons water
• 8 teaspoons lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon neutral oil
• 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
• ½ cup finely chopped hazeluts, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and position racks in top and center thirds of the oven. Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)
2. Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup of the icing sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.
3. In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
4. Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack.
5. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)
6. To make the buttercream, Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this
7. Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
8. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency. When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.
9. Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula. Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.
10. The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.
Angela's note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.
11. To assemble, divide the buttercream into six equal parts. Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake. Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake. Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.
Monday, July 27, 2009
I was as excited about this month’s Daring Bakers challenge as only cookies can make me. We were given two recipes this month, with the option to do both or pick one, and from the very beginning I knew I had to try the Mallows. This came with a slight amount of trepidation (which I’m learning is a regular thing with these DB challenges) as my last attempt at home made marshmallows was so disastrous I couldn’t even bring myself to blog about it! I’m happy to say I had a lot more success the second time around!
The Mallows have three components – a biscuit base, home made marshmallow and a chocolate glaze. Each component came together quite easily to produce a gorgeous cookie, even though there was a bit of waiting involved. I had great plans to make a few batches with different flavoured marshmallows but decided to keep it simple yet delicious and flavoured the mixture with vanilla bean.
The recipe said that it would make two dozen cookies, but it made closer to fifty. I ended up with more cookie bases than I had enough marshmallow mixture to pipe onto, so I sandwiched them together with jam to make tiny wagon wheels for a great little trip down memory lane. I enjoyed this challenge and would not hesitate to make these again, they were a real crowd pleaser and fifty cookies disappeared a lot quicker than I thought humanly possible!
The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.
Mallows (Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Makes roughly 45-60 cookies
• 3 cups all purpose flour
• ½ cup white sugar
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¾ teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• ¼ cup water
• ¼ cup light corn syrup
• ¾ cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites, room temperature
• 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 340g dark chocolate, finely chopped
• 55g vegetable oil
1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy. Add the eggs and mix until combine. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2. . When ready to bake, line a baking tray with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
3. . Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 3-5cm cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
4. To make the marshmallow, combine the water, corn syrup and sugar, and bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 112°C (235°F) on a candy thermometer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
5. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff. Transfer to a pastry bag.
6. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
7. To make the chocolate glaze, melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
8. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Afternoon tea has been on my mind lately, and not just because I’m organising an epic high tea with some of my favourite food bloggers! From Victorian-era decadence with tiered cake stands and fine china to the more modest cup of tea and a few biscuits, I am sad that it has fallen by the wayside in the modern world. This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge stirred up these feelings even more.
The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.
The June Challenge consisted of
• Making Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
• Making Almond Frangipane
• An option to make our own jam or curd filling
I was inspired by the gorgeous pears this winter, and decided to try my hand at making pear butter. Using Melissa’s post from The Traveller’s Lunchbox as a guide I got to work, cutting the recipe in half and substituting a vanilla bean for the cardamom. The final product was gorgeous and full flavoured, even though I had a little incident and
I kept the vanilla theme going throughout the whole tart, using vanilla extract in place of almond extract in the pastry and the frangipane. The only thing I might have changed was to blind-bake the tart shell for a few minutes before adding the filling as it was just slightly underdone, but this is only a minor point. I enjoyed this as I like to think it was intended – with a hot cup of tea on a drizzly wintery afternoon.
• 6-7 ripe pears (I used Beurre Bosc)
• 1 1/3 cups sugar
• Juice of ½ lemon
• 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
• 225g plain flour
• 30g sugar
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 110g unsalted butter, cold
• 2 egg yolks
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1-2 tablespoons cold water
• 125g unsalted butter, softened
• 125g icing sugar
• 3 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 125g ground almonds
• 30g all purpose flour
1. To make the pear butter, peel and core pears and cut into medium size chunks. Combine with sugar in a bowl and allow to macerate for 1-2 hours.
2. Pour the pears and the liquid into a large pot. Stir in the lemon juice and vanilla seeds. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat, and then lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the pears are soft and starting to fall apart.
3. Remove from the heat and, with a hand blender or a normal blender, blend until smooth. Return to the pot and allow the mixture to simmer gently, stirring frequently until the butter reduces to a thick sauce, about 1 hour. Allow to cool.
4. In the meantime, make your shortcrust pastry. Sift flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Using a box grater, grate the butter into the bowl and rub together with your fingers until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs.
5. In a separate small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks and the vanilla extract and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water a tablespoon at a time, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
6. When 30 minutes is up, roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 5mm thick. Transfer to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
8. To make the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Don’t worry if the mixture appears to look curdled. Pour in the vanilla extract and mix for another 30 seconds. Spoon in the ground almonds and flour and mix well.
9. To assemble the tart, spoon the cooled pear butter in an even layer onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and bake for 30 minutes.
10. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, with whipped cream or ice cream.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
It’s Daring Bakers time again, with yet another creative challenge – my tenth, hasn’t the time flown? One of the things I love most about the Daring Bakers is that I am constantly making recipes I’d never even thought to try on my own, and this is most certainly one of them.
The May challenge consisted of:
• Making strudel dough
• Our choice of filling
I found it quite easy to make the dough, and even though I rolled it very very thinly, I wonder if it was thin enough as I had a fairly thick layer of breadcrumbs. For my strudel filling, I chose apples a mixture of apples and pears, with pecans, vanilla and a splash of brandy. I also upped the amount of cinnamon to 2 teaspoons because half a teaspoon seemed nowhere near enough in an apple dessert!
I enjoyed this dessert and was pretty happy with the way it turned out. The apples and pears were beautiful together and the pecans gave it a lovely change of texture. I would like to play with other fillings if I make this in the future. Cherries, when they’re in season or bananas, walnuts and chocolate seem like delicious options.
The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.
• 1 1/3 cups unbleached flour
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 7 tablespoons water, plus more if needed
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
• ½ teaspoon cider vinegar
1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
2. Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).
3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can. Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.
4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.
Monday, April 27, 2009
I had mixed feelings about the April challenge from the start. While I loved the absolute freedom and opportunity to be creative with this recipe, I was a little uninspired by the choice of cheesecake. Add in a hectic month at work, the Easter long weekend, a little trip up the coast and a bout of the flu on the last weekend of the month, and I’d say it’s a near miracle that I got the challenge done at all! But I’m glad that I made it, because even though I was a little delirious on account of the flu medication and running a fever at the time of making the cheesecake, it was an easy (and very forgiving) recipe that still turned out beautifully.
The April Challenge consisted of:
• Abbey’s infamous baked cheesecake recipe, adapted in any way we want, with any flavour modification and presentation we could dream up.
I decided to make little maple and cinnamon cheesecakes with a hint of cinnamon and ginger in the crust, served individually in ramekins with a crackly burnt sugar top. I only made one third of the original recipe, which was just enough for the four of us. I thought that the flavours were perfect for the cooler autumn weather we’ve been having, a nice balance of sweetness and spice. The toffee top gave it a wonderful crunch that I loved and made this challenge extra daring!
I will say though, that it was intensely rich, I think it was far too rich for my taste. I could barely eat two spoonfuls before I’d had enough, but then I feel that way about most cheesecakes. I would quite probably serve it in smaller portions again if I were to make it in the future. My favourite part about this challenge was to see the amazingly diverse and original flavour combinations that other Daring Bakers came up with for their own cheesecakes. I have written the recipe below with the modifications as I made it.
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
Maple and Cinnamon Baked Cheesecake
Makes 4 servings
• 60g cookie crumbs (I used Marie biscuits)
• 40g butter, melted
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
• ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
• 250g cream cheese, room temperature
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 4 teaspoons brown sugar (for brûléeing the top, optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Begin to boil a pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the ingredients for the crust in a small bowl and press evenly into four small ramekins. Set aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream together until smooth. Add the egg and mix until fully incorporated. Scrape down the bowl. Add cream, lemon juice, vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Divide mixture between ramekins and tap on the counter to expel all air bubbles. Place in a larger square or rectangular pan and pour in the boiling water until it reaches halfway up each ramekin.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes until they are almost done. They should jiggle a little in the center but not be fully cooked yet. Close the oven door, turn the heat off and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This allows the cake to finish cooking and cool down gently so that it won’t crack on top.
6. After one hour, move the cheesecake from the oven and lift carefully out of the water bath. Let it cool to room temperature and then cover and place in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
7. To brulee the top, spread about 1 teaspoon of brown sugar over the top of each cheesecake. With a small blowtorch, caramelise the sugar evenly.
Friday, March 27, 2009
March was a very big month in Daring Bakers land. The highly anticipated new website finally went live, and it’s a beauty. Even if you’re not a Daring Baker, there is still lots that will take your fancy, so go and check it out. There is also a brand new set of icons, you can see the sassy ‘Miss Measure’ over in my sidebar. Another addition to the Daring Kitchen community was announced – The Daring Cooks, and I am looking forward to hearing more about that and participating soon. And last but not least, this month’s challenge once again found me trying something I’d never done before – making fresh pasta.
The March challenge consisted of:
- Making fresh spinach egg pasta (pasta verde)
- Making béchamel (white sauce)
- Making a ragu
- Assembling the lasagne
I have to say, I really liked this challenge. I found kneading the pasta to be almost like a cardio workout, but rolling it (with the help of a pasta machine) was quite relaxing, and with all the separate elements prepared in advance, assembling the lasagne was a breeze. Even though I followed the pasta recipe to the letter, I found that I needed to add another egg but this helped immensely and I was very happy with the result. I definitely want to try making ravioli in the future as well, and experiment with other pasta flavours, though the spinach used here was delicious.
I used an alternate recipe for the ragu, using veal and pork that we had minced ourselves using the mincer attachment for our stand mixer. It was delicious and meaty, and after simmering for a few hours, it had a great depth of flavour. The béchamel recipe given was also very easy to prepare, though we had the option to use our own. On the five-hour plane trip to Perth earlier this month, I was watching the cooking channel and heard a tip about infusing the milk with some garlic and onion before adding it to the butter and flour mixture, which could give it a very interesting flavour, and may be something I’ll try in the future.
To make things a bit easier, I split the process up – making the sauce one day, and then making the pasta, béchamel and assembling it the next. The whole process was quite time consuming but I would have to say it was completely worth it. The sauce can even be made in advance and frozen which cuts down the preparation time significantly.
The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.
Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna
Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)
• 2 jumbo eggs (I found that I needed 3)
• 300g fresh spinach, rinsed, dried and finely chopped
• 3 ½ cups unbleached plain flour
• 60g unsalted butter
• 60g unbleached plain flour
• 2 2/3 cup (570ml) milk
• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
• Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 800g mixed beef and veal mince
• 3 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
• 2 x jars tomato paste
• ¾ cup red wine
• Finely chopped rosemary, to taste
• Fresh red chilli, finely sliced, to taste (optional)
• ¼ cup olive oil
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 1 cup (or more) freshly grated Parmigano Reggiano
1. To make the ragu, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large fry pan until hot. Add the onion and garlic and fry, stirring, until slightly browned. Add about 1/3 of the mince and continue to cook until mince is well browned. Transfer to a large saucepan. Cook the next 1/3 of the mince, transfer to a bowl and repeat for the last third.
2. Set the saucepan with mince over the heat, add tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, olive oil, rosemary, chilli (if using), salt and pepper. Stir until it reaches the boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours.
3. To make the pasta, mound the flour in the center of your work area and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach, and use a wooden spoon to beat them together. Gradually start incorporating flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off and to incorporate the last of the flour into the dough. It should look like a rough, messy lump.
4. Start kneading the dough, using the scraper to scoop up any unruly pieces. Once it becomes a cohesive mass, knead for about 3 minutes. It should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading for about 10 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth, satiny and very elastic. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it relax at room temperature for 30 minutes – 3 hours.
5. Cut off about a quarter of the dough, and re-wrap the rest to prevent it from drying out. Roll into a roughly long and thin rectangular shape. Set your pasta machine to its thickest setting and roll the dough through the machine. Continue rolling through each setting, cutting the dough into sections if it becomes too difficult to handle, until it becomes as thin as possible without tearing. You should be able to see your hand through the dough.
6. Repeat with remaining dough, and either use immediately or dry at room temperature and store in a sealed container or plastic bag for 1 day.
7. To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Sift in the flour and whisk until smooth, stirring without stopping for at least one minute. Whisk in the milk a little at a time. Bring to a slow simmer, and stir for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper and a hint of nutmeg.
8. To assemble the lasagne, have all ingredients on hand. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Layer the ingredients repeating in this order – pasta sheets, béchamel, ragu, Parmigano Reggiano, and finishing with a layer of pasta, béchamel, cheese, salt and pepper. Cover the baking dish with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake for 40 minutes or until almost heated through. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes. When cooked, turn the oven off and let the lasagne rest inside for a further 10 minutes, then serve. This is not a solid lasagne but one that slips a bit when cut and served.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
I’ve never really understood the hype about Valentines Day. I’m not bitter, I just think it’s overly commercialised. I would rather show love on a daily basis, rather than on one day a year when society wants me to. That’s what it’s all about. I don’t need flowers to feel loved (though chocolate is always acceptable). It’s the sweet and thoughtful gestures that I (and I think most women generally) appreciate the most. The time that he cooked dinner for us when I was busy finishing up an assignment, that he bought the box of tissues with cute puppies on it to make me smile when I was sick, that he express-posted cupcakes to me on my birthday.
The February Challenge consisted of:
- A Flourless chocolate cake
- An accompanying ice cream of our choice
I was excited when I heard about this month’s challenge. And completely without meaning to, I baked this up on Valentines Day itself. The reason behind that is sort of amusing – we are doing a big kitchen renovation and the oven was to be ripped out the following day, so it was my last chance to complete the February challenge! It was nice to send the oven off in style. I used semi-sweet dark chocolate with about 60% cocoa solids, since the cake recipe doesn’t contain any sugar and I didn’t want it to be too bitter. It amazes me that a cake with only three ingredients can turn into something so rich and delicious. The taste depends entirely on the chocolate you use, so pick one that you love.
My favourite thing about the challenge was the ice cream component. You see, making ice cream is my new obsession, especially now that I don’t have an oven handy. I had made this Dulce De Leche ice cream from Gourmet magazine before, without an ice cream maker so I was very keen to try it again with one. The result was unbelievable - so creamy and perfect, which is even more surprising given that it isn’t a custard-based ice cream recipe! The only problem was, when served with the cake, the intense chocolate flavour slightly overpowered the dulce de leche. I imagine that this ice cream would be amazing with something like a banana tarte tatin.
The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.
• 454g semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
• 146g unsalted butter
• 5 large eggs, separated
1. Place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water and melt, stirring often
2. While the chocolate mixture is cooling, butter your baking pan and line with a circle of baking paper, then butter the paper.
3. Separate the eggs and put the whites and yolks into two separate large bowls and whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
4. With the same beater, beat the egg yolks together, and then add to the cooled chocolate.
5. Add 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with the remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.
6. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake at 190ºC (375ºF) for 25 minutes. The top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet. Cool on a cake rack for 10 minutes before unmolding.
Dulce De Leche Ice Cream
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes about 1.4L (1 ½ quarts)
• 2 cups whole milk
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 2/3 cup dulce de leche
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Bring milk and cream to the boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, then remove from the heat and whisk in the dulce de leche until dissolved. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
2. Transfer to a metal bowl. Quick chill by putting into a sink filled with cold water and ice cubes, stirring occasionally until cold, about 15-20 minutes.
3. Freeze in an ice cream maker until almost firm, and then transfer to an airtight container and put into the freezer to harden, for at least 1 hour.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
After all of the richness and drama that came with last month’s Yule Log challenge, something light was certainly needed to restore some balance. Lighter-than-air tuiles were chosen to take the limelight this month, for the first challenge of 2009.
The January Challenge consisted of:
- Making tuiles using the recipe given
- Shaping them while warm
- Pairing the tuiles with something light or fruity
I will say first off that I was quite lucky to even complete the challenge this month, as the weather has been so hot and I wasn’t allowed to use the oven! On the one cooler day that I had planned to make them, I was sick with food poisoning and didn’t feel like baking at all. Luckily, last weekend I got another chance to give the recipe a try at my cousin’s house.
The final result as you see here was not what I had planned. Originally I wanted to shape the tuiles into little baskets, inside which I could put a scoop of raspberry sorbet, but it was much more difficult than I anticipated to form them into anything resembling a basket and I opted for rolling them into a wide cannoli shape using a small rolling pin instead. The raspberry whipped cream came together very easily and I love how pretty they look with a light dusting of icing sugar.
I’m glad I did get to participate in the challenge and make the recipe, even though it came with its share of frustrations when using an oven I’m not used to, and without the chance to have a second attempt at a later date. The first batch were over-baked and cracked when I shaped them, the next was slightly under-baked and they tore. And I can’t even count how many times I burnt my fingers! Luckily the failed attempts were delicious.
This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.
Tuiles with Raspberry Cream
Yields about 20 small tuiles
• 65g softened butter
• ½ cup sifted icing sugar
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
• ½ cup sifted plain flour
• 2/3 cup thickened cream
• 2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
• ¼ cup raspberries, fresh or defrosted if frozen
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites.
2. Add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter. Be careful to not over mix.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template. Press the stencil on the baking sheet and use an offset spatula or palette knife to spread batter, leaving some room in between your shapes.
5. Bake for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time.
6. To make the raspberry cream, place cream and icing sugar in a bowl and mix with electric beaters until soft peaks form. Roughly chop the raspberries and gently fold into the cream mixture. Pipe into the cooled tuiles and serve immediately.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Daring Bakers December, the challenge of all challenges! A French Yule log, or a Buche de Noel, with a recipe spanning 12 pages. I was biting my nails as I read through the instructions for the multi-component dessert, with the realisation that I better keep a weekend free sometime in December – a difficult feat, as I’m sure you’re aware! This is probably the most labour intensive dessert I’ve ever made, but it was slightly easier to split up the elements and complete the whole process over a few days – the long weekend helped, certainly!
The December challenge consisted of
- A dacquoise biscuit
- A crème brulee insert
- A feuillette (crisp) insert
- A ganache insert
I stuck to a chocolate flavoured Yule log – a favourite with everyone around here – with a vanilla crème brulee and a white chocolate and coconut crisp insert. As I was making it, I was amazed how good each of the elements tasted individually, and though I was still nervous about my ability to pull the whole thing off, I knew that no matter how ugly it may turn out to be, it would still be delicious. The white chocolate and coconut crisp was especially tasty, and the off-cuts were devoured in a matter of seconds!
I ran into slight problems when my crème brulee insert wasn’t frozen enough to cut, and sort of collapsed slightly. I had the mousse ready to go, and was running short on time so I refroze the crème brulee for a while longer and did the best I could to assemble it. In some cross-sections, the crème brulee has all but disappeared! I also found that the icing didn’t quite cover the whole log nicely, but made some rather interesting decorative drips down the sides.
All in all, it was a very interesting and definitely challenging experience with ups and downs. But it is incredibly delicious, and I think it was worth the time and effort. I’m not going to post the recipe because it is so long, but for more Yule log goodness, check out the Daring Bakers Blog Roll!
This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
As I’m sure you’re sick of hearing me say, November was a very busy time. Though I had the best of intentions, I missed the deadline for the Daring Bakers Challenge. It feels naughty handing in my homework late, but after seeing everyone else’s beautiful caramel cakes, and hearing the general consensus of “it was great”, I knew I still had to bake it. And with my Mum’s birthday on the horizon and her being the biggest caramel fan I know, it was the perfect occasion and a wonderful opportunity to catch up.
The November challenge consisted of:
- Shuna Fish Lydon’s famous caramel cake
- Caramelised butter frosting
I wanted to stick to the recipe as it was written, as to not confuse the caramel taste in the slightest. We were also given free reign over the presentation of the cake. I thought about making cupcakes, but I thought my Mum would like a ‘real’ birthday cake that could be cut and shared. Shuna’s instructions were a little daunting, especially those about “balancing fat with acid and protein just right”. It almost made it sound like a science project!
My fears were unfounded though, because the cake came together without any problems, and was just delicious. It was dense, but still intensely moist and had an amazing depth of flavour from the caramel sauce. The icing was quite sweet, it has nearly half a kilo of icing sugar in it afterall, but sea salt was used to balance it out and it turned out to be delicious. I think the cake would also be delicious with the milk chocolate and caramel frosting from this recipe. The leftover caramelised butter frosting would be absolutely delicious sandwiched between two vanilla cookies.
Even though I didn’t make the challenge deadline, I’m still very glad I got to bake the cake. I enjoyed making it, and everyone enjoyed eating it. I served it after a dinner of prosciutto wrapped chicken with quince paste, and potato and zucchini gratin courtesy of Not Quite Nigella.
Caramel Cake with Caramelised Butter Frosting
Recipe adapted from Shuna Fish Lydon
• 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1/3 cup caramel syrup (see recipe below)
• 2 eggs, at room temperature
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• 1 cup milk, at room temperature
• 2 cups sugar
• ½ cup water
• 1 cup water (for stopping the caramelization process)
Caramelised Butter Frosting
• 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 450g icing sugar, sifted
• 4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2-4 teaspoons caramel syrup
• Sea salt to taste
1. To make caramel syrup, in a stainless steel saucepan with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray crystals with a wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly and dark amber in colour.
2. When colour is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and spatter about. It is very dangerous so wear long sleeves and be prepared to step back. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced and feels slightly sticky between two fingers (after it has been cooled on a spoon)
3. To make the cake, preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and butter one tall 23cm cake pan.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt and cream until light and fluffy. Slowly add the room-temperature caramel, scrape down the bowl and increase speed.
5. Add the eggs and vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again and beat mixture until light and uniform.
6. Sift flour and baking powder together. Turn mixer to lowest speed and add 1/3 of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients.
7. Take off mixer and by hand, with a spatula do the last few folds, making sure the batter is uniform. Turn batter in to the prepared cake tin. Place cake pan on cookie sheet.
8. Set a time for 30 minutes, then rotate the pan and set the timer for another 15-20 minutes. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. Cake will keep for 3 days outside of the refrigerator.
9. To make the caramelised butter frosting, cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl and set aside to cool.
10. Pour cooled brown butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. With the whisk or paddle attachment fixed, add icing sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioners sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste. Frosting will keep in the fridge for up to a month.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I was sitting at a table at Brunetti’s in Carlton, sipping a long black and nibbling on some crostoli with Steve when I wondered out loud about what the Daring Bakers challenge for October might be. He handed me his iPhone and I set about finding out. And thus, during the week in which I’d almost eaten my bodyweight in pizza, I learnt that the challenge would be… pizza! But I was actually kind of excited about it, I love making pizza from scratch at home and I was keen to try a new recipe.
The October challenge consisted of:
- making pizza bases using Peter Reinhart’s recipe
- our choice of sauce and toppings
- providing photographic evidence of us tossing the dough!
This is the closest I’ve come to real Italian style pizza in my own kitchen and I just loved it. The recipe for the base was quite different to others I’ve tried – using ice cold water instead of warm water, and with an overnight rest in the fridge. While this dough is amazing, it does require a bit of forethought and some preparation in advance. I found the tossing a little bit tricky at first, but I think I got a little better at it on my second attempt. It really does make a huge difference to the dough. I also think it’s about time to invest in a pizza stone! I will definitely make this again in the future, but my go to recipe for a quicker and simpler pizza is from award winning chef John Lanzafame’s fantastic book Pizza Modo Mio, which I promise to share with you soon.
As for toppings, I chose olive oil, thinly sliced potatoes, rosemary and mozzarella for the first pizza. I cooked the sliced potatoes for about 4-5 minutes in the microwave before layering them onto the pizza as I wanted to be sure they would cook all the way through. It turned out wonderfully, very similar to the one I had at Little Creatures recently. On the other pizza, I had a tomato and olive oil sauce, with pancetta, sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach and mozzarella cheese. It too was delicious, and I have several ideas for the remaining balls of dough currently left in my freezer.
I would also like to dedicate this post to Sherry “Sher” Cermack who passed away tragically and suddenly in July this year. This pizza recipe was her idea for the October challenge that she was supposed to host with Rosa from Rosa’s Yummy Yums. Unfortunately, I didn’t know her personally, but I wish I had because she sounded like an absolutely wonderful person. She sure did pick a great theme. I think this has been my favourite challenge so far!
Makes 6 pizza crusts (23-30cm diameter)
From The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
• 4 ½ cups plain flour, chilled
• 1 ¾ teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon instant yeast
• ¼ cup olive oil or vegetable oil
• 1 ¾ cups ice cold water
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• Semolina or cornflour for dusting
1. Mix flour, salt and yeast together in a big bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer
2. Add the oil, cold water and sugar and mix well with a large wooden spoon or paddle attachment until a sticky ball of dough forms.
3. On a clean surface knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and ingredients are evenly distributed. If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom. The finished dough should be springy, elastic, sticky but not tacky and register 10-13°C
4. Flour a work surface or bench top. Line a baking jelly pan with baking paper. Lightly oil the paper.
5. With a large metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip it into water between cuts.
6. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, dip them into the flour again.
7. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into a plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.
8. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to three days. You can also store the dough balls in the freezer for future baking. In that case, pour a few tablespoons of oil in a medium ball and dip each dough ball in the oil so it is completely covered. Put each ball into a separate zippered freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough from the freezer to the fridge.
9. On the day that you plan to eat the pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the fridge. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on the floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1.3cm thick and about 13cm diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.
10. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to as hot as possible (260°C/500°F)
11. Generously sprinkle the back of a pan with semolina or cornmeal. Flour your hands. Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss. If the dough doesn’t want to expand, let it rest for about 5-20 minutes to allow to gluten to relax, then try again
12. When the dough has the shape you want, place it on the back of the pan, making sure there is enough semolina or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the back of the pan.
13. Lightly top it with ingredients of your choice.
14. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes. After 2 minutes of baking, take a peek. For even baking, rotate 180°
15. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3-5 minutes for the cheese to set before slicing and serving.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Before I became a Daring Baker, I always got a little bit excited towards the end of the month to see what the challenge had been and what wonderful things the bakers had come up with. This month I’m excited not only to have survived my second challenge, but also because I got to join this lovely group and make Daring Bakers history, with the first Alternative Bakers challenge.
The September challenge consisted of two elements
- A crunchy cracker, gluten free if desired
- A vegan and gluten free dip
Because my sister is (trying to) follow a gluten free diet plan at the moment, I wanted to make the gluten free version of the crackers for her. But this month was so busy that I wasn’t even sure if I would have time to complete the challenge at all, let alone try my very first experiment with gluten free baking. This time around, I used regular bread flour but I have promised that I will try a gluten free version in the near future that she can enjoy.
This was also my first time intentionally making a vegan dish, and its something I’m thankful for. The white bean dip recipe came from the December/January issue of Donna Hay magazine, one I’d wanted to make since I saw it back in summer. The combination of roasted garlic and white beans with lemon and basil was delicious, though not the most attractive dip ever. The salsa was inspired by our bruschetta toppings, with the addition of red capsicum to the tomatoes, parsley and fragrant basil. This summery dip goes very well with a crunchy cracker.
I really liked this challenge, because it was a chance to do something a little different in the kitchen, and pushed me to cook something I’d never even thought of making myself before. I was happy with the taste of the crackers, though while baking, the ones at the edge cooked through long before those in the center and I ended up with a mixture of crunchy crackers and softer, more bread-like crackers. I am looking forward to revisiting this, and trying a gluten free version of these crackers for my sister.
Thanks to Natalie from Gluten A Go Go and Shel of Musings From the Fishbowl for such an inspiring and different theme this month!
Lavash Crackers and Dip
Adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
• 1 ½ cups unbleached bread flour
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon instant yeast
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1/3 to ½ cup + 2 tablespoons water, at room temperature
• Poppy seeds and sesame seeds
Roasted Garlic and White Bean Dip
Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine
• 1 head of garlic, cloves separated
• 1 red onion, chopped
• 1 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 x 400g can white beans (cannellini), rinsed and drained
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons basil leaves, chopped
• sea salt and cracked black pepper
Tomato and Red Capsicum Salsa
• 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
• ½ red capsicum, chopped
• 2 tablespoons basil leaves, chopped
• 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
• 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
• 2 teaspoons olive oil
1. To make the crackers, stir together the flour, salt, yeast, sugar, oil and just enough water to bring everything together in a mixing bowl. You may not need the full ½ cup + 2 tablespoons of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.
2. Transfer the dough to a flour sprinkled benchtop. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test, and be medium-firm, satiny to the touch, not tacky and supple enough to stretch when pulled.
3. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size.
4. In the meantime, begin making the dip. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the garlic, onion and oil on a baking tray covered with non-stick baking paper and toss to coat. Roast for 25 minutes or until the garlic is soft. Peel the garlic and place in a food processor with the onion, beans, lemon juice, basil, salt and pepper and process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
5. To make the salsa, place all chopped ingredients with oil and vinegar into a small bowl and stir to combine
6. Mist the benchtop lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the bench. Divide the dough in half, press into a square with your hands and dust the top lightly with flour. Roll with a rolling pin into a paper-thin sheet. You may have to stop from time to time, to relax the glutens, so lift the dough from the benchtop and wave it a little. Cover with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes.
7. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with non-stick baking paper. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the tray. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.
8. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle sesame seeds on the dough. Use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut rectangles or diamonds in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking.
9. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top. The baking time will depend on how thinly you rolled the dough.
10. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Break them apart and serve.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
I’ve finally gone and done it. After wondering whether I would have enough a) time and b) talent, and after seeing some amazing responses to the recent challenges, I decided to join the Daring Bakers. I love the idea of a baking group like this and I’m very glad I can finally join the fun. I was so excited when I read about this month’s challenge that I actually did a little jump for joy! I love éclairs and I was very much looking forward to trying some new pastry cream flavours.
The August challenge consisted of three elements:
- Choux Pastry
- Pastry Cream
- Chocolate Glaze
I thought I’d finally nailed choux pastry back in June during Hay Hay It's Donna Day, but my first attempt of Pierre Hermé’s recipe failed dismally and I ended up with woeful flat éclairs. On the second attempt, I kept the oven door closed for the full baking time and had a more successful outcome, though a few still sunk. I’m not really sure why, because both times I also piped a few profiteroles, and both times they puffed perfectly. The only thing I can think of that might have gone wrong is, I realised only afterwards that the eggs I used were extra-large and not large like the recipe specified.
I made two kinds of pastry cream, but it was a struggle to only pick two! I had visions of green tea flavour, or white chocolate and raspberries. My éclairs were filled with a Frangelico spiked one, and the profiteroles had a really nice strong coffee flavour. Both were adaptations of Dorie Greenspan’s recipe from Baking From My Home To Yours, and both were absolutely delicious! The chocolate glaze was gorgeously silky and rich – the perfect finishing touch.
I enjoyed the challenge, and the results were certainly tasty – even the failed éclairs were all gobbled down! I think in the future I will stick with my trusted choux pastry recipe since it has given me more consistent results, but it was great to try something new. Thank you to Tony and Meeta K for picking such a great challenge. I look forward to next month!
Recipe adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
Makes 20-24 éclairs
• ½ cup whole milk
• ½ cup water
• 115g unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup plain flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature
Pastry Cream (from Dorie Greenspan)
• 2 cups milk
• 6 large egg yolks
• ½ cup sugar
• 1/3 cup cornflour, sifted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 4 teaspoons Frangelico liqueur OR 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water
• 50g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• 100g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 20g unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
• 7 tablespoons chocolate sauce (see recipe below)
• 130g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup water
• ½ cup heavy cream
• 1/3 cup sugar
1. To make the chocolate sauce, place all ingredients into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring for 10-15 minutes with a wooden smooth until the sauce thickens. When it is ready, it will coat the back of your spoon. This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
2. To make the pastry cream, bring milk to the boil in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, in a medium size saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornflour until thick and well blended. Still whisking, dribble in about ¼ cup of the hot milk. When combined, while continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk.
3. Transfer the saucepan to the stove. On medium heat, whisk vigorously and constantly until the mixture starts to boil. Whisk for 1-2 minutes, or until it starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and Frangelico OR coffee.
4. Stand for five minutes and then whisk in the butter, stirring until the cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate until cold. This can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
5. To make the éclairs, preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Position racks in the upper and lower halves of the oven. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
6. In a heavy bottomed medium-sized saucepan bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil. When mixture is at a rolling boil, add the flour, reduce the heat to medium and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough will come together quickly. Stir for another 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. It should be soft and smooth.
7. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. By the end, the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted, it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
8. Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2cm plain tip nozzle with the warm choux pastry. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in chubby fingers, about 11cm long. Leave about 5cm between each to allow them room to puff.
9. Slide both baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After this time, keep oven door ajar. When éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Bake for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be about 20 minutes.
10. In the meantime, make the chocolate glaze. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon. Stirring gently, add the butter one piece at a time, followed by the chocolate sauce.
11. To fill the éclairs, slice them horizontally using a serrated knife. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of baking paper. The glaze should be barely warm to the touch. Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set.
12. Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wiggle gently to settle them. Serve the éclairs as soon as they have been filled.